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|Signatures on this item|
|*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.|
Maj Urban L Drew USAF (deceased)
*Signature Value : £40
|Urban "Ben" Drew was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1924. Three months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, at the age of eighteen, Drew joined the USAAF and commenced pilot training. He earned his wings and a commission at Mariana, Florida in October 1943. He remained in the States honing his flying skills as an instructor pilot for the North American P-51 Mustang at Bartow, Florida. In May of 1944 he received his first overseas combat assignment, sailing to England on the Queen Elizabeth. He was assigned to the 375th Fighter Squadron "Yellowjackets" of the 361st Fighter Group based in at Bottisham in Cambridgeshire. Later his squadron would be relocated to Little Walden in Essex. During his combat tour Drew would fly a total of seventy-five combat missions, rising to command of X Flight and later to command of the 375th squadron. Drew would be officially credited with six aerial victories during his combat tour. Notable was his downing of two Me-262 jets on October 7, 1944. He was the first fighter pilot to down two of the German jets, and he received the Air Force Cross for this achievement. Also of note was the ace's destruction of the largest aircraft to fly in WW 11, the BV-238, which he destroyed in a strafing pass with two wingman on Lake Schaal on September 18, 1944. Initially he was credited with the destruction of a BV-222, and it was not until many years later during the research for a British Broadcasting Company documentary that it became clear that it was a BV-238 which Drew and his wingmen strafed and destroyed on September 18, 1944. Following his successful combat tour, Drew returned to the States where he again served as a flight instructor. In 1945 he was assigned to the 412 th Fighter Squadron of the 414 th Fighter Group based at lwo Jima flying the P-47 Jug. Drew's final victory tally included 6 confirmed aerial victories, 1 damaged, and 1 additional aircraft destroyed on the ground. In addition to the Air Force Cross, Drew was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and 14 Air Medals. Following the War Drew helped organize the 127 th Fighter Group of the Michigan National Guard. He became Deputy Group Commander and later was appointed the first Air Adjutant General of the State of Michigan. After his retirement from the Air Force with the rank of Major, he established an aviation business in Britain and South Africa. He currently resides in Southern California, and remains active in matters involving the American Fighter Aces Association. Sadly we have learned that Ben Drew passed away on 3rd April 2013.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Mustang||The ubiquitous North American P-51 Mustang, which many consider to be the best all-around fighter of WW II, owes its origins to the British Air Ministry. Following Britains entry into WW II in 1939, the RAF was interested in purchasing additional fighter aircraft from American sources, particularly the Curtiss P-40. Curtiss, which was busy, was unable to guarantee timely delivery so the British approached North American Aviation as a possible second source for the P-40. North American chose to propose its own fighter design which would use the same Allison engine as the P-40. Utilizing new laminar flow wings, the North American fighter was expected to have performance better than the P-40. Developed in record time the new aircraft was designated as a Mustang I by the Brits, whereas the USAAF ordered two for evaluation which were designated XP-51 Apaches. Intrigued with the possibility of using this aircraft also as a dive bomber, North American proposed this to the USAAF which decided to order 500 of the P-51 aircraft to be modified for dive bombing use. Designated as the A-36 Invader, this version of the Mustang utilized dive flaps, and bomb racks under each wing. Some reinforcing of the structural members was also required because of the G-forces to be encountered in dive bombing. A-36s entered combat service with the USAAF prior to any P-51s. In early 1943 the 86th and 27th Fighter Bomber Groups of the 12th Air Force began flying A-36s out of Northern Africa. Despite some early problems with instability caused by the dive flaps, the A-36 was effective in light bombing and strafing roles. It was not, however, capable of dog fighting with German fighters, especially at higher altitudes. Despite these drawbacks one USAAF pilot, Captain Michael T. Russo, who served with the 16th Bomb Squadron of the 27th Fighter Bomber Group, was credited with five confirmed aerial victories in the A-36, thereby becoming the first mustang ace.|
|Me262||The Messerschmitt Me-262 Swallow, a masterpiece of engineering, was the first operational mass-produced jet to see service. Prototype testing of the airframe commenced in 1941 utilizing a piston engine. General Adolf Galland, who was in charge of the German Fighter Forces at that time, pressured both Goring and Hitler to accelerate the Me-262, and stress its use as a fighter to defend Germany from Allied bombers. Hitler, however, envisioned the 262 as the aircraft which might allow him to inflict punishment on Britain. About 1400 Swallows were produced, but fortunately for the Allies, only about 300 saw combat duty. While the original plans for the 262 presumed the use of BMW jet engines, production Swallows were ultimately equipped with Jumo 004B turbojet engines. The wing design of the 262 necessitated the unique triangular hull section of the fuselage, giving the aircraft a shark-like appearance. With an 18 degree swept wing, the 262 was capable of Mach .86. The 262 was totally ineffective in a turning duel with Allied fighters, and was also vulnerable to attack during take off and landings. The landing gear was also suspect, and many 262s were destroyed or damaged due to landing gear failure. Despite its sleek jet-age appearance, the 262 was roughly manufactured, because Germany had lost access to its normal aircraft assembly plants. In spite of these drawbacks the 262 was effective. For example, on April 7, 1945 a force of sixty 262s took on a large force of Allied bombers with escort fighters. Armed with their four nose-mounted cannons, and underwing rockets the Swallows succeeded in downing or damaging 25 Allied B-17s on that single mission. While it is unlikely that the outcome of the War could have been altered by an earlier introduction or greater production totals for this aircraft, it is clear to many historians that the duration of the War might have been drastically lengthened if the Me-262 had not been too little too late.|
See our aviation history timeline for all today's historical aviation events - air victories, aircraft losses and pilot details.
|RECENT UPDATES TO OUR AVIATION HISTORY DATABASES|
|Updates made to Aircrew database for : H. J. Walters : Squadrons updated (added No.58 Sqn RAF), Squadron service dates updated|
|Updates made to Aircrew database for : D. C. Beddow : Squadrons updated (added No.51 Sqn RAF), Squadron service dates updated|
|Updates made to Aircrew database for : Pilot Officer Rainford Gent Marland : First name updated (now Rainford Gent), Date of death updated, Deceased updated, Aircraft updated (added Hurricane), Squadrons updated (added No.229 Sqn RAF), Airframes updated (added Hurricane Z5617), Squadron service dates updated, Rank updated (now Pilot Officer)|
|New victory claim added : Fw190 claimed on 2nd May 1943 by Stanislaw Brzeski of No.302 Sqn RAF|
|Updates made to Aircrew database for : J. Badcock : Squadrons updated (added No.83 Sqn RAF), Squadron service dates updated|
|Updates made to Airframes database for : Hampden P4299 :|
|Flying Fortress Mk.F-85-BO 42-30038 of 100th Bomb Group added to the airframes database.|
|JGr Losigkeit added to the squadrons database.|
|Warrant Officer David Fraser added to aircrew database :|
Was on his 4th Operation as a Rear Gunner with 115 Sqn on Wellingtons when he was shot down by night fighters on a raid to Hamburg on 10th May 1941. He then spent 4 years as a Prisoner of War.
|New victory claim added : He111 claimed on 26th September 1940 by Jozef Jeka of No.238 Sqn RAF|
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