Sqdn Ldr David Fairbanks, and the "Finger"

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georgetanksherman
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Sqdn Ldr David Fairbanks, and the "Finger"

Post by georgetanksherman » Mon Aug 31, 2020 6:10 pm

Found this little story while researching.

Squadron Leader David Charles Fairbanks, Ithaca, New York, U.S.A., RCAF, assigned to R.A.F. No. 274 Squadron, flying Hawker Tempest

Forty-two years before “the bird” gesture was popularized by actor Tom Cruise in the 1986 blockbuster movie “Top Gun”, a frustrated World War II Hawker Tempest pilot, Flt Lt David "Foob" Fairbanks ran out of ammunition, gave that same rude “finger” greeting to a Messerschmitt Bf 109 pilot over Germany in 1944.
We passed near Emmerich and were just crossing the Rheine River when two Bf 109’s passed my starboard side slightly below at 4,000 feet and flying in the opposite direction. One was being chased by another Tempest and I broke into the second one. The enemy aircraft continued straight and level just at the base of the cloud. I quickly closed the range from below to approximately 150 yards. I fired but only my port cannons worked. After a few bursts I saw strikes on the enemy’s starboard wing. He did only a very slight turn to starboard and continued on. I rolled onto him again and fired until my ammunition ran out. I overhauled the enemy aircraft and came right up under his wing – the pilot was looking out the opposite side and didn’t have a clue. After several seconds, he finally became aware of my presence! I rolled over top of him, held my aircraft steady, gave him the finger and came home.

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Re: Sqdn Ldr David Fairbanks, and the "Finger"

Post by Temujin » Mon Aug 31, 2020 6:30 pm

Excellent story George, note he also was the FIRST to destroy a “Jet powered bomber” for the Allied Forces
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David "Foob" Fairbanks was born on 1923 in USA. When finished his education at High School, he ran away from home to Canada and tried to join the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). He finally succeeded to enlist at Hamilton in February 1941. After training he was posted as a flight instructor to the No 13 SFTS. After a year he managed to be posted in the UK, after advanced and operational training. He joined 501 Squadron at Hawkinge flying Spitfire Vs.

His first victory was a Bf 109 on 8 June 1944, near Le Havre. When 501 Squadron re-equipped to Tempest Fairbanks was posted to 274 Squadron and Tempest. Before the squadron moved to Europe, Fairbanks destroyed two V-1 Flying Bombs. During the next two and a half months he scored 11 1/2 victories!

He was posted to No 3 Squadron in the late December 1944. On 9 February 1945 Fairbanks was posted back to 274 Squadron as a Squadron Leader. "Foob" Fairbanks, the "terror of Rheine" is to return to us, enthused the Squadron diarist!

Two days after he was back he downed a enemy plane, which he identified as a Me 262. Luftwaffe records shows that it was in fact an Arado Ar234B jet reconnaissance bomber. This was the first one destroyed by Allied forces. 28 February after train busting, Fairbanks led his six Tempests into attack of 40 Fw 190s and Bf 109s.

After a hard fight he was finally shot down by a Fw 190 and was immediately captured and spent the rest of the war as PoW. During his time as PoW he was awarded a bar to his DFC and the second one just after the war.

Fairbanks next returned to Ithica, N.Y. and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, from Cornell University.

After the war while working for Sperry Gyroscopes he flew Vampires and T-33s with the RCAF Auxiliary. He spent two years in UK flying Meteors. In 1955 he became a test pilot at de Havilland Canada. Eventually he became Manager of Operations, responsible for the company’s operations around the world.

He died in Toronto in February 1975 and was posthumously awarded the McKee Trophy for his services to Canadian aviation.

http://www.hawkertempest.se/index.php/p ... -fairbanks
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JJ-F (EJ762) was first flown by David Fairbanks on October 17 1944. On 19 November 1944 while flying EJ762 he was hit by ground fire in the leading edge of the port wing. The fuel tank was set on fire and the flames burned the fuselage and the tail surfaces. But he was able to return to Volkel and land safely. He was awarded a DFC.

After repair EJ762 was flown by Fairbanks just once more, on 17 December he claimed two Bf109s and one damaged during the sortie.
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David Fairbanks is seen standing at far left in 1945, holding the rank of squadron leader and now commander of 274 RAF Squadron, whose motto was Supero – “I Overcome.”Courtesy of the Canadian Aviation
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Ithaca native David Charles Fairbanks was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame on May 16, 2019.Courtesy of the Canadian Aviation

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