Flag Drop - Go!
Lt. Ernest Fiebelkorn North American P-51D Mustang 'June Nite' LCUSAAF InsigniaN
Original Sold
8th Air Force 20th Fighter Group 77th Fighter Squadron
No Print Edition
Station 367 RAF Kings Cliffe October 1944

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40cm x 20cm (15.75" x 7.9") 50cm x 31cm (19.7" x 12.2") Graphite on Pastelmat  Picture Code: AV022-P-51D-20FG

Lt. Ernest Fiebelkorn - Pilot - 20th Fighter Group
Lt. Ernest Fiebelkorn
As a band of dark October cloud begins to clear away from the skies over Northamptonshire, England, Lt. Ernest 'Fieb' Fiebelkorn releases the brakes on his P-51D Mustang 'June Nite' at the moment the Runway Control Officer drops his flag to signal a 'go' for take-off. It was all part of the usual pre-mission ritual which culminated in the gathering of each Squadron's aircraft at the end of their elected runway, carefully marshalled into three Flights of four machines plus any spares and all lined up to take off in pairs. With the preceding P-51s on their take-off run, Fiebelkorn and his wingman have moved forward to the front on the queue and hold their aircraft on the brakes waiting for the Flagman to spin his flag high over his head and signal that it's time to run up the revs in anticipation of an imminent departure. From his prime spot on the verge of the windswept runway, the eyes of the Flagman, an experienced pilot from the unit, follow the disappearing P-51s down the tarmac checking for a safe clearance before sending Fiebelkorn and his wingman on their way and triggering another cacophony of roaring Merlins. On this occasion Fiebelkorn is leading out Blue flight from Kings Cliffe, home station of the 20th Fighter Group on another long trip to escort the 'heavies' to attack factories and Luftwaffe Control Stations around Nurnberg deep in the Reich.

Fiebelkorn's P-51D 44-11161 LC-N 'June Nite' was named after his wife whom he'd married in 1943. By this stage of the war much of the scheme applied to the 20th Fighter Group's aircraft for D-Day was gone leaving the plane in a well-worn and mostly natural aluminium finish with the remnants of the invasion stripes limited to a section under the fuselage. It also wears the unit's distinctive black and white 'piano keys' on the nose and a repeated white identification code letter in a black circle on the tail distinguishing it as one from the 77th Fighter Squadron.

Lt. Fiebelkorn joined the 20th Fighter Group in January 1944 having graduated from flight training the previous August at Williams AAF Base, Arizona. At 6ft 4in, he was one of the Eighth Air Force's biggest pilots and it must have been a squeeze fitting inside the confines of the P-51 cockpit, but it clearly didn't prove much of a hindrance in combat as he finished the war as the 20th Fighter Group's top scoring ace with 11 victories. On 8th November 1944 Fiebelkorn went head to head with one of the Luftwaffe's new fleet of Messerschmitt Me262 jets piloted by Austrian ace Walter Nowotny and claimed his final aerial victory shared with Lt. Edward Haydon from the 357th Fighter Group. At war's end he had reached the rank of Capt. and went on to fly F-82 Twin Mustangs in Korea where he sadly lost his life on a mission in July 1950.

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