Personal Stories

Cool headed pilot Joe Angelone, and his hair raising adventures. Way to go Joe!

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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 at Grosseto, with me leaning on the landing gear, in September 1944. 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.

57th fighter group: Joe Angelone

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.