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Lt. Walter P. Manning scores aerial victory

Lt. Walter P. Manning scores aerial victory


Lt. Walter P. Manning and Flight Officer William P. Armstrong were killed during a dogfight over Austria in 1945.

Manning of Philadelphia graduated from flight training on April 15, 1944, at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. He soon deployed to Italy with the 301st Fighter Squadron, part of the 332nd Fighter Group.

On April 1, the 332nd Fighter Group successfully escorted B-24 bombers to a marshaling yard at St. Polten, Austria. On the return trip to Ramitelli Air Field in Italy, the group spotted enemy planes south of Wels, Austria.

"After fulfilling our mission, the 301st broke away from the rest of the group and flew straight down the Danube River," Flight Officer James H. Fischer said in an interview included in "Tuskegee Airmen: The Men Who Changed a Nation" by Charles E. Francis. "We found nothing of interest in the Danube area, but when we got to Linz we met a great deal of flak. Frankly, we were looking for enemy barges on the river, but instead sighted enemy planes."

A battle ensued. Seven pilots shot down 12 enemy planes, including a German FW-190 shot down by Manning, but Manning and Armstrong were killed.

In a military report, 2nd Lt. John E. Edwards said he saw one of the group's P-51 Mustang hit by fire from an enemy plane, and dive to the ground.

"I also observed a pilot bail out of his plane after having been attacked by enemy fighters about 15 miles south of Wels," Edwards wrote. " I was not able to identify either of the pilots or the planes, except that they were our planes in both instances. It is logical to assume that either 2nd Lt. Walter P. Manning was the pilot that spun in and Flight Officer William P. Armstrong was the pilot that bailed out or vice versa since two of our eight planes that engaged in the fight didn't return.

Manning is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in France. According to a government database, he was awarded an Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters and a Purple Heart for his military service.


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