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  P-38L-1-LO "Pudgy V" Serial Number 44-24155 Nose 131
USAAF
5th AF
475th FG
431st FS

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USAAF January 5, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 475th Fighter Group, 431st Fighter Squadron. Assigned to Thomas B. McGuire, Jr.. Squadron Number 131 was painted on the nose. Nicknamed "Pudgy" after his wife. This was the fifth aircraft that bore this nickname, including P-38H "Pudgy", P-38H "Pudgy II" 42-66817, P-38L Pudgy III, P-38L "Pudgy IV" and this aircraft. Each aircraft had squadron number 131 on the nose. Painted on the side of the cockpit was McGuire's 38 victories.

Aircraft maintenance at the 431st was top notch and aircraft were always in perfect condition, and an aircraft was never sent on a mission unless it was 100 percent in order, as part of McGuire policy. The squadron's crew chiefs and aircraft were the best available.

On January 7, 1945 McGuire took off piloting P-38L "Eileen-Ann" 44-24845 on a fighter sweep and failed to return. It is unclear why he did not choose his aircraft and it would have been unusual if "Pudgy V" was not in perfect flying condition. Second only to MacDonald's P-38L "Putt Putt Maru", McGuire had the highest priority on new or spare parts and maintenance. McGuire's crew chiefs were considered the best in the Squadron.

After McGuire was declared missing in action on January 7, 1945 his loyal crew chief scraped his kill markings off and sent the aircraft away to a service squadron to be reassigned to another outfit.

The ultimate fate of this aircraft is unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared. McGuire's other four aircraft nicknamed "Pudgy" were either lost in combat with other pilots, or transferred to service squadrons.

Memorial
McGuire Air Force Base, NJ was named after Thomas McGuire. Outside the base is F-5G-6-LO 44-53015 restored as "Pudgy V".

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018

 

Tech Info
P-38
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