Assigned to the 5th USAAF, the famed 8th Fighter Group was the first American fighter group to fight in New Guinea, rapidly developing into an ace-making group following introduction of the P-38 Lightning aircraft which replaced the group's war weary P-39 and P-40 fighters. Notables amongst the 8th's pantheon of skilled pilots: Jay T. Robbins, Ed "Porky" Cragg, Danny Roberts, Norb Ruff, Cy Homer, Ken Ladd, Marion F. Kirby, C.M. "Corky" Smith, Ken Giroux, Dick West, Johnny Jones, Louis Schriber, John Dunaway, Paul Murphy, Bill Gardner, "Pappy" Turner, Lynn Witt, John Stanifer, and John Loisel.
35th Fighter Squadron top-scorer was Dick West, a feared adversary in a P-38 - or at a poker table. His aircraft's personalized artwork reflects upon his reknown as a poker player. In a total of of 173 combat missions, West encountered airborne enemy aircraft only eight times, yet was credited with 14 aerial victories and eight "probables".
36th Fighter Squadron top-scoring ace, William Kenneth Giroux with eleven confirmed aerial victories, four "probables and a 10,000 ton tanker to his credit, flew 196 combat missions for a total of 620 combat hours, before being shot down on Christmas Day, 1944. Surviving, Giroux returned to the U.S. in February, 1945.
Top-scorer in the 80th Fighter Squadron ("Headhunters") - and Texas' top-scoring ace, Jay T. Robbins is seen here with Dick West on his left wing and Ken Giroux on his right. Robbins, who became deputy commander of the Eighth Fighter Group in September, 1944, continued to fly combat missions with the 80th Squadron until he rotated back to the U.S. in December, 1944. By then, Robbins had flown 181 combat missions with credits for 22 aerial victories over Japanese aircraft, all in the Southwest Pacific Theater of Operations.
Image size: 18" x 24"
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