357th FG Model Gallery

Kalamazoo Kid P-51B flown by Charles Pearson of the 363rd FS. This beautiful model was built by Jim Fox using decals by John Soule. The model is on display at the Kalamazoo Air Museum  to honor Charles and the 357th FG. 

Display in the Kalamazoo Air Museum

Kalamazoo Kid by Jim Fox. 

Jim Fox with Charles Pearson and model of Kalamazoo Kid. 1 Aug 2002 at the Kalamazoo Air Museum.

Charles "Chuck" Pearson, who flew in the same Squadron as Yeager and Bud Anderson. You all remember the model from the 357th FG that I built with the nose art of Kalamazoo Kid? Well this was the plane he flew with the 357th FG.

Chuck Pearson started his career in the military flying with the RCAF, flying some 50 missions in Hurricanes. He was then taken on by the USAAF and sent to Europe, joining up with the 357th FG just days after they arrived in Europe and flew another 80 missions with them.

One of several stories he told made me wonder how many other pilots around the world were this close to not coming back. The story goes something like this; They were doing a strafing run of some fields outside of Paris (when the Germans still occupied much of France) and took a 20mm shell in the engine. Flames shot out inside the cockpit burning his hands. Having no way to put out the flames and figuring he had a doomed A/C, he prepared for his bail. But when he opened the canopy the air movement extinguished the flames. So not really wanting to bail out over German occupied land, he tried to fly her some more and found it was still flyable, a little bumpy, but still flyable. So he headed for the channel figuring Air/Sea rescue could pick him up (they were pretty darn good at rescues by then). When he got to the channel, the plane was still flyable so he proceeded on back to base and landed, parked it in his revetment and shut her off. The crew chief came up and spied the live round and beat hell to get away from the plane. Chuck wasn't too far behind him. The recovery crew came out, took the round out, never exploding and the engine was replaced, the plane was patched up and he would fly again another day.  

I spent probably 45 mins talking with him and his wife. We've swapped email addys (she does the email for him), so I hope to hear more. The first words outta his mouth when he spied the model was "There she is!" It was quite a feeling to see him and his wife so happy at seeing a model depicting an A/C he flew. Hope you all enjoyed my description of my days excitement. MODEL ON! Jim Fox.

Thanks Jim!

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