Bruce Carr, Mustang Ace
Artwork and Research is by Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette
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Colonel Bruce W. Carr
By Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette
Carr entered the aviation cadet program for the Army Air Force on September 2,
1942. He graduated from Spence Field, Georgia as a flight officer on August 30,
1943. Bruce spent the next two months at Bartow, Florida gaining qualifications
in the A-36 and the new P-51A, Mustang.
was sent to England and was assigned to the 380th Fighter Squadron,
363rd Fighter Group which was based at Keevil. His squadron was one
of the first to be equipped with the new fighter which gave Bruce an advantage
over the other men in the squadron because he was already rated to fly the
Mustang and had many hours in the cockpit.
March 8, 1944, Car became the first pilot in his Squadron to claim an aerial
victory. His antagonist was a Messerschmitt Bf109G south of Berlin. Bruce was
the first to spot the German and gave chase before getting permission to break
formation. Instead of cheers for the Squadron’s first kill and the first for
Bruce, he was labeled as overaggressive and undisciplined and was transferred to
the 354th Fighter Groups 353 Squadron. His commanding officer was a
butt-head because he never knew how valuable Bruce would be. He would in fact
become one of the top aces of the 354th.
next aerial combat resulted with being credited for a probable shoot down of a
Bf109 on June 14, 1944. A “probable” was the damaging of an enemy aircraft
to a point that its ability to return safely to base was not “probable” and
assumed would crash on the way back to its base. However you can not claim a
shoot down unless you have gun-camera footage which would prove your claim. The
film in Bruce’s gun-camera did show the extensive damage to the German fighter
by his machine guns but no one saw the German go down. The German was seen
slipping away at least for a while before his engine froze up from lack of
June 17th Bruce finally was able to fire again at a German fighter
when he shared a kill with another pilot by shooting down a Focke Wolfe FW-190.
Aerial combat was spotty as one fighter group could be entangled with the enemy
while other squadrons would be flying along unmolested. Not every mission
resulted in death-defying mortal combat. The greatest tension a fighter pilot
like Bruce Carr suffered from was the in-activity between combat. Some people
seek combat when it is presented to them. Bruce was one of these men, eager to
get into the fight.
September 12th, while on a fighter sweep, Bruce spotted enemy
aircraft on an airfield south of Linburg, Germany. Carr took his flight down out
of the sun and lined up on seven, Junkers JU-88 twin-engine medium bombers that
were parked in a group. Bruce being the first in the attack lined up on one of
the enemy bombers.
A fighter pilot coming in low and firing on ground targets had the opportunity to watch his bullets strike the ground in front of the aircraft first and then he could walk the bullets to the target. Your gun fire would only be on the exact target for a moment because you, the attacking pilot would have to pull up other wise you would fly into the ground. This was a great way to hit ground targets but it could also be ineffective. That is why the Army Air Force did not let a pilot claim a ground kill as an official aerial victory. One trick all air forces world wide used was “dummy” targets or mock-ups. However when your gun camera footage showed aircraft being serviced or preparing to take off or if it caught on fire that gave the pilot some evidence of his claim. There was an unofficial set of conditions among the pilots who would recognize the ground claims of another pilot.
attacks were the most dangerous for all fighter pilots. The golden rule for all
pilots was to make one pass only. The flight of attacking fighters would go in
and get out as fast as possible. Multiple passes would result in casualties
since the enemies anti-aircraft guns would quickly adapt and line up on the
incoming fighters. The first pass on an enemy airfield would be in most cases a
surprise attack. However the surprise would soon be short lived once the ground
crews manning the anti-aircraft guns got lined up on the attacking aircraft.
Carr did not waste ammunition as he lined up a JU88. His eyes had already
scanned the airfield and he was mentally lining up his next target even before
he fired on his first.
squeezed the trigger with his feet balanced on the rudder peddles countering the
sudden shock of firing six fifty caliber machine guns simultaneously. The
Mustang shook like he was riding a real bronco. He held his Mustang perfectly on
target. His bullets hit only a few yards in front on the bomber and he held his
guns on the target for several seconds causing a fire to erupt before he flew
over the stricken bomber.
shifting his eyes, his hands and his feet, he brought “Angels Playmate” into
perfect alignment onto the next bomber. Bruce could coolly move his fighter
where ever his eyes followed. The P-51 Mustang and Bruce Carr were equally
matched with precision aeronautical engineering equally blended with his
strength. Mentally and physically he preformed. One could say that he held
complete command of his aircraft. The Mustang shook violently with guns
exploding sending their missiles into the next German bomber. Luftwaffe ground
crew leaped from the bomber and ran as the JU-88 was ripped apart igniting
aviation fuel. An erupting inferno mushroomed into a black cloud as his Mustang
flew through the explosion. Some ground crew did not escape as he tore through
the black fireball back up into blue skies.
and the other pilots pulled up to about ten thousand feet with everyone
accounted for. The perfect airfield attack. They reviewed the status of their
aircraft, remaining ammunition, fuel and together they continued their patrol.
The Mustang pilots were not long into their flight when they spotted thirty plus
FW190’s 2,000 feet below them. Bruce led his flight down to bounce the
Germans. The Folk Wulf Bruce targeted pulled up into a climbing left turn.
Firing a thirty-degree deflection shot from 150 to 200 yards he could see his
bullets and tracers strikes the Germans left wing and engine area. An explosion
rocked the enemy fighter as its pilot bailed out.
quickly looked around and found another FW190 on the deck trying to get away.
Bruce dove of the enemy firing a short burst using a fifty-degree deflection
shot at 250 yards. White flashes appeared on the German aircraft. Closing to 150
yards, Bruce fired again hitting the enemy on his engine and around the cockpit.
The German snapped rolled to the left onto his back and with its pilot still
inside the fighter flew nose down into a hill. Some pilots are natural fliers
and some are natural marksmen. Bruce was both pilot and marksman just like a few
of the other aces I have interviewed like P-47 Ace, Robert Johnson. Bruce was an
expert pilot and marksmen.
the war, Carr helped form the “Acrojets” which were the beginnings of the
Thunderbird Air Force jet aerobatics team. Carr also flew combat missions over
Carr was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and Distinguished Flying Cross with six Oak Leaf Clusters and the Air Medal with thirty Oak Leaf Clusters.
To read more about Bruce then please consider one of our prints or our upcoming books inwhich we have a whole chapter on our hero.
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All research, writings and artwork are by Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette.
No one is permitted to republish any part of this story with out my personal permission.
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Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette
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