Segments in this Video

Richard Bong: Introduction (01:27)


Bong's combat victories over New Guinea made him a national hero; he recorded 40 kills before being removed from combat. Bong became a test pilot in a program the produced the first combat jet in the U.S.

Bong's Early Years (02:06)

Bong, the first of nine children, was born in Wisconsin in 1920; his father was a Swedish immigrant. Bong became interested in flight at the age of eight. He participated in sports, the school band, 4H, and the church choir.

Natural Pilot (03:30)

Bong enlisted in the Civilian Pilot Training Program and earned his license in a Piper J-3. He enlisted in the Army Air Aviation Cadet Program and underwent gunnery training. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bong wanted to go into combat but was assigned as a gunnery instructor.

Flight Antics (02:46)

In May 1942, Bong was sent to Hamilton Field and trained in a P-38 Lightning. He built a reputation as a "hot dog" and Gen. Kenney regularly reprimanded him.

Air Combat (01:59)

Bong arrived at the 5th Air Force Base in Australia and was temporarily assigned to the 35th Fighter Group in New Guinea. He flew with Capt. Tom Lynch before engaging in air combat, earning a Silver Star.

Combat Record (03:31)

Bong became an ace and returned to the 9th Fighter Squadron. He continued to increase his number of kills, was promoted, and received the Distinguished Service Cross. Mike Jackson describes Bong as an introvert when not in the cockpit. Bond returned home for R&R and met Marjorie Vattendahl.

Ace of Aces (04:07)

Bong was assigned to 5th Air Force headquarters; the Japanese changed tactics, limiting chances to score a kill. On March 8th, Bong watched as Lynch crashed. On April 12th, Bong passed Eddie Rickenbacker's record.

National Hero (01:51)

Bong went to the U.S. on a war bond tour and proposed to Vattendahl. In September 1944, he reported as a gunnery instructor and recorded several more kills; Gen. Kenney removed Bong from combat. Bong returned home, made several public appearances, and got married.

Bong's Death (01:28)

Bong flight tested the P-80 Shooting Star. On his 12th flight, the engine flamed out on takeoff and Bong was killed.

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Richard Bong (00:29)

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Richard Bong

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Legends of Air Power: Richard Bong

Part of the Series : Legends of Air Power
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $69.95
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Richard Bong was the top scoring ace of WWII, shooting down 40 enemy aircraft. He began flying his P-38 in the Pacific Theater in late 1942 and had already surpassed Eddie Rickenbacker’s 26 kills by April of 1943. Bong achieved his 40th and final kill in 1944. He went on to become a test pilot of jet fighters, but died tragically on a routine flight when his P-80 malfunctioned after takeoff, on the same day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Length: 24 minutes

Item#: BVL129044

ISBN: 978-1-64023-492-5

Copyright date: ©2003

Closed Captioned

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