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  P-38 Lightning Serial Number ?  
USAAF
5th AF
8th FG
80th FS
"Headhunters"

Pilot  1st Lt John Guttel, O-367709 (MIA / KIA) Boston, MA
Crashed  August 21, 1943
MACR  none

Pilot History
John Guttel was born in 1917 in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated college with a four year degree and was working as a chemical engineer. On April 28, 1941 enlisted in the U. S. Army as an aviation cadet with serial number 13030061. Sent overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). Guttel was assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Fighter Group (8th FG), 80th Fighter Squadron (80th FS) as a fighter pilot. He flew approximately 110 combat missions before he went Missing In Action (MIA).

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38 Lightning model and serial number unknown. Likely, this aircraft was either a P-38G or P-38H. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Fighter Group (8th FG), 80th Fighter Squadron (80th FS) "Headhunters". No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On August 21, 1943 around 10:00am took off from 3-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt John Guttel as one of sixteen P-38s providing close escort for B-25 Mitchells on a strike mission against Dagua and But near Wewak.

This aircraft was part of a four plane element led by Norbert "Norb" Ruff. Inbound, Ruff experienced an oil pressure failure and aborted the mission and turned his flight over to 1st Lt John Guttel and returned to base alone. During the flight, there was an overcast over the mountains and scattered clouds over the Wewak area.

Roughly fifteen miles south of Dagua, the formation was intercepted by approximately 20-40 enemy aircraft and a dog fight began with U. S. aircraft claiming eleven enemy fighters shot down. During the air combat, one P-38 smoking badly was seen in the vicinity of Dagua and was last seen going through the clouds at 1,000' and was never seen again.

When this aircraft failed to return, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was P-38 pilot Feehan (MIA) and P-38 pilot Krisher (MIA).

Memorials
Guttel was officially declared dead on January 12, 1946. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John Guttel
No Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) was created for this loss
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File does not list John Guttel as an official POW of the Japanese
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John Guttel
FindAGrave - 1Lt John Guttel (tablets of the missing)
Ruff Stuff (2006) page 128
"John Guttel was one of the few Jewish pilots [in the 80th FS]. Guttel was part of one of the most costly missions flown by the 80th on August 21, 1943; one that still affects Norb today. None of the other pilots who returned from this mission knew what had happened to them."
MacArthur's Eagles: The U.S. Air War Over New Guinea, 1943-1944 (2005) pages 84, 86, 341
(Page 84) "The 80th lost 2nd Lts. Robert E. Feehan, John Guttel, and Elwood G. Krisher."
Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units And Their Aces appendix
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38 Lightning piloted by Guttel

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020

 

Tech Info
P-38

MIA
MIA
1 Missing
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