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  P-38 Lightning Serial Number 42-????? Number 74
5th AF
8th FG
36th FS

USAAF October 8, 1943
Pilot  1st Lt. Ralph H. Wandrey (survived) Mason City, Iowa
Crashed  October 8, 1943
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number unknown (four digits). Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38 Lightning serial number unknown. This aircraft was likely a P-38F, P-38G or P-38H. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 49th Fighter Group (49th FG), 9th Fighter Squadron (9th FS). Squadron Number 74. Assigned to pilot 1st Lt. Ralph H. Wandrey.

Mission History
On October 8, 1943 in the late afternoon took off from Horanda Airfield (Horanda 4) piloted by 1st Lt. Ralph H. Wandrey on a test hop after being overhauled. Shortly after take off at an altitude of only 20', both engines failed and the plane settled on the landing gear at 120 mph and just missed parked B-26 Maruaders then passed over a drainage ditch sheering off the the landing gear and was flung airborne briefly before crashing into a grassy area beyond the dispersal area at the eastern end of the runway and caused a cloud of dust and smoke.

Fate of the Pilot

Luckily, Wandrey was unhurt and able to exit the cockpit and run away before fuel fumes ignited and burned the plane. Upset about the crash, he began walking back towards base and hailed a jeep and returned to the the officers club and entered as fellow pilots were toasting him assuming he had been killed and had already divided some of his possessions, with Richard I. Bong claiming his leather jacket and Paul Yeager his Australian flying boots! After apologies, the gathering turned into a celebration to welcome him.

The burned wreckage of this Lighting was photographed after the crash showing the burned center section with U. S. personnel standing nearby. Ultimate fate unknown likely abandoned or scrapped.

Wandrey passed away on June 25, 2020 at age 98 at Maplewood Assisted Living in Hayden, Idaho. On July 25, 2020 he was buried with military honors in the family plot at Elmwood Cemetery in Mason City, Iowa.

Protect & Avenge (1995) pages 196-197 (October 8, 1943 crash), 359 (index Wandrey)

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020


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