406th WWII Fighter Group :: THE 513th FIGHTER SQUADRON


The 513th Fighter Squadron

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Howard M. Park, January 1944, Washington, D.C. Howard M. Park
January 1944, Washington, D.C.

R ocketeers: The 513th squadron was known as the "rocket" squadron within the group. The 513th was the first unit in the Ninth Air Force during WWII to be equipped with air to ground unguided rockets. They were the 5" HVRA (high velocity aircraft rocket), which rang the death bell for the enemy Tiger tanks as well as locomotives, armored vehicles, gun emplacements, etc.

Aircraft identification was "4P-" along with bright red noses and was one of the first squadrons to be deployed to the continent following D-Day. The 513th aircraft was  instrumental in the annihilation of the enemy armored divisions during their attempt to flee through the "Falais Gap."

One pilot, Lt. Howard Park, was credited with sinking a German warship in the harbor at Brest with his rockets. They also contributed mightily in repelling the enemy daily offensives around the perimeter front lines at Bastogne. Commanded by Major Gordon W. Fowler, KIA (The SS enemy troops murdered him after he landed safely in his parachute), during the Rhine crossing. The squadron continued its devastation of the enemy's strongholds until he surrendered.


by Howard M. Park

This is an incomplete account of the combat record of the 513th Fighter Squadron, 406th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force, dating from its first activation for combat status beginning May 9, 1944 to its "stand-down" from operational missions April 20, 1945.

My own tenure with the 513th and 406th encompassed the period from May 16, 1944 through April 17, 1945. My service was continuous except for "R and R" and convalescent leave in England.

Citing The 406th Occupier, Historical Issue, p. 2, September 28, 1945:

. . . on December 1, 1943 the present flying personnel together with P-47 type planes were assigned. The Group's "modern" history may be said to date from this time. The period December 1, 1943 to March 1, 1944 was one of successive stages of training; principally gunnery, dive bombing, formation and mission (flying).

This period paralleled my own training in P-47s from January 1944 through March 1944 at Harding Field, Baton Rouge. Our instructors, all veteran combat pilots, returned from North Africa. Training was devoted to all aspects of gunnery, dive bombing, skip bombing, high altitude formation, aerobatics, and much mock dog-fighting. I had more than 91 hours of P-47 training with 11 hours being in England.

In this official record of monthly reports prepared by the Office of the Intelligence Officer, I appended to each month a subjective account and anecdotal material from memory to "flesh out" the official accounts. It is my earnest request that my colleagues and survivors from the 513th send me their subjective accounts and anecdotal material so that the fullest record of the 513th may be compiled at this late stage.

I will then endeavor to correlate this additional material and publish a final edition of the fullest account of the 513th that is possible. I believe this is a worthwhile task for ourselves and our posterity. I certainly would like my children to know "what Daddy did during the Big War."

--The Rev. Howard M. Park, BSc, MA, OSL, Former pilot, 513th Fighter Squadron