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Osprey Aviation Elite 7 : 354th Fighter Group
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Osprey Aviation Elite 7 : 354th Fighter Group

Dubbed the 'Pioneer Mustang Group', the 354th Fighter Group was responsible for debuting the Merlin-engined P-51B in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) in December 1943. Its arrival in England in the autumn of that year also saw the groups become the first fighter outfit to be assigned to the newly created tactical Ninth Air Force. Due to the Mustang's outstanding range, it was quickly seen as being the ideal bomber escort for the Eight Air Force's long range heavy bombers, which were suffering terrible losses on daylight raids deep into Germany. The 354th FG was to subsequently spend the first seven months of it time in the ETO protecting Eighth AF bombers, and many pilots became aces during this period. Resorting to its tactical role following D-Day, the 354th moved to France soon after the invasion, and fought on over the continent through to VE-Day. Text by William Hess with illustrations by Chris Davey.

 

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