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  P-38H-5-LO Lightning Serial Number 42-66841 Tail Number 153
USAAF
5th AF
CRTC School

Former Assignments
49th FG
8th FS

475th FG
432nd FS

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David Gillis 1969

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Richard Leahy 1985

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PNG Museum 1992

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Richard Leahy 1993

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Phil Bradley 1995

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Classic Jets 1998

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PJ Dalh 2002

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Robert Jarrett 2005

Pilot  Lt. Clarence E. Wolgemuth (survived)
Force Landed  June 10, 1944
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 8th Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

Next, assigned to the 475th Fighter Group, 432nd Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. Squadron tail number 153 was painted in white outlined in yellow with yellow tipped tails. Assigned to pilot 2nd Lt. Edward G. Dickey with crew chief Sgt Manuel Malandrakis. This P-38 operated from North Borio Airfield (Dobodura No 15)

During 1944, assigned to the Combat Replacement Training Center (CRTC) Fifth Air Force Replacement Center in Port Moresby as a war weary aircraft and flown on training missions to orient new pilots.

Mission History
On June 10, 1944 one of seven P-38s that took off from Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Clarence E. Wolgemuth on a training mission to strafe targets on the north coast of New Guinea. Due to bad weather, the formation became disoriented, ran low on fuel and elected to land Faita Airfield. The other three P-38s landed safely. This aircraft ran out of fuel and force landed wheels up in kunai grass near the runway. Wolgemuth survived the landing unhurt.

Fate of the Pilot
Afterwards, the four pilots were aided by the three Australian Army spotters based at Faita who used their radio to notify their command. Stinson L-5 Sentinals from the 25th Liaison Squadron flew in fuel for the three serviceable P-38s and all three took off a day or two later and returned to base. Wolgemuth spent several days in Faita before being flown out aboard an L-5.

Wreckage
After the landing the P-38 was written off and later lifted atop empty fuel drums and stripped for usable parts at Faita Airfield. Until 1992, this aircraft remained in situ.

During 1992, this P-38 was salvaged by Gary Larkins on behalf of his client Ericson. The wreckage was lifted under a helicopter to the dock at Lae. After Larkins departed, the export was hauled by the PNG Museum. Afterwards, Lae resident Richard Leahy was authorized to stored the aircraft outside his Kunguna Aviation hanger at Nadzab Airport atop fuel drums.

After paying the aircraft's storage fees Robert Jarrett / Classic Jets Fighter Museum (CJFM) loaded the aircraft into a container at Lae and departed on May 1, 1999 arriving at Adelaide on May 17, 1999. Afterwards, the container was transported to Parafield Airport to Classic Jets Fighter Museum (CJFM).

Restoration
Between late May 1999 until 2005, thirty volunteers worked to restore this P-38 to static condition and the aircraft was displayed at Classic Jets Fighter Museum (CJFM).

During late 2014, this P-38 was sold and transported to the United Kingdom were it will reportedly be restored to airworthy condition. Possibly painted with the nose art "Scarlet Scourge".

References
The Private War of the Spotters page 231-233
"In July 1944, seven American P-47's [sic P-38s] were forced to use the Faita airstrip as an emergency landing field. The pilots were lost and their aircraft almost out of fuel. Only one crash-landed, the others made precarious landings. At best the strip was for the use of light aircraft only. The fighter pilots were glad to be welcomed b the three spotters who had the enjoyable task of entertaining the Americans for a few days before rescue operations were arranged. The RAAF sent a Douglas transport plane laden with aviation fuel, and although the DC 3 ended up in the kunai grass at the end of the short air strip, no damage was sustained. The transferring of the fuel from drums to the fighters was quite a task. During the intervening time the spotters had assembled dozens of willing tribes people to clear kunai grass from the ends of the air strip in order to increase the length of the runway. After much trepidation, the fighter pilots managed a shaky take-off and the RAAF DC 3 pilot roared his motors till every rivet rattled, then let his brakes off. He too, became airborne."
World War Two Memoirs of A Fighter Pilot by Clarence E. Wolgemuth
Classic Jets Fighter Museum. Interview with Robert Jarrett 4.2megs, MP3
Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Interim Report mentions "Classic Jets Museum"
Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Final Report mentions of Jarret" [sic] and "Classic Jets Museum"
Classic Jets Museum - P-38 Lightning incorrectly lists the date of loss as September 14, 1943
Warbird Registry P-38H 42-66841
Key Publishing Forum - P-38 in Transit "Classic Wings – Vol. 21, No. 2 "Lightning To Fly –  Parafield, South Australia based Classic Jets Fighter Museum (CJFM) have announced that P-38H Lightning, 42-66841, has been shipped to the UK where it will undergo a complete rebuild to airworthy condition. CJFM said it recognizes that this is the best possible outcome for the long term preservation of this rare early model Lightning.
Part of the 475th Fighter Group, P-38 ‘153’ is credited with a probable Oscar kill over Rabaul and was force-landed on 20th September 1943 [sic]. Stripped of useable components the fighter was subsequently abandoned, being retrieved by American interests in 1992 to the wartime airfield of Nadzab, but once again abandoned due to export difficulties. Successfully exported to Australia in 1999 by Bob Jarrett, it was then restored to static display standard over a period of seven years. Thanks to Bob Jarrett/CJFM."
Thanks to Keith Hopper and Robert Jarrett for additional information

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Last Updated
June 19, 2017

 

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