Five more weeks of transition training in the respective aircraft and receive assignment to a combat unit aerial gunnery and formation flying and aircraft familiarity was stressed at this stage of training. Often times this was completed in a extremely short amount of time.
A top World War II ace once said that fighter pilots fall into two broad categories: those who go out to kill and those who, secretly, desperately, know they are going to get killed-the hunters and the hunted.
- General Nathan F. Twinning, USAF
In the European Theater, ETO, the U.S. 8th Air Force started bombing Germany heavily in 1943. In that year, the first American Fighter Groups - the 4th, 56th, and 78th arrived, and their fighter pilots flew P-47 Thunderbolts. They shot down many enemy aircraft, and when properly handled, the "Jugs" more than held their own in aerial combat against the German Fw-190s and Bf-109s. Many 8AF aviators became aces flying P-47's.
But the bombers needed fighter planes to escort them all the way, into the heart of Germany. When the P-51 Mustangs began to fly combat missions in early 1944, they proved that they could do it all: they could fly all the way to Berlin and back, they could fly faster and out-dogfight the German fighters. Thus Herman Goering's famous comment: "When I saw Mustangs over Berlin in March, 1944, I knew the jig was up."
The Enemy >>