We have received some fabulous material from the family of the late Donavon F. Smith,
including scans of his WW2 logbook and photo album,
and it gives me great pleasure to be able to display them here

56th Fighter Group

Hailing from Niles in Michigan, Donavon commenced his Primary training at Bruce Field, Ballinger, Texas on 30th March 1942 and soloed the PT-19 after 7 hrs and 16 mins of instruction.

Moving first to Randolph Field TX for Basic training followed by Advanced training at Foster Field he graduated on October 9th 1942 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. Posted to the 61st Fighter Squadron of the 56th Fighter Group, the 27th of that same month saw Donavon make his first flight in the P-47.

44 1/2 hours of P-47 transition and formation training followed before the 56th began to prepare for the trip overseas.The remainder of Don's training for combat would take place in the skies over the UK.



56th Fighter Group

56th Fighter Group

Arriving at Kingscliffe in January 1943 he flew his first mission from Horsham St Faith on May 4th 1943.

July 30th 1943 saw the first confirmed victory for Donavon when he shot down
an Me109 while the 56th were escorting B-17s on the mission to Kassel, Germany.

In April 1944 Donavon finished his operational tour, opting to take 30 days leave in the USA and returning to the 56th Fighter Group for a second tour.

While away on leave the 56th completed its move to Boxted in readiness for the D-Day landings, and Don arrived back with the Wolfpack in July.

56th Fighter Group

56th Fighter Group

Shortly after the move to Boxted the 56th began to be equipped with the new “Bubbletop” P-47. Donavon was assigned a D-26 which he named “Ole Cock III”. It's this aircraft which is probably the best known of his P-47s and was also Donavon's favourite.

Ole Cock III The second P-47 allocated to Donavon which carried the cockerel nose art and the name "Ole Cock".

26th September 1944...

Lucian Dade returns to the USA on compassionate leave and Maj Baker takes over as Group Flying Executive Officer. Schilling, needing to fill the 61st squadron commander job, is mentally surveying his men.

He asks Donavon Smith, "Hey, Don, how old are you? About 25?"

Smith shrugs, glances down at his boots and replies, "Yeah, Dave, about that."

Donavon Smith assumes command of the 61st FS... at the age of 21.

56th Fighter Group

56th Fighter Group

He became 61st FS C/O in September 1944 and flew his 124th and final combat mission with the Wolfpack on January 5th 1945, having scored 7.5 confirmed kills along with one probable and three damaged. At that time Donavon was one of the last seven original pilots remaining with the 56th Fighter Group.

Post WW2 a long and distinguished Air Force career followed and Donavon reached the rank of Lieutenant General with his last assignment being as Commander of the Sixth Tactical Air Force.

Military decorations and awards during WW2 include:
• Distinguished Service Cross
• Distinguished Service Medal (Air Force Design)
• Legion of Merit
• Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters
• Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters
• Air Force Commendation Medal
• Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with oak leaf cluster

56th Fighter Group
56th Fighter Group
56th Fighter Group

56th Fighter Group

The three photos above show Donavon's A2 jacket, with close-ups of his leather name badge, and an escape map made from silk.

The photo on the left is of his headgear, proudly displayed below a painting of the 56th Fighter Group by RAF officer George Temple.


Sadly, Donavon passed away on 10th Sept 1974. In 1980, the city of Niles Michigan named its Veterans' Memorial Park the “Donavon Smith Memorial Park”, and the address was read by his old 61st Fighter Squadron colleague Jerry Johnson.

Click on the links below to see Donavon's complete logbook and also his personal photo album which give a poignant insight into the day-to-day life
as a pilot in the 56th Fighter Group.

56th Fighter Group

56th Fighter Group
Photo Album
56th Fighter Group