Lt. William “Bill” Whisner DSC, USAAF
Only one Air Force pilot was both an ace in two wars and a three-time winner of the DSC.
Lt. William Whisner joined the 352d Fighter Group’s 487th Squadron at Bodney, England, in the fall of 1943. He had the great good fortune to study air combat under two men who were to become masters of the art: Squadron Commander Maj. John C. Meyer and Capt. George Preddy, whose wing he often flew.
As with many of the top aces, Whisner’s score mounted slowly at first. On Jan. 29, 1944, while flying a P-47, he downed his first enemy aircraft, an Fw190. The 352d converted to P-51s in April. At the end of the following month, Whisner shot down a second Fw190 in a 15-minute dogfight against the best German pilot he encountered during the war. The next day, he shared an Bf109 kill with Preddy; then it was home to the States on leave.
Cpt. Bill Whisner holds up six fingers for the six kills he achieved on November 21, 1944. Whisner was awarded the DFC for this action.Whisner, now a captain, rejoined the 487th Squadron in the fall of 1944 . On Nov. 21 he led a flight of P-51s on an escort mission to Merseburg, Germany. As the bombers left their target, a large formation of enemy fighters struck. Meyer (now a lieutenant colonel) told Whisner to take a straggler in one of the enemy’s three six-ship cover flights. In a linked series of attacks, Whisner shot down four Fw190s in the cover flight and probably got another.
With no more than two Fw190s left in the cover flight he had attacked, Whisner turned his attention to the main enemy formation, exploding a Fw190 that had not dropped its belly tank. Evading three Fw190s on his tail, he shot down another that was closing on one of his pilots. Then, low on ammunition, he joined up with Meyer and returned to Bodney.
Whisner was credited with five Fw190s and two probables that day. His score later was revised by the Air Force Historical Research Center to six destroyed, making that day one of the best for any USAAF pilot in the skies over Europe. For that achievement, Whisner was awarded his first Distinguished Service Cross – second only to the Medal of Honor.
During the Battle of the Bulge, which started on December 16, the 487th Squadron was moved forward to airfield Y-29 near Asche in Belgium.
On New Year’s Day 1945, Whisner was one of 12 Mustang pilots led by Meyer that had started their takeoff roll when a large formation of FW-190s and Me-109s hit the field. In the ensuing battle, fought at low altitude and before the 487th had time to form up, Whisner shot down a 190, then was hit by 20-mm fire. With his windshield and canopy covered by oil and one aileron damaged, Whisner stayed in the fight, shooting down two more Fw190’s and an Bf109. He was awarded a second DSC for that day’s work – one of only 14 USAAF men to be so honored in World War II. (Meyer received his third DSC, the only Air Force pilot to receive three DSCs in World War II.) At the end of the war, Whisner had 15 and a half victories, which put him in the top 20 USAAF aces of the European Theater.
Bill Whisner returned to combat in Korea, flying F-86’s – first with the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing. He downed two MiG-15s in November 1951, then was assigned as a squadron commander to the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing, which was converting from F-80s to F-86s. The wing was commanded by Col. Francis “Gabby” Gabreski. Whisner scored single victories over MiG-15s on Jan. 6 and 11, 1952, and on Feb. 20 shared a kill with Gabreski. Whisner was a half-victory away from becoming a jet ace.
Three days later, Whisner led a formation of F-86s in a full-scale battle with MiG-15s. He broke off his attack on an enemy fighter and dived into a swarm of MiGs to rescue one of his F-86 pilots who had a MiG on his tail. Whisner lined up on the MiG, ignoring fire from another MiG on his own tail. In a brief, violent encounter, he shot down the MiG in his sights to become the seventh jet ace of the Korean War and the first in the 51st Wing. For that action, Whisner was awarded a third Distinguished Service Cross, the only Air Force man other than Meyer to earn that distinction. He also became one of only six Air Force pilots who were aces in both World War II and Korea.
In the post-Korea years, Whisner continued his career as a fighter pilot, winning the Bendix Trophy Race in 1953. After retiring as a colonel, he finally settled down in his home state of Louisiana. Several tragic ironies have befallen Air Force heroes, though none could be more poignant than the fate of Col. William Whisner. On July 21,1989, he died of a yellow jacket sting.
1/48 Scale ICM 1/48 North American P-51B-10-NA
This was my second ICM kit in succession, and I found it to be at least as easy to build as the MkIX Spitfire that had preceded it on my bench. Construction begins, predictably enough, with the cockpit. It seems this was unremarkable as I made no comment on its contruction in my original build description.
I used the kit seat belt for the harness, having carefully cut it from the decal sheet and with the backing paper still on, I used a little diluted white glue to attach it to the seat.
With the cockpit completed I carried on with the rest of the construction which went really quite smoothly.
My original comments on the construction don’t mention any filler or major fit issuers. Now, some years later and looking at the pictures I don’t see any great use of filler!
Paint and Decals
I used SNJ for the NMF finish. To break up the tonal quality of the NMF I also used some Metalizer of differing shades and mixes that I applied in a deliberate masked application on some specific panels. Finally I and also in a random and very thinned manner to try and represent the real appearance of weathered NMF finishes.
I masked for the black theatre bands and the blue nose with wet paper, my preferred method of masking on NMF finishes.
Decals were a mixture of kit decals and decals from the spares box. The “Princess Elizabeth” and squadron markings came from an Aeromaster sheet. I applied all the decals right on to the SNJ with no problems. I chose not to seal them either, except for the word “Princess” where it is on blue paint. Once sealed, I masked again to allow me to apply a flat coat to the blue.
Weathering and Final Assembly
On the home stretch now, I finished up by adding all the “bits and pieces”. I fixed the drop tanks and undercarriage to their respective positions. I decided to pose the inner doors in asymmetric position as it adds a little interest and is accurate. As usual, oleo legs were finished with aluminum foil.
To paint the position and formation lights I simply painted the appropriate colours and then applied Future, looks okay to me.
I kept weathering to a minimum as these aircraft were very well looked after, and as this model is posed with drop tanks attached, it implies imminent departure. That being said it also means the aircraft would have been cleaned and wiped down upon its return from its previous mission – hence a clean bird!
References and Credits
The text in the biography section is from Air Force Magazine, Valor, June 1990, Vol. 73, No. 6, by John L. Frisbee and is used with permission
“Cockpit” by Donald Nijboer and Dan Patterson
“Flying Legends” by John Dibbs
“Flying Colours” by William Green and Gordon Swanborough
“Aircraft of World War Two” by Michael Sharpe, Jerry Scutts and Dan March
I am especially indebted to Peter Randall for his kind permission to use the images of Bill Whisner in the biographical section of the piece.
Except where noted otherwise, I sourced all images and photos from the internet and are all used under fair-use. This piece was written and first published in 2005 and my original notes are incomplete as to sources; I will be happy to add more as they become apparent.
I make no claim of original work in this article except for the photos of the models and text describing their construction and painting.
Any copyrighted material will be remove or credited forthwith upon request by its owner.
Categories: Feature Article