by Tomasz Gronczewski
Ernest ”Feeb” Fiebelkorn was one of the biggest aces of the 8th Air Force. Writing ”biggest” I mean tallest and heaviest. 6ft 4in combined with 225 pounds must have made a placement into Mustang’s cockpit a bit problematic.
Nevertheless it did not prevent Feeb from becoming the top-scoring pilot of the 20th Fighter Group. Moreover, it was not Fiebelkorn’s only claim to fame. On November 8th 1944 he and Edward Haydon from 357th FG managed to shoot down German Me 262 piloted by then top-scoring ace of the World – Walter Nowotny. The famous Austrian pilot was not lucky enough to survive that onslaught.
Feeb finished the war unscathed only to die in F-82 over Korea. His total score includes 8 individual aerial victories, 2 shared aerial victories and 2 individual ground victories.
|14/07/44||20:45:00||12-01-02||FW 190||P-38J-10||77 FS||South-West of Reims|
|5/08/44||12:05:00||1||Bf 109||P-51D-5-NA||77 FS||South of Hamburg|
|28/09/44||11:40-12:00||1||Bf 109||P-51D-5-NA||77 FS||15m South of Magdeburg|
|2/11/44||12:30-13:00||1||Bf 109||P-51D-5-NT||77 FS||North of Lepizig|
|8/11/44||12:35-12:45||12-01-02||Me 262||P-51D-5-NT||77 FS||Dummer Lake area|
Feeb claimed his first shared victory was claimed when flying his personal P-38J-10-LO 42-68068 LC-N. In August 1944, Fiebelkorn scored his first individual kill while flying P-51D-5-NA 44-13840 LC-U. This plane was assigned to Lt. B. Rader and later to Lt. Richard L. Van Woert. The latter christened it it Van’s Can.
On the lucky September 28th, 1944 Feeb flew Maj. Merle J. Gilbertson’s P-51D-5-NA 44-13637 LC-G Smoky.
The last three individual kills as well as the famous victory over Nowotny were scored by Fiebelkorn while flying his personal Dallas-built P-51D-5-NT 44-11161 LC-N June Nite.
Contrary to some sources, Fiebelkorn did not score any of his victories in P-51D-10-NA 44-14823 LC-F Miss Miami. The latter aircraft was assigned to Lt. Rep Jones who scored three aerial and four ground victories.
The colour profile depicts Fiebelkorn’s June Nite as it appeared in November 1944.
June Nite looked much like other late war 20th FG’s P-51Ds. In summer 1944 many P-51s of this Group had their upper surfaces painted Olive Drab but in November that D-Day finish was definitely gone. Therefore, June Nite retained pure natural metal finish with Olive Drab antiglare panel and a bit dulled or faded national insignia.
At the time she still carried well-worn and faded black ID bands around wings and horizontal control surfaces. Black fuselage codes were supplemented by white N on the black circle on the tail. The nose was adorned by then-standard black and white ”piano keys”. The keys were also painted over exhaust pipes and exhaust cuffs but in November the paint was very faded there. The inscription June Nite located below the exhaust stacks is shown in detail below.
As for the colours of the lettering, I could not locate any colour photograph of June Nite, but existing black/white photos clearly show shaded scripting. The majority of 20th FG’s aircraft carried names painted using light pea green and red colours. Thus my qualified guess is that June Nite was no exception.
In November, the aircraft also carried 11 kill markings on her canopy frame. Note that swastikas did not maintain the same angle.
This article was originally published in IPMS Stockholm Magazine in July 2006