Howard’s attitude toward the Merlin Mustang
was typical. “This ship has no bugs,” he said.
“All the pilots have gone overboard for it. They
wouldn’t want to have to select any other plane
to fight in. And we’d all like to race the Mosquito,
the Typhoon, the Spitfire, P- 38, P- 47, or the
German Focke-Wulf or Messerschmitt 109.”
Thus did Jim Howard enter his second
theater of war. At age 30, he was personally
and tactically mature, a combat-experienced
fighter pilot confident in himself, his aircraft,
and his colleagues. On an escort to Bremen/
Wilhelmshaven, Howard bagged a Bf 109 on
December 20, his fourth kill of the war.
“The One-Man Air Force”
On January 11, northwest of Halberstadt in only
his second European combat, Howard had a sky
full of black-crossed fighters to himself.
Howard cut off a 110 tracking the bombers and
shot it down, but lost his wingmen in the process.
Then a squadron of 109s drove in for an attack.
Howard, the consummate professional, headed
them off. He feinted and dodged, taking shots when
“Berlin Express,” which sports
a Malcolm hood, rather than
the “birdcage” canopy of
Howard’s Ding Hao, flew with
the 357th Fighter Group. The
357th was the second AAF
P- 51 unit in the European
Theater and entered combat
one month after Jim Howard’s
Medal of Honor mission. The
reincarnated “Berlin Express”
is a rebuild by Pacific Fighters
from a total wreck. (Photo by