View Full Version : Story of Richard E. Smith Fighter Pilot

03-04-2005, 01:31 AM
<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">39th FS</span>

I liked flying the P38 the most, out of all the airplanes I flew, mainly because it had two engines. There were many missions, when our guys would fly back to base on one engine. I remember one time, flying back from Rabaul, I saw two P-38;s . One was the C.O.€s and he had one engine out. I trotted back to stay with him, but he waved me on home. Later when he got back over base, he turned on the other engine, and landed on two. The guys would often do that. If the engine got damaged, shut it off, and save the fluids, then they could try and restart it when the got back. In New Guinea, especially, that was very important because you didn€t want to bail out!

<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">Snuffy Smith Reunited With Japanese Sandman </span>

The P-38 was fast €" our cruising speed was up around 180, 190mph. Ofcourse, that€s as fast as those Nascar drives go today!, But, it was fast, and then we could go as fast as 280 300 at full power. We would take off from Port Moresby, fly high over the mountains and to the target, then to get home, just point the nose down! I scored all my victories in the P-38. It had all the armament up there in the nose in about a two foot diameter circle., It had all that firepower straight ahead of you, in the nose in small area, of only a couple feet. Usually, you would use your machine guns first to sight the plane, and when you saw that you were on target, pour on that 20mm. On the controls, you just pressed one button for machine guns, and the other button for cannon. In a P-47 for instance, you had those four guns on each wing, but they did not converge until 300 feet ahead of you, or whatever it was. So, I liked that about the P-38 best, naturally.

<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">#33 "Japanese Sandman II" at Dobudura</span>

<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">Japanese Sandman in the jungle with markings visible to this today</span>

We had gun cameras in the nose, but the pictures they took were not that good, because they worked when the guns fired, and the camera would shake. One fellow in the squadron got the idea to mount the cameras in the wing nacelle and they then they took much clearer pictures, because the camera was away from the guns. After the mission, they would take out the film, develop it, and review it. I don€t have any copies of my film in particular, it doesn€t really interest me really to have it today.


In March 1943 the 39th Fighter Squadron received a Presidential Unit Citation for participation in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea where 5th Air Force units destroyed a large enemy ship convoy in the Huon Gulf. The 35th Fighter Group units were engaged daily in support of bomber forces, air defense of Port Moresby, cover for air transports, and direct support of ground forces.

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35th Fighter Group

Constituted as 35th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 22 Dec 1939. Activated on 1 Feb 1940. Trained with P-35, P-36, P-39, and P-40 aircraft. Two squadrons (21st and 34th) moved to the Philippines in Nov 1941. Headquarters and another squadron (70th) sailed for Manila on 5 Dec but because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor they returned to the US where the squadron flew some patrols. Headquarters and the 70th squadron sailed for Australia on 12 Jan 1942. Three days later all the combat squadrons were relieved and three others, still in the US, were assigned. Headquarters reached Australia in Feb 1942 and moved on to India. Meanwhile the squadrons had moved from the US to Australia and were training for combat with P-39's. Headquarters was transferred back to Australia, without personnel and equipment, in May 1942.

Redesignated 35th Fighter Group. Served in combat with Fifth AF, operating successively from bases in Australia, New Guinea, Owi, Morotai, and the Philippines. First used P-38's and P-39's; equipped with P-47's late in 1943 and with P-51's in Mar 1945. Helped to halt the Japanese advance in Papua and took part in the Allied offensive that recovered the rest of New Guinea, flying protective patrols over Port Moresby, escorting bombers and transports, attacking Japanese airfields and supply lines, and providing cover for Allied landings. In 1944 began long-range missions against enemy airfields and installations in the southern Philippines, Halmahera, and Borneo, preparatory to the US invasion of the Philippines. Beginning in Jan 1945, operated in support of ground forces on Luzon. Also escorted bombers and completed some fighter sweeps to Formosa and China. Bombed and strafed railways and airfields in Kyushu and Korea after moving to Okinawa in Jun 1945. Moved to Japan in Oct 1945 and, as part of Far East Air Forces, trained, took part in maneuvers, and flew surveillance patrols over Honshu. Redesignated 35th Fighter-Interceptor Group in Jan 1950. Equipped with F-80's.

Entered combat in the Korean War in Jul 1950 and almost immediately began converting from F-80's to F-51's. Operated from bases in Japan and Korea in support of UN ground forces, bombing and strafing enemy supply lines, troop concentrations, and communications. Transferred without personnel and equipment to Japan in May 1951. Remanned and equipped with F-51's and F-80's. Provided air defense for Japan. Converted to F-86 aircraft in 1955.

Squadrons. 18th: 1940. 20th: 1940. 21st: 1940-1942. 34th: 1940-1942. 39th: 1942-. 40th: 1942-. 41st: 1942-. 70th: 1941-1942.

Stations. Moffett Field, Calif, 1 Feb 1940; Hamilton Field, Calif, 10 Sep 1940-5 Dec 1941 and 9 Dec 1941-12 Jan 1942; Brisbane, Australia, 1 Feb 1942; New Delhi, India, Mar 1942; Sydney, Australia, 4 May 1942; Port Moresby, New Guinea, 22 Jul 1942; Tsili Tsili, New Guinea, 15 Aug 1943; Nadzab, New Guinea, 5 Oct 1943; Gusap, New Guinea, 7 Feb 1944; Owi, Schouten Islands, 22 Jul 1944; More tai, 27 Sep 1944; Mangaldan, Luzon, c. 20 Jan 1945; Lingayen, Luzon, c. 10 Apr 1945; Clark Field, Luzon, 19 Apr 1945; Okinawa, 28 Jun 1945; Irumagawa, Japan, Oct 1945; Yokota, Japan, 16 Mar 1950; Ashiya, Japan, 8 Jul 1950; Pohang, Korea, 14 Jul 1950; Tsuiki, Japan, 13 Aug 1950; Pohang, Korea, 3 Oct 1950; Yonpo, Korea, 18 Nov 1950; Pusan, Korea, c. 3 Dec 1950; Johnson AB, Japan, 25 May 1951; Yokota, Japan, 14 Aug 1954-.

Commanders. Maj O R Strickland, 1940; Col George P Tourtellot, 1940-unkn; Col Richard A Legg, 12 Mar 1942; Lt Col Malcolm A Moore, 26 Jul 1943; Lt Col Edwin A Doss, 23 Oct 1943; Lt Col Furlo S Wagner, 12 Feb 1944; Col Edwin A Doss, 4 May 1944; Col Harney Estes Jr, 27 Jul 1945; Col Raymond P Todd, 22 Mar 1946; Lt Col Richard D ****, c. 13 Sep 1946; Col James R Gunn Jr, c. 11 Feb 1947; Col Ford Lauer, 28 Apr 1947; Col Ray W Clifton, 1 Sep 1947; Col Edgar M Scattergood Jr, 21 Jun 1948; Lt Col Bert W Marshall Jr, Aug 1948; Lt Col Archie M Burke, 13 May 1949; Lt Col Jack D Dale Jr, Nov 1949; Col William P McBride, 22 Feb 1951; Lt Col Homer M Cox, May 1951; Col John C Habecker, 25 Jun 1951; Col John R Propst, 6 Jun 1952; Lt Col Albert S Aiken, Feb 1955; Col Maurice L Martin, Jun 1955; Col Raymond M Gehrig, Aug 1955-.

Campaigns. World War II: East Indies; Air Offensive, Japan; China Defensive; Papua; New Guinea; Bismarck Archipelago; Western Pacific; Leyte; Luzon; Ryukyus; China Offensive. Korean War: UN Defensive; UN Offensive; CCF Intervention; 1st UN Counteroffensive; CCF Spring Offensive.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: Papua, 23 Jul 1942-23 Jan 1943. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation: 7 Sep 1950-7 Feb 1951.

Insigne. Shield: Azure, a dexter cubit arm or grasping a dagger point to base gules. Motto: Attack To Defend (Approved 21 Feb 1941.)

03-04-2005, 01:39 AM
Nice story, good find woofie http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif