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  P-38G-10-LO Lightning Serial Number 42-13400 Nose 95
USAAF
11th AF

Click For Enlargement
1945
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Philip Nell 1996
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USAF 1999
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USAF 2000

Pilot  2nd Lt. Robert L. Nesmith (rescued)
Force Landed  January 1, 1945

Aircraft History
Constructor Number 222-7834.

Wartime History
Took off from Alexai Point Airfield on a training mission as the the third Lightnong in a four-ship formation.

Flying a low-level across Attu, Nesmith got too close to the ground. From his cockpit he could see grains of the accumulated snow on the ground and attempted to gain altitude, but overcorrected, 'mushing' into the snow. Still airborne, the starboard  engine was torn off after the collision, and the left propeller was torn off. The Lightning glided over a rise and made a smooth landing, skidding to a stop. Uninjured, Nesmith ran from the aircraft, afraid it might explode. Nesmith walked to the coast and a waited for a rescue boat.

Wreckage
The wreck remained 'in situ' until June 1999. The wing tips, props and guns were removed, and the engines are both lying a short distance from the plane. It appears that something has been removed from both booms just aft of the superchargers. The cockpit has been stripped of instruments and bullets had been fired through the vertical stabilizers. for target practice.

In 1979, Ted Spencer of the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum nominated this P-38 to the National Register of Historic Places.

Recovery & Restoration
During 1988, the "American Veterans Memorial Museum" of Denver, CO reportedly registered the wreck with the FAA, but was never restored.

During June 1999 the P-38 was recovered and transported to Elmendorf AFB and registered as N55929. A team of volunteers "Project Lightning Save" began restoration work during December 1999.

Display
During August 2000, the static restoration was installed as a display at at McCloud Memorial Park at Elmendorf AFB.

References
Airmen Magazine "A Fitting Tribute" by Jim Fisher photos by Terry Blevins August 2000
Attu's Landmark P-38
Thanks to Ted Spencer for additional information

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Last Updated
January 1, 2014

 

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