American Eagles - American Volunteers RAF

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He told me it was a pretty straightforward airplane, with no nasty habits, and he spent a lot of time explaining the operation of its turbo-supercharger, which was new to me. The turbo was the key to the P-47's high-altitude performance. It used the flow of the engine's exhaust to turn an impeller that compressed the air going into the engine through an intercooler, just like the turbos mounted on many high-performance cars today. The pilot had controls for the intercooler doors, and a boost control for the turbo itself on the throttle quadrant.

During the summer of 1942 I met several of the pilots who made names for themselves in the early days of the war. Navy Cmdr. Butch 0' Hare, who won the Medal of Honor for his exploits flying Grumman Wildcats off the USS Lexington, visited the squadron when he stopped in Hawaii on his way back to the mainland. The same was true of Lt. Col. Buzz Wagner, the Army's first ace of the war. He had commanded a squadron during the defense of the Philippines. Wagner gave us a rundown on the conditions in the South Pacific, and it really opened my eyes.

Made a mistake? ' d missed some key piece of information? What if! panicked and let the Poles down? No, I wasn't going to do that, I assured myself. I'd come too far, and I wasn't going to disgrace myself, my family, or my country. I imagined my father standing behind the counter in the Purity Market and how he'd smile if he knew what I was doing this very minute. He would appreciate the irony of my situation: I wasn't really qualified to get in a fight with an experienced enemy, but the only way to learn how was to go out and give it a try.

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