World War II Tactical Fighter-Bomber Terms and Abbreviations

In reading P-47 pilot’s memoirs I come across plenty of jargon, slang, and abbreviations; most of which I remember.  There are some terms I’m still looking for definitions, and I suspect I’ll be adding to the list the more I read.

Adkin – Forward Controller with XV Corps
Angels X – Altitude, usually in thousands of feet above sea level.  For example, Angels 15 for 15,000 feet above sea level.  Angels 0 would mean flying on the deck.
API – Armor Piercing Incendiaries
Army Organization Officers:
     S1 – Personnel / Administration
S2 – Intelligence
S3 – Operations (Including training)
S4 – Logistics / Supply
S5 – Civil/Military Operations
S6 – Signal
ASN – Army Serial Number
Baggage – Control Center 2 for the 64th Fighter Wing, located at Biol, near the Maritime Alps
Bandits – Unidentified enemy planes (see also Bogies)
Bogies – Unidentified Planes (see also Bandits)
Bomb Safety Line (BSL) – a line placed about 1000 feet in front of the troops – usually based on some physical feature easily identifiable by air – beyond which it was safe to engage attack enemy targets.
Boxcar – Control Center 1 for the 64th Fighter Wing, located in Dole
CAVU – Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited
Close Air Support (CAS) – Air action against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces.
Counterpayne – a ground controller
D/F – Direction Finding
E/A – enemy aircraft
Egg Basket
Elite – Forward Controler with VI Corps
Flamer – Getting a target to burn
Fliegen – German for pilot
Foxhunt – To fly straight and level and drop bombs on command from the ground controller
Frag Order – Modifies the unit’s current order but does not completely change the original order
GCA – Ground Control Approach.  Radar and specially trained personnel guided planes through clouds for landings.
GLO – Ground Liaison Officer
GP – general purpose, as opposed to a special purpose bomb like a fragmentation bomb or incendiary
Halfbake – name of assigned ground controller
HDV – Horse-drawn vehicle
Horsefly – an L-5 aircraft hovering near the front lines with a pilot and an army observer on board.  In contact with the forward air controllers – but talked directly with the fighter-bomber attack.  A plus against moving enemy targets.
Hung Bomb – A bomb that did not release and stayed attached to the aircraft
IFF – Identification Friend or Foe
Jabo – German for dive bomber
Jug – The P-47 Thunderbolt
Kosher – Forward Controller with French I and II Corps
Milk Run – an easy mission
MOS – Military Occupational Specialty (at this time 1055 was for fighter pilot)
MT – motor transport
NRO – No Results Observed
Pickle-barrel mission – Also called blind-bombing or SCR-584 missions.  A concept created by Col. Blair Garland – he combined microwave early warning radar with anti-aircraft SCR-584 gun laying radar.  The radar operator acted as the bombardier, correcting the heading of the flight and counting down bomb release.
Pineapple – Designed to strike lucrative moving targets discovered by tactical aircraft on reconnaissance missions.
Pineapple (Sundae) – This usually featured a flight of fighter-bombers orbiting at prearranged positions and waiting for a target at the same time that a tactical reconnaissance mission (usually at last light) was being flown.
Pipper – the gun sight
Rover Frank – a variation of Rover Joe where pilots would call Rover looking or gun batteries identified the day before.
Rover Joe – Forward controller, at least one combat pilot and one army officer – taking positions in a well-concealed observation post, preferably a hilltop with a good view of the front lines.  Radio equipment,operated by enlisted men, usually behind the hill protected from enemy fire.  Contained the necessary maps and photos of the terrain they were covering.  Rover Joe could talk directly to the flights.
Show – mission (could also be a job, as in Good Show!)
Skip Bombing – Flying directly at and over the target at extremely low altitude, releasing your bomb a fraction of a second before reaching the target
Boxcar – name used by Wing Command to pass on occupational instructions
Slow-Time – Flying new engines below a per-determined power setting for a per-determined length of time until broken in
SOP – Standard Operating Procedure
To The Firewall – a term based on pushing the throttle and (propeller) RPM control forward as far as they would go



  • P-47 Pilot: Scared, Bored & Deadly – Jack Pitts
  • FM 101-5  Staff Organization and Operations
  • Case Studies in the Development of Close Air Support, edited by Benjamin Franklin Cooling
  • Angels zero – Robert Brulle
  • First TACAF:  First Tactical Air Force in World War II – Victor C. Tannehill
  • Angels Zero: P-47 Close Air Support in Europe – Robert V. Brulle


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P-47 Pilots Books and Memoirs

To learn more about tactical air force pilots, squadrons, and history I’ve taken up reading pilot memoirs and autobiographies.  As such, I’ve compiled a list of the books I’ve read, in alphabetical order by pilot.  As I add to the collection I’ll update this post.  I have a bunch on my list, so expect to see more books added.

Only Angels Have Wings – by Arlie J. Blood, Col. USAF (Retired).  1997 Golding Publications.  510th Fighter Squadron, 405th Fighter Group.  From the back:
A Pilot’s Story.  Colonel Blood, whose mother died when he was very young, grew up during the depression years shuttled from relative to relative until, at the age 16, he ventured out on his own.
His burning desire to become a pilot was finally fulfilled when he joined the U.S. Army Air Corp. in 1942.  During a mission over Europe in his P-47, he was shot down by German AAA.  With the help of the French Underground he evaded capture and joined the French Resistance movement.  He recounts fighting side-by-side with his French comrades, eventual capture by the Germans and subsequent escape, rejoining the French Maquis where his creative plan to liberate two French cities allowed him to rejoin the U.S. forces, after 4 months behind enemy lines.
After more than 22 years in the U.S. Air Force, and 17 years with Northrop Corp., he retired to a life of leisure and travel.  The story comes full circle when after 50 years, a series of events leads to a reunion with his French comrades.
The word “Hero” is used often, but most deservedly for all the men and women who have fought to preserve our freedom
After reading this book, you will ask, “When are they going to make the movie?”

Tail-End Charlie – by James E Brown. 2017.  524th Fighter Squadron, 27th Fighter Group. From the back:
On his nineteenth birthday, James E. Brown tries to fake to his flight instructor that he has flown before. On his twenty-first birthday, Brown is on his way home after logging eighty-five missions in a P-47 fighter over Italy, France, and Germany.
Brown’s stories surrounding his training and combat experiences in World War II reveal brushes with death, continuous peril, and ultimately, a coming of age for a young man whose freshman year in college becomes instead a heroic engagement with one of the fiercest enemies his country has ever encountered.
Ever dutiful to the mother who tells him to “write it down, Jamie,” Brown notes his experiences in the journal she provides and adds detail later to deliver a firsthand account of life as a pilot in the final months of combat within the European Theater.
Serving as Tail-End Charlie – for the last man out – in most of the missions he flew, Brown’s job was to record results for the interrogation officers afterward. But Brown offers much more insight in this memoir. Follow his triumphs and travails with colleagues who become lifelong compatriots during an indelible period in American history.

Angels Zero:  P-47 Close Air Support in Europe – by Robert V. Brulle.  2000 Smithsonian Institution. 390th Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group.  From the inside dust jacket:.
Relatively unheralded in the annals of World War II combat, close air support of infantry and tanks was key to Allied success in two of the  war’s fiercest battles:  the Hurtgen Forest campaign and the Battle of the Bulge.  Flying rugged P-47 Thunderbolts nearly at ground level – or Angels Zero – over northwestern Europe, the pilots of the Ninth Air Force strafed and dive-bombed bridges, rail yards, supply depots, troops, and tanks.  Frontline ground support was the most dangerous of air operations, exacting heavy casualties even among skilled pilots.
Robert V. Brulle, who flew seventy ground support missions with the 366th Fighter Group, links his daily experiences in the cockpit not only with the battles in which he participated but also the events in the wider European theater.  Combing anecdotes from his personal diary, research in U.S. and German records, and interviews with participants from both sides, Brulle details a combat career that began just after D-day, when he flew column cover for Allied troops as they chased the German military out of France.  He then describes the brutal, six-week Hurtgen Forest campaign, during which his fighter group lost fifteen pilots and eighteen aircraft.  He also tells how the otherwise bitterly fought Battle of the Bulge provided the 366th with an opportunity to successfully engage sixty Luftwaffe airplanes in a dogfight directly over their airfield.
Angels Zero combines both personal and historical detail to vividly re-create a lesser-known aspect of the air war in Europe.

Fighter Bomber Pilot – by Bill Colgan. 1985 Tab Books Inc.  525th Fighter Squadron, 86th Fighter Group. From the back:
Drawing on his own real-life experiences as a United States Army Air Force fighter-bomber pilot in the Mediterranean and European Theaters during WWII, Bill Colgan has written a fascinating and highly readable addition to the annals of WW II history!
With 208 combat missions to his credit Colgan eventually rose to the rank of Major and squadron commander. He also spent time as a Forward Air Controller assigned to work with ground combat troops to call in and coordinate air strikes. From these unique perspectives, he recounts the thrilling and sometimes terrifying life of the P-40 and P-47 fighter-bomber pilots…as well as the day-to-day life, living conditions, attitudes, moods, friendships, and fighting spirit of our air and ground combat troops during WW II.
You’ll get a pilot’s-eye view as you fly along on those air-to-ground missions in fighter planes fitted with bombs, napalm, and rockets as well as machine guns. You’ll join them as they escort bomber missions, fly air patrols over beachheads…as they attack close support of ground troops and as they seek to destroy enemy trains, railheads, trucks, shipping and troop columns…and as they fend off enemy fighters and ground-to-air fire.
Although the author has carefully verified his facts and figures with official records and other references, most of the material in this volume has never previously been published. Certainly, no first-rate account of the men and experiences of the 79th and 86th Fighter Groups has heretofore emerged. As a result, this is a fascinating new angle on World War II combat that no military or history enthusiast will want to miss!
A career officer with the U.S. Air Force, Bill Colgan’s last assignment before retiring as a Colonel was as Commander, 326th Air Division in Hawaii. As a young officer in the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II, he was among the most experienced and decorated pilots, mission leaders, and squadron commanders in fighter-bomber combat.

“Flyboy” Memoirs of a P-47 Pilot – by Kenneth Lane Glemby.  2002 Kenneth Lane Glemby. 514th Fighter Squadron, 406th Fighter Group.  From the back:
Kenneth Lane Glemby served in the United States Army Air Force from 1942-1946.  He was a member of the 9th Air Force, 406th Fighter Group, 514th Squadron.  Kenneth flew a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber named “Paula” – after his wife of now over sixty years.
Kenneth and the 406th Fighter Group supplied air support to Allied ground forces during the now famous “Battle of the Bulge,” during which the 406th earned its second Presidential Citation.
In his interview with Norman Auslander, Kenneth recounts his personal experiences during World War II as a fighter pilot, from hearing of the attack at Pearl Harbor, to enlistment, basic training, flight training, deployment to the European Theater, to combat, and finally coming home after victory in Europe.
Understand and experience the history of World War II first-hand as recounted by one of “The Greatest Generation” who lived through it, and fought to keep the world free from fascism.

P-47 Pilots: The Fighter Bomber Boys – by Tom Glenn. 1998 MBI Publishing Company.  From the back:
The P-47 Thunderbolt knocked out Tiger tanks and pulverized reinforced gun emplacements in a single pass. It dove at 500 miles per hour, driving bombs into concrete bridge abutments that exploded seconds later. Thunderbolts struck such fear in the hearts of German troops that they would surrender without ever having been fired upon by Allied ground forces.
First designed as a high-altitude escort fighter, the P-47 was transformed into a fighter-bomber aircraft for service in the European theater during World War II. Part of the Ninth Air Force, these planes out-fought the best Luftwaffe aircraft and shot down more German planes than any other aircraft in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
History has labeled the select few who flew the P-47 the Fighter-Bomber Boys – an elite group who lived and fought as if there were no tomorrow. The typical fighter-bomber pilot had to be supremely egotistical and fanatically aggressive to do his job. He abhorred such ground force tactics as holding your ground, withdrawing to a defensive position, or waiting for reinforcements. He knew one thing only, attack-attack-attack. There were no foxholes in the sky.
P-47 Pilots: The Fighter-Bomber Boys tells the story of these daring mend and the plane they came to love like no other. Whether you are a warbird enthusiast or not, you are sure to be riveted by author and former Fighter-Bomber boy Tom Glenn’s thrilling tale. Come along for the ride as Fighter-Bomber Boys terrorize the crack German round troops and battle-wise Panzer divisions. Live with a squadron of these glory-hungry air warriors who fight the enemy at tree-top level with machine guns and bombs. Attend classified briefings, go on hair-raising missions, and celebrate with them at the end of the day as P-47 Pilots: The Fighter-Bomber Boys dives into the best and worst times of squadron life.

Thunderbolt! The Extraordinary Story of a World War II Ace – by Robert S. Johnson with Martin Caidin. 1958 Uncommon Valor Series Reprint.  61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group. From the back:
Thunderbolt! first published in 1958, is the memoir of Robert S. Johnson, one of the leading fighter pilot aces of the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II. Flying the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Johnson is credited with 28 enemy kills, and was the first pilot in the European theater to surpass Eddie Rickenbacker’s World War I tally of 26 enemy planes destroyed. The book puts the reader squarely in the cockpit of the Thunderbolt as Johnson describes his many missions, encounters with German pilots, and close-calls, and remains a classic account of wartime aviation.

When Duty Calls: A WWII Fighter Pilot’s Experience – by Robert Page. 2008 Tate Publishing and Enterprises.  315th Fighter Squadron, 324th Fighter Group. From the back:
The war knocked on the door, the question remained “would I answer, or would I pretend I wasn’t there.” The call was too strong and I entered into one of the most rigorous military programs known to man. This book will put you in the cockpit alongside a 21-year old World War II fighter pilot. You will read what it feels like to be shot down while strafing a German airfield located in Stuttgart, Germany, which happed to be the 99th mission of this flight commander leading twelve P-47 airplanes.
The 99th mission of this fighter pilot was to destroy a German railroad yard northeast of Stuttgart. While on this mission, another pilot communicated that he observed dust coming from the Stuttgart airfield. Get involved in what happens next by reading this thrilling biography from one of the last great fighter pilots of World War II. Come along for the ride!

P-47 Pilot:  Scared, Bored, & Deadly – by Jack Pitts.  1995 Pitts Enterprise Publishers.  404th Fighter Squadron, 371st Fighter Group.  From the back:
Jack Pitts was a World War II fighter pilot, flying 90 combat missions over Europe in his beloved P-47 Thunderbolt, which he describes as “a lovely, deadly machine of destruction.”  Read his descriptive summaries of these missions, written immediately after completion, and copied here exactly as written in 1944 and 1945.  He considers his exploits, his fears, his boredom and his esprit de corps to have been typical of the young men flying against Hitler’s armies at that important time in history.
Share his vivid memories of many of the events that occurred during those combat missions, including fascination with the gun flashes the first time an enemy plan was firing at him.  Read how, within an estimated two-second time frame, that fascination turned to fear, then anger, and then to resolve, with the thought: “This is what I was trained for.  I’m better than they are.  Let’s get it on.”  Put yourself in the cockpit while strafing an airdrome at 500 mph, with your propeller only two feet off the ground, while flak and machine gun fire is all around you.  Pray with him when he has problems.  Go with him in a dive-bombing run against heavily defended targets, described such that you will feel like you are actually flying the plane.
He describes his mistakes, his “dumb stunts,” and the misfortunes that almost got him killed, as well as the fortuitous events that accent the “almost.”  Also included are interesting accounts of youthful escapades, both during training and in the combat area.

Fighter Pilot Jazz – by Hall Shook.  2005 Humanomics Publishing.  506th Fighter Squadron, 404th Fighter Group.  Back contains testimonies.

My Three Years in the Army Air Forces in World War II – by William Thomas Wright.  2014 Lulu Publishing Services. 397th Fighter Squadron, 368th Fighter Group.  From the back:
This is the story of an 18-year-old who was always fascinated with airplanes and wanted to learn to fly.  He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and became a fighter pilot in Europe in 1944 and 1945.  He flew 65 missions with the 368th Fighter Group primarily in support of the ground forces as they moved from Normandy through France and into Germany.  It describes the challenges of learning to fly a military airplane both in training and in combat.  It also reveals some details of the life in training and in combat that help mature young men for their future family life and careers.

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P-47 Videos

This post is mostly so I don’t lose some links to cool P-47 videos.

As I find other videos, I’ll add them here.

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Back Online

Wow, it has been a long time.

When I look at the last post on the blog, I see a date of August 28, 2015…sheesh, almost two and a half years.

So, what’s been up?  And where is this blog going?

First, the modeling.  I think the status of my modeling has not changed since my last posts.  Literally.  Sad, but true.  I have a P-40 to fix and a Mosquito to finish.  When I checked my feed reader the other day, I saw that the Combat Workshop is back in business, and that will help me get back to the bench.  My paints still stand on my desk; I wonder what the shelf-life is for paints, I may need to restock.  Non-modeling life has gotten in the way, and I’m looking forward to getting back at the bench; I find it very relaxing.  As a side note, I used to post actively at Fine Scale Modeler’s forums.  They updated their forum, and I have never been able to log back in.

Second – you will notice that images here have disappeared.  Yes, I used to use Photobucket.  About six months ago, I logged in to another of my WordPress blogs and discovered the issue.  I never remember seeing notification that their terms were gong to change.  I know this is a huge issue, it’s been discussed all over the internet and I’m not going to beat a dead horse.  I’m not going to say anything other than I am now looking at other hosting plans and photobucket is not even being considered.

Third – history.  I have a whole bunch of projects in the hopper; and I’m sure that there will be posts on these various projects in the near future (at least I hope.)  Yep, I’m still working on the 324th Fighter Group, and more specifically, the 315th Fighter Squadron.  But, I’ve taken on more projects (by choice.)  I have been delving into the 1st Tactical Air Force, the development of close air support in World War II, P-47 pilots and bases like Camp Kilmer.  I hope to have posts up sharing information and looking to collaborate.  I’m finding more and more that history is my passion.

The best I can say is watch this space for more.

Happy New Year and I hope 2018 is great for you.

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Sprue Cutters Union – Invisible Detail

I haven’t blogged much lately, in fact, I haven’t been at the bench much either.  I’ve wanted to, but life has gotten in the way.  I have one kit to fix due to a horrible accident where a model actually attempted flight.  And, I  have to finish up the Mosquito.  I find I’m being drawn to 1:1 scale planes…and not necessarily models.

However, I learned that the Sprue Cutters Union has a new home, and I have scant few days to get a post up for this month.  The topic is:  Do you paint/finish/detail areas of a model that will never be seen?

My answer:

Some quick background:  as I do not have a dedicated display area for my models, I’ve purchase individual cases for each model.  Each model sits on a base (that I’ve worked on as well) and rests under a clear acrylic case.

So, no, I usually do not detail places that can not be seen.  Behind the instrument panel, behind the seat, behind the visible portions of the engine….I will paint and detail just enough in case someone is looking at a funny angle.  As for wheel wells and bombay doors, those I’ll give a little more detail as there is a greater chance of visibility.

For the most part, the answer is no.

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Sprue Cutter’s Union: Old Dog, New Tricks

Though, I don’t like to think of myself as old; and I certainly haven’t been back to modeling for very long, maybe a couple of years – there are some new tricks to be learned.  2015 has me finishing up a model that I’ve been working on for most of 2014.  And, I have a couple I want to get to this year.  I’m ecstatic that the Union is back, and our new topic is:

What new products/techniques will you purchase/attempt this year?

I have three ideas in mind for this year.

1.  The Tamyia Mosquito I’m working on has decals for an instrument panel.  Of course, the decals don’t fit the plastic perfectly.  And cutting them will only make the IP look funny.  This year, I’d like to try adding photo etched parts, maybe only a few, to my cockpits.  I don’t mind the painting of the detail spots, or dry brushing to make the detail pop.  I’ve seen lots of model with photo etched parts, and those cockpits usually look outstanding.

2.  I’m working on my second model that will have a camouflage paint scheme.  While my first model came out looking “ok,” I free-handed the camo, and it sort of looks like it.  I’d like to try the silly putty method of adding camouflage to the model – I’ve seen a bunch of HowTos, and the results look really good.

3. This last one is a maybe, and will depend on what I’m building.  I’ve never built a plane in a Natural Metal Finish scheme.  Depending on subjects, I may actually give this a whirl.  But, I’m adding it as it may actually come to pass.

So, as I move through the year, I’ll document what I try, and you’ll be able to see the results here.

Here are some results from other SCU members:

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Nose Art

Here’s an interesting site.  I was looking at different P-47 pictures, when I came across a site of the Bug, which I built a long time ago.  This site contains information on planes with nose art.  None of my other builds have appeared here, but none have had the same caliber nose art as the Bug.


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