|Pilot 2nd Lt. Robert L. Nesmith (rescued)
Force Landed January 1, 1945
Built by Lockheed. Constructor Number
222-7834. Delivered to the U. S. Army.
Assigned to the 11th Air Force. No known nickname or nose art. Nose Number 95.
Took off from Alexai
Point Airfield on a training mission as the the third Lightning in a four-ship formation. Flying
at low level across Attu Island, Nesmith got too close to the
ground. He over corrected when he attempted to gain altitude, and causing his aircraft to "mush" into the snow. Still
airborne, the starboard engine was torn off by the collision, and the left propeller was torn off. The Lightning glided over a rise and made a smooth landing, skidding to
a stop. Unhurt, Nesmith ran from the aircraft, afraid it might explode.
Fate of the Pilot
Nesmith walked to the coast and a waited for rescue by a crash boat and was later returned to duty.
Until June 1999, this aircraft remained in situ. The wing
tips, props and guns were removed, and the engines are
both lying a short distance from the plane. It appears that something
was 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.
During August 2000, the static restoration was installed as a
display at at McCloud Memorial Park at Elmendorf
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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March 14, 2014