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  P-38 Lightning Serial Number ?  
5th AF
475th FG
431st FS

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E. Frazier August 1943

Pilot History
Orville Blythe was born in 1921 in Pottawatomie County in Oklahoma. On April 6, 1942 enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as a private in the air corps with serial number 18087016. He earned his wings and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. During his wartime service he was not credited with any aerial victories.

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38 model and serial number unknown. This aircraft was likely a P-38F, P-38G or P-38H.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 475th Fighter Group (475th FG) "Satan's Angels", 431st Fighter Squadron (431st FS) "Hades". No known nickname or nose art.

Wartime History
On August 16, 1943, one of twelve P-38s from the 431st Fighter Squadron that took off from Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Orville Blythe to escort 24 C-47s moving aviation fuel and supplies to Tsili-Tsili Airfield and Marilinan Airfield.

Also providing escort were thirty-two P-47D Thunderbolts from the 348th Fighter Group's 340th and 341st Fighter Squadrons. This mission marked the first the combat use of the P-47D in the New Guinea theater.

The 5th Air Force provided a much stronger fighter escort for the C-47s following the loss of two transports over Tsili Tsili to Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) fighter interception on August 15, 1943.

All 24 C-47 transports landed safely at Tsili Tsili Airfield. While unloading was underway, a Japanese aircraft from the including 33 Ki-43 Oscars and 3 Ki-51 Sonias from Wewak arrived over the airfield.

Both U. S. fighter squadron became involved in separate dog fights with the Ki-43 Oscars and numerous claims were made by both sides. A P-47D piloted by Leighton was lost and P-38 piloted by Blythe was damaged and landed at Tsili Tsili Airfield. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared. The Japanese report losing two pilots. American pilots claimed 15 aerial victories (340th Squadron: 1, 341st Squadron: 2 and 431st Squadron: 12).

Orville Blythe passed away November 18, 2002 in Santa Clara, CA. His wife Vera Blythe died in 2006.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Orville Blythe
Saga Of Tsili Tsili vol. II by Everette Frazier (photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
November 30, 2019


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