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Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 322-3312. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38G-13-LO Lightning serial number 43-2212. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
During early 1943, assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron "Headhunters" at Mareeba Airfield. Nose letter "X". Assigned to pilot Norbert C. Ruff. Nicknamed "Ruff Stuff" in block lettering on the left side of the nose. This P-38 was painted with green propeller spinners with a white line at the rear. The tip of the tails were green with a thin white line at the lower edge. On the left side of the nose below the cockpit was a scoreboard with Japanese flags indicating his aerial victory claims. In total, Ruff flew at least 50 combat missions in this Lightning until September 1943 when he returned to the United States.
Afterwards, this P-38 was assigned to pilot Paul C. Murphey, Jr. who flew it during late 1943. The aircraft was not repainted or renamed and still carried the nose art "Ruff Stuff" and nose letter "X". Flying this aircraft, Murphy added two of his aerial victory claims of his own (presumably his first two victories: August 21, 1943 and October 24, 1943) below Ruff's scoreboard with six. The combined scoreboard had a total of eight victory markings in four rows of two flags each.
Sometime during late 1943 or early 1944, this P-38 force landed with the left engine feathered at a coral runway possibly and photographed after the landing. Possibly, force landed at Kiriwina Airfield piloted by Murphey or another pilot in the 80th Fighter Squadron. Afterwards, likely written off. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
During the early 2000s, F-5G Lightning 44-27231 was painted in the markings of this aircraft when owned by Ronald Fagen / Minnesota Airways LLC until repainted in the 2010s.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38G-13-LO Lightning 43-2212
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Ruff Norbert C. page 164 (PDF page 171), 343 (PDF page 249), Alphabetical list by theater of operation (SWP) Ruff Norbert C.: 07/23/43 page 340 (PDF page 346), 09/13/43 (two victories) and 09/15/43 page 345 (PDF page 351)
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Murphey Paul C page 139 (PDF page 146)
Ruff Stuff (2006) by Tina Susedik with Norbert C. Ruff
Thanks to Norbert C. Ruff, Keith Hopper and Robert Rocker for additional information
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