Urban L. Drew

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Urban Leonard Drew
Born(1924-03-21)March 21, 1924
Detroit, Michigan
DiedApril 3, 2013(2013-04-03) (aged 89)
Vista, California
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force
Michigan Air National Guard
Years of service1942–1950
Unit361st Fighter Group
414th Fighter Group
Commands held375th Fighter Squadron
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsAir Force Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
Air Medal (14)

Urban Leonard Drew (March 21, 1924 – April 3, 2013), known as Ben Drew, was a fighter pilot in the United States Army Air Forces and a flying ace of World War II. He was the first and the only Allied pilot to shoot down two Luftwaffe jet-powered Me 262 aircraft in a single mission while flying a propeller-driven North American P-51 Mustang. He received the Air Force Cross for the mission in 1983.[1]

Early life[edit]

Drew was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1924, he was raised along with a younger brother by their schoolteacher mother. His father died when Drew was at the age of 3. He received his education at Wayne University and the University of Michigan, graduating with a degree in Political Science.

Three months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, at the age of eighteen, Drew joined the United States Army Air Forces and commenced pilot training.[1][2]

Military service[edit]

World War II[edit]

He enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces on May 14, 1942, and entered the Aviation Cadet Program in October 1942.

Drew was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings in Marianna Army Field on October 1, 1943, and began training as an instructor pilot for the North American P-51 Mustang at Bartow Field and then served as a P-51 Mustang instructor pilot with the 56th Fighter Squadron of the 54th Fighter Group.[3][2]

P-51 Mustang 'Detroit Miss'

He went overseas in May 1944 and was assigned to the 375th Fighter Squadron of the 361st Fighter Group, which was stationed at RAF Bottisham and later at RAF Little Walden.

During his tour with the 361st Fighter Group, which was commonly known as "Yellowjackets", Drew completed 75 missions, rising to command of "A" Flight and the 375th Fighter Squadron.

Drew would be officially credited with six aerial victories during his combat tour. "Detroit Miss", coded E2-D was his personal P-51, during his tour with 361st Fighter Group.

He was credited with 6 aerial victories, 1 ground victory, 1 damaged and 1 water kill, in which he and his wingman sank and burned the largest aircraft in world, the Blohm & Voss BV238-V1 on 18 September 1944. Hitler was going to use it to bomb Washington and New York City.[4]

October 7 mission[edit]

Messerschmitt Me 262

His biggest day was on October 7, 1944, when he shot down 2 jet-powered Me 262s on a single mission while leading an attack on Achmer Aerodrome.[5]

His appeal for the Distinguished Service Cross was denied, because of the lack of evidence for his kills; the gun camera of his P-51 had jammed and his wingman, 2nd Lt. Robert McCandliss was shot down and became a prisoner of war.[5] However, he was awarded the Air Force Cross many years later (see Belated recognition subsection below).


After his service in Europe, Drew was transferred to various training bases in the U.S.

In 1945 he was assigned to the 413th Fighter Squadron of 414th Fighter Group, flying P-47 Thunderbolts at Iwo Jima in the Bonin Islands, where he flew B-29 Superfortress escorts over Japan and strafing missions on hangars, barracks, ammunition dumps, trains, marshalling yards and shipping.

After the war, Drew helped organize the 127th Fighter Group of Michigan Air National Guard.

He became deputy group commander and later was appointed the first Air Adjutant General of the State of Michigan.[6] He served this position till he left active duty on 1950.

Belated recognition[edit]

More than 40 years later, an Air Force clerk noticed Drew's claim for two Me 262 victories on the same mission. She contacted a custodian of German war records who knew former Luftwaffe pilots who might be able to shed light on the claim.

Georg-Peter Eder had been set to lead the Me 262s of JG 7 that day, but when his aircraft had problems taking off the two-ill-fated pilots took off to lead JG 7.

Eder says he saw a yellow-nosed P-51 dive on the Me 262s and shoot them down. Eder couldn't read "Detroit Miss" on the nose of the P-51 Mustang, but his account was sufficient to confirm Drew's two Me 262 victories.[5]

After the total story was confirmed by both the German Luftwaffe archives and the United States Air Force archives, the Air Force Board for the Correction of Military Records recommended that Drew and his wife were flown in an Air Force C-141 Starlifter from Johannesburg, South Africa for the ceremony.

The Secretary of the Air Force, Verne Orr presented the Air Force Cross on May 12, 1983. He is one of the only three airmen to receive Air Force Cross for actions in World War II.[7]

Aerial victory credits[edit]

Date # Type Location Aircraft flown Unit Assigned
June 25, 1944 1 Messerschmitt Bf 109 Lisieux, France P-51B 375 FS, 361 FG
August 25, 1944 1 Bf 109 Rostock, Germany P-51B 375 FS, 361 FG
September 11, 1944 1 Bf 109 Göttingen, Germany P-51D 375 FS, 361 FG
September 18, 1944 1 Heinkel He 111 Fehmarn Belt P-51D 375 FS, 361 FG
October 7, 1944 2 Messerschmitt Me 262 Achmer, Germany P-51D 375 FS, 361 FG
SOURCE: Air Force Historical Study 85: USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II

Awards and decorations[edit]

Drew's decorations include:[8]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
USAF Pilot Badge
Air Force Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross
with 1 bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Medal
with 2 silver and 2 bronze oak leaf clusters
Air Medal
(second ribbon required for accouterment spacing)
American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
with 4 bronze campaign stars
World War II Victory Medal National Defence Service Medal Air Force Longevity Service Award

Air Force Cross citation[edit]

US Air Force Cross medal.svg
Drew, Urban L.
Major (then First Lieutenant), U.S Army Air Forces
375th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group, 8th Air Force
Date of Action: October 7, 1944

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Major (Air Corps) (then First Lieutenant) Urban L. "Ben" Drew, United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States as Pilot of a P-51 Fighter Airplane and Leader of Blue Flight, 375th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group, EIGHTH Air Force in action near Hamm, Germany, on 7 October 1944. On that date, Lieutenant Drew became the first Allied pilot to shoot down in combat two Me 262 aircraft. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, and in the dedication of his service to his country, Lieutenant Drew reflected the highest credit on himself and the United States Air Force.[8]

Later life[edit]

After his retirement from military life, Drew established an aviation business in United Kingdom and South Africa.

Drew died on April 3, 2013 at Vista, California and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[8]

See also[edit]


  • Powell, R.; Drew, Ben (2001). The Katzenjammer Ace. iUniverse. ISBN 978-0595206384.


  1. ^ a b This story was written by TSgt. Dan Heaton. "WWII Ace, Detroit Native, Helped Organize Michigan ANG". 127wg.ang.af.mil. Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  2. ^ a b "Maj Urban L Drew USAF (deceased) – Art prints and originals signed by Maj Urban L Drew USAF (deceased)". Military-art.com. Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  3. ^ "Urban L Drew | American Air Museum in Britain". Americanairmuseum.com. Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  4. ^ "Urban L Drew | American Air Museum in Britain". Americanairmuseum.com. Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  5. ^ a b c "Ww Ii Ace Stories". Acestory.elknet.pl (in Polish). 1998-05-24. Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  6. ^ Scott Rose. "U.S. Army Air Force Resource Center – A Warbirds Resource Group Site". Warbirdsresourcegroup.org. Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  7. ^ Scott Rose. "U.S. Army Air Force Resource Center – A Warbirds Resource Group Site". Warbirdsresourcegroup.org. Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  8. ^ a b c "TogetherWeServed – Maj Urban Leonard Drew". Airforce.togetherweserved.com. 1944-10-07. Retrieved 2016-12-16.