Danny Wilson’s Wrecked P-38 Lightning

A couple of decades ago I wrote the Bergermeister of the Schwanberg, Austria, where Danny Wilson lost his life in 1945.

Dir. Alois Ircher answered my letter and, when he learned how I was related to the only American buried in their cemetery during World War II, he sent me a copy of a history of Schwanberg. It’s in German.

The book doesn’t have a copyright date, but the short sketch goes through 1981.

Danny Wilson’s wrecked Lightning is pictured on page 41. The date is wrong, as the crash occurred on February 19.  I cringe to look at it. I never showed it to Mom or Aunt Darlene. In fact, this is the first time I’ve published this photo.

Dan Wilson was not shot down, as we took for granted. Dr. Ircher said his plane was so low that it hit a telephone or light pole. He said that where the plane fell is now a “sportplatz.” He doesn’t know what the German occupiers did with the remains of the plane.


The main mission of the 37th Fighter Squadron, 14th Fighter Group, 15th Air Force that day was was to escort B-24s of the 55th Wing at Bruck, Austria. On their way back to their base at Triolo, Italy, the P-38s were strafing (and an experimental skip-bombing) in the Graz area of Italy.


Enhanced photo, thanks to G.P. Cox of Pacific Paratrooper.

9 comments

  1. Interesting indeed! It never ceases to amaze me how presumed history can change when the deeper research is done (as you did in this case). Thanks for this excellent example. We WWII combat buffs often view most air combat as having been from high altitudes and consider “low” to be much higher than your research indicates!

    • I guess I should have included that they were strafing (and an experimental skip-bombing) in that area on their way back to their base at Triolo, Italy. Their main mission was to escort B-24s of the 55th Wing at Bruck, Austria. Thanks, Dennis, for that observation.

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