Dale E. Dunn. P-51 Fighter Pilot, 8th AF, 361st FG, 374th FS


Dale Eugene Dunn, Lt., Fighter Pilot, USAAF, 8th Air Force, 8th AF Fighter Command, 67th Fighter Wing,  361st Fighter Group, 374th Fighter Squadron (The Yellow Jackets), Bottisham (just to the east of Cambridge) and Little Walden airbases U.K., (base transfer date Sept. 26, 1944-16 days after Dale's landing accident) 70 Missions. Flew a P51D10 Mustang (#44-14166). Service number: 0-710679. 
b. August 2, 1922 - d. January 9, 1997 74 years old

Early life:
Music major; Morningside College, Sioux City IA, 2 years at college.
Met Rosemary, his college girlfriend, whom he later married after the war.
Enlisted in USAAF 1942

May 1944
In May 1944 the 361st Fighter Group converted from Republic P-47 Thunderbolts to North American P-51 Mustangs.

September 10, 1944
The following is from the 8th Air Force Operations History and indicates that on September 10, 1944 at Bottisham airbase Dale was involved in a landing accident, which severely damaged his plane #44-14166. A link to the 8 page accident report is at the bottom of this webapge. The squadron code "B7-V" was apparently later reassigned to Captain Lucius G. LaCroix's P-51D "Lil Bunyep" 4152__ as shown in the photo taken in January 1945 during or just after the end of the 6 week Battle of the Bulge. That photo appears on p. 122 of the book "Little Friends."  ("Little Friends: A Pictorial History of the 361st Fighter Group in World War II" By Steve Gotts, Taylor Publishing Company; Dallas, Texas. Hardbound. 1993. Two copies are still available from Amazon.com at $40).


1944-09-10 : Aircraft: P-51D10 (#44-14166). Organization: 374FS / 361FG of Bottisham, Cambrdigeshire. Pilot: DunnDale E. Notes: landing accident. Location: Bottisham, Cambrdigeshire England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5

[Another record below described it as a crash landing. It was damaged beyond repair.]
44-14166 P-51D 374 B7-V
      Crash-landed Bottisham 10 Sept 44 - Lt. Dale E Dunn

Aircraft: P-51D10 (#44-14166). 
Organization: 374FS / 361FG of Bottisham, Cambrdigeshire. 
Pilot: Dunn, Dale E. 
Notes: landing accident. 
Location: Bottisham, Cambridgeshire England. 
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/

Airplane damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)


Bottisham Airfield where Dale Dunn had the landing accident of Sept. 10, 1944. The "Pierced Steel Plank" (PSP) mat runway ran NE-SW.
(Below) Bottisham in 1942 (and turned counterclockwise from the above photo).

 There are additional good aerial photos of the airfields at the U.K.'s American Air Museum website.

September 26, 1944 the 361st FG moved to the airbase at Little Walden, U.K.
 
March 11, 1945
In the book Little Friends, "Lt Dunn / Lt. Mitchell" are listed as leading Mission 370 on March 11, 1945 to the Aachen area in Germany, escorting a B-17 (singular). Four aircraft (a "flight" of two "elements") were dispatched on the mission. No aircraft were lost. No enemy aircraft were claimed destroyed in the air or on the ground during the mission. 
Time up:12:21, Down 17:43  or 5 hours 22 minutes ( One 361st FG combat tour was 300 hours).The Aachen area is located on the western central border of Germany where the Netherlands and Belgium meet (The 361st FG typically escorted 8th AF B-17 and B-24 bombers but also did ground attacks. There is no 8th AF strategic attack on Aachen in the 8th AF Combat Chronology for either March 11, 1943, 1944, or 1945. It may have been a photo reconnaissance mission, weather mission, special bombing mission, or less likely, a leaflet drop, spy drop, etc., "Carpetbagger" type missions dropping spies or leaflets, typically using B-24s or B-26s, were usually conducted at night.)  
Dale flew the P-51D "Red Rose" (named after Rosemary), The D model had the bubble canopy and 6 (instead of 4) .50 caliber machine guns in the wings. The plane markings or Code for Red Rose was "B7-V." B7 is the squadron's code. V is the particular plane in the squadron. The number on the tail was 414166. The serial number was #44-14166. 44 was the year of manufacture or 1944. The paint scheme was probably similar to the well-known aerobatic plane "Ferocious Frankie" or "B7-H" from the same squadron also featured in the Brad Pitt tank movie "Fury." 


A photo Dale Dunn furnished to Steve Gotts that was published just inside the front cover of the excellent book "Little Friends" (1993, available from Amazon.com or the 361st website.) This photo may not appear in later editions which have also been expanded. I asked on the 361st Fighter Group Facebook webpage what the meaning of the plus sign on the fuselage was and received an answer within seconds:

"Martin Kyburz  It means fuselage tank installed, a leftover from the P-51B days where the early ships didn't have one and later were retrofitted - the cross appeared white on OD ships and black on NMF ships - early D's (D-5, D-10's) were marked likewise because they served along with B- and C-models."


This photo establishes that after Dale's September 10, 1944 Bottisham landing accident with "Red Rose," the squadron code "B7-V" was reassigned by Jan. 1945 to Capt. LaCroix's "Little Bunyap." (Source: Little Friends p. 122).


Dale Dunn's fighter group had reunions up until at least 2003. The fighter group has a website with a forum or message board where people ask questions and say who and what they are looking for or researching. A request for more information about Dale E. Dunn has been left on the Message Board.

The You Tube video below is of the P-47D "Ferocious Frankie," painted in the squadron paint scheme of Dale Dunn's 374th fighter squadron. It is a well known aerobatic airplane in Duxford, UK and at European airshows.
The following is a short history of the 361st Fighter group from the national 8th AFHS website.

HISTORY:

Constituted as 361st Fighter Group on 28 Jan 1943. Activated on 10 Feb 1943. Joined Eighth AF in England in Nov 1943. Entered combat with P-47 aircraft on 21 Jan 1944 and converted to P-51's in May 1944. Operated from England during 1944 but sent a detachment to France for operations in the Battle of the Bulge (Dec 1944-Jan 1945), moved to Belgium in Feb 1945, and returned to England in Apr 1945. Served primarily as an escort organization, covering the penetration, attack, and withdrawal of bomber formations that the AAF sent against targets on the Continent. Also engaged in counter-air patrols, fighter sweeps, and strafing and dive-bombing missions. Attacked such targets as airdromes, marshalling yards, missile sites, industrial areas, ordnance depots, oil refineries, trains, and highways. During its operations, participated in the assault against the German Air Force and aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 Feb 1944; the Normandy invasion, Jun 1944; the St Lo breakthrough, Jul 1944; the airborne attack on Holland, Sep 1944; and the airborne assault across the Rhine, Mar 1945. Flew last combat mission on 20 Apr 1945. Returned to the US in Nov. Inactivated on 10 Nov 1945.


The excellent Bottisham Airfield Museum website has the following information about the 361st FG

"1943 - The Americans Arrive

However, during the summer of 1943, the Air Ministry Works Directorate began work on enlarging and improving the facilities at Bottisham in preparation for the arrival of new tenants: the 361st Fighter Group, United States Eighth Air Force, comprising the 374th, 375th and 376th Fighter Squadrons, plus seven support units. Having arrived in the UK aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Group, Commanded by L/Col. Thomas J.J. Christian, Jr., was established in December 1943 as the last 8th Air Force fighter group to be equipped with the P-47 Thunderbolt and was tasked with providing escort to the Eighth’s daylight bombing offensive as well as conducting ground attack missions. On 3 January 1944, RAF Bottisham was officially handed over to the Americans and the base was renamed Army Air Force Station F-374. On the 21st, the Group flew its first combat mission and, a few days later, the main runway was widened using Pierced Steel Planking (PSP) to allow for formation take-offs. 

During the first four months of 1944, the 361st gave a good account of itself against the Luftwaffe, despite the range limitations of the P-47 but, in May of that year, converted to the long-range P-51 Mustang. Successes continued during the summer, but not without losses which included one of the squadron commanders and the Group CO, who were both killed in action over France. In September, L/Col. Joseph J. Kruzel took command of the Group and the 376th Squadron took a heavy toll of enemy aircraft on the 27th. However, by the end of the month the Group had moved to Little Walden in Essex and Bottisham fell silent. In total, the 361st had flown 214 missions, claiming 148 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air and 86 on the ground, for the loss of 39 pilots."


The 361st's sequence of airbases:

Bottisham, England, 30 Nov 1943
Little Walden, England, 26 Sep 1944
Chievres, Belgium, 1 Feb-Apr 1945
Little Walden, England, 9 Apr-3 Nov 1945

.________________________________________________
Later Life:
Married, 10 children, many grandchildren and great grandchildren, worked as a medical doctor
"Dale entered Creighton Medical School and they started a family. Dale and Rosemary moved to Estherville, Iowa where they lived until Dale moved his practice to Omaha in 1963. The family continued to grow and Dale's practice flourished while Rosemary continued to raise their ten children.
"
Dale Eugene Dunn passed away on January 9, 1997

-----------------------------------------------------
Notes:
1. There are a couple of Lt. Mitchells who might have flown with Dale Dunn to the Aachen area. Mitchell's recollections, diaries, pilot log, or other records might shed additional light on that mission.

2. One singular cross (not a victory cross, since it appears on some other planes in the same way) is marked on the P-51  "Red Rose" in the photograph of Dale standing in front his plane. The photo is published in Steve Gotts' book "Little Friends" and is just inside the front cover of the hardcover book. On page 172-173 there is a list of Victory Credits, and Dale's name does not appear there. Photos of other planes in the squadron seem to show the use of swastikas below the plexiglass of the bubble canopy as the usual symbol of a victory. In addition to the photo just inside the front cover, Dale is mentioned in the author Stan Stokes' credits on p. 4, and his name appears on the Mission List on page 170.

3. According to Dan Dunn, Dale's second oldest of ten children, Dale was offered a promotion to stay at the end of his combat tour, but he chose to return home. Dan does not recall his father talking about his time in service much after the war and he does not recall his father attending reunions, except possibly for one, and his wife Rosemary was the one who actually went. Dale did not fly anymore after the war. Papers and artifacts from the war were destroyed in a flooded basement, and Dan does not know whatever happened to his father's pilot's log and discharge papers. (Returning Veterans sometimes filed a copy of the latter with their local County Recorder since it was an important document for GI benefits.)  Dan's nephew has become interested in Dale's WWII service and has been researching his military service. 

4. Dale Dunn's name and information about his service was added to the WW II Registry of the National WW II Memorial in Washington DC and the American Air Museum in Britain.

The 361st Fighter Group's Logo
The 374th Fighter Squadron's Logo


5. A poem by  Charles C. Cole, U.S. 8th Air Force, 376th Fighter Squadron from the book Little Friends (1993).
                    The Reunion
We are those old proud warriors of the sky
Searching our memories in the dark of years,
Digging for signs that mark our presence here
When we were fairest, fastest and the best.
Frailer, less agile now, we laugh at time
Once borrowed on the leading edge of clouds.
Eyes dim, step slow, and shoulders hunched by care,
No jaunty marching as we roam the fields
Where then we held dominion over all
And changed for good the course of history.
We were the lucky ones who raced the sun
And lived to tell our stories, haunt our dreams 
Now we return, salute the ghosts we left,
The ones whose deaths paid our reunion's price.

6. Darrell Goth maintains a very interesting 361st FG page on Facebook.

7. Paintings of "Red Rose" Kevin Callahan 2014. (The Archivist for the 8th AFHS-MN)





The 8 page Accident Report on the landing accident. (.PDF file)
It sounds like Dale had a little crosswind coming in to land, the left wing stalled, and caused problems with getting level. Although I'm not a pilot, I think that's probably just something that happens and probably isn't all that uncommon. I know a pilot who was landing at the Lake Elmo airport who was coming in and the plane just suddenly dropped about 10 or 15 feet like he hit an air pocket. It caused a lot of repairs. I was riding in a small plane over the St. Croix River and we unexpectedly hit 3 pockets of air that made my head bounce off the roof. Lift over an airfoil can be a tricky thing with a slight crosswind next to the ground. Fortunately, Dale wasn't seriously injured and it doesn't look like there were any consequences other than perhaps some embarrassment. I'm guessing they probably just told him to avoid doing that again, gave him another P-51, and sent him back into combat.

Kevin W. Dunn, one of Dale's son's, also forwarded some of his recollections about what Dale said about the landing accident and his time in service during WW II. It sheds new light on what might have happened to cause the accident.

"I will give you a little more background.
 
Apparently the airplane was not manufactured correctly. There were bolts, or something, missing that made the plane not land properly.
 
My Dad went for a formal hearing, possibly a court-martial, but all charges/discipline were dropped when a Colonel crashed shortly after my Dad. They then suspected and found manufacturing issues. They told my Dad to leave, and dropped charges. At least this was the story I heard.
 
 
Also, as you know, the P-51 was a plane where its pilots were told never to fly civilian aircraft at home. Too many died when they were home when they tried what they had learned on the P-51 with civilian aircraft. You could be be court-martialed if they found out you had flown a civilian aircraft. It was a powerful, but highly complex machine.
 
Also my Dad encountered the German M-262 jet. He saw a P-51 that would not close with him, as they were supposed to, and he noticed a black dot behind him, so he immediately dove down, and a jet happened to come roaring by him but could not turn to get him. The P-51 that would not close was probably not American, but was a repaired P-51 that the Germans sent up to give the altitude on bombers for flak and to be used to down unsuspecting American pilots.
 
Also my Dad bombed the ball-bearing factories in Regensburg, Germany that my father-in-law worked at. Interesting how small the world is!
 
He also mentioned that when he was inducted, they asked everyone who could not read to go to the back of the auditorium, and my Dad said about half the room got up and moved to the back of the room.
 
Also, my Dad was a musician (French horn) and a music major before entering service. He went to the base where the band was at, but realized he was not as good as he thought. This is when he switched to airplanes and became a pilot. Years later, in Estherville, Iowa, some of his bandmates from WW II came through Estherville doing a gig."

(Below) A photo of the 361st FG 374th FS. Unknown date. It is not clear if this was taken before Dale Dunn arrived. At any rate it may have some of his fellow pilots that he knew in it. (Photo: From Jason Webb's Facebook page about the new Bottisham Airfield Museum in the UK)



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