"As we look back to some 42 years ago,
we have all asked why we, as a Group, were
able to distinguish ourselves as newcomers
in a deadly game that others were playing
as veterans. There are probably many answers,
but two come to mind immediately. First, we
were blessed with a great group of energetic
personnel, support and pilots, who quickly
adapted to the peculiar circumstances of war
in the desert. In this respect the R.A.F.
did a great job of "breaking us in"
to a war which they had been fighting in Africa
for three years.
Second, we were lucky to be fed into an organization,
the Desert Air Force, where Masters of the
Air Doctrine followed the correct concepts
to defeat the Luftwafte in Africa. Perhaps
this second point is a little bit hazy or
maybe we have forgotten about it. So lets
look at the British Intelligence summary written
just after the fall of North Africa in May,
"The complete collapse of the German
Air Force in North Africa is one of the more
remarkable features of the Allied Victory.
It is not enough to say that we had overwelming
superiority - nor is it true to say that we
had superiority in types - no one could claim
that the Hurricanes, Tomahawks, and Spitfires
were in the same class with the ME 109F, ME109G
and ME202. Again it would be untrue to suggest
that the GAF had not put its best pilots into
the campaign for many famous German Fighter
Units had been identified here and a number
of their most vaunted leaders had been operating
against the R.A.F. - Perhaps the truth of
the matter lies with the very fact that the
German Air Force is virtually a part of and
subservient to the Army. Precisely because
of this complete subordination of purely "air"
considerations to Army requirements, the G.A.F.
has made its most abject failures."
So there you have it. With high esprit de
corp, great enthusiasm, and the correct tactical
air doctrine under which we operated, it is
no mystery that our Group was able to distinguish
itself, collectively, and individually into
what at least we like to think as the best
fighter group in World War II."
--Archie J. Knight
Col. USAF (Ret.)
COLONEL ARCHIE J. KNIGHT was a N.E. Command
weather officer in 1942 but through Scheming,
ingenuity, and the help of 57th friends was
able to transfer to the war-bound 57th where
he served in various staff functions of the
Group succeeding Colonel Salisbury on April
23, 1944 as the C.O. He was the last of the
72 pilots to take off from the carrier, carrying
the word that all had taken off successfully
and had reached land. He led the Group from
April of 1944 until shortly after the end
of hostilities in Europe, being reassigned
to the U.S. on May 24, 1945. He was one of
the very few pilots that remained with the
Group as long as the ground personnel - from
beginning to end.