Danny Wilson: Graduation and Wings

Williams Field, Advanced Flying School, Chandler, Arizona, announced the graduation of Class 44-C Pilots, Sunday morning, March twelfth, Nineteen hundred and forty-four.

Second Lieutenant Daniel S. Wilson

44-c (2)

44-ca (2)

A telegram arrived from Phoenix mid-March: REPORTING DIRECT TO NEXT BASE  MAY GET TEN DAYS OR MAY NOT I’LL SEE YOU IF I CAN GET ANY LEAVE LOVE DAN

Danny didn’t get a furlough, like Dale did, after he got his wings. Instead, about half of his graduating class arrived at Victorville, California, rather low on morale. They were to get shipping orders when they cleared Williams Field, but they were delayed. And, they’d been assured of ten days’ delay enroute, but their orders just said to report to Victorville for Transition the next day, so they did.

Dan Wilson–center, back row.

Now they were told they were to be pioneers. There were seven P-39Ds there from fighting on Guadalcanal, but later models were being ferried in. The P-39Q-15 carried four .50 caliber and one .37 mm. cannon, but wasn’t as large as an AT-6, Danny said. The AT-6 wingspan was forty-two feet, the P-39 only thirty-four.

p39

“So here’s three things about it,” he wrote, knowing it would get a chuckle out of his dad, “I can roll down the window and spit over the wingtip, it has a high flying speed, and it has a gliding angle of a brick.”

He was to have a check ride in an AT-6, doing spins, stalls, and landings. If satisfactory, then he’d get a thorough cockpit check of the P-39, because his first flight would be solo. He expected to fly the P-63 next. He said they were about the 20th model of a P-39, with a thirty-seven-foot wingspan and a square tail. 

danp39 (2)

Danny weighed 175 by then, but said a little wood sawing, garden plowing, hunting, and barbells could do him a lot of good.

He’d written to Dale and gotten his letters back. “I’d give anything, everything, if he’d be found alive. I want to fight the Japs and, flying this type of plane, I think I’ll get to. If he’s alive or not, every stinking bastard I run into is the one that did it. And if I see a Jap bail out, wounded, or any stinking on the ground–they will be no exception. I’ll never be taken prisoner by any of them.”

By then Dale’s pilot’s logbook had been sent to his parents, the Wilsons had learned that he may be a Japanese POW. The Japanese refused to sign international agreements to treat POWs humanely. Recent news revealed Japanese torture of American POWs, especially air crews.

4 comments

    • It happened to Mom first, so she quickly wrote the younger brothers who didn’t know yet. Their parents were afraid that knowing would make training harder for them. But Mom wrote her folks that she’d want to know, and knew that it’d be a shock if they didn’t know before getting a letter returned.

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