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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Video : 430th FS "Back Door Gang" P-38 Lightnings in action over Germany - Color, 1945

Thx Louis !
Forwarded message - From: Louis Nève

Florennes Air Base  1945

From: Jean schoefs

Subject: 430th FS "Back Door Gang" P-38 Lightnings in action over Germany - Color, 1945

Newly discovered color film of the 430th FS, 474th FG, 9th Air Force. From the get go, the 474th was configured as a ground attack unit, but they also provided bomber escort and level bombing, led by Norden bomb sight equipped "Droop Snoots," which are shown here.
One of three P-38 squadrons in the 474th, the 430th's call sign was "Back Door," and its planes and pilots are featured in the film in the Spring of 1945 at their base in Florennes (A-78 Florennes / Juzaine, Belgium) a former Luftwaffe night fighter base.
Rough field operations caused difficult working conditions for 9th Air Force maintenance personnel. Here a crew prepares to use an external heater to warm a P-38 Lightning's  port engine so it can be started while an armorer works on the guns. - Florennes, Belgium Feb. 1945.

Two 9th Air Force camera men adjust 35mm motion picture cameras to the wings of a Lockheed P-38 fighter-bomber at Florennes air base. The cameras, specially constructed for the purpose, are used to obtain film footage for technical training, historical records and newsreels. - 1st Lt. James Bray (R) of NYC,  a former newsreel cameraman, shot down two ME-109's during a photographic mission in Africa.  On the left, is Cpl. Verl Luzens, of Bredford, Ohio.

Lockheed P-38 fighter-bombers, taxiing out for take-off on a dive-bombing mission. This specific mission was an armed reconnaissance on tank and motor transport of the "von Runstedt's"offensive, which at this time was within only 15 miles from this airfield. (Florennes Air Base)

That mud played no favorite is quite apparent from this photo of a Lockheed P-38 Lighting Fighter-bomber being towed out  after its landing gear bogged down in overshooting the runway in Florennes.

9th Air Force maintenance men overhaul a Lockheed P-38 Lighting fighter –bomber at Florennes airfield . Working around the clock, often in the rain and cold, the ground crewmen keep serviceable the planes that are eliminating or neutralizing enemy fortification and strong points impending the advance of U.S. ground troops.

P-38 Lightning Refueling. Note the B-26 Marauder in the background.

P-38s of the 370th Fighter Group - Florennes

When the group arrived, the expected to receive P-47 Thunderbolts on which they had trained stateside. However, much to the amazement of the Group Commander, Col. Howard F. Nichols, the 370th FG was informed by IX Fighter Command that they would be equipped with the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a few of which had already arrived during the 18 days the group was in residence at Aldermaston. The latter base proved to be only a temporary stationing, as it was required for troop carrier operations; the 370th soon moved to RAF Andover. - Moved to Florennes 26th Sep.1944  till 27th Jan. 1945

Florennes  422nd  Night Fighter Sqdn.  -  16 Sep '44 to 6 Apr '45
P-61 Black Widow night fighter at the end of World War II. - From the 422nd NFS operating out of Florennes,  an up close look at P-61 "Lady GEN."

By December 1944, P-61s of the 422nd and 425th NFS were helping to repel the German offensive known as the 'Battle of the Bulge', with two flying cover over the town of Bastogne. Pilots of the 422nd and 425th NFS switched their tactics from night fighting to daylight ground attack, strafing German supply lines and railroads. The P-61's four 20 mm cannons proved highly effective in destroying large numbers of German locomotives and trucks. - By early 1945, German aircraft were rarely seen and most P-61 night kills were Ju 52s attempting to evacuate German officers under the cover of darkness.

The 422nd NFS produced three ace pilots and two radar operators, while the 425th NFS officially claimed none. Lt. Cletus "Tommy" Ormsby of the 425th NFS was officially credited with three victories. Ormsby was killed by friendly fire moments after attacking two Junkers Ju 87s on the night of 24 March 1945. His radar operator escaped with serious injuries, and was saved only by the quick actions of German surgeons. He later reported that they had successfully engaged and shot down both Ju 87s before being shot down themselves. This claim was corroborated by other 425th aircrew who were operating in the area at the time. To this day, many members of the 425th question why Lt. Ormsby was never credited with his final two kills, and "ace" status.

Florennes airfield