A New Exhibit: Scouting Forces of the Eighth Air Force

A new exhibit, Scouting Forces of the Eighth Air Force, opened in May 2018. Located near the Mission Experience this exhibit beckons visitors with an interactive kiosk, descriptive panels and a large P-51 model designated as the Second Scouting Force P-51 flown by Pilot Bill Getz. A display case includes his A-2 leather jacket, scarf and knife with scabbard, which he always wore on his scouting missions.
Exhibit for newsletterInclement weather created major problems for the Eighth Air Force. Enemy action never caused the Eighth to cancel, recall or abort a mission; dangerous weather conditions did! Out of the 10,631 total missions flown, 6,900 (or sixty-five percent) encountered weather-created hazards. Broad area weather reconnaissance could not report rapidly changing local conditions. Accidents occurred; bombs missed targets. One frustrated bomb group commander, Colonel Bud J. Peaslee, of the 384th Bomb Group developed a plan to allow additional weather reconnaissance on the day of the mission and took it to Major General James H. Doolittle, Commander of the Eighth Air Force.
Peaslee proposed selecting lead bomber pilots who had completed their tours and training them to fly P-51s. These former bomber pilots would leave thirty minutes ahead of the bomber formation and knew first-hand the concerns of the bomb commander. In addition, the same newly trained P-51 pilots needed the added protection provided by combat trained fighter pilots. General Doolittle approved the plan with the proviso that it be tried for a short period before introducing the Scouts into all three Air Divisions of the Eighth. The experimental phase proved successful, and on 6 September 1944, General Doolittle’s headquarters issued orders creating a Scouting Force in each of the three Air Divisions of the Eighth Air Force.
The Scouting Forces exhibit was donated by Vicki and Bill Getz in memory of WWII 8th Air Force Scouting Forces.