The Famous 354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group
This website is dedicated to the men of the 354th Fighter Group. Assigned to the Tactical Ninth Air Force the 354th Fighter Group was the first unit to take the Packard Merlin engine P-51 Mustang into combat escorting heavy bombers in the strategic bombing campaign in December 1943. With the Mustang’s long-range and maneuverability the 354th changed the nature of war and rescued the Eighth’s Air Force daylight strategic bombing campaign over Europe. The Pioneer Mustang Group became the highest scoring aerial fighter unit in the United State Army Air Force.
There are literally hundreds of pages meticulously written by 354th group historians at squadron level to headquarters covering day to day operations. Unit histories on this website are a concise narrative from those pages that began at the 354th activation at Hamilton Field, California to the end of hostilities in Europe.
General Eisenhower's Famous Fourth of July Flight In A Modified P-51B Mustang
By 356th FS Command Officer Capt. Richard E. Turner
On July 4, 1944 the Allied Supreme Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower flew in a modified P-51B Mustang with Ninth Air Force Fighter Command Maj. Gen. Elwood R. "Pete" Quesada at the controls to reconnoiter terrain for a planned battle operation.
The P-51B Mustang "The Stars Look Down", was specially modified by the 461st Air Service Group. New information by Karen Calhoun Kasjaniuk provides additional insight on the men involved in getting "The Stars Look Down" ready for the historic flight.
Flight Journal D-Day 70th Anniversary August 2014 Issue
Witness To History: D-Day Fighter Pilot Richard E. Turner, 356th FS.
In his memoir, Lt. Col. Richard E.
Turner recalled D-Day for the Ninth
Air Force's 354th Fighter Group at
Maidstone, Kent. He describes the
"Pioneer Mustangs" rare D-Day
missions: night escort of troop
carrier aircraft gliders. Barret Tillman.
Live Bait: Fighting with the Pioneer Mustang Group - Capt. Clayton Kelly Gross, 355th FS.
Then 1st Lt. Gross recalls his first
impressions of the P-51 Mustang
and tangling with the Luftwaffe on
long-range escort missions.
Also, how his Mustang "Live Bait"
came to be named.
Capt. Gross ended the war with six victories during two tours and owes his survival to the P-51 Mustang.
Flight Journal's D-Day 70th Anniversay Issue Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ralph Delgado recounts his experience downing one of the Luftwaffe's new jet fighter as a Mustang fighter pilot with the 354th Fighter Group in Europe over 70 years ago. He claimed his big victory in March 1945 while returning from a strafing mission in Germany, he spotted an airfield below with enemy aircraft activity. His victory over the ME-262 was the 700th enemy plane shot down by the 354th. The article can be viewed here: Tampa Bay Times For more information about Lt. Col. Ralph Delgado, Jr., visit his: website
Also, available at bookstores or where magazines are sold.
Mustang Fighter Pilot Ralph Delgado's ME-262 Shootdown
Town 'n Country man has vivid memories of his time as a WWII pilot - Tampa Bay Times Article by Philip Morgan
Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ralph Delgado recounts his experience downing one of the Luftwaffe's new jet fighter as a Mustang fighter pilot with the 354th Fighter Group in Europe over 70 years ago.
He claimed his big victory in March 1945 while returning from a strafing mission in Germany, he spotted an airfield below with enemy aircraft activity. His victory over the ME-262 was the 700th enemy plane shot down by the 354th.
The article can be viewed here: Tampa Bay Times
For more information about Lt. Col. Ralph Delgado, Jr., visit his: website
354th Fighter Group
Aircraft Builders History
Memorials, Cemeteries and Museums:
World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C.
If want your photos featured on this website please contact the Website Coordinator: 354thpmfg.com. If you are interested in submitting a tribute for any member of the 354th Pioneer Mustang Group please contact the website coordinator.
These people provided assistance and contributed materials. I am eternally grateful to the 354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group Association, without them this website would not be possible.
354th Fighter Group Historians: Capt. Arthur F. Brown, Capt. Fredrick S. Burkhardt -HQ, Lt. Albert J. Feigen - 353rd FS, Lt Donald F. Snow - 355th FS, Lt. Gabriel M. Bernstein - 356th FS, Capt. Albert D. Fowler - 356th FS, Lt. Charles F. Kennaw - 353rd FS, Rudolph A. Tholt - HQ.
The 354th Fighter Pioneer Mustang Group Association, William W. Louie, Charles "Chuick" Tighe, Ray Bain, Norm Davis, Alan Grant, Rosemary Krebs, Larry Wood, Roberta Roddy, Robert D. Davis, Walter Harrington, Jon Teboe, JMT Productions, Robert W. Lamb, Paul Cornell, Jr., Jack Cook, Ted Skowronek, Hugh Gibson, The Al Styrsky family, Nantucket Historical Association Digital Exhibition - Robert Young, Jr., Jack E. Wimer, Doug Gifford, Jim Pierce, Walt Fink, Catherine and Millicent Carrizales, Tripp Alyn.
Thanks to DemusDesigns for providing this open source web template and StuNichols for allowing use of the gallery script.