|Pilot 1st Lt Thomas B. McGuire, Jr., O-437031 (survived)
Crashed October 17, 1943
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Constructors Number 1254. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 475th Fighter Group, 431st Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On October 17, 1943 took off from North Borio Airfield (Doboudra No. 12) near Dobodura piloted by 1st Lt Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. on a mission to intercept incoming Japanese A6M Zero fighters off Oro Bay at 10:30am. During the air combat, McGuire claimed three Zeros shot down before he was damaged by gunfire and bailed out over the Solomon Sea roughly 25 miles off the north coast of New Guinea. Also lost were P-40N 42-104991 (MIA), P-38H 42-66561 (MIA), P-38H 42-66743 (MIA), P-38H "We Dood It" 42-66908 (survived).
McGuire survived unhurt but was unable to inflate his life raft due to shrapnel holes in it. Thirty minutes later, he was rescued by PT-152 and transported to USS Hilo AGP-2 at 11:20am. Afterwards, he was returned to shore and duty with his squadron.
NARA War Diary of PT Boat Tender USS Hilo - October 17, 1943 8-12 [8:00am - noon) moored as before [off Buna]
"0805 Commenced refueling PT 152
1000 Received yellow alert from Buna
1002 received red alert from Buna. Went to General Quarters. Stopped fueling PT 152 having delivered 1504 gals. at 85 % F.
1006 PT's cast off to disperse.
1026 Dogfighting between P-38 Fighters and Zero Type enemy aircraft observed at various high altitudes at considerable distance on Port Quarter, north and east Cape Endaiadere
1029 Enemy Zero seen to fall bearing 270 Rel.
Enemy Zero observed to fall bearing 225 Rel.
1058 Plane thought to be P-38 crashed into water bearing 180 Rel.
1110 Received all clear. Secured from General Quarters
1120 PT 152 returned along side with rescued pilot
1145 PT 148 returned along side. Made daily inspection of magazines and smokeless powder surplus"
Protect & Avenge page 202-204 (October 17, 1943 mission)
49th Fighter Group Aces of the Pacific page 67
“Aircraft from both the 7th and 9th FSs were scrambled on 17 October , the P-38 proceeding to Buna at 28,000ft, where they sighted at least 30 Oscars and Zekes in line astern some 7000 ft below them… Six Zekes fell to the unit that day.”
Pacific Sweep page 130-132
“Lieutenant Thomas McGuire was one of the pilots of the 475th [FG] intercepting, and in this violent combat he was shot down and almost killed.
'We were at 23,000 feet when we sighted the enemy at a position of 11 o'clock, slightly above us. (A group of 15 to 20 Zekes.) After we dropped our belly tanks, Lieutenant Kirby, in his capacity as squadron leader that day, led us in to a head-on attack, climbing slightly. I selected 1 Zeke at the right of the formation and began firing. He started smoking and rolled out and down to his right. I followed, firing intermittently, to 18,000 feet, then pulled back up to rejoin our formation.
I lost my
second element and my wingman by this time. My wingman could only drop 1 belly tank, and because of this could not pull out of his dive until he reached 4,000 feet. He saw the Zeke that I had fired on going straight down still smoking. I pulled up behind Red Flight at 21,000 feet and arrived in time to see 2 Zekes attacking from a position of 4 o'clock high. After I had fired on them in an attempt to drive them away 4 other Zekes started down on me from 6 o'clock high, forcing me to dive to about 1,000 feet. I had begun a climb when I sighted 2 Zekes at 3 o'clock and about 1,000 feet below me. As I was diving out, I closed in to very close range, putting about 2 slugs into the cockpit and possibly other parts of the ship. My evasive maneuver in this instance was to increase my dive to vertical, diving 7,000 feet, then pulling back up to 12,000 feet.
'At that time I saw 7 Zekes in a loose formation and to the rear of a P-38, which appeared to be in trouble. As 1 Zeke began his pass at the P-38 I made my attack on him at 90-degrees deflection. I fired a long burst and saw him break into flame. Feeling that I could distract them from the P-38 by making an attack, I pulled up slightly and to the right, getting a direct tail shot. I closed to about 100 feet and began firing. The Zeke immediately started burning and rolled slowly to the left and down. The remaining Zekes attacked me at the time.
One was about 100 feet behind me and closing. As I started to dive out, my left engine began to burn, my right engine was smoking, a cannon shell burst in the radio compartment, and a 7.7mm shell hit my wrist and passed into the instrument panel. Other shells hit at the base of the control column. I received shrapnel in my right arm and my hips. I tried to pull out of my dive but found elevator controls were entirely useless. I then released my escape hatch and bailed out. I landed in the sea about 25 miles from shore and remained there for approximately 30 minutes.
'I was unable to inflate my life raft due to shrapnel holes in it. I was picked up by a Navy PT Boat, No. 152, and carried to PT tender Hilo in Buna Bay. During the engagement I saw at least 30 enemy fighters and clusters of bombs that had been dropped about 28 miles offshore.' ”
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis
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June 29, 2019