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David C Schilling


Schilling flew P-47 Thunderbolts and was one of the leading aces of the war. He was Commanding Officer of the 56th Fighter Group between August 1944 and January 1945, taking over from Colonel Hubert A Zemke.

Schilling became an ace in December 1944 when he shot down five German aircraft. He was the 8th highest ranked fighter ace in the European Theater. He helped the 56th Fighter Group become the first Group to destroy more than 1,000 enemy planes.

After the war he was a pioneer of long-distance jet flight, making the first non-stop fighter jet crossing of the Atlantic.

At age 37 he died in a car crash driving his sports car in a narrow lane between RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall (still US Air Force bases in the UK today).

Schilling Air Force Base, in Kansas, is named after him.



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Units served with


Associated Place

  • Boxted

    Military site : airfield
    Boxted was built for heavy bombers and became operational from May 1943. In the few months B-26 Marauders of the 386th Bomb Group were stationed there, there were two night attacks by the Luftwaffe. On 17 August 1943, one man was killed when bombs...

  • Halesworth

    Military site : airfield
    Halesworth was constructed in 1942-1943. Initially planned as a bomber airfield, its location close to the Suffolk coast meant that it was in an ideal position to operate escort fighters, where range was a critical factor. Consequently, the 56th...

  • Horsham St Faith

    Military site : airfield
    Horsham St Faith was an RAF Bomber Command Station opened in June 1940. It was home to Bristol Blenheim medium-bombers, and was for a time occupied by fighters, including those of No. 19 Squadron and No. 264 Squadron. From September 1942 the airfield...

  • Kings Cliffe

    Military site : airfield
    Kings Cliffe began as a satellite air base for the Group based at nearby Wittering. The 56th Fighter Group, however, were all based at Kings Cliffe and it was here that the pilots trained in P-47 Thunderbolts and flew their first missions in the...


Event Location Date
Born Leavenworth, KS, USA 15 December 1918
Died Eriswell, Brandon, Suffolk IP27, UK 14 August 1956

Died in a car crash travelling between RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall.


Date Contributor Update
09 March 2017 19:06:46 dwgdallas Changes to media associations

From the Personal Collection of Lt. Billy J. Murray

Date Contributor Update
04 February 2015 15:21:01 Emily Changes to media associations

Selected Key image

Date Contributor Update
01 October 2014 13:35:40 Emily Changes to service number, role, biography and unit associations

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Fighter Aces of the U. S. A. and Aces and Wingmen II; Who's Who in the Eighth Air Force and/or Biographical Directory Command & Staff Officers Eighth Air Force 1942-45 / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list

Date Contributor Update
01 October 2014 11:46:37 Emily Changes to events

Date Contributor Update
01 October 2014 11:44:54 Emily Changes to nickname, highest rank, role, biography, awards, events, unit associations, place associations, aircraft associations and media associations

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:07:00 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia /