Welcome. If you haven't been here before, this particular neighborhood is inhabited by the fascinating legacy of the Slybird Group.  Underpublicized and not as famous/notoroius as some of their compatriots, they were the 353rd Fighter Group of the England-based 8th Army Air Force during WW2. The table of contents is a chronology of the group's contribution to the Air War over Europe beginning with "05 EARLY ON".  

 

 The Planes
The "Jockey 74"  p-51  Page
Preparation
1944 Operations
 "Black Thursday" 10/14/43

In Acknowledgment

Major Henry J. Bjorkman was the 353rd FG Group Intelligence Officer from 1943 until the end of the war. He was unusually astute at recording the daily operations of the 353rd Fighter Group and the 3 Squadrons assigned to it.  At the end of the war, the records ended up packed in a box and stored in a barn in Connecticut.

There they stayed for almost 18 years, until the authors of the book (Kenn Rust and William Ness) "The Slybird Group" became aware of them. The records were thereupon promptly lost in the mails for two years.  Arriving in California, the records reached the authors and have since become part of the historic collection at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum in Ohio.

A good many of the pictures are from the personal collections of many of the pilots as well as USAF and 353rd records. (we will credit these in the near future as soon as the site is completed ) The book was published in 1968 and has been out of print for years, though a stray copy pops up every once in awhile.

While much attention has been given to the more publicized 4th, 78th, 56th, and 352nd Fighter Groups, the 353rd accomplished incredible things; both individually, as squadrons and as an entire Group. It was home to some of the most accomplished combat pilots to ever pin on a set of wings. For instance, few are aware the 353rd was the only fighter group to have a significant impact in mitigating the slaughter of B17s on the Schweinfurt-Regensburg raids on Black Thursday, this despite the powerful odds against them.

Originally based at Metfield and only the fourth American Fighter Group to be assigned to the Eighth Air Force, "The Slybirds" moved to Raydon in April of 1944.   Despite a heartbreaking loss of CO's in combat operations, they produced numerous Aces and earned much, though unpublicized, recognition while flying escorts, sweeps, interdictions, and participating in Black Week, Big Week, D-Day, The Bulge, and many more epic battles right up until their last combat mission over Hitler's Eagle Nest to close out the last few days of hostilities in the European Theater.

In addition to photos from that time, we have tried to add and will try to continue to add various types of artwork and renderings, some by myself like the one above, and some by others where possible, to make things a little more interesting.

You will meet some fascinating, highly skilled, courageous pilots. You may become familiar with names like Juntilla, Blickenstaff, Bailey, McCollum, Kepner, Duncan, Rimmerman, Morris, Newhart, Waggoner, Beckham, Grove, Bartley, Cundy, Tanner, and many, many others. If you do, we hope we may have added in some small way to your understanding of the WW2 fighter aircraft, and more importantly, the American Fighter Pilot as personified by "The Slybirds."

  You will need this for certain documents such as the complete mission listing     Slybird Contents Chapter 1 Early On