Saturday, 14 September 2013 01:10

Lt. Robert Griffiths

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P-47 Pilot Lt. Robert Griffiths joined the 510th Fighter Squadron in August of 1944. He flew his first missions helping pave the way for US troops to gain ground in Europe. By the time he was flying, the Luftwaffe was virtually wiped out. He longed for air to air combat, but it didn't look like he was going to see much.

That all changed on December 26th 1944 otherwise known as the Battle of the Bulge. Griffiths was one of 11 P-47's from the 510th in the air when they
ran into a flight of 30 FW-190's. The 2 flights circled each other for nearly 5 minutes before Lt. Larry Gaughran became tired of the horsing around
and cut into the FW-190's flight path with his guns blazing. The fight was on. In a matter of seconds it was all over. They had knocked down 6 German
planes, and had 3 probables. One 510th pilot was hit and forced to make a Emergency landing. He was picked up by Allied troops. Griffiths had 1 Aerial Kill that day as well as one probable. Griffiths was happy to have his chance at a real dogfight and now assumed that his excitement for the war was more than likely over. He couldn't have been more wrong!

Fast forward to April 20th 1945. The 510th was sent to Brandenberg Airfield in Germany to knock out ME-262's that were based there. The flack was extremely heavy. After Griffiths had already knocked out 3 of the ME-262 jet fighters and was making another pass over the field when a German gunner put a 40MM shell thru Griffiths wing making roughly a 5 ft diameter hole. His P-47 started vibrating heavily. He managed to climb his plane to 4000 ft then trying to bail out. He quickly realized that his canopy was jammed and to make things worse he realized that one of his 500 lb bombs would not release. He contacted his
squadron commander Capt. Ralph Jenkins with his Dilemma. Jenkins managed to find Griffiths and get level with him. He then tried to pry Giffiths 500 lb bomb loose with the tip of his P-47's wing. After the 2nd try Jenkins wingtip snapped off. Any chance for Griffiths to make a crash landing was now gone. His plane was still vibrating fiercly. Jenkins called in for a emergency landing area for Griffiths. After recieving a clear strip, Jenkins escorted Griffiths there. Griffiths managed to get his plane down sliding off the end of the runway. The bomb never let loose and Griffiths survived. For destroying the 3 ME 262's and getting his plane down, Griffiths was awarded the DFC Captain Jenkins was awarded the Silver Star for the attempt at prying the bomb from Griffiths wingtip.

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