Dakota Territory Air Museum – P-47D Restoration Update – September/October 2022
, 2022-10-23 07:00:00,
As the P-47 nears flight status, it is worthwhile to revisit the conversations we have had with some WWII P-47 pilots over the last six years. Two of these pilots signed the P-47’s main access door, while a third left his signature inside an oxygen access panel. It was both an honor and a privilege to speak with these combat veteran pilots, and we appreciate their generosity in signing a part of our Thunderbolt.
Major General Dewitt Searles
Major General Searles was extremely generous with his time; he corresponded with me on several occasions via email and telephone.
In an email on May 12, 2016, Major General Searles relayed his opinions about the P-47’s capabilities as a fighter aircraft. He was 98 at the time and didn’t feel up to traveling, but he suggested that we send him a removable panel from the P-47 so he could sign it.
When General Searles remarked on his flying experiences in the P-47, he stated: “I remember it fondly and preferred it to any other fighter in the war – including the P-51’s that were assigned to us during my last few months in the Pacific.”
“I do remember escorting B-25s when flying with both the 342nd and the 460th squadrons. My first mission escorting B-25s was to Wewak. The B-25s flew directly down the airstrip dropping parachute retarded fragmentation bombs. We provided top cover. We also joined B-25s during attacks on Japanese shipping in Ormoc…
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