Browning, James William, Capt

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1055-Pilot, Single-Engine Fighter
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1943-1945, AAF MOS 1055, 357th Fighter Group
Service Years
1942 - 1945
USAAFOfficer Collar Insignia

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

48 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Browning, James William, Capt.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Syracuse/Lyons, Kansas
Last Address
RAF Leiston, Suffolk, England

Casualty Date
Feb 09, 1945
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater
Location of Interment
American Cemetery - Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Walls of the Missing

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

Air Ace American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
World War II Fallen
  2014, World War II Fallen

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Pilot Badge

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Aviation Cadet Flight School363rd Fighter Squadron357th Fighter Group
  1942-1943, AAF MOS 1055, Aviation Cadet Flight School
  1943-1945, AAF MOS 1055, 363rd Fighter Squadron
  1943-1945, AAF MOS 1055, 357th Fighter Group
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Air Offensive, Europe Campaign (1942-44)
  1944-1944 Normandy Campaign (1944)/Ground-strike mission
  1944-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Normandy Campaign (1944)
  1944-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Northern France Campaign (1944)
  1944-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Rhineland Campaign (1944-45)2
  1944-1945 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Ardennes Alsace Campaign (1944-45)
 My Aircraft/Missiles
PT-19 Trainer  AT-6 Texan  P-39 Airacobra  P-51/F-51 Mustang  
  1942-1942, PT-19 Trainer
  1942-1943, AT-6 Texan
  1943-1943, P-39 Airacobra
  1944-1945, P-51/F-51 Mustang2
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

James W. Browning was born in Syracuse, KS on Oct 21, 1917. He attended and graduated from Syracuse High School, and then worked at several jobs in the area, specifically as a hotel clerk. According to his NARA enlistment record, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps on March 31, 1942, at Fort Riley, Kansas, as a private in the Army Air Corps. It also confirms he had completed 4 years of high school, and further states he was married. After pilot training, he was commissioned a 2nd Lt., and given his wings on August 17, 1943.

He then went to Tonopah, NV for training in the P-39 fighter, assigned to the 363rd Fighter Squadron. The unit deployed to England in late 1943 and transitioned to P-51 fighter aircraft. Browning was assigned with the unit at Leiston, England. The primary mission was to fly as bomber escort or fighter sweep when through escorting. He completed his combat tour of 75 missions in August 1944. Browning received a short furlough in the United States. It was here on a visit to Denver, CO that the last known photograph of Browning was taken, a pose with his sister Kathryn. Then he volunteered to complete another tour of combat duty.

On January 19, 1945, Browning had three confirmed aerial victories in one mission, bringing his total to 7 , and Ace status. His hometown newspaper later reported that his total was 9, but official records state 7.

One incident that Browning was involved in was on a mission where he engaged a FW-190. Striking hard, he riddled the enemy aircraft and closed in for a final burst that would destroy it. But he held his fire, allowing the enemy pilot to bail out of the aircraft and make a successful parachute landing. Browning's wingman observed this action and included it in his strike report.

On February 9, 1945, on an escort mission over Germany, his flight engaged a number of ME-262 German jet aircraft. Browning engaged one and while firing rapidly at the enemy, disappeared into a cloud bank. He was never seen again. His wingman stated that it appeared that a mid-air collision had occurred.

Investigative records contain an affidavit by Adolf Keller, Burgermeister of Woersdorf, dated 5 August 1947. In it, Keller states " On February 9, at noontime, I saw a dogfight in the vicinity of Wurges, besides a German fighter which was engaged in the fight, there were several other planes in the air. The German fighter rammed an airplane and both of them caught fire and crashed down." He also relates that a German Sergeant in charge of Russian prisoners later brought him several items from the wrecks, which included a gold ring and ID tags with Browning's name, a photo with his name on it, and some currency. "The body of the German pilot, Freiherr von Riedesel, Oberstleutnant (LT. Col.) was evacuated already," Keller concluded.

According to German records, Browning's body was recovered by the Germans and buried, although the site has never been determined. In May of 1949, Hqs, American Graves Registration Command declared the the body of Captain James W. Browning was not recoverable. He is listed on the "The Wall of the Missing" at the American Military Cemetery in Luxembourg.

According to Eighth Air Force records, Captain James W. Browning was assigned P-51 #14937 nicknamed "Gentleman Jim." It is also known that he flew in two others. One of these was P-51 #43-6563 (no name)  and P-51 #43-7047 (no name), both assigned to the 363rd Fighter Squadron.

The aircraft he was flying the day of his death was P-51 #44-15630 "Junior Miss" normally assigned to Glen Zarnke.

The airworthy P-51 owned by Jack Rouse and carrying the name "Gentleman Jim" is a reconstructed aircraft that is painted with the colors and insignia of the original "Gentleman Jim." The original tail number of this aircraft was 44-74230 with civil registry as N5466V.

Book: "The Great Rat Race for Europe: Stories of the 357th Fighter Group (Sortie One)", by Joey Maddox, pp 231-33.
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