Just What Is A Fighter-Bomber Pilot?

In my book “On Top of Everything”, I briefly mention that my father, Hugh W. Seton, was a fighter-bomber pilot in WW II and that he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Dad passed away in 1992 but I remember him sharing many stories about his experiences during the war. Arriving back at the airstrip only to find his aircraft littered with bullet holes. Using skip-bombs to break a hole into the wall of a fortress that held allied prisoner of war, and hearing that many successfully escaped. Flying toward a target at tree top level and at top speed in order to maintain the element of surprise. Or the night the squadron burned down the mess hall during a party.

It was only several years after his death, when I came across his flight log books, that I really took a deeper interest and began a long research project which taught me a lot. One of the things I learned was that there were fighter pilots. They flew the single engine fighter aircraft such as the Spitfire or the Mustang. Then there were the bomber pilots who flew the large, two or four engine bombers such as the Lancaster or Liberator. What I learned was that dad was a fighter-bomber pilot. These guys flew single engine dive bombers. Two aircraft my father flew were the Vultee Vengeance (1700 HP) and the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt (turbo-charged to 2500 HP). To put this into perspective, today’s average single engine aircraft operates using a 150 to 350 HP engine.

I will always remember how dad described being suspended in his harness as he dove straight down, and how highly he spoke of the Thunderbolt. It really was a well built aircraft. The Thunderbolt could reach speeds of 435 mph flying horizontally and could break the sound barrier in a dive. Known as the Jug because of its shape, it could take a real beating and still bring most of its pilots home safely. The Thunderbolt was a dive bomber but it was also a fighter that engaged in many a dog-fight. And that is why the men who flew them were called “fighter-bomber pilots”.

Dad flew 125 missions over enemy territory through 1944 and 1945. I can only imagine what it was like to have gone through that. He didn’t say much about the really bad times. For his contribution to our freedom and as an inspiration in my life, I will be eternally grateful.

Laurence Seton, P.Eng., PMP is the President of Projecteze Inc. and is the author of On Top Of Everything: Manage Your Projects & Life With Ease. He helps busy people learn the skills to get and stay organized and on top of everything at work, at home and at school using Projecteze: The Ultimate Organizational System. Follow Laurence on Twitter and Facebook.


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