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  P-38G-13-LO "Miss Virginia" Serial Number 43-2264 Nose 147
USAAF
13th AF
347th FG
339th FS

Click For Enlargement
USAAF c1943

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructor Number 322-3373. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38G-13-LO Lightning serial number 43-2264. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 347th Fighter Group (347th FG), 339th Fighter Squadron (339th FS). Nose Number 147. Assigned to pilot Lt. Robert Petit. Nicknamed "Miss Virginia". Two victory Japanese flags were painted on the nose, a pair of A6M2-N Rufes claimed by Petit on February 27, 1943.

On March 29, 1943 took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) piloted by Captain Robert Petit as one of eight P-38Gs led by Captain Thomas G. Lanphier, Jr. with eight F4U Corsairs from Marine Fighting Squadron 124 (VMF-124) on a fighter sweep over Shortland Harbor. Petit was leading the second flight with wingman P-38G "Old Ironsides" 43-2239 pilot 1st Lt. Sam Howie who aborted the mission due to engine trouble and returned to base with element leader 1st Lt. Topoll and element P-38G pilot 1st Lt. Moore. Due to poor weather and difficulty in rendezvousing, only five P-38s (P-38G pilot Captain Thomas G. Lanphier, Jr., P-38G "Daisy 2nd" Nose 125 pilot 1st Lt. Rex T. Barber, P-38G "Miss Virginia" 43-2264 pilot Captain Robert Petit, P-38G pilot 1st Lt. Topoll and P-38G pilot 1st Lt. Moore and one F4U Corsair pilot 1st Lt. Eben Dale reach the target. At dawn, they strafe Shortland Harbor Seaplane Base and set fire to 5-7 F1M2 Pete floatplanes. Other damage reports state they claimed 8 aircraft destroyed. Departing, they spot a "destroyer" [sic Subchaser CH-28] and make repeated strafing runs and leave the ship on fire and listing 15°. For this mission, Petit earned an oak leaf cluster for his Silver Star. Afterwards, a ship silhouette was painted on the nose.

On April 18, 1943 at 7:25am took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal piloted by 1st Lt. Rex T. Barber on the "Yamamoto Mission". Over southern Bougainville, Barber shot down G4M1 Betty 2656 Tail 323 with Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. Afterwards, he joined two others P-38G 42-12690 Nose 100 pilot 1st Lt Besby T. Holmes and P-38G pilot 1st Lt. Raymond K. Hine and shot down the second bomber G4M1 Betty 326 with Vice-Admiral Matome Ugaki.

Holmes dove at the bomber, firing at it and causing the left engine to smoke. Hine next fired at it. Finally, Barber fired into the fuselage and claimed to cause it to explode. Barber's P-38 was damaged by debris from this bomber that left a hole in the left wing, damaged the left intercooler and other superficial damage. The bomber ditched into the sea off Moila Point off southern Bougainville.

The three attacking P-38s were attacked by Zeros, but Holmes and Hine intercepted, allowing Barber to escape and successfully returned to land with over 100 bullet holes and a damaged intercooler.

Officially, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) credits Captain Thomas G. Lanphier, Jr. with 1 victory (Zero sic none lost) and ½ victory (Betty). 1st Lt. Rex T. Barber was credited with 1 victory (Betty), ½ victory (Betty) and ½ victory (Zero [sic none lost]). 1st Lt Besby T. Holmes with 1 victory and ½ victory. In fact, only two bombers were shot down: G4M1 Betty 2656 Tail 323 with Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and G4M1 Betty Tail 326 with Vice-Admiral Matome Ugaki. No escorting Zeros were lost.

Later, during 1943 (exact date unknown) this P-38 made a belly landing and was written off and salvaged for parts. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

Jim Lansdale adds:
"I do not recall who was flying her when she bellied-in, but the story I got was consistent with the view. One of the 347th FG pilots told me that the pilot did not or could not lower the landing gear and it slid to a stop next to a new latrine!"

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38G-13-LO Lightning 43-2264

"2264 participated in Admiral Yamamoto shoot down Apr 18, 1943. Crash landed at Kukum, Guadalcanal, South Pacific Apr 1943. w/o and scavenged for parts."
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II [PDF] Alphabetical: Barber, Rex T. page 17 (PDF page 22)
Doug Canning via Wayback Machine December 17, 2014
13th Fighter Command in World War II (2004) Chapter 5 - Mission To The Shortlands by James F. Lansdale pages 123-125 (March 29, 1943) Chapter 8 - Yamamoto Mission pages 137-162, 312 (profile)
Thanks to Jim Lansdale for additional information

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Last Updated
March 30, 2022

 

Tech Info
P-38
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