350th Fighter Group 345th Fighter Squadron, Italy

P47D27 350th FG 345th FS - 5A5 - RAPIN' RAVIN'
PILOT Maj. Edward J Gabor
CREW CHIEF S/Sgt Mesnick
Skin by TonyT Download Skin

RAPIN' RAVIN'

Edward J. Gabor was born on 28 March 1918 at Lake Wood, Ohio the son of Albert and Anna Gabor. After volunteering for the Army Air Corps, he graduated from pilot training and became a 2nd Lt. on 27 September 1941. He was assigned to the 52nd Fighter Group, flying P-39 Airacobras in the US and accompanied that Group to England in June 1942. On arrival there the 52nd Group was equipped with Spitfire Vs.

On 1 October 42, when the 350th Fighter Group was activated in England and equipped with P-39s, Ed Gabor was assigned to the 346th FS of the newly constituted 350th FG at RAF STATION COLTISHALL, England. He was one of the 75 pilots of the 350th Fighter Group who flew their P-39s in an adventurous 6 to 7 hour transfer flight to North Africa, just on the edge of their maximum range. Sixty one of the pilots completed the flight to destination, the remainder either encountering fuel shortages due to severe winter storms over the Atlantic, or, in one case an aircraft system failure, that forced 13 of the fighters to land in Portugal, Spain or Ireland. One additional pilot was shot down en route by a patrolling Ju-88 fighter, after he became separated from his flight in a severe storm, over the Bay of Biscay. As most of these losses occurred on two flights involving the 345th Squadron, Ed Gabor was transferred to that Squadron in March of 1943 to provide an additional experienced pilot in the unit.

During operations in Africa he was promoted to 1st Lt. and then Captain. On 27 December 1943, at age 25, he was assigned to the 345th FS as Squadron Commander and was promoted to Major a short time later. With that rank he flew until the day he was shot down, being credited with 1/2 aerial victory and effecting 200 missions in the Mediterranean Theatre. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters by the USAAF and the Croix de Guerre with Gold Star from France.

On 1 May 1945, Maj. Gabor, together with his wingman 1/Lt. Frank Judia was assigned to fly an armed reconnaissance in the Udine area. Their armament consisted of six 4.5mm rocket launchers and some 3,000 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition, each. A second section composed of four P-47s of 345th FS (Lts. Poteet, Price, Fisher and Olney) had the task to attack and bomb the airfield of Osoppo, N. of Udine. Take off occurred at 09.25 hrs and by 10.15 hrs the Thunderbolts were reaching the target area. At the same time, on the ground, there was much confusion, with the Germans having just blown up the runway and the taxi-ways and preparing to join the rest of the Germans and Cossack columns retreating to north on the n.13 highway. The four P-47 attacked the airfield and the retreating columns, but were surprised to encounter strong a/a fire, one pilot even reporting a four 20mm unit opening fire from a railway car. They reported the strong opposition to the two P-47s of Gabor and Judia, to warn them, but Gabor continued towards the area and decided to attack the long line of lorries and trucks on the highway. After a first strafing pass, Gabor decided to effect a second one: only the P-47 of Lt. Judia emerged from that pass.

The P-47D-27RE "Rapin Ravin" s.n. 42-26833 of Maj Gabor, as reported by several eyewitnesses accounts (there were many partisans in the area and even three of their lorries, following the retreating troops had been hit by the P-47s!), was hit squarely by a long burst of heavy machine-gun fire when he was only some 150ft high... he begun immediately to loose height and started a roll, until his port wing hit the ground and the plane cartwheeled at full speed, initially breaking in two before being completely destroyed. Maj Gabor died in the crash.

He was the last Allied pilot to die in action in Italy in World War Two. The surrender agreement had been signed on the 29th of April but it became effective only on the 2nd of May. Lt. Judia orbited for a few moments, then, continuing to being shot at, headed for Pisa. The body of Maj Gabor laid next to the wreckage for several days until it was recovered by the partisans and consigned to four members of his former unit (Capt. Willis, Lt. Judia, S/Sgt Mesnick - his Crew Chief and Sgt. Kenna) who reached Osoppo by jeep on 12 May 1945.

Maj. Gabor was buried in the US Military Cemetery Vada (Savona) on 15 May, but his remains were later exhumed at his family's request and returned to the U.S.A. where he was buried at Sunset Memorial Cemetery of North Olmsted - Ohio on 24 November 1947, where he still lays in peace.

This skin is dedicated to the Memory of Maj Edward J. Gabor who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defence of the freedom we have today.

Please enjoy this series skins and use them as a mark of respect for these gallant pilots, that often gave so much, that we may have the freedom to use them now.

Enjoy,
TonyT

Not for Commercial use without my express permission.

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P47D27 350th FG 345th FS - 5D3 - FLAK HAPPY
PILOT No Specific Pilot
CREW CHIEF UNKNOWN
Skin by TonyT Download Skin


FLAK HAPPY

Flak Happy was certainly a name this plane earned in combat and was certainly appropriate, since it was the only aircraft of the 345th FS to be damaged by enemy flak on three separate missions between March and April 1945.

It was always flown by different pilots, and the missions took place on 12 March, 30 March and 27 April 1945. In all three circumstances the plane received "Cat. II" damage.

It apparently survived the war.

More information is scarce for this warbird, except she was a rarity in carrying her serial number painted in red as opposed to the usual black. If any one has any more information as reards this aircraft, myself and my Co Author wode gratefully recieve it to fill in some of the missing facts.

Please enjoy this series skins and use them as a mark of respect for these gallant pilots, that often gave so much, that we may have the freedom to use them now.

Enjoy,
TonyT

Not for Commercial use without my express permission.

Click to Enlarge

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