Did Frisky have tri-color tail markings?

This posting falls into the “I don’t know” category, and in this case, it means I didn’t know what to make of the tail markings on this 404th Fighter Squadron ship taken around the end of the war in Europe. The lack of many 371FG images in the public domain makes understanding of unit markings and changes rather challenging, as the matter is just not well documented. And even fewer pictures are in color. Trying to make sense of unit markings years later for any outfit can be rather sporting.

A 404th Fighter Squadron P-47D on the ramp at Furth Airfield, 1945 (Wikipedia)

A 404th Fighter Squadron P-47D on the ramp at Furth Airfield, 1945 (Source:  142FW entry in Wikipedia)

The description of this 1945 picture in Wikipedia is as follows:
“Republic P-47D-28-RE Thunderbolt Serial 44-200284 of the 404th Fighter Squadron, 371st Fighter Group, at Furth/Industriehafen, Germany.

USAF Photo from the United States Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB Alabama From “History and Units of the United States Air Force”. G.H.J Scharrings, European Aviation Historical Society, 2004. Image credited as USAFHRA Photo.

The pilot in this photo is Lincoln Derick, who actually owned the negatives to this color photo. The war was over and Linc is standing by his steed. He gave me copies of this photo a few years ago. He took many colored photos during his tenure with the 371st FG, 404th Squadron. Linc passed away about 10 years ago.”

Another view of this aircraft with the tri-color tail top markings can be seen at the 371FG page on the wonderful “Ciel de Gloire” website, which recaps the aerial victories achieved by members of the group:

Another view of P-47D 44- at Fürth, 1945 (Source, Ciel de Gloire, courtesy of Harry Strahlendorf)

Another view of P-47D 44- at Fürth, 1945 (Source, Ciel de Gloire, courtesy of Harry Strahlendorf)

However, what was puzzling was that the tri-color markings on the top of the tail seen on the 404FS ship above are not observed in another color picture taken at Fürth of a different 371FG P-47, probably belonging to Lincoln Derrick (and probably him in the picture), of a 406th Fighter Squadron ship, P-47D-28-RE Serial Number 44-20097.

A 406th Fighter Squadron on the ramp at Furth, 1945 (Source:  Wikipedia)

A 406th Fighter Squadron on the ramp at Furth, 1945 (Source: Wikipedia)

The Wings Palette website has a profile for a late-war 404FS ship, “Always Marge!” which, like the 406FS ship pictured above , does NOT have the tri-color tail top. See the profile at:

http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/16#177

This leads one to suspect that perhaps the 404th ship photographed by Derrick Lincoln at Fürth with the tri-color tail may very well be a transfer from another fighter group or fighter squadron. But there were so many P-47 groups and squadrons in Europe during WWII.  Which one could it be?

A brief internet search produced another group that had this kind of tail marking, the 367th Fighter Group. Consider the markings of this 392nd Fighter Squadron P-47D of the 367th Fighter Group, as seen in this wonderful Hasegawa Models box art:

Box art for Hasegawa 1/32 scale P-47 plastic model kit (Source:  Hasegawa)

Box art for Hasegawa 1/32 scale P-47 plastic model kit (Source: Hasegawa)

This tri-color tail top paint pattern is also seen in color profiles of aircraft from two different P-47 squadrons in the 367FG, as seen on the Wings Palette site:

367FG, 392FS P-47D-28-RE “Duck Butt” at: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/15#176

367FG, 394FS P-47D-20-RE “Poutin’ Poot” at: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/10#213

Transfer of aircraft between units is not unheard of, though the reasons for such a transfer are not always clear. In the case of the 371FG and the 367GFG, both units were briefly stationed at the same airfield at the same time in the spring of 1945, at Y-74, also known as Frankfurt/Eschborn Airfield. The 371FG arrived on 7 April 1945, and the 367FG on 20 April. It is likely that a 367FG ship, for whatever reason, was transferred to the 371FG while both units were at Frankfurt. The 371FG left Y-74 for Fürth on 5 May 1945, after which the Lincoln pictures were taken. This assessment appears to solve the mystery of the 371FG tri-color tail markings, unless someone else has another point of view to share on the subject.

References:
142FW entry on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/142d_Fighter_Wing

367th Fighter Group entry on Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/367th_Fighter_Group

406FS P-47D color picture in Wikipedia, at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:P-47-44-200097-406fs-371fg.jpg

Ciel de Gloire website pages for
371FG page at: http://www.cieldegloire.fr/fg_371.php

367FG page at: http://www.cieldegloire.fr/fg_367.php

Eschborn Airfield entry on Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eschborn_Airfield

Fürth Airfield entry on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%BCrth_Airfield

Hasegawa Models page for 1/32 scale Thunderbolt model, at: http://www.hasegawausa.com/product-pages/hsgs8202.html

Joe Baugher USAAF Aircraft Serial Numbers for 1944, at:
http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1944_1.html

Wings Palette P-47 color profiles section:
371FG, 404FS P-47D-30-RA “Always Marge!” at: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/16#177

367FG, 392FS P-47D-28-RE “Duck Butt” at: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/15#176

367FG, 394FS P-47D-20-RE “Poutin’ Poot” at: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/10#213

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