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Niven Kendall Cranfill

Military

An Ace, Lt. Col. Niven K. Cranfill of Temple, TX, served with HQ and the 368th, 369th, and 370th Fighter Squadrons, from April 1943 through 22 April 1945, flying 133 combat missions in two tours of duty with the 359th Fighter Group.

19 March 1945 mission: Capt. Wetmore leads an escort to the Halle area. Just east of Leipzig, Maj. Cranfill jumps three Me-262s, then notices ten more heading for the bombers. He directs his first attack against a 262 which is chasing a P-51 and he scores a few hits, driving the jet off. He then latches onto a second Me-262 and fires several bursts at it. The jet slips into a dive and explodes on the ground. With his kill, Cranfill becomes Ace number twelve for the Group. While on the initial bounce, Lt. Clifton Enoch, Cranfill's wingman, apparently fails to pull out of his dive and crashes with his plane.

Assigned to 370FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.
Transferred to 369, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.
Transferred to HQ Sqn, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.
Transferred to 368, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.
Completed 2 tours of duty.

Had 5 air kills and became an ace, Aug. 1944-April 1945, formerly HQ, 133 missions P-51D; according to unit history, Oct. 1943-Aug. 1944, to 368th FS from 369th FS, 370th FS and HQ, 133 total missions, 500+ hours, P-47D 42-74645, P-51B 42-106848 'Deviless 2nd, P-51D 44-13390 'Deviless 3rd'.

Awards: SS (OLC), DFC (OLC), AM (12OLC), LOM, WWII Victory, EAME, UN and Korean medal.

Service

People

  • Clifton Enoch

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot | 359th Fighter Group
    From Princeton, KY, Lt. Clifton Enoch Jr. flew with the 368th Fighter Squadron, 359th Fighter Group, from 15 February 1945 until 19 March 1945, when he was KIA. The Lieutenant is remembered on the Wall of the Missing in the Henri-Chapelle Cemetery. ...

Units served with

Aircraft

  • 42-106848 'Deviless 2nd'

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 369FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) escort to Paris last seen pursuing a Fw190 over Paris, shot down by flak crashed at Villacoublay pilot Capt Robert L Pherson Killed in Action (KIA). 12-Jun-44 MACR 5597.

  • 44-15717 'Wild Will'

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 368FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF. Personal A/C of Lt Col Niven K Cranfill. Re-assigned to Lt Col James W Parsons.

  • 44-13390 'Deviless 3rd' 'Big Noise From Winnetka'

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 369FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF. This aircraft was lost when ground looped at East Wretham, Norfolk, on 26-Oct-44.

  • 42-74645 'Deviless'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 369FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.

  • 44-15100

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 369FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.

  • 44-13301 'Swami'

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 369FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF. Crash-landed 11-Sep-44 at Landing Ground B-61 - Lt Thomas J Klem returned (RTD).

Associated Place

  • East Wretham

    Military site : airfield
    East Wretham was not improved to Class A standard. It retained its shorter runways, although eventually pierced-steel planking was laid to make take offs and landings easier for the Thunderbolt, and then Mustang, pilots. Steel matting was also laid to...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Bell County, TX, USA 23 July 1920

Son of Lesley Willard and Mary Thelma [Kendall] Cranfill.

Lived in Temple, TX, USA 1941
Enlisted San Antonio, TX 78234, USA 26 April 1941

Fort Sam Houston, Texas

Based East Wretham April 1943 – October 1943

Assigned to 370FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.

Promotion Wretham, Thetford IP24, UK 19 May 1943

Promoted to Captain.

Based East Wretham October 1943 – 22 July 1944

Transferred to 369FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.

E/A Damaged Lingen, Germany 30 January 1944

Me109 damaged Lingen 30-Jan-44. P-47 42-74645.

Promotion Wretham, Thetford IP24, UK 1 March 1944

Promoted to Major.

Based East Wretham 22 July 1944 – 12 August 1944

Transferred to HQ Sqn, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.

E/A probable [1/2] Brunswick, Germany 5 August 1944

Me109 shared probable Brunswick 5-Aug-44 P-51D 42-106848.

Based East Wretham 12 August 1944 – 27 August 1944

Transferred to 368FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.

E/A Destoyed 37574 Einbeck, Germany 16 August 1944

Me109 destroyed Einbeck 16-Aug-44. P-51D 44-13301.

End Tour of Duty (ETD) (1) 27 August 1944

Ended 1st Tour of Duty (ETD).

Based East Wretham 10 November 1944 – 22 April 1945

Re-joined 368FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.

E/A Destoyed [3] Merseburg, Germany 27 November 1944

2 x Me109, 1 x Fw190 destroyed Merseburg 27-Nov-44. P-51D 44-15100.

E/A Destroyed Leipzig, Germany 19 March 1945

Me262 destroyed Leipzig 19-Mar-45. P-51D 44-15717.

E/A Damaged Leipzig, Germany 19 March 1945

Me262 damaged Leipzig 19-Mar-45. P-51D 44-15717.

Promotion Wretham, Thetford IP24, UK 26 March 1945

Promoted to Lt Colonel.

End Tour of Duty (ETD) (2) 22 April 1945

Ended 2nd Tour of Duty (ETD).

Died San Antonio, TX, USA 7 August 2002
Buried Bellwood Memorial Park Temple Bell County, TX 11 August 2002

Bellwood Memorial Park
Temple
Bell County, Texas

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
12 June 2021 16:38:54 Al_Skiff Changes to events
Sources

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/48847696/niven-k-cranfill

Date Contributor Update
17 June 2019 13:54:21 Emily Changes to biography and person associations
Sources

Transferred biography by Janet Fogg, 359th Fighter Group Historian from media record

Date Contributor Update
12 January 2018 14:46:46 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography
Sources

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- 350th Unit History, 359th FG Unit History;
- the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

Date Contributor Update
26 December 2017 22:34:47 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, nickname, service number, highest rank, role, biography, awards, events, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations
Sources

http://littlefriends.co.uk/search.php?searchString=Cranfill&Submit=Search
https://www.fold3.com/page/84766438-niven-cranfill/facts
https://www.fold3.com/record/628903622-niven-cranfill-1920
https://www.fold3.com/page/628903622-niven-cranfill-1920/facts
https://www.fold3.com/record/60245721-niven-k-cranfill
http://www.cieldegloire.fr/014_cranfill_n_k.php
http://valor.militarytimes.com/recipient.php?recipientid=45150
http://www.spitfireperformance.com/mustang/combat-reports/359-cranfill-1...
http://www.spitfireperformance.com/mustang/combat-reports/359-cranfill-1...
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/48847696/niven-k-cranfill

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:20:34 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list

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