Wing Commander Lance C. Wade,
DSO, DFC and two Bars,
A Yank in the RAF

Wing Commander Lance Wade, RAF
Lance C. Wade in the Cockpit of his Spitfire

Described in "Fighter Aces of the USA" by Toliver and Constable, as "A distinguished American fighter ace who epitomized perhaps more than any other American airman the wartime accords between Britain and the United States".

Lance Wade was born in Broaddus, Texas in 1915. He joined the Royal Air Force in Canada in December 1940 (the USA did not enter the war until a year later). He arrived in Egypt as a Hurricane Mk I pilot September 1941, and was posted to 33 Squadron. His first kills were 2 Fiat CR-42s 18 Nov. He Made ace 24 Nov., 1941. He Began flying Hurricane Mk IIs in April 1942, when he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He had 13 victories as of September 1942.

He spent the next several months back in the US on various RAF projects including evaluating some American fighters at Wright Field.

He returned to combat as a Flight Leader in 145 Squadron with a bar to his DFC, flying Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vs. Promoted to Squadron Leader, he had a busy 60+ days, as by end of April his score was 21, by then flying Spitfire Mk IXs. His Squadron moved to Italy, and Wade got 2 Focke-Wolfe 190s as a Spitfire VIII pilot 2 Oct, and his last claims were 3 FW190s damaged 3 Nov, 1943.

Wade became a Wing Commander and joined the staff of the Desert Air Force but was there only briefly, as he was killed in a flying accident 12 January 1944 at Foggia, Italy.

In 30 combats in which he made claims he was credited with 23 victories (including 2 shared), 1 probable, and 13 damaged. He is also credited with 1 destroyed and 5 damaged on the ground, all of which he achieved before his death at age 28.

Wing Commander Wade usually is listed with 25 victories but official RAF records show that he had 22 solo victories and half each of two more for a total of 23.00, not counting one probable. Regardless of whether his score is 25, or 23 victories, he is still the leading American fighter ace to serve exclusively in any foreign air force.

Since he never transferred to the USAAF, or any other American Air service, W/Cmdr. Wade never got the publicity that other American Aces received. In fact not many Americans know of his exploits. It is hoped that this little effort will help in rectifying that oversight.

Lance Wade on Wikipedia

Created: December 1, 1998
Last updated: July 25, 2005

This Web page is ©1998 Albert Lowe.
Sources:Picture and first quote from "Fighter Aces of the USA" by Toliver and Constable; The rest supplied by Barret Tillman, author and former historian for the American Fighter Aces Association.