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  P-38F-5-LO Lightning Serial Number 42-12653 Nose Number 27
5th AF
475th FG
431st FS

Former Assignments
35th FG
39th FS

USAAF c1943

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Initially built as a model P-38E-2-LO next on June 17, 1942 designated P-38F-2-LO and on August 12, 1942 designated P-38F-5-LO. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 39th Fighter Squadron. Asigned to pilot Captain Charlie King. Nose Number 27. No known nickname or nose art.

During early March 1943 King claimed several victories in this P-38 during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. While King was recovering from malaria in Australia, this P-38 was flown by other pilots. This Lightning was one of the top three scoring aircraft in the squadron, with many famous aces scoring victories while piloting it.

On December 27, 1942 took off from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) near Port Moresby piloted by 2nd Lt. John Mangas, one of four P-38s scrambled in a four-plane flight including 2nd Lt. Richard I. Bong and Captain Tommy Lync and 2nd Lt. Kenneth Sparks.  Over Dobodura they intercepted 35 enemy planes, the first P-38 Lightning aerial combat in the South West Pacific.  Seven enemy planes were claimed, with Mangas credited with one.  Two other four-plane flights of the 39th FS joined the melee claiming another six victories. For his gallantry during the mission, Mangas earned the Silver Star. Afterwards, this aerial battle was reported in the American press.

On January 6, 1943, took off from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) near Port Moresby piloted by 2nd Lt. John Mangas and claimed his second aerial victory attacking enemy fighters defending a convoy roughly 50 miles off Gasmata over the Huon Gulf.

Lt. Hoyt Eason became the first P-38 Lightning ace of the war flying this aircraft.

On January 8, 1943, took off from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) piloted by Richard I. Bong on escort mission no. 1 over Lae. Over the target, intercepted by the Japanese fighters including Ki-43 Oscars from the 11th Sentai and A6M Zeros from the 582 Kōkūtai, and 252 Kōkūtai. During the air combat, Bong claimed his fifth aerial victory making him an ace.

Later, C.O. Paul Prentice claimed an aerial victory flying this aircraft. Also Captain Robert L. Farout claimed an aerial victory flying this P-38.

Afterwards, this aircraft was assigned to the 475th Fighter Group (475th FG) "Satan's Angels", 431st Fighter Squadron (431st FS) "Hades".

Officially stricken on August 28, 1944. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

Thanks to Gary Smith for additional information

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Last Updated
November 9, 2019


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