"ONE FOR THE BIG FRIENDS"
BY ROY GRINNELLL/E 1250. Signed by Francis "Gabby" Gabreski.
Size: 24" x 30"
American Fighter Aces
Lt. Col. Francis S. Gabreski, Operations Officer of the 56th Fighter Group, took off from the Group's base at Boxted, England, before noon on 30 January 1944 leading three squadrons of P-47s to rendezvous with B-17s on a bombing mission to Germany. Heading east over the North Sea, they climbed to 23,000 feet. At 1320, over Lingen, Germany, Gabreski sighted a formation of Me-210 twin-engine fiqhters below at 12,000 feet and signalled his section to the attack. As the P-47s bored in on the German formation, the '210s dove into a dense cloud bank. Playing a cat-and-mouse game with the German fighters, Gabreski and his wingman, Lt. Frank Klibbe, orbited at 10,000 feet, waiting for the Germans to come out of the clouds. Finally, as Gabreski described it, "A lone Me-210 came up through the overcast,. Being dead astern 5,000 feet above, I went into my dive with throttle wide open. It was just a matter of seconds before I was within 1,500 yards at 5,000 feet. I commenced firing from dead astern at 1,200 yards. Upon closing to nought feet, the armor piercing ammunition was seen penetrating the fuselage, right wing, and engine. Breaking off over the top of the Me-210, the right engine was seen burning and trailing gray smoke. When last seen, the aircraft entered cloud going down at a 45-degree angle".