Historical Case Study: Sergeant solves engine problem, keeps aircraft in fight

  • Published
  • By Joe Gangemi
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

Air Education and Training Command is reviewing moments of aviation history to reflect the importance of Agile Combat Employment, in addition to the warrior mindset and mission readiness its Airmen must sustain while preparing for the future fight.

Sergeant James “Noah” Wiley, a crew chief assigned to the 62nd Fighter Squadron within the 56th Fighter Group, successfully resolved a challenging issue with the group's P-47M Thunderbolts. These aircraft, plagued by persistent engine problems, were on the verge of being phased into the P-51 by Eighth Air Force.

However, Wiley observed an inconsistency during the pre-start propeller checks and took decisive action. He had the engine of his assigned aircraft removed, disassembled, and revealed extensive corrosion. Further investigation uncovered similar fouling across much of the fleet.

The 56th maintenance team determined that the M-models, renowned as the fastest piston-engine fighter of World War II at altitude, had suffered from inadequate storage during their journey across the Atlantic.

The timely intervention across more than 100 P-47Ms preserved their operational readiness, keeping them in the fight and maintaining the strength of the
“Wolfpack” in Thunderbolts.

“Responsiveness is that part of airmanship that involves anticipation of enemy actions,” said Retired Gen. Tod D. Wolters “A crucial aspect of Airmanship involves the proactive anticipation of enemy actions. This can manifest through participation in exercises, completion of coursework for Professional Military Education (PME) or an Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC), and a thorough understanding of Air Force Instructions (AFIs) and war plans relevant to one's responsibilities, contemplating their connection to mission success.”