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|Signatures on this item|
|*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.|
Colonel Steve Pisanos (deceased)
*Signature Value : £45
|Born Nov. 10, 1919, in the Athens suburb of Kolonos, Spiros Nicholas 'Steve' Pisanos, the son of a subway motorman, arrived in America in April 1938 as a crew member on a Greek merchant tramp steamer. Arriving in Baltimore speaking no English, he worked in a bakery and hotels to earn money for flying lessons at Floyd Bennett Field. In August 1940, he settled in Plainfield, New Jersey, and continued flying lessons at Westfield Airport. He earned a private pilot's license and, though still a Greek national, in October 1941 he joined the British Royal Air Force sponsored by the Clayton Knight Committee in New York City. Pisanos began his military flight training at Polaris Flight Academy in Glendale. Upon graduation, Pilot Officer Pisanos was transferred to England where he completed RAF Officers Training School at Cosford, England, and OTU (Operational Training Unit) at Old Sarum Aerodrome in Salisbury. Pisanos was posted to the 268 Fighter Squadron at Snailwell Aerodrome in Newmarket flying P-51A's. He later transferred to the 71 Eagle Squadron, one of three Eagle squadrons in the RAF, comprised of just 244 American volunteers flying Spitfires at Debden RAF Aerodrome. When the USAAF 4th Fighter Group absorbed the American members of the Eagle Squadrons in September and October 1942, Pisanos was commissioned a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces. Flying his first mission in his P-47 'Miss Plainfield' out of Debden Aerodrome with the 334th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Group, Lt. Pisanos, 'The Flying Greek,' scored his first shootdown on May 21, 1943, when he targeted a German FW-190 over Ghent, Belgium. By Jan. 1, 1944, he had become an ace with five confirmed downings. On March 5, 1944, he obtained his 10th shootdown and while returning from that B-17 escort mission to Limoges and Bordeaux, France, Pisanos experienced engine failure in his P-51B and crash-landed south of Le Havre. For six months he evaded the Germans and fought with the French Resistance and the American OSS, sabotaging the German war machine in occupied France. Lt. Pisanos returned to England on Sept. 2, 1944, following the liberation of Paris. Because of his exposure and knowledge of the French Resistance operations, Pisanos was prohibited from flying additional combat missions because the Air Force could not risk him being captured. Upon returning to the United States, Capt. Pisanos was assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright Field, Ohio. He attended the USAF Test Pilot School and served as a test pilot at Wright Field and Muroc Lake, California, testing the YP-80 jet aircraft, America's first operational jet. During his Air Force career, Pisanos graduated from the University of Maryland, attended the Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College. Pisanos also served tours of duty in Vietnam (1967-68) and with NORAD before retiring from the USAF with the rank of colonel in in December 1973. Colonel Steve Pisanos died on 6th June 2016.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Thunderbolt||Alexander Kartveli was a engineer with Seversky Aircraft who designed the P-35, which first flew in 1937. With Republic Aviation Kartveli supervised the development of the P-43 Lancer. Neither of these aircraft were produced in large numbers, and neither was quite successful. However, the Republic Aviation P-47 Thunderbolt, also nicknamed the Jug, was quite a different story. The Jug was the jewel in Kartvelis design crown, and went on to become one of the most produced fighter aircraft of all time with 15,683 being manufactured. The P-47 was the largest and heaviest single seat fighter of WW II. The P-47 immediately demonstrated its excellent combat qualities, including speed, rate of climb, maneuverability, heavy fire power, and the ability to take a lot of punishment. With a wingspan of more than 40 feet and a weight of 19,400 pounds, this large aircraft was designed around the powerful 2000 HP Pratt and Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine. The first P-47 prototype flew in May of 1941, and the primary variant the P-47D went into service in 1943 with units of the U.S. Armys Eighth Air Force. The Jug had a maximum speed in excess of 400 MPH, a service ceiling in excess of 42,000 feet, and was heavily armed with either six or eight heavy caliber machine guns. With its ability to carry up to a 2,500 pound bomb load, the Jug saw lots of use in ground attack roles. Until the introduction of the N model, the P-47 lacked the long range required for fighter escort missions which were most often relegated to P-51 Mustangs or P-38 Lightnings. In his outstanding painting entitled Bridge Busting Jugs, noted aviation artist Stan Stokes depicts Eighth Air Force Jugs in a ground attack mission in the Alps in June of 1944. The top P-47 ace was Francis Gabreski who had flown with the 56th Fighter Group, the first unit to be equipped with the P-47. In August of 1943 Gabreski attained his first aerial combat victory (over an Fw-190) and by years end he had reached ace status with 8 confirmed victories. As Commander of the 61st Squadron, Gabreski continued to chalk up victory after victory, and on seven different occasions he achieved two victories during the same mission. However, in July of 1944 Gabreski damaged the prop on his Jug during a low level attack on an airfield near Coblenz. Forced to make a crash landing, he was captured and remained a prisoner of war until Wars end in 1945. Following the War Gabreski returned to military service with the Air Forces 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing in Korea. Flying the F-86 Sabre Jet, Gabreski attained 6.5 more aerial victories in 1951 and 1952 becoming an ace in two different wars|
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