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Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 422-5159. This aircraft had a natural aluminum finish with olive drab upper nose and inner sides of the engines. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38L-1-LO Lightning serial number 44-24155. 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". Assigned to pilot Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. Squadron Number 131 was painted on the nose and tail. Nicknamed "Pudgy (V)" after his wife and Roman numeral V for five in parentheses. Painted on the side of the cockpit was a scoreboard with Japanese flags indicating McGuire's 38 aerial victory claims.
This was the fifth aircraft that bore the this nickname and squadron number, including P-38H "Pudgy", P-38H "Pudgy II" 42-66817, P-38L Pudgy III, P-38L "Pudgy IV" and this aircraft "Pudgy (V)". Each aircraft had squadron number 131 on the nose and tail.
As the aircraft of the squadron's top pilot, this P-38 was given top priority for maintenance and was assigned the best crew chiefs to assure it was always in perfect condition. As part of McGuire's policy, it was never flown on a combat mission unless it was in perfect order. During late December 1944 until early January 1945 operated from Dulag Airfield on Leyte.
On January 7, 1945 pilot Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. went Missing In Action (MIA) piloting P-38L "Eileen-Ann" 44-24845 on a fighter sweep. It is unclear why he did not choose his aircraft and it would have been unusual if "Pudgy V" was not in perfect flying condition. Second only to P-38L "Putt Putt Maru" assigned to Charles H. MacDonald, McGuire had the highest priority on new or spare parts and maintenance. McGuire's crew chiefs were considered the best in the 431st Fighter Squadron (431st FS).
After McGuire was declared Missing In Action (MIA) his loyal crew chief scraped his kill markings off this aircraft and sent it away to a service squadron to be reassigned to another outfit.
The ultimate fate of this aircraft is unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared. McGuire's other four aircraft nicknamed "Pudgy" were either lost in combat with other pilots, or transferred to service squadrons.
Afterwards, Fort Dix Army Air Force Base was renamed McGuire Air Force Base (McGuire AFB) in honor of Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr and is today known as Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. At the entrance to the base is the Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. Memorial with F-5G Lightning 44-53015 is painted in the markings "Pudgy V" assigned to him.
Note, the nickname of this P-38 is also listed as "Pudgy V".
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38L-1-LO Lightning 44-24155
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