Click on photos to enlarge!
66th Fighter Squadron Joe Angelone's P-47 #71 "Toots"
at Grosseto Italy, 1944.
This picture of "My New 71"
was taken on Corsica at Alto Air Base.
This was the same airplane as the one in the photo
with me leaning on the landing gear, in September
We had my armament mech's nick name, "LIL ABNER"
on the starboard side. His
name was Homer Duchon, and he had a striking resemblance
to a well known
newspaper cartoon character of that name. He was also
a great man to take
care of my guns. They always worked to the last round.
This picture here is of the same airplane
in the two previous photos... I had
a tire blow out at 100 mph during a full load takeoff
with it. The ship
swerved into a pile of dirt along side the runway
that was being used to
finish filling bomb craters in the runway. The landing
gear was wiped out as
the ship dug a wingtip into the dirt and almost pitched
over it's nose onto
it's back. A trail of fuel from ruptured fuselage
tanks and the crushed torn
away belly tank boomed into flames as the ship slammed
back down onto it's
belly from a vertical tail up position. I was fortunate
to exit the cockpit
as the local fuel swooshed into flames, and then run
like hell down the fire
free corridor between the fuselage and belly tank
flame trails. The bombs
didn't cook off, so this photo shows what was left
after the fire.
This would have been my third mission
for the day. Instead, I spent the
remainder of the day admiring how blue the sky looked,
how green the grass
was, and how sore my internal organs were from the
rough stop maneuver.
I got a new airplane and it lasted for
the rest of the war.
I never had a tire blow-out before the
incident previously described. But I later had another
tire blow on takeoff. I recognized it and went through
the water injection gate and snatched it off the ground.
I flew the mission, and when we returned to the field
I landed last. I was proud to keep it on the center-line
during roll out.
Joe Angelone on left, and Homer V. Duchon on right. Homer is the armament crew chief nicknamed
"LIL ABNER" on Joe's ship. Thanks to granddaughter Stephanie Lynne (Kell) Ragon for this wonderful
addition to the story.