Question looks pretty stupid even to me, but I have read on few occasions that U.S. bomber crew was usually 'sent home' after certain number of missions.(also in movie about famous B17 'Memphis Belle').
So assuming that it is true about bomber crews, what about fighter pilots? Were they also sent home after certain number of missions, or..?
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by berg417448:
I have read one source that says 300 combat hours for US fighter pilots before rotation.
If you check the profiles of various pilots you will see that some pilots got away with flying more missions than others. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
You say '300 combat hrs.' O.K. but was it counted on all combat missions (fixed number after they were sent home -- in that case they may have never seen any aerial combat) or only those with 'bandit'(enemy) encountering, ground busting etc..?
US champion for combat hours was LtCol Don Blakeslee, who originally signed with the RCAF and did a combat tour with a regular RAF fighter squadron in early 1941 before being posted to one of the Eagle Squadrons (121, I think) and spending the latter half of 1941 through September, 1942, when he was transferred into the USAAF as a Captain in the 4th Fighter Group, still flying Spitfire Vbs.
He was originally slated for promotion to Major and command of one of the squadrons in the 4th, but he was caught with two (some stories say three) female RAF personnel in his quarters at a rather late (or early, depending on your perspective) hour, and was reduced by one rank by the RAF shortly before the turnover to the USAAF. (A senior US commander, upon hearing the story, suggested that he should have been promoted to full colonel.)
In any case, Blakeslee got his Major's leaf in short order and was acting as vice-commander and operational (flying)CO of the 4th FG by mid-1943, then received promotion to LtCol and full command of the 4th by late 1943, staying in that capacity until late summer of 1944, leading the 4th FG through its transition to Mustangs in Feb-March of that year. His logbooks had a habit of disappearing or losing pages whenever too much official interest in his total combat hours was shown.
The capture of Hubert Zemke, former CO of the 56th FG, prompted the Powers That Be in the 8th Fighter Command to send Blakeslee back to the US after over three years' continuous combat operations. Blakeslee was a legendary bad marksman, credited with 'only' 13 or so kills in all that time. After becoming resigned to that limitation, he was like as not to orbit the combat area with his wingman, directing his squadrons and flights to ensure that no 'Jerries' broke through to the Big Friends.
His success as a combat leader, driving his group to contend for the leadership of the ETO in enemy aircraft destroyed (the 4th nipped the 56th for combined air & ground credits by about 16, with both totaling over a thousand by war's end), makes him one of the great characters of WWII.