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The fighter sweeps from Cape Bon did not produce a turning dogfight or a real opportunity to claim a victory for either side. Bill Nuding, flying wing for Rocky Bryne, was involved in an incident where with some miraculous shooting at extreme range, he shot down an Royal Air Force (RAF) Spitfire mistaken for an Me 109. The Spitfires were on the deck over the water heading west. Rocky Byrne’s section, at 14,000 feet heading east, identified the Spit formation as Me 109s. They rolled in on the attack but could not close to shooting range after leveling 27 AIR-TO-GROUND BATTLE FOR ITALY out on the deck.

One day, a few weeks later, we packed cots and sleeping and musette bags behind the seat, flew the last fighter sweep from Kairouan, and landed on the large lakebed on Cape Bon east of Tunis. The ground party was already on its way from Kairouan with a rag tag convoy of Army vehicles supplemented with captured German and Italian jeeps, staff cars, and trucks. They transported support equipment, tents, trailers, baggage, and supplies with the efficiency gained from moving every two weeks or so as the campaign moved toward Cape Bon from Cairo.

This worked so long as we were clear of clouds and could see the sun, moon, or stars. However, on our flight to Ascension Island, clouds obscured the sky. Without a celestial fix, the crew estimated their course with ground speed and headings based on forecast winds. When time expired, a weak signal from the low-frequency radio station at Ascension Island was detected. The crew read its Morse code identifier, solved the primitive “build/fade” ambiguity problem, and found the only runway within hundreds of miles.

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AerMacchi MC 200


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