Tony Riccio, a P-47 Test Pilot

Tony's logbook.
Tony’s logbook.

On July 28, 1943, Tony flew four P-47’s throughout the day for a total of 2 hours and 55 minutes. He recorded his fifth flight of the day involving plane number 274700 as “No Flight,” and there’s a great story as to why. He was waiting at the end of the runway to be cleared for takeoff when another P-47 landed on top of him.

It was a hectic time then, and planes continually took off and landed without much space between airplanes. The other pilot descended too quickly and undershot the approach, which struck the rear section of Tony’s plane.

The force of the impact shattered the front of Tony's P-47 canopy.
The force of the impact shattered the front of Tony’s P-47 canopy.

The canopy and tail’s rear take the initial hit that spins Tony’s airplane where the left side of the wing is sheared off just past the 50mm guns.

The propeller of the other P-47 cut into the rear of Tony's canopy!
The propeller of the other P-47 cut into the rear of Tony’s canopy!
A very damaged vertical and horizontal stabilizer on Tony's P-47!
A very damaged vertical and horizontal stabilizer on Tony’s P-47!
Notice the rear bulkhead pushed into the back of the head rest of the pilots seat.
Notice the rear bulkhead pushed into the back of the head rest of the pilots seat.

Thankfully, the heavy bulkhead at the rear of my father’s seat saved his life, and the other pilot was uninjured.

Tony always said that he wouldn’t have survived if the damage was a few inches forward from the initial hit, and I’m very thankful for that!

Damage to Tony's P-47 left wing's leading edge near the fuselage.
Damage to Tony’s P-47 left wing’s leading edge near the fuselage.
The left wing on Tony's P-47 has been sheared off just past the 50mm machine guns.
The left wing on Tony’s P-47 has been sheared off just past the 50mm machine guns.
The front fuselage and propeller of the P-47 that landed on top of Tony.
The front fuselage and propeller of the P-47 that landed on top of Tony.

1 Comment

  1. Bill, Another outstanding job and you have brought back to life a man who was difficult to understand. You, dear brother, have unearthed your heritage in doing this labor of love for aviation and the man who was your father. Doug

    Like

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