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4th FW Airmen honor WWII history

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Peter Ising
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from the 4th Fighter Wing will pay homage to their history in World War II by launching 70 F-15E Strike Eagles in a training mission to destroy more than 1,000 targets on bombing ranges across North Carolina April 16.

Toward the end of WWII the greatest challenge in Europe for the 8th Air Force was destroying a Luftwaffe that refused to take to the air. Leadership in the 8th AF dispatched 30 B-17 and B-24 groups and 14 Mustang groups to hit targets in the area still controlled by the Nazis, April 7, 1945. These aircrews destroyed almost 300 German aircraft on the ground and were just getting warmed up.

Nine days later, 8th AF leadership dispatched 1,252 bombers and 913 fighters to find and destroy the Luftwaffe, April 16, 1945. By day's end the Airmen had destroyed 752 German aircraft, almost all on the ground in strafing attacks. Crews from the 4th Fighter Group took out 105 of these destroyed enemy aircraft.

During the war a competition began between the 4th and 56th Fighter Groups to see what unit could destroy the most enemy aircraft. The 4th FG finished the war with 1,016 aircraft destroyed and the 56th FG's final tally was 1,006. The 4th had destroyed more enemy aircraft than any group or wing in Air Force history.

On this same day, nearly 70 years later, 70 aircraft will launch with air crews ready to destroy 1,016 targets in a single day an objective that took thousands of aircraft years to do in 1945.

To learn more about the history behind this Turkey Shoot, click here to watch a video.

(Editor's note: Dr. Roy Heidicker contributed to this article)