World Battlefronts: Take the Boys Home . . .

At the rendezvous somewhere over Nazi Europe, the sleek Thunderbolts turned over their bomber-escort mission to other U.S. fighter planes and streaked for their British base. On the way they spotted a tempting enemy airfield, with planes lined up along the runway. It was too good to pass up. The flight leader, Major Walter Carl Beckham, 18-victory U.S. ace of the European Theater (TIME, Feb. 21), called four planes and roared down for a strafe.

They went over at treetop level, doing close to 500 m.p.h., with their guns blazing. As they pulled up...

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