Charles "Snarlin' Charlie" King

USAAF   Colonel

Silver Star, Legion of Merit
DFC w/2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal w/5 Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze Star
Navy Commendation Ribbon

Charles William "Snarlin Charlie" King
Born in Columbus, Ohio, 8 September 1919
Attended school in that city and after graduating high school
Completed three years of college at Xavier University
He entered the USAAC in 1940 as a Flying Cadet
He graduated with Class 41-D at Selma, Alabama
His first duty assignment was with the 39th Pursuit Squadron at Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan
He moved with that unit to the South Pacific in 1942
He later Commanded the 39th FS in New Guinea
In 1944, the Colonel returned to the US and was assigned to the 412th Group, Muroc Flight Test Base (Muroc Army Air Field, now Edwards AFB), California
Later, he commanded the 29th Squadron under the 412th Group During this assignment he was one of the first three tactical pilots to fly in the original XP-80
During WW2, he flew 201 combat missions totalling 450 combat hours in P-39s and P-38s
He was an Ace with 5 victories

Snarlin' Charlie King
Returning overseas again in 1945, Colonel King become Director of Operations for the Fifth Air Force
A brief period of temporary duty sent him to Lowry Air Force Base in Colorado as technical advisor on an historical film project
From there he returned to Japan
In December 1946 he become Deputy Commander and Operations Officer of the 49th Fighter Group in Japan
Shortly thereafter he assumed command of the 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron which was also in Japan.
Charlie wrote two books about the war "Cobra Leader" and "The Bloody Great Wheel"


Snarlin' Charlie

"Dad would get very intense when flying combat and his wingman would notice how his lip would lift a little and show some tooth so he was called "Snarlin' Charlie"."


  • "Here is one of dad on his P-39 Cobra #27 before they were assigned P-38s. Bell Aircraft gave the 39th the first P-39s and designed their patch and named them the "Cobra in the Clouds". Dad is wearing his Aussie boots and if you look you can see King's Crown on the door of the plane. They had a lot of trouble fighting Zero's in the P-39 and kills really jumped when they got the P-38's. My Dad was the only pilot to go from P-39 - P-38 then to the P-47 Jug then he was assigned to Murdoc to test jets as CO of the 29th squadron."

  • Charlie King and Gabby Gabreski
  • "He didn't smoke but had a pipe to look distinguished?"
  • Charles "Sully" Sullivan, shown here in Eureka, Ill. with his wife Mareelee while on a break from combat, Nov 25, 1943.
    Some time after the war, "Sully" found his family history and changed his last name back to O'Sullivan
  • "Dad's favorite pic. This was taken two days after he made ace, on the day he received his new Major leaf on his hat while his plane says Capt. King. He was CO of the 39th then."
  • Dick Suehr, John "Shady" Lane & Stan Andrews
    "Sully" Sullivan, Tommy Lynch & Ken Sparks
  • "Bob Faurot and Charlie, stateside before going to New Guinea. Bob and Dad led the mission to Guadalcanal where dad got Malaria. While dad was in the hospital (next to Buzz Wagner) Dick Bong used his plane and became an ace in dad's #27."
  • "Through the war dad was best friends with Tommy and Sully. Tommy didn't get home and Sully was dad's closest friend through the years. I remember growing up and seeing Sully at reunions and they always remained close."
  • Harry Thyng. "Another great person my dad roomed with in Korea. They became best friends & served together at Geiger years later. Dad wrote his book & titled it for his two CO's in war, Cobra Leader and The Bloody Great Wheel."
  • Stan Andrews. Stan died last year here in Colorado Springs. He, Frank Royal & I became very close & worked on the 39th collection at the USAFA Library. He was a very intelligent and gentile man & I had trouble picturing him in battle becoming an ace."
  • Ken Sparks, John "Shady" Lane, Kish and Bob Faurot
  • Bob Faurot with his plane #16. "My dad was one of the pilots who didn't take credit unless there were verified witnesses so he didn't count all of his either but most of the pilots of the 39th said Bob Faurot was an ACE. He and dad flew many missions together and led Guadalcanal. Bob had a reputation his entire life of not caring whether or not he received recognition for anything. Meeting the goal was important to him, whatever it was, not whether or not he got credit. He would often shrug and say, "That doesn't matter," and walk off, or "You missed the point..."

  • "Tommy Lynch has a Jap in his sights. Dad and Tommy worked with factory reps in developing better camera ops to take pictures while shooting. Tommy wanted better photos to help pilots see where the ammo was flying to improve their combat skills."
  • Number 27 "Tommy was an engineer, he and dad worked with the factory reps a lot and on their own planes so when Dad was in the hospital after Guadalcanal his plane was very sought after by pilots. Gary Smith has letters written home by his uncle Lt. John Mangas who preferred flying #27 and here is a picture of #27 with what looks like Tommy Lynch on the wing. Gary, in checking battle records found out that Dick Bong scored his ace in Dad's #27 along with Hoyt Eason, who on 12/31/42 got 3 kills in #27 to make ace."

  • Cobra in The Clouds. 39th Fighter Squadron Crest
  • Colonel King, Base Commander, McChord AFB


Outcast Red One

"One story, as I heard it from well lubricated old pilots, was the squadron flew 3-4 flights and they went Red, White, Blue and Green or Yellow (which I speculated had to do with the Green Bay Packers - home or away - joke)   
And at first they were Cobra Squadron with the CO (Tommy Lynch) Cobra Leader, ID'd "Cobra Red One"
Well, apparently, there was some staggering coming out of the Officers Club and a pilot from the 39th had the misfortune of puking on the Generals shoe so after that the call for the 39th became "Outcast" and when Dad took over as CO he was "Outcast Red One" and was always very proud of that call ID :-)
I asked once if it was him and he said no, didn't know who, and at the time, didn't want to know."


Victories Include :

2 Mar 1943
3 Mar 1943
5 Mar 1943
21 July 1943

22 Sep 1943

29 Oct 1943

5 Nov 1943
one Oscar
one Zero
one Oscar
one Oscar
one Oscar
one Oscar
one Oscar
one Zero
one Oscar
one Zero
two Zeros
destroyed &
destroyed &

5 / 3 / 4


Back to

--- American Aces ---

Related Sites :



Thanks go out to

Son Gary for the photos (King collection) & infos !

On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

Some content on this site is probably the property of acesofww2.com unless otherwise noted.     Mail