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Kenneth Guy Smith


Captain Smith was from Boise, Idaho, and was born 8 June 1914. He attended the College of Idaho, then worked for the Idaho Power Co. About 1941 he moved to California. He joined the Army Aviation Cadet programme, but left abruptly and was accepted by the Clayton Knight Committee. He received his flight training and was commissioned 19 January 1942, assigned to 121 (Eagle) Squadron RAF. He then was transferred to the 4th Fighter Group, 335th Fighter Squadron as they were organising in October 1942.
He had accumulated five enemy aircraft victories when, on a "Rhubarb" mission to the Bordeaux area of France on 21 March 1944, while strafing the Caen-Carpiquet airfield in P-51B #43-6803, he was shot down by Flak and crashed in Tailleville, 14km North of the Caen-Carpiquet airdrome. (German captured cocument J-727 at Prisoner of War (POW).
Subsequently it was learned that he had been badly burned about his face and a German surgeon did an excellent plastic reconstruction of everything but his eyebrows. He was adamant in refusing an operation on his eyebrows; he said "No German eyebrows, I'll wait and get American eyebrows". While recuperating he was an orderly in Dulag Luft and received proper treatment.
Upon return he stayed in the Air Force, was promoted to Major in 1947 and became CO of 37th Fighter Squadron, at the then Dow Army Air Field in Bangor, Maine.
On 20 October 1947, he had taken a group of pilots on an aerobatics training mission. The formation climbed to 18,500 feet and did some climbing turns, but something went wrong for Ken Smith, who couldn’t pull his P-47N Thunderbolt #44-89399 out of a flat spin. He remained at the controls to avoid crashing into a populated area near Searsport, Maine. His Thunderbolt crashed in the Mill Stream and Kenneth Smith was killed on impact.


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. ...

  • 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...

  • 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...


  • 43-6803

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return from "Rhubarb" to the Bordeaux area of France on 21 March 44, while strafing the Caen-Carpiquet airfield. Shot down by Flak and crashed near Tailleville, 14km North of the Caen-Carpiquet airdrome....

  • 41-6207 'Mark I'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47C-2-RE 41-6207 was assigned to the 4FG/335FS at Debden, UK. On 7-Sep-43 the aircraft, piloted by 1LT Aubrey C. Stanhope, was shot down near Hulst, Belgium while on a mission to escort B-17s attacking at Brussels, Belgium. 1LT Stanhope was able to...

  • 41-6162

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF.


  • 8th Air Force 271 FIGHTER SWEEP

    21 March 1944
    A force of 41 P-51s from 4FG are despatched on a fighter sweep, search and destroy, operation in the area of Bordeaux, France. 7 aircraft Failed to Return - 2KIA 4POW 1EVD. The fighters claim 12-0-0 of German aircraft in the air and 9-0-4 on the grond....

Associated Place

  • Biggin Hill

    Military site : airfield
    An RAF Station with US lodger units. USAAF Spitfires and P-38s were attached to RAF No 11 Group stations in mid-1942 for training; also used for special operations by British and US forces.

  • 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 Boise, Idaho, USA 8 July 1914
Lived in 1940

Boise, Idaho, USA

Lived in 1941

Los Angeles, California

Enlisted 7 July 1941

Los Angeles, California

Service pilot training Bakersfield, CA, USA 29 November 1941 – 7 December 1941

Service pilot training.

Shipped overseas Merseyside, UK 9 January 1942

Shipped overseas to ETO. Commissioned P/O.

Advanced flight training Hullavington, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14, UK 7 May 1942 – 22 May 1942

Advanced flight training at 9 AFU Course 13. Tiger Moths and Magisters.

Operational training Grangemouth, Falkirk, UK 28 May 1942 – 14 August 1942

Operational training at 58 OTU. Masters, Magisters and Hurricane.

Assigned Kirton in Lindsey, Gainsborough, North Lincolnshire DN21, UK 20 August 1942 – 24 September 1942

Assigned to 121 [Eagle] Sqn RAF.

Transferred Debden, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11, UK 14 October 1942 – 21 March 1944

Transferred to 335th FS, 4th FG, 8th AF USAAF.

Promoted Debden, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11, UK 1 March 1943

Promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

Promoted Debden, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11, UK 23 April 1943

Promoted to Captain
Designated Flight Commander A Flight 19-1-44.

Prisoner of War (POW) Wetzlar, Germany 21 March 1944

wounded, he was captured and hospitalized in France before further interrogation at Dulag Luft Wetzlar-Klosterwald. While recuperating from his injuries he was an orderly there. NARA WWII POW records : "Returned to Military Control 10 November 1944.” This might mean that Kenneth Smith was repatriated to the US in a Prisoner Exchange Program...

Shot down Caen, France 21 March 1944

Shot down while strafing the Caen-Carpiquet airfield and crashed at Tailleville, 14km North of the Caen-Carpiquet airdrome on 21 March 1944 in P-51B #43-6803.

Buried 1947

Kenneth Smith rests at the Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise, Ada County, Idaho

Died Searsport, ME, USA 20 October 1947

Killed in plane crash - see biography.


Date Contributor Update
14 March 2020 09:06:42 ED-BB Changes to unit associations

Add,ed 4th FG and associated MEDIA

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2020 16:18:07 ED-BB Changes to service number, highest rank, biography, events and mission associations

WWII Draft Card
MACR 3381
NARA Captured German Records : J-727 at

Date Contributor Update
02 December 2016 20:13:03 WD-C Mustang Changes to nickname

Date Contributor Update
26 February 2016 20:06:40 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations and place associations

Date Contributor Update
03 November 2015 17:36:28 Al_Skiff Changes to biography and events

Date Contributor Update
03 November 2015 15:24:29 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, role, biography, awards, events, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations

Date Contributor Update
25 April 2015 19:13:36 apollo11 Changes to role and biography

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

Date Contributor Update
10 March 2015 20:21:51 apollo11 Changes to highest rank, biography, events, unit associations and place associations

Personal research & 'Eighty-One Aces of the 4th Fighter Group' by Frank Speer.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:17:52 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 3381 / MACR 3381, Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list