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Frank Cronin
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P-47D flown by F/O Charles A.Wambier of the 355th FG, 358th FS on December 30,1943

October 13, 2015 · in Aviation · · 21 · 2.2K

This model depicts the that was being flown by F/O Wambier when he was shot down by an FW-190 of JG-26. On December 30,1943.
He was returning to his home base after a bomber escort mission. Also downed on this flight was another P-47 of the same squadron piloted by Captain Carl Ekstrom. (See my earlier posted article on Ekstrom's P-47)
I received a comment on my posted Ekstrom article from Steve, who stated that his relative was flying in the same flight being led by Captain Ekstrom. I made contact with Steve and found that F/O Wambier was his uncle. Steve has done a considerable amount of research on his uncle's military service and in particular the circumstances of this mission. He obtained Missing Air Crew Reports on his uncle and also on Captain Ekstrom plus he has researched any available German records. He has allowed me to share some of the points of his research.

On the above date a flight of four P-47's of the 358th FS were returning home after a mission to escort bombers. They were in the vicinity of Reims, France when they were attacked by two FW-190's. According to the MACR, Lt John Markin and F/O Wambier dove to confront the FW's head on. Lt Markinn stated โ€œThe attack was made head on and before I started firing I looked at F/O Wambier who was about 300 yards behind me. I fired head on in a slight dive and pulled up in a steep right turn and F/O Wambier was not with me.โ€ Markin said he received no response to his radio calls. He lost contact with the other two P-47's so he joined up with another flight and flew home. Nothing further was heard of F/O Wambier.

Captains, Ekstrom and Roscoe Fussell also dove on the FW's and broke off their attack at about 7000 feet then continued on toward their home base. As they were nearing the coast of France they encountered ground fire. They dove on the flack batteries and hedgehopped to try to avoid receiving fire. Captain Fussell lost contact with Captain Eckstrom and being low on fuel he continued on to land at the nearest base he could find in England.
Through his extensive and determined research, Steve is almost 100 % sure that F/O Wambier was shot down by then, Feldwebel, Willhelm Mayer of JG26 flying an FW-190. On January 4, 1945, Wilhelm Mayer was shot down and killed by RAF Spitfires near Emsland, Germany. He was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross, of the Iron Cross on March 12, 1945. During his career he was credited with 27 aerial victories, all on the Western Front.

It is instances such as this that adds so much to the mere making of a model. Through my initial posting of Captain Ekstrom's P-47, Steve got in contact with Captain Ekstroms daughter Vicki and shared information on this event. They have become friends in their shared loss.

Making both of these models and giving them to Steve and Vicki is my privilege and honor to respect and pay homage to F/O Charles Wambier and Captain Carl Ekstrom.

This P-47 model is the kit and was build straight out of the box.

Photos are:

The P-47D model.
F/O Wambier in the cockpit of a P-47.
Two photos of F/O Wambier taken when he was an aviation cadet.
Feldwebel Willhelm Mayer

Reader reactions:
11ย  Awesome

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.

21 responses

  1. great research frank, excellent model and article.

  2. Frank that is always...and are a stud

  3. Great looking Jug, and interesting backstory, with even more compelling story of how the "story continues!"

  4. Great job all-around Frank! Always enjoy your postings.

  5. An excellent Jug rendition AND an equally excellent background story.

  6. Very interesting story, Frank, and nice Tamiya P-47D, too.

  7. Great background story as well as an excellent build.

  8. Frank, kind of you to do this for the families. Good job on the kits.

  9. Excellent work, interesting story. Thank you Frank !

  10. Nice P-47 Frank !, Wonderful research. Its great to help keep the names of these Hero's alive.

  11. Well done Frank. A fine tribute.

  12. Great work Frank, as people have said above, a fine tribute.

  13. Research to uncover the story behind the aircraft and the pilot / crew makes building the model even more worth while. You did an amazing job on this one. Well done!

  14. Nice build and paint P-47

  15. Ummmm... if you haven't sent that off yet, you might want to recheck the lower gear doors. (It's an easy mistake with the P-47)

  16. ๐Ÿ™‚ ... Greetings ... ๐Ÿ™‚ :
    Always have had my attention captured upon the sight of a P-47 ... any P-47, and this one with out a doubt is no exception. Very nice job on it and the research done speaks out. Very nice paint job. Thank you for sharing the pictures.

  17. Hi Frank.

    As others have said, an interesting build and back story.

    I waited a while before responding to your post, as it got me thinking about the role of the Internet and model presentation. In postings as here we can see macro details that simply aren't available when viewed in an exhibition setting, which is great. In the latter setting as well, the model will simply look like 'another brown plane on a table', and unless a visitor happened to engage you in conversation about it, they would never have the story detail.

    I think in the case of modelling, the Internet is one of the 'venues' that absolutely benefits and lifts the hobby to a greater public (as well as exposing lazy skills that otherwise would go unnoticed if the model was viewed simply as part of a club table display - complacent modellers beware!).

    And, too, the ability to provide photos and links supporting the build is another tool we can use, apart from those of the construction phase itself.

    Your presentation is a case in point, where the subject matter is arguably more engaging than the build itself, which is not a reflection on your skills as such, only the breadth of attention that can bring a subject to life.

    Thanks for posting.

  18. for me, the most satisfying builds are the ones with some sort of personal connection. beautiful model, excellent work! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Thank you all for your kind comments. The families have read them and were touched by all the fine comments.

  20. Interesting story and a great looking Thunderbolt.

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