Pilots of the 506th Fighter Group

Pilot: Ed Linfante | Nickname: none | Rank: 2nd Lt. | Squadron: 462th | Plane: 618 | Name: Shanghai Lil | S/N: 472588

 

Ed Linfante
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Born on Nov. 21st, 1922. in Jersey City, N.J.
As child of Lindbergh era very interested in Aviation.
Joined Jersey Airwheels Model Airplane Club circa 1937
Graduated from Dickinson H.S (J.C) in June 1939.

Flew glider, rubber-powered and gasoline engine powered models in free- flight contests. Also built scale models of airplanes like F4B biplane that placed 2nd in Loew's Only Angels Have Wings contest. Placed 1st or 2nd in every indoor and outdoor free-flight (endurance) contest entered. Established new Internationally recognized record for Senior, Class E Towline Glider World Record on August 25, 1940.

Worked in a few menial jobs, like getting 25 cents/hr at Betty Jane Commercial Bakery.
Then as a Sheet metal layout apprentice ( starting about mid 1941 at 56 cents/hr) at the Federal Shipbuiding and Drydock Co in Kearny, N.J. who were building Light Cruiusers and Destroyers for the Navy. Then left my draft-exempt job to enlist in the Aviation Cadets on Dec.12th, 1942 when they eliminated 2 years college requirement.

Cadet or not, started as a Army G.I.that included Infantry Training in the Winter rain and snow at Brigantine Fld near Atlantic City, N.J. Then sent to Geneva College, PA as a so-called Aviation Student along with others in Spring of 1943. While there got 10 hours of familiarization flying at Butler Airport in an Aeronca. Hey, before I even knew how to drive a car. Worst fault---leveling-off too high on landing.

Then to Nashville, TN for grading on whether suitable for pilot, navigator or bomardier training. From there to Maxwell Fld (SE Training Command) for pre-flight and hazing followed by being sent to Lakeland, FL for Primary Flt Training in Stearman PT-17s, class 44D. Soloed after apprx 10 hrs of flt instruction that covered about 60 hrs..

Thence to Basic flying (Vultee ?) BT-13s and BT-15s at Courtland, AL, followed by Advanced at Craig Fld, Selma, AL flying AT-6s and where I got my wings, 2nd Lt bars and 10 hours in P-40Fs and Ns, graduating on April 15, 1944.

Then on to Pinellas AFB in St. Pete, Fl where I checked out and trained in P-51s and on to Lakeland as a charter member of the 506th's, 462nd Ftr Sqdn in Oct. 1944.

Recollections

Yes! The angled in toward the cockpit black stripes on top of the wings were supposed to be used as an aid for dive-bombing. Your height and distance aside of the target before you dived dictated which line to use. I believe(?) that the higher you were the farther out stripe was dictated.

Every 506th Mustang had those stripes. I don't recall seeing them on any other Mustangs including those I flew later in the NJANG. We had very little practice in using those stripes. No mention of them was made when briefed for dive bombing Chichi's Susaki Airfield --my 1st combat mission. The emphasis was on diving steeply from about 11,000 ft to recover above 3,000' to avoid deadly machine gun fire from the surrounding 1200' or so high hills. I was Capt Lee's wingman on that mission. Perhaps some recall of that mission may be of interest.

Our arrival over Chichi was heralded by the explosion of a phosphorous shell that produced a large grayish-white octopus-shaped burst
immediately in front of us at about our altitude. We reformed our formation into four, 4 planes in trail formation prior to dive-bombing. I thought about what stripe to use and realized I had to follow Capt. Lee whatever stripe he decided on or ignored (which he did). After Lee dropped his bombs and started leveling off I dropped mine. Never saw his or my bombs hit during the pullout. We were down to 2,000' and turned to strafe some gun emplacements on our right.

As I was firing with Lee on my left he suddenly banked sharply into my line of fire forcing me to stop firing. I recall also firing at what appeared to be the entrance to the radio tower supposedly demolished 6 months earlier by former, TBF carrier pilot G.H.W. Bush, and then some small ships anchored in Futami Harbor. Afterward when checking the Mustangs for battle damage it was noted that Lee's Mustang had a hole in his right wing that entered from above. Later, when viewing my gun camera film it showed Lee's sudden appearance in my film. So it was concluded that one of those 50s already on it's way punctured Lee's wing. Capt. Lee gave me, a lowly 2nd Lt., quite a chewing out. I had hoped to see Capt. Lee at one of our reunions.

But due illness, death or other, he never attended any. Some died before our 1st, 1985 reunion. Our dive-bombing was limited to Chichi and some of the other nearby islands. Never Japan. Needed those mounts for external fuel tanks. Movies, etc. showed or implied that the German Stukas pushed over from level flight to dive bomb. Our buddy Charlie Dell implys the same in dive-bombing straight down with his A-36 Mustang. However, the steeper you dive, the sooner you must drop your bombs and start your pullout. Perhaps you get better accuracy but our method was to fly left or right of the target then rollover steeply in direction of the target, aided by the stripes if possible, and limit our dive angle to not more than 70 degrees. You needed dive brakes to control speed, track and accuracy otherwise. To sum up, I doubt that those special stripes on our Mustangs were ever used to any extent for their intended purpose. As I said they were never mentioned in the briefings. I also noted that Suzaki Airfield was heavily pockmarked and practically useless from earlier bombings by our 15th and 21st group Mustangs and prior B-24 bombers and carrier aircraft. Seemed foolish to keep bombing a dead > horse. Good practice I guess.

The best opportunity I (we) had was on an early mission escorting B-29s I believe to Osaka when we spotted a flight of Jap fighters at 10 O'clock low about 3,000 ft below us. But our leader, Deputy C.O. Lumpkins warned us to stay with the bombers under threat of court-martial if we attacked them. We were chagrinned. At the debriefing were told that on an earlier mission 15th ftr gp pilots did that and 2 B-29s were shot down by an up sun flight of Jap fighters. Apparently the lower flt were decoys. Gen'l LeMay was sorely pissed off about  that and gave that order. However, that order was canceled soon after as far as I know. As Zagorsky's wingman  I only got the chance to fire on Jap A/C twice under very hazy conditions. We both got hits but no confirm bcause the damaged Jap chandelled into the clouds very close to an almost hidden mountain and not seen again. Thus, no confirm.

Hey, but as Crew Chief Crapser said, You're (me) probably the only Iwo Ftr Pilot who had a verified World Record  in Model Aviation at age 17. I'll send you a copy along witrh some other stuff that proves my long-standing involvement in Aviation starting in my teens on up to 2001 even on call after retiring from work in 1986. May be of intrest. If not there's always the waste paper basket..


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