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  P-38J-15-LO Lightning Serial Number 43-28836 Tail 128
USAAF
5th AF
475th FG
431st FS

Pilot  Major Jack B. Rittmayer, O-432009 (MIA / KIA / BR) Meeker, CO
Crashed  January 7, 1945 after 7:10am
MACR  11646

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 422-3851. This aircraft had a natural aluminum finish. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38J-15-LO Lightning serial number 43-28836. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 475th Fighter Group (475th FG) "Satan's Angels", 431st Fighter Squadron (431st FS) "Hades". Tail Number 128 was painted in red on the outer engine cowing and tail with red upper and lower tips on each tail. No known nickname or nose art. No known nickname or nose art.

When lost, engines V-1710-91 and V-1710-89 serial numbers A-445639 and 43-29625. Armed with .50 caliber machine guns manufactured by Savage serial numbers 113670, Buffalo Arms serial number 1293511, Frigidaire serial number 1002140 and Kelsy Hays serial numbers 657875 plus 20mm cannon manufactured by International Harvester serial number 116996.

On January 6, 1945 in the evening, Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. planned a fighter sweep to search for enemy aircraft to shoot down, in hopes of scoring aerial victories to equal or exceed the forty aerial victories credited to Major Richard I. Bong who had already rotated back to the United States. For reasons unknown, McGuire did not fly his personal aircraft, P-38L "Pudgy V" 42-66817 on his final mission.

Mission History
On January 7, 1945 took off at 6:20am from Dulag Airfield on Leyte piloted by Major Jack B. Rittmayer as part of "Daddy Flight" on a fighter sweep bound for Mindoro in hopes of finding Japanese aircraft to shoot down and add to McGuire's aerial victory credits.

The four Lightnings flew in a "four finger formation" with P-38L "Eileen-Ann" 44-24845 piloted by Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. the flight leader in the no. 1 position. The flight wingman in the no. 2 position was this aircraft piloted by Major Jack B. Rittmayer. The element leader in the no. 3 position was P-38L "Doots" 44-24876 piloted by Captain Edwin R. Weaver. The element wingman in the no. 4 position was P-38J "Miss Gee Gee" 43-28525 piloted by 2nd Lt. Douglas S. Thropp, Jr.

The weather was overcast with stratus layers from 1,500' to 6,000'. As the formation flew over northwestern Negros at an altitude of roughly 2,000', they turned over Fabrica Airfield, but did not spot any Japanese planes on the ground or in the air.

Next, they proceeded to Caroline Airfield where they spotted a single Ki-43 Oscar piloted by Warrant Officer Akira Sugimoto from the 54th Hiko Sentai who had taken off from Fabrica Airfield on a mission to patrol north of Negros southward to the Guimaras Strait and report the presence of any American ships he might encounter.

Before intercepting, McGuire told his flight to "hold your tanks" (not release their drop tanks) took retain fuel in anticipation of flying further to engage in more combat. With their drop tanks still attached, the P-38s were slower and less maneuverable. During the dogfight with the Oscar, P-38L "Eileen-Ann" 44-24845 piloted by Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. crashed around 7:10am.

After McGuire's loss, Major Rittmayer took the lead and the three P-38s chased Ki-43 Oscar piloted Sugimoto. Thropp managed to fire a burst at it that caused damage before it escaped into clouds. Damaged, Sugimoto force landed but was shot by Filipino guerrillas when he did not surrender to them. Although none of the P-38 pilots observed McGuire's crash, after disengaging from the combat, they saw a fire on the ground roughly one mile northeast of Pinansmaan.

Next, a Ki-84 Frank piloted by Sgt Mizunori Fukuda from the 71st Hiko Sentai arrived in the vicinity. Earlier, he had taken off from Carolina Airfield (Manapla) on a mission to patrol to the west of Bacolod to report the presence of any American ships he might encounter and was armed with a 150kg bomb under his left wing.

When he arrived he saw a crashed aircraft burning [McGuire's crash] then entered the air combat and made a head on attack against this aircraft and shot it down on the first pass. Afterwards, he was fired on by Weaver and damaged. He managed to fire on Thropp but was again hit by Weaver and his engine began loosing power. After disengaging, Fukuda attempted to make a force landed at Carolina Airfield. While landing, his aircraft flipped over injuring him.

Statement by 2nd Lt. Douglas S. Thropp, Jr. via Missing Air Crew Report 11646 (MACR 11646) page 4
"I last saw Major Rittmayer at an altitude of less than 2000 feet receiving hits from an enemy plane firing form 90° deflection. Later I saw a second fire on the ground in the vicinity, presumably that of his plane."

When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Search
Afterwards, no search was made for either McGuire or Rittmayer.

Recovery of Remains
Afterwards, Rittmayer remains were recovered and transported to Manila to the American Graves Registration Service Mausoleum (AGRS Mausoleum) then shipped to the United States for permanent burial.

Memorials
Rittmayer was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA at Harmony, Lot 2827, Space 2.

References
World War II Army Enlistment Records - Jack B. Rittmayer

USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38L-1-LO Lightning 43-28836
"28836 (475th FG, 431st FS) shot down by ace Fukuda in Ki-84 Jan 7, 1945. MACR 11646"
Missing Air Crew Report 11646 (MACR 11646) created January 8, 1945
Individual Combat Report (ICR) Captain Edwin R. Weaver January 7, 1945
Individual Combat Report (ICR) 2nd Lt. Douglas S. Thropp, Jr. January 7, 1945
Air Force Journal "Death of a Great Flyer" April 1945
The Last Great Ace biography of Thomas McGuire
McGuire's Last Mission by Caroll Anderson
"What Really Happened to McGuire?" by David Mason with introduction by Michael Claringbould via Wayback Machine January 27, 2012
The Search For The Crash Site of Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. by David Mason, 2000
McGuire Final Report: Investigation into the final combat mission of Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. (2009) by David J. Mason pages 51-52 (XXX. The Search For Major Rittmayer's Crash Site)
FindAGrave - Maj Jack Ball Rittmayer (grave photo)
Thanks to David Mason for additional information

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Last Updated
November 14, 2019

 

Tech Info
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Map MACR Jan 7, 1945

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Map Fukuda
Jan 7, 1945

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