‘DON’ GENTILE (1920-1951), also known as ‘The Ace of Aces’ and the first WW2 U.S. Army Air Force pilot to surpass Eddie Rickenbacker’s WW1 record of 26 downed aircraft.
Born as the son of Italian immigrants Donald Gentile learned to fly before America entered the war in December 1941 and attempted to join the Army Air Force. Because at that time the U.S. military required two years of college for its pilots, which Don did not have, he was rejected. He then enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and shipped out to the U.K. in late 1941.
During 1942, Don Gentile flew Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VB’s with 133 Squadron, one of the trio of famous ‘Eagle Squadrons’. His first kills were a Ju 88 and an Fw190 in August 1942 during the Dieppe Raid.
By the following month, all of the ‘Eagle Squadrons’ were transferred to the newly-formed American 8th Air Force and became the 4th Fighter Group.
Over the following months Don continued to add to his tally of ‘kills’ which were soon over a dozen enemy aircraft. At this time, he was flying a North American P51B ‘Mustang’ nicknamed “Shangri La”.
Not long afterwards, Capt. Don Gentile crashed “Shangri La” while lowflying over an English airfield to impress a group of visiting press reporters and photographers.
He was immediately ‘grounded’ by his squadron commander and sent back to the U.S. on a warbond tour.
By the end of the war his total number of victories was 20 aerial ‘kills’ and 3 ‘damaged’ plus 6 ‘ground kills’ and his 2 ‘Eagle Squadron’ victories.
Following hostilities, Don stayed in the Air Force and went on to become a test pilot. In January 1951, while flying a jet-powered, T-33 ‘Shooting Star’ he was killed in a crash, he was just 31.
This classic razor-back ‘Mustang’ is painted in ‘Shangri La’s’ exact colour scheme and markings and boasts 21 ‘kill’ markings on a white scroll beneath the cockpit.
A standing figure of Capt. Don Gentile is also included with the aircraft and all of it comes packed in a specially-labelled black box.
Scale 1:30 / 60 mm.