Within days of the March 2012 issue of Fly RC magazine being released, I received an email from a gentleman named Dan Gregory. Dan was looking through that issue and came across the article I did for "Monster Planes". One of the photos from this article featured a giant P-47, "Raid Hot Mama", owned by Scott Prossen. Dan is a personal friend of the pilot who flew the full scale "Raid Hot Mama" during WWII.
That pilot's name is John W. Drummond. He served as a fighter pilot in the 405th Fighter Group during World War II, including ten-months in a German prisoner of war camp after being shot down over France in 1944. For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, nine Air Medals, three Battle Stars, a Presidential Citation, and two Purple Hearts. In the 1990s, remnants of Drummond's fighter plane were discovered in Gieville, France, where Drummond subsequently visited as an honored guest of the townspeople.
Dan was kind enough to share some of the stories that Lt. Drummond shared with him over the years. Below are just a couple of the many stories of Lt. Drummond and the time he spent behind the stick of a P-47.
After a mission of bombing and strafing over France, the flight element that Lt. Drummond was leading formed back up to go across the channel. Lt. Drummond, being the lead of the flight element, was checking his other pilots out when he noticed that one of the 500 lb. bombs on one of the planes was hanging half-way off and failed to drop. Lt. Drummond stated that the procedure was to do wing movements to see if the 500 lb bomb would dislodge over the channel which was dangerous in itself.
If that didn't work then the pilot was to bail out of the plane which had its own bad elements for the pilot possibly not surviving the jump, or the channel swim until help arrived, if at all. Not to mention losing a perfectly fine P-47. They were instructed that in no way were they to come back to base with a bomb hanging off the wing. Since it was armed it could drop over a populated area in England, or upon landing it could very easily dislodge and blow the plane up, or send it skipping down the runway and possibly injuring ground crew as well as damage the landing strip.
Lt. Drummond noting that his pilot could possibly lose his life and the prospect of losing a P-47 for the war effort had an idea. He would take his left wingtip and try to dislodge the 500 lb. bomb from its precarious hanging angle by tapping it with his wing while in flight. Adding to the effort of this feat the radio of pilot who's P-47 had the hanging 500 lb., had gone out. So Lt. Drummond had to use hand gestures to tell the other pilot to fly as straight as he could while Lt. Drummond maneuvered his P-47 up until he could go to work with his wingtip on the 500 lb. bomb.
Lt. Drummond was successful and when the bomb harmlessly dropped from the wing and exploded in the channel Lt. Drummond broke off and did barrel rolls in jubilation.
The next day he unfortunately was shot down on July 26, 1944 and became a guest of the Germans at Stalag Luft I. He learned after the war upon his return to the U.S. that he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions that day in saving a pilot and his plane.
Lt. Drummond was to end the war as a POW in Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany after his P-47 received one too many rounds from a 20mm quad anti-aircraft gun during a strafing run on enemy emplacements on July 26, 1944 that brought down his new P-47. He bailed out at only 800 feet in the very midst of the troops he was using the P-47's eight .50 cals on and bombing them with the two 500 lb. bombs. A German officer saved his life as the troops he was just strafing wanted to end him in the field near St. Lo, France as his Fighter Group was supporting Gen. Patton's left flank on his move through France.
Returning to his hometown of Ninety Six after the war, where he still lives today, Drummond married Holly Self and began his business career. Drummond first entered public office in 1965, when he took a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives as a Democrat. The next year he was elected to the South Carolina Senate, where he would serve for more than forty years. He retired from the Senate in 2008.
I?m sure there are many more stories that could be shared by Mr. Drummond. I am very honored to know that my article and photos sparked this fascinating story. I know Scott is very pleased to know that his recreation of Lt. Drummonds P-47 reunited him with a scale model that represents his history, involvement, and heroic efforts in WWII. I want to thank Dan Gregory for contacting Scott and I. Hopefully some day in the near future Mr. Drummond and Scott can get together at an event and share more stories in person about the man behind the "Raid Hot Mama".