Oscar F. Perdomo - The Last Ace In a Day of WW II. Written by Santiago
Photos: San Diego Aerospace Museum
Becoming an “Ace in A Day” is an honor that has fallen to a number of fighter pilots around the world since the days of World War One. But the singular honor of being the last “Ace in Day” for the United States and possibly the last one for World War II, is held by 1st Lt. Oscar Francis Perdomo of the 464th fighter squadron, 507th fighter Group USAAF. On his tenth and and last combat sortie of the war, he achieved the distinction of being the last “Ace” of the war; an honor held by a American pilot of Mexican ancestry to this day.
Oscar Francis Perdomo was born on June 14th, 1919 at El Paso, Texas of Mexican parents, five years later his family move to Los Angeles, California. When the war broke out after obtaining the necessary education credits he joined the USAAF as an aviation cadet on February 13, 1943. On January 7th, 1944 Perdomo received his wings, after graduation he served as a flight instructor, but he put in his request to serve overseas. Which got him posted to the 464th fighter squadron in October 1944.
After a period of training, the 507th fighter group in which the 464th, was part of (463rd and 465th fighter squadrons were also from part of the group) went overseas to the Pacific to the Island of Ie Shima off the west coast of Okinawa with their Republic P-47N-2-RE Thunderbolt fighter Bombers. The group was to form part of the 8th Air Force that was moving from the ETO to the Pacific, with the mission to protect their B-29 bombers. But while the 8th was getting there the 507th was assigned to the 20th Air Force but operated under the tactical direction of the 7th Air Force.
The 507th, began operations against Japan on July 1st, 1945. Perdomo was assigned P-47N-2-RE number 146 aircraft serial number 44-88211, his crew chief was S/Sgt. F. W. Pozieky. Perdomo named his P-47 “Lil Meaties Meat Chooper” with the artwork showing a baby in a Diaper, striding along with a cigar in his mouth and hat on his head, clutching a rifle. He had named his aircraft after his first son, Kenneth C. born on January 27, 1944.
Perdomo flew his first combat mission on July 2, an escort to Kyushu, which totaled 5.5 hours, he would fly more escort missions, dive- bombing missions and search and rescue etc.
Perdomo flew another five hour mission on August 7th, so far he had not scored any aerial victories and the war was coming to a close. The atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9th, but while the allies awaited Japan’s response to the demand to surrender, the war continued.
On August 13th, the 507th was assigned mission number 507-35, to search the vicinity of Keijo (Seoul) Korea, for airborne enemy aircraft and to engage them if found. Take off was to begin at 0953. A total of 53 P-47’s from all three squadrons of the 507th were scheduled to participate, but after mechanical failures and aborts only 38 reached the target area. (12 each from the 463rd & 465th and 14 from 464th) The course was set from base to Nagasaki, Kyushu to Korea arriving near or around Keijo (Seoul) at about 1315 hours. Approximately 50 enemy aircraft were sighted and engaged from 8,000 ft (2,430m) to the decks.
The first kill was claimed by Capt. Edward R. Hoyt of the 465, when he shot-down a Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” Bomber. At this juncture, Major James J. Jarman (leading the 464th with 1st Lt. Perdomo in his flight) descended to engage what was at that time identified as a Nakajima Ki-43 “Oscar” fighter – as it turned out, three more of them would appeared from the clouds.
Perdomo described what happened in his combat report:
I pushed the throttle into water injection with the prop pitch at about 2,700 rpm. As I gained on the Oscars, I placed my gyro sight on the last one and adjusted the sight diamonds on his wings. At this time the Oscars were flying a very loose vee. When I closed into firing range I gave him a burst and saw my bullets converge on his nose and cockpit. Something exploded in his engine and fire broke out. I was still shooting as he fell to the right.
After gaining his first kill, Perdomo went after the second Oscar:
I lined him up immediately on the second ship and began firing at about 30 degrees. I shot at this Oscar until parts flew off and fire broke out on the bottom cowling of his engine. I ceased firing when he rolled over slowly and dove straight into the ground and exploded.
He closed on the third Oscar:
I caught him in my fixed sight and led him as much as I could, firing all the way. He continued his spiral- turn about 180 degree until he was about 100 ft off the ground. Then he hit a high speed stall, because I saw his aircraft shudder, and it snapped him still tighter to the left and into the ground where he exploded like an oversized napalm bomb.
After shooting down the third Oscar, he headed back to town, where he saw the fire from his first kill. Almost simultaneously he spotted a parachute descending and identified the green-clad man below it as a Japanese pilot. He put his sights on him and passed by, rocking his wings. Perdomo them climbed to look for any other P-47’s and encountered two “Willow” biplane trainers (Yokosuka Type 93 Intermediate Trainer K5Y) flying in formation. He after them and the “Willows” separated as Perdomo reported:
I picked the closet to me and started shooting. Flames broke out almost immediately. To slow my ship I crossed my controls and skidded. Them I shot more at him. This time I must have hit the pilot because the ship went into a spiral to the right and straight into the ground about 300 feet below.
After seeing the “Willow” explode. He tried to locate the other one, but it had escaped. He started to climb above the clouds, when three or four Oscars broke out above him and to the right. He turned into them and pointed his nose down, hoping they had not seen him. But at the last moment they pushed down on him. He shot under them, poured water injection on, and turned into the clouds. The Oscars made a half-hearted turn, but by them Perdomo was above and behind:
As I came in on these Oscars three of them turned to the left and one turned right I followed this single one and used my gyro sight. His only evasive maneuvers were turns. I shot at him in bursts until he flamed. He exploded when I pulled alongside because of the excessive speed. The mass of flames went into the ground.
He headed back to the city and the rest of the group. Over the airfield he saw two of the group’s P-47’s,chasing an Oscar that turned on the P-47’s. Perdomo dived on the Oscar, engaging it shooting until his ammo ran out. The Oscar turned on him, as he mentions in his report:
I saw a yellow-tailed P-47 out of the corner of my right eye and yelled him to shoot the Oscar off my tail………The P-47 I saw turned on the Oscar and began firing. He missed with the first burst, but clobbered him with the second. I saw the Oscar go straight in and explode. I believe the pilot of the P-47 to be Lt. Harry Steinshover.
This is confirmed in 2nd Lt. Harry M. Steinshover combat narrative. He had shot-down an Oscar, at the beginning of the fight, as he reported. After getting the first Oscar the following took place:
I pulled off the target and climbed to 3,000 ft to join my element leader. He (Perdomo) sighted an Oscar about 1,000 ft below us and dived for him. He opened up but ran out of ammunition. His speed carried him under the enemy plane. The Oscar started a turn to the left and my element leader broke right. The Oscar immediately made a sharp turn to the right and opened fire. I close to 1,000 ft and opened fire and the enemy plane started smoking. I fired at him all the way to the ground and he exploded.
By 1345 hours the 507th started the return to Ie Shima with elements landing about 1755 hours, an 8 hour, and 18 minute mission. In total the 507th claimed 20 enemy aircraft plus 2 probables and one “Betty” bomber on the ground, for the loss of one P-47N of the 464th flown by a pilot who had claimed 2 Oscars during the fight. He was shot-down and bailed out over the sea. He was picked up by the Japanese, and help prisioner at Keijo until the end of the war.
Major Jarman recalled how Perdomo’s claims were confirmed:
When we landed back at Ie Shima Perdomo shyly stated that he had destroyed five, including one biplane trainer type. Upon developing the gun camera film it was clearly proven that he had actually destroyed five aircraft including the biplane which no else had even seen.
FRANKS NOT OSCARS
It is interesting to note that the type of enemy fighters engaged by the 507th were actually the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate code named “Frank” from the Japanese Army Air Force’s 22ndand 85thSentais. Both Units had been assigned to Kimpo airfield since May 1945.
The 85th Hiko Sentai had been formed since March 1941, and as a veteran unit had seen action in Manchuria and China, claiming the destruction of some 282 enemy aircraft for the loss of 73 pilots. The unit commander was Capt. Morio Nakamura, who had held the post since December 1944.
The 22nd Hiko Sentai was created in March 1944 and was the first Ki-84 unit in the JAAF. It has seen action in Central China, the Philippines and homeland defense, claiming 40 enemy aircraft destroyed and damaged, for the loss of 24 pilots. Its commanding officer was Major Ei-chi Kitajima, who had been appointed in June 1945.
According to the unit’s histories, on August 13, 1945, the 22ndSentai mustered 20 fighters and loss six of them. The 85th claimed it had been raided by P-51 Mustangs!!!!. It lost five pilots and aircraft, including Capt. Nakamura.
This battle was the last action fought in the war by both units. 1st Lt. Perdomo emerged as the top scorer of the action with five claimed victories, while Capt.Edward R. Hoyt also of the 465th claimed his fifth kill to achieve the title of “Ace” (the four previous kills were with the 41st FS, 35th FG) in a battle that the 507thearned the Distinguished Unit Citation for its performance that day, the only reported DUC awarded to a P-47 group in the Pacific.
For his personal actions Perdomo received the Air Medal with one leaf cluster and the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action. He also won the honors of being the last USAAF pilot to become an “Ace in a Day”, and possibly the last pilot to claim this honor in World War II.
Perdomo would serve in the Air Force until 1958, leaving the service
with the rank of Major. He passed away on March 2, 1976 in Los Angeles,
California at the age of 56. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered
Listing of claim victories by the pilots of the 507th Fighter for August 13th, 1945 over Keijo, (Seoul) Korea.
Rank & Name Unit Claims Remarks
2.Lt. Harry M. Steinshouer 464th FS 2 Oscars
2.Lt. William E. Taylor 464th FS 1 Oscar
1.Lt. Dallas G. Yeargain 464th FS 2 Oscar SD POW
Capt. Edward R. Hoyt 465th FS 1 Betty + 4v w/ 35th FG.
2.Lt. Reginald N. Wilkinson 465th FS .5 Zeke
Col. Loring F. Stetson 507th FG .5 Zeke
1.Lt.Edward T O’Connell Jr. 465th FS 1 Tojo
2.Lt. Joe L. Fitzgerald 463rdFS 1 Oscar
1.Lt. George A. Benway 463rd FS 1 Zeke
1.Lt. Harry Underwood 463rd FS 1 Zeke
F/O. William F. Ryan 464th FS 1 Oscar
2.Lt. Gerald E. Edgar 464th FS 1 Oscar
1.Lt. Oscar F. Perdomo 464th FS 4 Oscars + 1 Willow
2.Lt. Richard G. Farrell 464th FS 1 Oscar
SOURCES AND REFERENCES:
VICTORY LIST NO.3 USAAF (PACIFIC THEATHER) CREDITS
FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF ENEMY AIRCRAFT IN AIR TO AIR
COMBAT WORLD WAR 2. By Frank J. Olynyk, October 1995.
AMERICA’S ACES IN A DAY by William N. Hess. Specialty Press 1996.
THUNDERBOLT,THE REPUBLIC P-47 IN THE PACIFIC THEATER by Ernest R. McDowell, Squadron/signal publications 1999.
JAPANESE ARMY AIR FORCES ACES 1937-45, OSPREY AIRCRAFT OF THE ACES NO.13 by Henry Sakaida. Osprey Aerospace 1997.
MUSTANG AND THUNDERBOLT ACES OF THE PACIFIC AND CBI, OSPREYAIRCRAFT OF THE ACES NO.26 by John Stanaway, Osprey Aerospace 1999.
STARS & BARS, A TRIBUTE TO THE AMERICAN FIGHTER ACE 1920-1973 by Frank Olynyk, Grub Street books 1995.
REPUBLIC P-47 THUNDERBOLT THE OPERATIONAL RECORD, by Jerry Scutts,Motorbooks International 1998.
SEVENTH AIR FORCE STORY by Kenn C. Rust, Historical Aviation Album Publication 1978.
ACE IN A DAY, by Santiago A. Flores, Air Enthusiast No.67, Jan-Feb.1997.
MAJOR OSCAR F. PERDOMO PERSONAL PAPERS, Library and Archives, San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego California.
Profile of Perdomos P-47N-2 Thunderbolt in which he became the "last Ace in a Day " in WWII.
Profile: "Peter West Air International 1997"
Back to http://www.neta.com/~1stbooks/def1.htm | Hispanics in Americas Defense Home