DAYTON, Ohio - RAF flying boots, blouse, trousers and Mae West on display in the Early Years Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The uniform was worn by Col. Reade Tilley, USAF retired, while a member of the No. 121 Eagle Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo)
On the other side of the world, Americans flocked in droves to British and Canadian recruiting stations. Approximately 15,000 joined the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force where, as a rule, they were assimilated into various flying units.
The exception was the famed Eagle Squadrons which, contrary to popular belief, consisted of three individual squadrons, not one. Manned entirely by American pilots, these three RAF units, Numbers 71, 121 and 133 Squadrons, flew Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires in combat over Europe from Feb. 5, 1941, to Sept. 29, 1942, when they were transferred to the AAF. Formed into the 4th Fighter Group, they provided numerous experienced combat veterans who proved invaluable to the inexperienced AAF fighter pilots who began to arrive in England in large numbers in 1943.