Lord Ashcroft KCMG looks back at Operation BOLO.
In World War II, American pilots raced to shoot down the most German planes and be crowned the country's top flying ace. US Air Force pilot Francis ‘Gabby’ Gabreski made it his personal mission to be the best there ever was.
The child of Polish immigrants, Gabreski made his mission personal, seeking to avenge his family's devastating losses during the war. But despite his passion, the young wannabe was accident-prone and incompetent behind the controls.
Gabreski squeaked by on his flying test. He then made a brave request to join one of the famed Polish figher units in England's Royal Air Force. In the heart of the war andmentored by the best, the rookie cut his teeth. But he struggled to shoot down a single Nazi plane.
Everything changed when he was transferred back to the US Air Corps 61st Squadron. While escorting bombers over occupied France, Gabreski scored his first victory. When the top brass radically shifted tactics to protect allied ground troops storming Normandy, the fighters were ordered to find the enemy and shoot them down.
Gabreski and his ace competitors all saw this as a golden opportunity tomake history as the best that ever flew.