The 513th Fighter Squadron
Unit History of 513th
Period ending 30 June 1944 (continued)
The past month has been one of intense activity in the Air War. With the advent of the long awaited invasion, the hard work and long hours began; the road leading to victory had been entered, and though the end was not near, it was in sight.
The period of time from the 1st until the 6th of the month was not unusual in any particular way and gave no indication of what was to follow. Four missions were flown, 3 escorts and one dive bomb; they were uneventful. One indication that the "Big Push" was imminent was the painting of the planes with wide black and white stripes for identification. The engineering department worked until late the night of the 4th, getting the planes painted; the rain didn't help the effort.
At 1900 on the evening of the 5th the officers of the Group were ushered into the Group Briefing tent, each man's identity checked as he went in. It was then we learned of the invasion and the part we would play in it. Major Larkin, Group S-2, presented the situation to a tense audience. We learned that the Group would fly four missions D-Day, patrolling the beachhead from 0530-0630, 1030-1130, 1530-1630, 2030-2130. The 513th Sq. would operate in the "Easy" area. Briefing was given on the ground situation, pilots were acquainted with the bomb line, recognition colors, authentication codes, and all else that would enable our support to be successful. We left the Group Briefing tent that night in a sober mood. The next day would be an important day in world history.
Takeoff time the next morning was 0430 and every pilot expected to come back an "Ace". Everyone was surprised when they discovered the Luftwaffe was not coming up to defend its beaches. There was some flak but even that had been fairly well neutralized. All pilots returned safely from the first patrol and succeeding patrols. On the 8th the squadron finished patrol duty and went on a 1-hour alert status with "Hurry Missions" of various types.
With the increased number of missions and increasing enemy flak the serviceable aircraft in the squadron became startlingly low. At one time only 12 aircraft were operational. An average of three planes would return from missions with flak holes in them. On two occasions planes returned from ground support missions after flying through trees.
On June 10th Lt. HOSKINS, returning from a mission hit a tree and tore a large hole in his right wing and damaged the tail. June 17th Lt. WHITMAN damaged his right wing and right elevator when he pulled up into a tree from a strafing attack. To look at his plane after they had reached ground safely, it would seem impossible that they could fly at all. Thus it is that time and again the P-47 has exhibited its durability, its ability to "take it" and return. For these qualities the P-47 has won a place in every pilot's heart who flies it. The 513th pilots sear by them; they come back.
The engineering department deserves a great deal of credit for keeping the planes in repair and ready to fly day after day. It is worthy of recognition that the 513th Sq. has the best maintenance record of any Sq. in the Group. Lately the Sq. has received 4 D-25 model aircraft. These, as is usual with new planes, have more "bugs" to be taken out. The engineering department, we know, will soon have them ready for combat.