The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was a single seated fighter, dive-bomber that was used in both the Pacific and European theaters of WWII. It was not an easy plane to fly, but was one of the most effective in both aerial dogfights and in dive-bombing missions.
This is an incredible video about one P-40 Warhawk pilot told in his own words. He is articulate and still sharp as a tack in his 90s and his story is worthy of a listen.
When he entered the army William David Gatling wanted to be a pilot. That was not to be so immediately. It was not until 1943 that a law was passed to allow enlisted men who were physically capable of flying to enter flight training in the United States Army Air Corps. Gatling jumped and the chance and volunteered for this new program.
He was accepted and you will hear what his experiences were in this great video.
When he graduated flight school he was listed as a enlisted, Staff Sgt., fighter pilot with the 324th Fighter Group, 315th Fighter Squadron of the USAAC. Wait until you see and hear what he then had to do in order to get to fly and fight in the European theater. You won’t believe the complexity of planning that had to be done to get a squadron of P-40s there and what they had to improvise for training on the way there.
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But the crux of the story is how he was able to sink a German destroyer during a dive-bombing attack. Listen as he explains the attack by his squadron and then how he had to maneuver his plane in order to drop the hammer dead amidships on that destroyer that was sending lead all around him as he dove.
William David Gatling was 21 years old when he did that. He was yet another of one of America’s Greatest Generation.
Awesome story! Enjoy.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.