Walter Carl Beckham

Ace pilot Major Walter C. Beckham of the 351st Fighter Squadron, 353rd Fighter Group, in front of P-47 Thunderbolt (YJ-X, serial number 42-8476), named "Little Demon". Beckham was flying this aircraft when he failed to return from a mission to Germany on 22 February 1944. He was held as a prisoner of war until the end of war in Europe.

Object Number - FRE 359 - Ace pilot Major Walter C. Beckham of the 351st Fighter Squadron, 353rd Fighter Group, in front of P-47 Thunderbolt (YJ-X, serial number 42-8476),...

Walter C Beckham enlisted in April 1941. He flew his first missions over the Panama Canal and Ecuador from December 1941. He was assigned to the 353rd Fighter Group in mid 1943, and arrived in the UK in August 1943. Beckham became a successful P-47 Thunderbolt pilot and claimed his first kill in September 1943, by October that year he had become an Ace. Beckham was shot down during a strafing mission over Ostheim in February 1944, with 18 victories to his name, at the time he was the highest scoring Ace in the European Theatre.

Beckham was liberated in April 1945 and stayed with the US Air Force. He earned a PHD in Physics in 1962 and joined the Air Force Weapons Laboratory as chief scientist, working on nuclear weapons. He retired in 1969 as Colonel and continued to work as a nuclear scientist. He died in 1996.

Shot down by flak when strafing Ostheim airfield and crashed near Bergen-Neukirchen on 22 Feb 1944 in P-47D #42-75226 'Little Demon'. Prisoner of War (POW).

DSC, DFC (4 OLC), AM (5 OLC), Silver Star (3 OLC), POW, WWII Victory, EAME, Croix de Guerre(Belgian).

18 air-to-air confirmed


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Units served with


  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Unit: 353rd Fighter Group 351st Fighter Squadron
Airmen of the 353rd Fighter Group with a P-47 Thunderbolt (YJ-X, serial number 42-8476) nicknamed "Little Demon". Written on slide casing: '353 Walter Beckham.'
  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Nicknames: Little Demon
  • Unit: 353rd Fighter Group 78th Fighter Group 351st Fighter Squadron 82nd Fighter Squadron



Event Location Date Description


Paxton, FL, USA 12 May 1916


Fort Barrancas, 3182 Taylor Rd, Pensacola, FL 32508, USA 26 April 1941 Enlisted Fort Barrancas Florida



Millville, NJ 08332, USA 7 March 1943 Taxiing Accident due to Mechanical Failure Millville, NJ Cat 3 damage Lt Walter C Beckham, 7-Mar-43. BT-14 40-1208 - 351FS 353FG.


Raydon 10 November 1943 - 22 February 1944 Re-assigned to 351FS, 353FG, 8AF USAAF.



Raydon, Ipswich IP7, UK 6 December 1943 Promoted to Major.


Prisoner of War (POW)

Bergen-Neukirchen 22 February 1944 Shot down by flak on 57th Mission over Ostheim and taken POW after successfully bailing out.


Albuquerque, NM, USA 31 May 1996

Prisoner of War (POW)

DeFuniak Springs, FL, USA



Panama Canal, Panama



Ecuador Assigned to 353FG.


Date7 Oct 2014 11:15:42

Added enlisted event

Date7 Oct 2014 11:14:08

Freeman, The Mighty Eighth, p. 278.

Hess, America's Top Eighth Air Force Aces in Their Own Words, pp. 28-29.

Date27 Sep 2014 18:26:48

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 2670 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list / son in law, Lt. Col Robert L. Moore, US Army Ret.; Fighter Aces of the U. S. A. and Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force; Who's Who in the Eighth Air Force and/or Biographical Directory Command & Staff Officers Eighth Air Force 1942-45 MACR 2670

Walter Carl Beckham: Gallery (15 items)