Dad's official Army Air Force publicity shot on the occasion of his first Japanese air-to-air kill, dated June 12, 1945. The aircraft is a republic P-47D-23 thunderbolt. The badge under the cockpit is one of many variations of the 333rd Fighter Squadron's "Coral Cobra" emblem.

Lt. John H. Payne, Jr. ("Jack"), flew Republic P-47 Thunderbolts during World War Two. His primary combat experience was in the Pacific. I grew up listening to his war stories and tales of death-defying adventures. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a WWII fighter pilot, but I eventually realized that, barring time travel, that wasn't gonna happen. But I can still capture the romance (what romance there was) in plastic. Here's a brief rundown on the planes Dad flew.

Before heading out into the Pacific war zone, Dad spent a few weeks standing guard on Hawaii. Assigned to the 468th FS, 508th FG, he flew a bare metal P-47D named "Jack the Ripper."

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1. "Jack The Ripper"
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, 468th Fighter Squadron, 508th Fighter Group, Hawaii

The second plane that I know he flew was "Big Squaw," an olive green and gray P-47D-15 of the 19th Fighter Squadron. "Squaw" was normally assigned to Captain John Vogt, but Dad flew her a number of times.

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2. "Big Squaw"
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, 19th FS, 318th FG, 43-25327, Saipan, Marianas Islands.

The 318th moved to Ie Shima, a tiny island off the northeast edge of Okinawa, in mid-May 1945. They also upgraded their equipment to the long range P-47N Thunderbolt. Their mission was to fly Very Long Range (VLR) strike missions against the southern islands of the Japanese homeland itself. He named his plane "Icky and Me."

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3. "Icky and Me"
Republic P-47N Thunderbolt, 333rd FS, 318th FG

After the war, in the 1950s, Dad got himself a nifty little 1939 Piper J3 Cub, and, with his friend Paul Nielson, started an aerial photography business. Dad flew, and Paul took pictures hanging out of the open door with a very large aerial camera. For years everybody at Lincoln Park Airport knew the little blue "Photo Cub."

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4. Piper J3 Cub
Sylvania Air Photo Service

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