Captured Junkers Ju 88A-4 of the 79th Fighter Group

In October 1943 the 79th Fighter Group moved to Salsola (Foggia #3), one of a complex of former Luftwaffe airfields located around Foggia, Italy.  There they discovered Junkers Ju 88A-4 Wk.Nr. 4300227.  Keeping with the 79th’s obsession for restoring captured Axis aircraft, work soon began in hopes of adding the Junkers to the inventory of the Group’s 86th Fighter Squadron as a hack.  Here the 86th’s new prize shows off her original Luftwaffe camouflage (likely 70/71/65 with 76 wellenmuster) with the Hakenkreutz painted out on the tail and American insignia applied over most of the fuselage Balkenkreutz.
Ground crews took only six days to restore the Junkers to flight-worthy condition using components salvaged from other aircraft.  It was the focus of much interest, 12th Air Force commander Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle even took a turn at the controls.  Here the commander of the 86th Squadron, Major Fred Borsodi congratulates a mechanic while Major Pete Bedford looks on.  The censor has removed the squadron insignia from the flight jackets of both men.
The aircraft was named “The Comanche” and was painted with the 86th FS Comanche insignia on the port side of the nose.  The insignia was designed by Major Borsodi, seen here smiling from the cockpit for photographers.
The Army Air Force brass had bigger plans for “The Comanche”, and ordered the 86th to give up their prize.  After 130 combat missions and 3 aerial victories, Major Borsodi had completed his combat tour and volunteered to fly the Junkers back to the United States, along with Major Bedford.  The pair left Italy on 19OCT43.  Here you can see The Comanche in full U.S. markings with an RAF fin flash and yellow high visibility panels on the wings, tail, and fuselage.  Spinners and cowlings are in red.
They arrived at Wright Field on 05NOV43 via the South Atlantic route.  An alert air raid warden recognized the silhouette of the Ju 88 and reported it as an enemy aircraft as it crossed over Florida.  Note the propeller tips are painted in the U.S. standard yellow.
A nice color photograph of the Comanche markings on the nose, with yellow stenciling further aft.  The aircraft was assigned Foreign Aircraft number FE-106 while at Wright Field.  This was later changed to FE-1599, although photographs do not show either number actually being applied to the aircraft.
On the starboard side of the nose the Junkers wore the insignia of the 79th Fighter Group, an Egyptian Horus Hawk on a green field.  In Egyptian mythology Horus was the son of Osiris, who was killed by the sun god Set.  Horus avenged his father by killing Set and became the king of Egypt.  The first member of the 79th to die in combat was its Commanding Officer, Colonel Peter McCormick.  The insignia represented the 79th’s resolve to avenge their commander.  Note that the starboard cowling and spinner are no longer red and lack the wellenmuster “squiggles”, likely indicating an engine change.
This photograph shows off the wellenmuster well.  It also shows the yellow identification markings on the upper wing covered the entire outer panels, not just bands behind the insignia as depicted in some profiles.
Back in the U.S. the aircraft was used in War Bond drives.  The U.S. insignia was painted over and spurious German markings were applied.  In this view the port engine has also been replaced although the red spinner was retained.
Another color photograph, likely taken at Freeman Field, Indiana.  The red spinner on the port engine has been replaced with an RLM 70 one by this time.
During her War Bond tour, The Comanche was flown to Los Angeles in April 1945.  There it was towed into the city for public display where it was struck by a street car and damaged.  Fortunately the damage was not severe and the aircraft was repaired.
The Comanche was retained at Freeman Field after the war in flight worthy condition.  Eventually it was flown to Arizona for storage, where it was ultimately scrapped.

Captured Fw 190s of the 79th Fighter Group here:

14 thoughts on “Captured Junkers Ju 88A-4 of the 79th Fighter Group

      1. Thanks Jeff. That’s my dad. My dad, Pete Bedford, who flew the JU88 back from North Africa with Fred Borsodi, his best pal. Brought tears to my eyes.

        Liked by 1 person

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