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Carroll W McColpin


Major General Carroll McColpin was from Buffalo, New York. Born in 1914, he began flying at the age of 14. As a high school boy he built his own plane and taught himself to fly. He became aware that Britain was fighting to repel the Germans in their conquest of Europe, and felt that the U.S. would sooner or later become involved in the war.
Rather than wait and take a chance on becoming a 'ground soldier', he joined the RAF to be a pilot. He had pilot certification and over 475 hours of flight time. Like others with considerable flight time, he had no desire to spend the long tour in the mandatory U.S. Aviation Cadet Training Programme when he was already an experienced aviator. He was sent to Dallas, Texas, for flight training in the RCAF prior to being sent to England to an Operational Training Unit as a Pilot Officer. He eventually served in all three RAF Eagle Squadrons, becoming CO of No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron, and he soon had five aerial victories to his credit. As a Major he, with Chesley Peterson and Gus Daymond, became the first Eagle Squadron pilots to receive the British DFC on 4 October 1941.
On 25 September 1942 he was ordered to London to discuss transferring to the U.S. Army Air Corps. He turned No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron over to Flight Lieutenant Edward Brettell.
Carroll always set up his plane as he wanted it, and he wanted HIS plane whenever he was scheduled to fly. He had an impressive career with 12 enemy aircraft destroyed. He had flown Hurricanes and Spitfires prior to being sent to the States on leave. He returned and served three tours in the European Theatre of Operations as Commanding Officer of the 407th Fighter-Bomber Group and then 404th Fighter Group.
His awards include the Air Force Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, both the U.S. and British Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters, and both the Belgian and French Croix de Guerre. He was decorated at Buckingham Palace by King George VI. He was one of the most decorated and admired fighter pilots of the war with 280 combat missions and 12 aerial victories.
Major General McColpin died in November 2004.


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. ...

  • 404th Fighter Group

    404th Fighter Group

    A unit history of the 404th Fighter Group is available online as a pdf:

  • 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...

  • 336th Fighter Squadron

    336th Fighter Squadron

    The 336th Fighter Squadron was constituted by the War Department on 22 august 1942, and was activated at Bushey Hall, England, on 12 September. It had been designated as No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron, and was made up of American volunteers to the Royal Air...

  • No 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    No 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    'On 19 September 1940, No. 71 was reformed at Church Fenton as the first 'Eagle' Squadron to be manned by American personnel. The Squadron received Hurricanes in November and became operational on defensive duties on 5 February 1941. No. 71 converted...

  • 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...

  • No 133 'Eagle' Squadron

    No 133 'Eagle' Squadron

    'On 1 August 1941, No. 133 reformed at Coltishall as the third 'Eagle' Squadron manned by American personnel. Equipped with Hurricanes it became operational at the end of September. The next month the Squadron moved to Northern Ireland, returning to...


  • AA857

    Supermarine Spitfire AA857 Mk Vb, Const #2171 Built at Eastleigh. ...

  • AB908

    Supermarine Spitfire AB908 Mk Vb, Built at Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. ...

  • EN793

    Supermarine Spitfire EN793 Mk Vb, Built at Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. ...

  • Z3427

    Hawker Hurricane Mk II Z3427 AV-R assigned to 121 Eagle Sqn RAF pilot Carroll McColpin.

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...

  • 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...

  • Kirton-in-Lindsey

    Military site : airfield
    Used as an RFC and RAF Home Defence landing ground during the First World War, Kirton-in-Lindsey was built during 1938-40 as an RAF fighter station. It had two grass runways, 10 hardstandings, three grouped C hangars and four over-blister hangars....

  • Martlesham Heath

    Military site : airfield
    Opened in 1917 as home to the RFC Aeroplane Experimental Unit, Martlesham Heath became well known during the 1920s-30s as home to the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment. Used as an RAF fighter station from 1939, with only a grass airfield...

  • Eagle Squadrons Memorial

    Other location


Event Location Date
Born Buffalo, NY, USA 15 November 1914
Died 28 November 2004

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Sec: 66, Site: 3779



Date Contributor Update
26 February 2016 12:33:30 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations and place associations

Eagle squadron re-alignment.

Date Contributor Update
26 October 2015 11:40:25 Lucy May Changes to aircraft associations

Combined information from a duplicate entry for McColpin into this entry. Now includes information from the following sources:
Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia /

Date Contributor Update
06 October 2015 22:33:43 TWall Changes to nickname

I am Tim Wall husband of Carol McColpin Wall. One of two daughters of the late General ...........Buster was his nick name........

Date Contributor Update
17 March 2015 19:49:46 bombercommand Changes to events

Find A Grave

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2015 17:53:03 apollo11 Changes to firstname, highest rank, role, biography, awards, events and unit associations

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

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:05:14 AAM AAM ingest

1996 355TH FG Assoc. Directory / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia