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  P-38G "Elsie" Serial Number ? Squadron Number 88
5th AF
49th FG
9th FS

U. S. Army April 5, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38G serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 9th Fighter Squadron. Assigned to pilot Captain Clay Tice. Tail number 88. Nicknamed "Elsie" in white cursive on the right side of the nose. Both sides of the outer tail had a vertical white stripe indicating his status as a flight leader. This aircraft operated from Horanda Airfield (Dobodura No. 4) in New Guinea until Tice suffered a bout of malaria.

On April 5, 1943 took off from Horanda Airfield (Dobodura No. 4) piloted by 1st Lt. John O'Neill on a flight. Returning to land, this aircraft suffered a nose landing gear failure causing it to crash land onto the nose. Pilot O'Neill was unhurt in the landing.

John O'Neill (son of John O'Neill) adds:
"I remember this photo from when I was a kid, and my mom telling me how my dad lost the nose gear on landing. I had totally forgotten about this!"

Steve Birdsall adds:
"As far as the Elsie photo is concerned, I don’t have any details on the serial number of that P-38. It’s nearly 50 years ago now, but I think Clay Tice must have been the source of the information about O’Neill."

Afterwards, Tice was assigned a new aircraft. The ultimate fate of this aircraft is unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

Flying Buccaneers page 71 (lower photo)
Protect & Avenge: The 49th Fighter Group in World War II pages 118 (photo)
"Capt. Tice's 'Elsie' tipped up due to a broken nose strut when landing by 9 FS 2Lt. O'Neill at Dobodura, some days after the Battle of the Bismarck Sea [sic, April 5, 1943]. Elsie's outer tail surface displays a vertical white bar designating Tice as a senior flight leader."
Thanks to Steve Birdsall and John O'Neill for additional information

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Last Updated
September 25, 2018


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