Any landing you can walk away from…

…is a good landing!

//BREAK//UPDATE//

Information received on Valentine’s Day from a friend in Europe from a P-47 in the ETO expert in France indicates this film is of “P-47 – 42-28929, crash landing on 10 April 1945 at Eschborn (Y-74), in Germany”

Correlating information on the Joe Baugher serial number webpage indicates this serial number fell within the range of 42-28439 to 42-29466, which equates to a Block 28 P-47D (or more formally, a Republic P-47D-28-RA Thunderbolt, built at the Republic aircraft plant in Evansville, Indiana), and which comments as such:   “28929 (405th FS, 371st FG, 9th AF) in landing accident at Eschborn Airfield Y-74, Hesse, Germany Apr 10, 1945.  Pilot survived aircraft badly damaged, unknown if repaired.”

Source:  http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1942_1.html

//BREAK/ORIGINAL POST//

It’s not every day that one finds a film clip of one’s own fighter group on the internet, but snippets of the 371st Fighter Group do seem to emerge over time. The latest discovery by this web log writer is of a 405th Fighter Squadron P-47D Thunderbolt fighter making a wheels-up belly landing at an airfield on the continent of Europe. View the short 16-second clip at:

Although the exact date and location are unknown, one can look at a year (1945) shown in the original posting on YouTube, at the aircraft and the view of the open fields which may give an impression of Y-1/Tantonville Airfield, where the 371st FG was based from 20 December 1944 to 15 February 1945.

The squadron code on the fuselage reads 8N, which is the code for the 405th Fighter Squadron, and the blue colored engine cowling is another visual identifier for a “Discharge” (405th FS radio call sign) aircraft.

Note also this aircraft is an early “Bubbletop” of the P-47D-25-RE (Farmingdale-built) or P-47D-26-RA (Evansville-built). The Bubbletops built from either the Block 27 or Block 30 on, depending on source you use, had a dorsal fin fitted at the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer to improve directional stability.

According to the Joe Baugher website’s P-47 page describing the first Bubbletops, “These batches also had the R-2800-59 or -63 engines, the paddle-bladed propeller, and the “universal” wing first introduced on the “razor-back” P-47D-20-RE. Stronger belly shackles capable of carrying a 91.6 Imp. gall. drop tank were fitted. This tank, together with the 170.6 Imp. gall. main fuselage tank, an 83-gallon auxiliary fuel tank and two 125-gallon underwing tanks, made it possible to carry a total fuel load of 595 Imp. gall, providing a maximum range of 1800 miles at 195 mph at 10,000 feet.”

The pilot lands the aircraft smoothly, and has the canopy cracked open for a speedy exit if needed. He puts it down nicely on what looks like the field alongside the runway, a wise move so as not to foul or damage the runway for other aircraft. The landing appears good enough that perhaps the aircraft was repaired and restored to service.

Note the B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber in the background at :13 as the P-47 slides by, and the possibly cannibalized B-24 Liberator heavy bomber in the background near the end of the clip as the P-47s slides to a halt.  The tail markings on the B-24 appear to be a natural metal vertical surface with a black bar down the middle, like something the 44th Bomb Group (H) would have had.

An aircraft serial number would help in researching this, but the film quality doesn’t allow for such identification. Plus, it appears the olive drab camouflaged tail and rudder may be battle damage repair “replacement” parts from a cannibalized Razorback. Which begs a question as to whose serial number may have been o the tail of the aircraft, the Bubbletop’s or the Razorback’s?
References:

368th Fighter Group P-47 Thunderbolt variations, serial numbers and production webpage, at: http://www.368thfightergroup.com/P-47-2.html

Joe Baugher website, P-47 webpage, at: http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_fighters/p47_4.html

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