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The Yoxford Boys

By David H. Klaus

The famous game-show host asks: “Where were the Yoxford Boys based?”

The CORRECT answer is that the 357th Fighter Group was NOT based at Yoxford! They were based at Leiston. The moniker “Yoxford Boys” was created by the infamous British traitor William Joyce, better known as “Lord Haw-Haw,” during his January 30th, 1944, radio broadcast during which he “welcomed” the unit to its new home at the Leiston airfield. Yoxford was actually one of the small villages located nearby. Joyce also warned the Group’s members of all the terrible things that would happen to them in the days to come. Joyce got it wrong: it was the Luftwaffe that should have been warned about the boys with the red and yellow checkerboard nosed Mustangs!

The 357th Fighter Group arrived in England in late 1943 and entered transition training at the newly constructed Raydon airfield. The first combat missions were flown by senior Group pilots, flying with the 354th Fighter Group (the pioneer Mustang group) based at Boxted.

The 357th was originally assigned to the 9th Air Force, but they became the first P-51 equipped unit in the 8th Air Force when they were exchanged for the 358th Fighter Group (a P-47 unit) in early 1944 due to the pressing need for the Mustang’s long-range escort capabilities. The 357th also swapped bases with the 358th, moving to Leiston on January 31st, 1944.

The Group’s first combat mission was on February 11th, 1944. Despite being one of the last fighter units to join the 8th Air Force, the Mustang gave the 357th ample opportunities to engage and destroy the Luftwaffe. The Yoxford Boys created an enviable record. They had more aces than any other unit and scored the second highest aerial kill record in the 8th—despite their relatively short time in combat. They also shot down more German jets than any other group, and were the fastest scoring unit during the last year of the war.

We hope you enjoy this selection of some of the more colorful ships of this famous unit. Good luck and good modeling!

General Note on Repainted Aircraft

VIII Fighter Command recommended during the late spring of 1944 that with the coming invasion of Europe it would be a good idea for the fighter groups to camouflage their natural metal aircraft, particularly since some of the units might be moving to the Continent where ground camouflage would be necessary. The 357th duly followed these recommendations.

Paint supply issues suggest the great majority of these aircraft were painted with RAF paint, most likely Dark Green and Medium Sea Grey, as the closest shades to USAAF Olive Drab and Neutral Gray. Unfortunately, even color photos and slides taken at the time do not conclusively prove whether RAF or USAAF colors were used on specific aircraft. However, noted 357th historian Merle Olmsted, a former Yoxford Boy who was actually there at the time, suggests that when in doubt, use the RAF colors.




  • This is one of the 357th’s repainted aircraft. It was delivered in natural metal finish, but camouflaged by the 357th in RAF Dark Green over RAF Medium Sea Grey. See the introduction for more comments about these colors.
  • Although Pelon was the original pilot, Lt Oliver Boch later flew this same ship. Pelon scored two aerial victories, both Fw 190s, on December 24th, 1944. The Yoxford Boys claimed 31 Luftwaffe aircraft that day, tops for all 8th Air Force fighter groups.
  • Note the serial number for this ship has been listed incorrectly in several sources and websites. One recent book about the 357th listed THREE different serials for this aircraft!
  • The dog had a multicolored coat. This is evident in numerous photos and is the way we’ve portrayed it.
  • This plane had at one time a horizontal white ID stripe across the fin and rudder, but it was overpainted by the time our photos were taken.
  • A single RAF-style rear view mirror was mounted above the windscreen.
  • Many photos of this ship exist showing no kill markings on the left side. However, one photo shows two (or possibly three) kill marks in a vertical column under the left windscreen. Another photo shows four kill markings in a horizontal row on the RIGHT side under the canopy. The discrepancies between these numbers (and the kills awarded to Pelon) may be due to the difference between claims and confirmed kills. It’s also quite possible Boch painted the kill markings on.
  • The national insignia on this bird was clearly gray and insignia blue (no white).

Mr. Period

  • This ship was flown by Capt Richard Smith, who scored three aerial victories. He was shot down and killed on June 29th, 1944, in an air battle over Leipzig. Although he was heard on the radio reporting that he was bailing out, no trace of him was ever found.
  • We believe the mission marks (bomb outlines) above the left engine exhaust were white. However, one photo seems to suggest that they COULD have been yellow. Again, we believe white is correct, but we’ve provided both colors on the decal sheet.
  • A single RAF-style rear view mirror was mounted above the windscreen.

Mom Smith

  • This is another one of the 357th’s repainted aircraft. It was delivered in natural metal finish, but camouflaged by the 357th in RAF Dark Green over RAF Medium Sea Grey. See the introduction for more comments about these colors.
  • This ship was named after pilot Zacharie’s college fraternity house mother! Perhaps his most notable mission was on January 20th, 1945, when he flew as Lt Dale Karger’s wingman. On that day, Karger shot down a Me 262 for his fifth aerial victory—one of only three American men to become aces before their twentieth birthdays!
  • It’s possible, even probable, that the word “Angel” had a black drop shadow below and forward of the white lettering. Photos are not conclusive on this issue, but we’ve provided the drop shadow in case you wish to use it.
  • A single RAF-style rear view mirror was mounted above the windscreen.


  • Bowles came late to the 357th as a replacement pilot. His only aerial victory—which was a great one—was on April 19th, 1945, when he shot down a Me 262 near Prague. This was the Yoxford Boys’ most successful day ever against the German jets, with six being claimed by 357th pilots.
  • A photo of Mountaineer bellied in at Leiston clearly shows the backs of two of the propeller blades were natural metal. The fronts of the blades were black and the prop cuffs were black on both sides. It’s possible all four blades had natural metal rear faces, but only two can be seen in the photo.
  • The tail cannot be seen in any available photos. The serial number is recorded in official archives, but we have to assume the rudder was painted red (which was standard practice). Normally the serial number was painted in the normal factory style, with the first three digits on the rudder and the last three on the rudder. However, it’s possible the entire serial number was repainted entirely on the fin with no numbers on the rudder. Other examples of this practice in the 357th existed, but we think it was probably as shown in our profile artwork.
  • The name was certainly yellow and red, not black and yellow as often portrayed.
  • Note the word “Mountaineer” is slightly inset into the red/yellow checkerboard noseband on the left side. Be sure to align the noseband decal properly AFTER you’ve placed the Mountaineer decal.
  • The mountaineer’s axe head was not originally painted onto the antiglare panel. At some point it was made slightly larger and then overlapped the antiglare panel. I think it looks cooler with the larger axe head, so that’s what we give you on the decal sheet.
  • The black pinstripe around the outer circumference of the mountaineer insignia didn’t remain intact for long. Chunks or bits of the paint flaked off in the slipstream and eventually the outer black ring looked more like a broken line than a solid ring. You can simulate this with silver paint if you wish.
  • Note the gun muzzle fairings on the wing leading edges were a dark color, probably painted red.
  • The national insignia on this bird was probably gray and insignia blue (no white). The only existing photo that shows this area is not clear and only shows a small part of the fuselage star, which appears to be too dark to be white. Both types of insignia are included on the decal sheet.



Thanks to Neer


  • Becraft flew his first combat mission on November 21st, 1944. His most successful day came on March 2nd, 1945, when he shot down a Bf 109 and was credited with four more enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground during an attack on the Kamenz airfield near Magdeburg. He returned home in 1945 and later flew in the Korean War.
  • The name and artwork was applied by Lt James A. Gasser, pilot of the P-51 “Muddy,” who thought Becraft resembled a moose! The blue moose was painted on the plane while Becraft was on leave, apparently without his approval or knowledge.
  • Note the tail warning radar on both sides of the fin.
  • The anti-buzz codes on the left underwing were postwar deterrents to bored pilots “beating up” (flying extremely low) over the occupied territory. They are visible in some photos, but of course were not applied until after the cessation of hostilities.
  • The only color photo of this ship is not particularly good, but it, along with the black and white photos of this ship clearly show the moose had at least two shades of blue. It was certainly NOT all black as usually portrayed.
  • Note the gun muzzle fairings on the wing leading edges were painted red.
  • The kill markings were NOT aligned particularly well. This is shown clearly in photos and our decal captures this misalignment.
  • Apply the yellow “MOOSE” decal first, then when it’s dry, apply the red/black decal on top of the yellow decal.
  • The individual code for this ship was definitely “S Bar.” The letter “S” had a black horizontal bar on top of the letter, denoting the second aircraft in the unit with the code letter “S.” This was on both sides of the fuselage and on the underwing anti-buzz codes.

Shanty Irish

  • O’Brien hailed from Charleston, SC, and scored seven aerial victories before returning home in late summer 1944. He retired from the Air Force in June 1968 and passed away in May 1984.
  • This ship had a long career, and was eventually converted into a two-seater and renamed “Eager Beaver.” It was finally salvaged in September 1945.
  • Note the nose art on this plane actually changed a bit over time, probably due to touch-up painting. In any case, the name was often shown in photos with quite a few paint chips missing!
  • The kill markings were not the same size on the top and bottom rows of markings! Neither were they precisely aligned on the top row. We’ve shown these perturbations in our decals.
  • During the D-Day invasion period and for some time thereafter, this ship wore full D-Day invasion stripes around the fuselage and above and below the wings.
  • A single RAF-style rear view mirror was mounted above the windscreen.


  • Tommy Hayes came to the 357th in May of 1943 to take command of the 364th Fighter Squadron after Capt Varian K. White was killed in a crash. He was already a combat veteran, having served in Java with the 17th Provisional Pursuit Squadron and in New Guinea with the 35th Fighter Group. He scored 8.5 aerial victories in total, all scored in Europe (he also got two ground credits in the Pacific). In late March 1944, he was promoted to Deputy Group Commander of the 357th. He returned home in August 1944 after flying 78 combat missions. He retired from the Air Force in 1970 as a brigadier general.
  • This plane’s name, “Frenesi,” was usually pronounced by World War II American GIs as “free-and-easy,” a joke about the questionable morals of some women—or more likely a fervorent hope on the part of the GIs that they’d be able to find that kind of women when they went on leave! Hayes was adamant that his plane’s name was pronounced “fren-nessy,” as he stated there was nothing free-and-easy about aerial combat over Germany.
  • This is one of the 357th’s repainted aircraft. It was delivered in natural metal finish, but camouflaged by the 357th in RAF Dark Green over RAF Medium Sea Grey. See the introduction for more comments about these colors.
  • The aircraft data block was painted in black on the original natural metal surface of the plane. This area was masked off when the plane was painted in camouflage colors by the 357th. Note the stenciled data block stated the aircraft was a “P-51D-15-NA,” when in fact it was a P-51D-5-NA! Our decal depicts what was actually painted on the aircraft.
  • Note the natural metal framing around the windscreen.
  • The top 3/4 of the radio antenna was unpainted and left in natural metal color.
  • Note the tiny “iron cross” insignia in the upper left hand corner of each of the German kill markings. OK, it won’t print very well in 1/48 scale, but at least we tried!
  • The D-Day invasion stripes on the fuselage extend above the star-and-bar insignia. Be careful when you paint and mask this area to replicate the precise sizes and angles we’ve shown you in our color instruction sheet.

Hurry Home Honey

  • Peterson joined the 357th in April 1943 and flew two combat tours with them, finally returning home in February 1945. He scored 15.5 aerial victories. While modelers better know his P-51D, he actually scored the majority of his victories while flying the P-51B. After the war he became an architect. He passed away in 2000.
  • This ship was lost on June 20th, 1944, when Lt Heyward C. Spinks was shot down by flak. Spinks evaded capture and eventually returned to England.
  • There is considerable disagreement whether the name and mission markings were white or yellow. While they were certainly yellow later in the plane’s lifetime, it’s faintly possible they were white at an earlier time. Existing photos are unfortunately not conclusive on this matter, so we’ve provided both color decals. Again, we are certain the yellow markings are the best choice, but at least we give you a choice!
  • Note the “H” in “Hurry Home Honey” slightly underlaps the red/yellow noseband on the left side of the nose. Pay careful attention to our instruction sheet to see this effect. Apply the name before you apply the noseband.
  • The three kill markings aft of the flare port were painted on the plane with a distinctive upward slant as shown on our decal sheet.
  • A photo exists showing this ship with full D-Day stripes on the wings and fuselage. The markings are exactly the same as we provide on our decal. If you decide to apply the full D-Day stripes to your model, note the black outline around the code “5” on the left fuselage was roughly hand painted on the plane. We recommend you also hand paint it on your model as well.
  • As depicted in our drawings and decals, this ship was fitted with a Malcolm Hood. Photos exist of the plane with only four kill markings applied while the original segmented canopy hood was used.