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  P-38G-1-LO Lightning Serial Number 42-12715  
5th AF
35th FG
39th FS
US Army Jan 20, 1943
Pilot  1st Lt. Fred Burnam Shifflet, Jr., O-406491 (MIA / KIA) Summit County, OH
Crashed  March 3, 1943
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 222-7149. At the factory painted with olive drab upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38G-1-LO Lightning serial number 42-12715. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 35th Fighter Group (35th FG), 39th Fighter Squadron (39th FS). No known nickname or nose art. Both engine cowlings were painted with shark mouth markings. This aircraft operated from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) near Port Moresby. This P-38 was flown by several pilots including 1st Lt. Thomas J. Lynch, Fred Shifflett and Walters. On the side of the nose was a scoreboard with ten Japanese flags indicating victory claims by pilots.

On December 31, 1942 this aircraft was flown by 1st Lt. Thomas J. Lynch, along with twelve other P-38s escorting A-20 Havocs, B-25 Mitchells and B-26 Mauraders on a bombing mission against Lae Airfield. Lynch made several passes at Oscars and Zeros, shooting one down that crashed into the water.

On January 20, 1943 a U. S. Army Signal Corps photographer visiting 14 Mile Drome photographed several pilots standing near the right engine of this aircraft including 2nd Lt. Carl G. Planck, Jr. and 2nd Lt. Norman D. Hyland.

Mission History
On March 3, 1943 during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea took off from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Fred Burnam Shifflet, Jr. on a patrol mission. Over the Huon Gulf, shot down by Japanese fighters. According to fellow pilot Col Charles W. King, he believe Shifflet crashed 20 miles east of Tami Islands. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Officially, this aircraft was written off on June 7, 1943.

Shifflet was officially declared dead on December 20, 1945. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. Shifflet is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. He also has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery in section MG site 168.

Previously, Shifflet was rescued after the loss of P-38 lost October 14, 1942
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Fred B. Shifflet
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38G-1-LO Lightning 42-12715
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38G Lightning 42-12715
Flightpath Magazine "Tropical Lightning Survivor" by Bruce Hoy, Volume 4 No. 2
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Fred B. Shifflet Jr.
FindAGrave - Lieut Fred Burnam Shifflet, Jr. (photos, memorial photo)
Stars & Bars (1995) pages 415 (Lynch states 42-12715 was squadron number 19)

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Last Updated
February 14, 2021


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