"Full House - Aces High and History"
Providing fighter coverage for the Merseburg mission were 814 P-51 Mustangs (specifications) and 140 P-47 Thunderbolts. The two 8th Air Force groups participating in this mission were the 91st Bombardment Group (BG), "The Ragged Irregulars", and the 352nd Fighter Group (FG), "The Bluenosed Bastards of Bodney." The 352nd FG was comprised of the 328th, 486th, and 487th Fighter Squadrons, and split into A and B groups for the mission. They took off at 9:40 am to meet the bombers over Mepple. Weather was a factor as a huge cloud front was approaching Germany.
The German Luftwaffe did not scramble their fighters, thinking the 8th Air Force bombers would turn back. When it became apparent the bombers were not going to abort, they scrambled fighters, but it was too late to catch them on the way in. When they arrived over Leipzig, Germany, they found over fifty Focke-Wulf Fw-190s ready to attack the bombers on their withdrawal route. The group maneuvered into position for a surprise attack.
The 8th Air Force fighters destroyed 68 aircraft, 7 probable, 22 damaged and 5 more on the ground. The 352nd FG was credited with 19-1/2 air-to-air victories. Group B was led by eight P-51 Mustangs from the 487th Fighter Squadron, led by Lt. Col. John C. Meyer, in "Petie 3rd", Capt. Bill Whisner, in "Moonbeam McSwine" leading "Green Flight", and close behind, Major George Preddy, in "Cripes A'Mighty" leading a three ship formation from the 328th Fighter Squadron.
|Thank you to the 91st Bomb Group and the 352nd Fighter Group for providing research material for this project.|
|Thanks are also due Joe Noah, Mark Hemel and Robert "Punchy" Powell for background information.|
|Our deepest appreciation to Sam Sox, Christopher Johnson and George Odenwaller for original photographs.|
|Detail from the painting "Full House - Aces High"|
|Major George Preddy and "Cripes A'Mighty"|
George Preddy began his combat flying career with the 9th Pusuit Squadron, 49th Pursuit Group, defending northern Australia at the start of WW II. While flying a P-40 Warhawk that he called "Tarheel", he was involved in a mid-air collision that hospitalized him for three months. After recovering in Australia, he returned to the United States, and was assigned to the 487th Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group, also known as "The Blue-nosed Bastards of Bodney". His P-47 Thunderbolt, serial number 42-8529 (HO-P), was called "Cripes A'Mighty", in which he shot down three enemy aircraft.
The 352nd FG transitioned to the P-51B Mustang in April 1944, with Preddy flying s/n 42-106451 (HO-P), which he also called "Cripes A'Mighty" (George Preddy Memorial Foundation). He then received a P-51D Mustang, s/n 44-13321 (HO-P), which he called "Cripes A'Mighty 3rd". On May 13th, he became an ace, having shot down a Messerschmitt Bf-109. On August 6, 1944, he shot down six Bf-109s for which he received the Distinguished Service Cross, which is second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor.
After some well deserved leave that allowed him to return to the United States, Major Preddy returned to Bodney, England to become the Commanding Officer of the 328th Fighter Squadron, which he commanded from October through December 1944. His new P-51D, s/n 44-14906 (PE-P), was called "Cripes A'Mighty". The plane carried his crew chief S/Sgt Art Snyder's trademark barber pole symbol on the right side of the nacelle, as well as the red and white stripes on the antenna. On December 25, 1944, having already shot down two Bf-109s and in pursuit of a Focke-Wulf Fw-190 at tree top level, he was shot down and killed by friendly ground fire.
Major Preddy finished with 26.83 air-to-air victories, making him the leading air-to-air P-51 ace, and five ground victories. Besides the Distinguished Service Cross, he received the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross with eight oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with 7 oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart - Posthumous, and the Belgium Croix de Guerre - Posthumous.
"George Preddy was the greatest fighter pilot who ever squinted through a gunsight; he was a complete fighter pilot". - John C. Meyer
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|Lt. Col. John C. Meyer and "Petie 3rd"|
John C. Meyer started his flying career when he graduated from flying school in 1940. Three years later, Meyer was the Commannficer of the 487th Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group, known as "The Blue-nosed Bastards of Bodney", based in Bodney, England. Flying a P-47 Thunderbolt, serial number 42-8529 (HO-M), which he called "Lambie", Major Meyer had the first air-to-air victory by a 352nd pilot, downing a Messerschmitt Bf-109 on November 26, 1943.
The 487th Fighter Squadron transitioned to the P-51B in April 1944, and now Lt. Col. Meyer flew s/n 42-106471 (HO-M), known as "Lambie II". On May 8, 1944, he led a flight of eight P-51s against a large formation of enemy fighters. He destroyed three Bf-109s, and was awarded his first Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor.
On November 21, 1944, while flying Petie 3rd, a P-51D Mustang, s/n 44-15041 (HO-M), he shot down three more Focke-Wulf Fw-190s, and was awarded his second Distinguished Service Cross. This is the day depicted in the painting "Full House, Aces High". Meyer was awarded his third Distinguished Service Cross for a mission on January 1, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge. A group of approximately 50 German Luftwaffe Bf-109s and Fw-190s attacked the Y-29 airfield in Belgium, where the 487th had been recently deployed. Leading a group of twelve P-51s, and taking off with full wing tanks, Meyer shot down one Fw-190 just after retracting his landing gear. He destroyed another Fw-190, and the 487th destroyed 23 enemy fighters that day, losing only one to friendly fire. On January 9, 1945, Meyer was injured in an automobile accident that ended his WWII career. Sgt. James O. Bleidner, 487th Fighter Squadron Armorer, provides additional insight with his article "Personal Observations about J.C. Meyer".
In the Korean War, Colonel Meyer was the Commanding Officer of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, and downed two MiG-15s while flying the F-86 Sabre, making him the seventh ranked all time Air Force ace with 26 air and 13 ground victories. He became a Four Star General and was Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command. Besides the three Distinguished Service Cross, he was awarded the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross with five oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with 15 oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart, the French Croix de Guerre, and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
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|Capt. Bill Whisner and "Moonbeam McSwine"|
In the fall of 1943, William Whisner joined the 487th Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group, known as "The Blue-nosed Bastards of Bodney", which was based in Bodney, England. On January 29, 1944, while flying a P-47 Thunderbolt, serial number 42-8404 (HO-W), he scored his first air-to-air victory against a Focke-Wulf Fw-190. When the 352nd Fighter Group transitioned to the P-51 Mustang in April 1944, Whisner flew "Princess Elizabeth", s/n 42-106449 (HO-W), a P-51B. On May 29th, he scored his third air-to-air victory, and the next day shared a victory with George Preddy. Shortly thereafter, he was sent back to the United States on leave.
Whisner, now a captain, returned to the 352nd in the fall of 1944, and began flying a P-51D Mustang, s/n 44-14237 (HO-W), which he called "Moonbeam McSwine". On November 21, 1944, the setting for the painting "Full House, Aces High", Whisner became an ace in a day, shooting down six Fw-190s. For this accomplishment, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor.
During the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, the 487th was moved from Bodney to airfield Y-29 near Asche, Belgium. On January 1, 1945, twelve P-51 Mustangs, led by Lt. Col. John Meyer, began their takeoff roll when the airfield was attacked by an estimated 50 German Luftwaffe Bf-109s and Fw-190s. Whisner shot down an Fw-190, then, his plane was hit by 20-mm fire. With one of his ailerons damaged and his canopy covered with oil, he continued the fight, shooting down two more Fw-190s and one Bf-109. Whisner was awarded his second Distinguished Service Cross and the 487th received the Distinguished Unit Citation, the only fighter squadron in the 8th Air Force be so honored. Whisner finished the war with 15.5 air and 3 ground victories, and flew 137 combat missions.
During the Korean War, Whisner flew the F-86 Sabre with the 4th and 15th Fighter Interceptor Wing, shot down five MiG-15s, and was awarded his third Distinguished Service Cross, the only Air Force man other than General John Meyer to earn that distinction. He was the only Air Force pilot to be an "ace" in two wars and a three-time winner of the Distinguished Service Cross.
|View some additional studies of Mustangs here.|
|Find the specifications for Mustangs here.|
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|Based in Bassingbourn, England, B-17G Flying Fortress 'Nine-O-Nine' (specifications) was assigned to the 323rd Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group, also known as 'The Ragged Irregulars'. With serial number 42-31909, OR-R, it received its name from the last three numbers in the serial number. Tony Starcer painted the nose art on Nine-O-Nine, which portrayed a cartoon caricature of Christopher Columbus riding on a bomb, thumbing his nose at the Germans. The crew chief for Nine-O-Nine" was Master Sergeant Rollin C. Davis, who was also the crew chief for Outhouse Mouse. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his maintenance work on these aircraft, which flew a combined 279 combat missions. Nine-O-Nine set a record for 8th Air Force B-17 bombers by completing 140 combat missions, 126 without having to turn back for mechanical reasons, and flew over 1,100 combat hours. Pilot Dave Hettema, who flew to Megdeburg on September 28, 1944, and to Munster on September 30, 1944, flew two of those missions. The letter B was painted on ten of the 140 bomb symbols to represent the ten missions Nine-O-Nine flew to Berlin. Nine-O-Nine was credited with downing three enemy fighters.|
|After the war, the original Nine-O-Nine was sent to Kingman, Arizona, where it was eventually scrapped. Today the memory of Nine-O-Nine lives on, thanks to the Collings Foundation and their beautifully restored B-17G that is painted to resemble the original Nine-O-Nine. The Foundation flies their Nine-O-Nine to air shows and airports, where the public can tour the plane.|
|Based in Bassingbourn, England, B-17G Flying Fortress Outhouse Mouse (specifications) was assigned to the 323rd Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, also known as The Ragged Irregulars. When a young lady from the Midwest visited the 91st at Bassingbourn, upon seeing the organized chaos on the base, she made the comment, Its so crazy, its like a bunch of mice in an outhouse. Thus, Outhouse Mouse was born. Nose artist Tony Starcer painted the nose art, based on the cartoon character Jerry the Mouse (from the popular Tom and Jerry show), on the side of aircraft 42-31636, OR-N (nose art photo courtesy of George H. Odenwaller). While at Bassingbourn, Outhouse Mouse was parked next to Nine-O-Nine, and Master Sergeant Rolin C. Davis was the crew chief for both aircraft.|
|On March 24, 1944, pilot Carl Rizer flew Outhouse Mouse on a mission to bomb a rail bridge near Distre, and on March 25, he flew it on a mission to bomb an airfield near Toulouse. He distinctly remembers the extra 600 pounds of sheet metal around the pilot seat and cockpit and said, Obviously, a previous pilot of Outhouse Mouse was concerned about flak. On August 16, 1944, while on a bombing mission to the Siebel Aircraft Factory at Halle, Outhouse Mouse became the first heavy bomber to be attacked by a German jet. After being damaged by a FW-190 and Me-109, Outhouse Mouse fell out of the formation and headed back towards England. Two Me-163 Komets soon attacked it. The first jet missed the B-17, and the second Me-163 Komet, after flying alongside the bomber for a few minutes, was pounced on by two P-51s and shot down.|
|Outhouse Mouse flew a total of 139 missions, including twelve to Berlin. On April 25, 1945, Outhouse Mouse flew on the 91st Bomb Groups last mission, which copilot Phil Darby described as Pandemonium over Pilsen, where they had to make multiple trips over the target. After the war, Outhouse Mouse was sent to Kingman, Arizona, where it was eventually scrapped.|
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