Personal Stories
Commanding Officers of the 57th FG:
Colonel Archie J. Knight

"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, 1943.

"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.

Egypt, Western Desert, Tobruk. 1942. Pic courtesy Greg Eigenfeld.

At rest. Pic courtesy Greg Eigenfeld.

Colonel Knight in a P-51D. Pic courtesy Greg Eigenfeld.