Assistance to Captain Richard Peterson while flying his famous Hurry Home Honey
By Mark Stepelton
On May 9, 1944, our 364th Fighter Squadron received orders to attack a target in Metz, Germany. I was flying on Capt. Richard Peterson's wing as we crossed the North Sea toward the target. We made it a standard procedure to examine each other's plane to make sure there would be no mechanical emergencies before we began a "dog fight."
Early in our flight, I noticed a slight vapor coming from Peterson's aircraft. I called "Pete" and told him of the situation. "Pete" told me it must be a coolant leak from the color of the vapor. "Pete" was now trying to determine the best action to take. He hated to miss a "dog fight" and yet previous problems with the Mustang coolant ended up with the pilot being killed as the aircraft exploded due to overheating, and in some instances the pilot elected to "bail out", becoming a POW.
Capt. Peterson advised me that he elected to return to England, so we made an 180 degree turn and headed for England. We were very cautious now because the Germans now must have determined that one plane was having problems and would be an easy "kill" for them. I kept on scanning the entire area for a German aircraft. Quite soon I noticed two aircraft approaching our rear and at the same altitude.
We both felt that the approaching aircraft would be German, so we began discussing a course of action. Capt. Peterson decided to pick up airspeed by lowering his nose slightly while not adding power to the plane. I would make an 180 degree turn and make a "head on" attack on the two enemy aircraft.
I made the 180 degree turn and as soon as I did the Germans evidently did not want a "dog fight" that would have ended with at least one being shot down, turned 180 degrees and headed back to Germany. We both were greatly relieved of that pressure.
After reviewing the conditions of "Hurry Home Honey" Capt. Pete decided to watch the engine temperature very carefully and when the island of England came into view, we both thanked God for helping us. Capt. Peterson made an excellent landing and soon the emergency units had his aircraft under control. We both were "wet with sweat." Our teamwork had saved the situation from being a disaster. Captain Richard Peterson became one of the top "Aces" of the 357th Fighter Group.