Lt. Richard Baron with his damaged P-47 over the cliffs of Dover.
Lt. Richard Baron started flying escort missions out of England early in May 1944 with the 8th Air Force, 78th fighter group, 84th fighter squadron. The plane he was assigned was a used P-47DRE Razorback S/N 42-76329. He named it, Mrs. Blue.
With Mrs. Blue, Dick escorted heavy bombers on missions into France and Germany, provided ground support during D-day, and bombed gun emplacements during Operation Market Garden for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Dick and Mrs Blue destroyed 4 ½ enemy aircraft in addition to numerous tanks, supply trains, and flak towers.Early in October of 1944, Dick and Mrs. Blue were on a fighter sweep 25,000 feet over German Occupied France, when they took a flak burst under the plane with shrapnel shearing the head off one of Mrs. Blue’s Pratt and Whitney lower cylinders. Oil started immediately streaming out from underneath the engine cowl and the engine lost power. Dick waved off to his squadron mates and headed for England, all the time losing altitude. When Dick and Mrs Blue reached the English Channel, Mrs Blue wasn’t doing too good. Most of her engine oil was gone and the engine temp was up. Dick pulled back the canopy and prepared to jump; but looking down at the cold water of the Channel, Dick decided to stay with Mrs. Blue a little longer. Dick started hand pumping the primer pump on the lower right side of the instrument panel. This pump was normally used to prime the engine cylinders with fuel at start up. Now Dick was using it to dump fuel in the cylinders to keep them lubricated and cool.
Dick headed Mrs. Blue for a two mile long emergency strip right on the Cliffs of Dover. He held onto what altitude he had until he crossed the cliffs, then he dropped down for a flaps up landing on the strip. As Dick was taxiing Mrs. Blue in, her engine seized up solid.
After this, Dick was assigned a brand new silver P-47D25 bubbletop that he also called Mrs. Blue. Soon after; however, when Dick was on leave in London, a new pilot was doing an air test for Dick’s crew chief and crashed her on landing. The pilot was okay, but the bubbletop never flew again. Dick had to finish his last few missions in battle weary spares nobody else wanted.
Dick finished his tour with 80 missions and 300 hours combat flying time. After the war, Dick joined the active Air Force Reserve and retired as a Lt. Colonel.
The original Mrs. Blue did fly again. After an engine change, she was given to the 9th Air Force to be used for close ground support.
The name of Richard Barons P-47 came about because back in the states there was a band at that time that called themselves the Blue Barons. Dick having the last name Baron ended up with the nickname “Blue Baron”. This also fit because Dicks squadron call sign was Shampoo Blue Leader. Dicks wife, Marianne then became…Mrs. Blue and so it came to pass that Dicks P-47 was named after his wife.
Dick and Mrs. Blue (Marianne) had 3 children and were married for almost 62 years when Marianne passed away on Oct. 20, 2005.
Dick joined his wife when he passed away on October 7, 2007
SOURCES: Personal interview with Dick Baron, 78th Fighter Group records.
Print measures 23″ by 16.5″, Signed by the Pilot and artist, 350 S/N – $40, 50 Artist Proofs -$60 + Shipping