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Leon McFaddin Blanding


Leon Blanding joined the RCAF and began flying as a sergeant pilot with No. 121 'Eagle' Squadron, and he rose to the rank of Major over the course of two tours with the 4th fighter Group.
His time in the frontline came to an abrupt end when he suffered a fractured skull after his Mustang was hit by flak during the 8 August 1944 mission to Norway.
Blanding was by then assigned to the 4th Fighter Group Headquarters flight, having previously been CO of the 335th Fighter Squadron.

Awards: DFC, AM, PH, WWII Victory, EAME.

Post war: Retired from the USAF as a Lieutenant Colonel, post war Owner/Operator Blanding Iron Works Sumter, SC.


Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force

    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 495th Fighter Training Group

    495th Fighter Training Group

    The 495th Fighter Training Group, which operated in England from December 1943, trained P-47 Thunderbolt pilots. These pilots, who had received the basic training in the USA would be assigned to a training group to practise ETO operational procedures...

  • 335th Fighter Squadron

    335th Fighter Squadron

    The 335th Fighter Squadron was the offspring of No. 121 (Eagle) Squadron RAF. Formed on 21 May 1941, No. 121 was the second of the three Eagle Squadrons composed of American volunteers flying out of England. They were known as the "Chiefs" and were...

  • No. 121 'Eagle' Squadron

    No. 121 'Eagle' Squadron

    'On 14 May 1941, No. 121 was reformed at Kirton-in-Lindsey as the second 'Eagle' Squadron to be manned by American volunteers. Equipped with Hurricanes, it began defensive patrols in October but in November it converted to Spitfires. It moved to North...

  • Headquarters (4th Fighter Group)

    Headquarters (4th Fighter Group)

    The Headquarters Squadron was made up of true leaders. Most had flown Hurricanes, Spitfires, Thunderbolts and Mustangs. ...


  • 42-75051

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. A/C shot down during an engagement NE Koblenz, Germany. Not seen to go down; aircraft crashed at Seraing, Belgium. Lt Richard I Reed Jr KIA. 20-Feb-44. MACR 2664.

  • 42-74686

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47D Thunderbolt 42-74686 Assigned to 335th FS 4th FG 8th AF 9-43, later on strength with 514th FS, 406th FG, 9th AF. Crashed Belly Landing, Ashford/Sta 417, Cat 3 damage Pilot Bernard J Sledznik, 514FS 406FG, 9AF 12-5-44.

  • 43-6753

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 307FS, 31FG, 15AF USAAF.

Associated Place

  • Atcham

    Military site : airfield
    Atcham, at some remove from other American Air Force bases in Shropshire, was used by USAAF to train pilots from June 1942, several months before the American Eagle Squadrons were combined to form the 4th Fighter Group. Pilots here were mainly trained...

  • Debden

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Debden, construction of which began in 1935, is perhaps most famous as a Battle of Britain fighter airfield, partly responsible for the defence of London in 1940. In 1942 it was also home to three RAF 'Eagle Squadrons’ of volunteer American pilots...


Event Location Date
Born South Carolina, USA 30 October 1919

Son of Donald McQueen and Georgie Conyers [Ingram]Blanding.

Lived in Sumter, SC, USA 1941
Based North Weald Bassett, Epping CM16, UK 1942 – 29 September 1942

Assigned to 121 [Eagle] Sqn RAF.

E/A Probable Dieppe, France 19 August 1942

1 x Fw190 probable, Dieppe.

Based Debden 29 September 1942 – 24 March 1944

Transferred to 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF as 2nd Lieutenant.

Promotion Debden, Saffron Walden CB11, UK December 1942

Promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

Promotion Debden, Saffron Walden CB11, UK 1943

Promoted to Captain.

E/A Kill Utrecht, Netherlands 28 July 1943

1 x Fw190 destroyed 10 miles SE of Utrecht. E/A was one of a pair lining up a crippled B-17 Flying Fortress.

Promotion Debden, Saffron Walden CB11, UK March 1944

Promoted to Major.

Transferred Atcham, Shrewsbury, UK 24 March 1944 – 24 May 1944

Transferred to 495FTG, 8AF USAAF.

Re-Assigned Debden, Saffron Walden CB11, UK 24 May 1944 – 29 July 1944

Re-Assigned to 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF.

Transferred Debden, Saffron Walden CB11, UK 29 July 1944 – 20 September 1944

Transferred to HQ Sqn, 4FG, 8AF USAAF.

End Tour Duty (ETD) England, UK 20 September 1944

Completed Tour Duty (ETD).

Died Sumter, SC, USA 15 April 1998

Died - 15 April 1998 Sumter, South Carolina, USA.

Buried Cemetery Rd, Sumter, SC 29150, USA May 1998

Sumter Cemetery
Sumter County
South Carolina, USA


Date Contributor Update
20 November 2016 12:00:55 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, nickname, role, biography, awards, events and place associations

Date Contributor Update
19 October 2015 10:57:32 Al_Skiff Changes to nickname, highest rank, biography, awards, events, unit associations and aircraft associations

EAGLES of the RAF - The World War II Eagle Squadrons by Phillip D Caine.

Date Contributor Update
26 April 2015 16:28:40 apollo11 Changes to biography

Personal research & 4th Fighter Group 'Debden Eagles' by Chris Bucholtz.

Date Contributor Update
21 March 2015 16:02:49 apollo11 Changes to unit associations and place associations

Personal research & 'The Debden Warbirds' by Frank Speer.

Date Contributor Update
09 February 2015 17:13:43 Lucy May Changes to service number, highest rank and unit associations

Combined two entries for Leon Blanding. Now includes information from the following source:
Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:18:32 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia /