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VIII Fighter Command FO-120 BOMBER ESCORT

2 September 1943

Official description

Not yet known


A combined force of 182 P-47s from: 4FG; 56FG; 78FG; and 353FG are despatched to escort the B-17 bomber formations that are sent to attck German airfields in NW France. Because the weather hampers boming efforts and most of the formations abort, the fighters conduct fighter sweeps instead. At this time in the air war, fighter escort for bombers was limited beacuse of the ahort range of the P-47 fighter. Even with the addition of drop tanks the range of the fighters was still limited. The fighters were instructed to stay with the bombers in primarily a defensive mode. There was some "sweeping" activity ahead of the bomber stream but very limited. It would still be a long time (March 1944) before fighters would be employed in a "search and destroy", offensive, capacity. 3 P-47s Failed to Return (FTR)-2KIA 1POW. Freeman lists one P-47 as a Category E (Damaged Beyond Repair) associated with this mission but further information was discovered by Bishop & Hey that this loss was associated with a training flight and not related to combat.

Mission details




Aircraft type

P-47 Thunderbolt


Fighter escort intended for bombers but carried out fighter sweep instead.


  • 353rd Fighter Group

    353rd Fighter Group

    The 353rd Fighter Group was assigned to the Eighth Air Force on 7 June 1943. The group flew P-47 Thunderbolts, and from October 1944, P-51 Mustangs, as escorts for bombing missions across occupied Europe and to strafe targets on the ground. Tactical...

  • 4th Fighter Group

    4th Fighter Group

    Some of the pilots of the 4th Fighter Group had seen many hours of combat by the time they joined the 4th Fighter Group as they had volunteered with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. The three 'Eagle Squadrons' of RAF Fighter...

  • 56th Fighter Group

    56th Fighter Group

    Flying P-47 Thunderbolts throughout their time stationed in England, the Group, known as "the Wolfpack", had more ace pilots than any other Eighth Air Force Fighter Group. The 56th Fighter Group also destroyed more enemy aircraft in air combat than any...

  • 78th Fighter Group

    78th Fighter Group

    The 78th Fighter Group was initially based at Goxhill but moved to Duxford in April 1943 and stayed there until October 1945. The 78th FG flew each of the three US built principal fighters of the AAF in the ETO. In their Thundetbolts, the 78th FG ...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 182
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 3
Number of aircraft Damaged 1
Number of people Killed In Action 2
Number of people Prisoners of War 1



  • Charles Dinse

    Military | First Lieutenant | 353rd Fighter Group

  • Walter Hannigan

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 56th Fighter Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) on 2-Sep-43 as pilot of P-47C 42-7934 56FG/63FS when his flight of fighters escorting bombers was attacked by German fighters and shot down. His aircraft crashed at Selles, east of Boulogne, France. 1 KIA MACR 467.

  • Dale Leaf

    Military | First Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot
    1st Lt. Dale Leaf was ambushed in P-47C 41-6212 by four Fw 190s and killed near Formerie on 2 September 1943. AM w/ 3 Oak Leaf Cluster/PH.

  • Wilfred Van Abel

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 56th Fighter Group
    On 2-Sep-43 while piloting P-47C 41-6537 [UN:Q] 56FG/63FS 1LT Wilfred A. Van Able's flight was attacked by German aircraft near Armentierres, France and he was shot down. He was able to successfully parachute to the grouns and was captured as a Prioner...


  • 41-6537

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47C-5-RE was assigned to the 56FG/63FS at Halesworth, UK. On 2 Sep-43 the aircraft was piloted by 1LT Wilfred A. Van Able and despatched to escort bombers. The flight was attacked by German fighters near Armentierres, France and 1LT Van Able was shot...

  • 42-7934

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47D-1-RE 42-7937 was assigned to 56FG/63FS at Halesworth. On 2-Sep-43 with 2LT Walter T. Hannigan as pilot the flight was attacked by German fighter over Amerntierres, France while escorting bombers. The aircraft was shot down and crashed near...

  • 41-6212

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47C-1-RE 41-6212 was assigned to 4FG/334FS at Debden. On 2-Sep-43 the aircraft was piloted by 1LT Dale B. Leaf and despatched on a mission to escort bombers. The fighters were ambushed by German fighters and 1LT Leaf was shot down near Formerie,...


Date Contributor Update
29 May 2015 22:14:53 Lee8thbuff Changes to name and description

Lee Cunningham 29-May-2015. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:19 AAM AAM ingest

Lee Cunningham, 8th Air Force missions research database / Stan Bishop's 'Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces', the Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces and the work of Roger Freeman including the 'Mighty Eighth War Diary'.