By Carl Molesworth
Staffed with green USAAF pilots and led through a handful of pro veterans of the yank Volunteer workforce (AVG), the twenty third FG used to be shaped within the box at Kunming, in China, on July four, 1942 and flew strive against missions that very same day. The teams 3 squadrons - the 74th, seventy fifth and 76th Fighter Squadrons - have been at the start built with war-weary P-40s passed down from the AVG. those have been supplemented by way of the connected sixteenth FS, flying new P-40Es, and all squadrons embellished the noses in their airplanes with fearsome and iconic sharksmouth designs.
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Staffed with green USAAF pilots and led through a handful of pro veterans of the yankee Volunteer team (AVG), the twenty third FG was once shaped within the box at Kunming, in China, on July four, 1942 and flew wrestle missions that very same day. The group's 3 squadrons - the 74th, seventy fifth and 76th Fighter Squadrons - have been in the beginning outfitted with war-weary P-40s passed down from the AVG.
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Extra resources for 23rd Fighter Group: Chennaults Sharks
The fighters tangled for a few moments and the P-51 s gOt the worSt of it, but they managed to keep the 'Oscars' away from the bombers, which hit the target successfully. Lt Glen Beneda of the 76th FS was shot down (the first combat loss of a P-51 Bin China), but he baled out successfully and returned to the squadron twO months later. The P-38s also engaged some Ki-43s, but the only kill credited to an American pilot went to Col H ill. 75 victories. This clearly made him the highest scoring ace among active Fourteenth Air Force pilots that were active at that ti me.
It was a risky operarion', 'Tex' Hill rold rhe aurhor many years later. 'We could have easily losr everybody. Insread, we pulled off a perfect miSSIOn'. A phoro-reconnaissance Lighrning arrived over Shinchiku ar high alrirude abour 15 minures afrer rhe arrackers had deparred and rook picrures of rhe carnage below. Those images, in addition ro some raken from the B-25s during rhe artack, helped ro confirm the following claims by the P-51 pilors - Hill, one confirmed in the air plus one confirmed and one probable on rhe ground; Williams, one confirmed and one damaged on the ground; Srewarr, one confirmed on rhe ground; Colberr, one confirmed on rhe ground; and Hedrick, one probable and one damaged on the ground.
Also in June 1944, a fourth squadron joined the 23rd FC at Kweilin in the form of the I 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS), commanded by Maj Edward 0 McComas. The I 18th TRS initially flew P-40 s equipped with aerial cameras as well as guns. These would give way to P-51 BIDs and F-6 Mustangs later in the year. The 118th TR wa a pre-war ational Guard unit from Connecticut with highly trained pilots and an aggressive commander. It wasted no time in making their presence felt, flying 64 sorties by the end of June, and by October the unit would boast of its first ace, apt Oran S Watts.
23rd Fighter Group: Chennaults Sharks by Carl Molesworth