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Richard A Hewitt

Military

Richard Hewitt served as a pilot with the 78th Fighter Group.

4 DFC's, 13 Air Medals

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. Captain R A Hewitt was flying with Duxford’s 82nd 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.

In the Osnabruck area at 1230 hours the 82nd Fighter Squadron engaged four Me 109’s. This was the beginning of the battle which engaged the entire group. There were roughly 45 Me 109’s in four gaggles at altitudes from 14,000 feet to 7,000 feet, and in addition at the beginning of the flight there were about 25 FW 190’s above a thin layer of cirrus which was at 14,000 feet. These came down and joined the battle some fifteen minutes after it started.

Captain Hewitt’s personal combat report
Combat Report 1230 hrs 19th March 1945 Captain R.A. Hewitt 82nd FS
I was leading Surtax Squadron on a sweep into the Berlin area where we were to R/V with the bombers. At 1230 hrs. , in the Osnabruck areas, I spotted 3 Me-109s at 3 o’clock level and broke into them. I ranged the #3 e/a and fired several short bursts, getting a few strikes. I still had my combat tanks on, so could not close in fast enough. I immediately dropped them, but forgot to switch tanks. While the engine sputtered momentarily, the 109 did an immelman and left me almost directly beneath him. The motor caught and I racked my ship into a very tight immelman and came out almost behind the e/a. I then gave chase and closed very rapidly. He was already smoking badly, and, as I closed, I fired several more bursts and got more strikes. The pilot jumped out, but his chute did not appear to open, however we were at 9,000 ft. and he had ample time to make a delayed opening.

By this time, there were 109s all over the area and, as I broke off from my first engagement, I immediately saw 6-8 e/a about 3,000 ft. above so I poured the coal on and it was not time until I closed the nearest 109. He saw me coming and broke into me. I fired at 90 degrees and got hits in his cockpit. He snapped violently two or three times to the right and went into a very tight spin. The 109 crashed – pilot and all.
I chased two or more e/a but my gunsight burned out and, before I could get the bulb changed, they disappeared in a high cirrus layer above. With no sight, I fired several bursts at these two 109s, but did not see any hits. I claim 2 Me-109s destroyed.
Captain R.A. Hewitt 0-799189 82nd FS

Service

Aircraft

  • 41-6345

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 82FS, 78FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred 552FS, 495FG, 8AF USAAF.

Associated Place

  • Duxford

    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...

Events

Event Location Date
Born

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
26 January 2016 13:40:09 Anne Hughes Changes to biography
Sources

78th Fighter Group monthly history

Date Contributor Update
26 January 2016 11:44:24 Anne Hughes Changes to service number
Sources

78th Fighter Group combat records

Date Contributor Update
26 January 2016 11:43:20 Anne Hughes Changes to biography and events
Sources

78th Fighter Group monthly history

Date Contributor Update
24 May 2015 16:32:14 Lucy May Changes to service number and unit associations
Sources

Additional unit and service number from Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:22:23 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / EAGLES OF DUXFORD, The 78th Fighter Group in WW2 by Fry, p132

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