506th FG / 462nd FS Colors

Gallery Article by Mark L. Rossmann on Mar 5 2013



The “Sun Setters”, were the VLR Mustang pilots of the 15th, 21st and 506th Fighter groups, VII Fighter Command based on Iwo Jima

The 462nd was activated on 21st October 1944, by a General Order from the VII Fighter Command Headquarters. Sources for the 63 Officers were to come from the III Fighter Command and the 249 enlisted men recruited from the III Air Force. On 10 February 1945 orders were received to send the air detachment to Lakeland AFB. During this time the Squadron received official confirmation of its insignia from Army Air Forces Headquarters; On light Turquoise blue disc, border yellow, a prancing, black thoroughbred horse with a white face and shanks, reared on a light turquoise blue cloud formation, edged dark blue in front of jagged red lightning flash striking from sinister chief toward dexter base.

The 506th FG was delivered by ship to Guam on March 17th 1945, with a total of seventy-nine (79) P-51’s, where they began the "unpickle” process; put brakes on, and change spark plugs which had been damaged by cinders coming out of the smoke stack of the carrier. In the end twenty-six (26) assigned aircraft were ready to fly for the 562nd.

The unit flew to Tinian with 7 weeks of CAP and practice missions, while North Field on Iwo was prepared for their arrival. The Tinian interlude lasted 40 days; the first Combat Air Patrol was flown on the twenty-nine of March. During this time there were two accidents, neither resulted in fatalities. 

On May 11, the 462nd FG landed on Iwo. First combat missions didn’t occur until May 18th, flying defensive CAP, first casualty occurred as Lt. Roland Carter crashed and was killed at North Field.

After preliminary missions the 462nd conducted its first long range mission to Honshu on 28 May 1945. This first effort against homeland islands was a low level strike at the airfields near Kasumigaura. The unit destroying many parked Japanese aircraft, however Capt. Kensley M. Miller was lost to flak over Imba Airdrome. Miller was a veteran of a previous tour of combat in the Mediterranean flying P-40's with the 76th Fighter Group. 

Black Friday, June 1, occurred when a large weather front was entered by all 3 Fighter groups, 15th, 21st and 506th, which 59 Mustangs were from the 506th. As a result 27 planes and 24 pilots were lost, on that day’s mission no plane was lost to fighters or ground fire. Headquarters lost Lt. Col. Harvey Scandrett and Capt. Edmund Crenshaw who was flying a 462nd Mustang. The 462nd lost three of its own: Capt. Lawrence Smith, 1st Lt’s. Gale Loomis and Archie Ridley.

The last mission of the war was flown 14 August during the time the Japanese Government was considering the Allied counter-offer of surrender terms. Combat flying ended unceremoniously on 15 August 1945 at 0900, when the radio carried the voice of President Truman announcing Japan’s capitulation.

In the end the 462nd claimed 10 enemy aircraft shot down by 10 different pilots. The 462nd lost 7 pilots killed or MIA; Capt. K.M. Miller - 28 May, 1st Lt. R.E. Carter- May, 1st Lt. Loomis, 1st Lt. Ridley, Capt. Lawrence Smith - 1 June, 1st Lt. Roseborough - 9 July, 2nd Lt. Marklin - 13 July.

462nd was commanded by: Maj. Thomas D. DeJarnette, 10/44 to EOW.

462nd FS P-51’s were assigned numbers 600 to 649 and were painted with 4 inch yellow stripes on the rear fuselage vertical fins and stabilizer but not on the rudder or elevators. Replacement plane’s, began about mid-June, having their tails as solid colors, this in an effort to simplify the painting process and to have better identification of each fighter squadron. Most aircraft carried the squadron badge portside, just below the cockpit. Here are two examples of the aircraft markings, stripes and solid. 

“Dinny B” #615, piloted by 1Lt. Willie Willis. I have no further information on this pilot or aircraft. This is a Hasegawa 1/48 P-51D, decals are from AeroMaster sheet 48-795.

I had originally built this model in the 1997 with “Red” stripes on the tail. That is how AeroMaster originally interpreted the colors on sheet 48-285 and corrected it with this updated sheet, I stripped of the old stripes and used the new ones. Osprey Aircraft of the Aces #13, Japanese Army Air Force Aces, also made a color error on the front of the cover. Showing a solid “Red” tailed Mustang, which actually should have been solid Green as the aircraft was from the 457th.

“Hon Mistake” #619, was piloted by 1st Lt’s Bercaw and Ebersole from airfield 3. Apparently the name of the plane was the result of shooting up a Japanese soldier using an outhouse, an “Honest Mistake”. The nose art is one of the most elaborate in the whole 506th FG. Ebersole flew 10 VLR missions and destroyed 1 twin engine bomber on the ground at an airfield northeast of Tokyo on 23 June. No information on Bercaw. This is a Tamiya 1/48 P-51D, decals are from AeroMaster sheet 48-796.

The twin UHF antennas were actually made out of wood. I fashioned mine out of flat end toothpicks.


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These are among the last USAAF Mustang units to be activated for combat. If you would like to know more about the VII Fighter command, the Banzai attack and the storm of June 1, you will enjoy reading the following:

References: Osprey Aviation Elite Units – Very Long Range Mustang Units of the Pacific War – Author: Carl Molesworth.

Decals: AeroMaster 48-794 through 797.

Web Site: 506thfightergroup.org

This will be my last article on the 506th FG, I may build some more 506th P-51’s, so here are some final items:

The last two weeks of August 1945, flying was restricted to the local area around Iwo Jima, waiting to hear of actual signing of the peace agreement. On August 31, the 'Sun Setters' were assigned a final VLR mission to Japan - a 'Display of Power' flight over Japan, led by Col Harper of the 506th FG. Few wanted to risk another long haul over the Pacific, and an incident did happen, 1Lt William S Hetland of the 457th FS, experienced engine trouble over the target area. Fortunately he made a safe landing at Atsugi Airfield and returned to Iwo aboard a C-46.  

On 2 September, Brig Gen 'Mickey' Moore boarded an LB-30 Liberator transport with orders reassigning him to the Pentagon. Most veteran pilots and ground personnel, with in the week, began getting their tickets home. VII Fighter Command began shrinking rapidly, and in October pre-separation lectures were instituted for the men. 

Late in the year, the headquarters was moved to Guam and re-designated the 20th FW. The 506th FG was deactivated in mid-November and its remaining personnel transferred to the 21st FG, while the 15th FG was transferred to Hawaii for deactivation. The 21st FG finally transferred to Saipan in the final weeks of 1945 and then moved to Guam, where it was re-designated the 23rd FG in October 1946.  

The final score which the 506th had tallied on the twenty-two effective VLR Missions run in the period 28 May to 14 August for the 457th, 458th and 462nd was as follows:





Air : Ground

Air : Ground

Air : Ground

Pilots : Planes

39 : 22

11 : 11

33 : 96

20 : 29




Other targets of rolling stock, power lines, and shipping which, due to the nature of the targets, could not be accurately assessed for this score.  

Thank you,

Mark L. Rossmann

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Photos and text © by Mark L. Rossmann