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Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 422-3540. This aircraft had a natural aluminum finish. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38J-15-LO Lightning serial number 43-28525. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 475th Fighter Group (475th FG) "Satan's Angels", 431st Fighter Squadron (431st FS) "Hades". Tail Number 122 was painted in red on the outer sides of the tail with red upper and lower tips on each tail. Nicknamed "Miss Gee Gee".
On January 6, 1945 in the evening, Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. planned a fighter sweep to search for enemy aircraft to shoot down, in hopes of scoring aerial victories to equal or exceed the forty aerial victories credited to Major Richard I. Bong who had already rotated back to the United States. For reasons unknown, McGuire did not fly his personal aircraft, P-38L "Pudgy V" 42-66817 on his final mission.
On January 7, 1945 took off at 6:20am from Dulag Airfield on Leyte piloted by 2nd Lt. Douglas S. Thropp, Jr., O-440907 as part of "Daddy Flight" on a fighter sweep bound for Mindoro in hopes of finding Japanese aircraft to shoot down and add to McGuire's aerial victory credits.
The four Lightnings flew in a "four finger formation" with P-38L "Eileen-Ann" 44-24845 piloted by Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. the flight leader in the no. 1 position. The flight wingman in the no. 2 position was P-38J 43-28836 piloted by Major Jack B. Rittmayer. The element leader in the no. 3 position was P-38L "Doots" 44-24876 piloted by Captain Edwin R. Weaver. The element wingman in the no. 4 position was this aircraft piloted by 2nd Lt. Douglas S. Thropp, Jr.
The weather was overcast with stratus layers from 1,500' to 6,000'. As the formation flew over northwestern Negros at an altitude of roughly 2,000', they turned over Fabrica Airfield, but did not spot any Japanese planes on the ground or in the air.
Next, they proceeded to Caroline Airfield where they spotted a single Ki-43 Oscar piloted by Warrant Officer Akira Sugimoto from the 54th Hiko Sentai who had taken off from Fabrica Airfield on a mission to patrol north of Negros southward to the Guimaras Strait and report the presence of any American ships he might encounter.
Before intercepting, McGuire told his flight to "hold your tanks" (not release their drop tanks) took retain fuel in anticipation of flying further to engage in more combat. With their drop tanks still attached, the P-38s were slower and less maneuverable. During the dogfight with the Oscar, P-38L "Eileen-Ann" 44-24845 piloted by Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. crashed around 7:10am.
After McGuire's loss, Major Rittmayer took the lead and the three remaining three P-38s chased the Ki-43 Oscar piloted Sugimoto. Thropp managed to fire a burst at it that caused damage before it escaped into clouds. Damaged, Sugimoto force landed but was shot by Filipino guerrillas when he did not surrender to them. Although none of the P-38 pilots observed McGuire's crash, after disengaging from the combat, they saw a fire on the ground roughly one mile northeast of Pinansmaan.
Next, a Ki-84 Frank piloted by Sgt Mizunori Fukuda from the 71st Hiko Sentai arrived in the vicinity. Earlier, he had taken off from Carolina Airfield (Manapla) on a mission to patrol to the west of Bacolod to report the presence of any American ships he might encounter and was armed with a 150kg bomb under his left wing.
When he arrived he saw a crashed aircraft burning [McGuire's crash] then entered the air combat and made a head on attack against P-38J 43-28836 piloted by Major Jack B. Rittmayer and shot it down on the first pass. Afterwards, he was fired on by Weaver and damaged. He managed to fire on Thropp but was again hit by Weaver and his engine began loosing power. After disengaging, Fukuda attempted to make a force landed at Carolina Airfield. While landing, his aircraft flipped over injuring him.
This aircraft returned from the mission with damage to the boom and engine. Afterwards, condemned for salvage by February 14, 1945. The ultimate fate of this aircraft is unknown, likely scrapped.
Thropp was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. For his World War II service, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Philippine Liberation Medal. He passed away on April 15, 2004 at age 80. Thropp is buried at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, PA at summit 442.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38L-1-LO Lightning 44-24876
"28525 (475th FG, 431st FS) damaged in boom and engine Jan 7, 1945. Condemned salvage Feb 14, 1945."
Aerothentic "What Really Happened to McGuire?" by David Mason with introduction by Michael Claringbould
The Search For The Crash Site of Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. by David Mason, 2000
McGuire Final Report: Investigation into the final combat mission of Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. (2009) by David J. Mason
FindAGrave - Douglas S. Thropp, Jr. (grave photo)
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