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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.|
Colonel Arthur C Fiedler
*Signature Value : £35
|Arthur Charles Fiedler was born in Oak Park, Illinois on August 1, 1923. In April of 1942, five months after America entered WW 11, Fiedler enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He was sent to Avon Park, Florida for primary training, followed by basic training at Macon, Georgia, and advanced training at Marianna, Florida. He graduated with Class 43G in July of 1943, and was assigned as a flight instructor, flying Republic P-47 Thunderbolts at Dover, Delaware. In April of 1944 Second Lieutenant Feidler was assigned to combat duty, and was assigned to the 317th Fighter Squadron of the 325th Fighter Group (the "Cheekertails"), based in Lesina, Italy. He transitioned to the North American P-51 Mustang, naming his assigned aircraft after his wife "Helen" whom he had married in 1943. On June 24, Fiedler claimed a probable. On June 28 he attained his first two aerial victories. At that morning's briefing Fiedler was elated to learn that his squadron's mission would be a fighter sweep over Polesti, Rumania, in advance of a bombing mission targeting the massive oil refining operations in that area.. When flying fighter escort for bombers the fighters were prohibited from flying below 15,000-feet. This gave the Germans a dog fighting advantage, as the early Allison-powered Mustangs were good performers at low altitudes but relatively poor performers at higher altitudes. Forty P-5 Is from the 325th 17G took off at 0725 hours for the fighter sweep. Sweeping the target area at 25,000-29,000 feet for about 45 minutes a total of 47 enemy aircraft were encountered. During this mission Fiedler would earn his first two victories. Fiedler became an ace on July 26 when he downed his fourth and fifth aircraft, a Fw- 190, south of Vienna, and a 109 several minutes later. Promoted to Captain, Fiedler attained his eighth and final victory on January 20, 1945 while escorting B-17s to Regerisbuurg. His flight of four P-51s broke-up an attacking force of 40 German fighters. Following the War Fiedler left the military and attended the University of Illinois, earning a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. He was recalled for active duty during the Korean War, and decided to make a career in the Air Force. In addition to his 66 combat missions flown in WW 11, Fiedler would fly 247 combat missions in C-130s during the Vietnam War Col. Fiedler retired from the USAF in 1975, and currently resides in Southern California. His decorations include the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross with one OLC, the Air Medal with 22 OLCs, and the Partisan Star.|
|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.|
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