The Full Wiki

More info on John C. "Pappy" Herbst

John C. "Pappy" Herbst: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

John C. "Pappy" Herbst (1909 – July 4, 1946) was an Americanmarker flying ace who was officially the second highest-scoring fighter pilot in the China Burma India Theater with 18 confirmed victories made during 7 months with the 23d Fighter Group. After the war, Herbst toured in an aerobatic demonstration team flying jets.

Early life

John Coleman Herbst was born in 1909 in San Diego County, Californiamarker, in the rural North County near Palomar Mountainmarker, an area he described as "Rancho Palomar". He was married in the 1930s and fathered a son named Tommy in 1933.

World War II

In 1941, Herbst was working as a tax consultant for an American oil company when he left civilian life and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to learn to fly fighters in combat. After training, Herbst was posted to the United Kingdommarker. Some said Herbst scored against a Messerschmitt Bf 109 in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. In early 1942, Herbst returned to the U.S. and joined the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) as a flight instructor on the Floridamarker coast, where a recuperating David Lee "Tex" Hill witnessed his flying skill and fingered Herbst as an excellent candidate for CBI Theater combat pilot.

In 1944 upon his arrival in the CBI Theater, Herbst acquired the nickname "Pappy" because of his much greater age (34) relative to the other pilots. A swastika was painted on his personal fighter aircraft in China, acknowledging his stated German kill without attempting to claim it through official U.S. channels. He named his aircraft "Tommy's Dad" in honor of his son. Herbst initially served with the 5th Fighter Group (provisional) without scoring any aerial victories but was transferred to the 76th Fighter Squadron on May 30, 1944. While flying a P-51B Mustang gathering weather data north of Kiatow on June 17, 1944, Herbst shot down a lone Nakajima Ki-43 fighter to make his first USAAF kill.

Nine days later on June 26, 1944, Herbst was made commander of the 74th Fighter Squadron, a position he held until February 1945. Herbst transitioned to P-40N-20 Warhawks as flown by the 74th and soon prevailed again in combat. On August 6 near Hengyang flying against Nakajima Ki-43s, he scored his fourth USAAF aerial victory to become an ace, including the one RCAF victory. The 74th transitioned to P-51C-7 Mustangs in August, and on September 3 Herbst shot down two Japanese aircraft that he reported as Aichi D3A "Val" dive bombers but were probably Mitsubishi Ki-51 "Sonia" models instead. These were the first P-51 victories of the 74th FS. By September 16, Herbst's USAAF tally reached nine victories, five in a Mustang.

After racking up 18 victories over Japanese aircraft, Herbst was promoted to lieutenant colonel in February 1945.


In August 1945, Herbst teamed with Major Carl T. Sigman to write an article for Popular Science entitled "How Planes Fight the 'White Devil' of the Air", an explanation of the dangers of ice on aircraft, and how it is countered.

On November 9, 1945, Herbst became the commander of 445 Flight Test Squadron.

In April 1946, Herbst and Robin Olds formed a jet aerobatics demonstration team, flying the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. The two pilots performed a coordinated routine that thrilled the crowds at every stop, including an appearance at Washington, D.C.

Herbst married for the second time on July 3, 1946, to Jeanne Eve Murphy, an actress.


Herbst was mortally wounded at the age of 36 in front of 30,000 people at the San Diego County Fair on July 4, 1946 when his P-80 Shooting Star jet crashed after failing to pull up in a dive just west of the Del Mar Fairgroundsmarker. Herbst's second wife of less than 24 hours witnessed the accident, as did his 13-year-old son Tommy. Both rushed to aid in the rescue, but Herbst died shortly thereafter in a nearby naval hospital.


  1. Stanaway, 1999, p. 67.
  2. Molesworth, 2009, p. 96. Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Older of 23d Fighter Group headquarters scored 18.5 in the air and 4 on the ground, while Herbst scored 18 Japanese air-to-air victories and one unacknowledged German victory with the RCAF in the Mediterranean.
  3. The China Lantern, July 6, 1945. "Older Is Leading Ace." Retrieved on November 18, 2009.
  4. CBI Roundup, Volume 3, Number 3, February 23, 1945. " 'Pappy,' Fighter Ace, Promoted." Retrieved on November 18, 2009.
  5. Stanaway, 1999, p. 68.
  6. Molesworth, 2009, p. 120.
  7. Molesworth, 2009, p. 95.
  8. Herbst, Major John C. and Major Carl T. Sigman. Popular Science Volume 147, Number 2, August 1945. "How Planes Fight the 'White Devil' of the Air", p. 114. ISSN 0161-7370. Retrieved on November 18, 2009.
  9. Air Force Historical Research Agency. 445 Flight Test Squadron. Retrieved on November 18, 2009.
  10. Sherwood, John Darrell. Fast Movers: Jet Pilots and the Vietnam Experience, pp. 10–11. Simon and Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0743206363
  11. The Billboard, Vol. 58, No. 28, July 13, 1946. "Flying Tiger Dies." ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved on November 18, 2009.
  12. Welch, Diane Y., and B. Paul Welch, 22nd District Agricultural Association. Del Mar Fairgrounds, p. 90. Arcadia Publishing, 2008. ISBN 0738558222.

  • Cornelius, Wanda, and Thayne Short. Ding Hao: America's Air War in China, 1937–1945. Pelican Publishing Company, 2005. ISBN 1565545230
  • Molesworth, Carl, and Jim Laurier. 23rd Fighter Group: Chennault's Sharks. Osprey Publishing, 2009. ISBN 1846034213
  • Samson, Jack. The Flying Tiger: The True Story of General Claire Chennault and the U.S. 14th Air Force in China. Globe Pequot, 2005. ISBN 1592287115
  • Stanaway, John. Mustang and Thunderbolt aces of the Pacific and CBI. Osprey Publishing, 1999. ISBN 1855327805
  • White, Theodore E. and Annalee Jacoby. Thunder Out of China, London, 1947. Reprint 2007, ISBN 1406773484.

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address