AAF Fighter Escort Early in 1943, the 4th Fighter Group, composed of the three former Eagle Squadrons, converted from the Spitfire to the P-47, a newly-developed AAF fighter with greater range. On March 10, the P-47 became operational when several made a fighter sweep over Europe. On April 8, two additional P-47 groups became operational. In May, P-47s began flying escort for AAF heavy bombers. However, P-47s still did not have sufficient range to fly penetration and withdrawal escort all the way to targets deep in Germany. This often led to disastrous results, such as on June 13, 1943, when 60 B-17s attacked Kiel in Northwest Germany on the Baltic Sea. As soon as the P-47s turned for home, the AAF bombers were attacked by Luftwaffe interceptors and 22 of the 60 B-17s were shot down. Click here to return to the World War II Gallery. Find Out More Related Fact Sheets Eagle Squadrons Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Republic P-47D (Razorback Version) Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vc Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.