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  P-38L-5-LO Lightning Serial Number 44-53236  

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Bong Heritage Center 2007

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Kevin Rofidal 2008

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. On July 19, 1945 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38L-5-LO Lightning serial number 44-53236.

Between 1945 to 1948 operated at airfields in Delaware, Ohio and Florida. During December 1948 stricken from inventory.

During December 1948, the Richard I. Bong American Legion Post No. 435 of Superior, WI requested a surplus P-38 with which to create a memorial to Bong. This aircraft was flown to Duluth, Minnesota by pilot Don Lopez, formally of the 23rd Fighter Group.

In July 1949, it was towed to Poplar, Wisconsin and stored on the main street, and many items in the cockpit taken as souvenirs. Later, it was moved to the Richard Bong memorial and installed outdoors on a pylon. On May 22, 1955 retired General Kenney dedicated the memorial.

During November 1994, this P-38 was restored by the 148th Fighter Wing MANG who then transported it to their base in Duluth to begin restoration. The restoration project, under the direction of Lt. Colonel Bill Bordson eventually consumed over 16,000 volunteer hours, and completed in September 1997. Painted in the markings of Bong's P-38J "Marge" 42-104380.

Afterwards, transported to the Polar Aviation Museum. On June 25, 2002 transported to the Richard I. Bong Heritage Center and displayed indoors. At the rededication, ferry pilot Don Lopez was a speaker.

P-38 Lightning 44-53236 - Richard I. Bong Heritage Center

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Last Updated
November 9, 2019


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