Debden Eagles

The 4th Fighter Group was one of the US Army Air Forces’ premier combat units during World War Two. Malcolm V Lowe describes its operations and famous leader, Don Blakeslee

Eighth AF Thunderbolts using Debden’s grassy surface as a taxiway prior to take-of. The WD-coded aircraft in the foreground was part of the 335th FS.

Renowned for its red-nosed Mustangs and referred to by some historians as the ‘Debden Eagles’, the 4th Fighter Group (FG) became one of the significant frontline units in the Allies’ inventory against the Luftwaffe. Achieving a very high total of confirmed aerial victories during the latter half of the war, the group’s origins dated back to much earlier in the conflict. It grew out of three US-manned RAF squadrons originally constituted for American volunteers, when the US itself remained stubbornly neutral.

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