In memory of Captain William "Bill" WHISNER

Cpt W.Whisner, Nov 21th 1944 returning from a combat mission claiming 6 victories, 5 officially credited and DFC awarded for this flight

A Very Special Ace

Only one Air Force pilot was both an ace in two wars and a three-time winner of the DSC.
Captain William T. Whisner joined the 487th Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group in the fall of 1943, known as "The Blue-nosed Bastards of Bodney", which was based in Bodney, England. He had the great good fortune to study air combat under two men who were to become masters of the art: Squadron Commander Maj. John C. Meyer and Capt. George Preddy, whose wing he often flew. As with many of the top aces, Whisner's score mounted slowly at first. On January 29, 1944, while flying a P-47 Thunderbolt, serial number 42-8404 (HO-W), he scored his first air-to-air victory against a Focke-Wulf Fw-190. When the 352nd Fighter Group transitioned to the P-51 Mustang in April 1944, Whisner flew "Princess Elizabeth", s/n 42-106449 (HO-W), a P-51B On May 29th, he scored his second air-to-air victory shoting down a second -190 in a 15-minute dogfight against the best German pilot he encountered during the war. The next day shared a victory with George Preddy. Shortly thereafter, he was sent back to the United States on leave.

Whisner, now a captain, returned to the 352nd in the fall of 1944, and began flying a P-51D Mustang, s/n 44-14237 (HO-W), which he called "Moonbeam McSwine". On Nov. 2, he downed a Bf-109 using the new K-14 gunsight. On November 21, 1944, the setting for the painting "Full House, Aces High", he led a flight of P-51s on an escort mission to Merseburg, Germany. As the bombers left their target, a large formation of enemy fighters struck. Meyer (now a lieutenant colonel) told Whisner to take a straggler in one of the enemy's three six-ship cover flights. In a linked series of attacks, Whisner shot down four FW-190s in the cover flight and probably got another.With no more than two -190s left in the cover flight he had attacked, Whisner turned his attention to the main enemy formation, exploding a -190 that had not dropped its belly tank. Evading three -190s on his tail, he shot down another that was closing on one of his pilots. Then, low on ammunition, he joined up with Meyer and returned to Bodney.Whisner was credited with five -190s and two probables that day. His score later was revised by the Air Force Historical Research Center to six destroyed, making that day one of the best for any USAAF pilot in the skies over Europe. For that achievement, Whisner was awarded his first Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor.

During the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, the 487th was moved from Bodney to airfield Y-29 near Asche, Belgium. On January 1, 1945, twelve P-51 Mustangs, led by Lt. Col. John Meyer, began their takeoff roll when the airfield was attacked by an estimated 50 German Luftwaffe Bf-109s and Fw-190s. In the ensuing battle, fought at low altitude and before the 487th had time to form up, Whisner shot down a -190, then was hit by 20-mm fire. With one of his ailerons damaged and his canopy covered with oil, he continued the fight, shooting down two more Fw-190s and one Bf-109. He was awarded a second DSC for that day's work--one of only 14 USAAF men to be so honored in World War II. (Meyer received his third DSC, the only Air Frorce pilot to receive three DSCs in World War II.) and the 487th received the Distinguished Unit Citation, the only fighter squadron in the 8th Air Force to be so honored.

Bill Whisner returned to combat in Korea, During this War, Whisner flew the F-86 Sabre with the 4th and 15th Fighter Interceptor Wing, shot down five MiG-15s, and became the seventh jet ace of the Korean War and the first in the 51st Wing. He was awarded his third Distinguished Service Cross, the only Air Force man other than General John Meyer to earn that distinction. He also became one of only six Air Force pilots who were aces in both World War II and Korea but the only Air Force pilot to be an "ace" in two wars and a three-time winner of the Distinguished Service Cross.
At the end of the war, Whisner had 15.5 victories, and 3 ground victories, and flew 137 combat missions, which put him in the top 20 USAAF aces of the European Theater.In the post-Korea years, Whisner continued his career as a fighter pilot, winning the Bendix Trophy Race in 1953. After retiring as a colonel, he finally settled down in his home state of Louisiana. On July 21,1989, Col. William Whisner died of a yellow jacket sting.


487th FS P51D (Unknown) over Bodney 1944

WWII & nowadays pictures of 352nd FG Bodney Air Force Base

Thanks to R. PAVER

Bodney Overall

Bodney Control Tower

Key Bodney Map of 487th dispersals (via Bill Espie)

Don Bryan (died 2012) & Punchy Powell by fireplace in 328th FS pilots hut (Photo Bill Espie)