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Bongs P-38 in photo?

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Is this Richard Bongs P-38 in the back of these photo's? The kill numbers sure look like it.

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Can you get us a better shot of the 2 P-38 photos? I'm guessing you don't have these photos in hand. Could be Bong's plane - that's a lot of meatballs painted on there.

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I count 27 kills. 5 deep by 5 wide plus 2 to the side. Bong had a total of 40 kills. It can only be one of three guys. Mac Donald had 27 kills in a P-38 in the South Pacific. McGuire had 38 kills in a P-38 in the South Pacific or Bong.

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Not sure it's Bong's Lightning. "Marge" is missing. Did a quick search on Google to find out how many different (late model) 38s were actually assigned to him--in theater. Didn't come up with an answer.


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Specific areas of collecting and buying interest:

WWI/WWII 40th (Sunshine) Division, Camp Kearny, Camp Harry Jones, WWI/WWII 158th Infantry, USS Oklahoma, USS Swordfish (SS-193), Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Mexican Border (1916),

Norman Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Norman, OK, Tinker Field or AFB, Submariner Items, Knives, Bayonets, Sweetheart Jewelry, other unique

or odd items with interesting stories.

 

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You believe which photo is Bong's P-38? The photo in your post, or the two photos that were shown at the top of this thread?


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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NOTICE ANYTHING? Like the two different ways her name is spelled, or one is new and the other not? Look at the nose .50 barrel nearest us in the photo, two different placements. The larger photo has not even had the kill marks put on it.

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Both clearly Bongs P-38, but notice things change.

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Bong's P-38 with different tail numbers 42-104380 or 42-103993? Take your pick.

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Did Bong's 38 come back stateside on a war bonds tour? I know there's a Lightning with Bong's paint scheme on it, and if it's his original it may account for the discrepancy. I'd assume it's similar to the Memphis Belle and her combat and war bond tour livery differences.


Looking for anything related to Army Ranger Battalions from World War II

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Looking at that 3993 photo it appears to me that there is a coat of paint under the last four numbers, which could also mean that it was given a new tail number at some point, too.


Looking for anything related to Army Ranger Battalions from World War II

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Looking at that 3993 photo it appears to me that there is a coat of paint under the last four numbers, which could also mean that it was given a new tail number at some point, too.

The new P-38 looks to me to be the war bond tour aircraft. The way "Marge" is done is not seen on any war time theater photo's I can find. 3993 looks to one he flew before 4380. The 3993 has two pilot ID styles. The white with black letters then the black with white letters seen near the canopy. The black with white letters shows at the time Marge is painted on. It shows up until the 27 kill mark then 4380 shows. The two theater aircraft have different style flags. The washed out nose numbers are just that, not re numbered.

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Bong had more than one 38. The image without Marge is definitely his bird. The image was blown up and attached to the 38 not painted, meaning it could wear off. Other images of that same bird show that you can see where the image had been. Remember that planes got done up nice for the cameras after the fact. William Shomo’s 51 was devoid of markings on the day he won his MoH yet we all know his Mustang as “The Flying Undertaker”. Similar with The nicely shined up War bond drive “Marge”


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If you look close at the image in the original post you can see the spot where the image of Marge had been at one point


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From my own little photo collection. Bong's bird minus Marge on the nose. You can see the remains of the rough outline where the blown up image was attached to the nose panel.

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Blew up the original image and outlined where you can see the image had been at one point. Definitely Bong's bird.

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Blew up the original image and outlined where you can see the image had been at one point. Definitely Bong's bird.

Outstanding! Thanks for going the extra mile. Well done!

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Hi Guys.

Sorry to come into this topic so late, but I have a couple of questions regarding the pics posted by P-59A on April 15 2019.

First, apart from my feeling that the image of Bong is superimposed over the P-38 in the first photo, that a/c shows 27 kill markings.  Given Bong scored kill numbers 26-28 on the same day, why on earth would his a/c show 27 kills?

Second, the pic of 42-103993 shows 25 kill markings.  Bong scored his 25th kill on 3 April 1944.  But according to the Pacific Wrecks website, that a/c was lost on 22 March 1944.  So how is the a/c in the photo possible?

Hope someone can answer this newb's questions

Cheers

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Hello mozinoz,

Welcome to the Forum. Probably just a typo, but I don't see any photos posted on the 15th of April by P-59A, only those on the 14th? He did post two photos showing closeups of Bong in front of two aircraft scoreboards, if that is what you are referring to as being "superimposed". My take is that the first photo shows Bong when back in the USA, as he is wearing his service dress uniform. Without doing research, I would also guess that image was taken at Lockheed and that he is standing in front of an enlargement of a photo of one of his P-38s taken in theater. The second closeup appears to have been "enhanced" before being published, as you can see where an editor added dark lines to his eyebrows and around his lips and darkened his nostrils. Not at all uncommon, especially if a photo from theater was sent via "wire", where the quality tended to deteriorate.

As to your question about the number of kills on the planes not matching the official record, again, I can only speculate, not having researched the subject. One thing to remember is that Bong tying, then surpassing, Rickenbacker's WW1 scoring record was well covered by the press at the time. If you are correct that he scored 26, 27 and 28 on the same day, it may be possible he scored the kills in two or more missions on that same day? If so, the 27th flag could have been painted on to satisfy the press and document the breaking of the record.

Another thing to note about the photo and name "Marge" is their location on the plane. Both are intentionally located on the port nose gun door, which would allow the door to be removed and reinstalled on another aircraft if need be. This was pretty common on P-38s when the nose was adorned with artwork. 38Driver has already documented that the portrait of Marge was subject to damage and wasn't always displayed.  The image provided by the original poster showing Marge with a different font was taken in Minneapolis after Bong's overseas tour and that is the real Marge pointing out her own portrait on a plane done up for the War Bond drive. 

"Second, the pic of 42-103993 shows 25 kill markings.  Bong scored his 25th kill on 3 April 1944.  But according to the Pacific Wrecks website, that a/c was lost on 22 March 1944.  So how is the a/c in the photo possible?" I can't answer your question, but here is another photo of "3993" showing the entire scoreboard at the time with 25 kills.

Regards, Paul

 

 

Bong.jpg

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Thanks for the replies guys.

As for the date, I guess it was the 15th over here in Oz when the post was made, so it shows up as the 15th on my PC.  I guess it was still the 14th where you are, so it shows up as the 14th for you.  Post numbers would be handy here.

I don't have mission records for kills 26-28, only 2 separate kill lists that show the same info, supposedly taken from his log books, so I don't know if they were over more than one mission or not.  I was hoping someone on the forum would know.

I'm still suspicious of the "993" photos in particular.  The pics all show some doctoring of numbers, and the gun bay door looks like it was replaced, which makes me think another a/c was doctored to look like his for the photo shoot when the real 993 was lost.  I guess a new picture panel may have been used to look good for the photos (Bong probably had spares) but all things considered it just doesn't add up for me. It might be one of life's unsolved mysteries, or am I making too much of it all?

Cheers

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Good thread, very interesting!

perhaps the discrepancy in the kills has to do with Confirmation. Sometimes that is delayed before official credit is given? if indeed kills26,27 and 28 were on the same day. One of three may had required additional intelligence?

Now that you said something, I will miss the post number icons. That was a helpful designator when referring back through threads and very convenient.  

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