Johnson - Top P- 4. Thunderbolt Ace in WW2. Ace of 5. 6th Fighter Group.
By Stephen Sherman, Feb. Updated June 2. 9, 2. Johnson survived an awful beating one day in June, 1. Luftwaffe pilot shot up his helpless (but very rugged) P- 4. Thunderbolt. If that German pilot ever knew whom he hadn't killed, he. Bob Johnson would go on to score 2.
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Fighter Group, one. ETO, under its great leader, Col. The top two aces of the Eighth Air Force, Johnson and Gabby Gabreski, both. P- 4. 7s with . Johnson first saw airplanes in the summer of 1. Army Air Corps . His Dad had taken. Bob Johnson to an air show, a big event at Post Field.
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Young Bob sat on his Dad's shoulders. Post Field was part of Fort Sill, an historic Army outpost; here.
Geronimo himself had been imprisoned and ultimately perished. In the. Indian Wars of the 1. Robert E. Sherman had passed through Fort Sill. After the air. show, Bob Johnson fell in love with flying and spent all the time he. Post Field, learning to identify Boeing P- 1. P- 2. 6s, and aching for a chance to fly. But there were many.
Lawton in those years. Cavalry mounts, fishing for crayfish.
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He was a Boy Scout, a member of Troop. Many times, when. He earned $4. 0. 0 per week, which.
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Taylorcraft. After high. Cameron Junior College, and promptly enrolled in. Civilian Pilot Training program, which allowed him to fly without.
What could have been better than that? The Draconian doctor. His life here, at the bottom on the military. After Pearl Harbor, he shipped out to Sikeston, Missouri for. Primary Flight Training (I've read a lot about WWII era military.
I still struggle with the terminology of their training. Their second assignment was called . The hazing. continued, with lots of .
But. Johnson thought the hazing was worthwhile; shortly the cadets would. Better to weed out. He. also married Barbara Morgan, his high school sweetheart towards the end.
Sikeston. They started their honeymoon in a bus full of. Army cadets, en route to San Antonio. Here he reported to Randolph. Field to begin Basic Flight Training in February 1. Now real flying. began; he learned instrument flying with the assistance of the Link. He unfortunately became engaged.
Lt. But. before it came to a head (and, by definition, Johnson would have lost). Burgess was transferred, and replaced by Lt. Maloney, who was a great. While his heart was.
Thus he indicated his choices. But he was. thrilled when the Air Corps ignored his specified request, and instead. July 1. 9, 1. 94. Fighter Squadron of the 5. Fighter Group. The 6. Bridgeport, CT, but they would go up to Bradley Field temporarily to. Republic P- 4. 7 Thunderbolts.
Johnson spent the. Bridgeport, with the 5. HP fighter, which he related in considerable. Thunderbolt! The one- time luxury liner. American. soldiers. In a harrowing, unescorted passage, the speedy liner sailed. England, counting on her speed and unusual course to avoid the.
U- boats. One tragic night, the cry went up, . But the big ship sped on.
The pilots arrived before their planes, and. But one. day, they heard a loud, distinctive rumble in they sky, and they all. Shortly, the Group moved over to Kings. Cliffe airfield, and flew it first combat missions in mid- April, 1. Just like in the movies, they synchronized watches at. Despite his excitement at his first combat mission, Johnson was.
His crew chief, Pappy. Gould, had tuned the engine perfectly, and even sanded and waxed the. Thunderbolt's aluminum skin, to lessen air resistance and add a few MPH. Everything went perfectly: run- up. Except for one minor detail - the Germans neglected to show up. After all. the preparation and hype, he .
They practiced. shooting at a towed target sleeve, but he never . Thus, the second highest scoring ace of the ETO. April 2. 9 - The 5.
Johnson was not flying that day. May 3 - He participated in a fighter sweep, but the Germans. May 5 - A scheduled bomber escort mission scrubbed due to bad. May 7 - He drew the 'spare' assignment, to replace anyone who. May 1. 3 - Another bomber escort mission, with Johnson grounded.
But on May 1. 4th, he received his baptism of fire, a . Three. 1. 6- plane squadrons of the 5. B- 1. 7s. As they flew over the Dutch coast, heavy. Hub. Zemke, leading the flight, plunged after some bandits, with Johnson and. The antagonists flashed by each other.
Johnson's guns stuck in the 'ON' position despite his. As he hammered on the trigger. Focke- Wulfs passed. When Johnson finally got. He had been constantly warned against this. His recognition skills.
FW- 1. 90s. He firewalled the throttle and. Keeping maximum speed all the way across the. Channel, he gratefully landed, only to have Hub Zemke chew him out for. It hadn't been Johnson's intention, but this. Group as a 'wild flier.'June 2.
Early in the morning forty- eight Thunderbolts took off from the. Manston. Having previously been criticized for going. Johnson resolved to stay in formation.
The. three squadrons of the 5. Fighter Group were all up: the 6.
Johnson's), 6. 2nd, and 6. Before the mission, Johnson felt the cold. They flew up, over the Channel, into France, and soon.
Fw- 1. 90s. Before Johnson could communicate or coordinate. Johnson an overwhelming urge to bail out. More explosions smashed. Johnson's frantic .
Fire. began to envelope the cockpit. As he struggled vainly with the canopy, the engine. He tried to squeeze out through the broken. Trapped inside the P- 4.
He turned the plane south, toward Spain - the. After struggling with hypoxia and. He headed back for England, counting on his. The wind constantly blew more.
He had neglected. He and his plane were horribly shot up, but. He made for the Channel, desperate to. Johnson was totally helpless, and just had to wait for the. German to get him in his sights and open up.
The German closed in. American fighter. Johnson hunched. down behind his armor- plated seat, to await the inevitable. The German. opened up, spraying the plane with 3. Thunderbolt. Johnson. German sped out in front of him. The pilot. examined the shattered Thunderbolt all over, looking it up and down.
He banked, pulled up behind. Johnson again, and opened up with another burst.
Somehow the. rugged Republic- built aircraft stayed in the air. The German pulled. Channel. As they went out over the Channel, the German get behind and opened. P- 4. 7 kept flying. Then he pulled up alongside, rocked. English. coast. Johnson had survived the incredible, point- blank machine gun.
He contacted Mayday. Control by radio, who instructed him to climb if he can.
The battered. plane climbed, and after more communication, headed for his base at. Manston. Landing was touch and go, as he had no idea if the landing. The wheels dropped down and locked and he landed. Egon Mayer. Johnsonn's opponent that day was the Luftwaffe Ace Egon Mayer: his rank. Oberstleutnant (Lt. Col). My friend, Diego Zampini, supplied.
Mayer: He started to score victories in June 1. French campaign) with the famous JG 2 . In July 1. 94. 1 his tally increased to 2.
British fighters, being promoted. Gruppenkommandeur of III/JG 2.
He was a Major when he met Robert Johnson’s P- 4. June 2. 6 1. 94. 3 and. Mayer at that flew time a Fw 1.
A- 5). On. this day the 6. FG were flying escort for 2. B- 1. 7s against. Villacoublay airfield, being intercepted by Mayer’s unit, which shot. B- 1. 7s of the 3. BG in head- on attacks.
About that time. when Mayer and Georg- Peter Eder created the deadly head- on attacks. B- 1. 7s. On September 1. Oberstleutnant Egon. Mayer (now Kommodore of JG 2) shot down three Flying Fortresses. He achieved his 1. February 1. 94. 4. Thunderbolt on March 2 1.
France while he was trying to attack an Allied bomber. Mayer was only. 2. Source: Microsoft Flight Combat Simulator: in the section .
Johnson. was interviewed by Colin D. Heaton, of Military History. Excerpts of that interview follow.
Military History: Tell us about some of the types of. Fighter Group performed. Johnson: We started flying bomber escort.
The first. missions were just flights over the coastline into France to get a feel. We occasionally met the.
North Sea, and sometimes they came over to visit us. As time went on, we. That. where I received my combat and aerial gunnery training, against the.
Germans had. MH: That's true, you were flying against Jagdgeschwader 2. JG. 2. 6 a lot- -and they were definitely a sharp group of pilots. Johnson: Yes, that's correct. They were at Abbeville.
MH: I understand that Oberstleutnant Hans. Philipp, leader of JG.
Johnson: That was on October 8, 1. My wingman. and I had become separated, as sometimes happens in combat. We were. to find some friendly airplanes to fly home with.
I had just shot down. Messerschmitt Bf- 1. As I pulled up from. I saw four FW- 1.
I rolled over until I. I could watch them, as they were some 5,0. I continued the attack.
I hit the leader, knocking him down, I felt a thump in my. I leveled out. that, and I found out 5. Hans. a 2. 06- victory ace from the Russian Front. I pulled up right in the path. Bf- 1. 10s and FW- 1. I had. engaged. Nothing.
I hit left rudder, and then I knew that my rudder cable was shot. MH: What went through your mind at that time?
Johnson: Well, the main thing was to get clear of that. I dived away with the throttle wide. I saw some friendly P- 4. My first. was to bail out, but I pulled up alongside them and found I could still. Those. were from the 6. Squadron, part of our group. I still had. the throttle wide open, and he said, .
Well, I chopped the throttle back and we. England, landing at Boxted, which was the first base we. Ironically, we were later stationed there as a group. There was one. little opening in the clouds below, and I saw there were some runways. I'll just stay up here and come in. I came in a little hot, but I.
I came in, touched the wheels. I had to hold the left rudder cable in my. I could get to my brakes. The minute I touched down I was. I pulled. off the runway in case anyone had to come in behind me. I climbed out. walked the entire perimeter of that base; I could not see due to the. I later found the other guys at the control tower, waiting on.