Summary

Birth:
22 Jun 1922 1
Salem, Dent County, Missouri 1
Death:
02 Jul 1944 1
Mostar, Yugoslavia 1
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Pictures & Records (4)

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Kidd Hofer and Duke
Kidd Hofer and Duke
Lt. Ralph Kidd Hoffer and his dog Duke pose together in June 1944. Hofer was the top scorer in the 4th Fighter Group with 15 aerial and at least 14 ground victories.
Kidd Hofer's Salem Representative
Kidd Hofer's Salem Representative
This painting by Troy White illustrates what Kidd Hofer's looked like in June 1944.
Shuttle briefing
Shuttle briefing
Lt. Hofer gets last minute instructions from 334 Squadron Intelligence Officer Captain Ben Ezzel before embarking on the first England to Russia shuttle mission on 29 June 1944.
Page 1
Page 1
Shuttle briefing original photo

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Personal Details

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Birth:
22 Jun 1922 1
Salem, Dent County, Missouri 1
Male 1
Death:
02 Jul 1944 1
Mostar, Yugoslavia 1
Cause: Anti-aircraft fire 1
Burial:
Burial Date: 1950 1
Burial Place: St. Louis, MO 1
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Joins RCAF:
July 1941 1

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Kidd Hofer

Debden England

Kidd Hofer's Salem Representative
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Ralph Hofer was born in Salem, Dent County Missouri in 1921. Because of his boyish antics and complete disregard for military discipline, the Kidd is considered by many to be America’s “bad boy” of WWII, not unlike the Silver Screen idol of the 1950’s, James Dean. With his long hair and orange and blue football jersey Kidd Hofer certainly stands out as one of the most memorable characters of the Second World War.

A gifted athlete and Golden Gloves boxer, Kidd Hofer was one of the many young American men who crossed the border into Canada and volunteered for service in the RCAF before America entered the war. Hofer who called Salem Missouri home wanted to fly a fantastic airplane such as the Supermarine Spitfire against the Nazis, who were trying to conquer the world. Ralph joined theRCAF just after his 20th birthday in July of 1941. After serving in the RCAF for two years, Hofer transferred into the USAAF .and by September 1943 was a Flight Officer in the USAAF. He was sent to Debden England and was assigned to 334 Squadron flying P-47s with the 4th Fighter Group. Members of the 4th Fighter Group were known as the “Debden Eagles”, a reference to the 4th’s Royal Air Force Eagle Squadron heritage. 

On October 8, 1943 the Kidd scored his first air-to-air victory on his first combat mission when he shot down an Me 109 over the Zuider Zee and never looked back. He went on to become one of the best pilots in the 4th Fighter Group. By late April 1944 he had 9confirmed kills and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. Prior to that promotion, Ralph was the highest scoring Flight Officer in the USAAF. Hofer was known for not maintaining radio discipline and incurred the wrath of Group Commander, Col. Don Blakeslee on more than one occasion. One of his more memorable R/T quotes was "Gee ain't the Alps pretty". The "Kidd" was also one of the top strafers in the 8th Air Force with 15 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground. Hofer scored his last confirmed air-to-air victory on May 28, 1944 8th Air Force mission to Magdeburg, Germany while flying his famous P-51B Mustang “Salem Representative” coded QP-L.

The escapades of this great ace came to an enigmatic end on July 2, 1944. On a mission to Budapest, Hungary Kidd went missing following a huge air battle over the capitol city. Hofer, flying a borrowed airplane, was last seen as his squadron was being attacked by a superior force Me 109s. On his way back to Italy he spotted a Luftwaffe base near Mostar, Yugoslavia and while strafing it he was shot down and killed. 

Lt. Ralph K. Hofer was buried in a common grave near Mostar with 20 other US. Flyers and remained there until 1950 when his remains along with the others were brought back to the United States. Hofer was returned to his home state and is buried at the Jefferson Army Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis Missouri  

In addition to his aerial victories Kidd Hofer was awarded the DFC with 6 oak leaf clusters, 4 Air Medals and the Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 with Palm.

 

 

 

 

I just read TUMULT IN THE SKIES and first read about Kidd Hofer.I keep reading the same chapter over and over again.He has had an amazing effect on me..an absolute genius and a "natural"...If ever a pilot should have been rapidly promoted..he should have been..and I certainly would not class him as a "screwball"..but I suppose some who are in the genius class in any field have that label.

In my biography "Kidd Hofer--The Last of the Screwball Aces" I explain that after transferring to the USAAF from the RCAF in June 1943 Hofer went to Atcham to get checked out on the P-47. His instructor there was the 31 victory Canadian Spitfire ace George “Screwball” Buerling, DSO, DSC, DFM and Hero of Malta. Hofer and Buerling were both gifted pilots and both had a similar disdain for military discipline (I can’t say that I blame them for that). In general they got on like a house on fire. Hence Hofer picked up the moniker.

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