A P-51 Mustang aircraft - WZ-S (serial number 44-72203), named "Sweet and Lovely", of the 78th Fighter Group, Duxford. The aircraft was piloted by Lieutenant Thomas V. Thain. Handwritten on slide casing:"WZ-S Dx post VE Thomas V Thain"
19th March 1945 is noted in the Duxford Fighter Group’s History as being a day that would never be forgotten. On that day one of the most intense and successful air battles of WW2 was fought by Duxford’s 78th Fighter Group. Consequently detailed records and combat reports are preserved. Lt T V Thain was flying with Duxford’s 84th fighter squadron.
“The aerial battle of March 19  was the toughest and at the same time most successful the group has ever fought. It lasted for an hour, with waves of German fighters joining the battle until the group, numbering 46 Mustangs, was engaging a force almost three times its size. The fighting was so confused that when the three squadrons landed at Duxford they reported they had encountered the same group of Nazis, estimated at about 50. Later they compared notes and found the total number of enemy planes involved was around 125.
First intimation of the impending action came in the form of fake attacks by three jet planes at the German border. These made shallow dives on the group, apparently hoping to force the Mustangs to drop their tanks and to draw them away from the area where other fighters were forming up for attacks on American bombers. The Mustang pilots, however, refused to bite at the bait, and after turning into the jets to force them off continued on their courses.”
“ I saw Maj. Downing shoot down one Me 109,” said Lt. Thomas V. Thain, Jr., 20, of Columbia, S.C., “Later I heard him say over the R/T that he shot down another. A short while afterwards he and six other Mustangs engaged a large gaggle of enemy aircraft. He called and said that there was a lot of meat there. I then heard him say that he was hit and bailing out. His last words were, ‘So long gang.’I recognized this voice as his right away.”
Lt T V Thain shot down 1 Me 109
Units served with
The 78th Fighter Group was initially based at Goxhill but moved to Duxford in April 1943 and stayed there until October 1945. It flew all three of the USAAF's principal fighters. On D-Day every available Thunderbolt provided air cover to the Allied...
Military site : airfield
RAF Duxford, now a museum and still a working airfield, was operated by the USAAF from 1943 to 1945. The base was briefly the home of the 350th Fighter Group in late 1942, but it was not until April 1943 that it became a fully American station when the...
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