by Rene Burtner
Thanks for your e-mail and the
info re your web site. My memory has fallen on bad times but
I do remember a little about the P-40. I have some kind thoughts
about the airplane but I don't know if they are kind thoughts
because it was the first real fighter I flew of because I had
so much fun at the RTU in Sarasota, FL.
I was in class 44B graduating
in Marianna. FL. Class 44B was the first class not allowed to
carry on the tradition of military cadets. After taking all
kinds of abuse from our upper classmen we were eagerly looking
forward to having our turn when the Air Force changed the rules.
We were provided another first when we became the first class
to graduate and receive our commission before going to gunnery
school at Eglin Field.
After graduating we were granted
a short leave before reporting back to Marianna and a trip to
Eglin. Eglin was not setup to receive 2nd Lts. and our stay
there lacked some of the perks provided officers. Upon completing
gunnery school we went to another field (believe it was near
Marianna but not certain) and were checked out in P-40s.
Only remember a couple of things
about this period of time. I remember having trouble with seeing
past the long nose and we had trouble with the engines overheating
before we could get airbourne. Necessary to taxi at a fast pace
to reach the runway for takeoff before engine over heated. We
completed about 10 hrs. and were transferred to Dale Mabry in
Tallahasse, Fl. and then to Sarasota where we received training
in aerial gunnery, ground gunnery, skip bombing and dive bombing.
Did not have a problem with engines overheating in Sarasota.
I had fun flying the P-40 although
I remember that the torque was very bad during take off and
anytime you put the nose down in a dive. I recall some pilots
complaining about the rudder vibrating so hard during landing
that their ankles hurt. There were some pilots killed during
dive bomb training and we heard later that it was determined
that the canopies had caved in because the P-40s were so hard
to trim during a dive. The P-40 could turn inside any other
fighter we encountered in Florida and performed very well at
low altitude. I remember I could do a loop at cruising speed
flying straight and level in the 40 but not in a P-51. The first
time I tried to join formation flying a P-51 I went scooting
right on by everyone. The 51 didn't brake as fast as a 40. Completed
a total of 111 to 112 hours in the P-40 and they were all very
enjoyable. Do not have any photos with a P-40.
Glad you can use my comments
re P-40. You mentioned another 359th pilot flying P-40s in Sarasota.
Was he John McAlister? John and I live a short distance apart
in Charlotte. John, Lawrence Bearden and I were from Greensboro,
NC. In Greensboro, Bearden lived at 300 Woodlawn Rd and I lived
at 410 Woodlawn Rd. The 3 of us graduated from Marianna in Feb.
1944 and joined the359th in Aug 1944. Bearden and I were assigned
to the 369th FS and John to the 370th FS. Bearden was killed
in an accident before flying a combat mission. Have attached
a photo of John and me in England. John on the left.
Have attached a couple of photos
of "Hubert". Also, included one of John and me on
the front cover of the Air National Guard calendar for 2002.