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P-59A

Bongs P-38 in photo?

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Sorry for this long post, but I found this newspaper article from 5/11/44 that tells the story of Bong's 26th, 27th and 28th victories, in his own words, and answers one of your previous questions:

"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?"

Maj. Bong Topped Record In Last Pacific Combat
Major Bong

(In the final chapter of his thrilling story of aerial exploits against the Japs. Maj. Richard I. Bong, of Poplar, Wis., America's No. 1 ace of the Pacific war theater, describes his last combat mission over Hollandia where he broke and surpassed Eddie Rickenbacker's World War I record of enemy aircraft destroyed. Maj. Bong is officially credited with 27 Japanese shot down, but he may he credited with an additional one, as he reveals in the fallowing chapter)

By MAJ. RICHARD IRA BONG, Leading American Ace in the Pacific War Theater (As told to Lee Van Atta)
ADVANCED FIGHTER BASE, New Guinea, 11 May 1944 - My last combat in the air was on April 12 at Hollandia which our forces have recently captured from the Japs.
I say my last because Gen. Kenney, air chief in this theater, put me on "the shelf" that day, the day I both tied and bettered Eddie Rickenbacker's World War I record of 26 enemy aircraft shot down.
Now I have come home again — this time to learn gunnery school teaching techniques. I can't say I'm very happy about it — although I'm looking forward to seeing my family again.

But as for just coming home -well, I'd rather be staying on in the southwest Pacific with the same kind of status I've had these last few months.
I suppose I have had a few close calls and have been a little bit worried more often than that. But the hardest I ever sweated was the night and morning following my last combat mission over Hollandia.
You see I had my cameras set wrong so there was no really accurate photographic report of the victories I claimed that day. It depended on whether or not members of the flight and squadron I had gone with could give positive confirmation. The fighter pilots were strung from one end of New Guinea to the other that night and it wasn't until the next morning that the fighter command could get them together and take a reading on what had happened.
Fortunately for me, not one but several pilots witnessed my first two "kills" — so that put me over the top. I rested a lot easier after that.
I didn't have any real ideas of trying to crack Rickenbacker's record until after the "Flying Circus" Tom Lynch and I started, really got rolling. By the time you start pounding away at the 25 mark, you know darned well that nothing can keep you from trying to tie and beat the Rickenbacker score — and that's the way it happened with me.

CLAIMS ANOTHER PLANE
Actually, I'm claiming another plane at Hollandia that day. I got separated from the rest of the unit after the first couple of minutes of combat. I had spotted one lone Nip roaming around and doing his best to keep away from us. I went over and had it out with him. I know the exact spot where he crashed into the water — it's on a kind of coral shell, not very deep.
General Kenney has promised he'll get a diver to go down there and collect enough wreckage to justify officially confirming it as another "kill."  That's good enough for me — and in this case, I'm as certain as if the Nip were in my own backyard that they will be able to find the remnants of his plane.
But coming back to that last day of combat -
I had tacked on to a flock of long range P-38's which were being led by Maj. Jay Rodkins of Collidge, Tex. (Jay is the No. 2 ace in New Guinea now with 18 confirmed victories). We were escorting "heavies" to Hollandia and although the place had been knocked all over by previous raids we were still looking for some interception.
Incidentally, I should mention here that I was out on a mission every day during the first nine days of April, trying to do something about my score of 25 and every time I picked a spot the Japs just weren't there.
I was getting a little discouraged by April 10, so I took two days off, waiting for the Hollandia mission.
We couldn't see the Japs anywhere when we first hit the target area that day. We were flying in staggered formation from about 12,000 feet on up. Then over the radio, I heard there were about 20 Zeros hugging, close as they could, to the jungles around Hollandia and Lake Sentani.
That was good enough for all of us and we went tearing down en masse.

LAST COMBAT
I wish I could report that my last combat — well, my last until I talked General Kenney and Wurtsmith into putting me back on active status anyway — was the most exciting of them all. But that would be stretching my imagination beyond the realm of fact. It was, in fact, a little dull. The Japs didn't want to fight and didn't seem to disguise the fact, either. They just seemed to want to run away. Of course, when we closed in on them they made a pretense of resistance, but it wasn't much of an effort.
The last one I snared that day — the one I'm counting on to bring my score to 28 — was probably the cagiest of all I ever tangled with. He really didn't want to fight for sour apples and when he wasn't trying to make tracks toward Tokyo, he was engaging in some plain and fancy acrobatics. That made my shots — especially since we were about 10 feet off the water most of the time — a little more difficult than usual. I really got in one long burst though, and it must have raised Cain with his right wing. He went down right after the burst and looking back I could spot some wreckage already on the surface - when he fell.
Personally, I think that particular Japanese was more scared than anything else. He was strictly a third-rate flier, although his acrobatics weren't too bad.
The general caliber of all those Nips we've met recently, either at Hollandia or Wewak, hasn't even begun to approach the talent we used to meet when we were operating from Port Moresby and later Dobodura. They seem to have lost all their enthusiasm and most of their skill - and with regard to the P-38's job in dispensing with Japs. I'm prejudiced enough to think the quality of our planes has had a decisively negative psychological effect on the Japanese.
We haven't lost a combat to him yet. I think he knows by now that whenever our two-engined twin-tailed P-38 turns up, it's a sad day for his team. That "lightning strikes twice" quotation is a description of what they've done to the Japs — except that twice is an understatement.

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Dustin, I was just about to type the same thing. Posting kills came after confirmation of the kills. Confirmation could be gun camera footage, from other pilots who saw the kill, intelligence confirmation or actual documentation of the crash site. All of these things take time to confirm. "The last one I snared that day — the one I'm counting on to bring my score to 28" This statement tells me that at the time he wrote this that last kill had yet to be confirmed.

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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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On 4/14/2019 at 2:49 AM, P-59A said:

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

post-169522-0-23607300-1555224431_thumb.jpg

 

Looks like there are B-25s in the other pictures! Do you still have these handy to show those pictures in another thread? Looks like one is named The General's Daughter. 

 

..Kat


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7 minutes ago, cutiger83 said:

 

Looks like there are B-25s in the other pictures! Do you still have these handy to show those pictures in another thread? Looks like one is named The General's Daughter. 

 

..Kat

Kat, These were on Ebay and I did not win them. I think you are correct about the name of the B-25.

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40 minutes ago, mozinoz said:

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

"It might be one of life's unsolved mysteries, or am I making too much of it all?" Their is no such thing as "unsolved" so it stands that you are not making too much of it. Having said that we may not come to the same conclusions, but that doesn't mean their is no answer.

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mozinoz,

        "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."

 

If you read my last previous post, your question is answered there by Bong himself. His three kills (26-28) were on the same mission, but his gun camera malfunctioned. To summarize, his first two kills were confirmed by other pilots on the mission, but only he saw his third kill. Until that could be proved, by recovering the wreckage at a later date, was he given credit for number 28. After that, he was sent back to the US again, for a time, and several months passed before he scored numbers 29 and 30.

 

As for your other concern about his "3993" being lost prior to his 25th kill, do you have a source other than "Pacific Wrecks" to confirm the date they state for its loss? Possibly they are in error, as I could find nothing to confirm their information. The aircraft in question was surely lost, with another pilot flying it, but I can't find a date showing it to have happened before his 25th victory in that plane, other than "Pacific Wrecks". I would think more research would be required to confirm that. I can't think of a reason they would alter the serial number on a plane in the manor you hypothesize. The larger numbers painted on the nose we see in some photos were applied at the P-38 J modification depot, not in theater. I suspect that they were photographed as partially obscured while in the process of being removed by the ground crew. See images below for a "before" and "after" view. As for Marge's photos, it has been recorded that they were enlargements made by the group photographic officer, who actually hand tinted them before they were applied to the port gun door and more than one came off in flight, having to be replaced periodically.

BongI_BM.jpg

Bong-1a.jpg

bong_and_p-38_lightning_marge.jpg

Richard_Bong_and_P-38_Lightning_Marge.jpg

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"If you read my last previous post, your question is answered there by Bong himself."

Sorry pararaftanr2.  Your post, and the subsequent one by P-59A, were not there when I replied ON TUESDAY as you will see in the thread history.  For some unknown reason the thread repeated my reply on Friday AFTER you posted.  Weird .....

Anyway, please pardon my ignorance, but what is the 597 that is also on the nose?  I suspected the a/c was 597 doctored to look like 993.

And as for the loss date, unfortunately Pacific Wrecks is the only place I've seen any date for it.

Cheers

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No problem. It seems the time difference in our locations is a big factor.

 

Anyway, from what I've read, the smaller three digit number (sometimes 4 digits) was applied at the factory and represented the number of that plane down the production line.

In some cases, those numbers were allowed to stay on the nose of the planes after they reached a unit, while in other units, they were routinely removed.

 

First image below is an example from the 392nd FS in the PTO, with nose markings similar to Bong's P-38, showing the smaller production number, covered by the larger depot number and the production number reapplied below that. I've no idea why they felt the need to reapply it since it had long left the factory.

 

Second, a P-38 from the 38th FS in the ETO with just the "down the line" production number (4 digits) applied and no depot number, so no second application.

p38.jpg

P-38a.jpeg

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Thanks pararaftanr2.  Really odd that they'd go to the trouble of painting nice noseart but not tidying up the nose numbers ! :)

So what I really need to concentrate on now is the DOD of 993.

Thanks

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Well, so far all I can find is 2 references in the book Osprey Aircraft of the Aces vol 61 saying 993 was lost "in March" and "in late March", but perhaps a better reference is in Aces High: The Heroic Saga of the Two Top-scoring American Aces of WW2 by Bill Yenne.  I do not have that latter book, and sadly all I can get of it is a preview which cuts out just before the nitty gritty.  But it describes Malone flying 993 on 24 March 1944 and experiencing severe engine difficulty flying in low cloud in the mountains.  Does anyone have the book to confirm the outcome of the flight?  I suspect that it will be where Malone bails out .....  Excerpt from the book attached.

So one and possibly 2 more references to say 993 was lost in March 1944.

Hope someone can complete the Bill Yenne story .......

Cheers

Excerpt from Bill Yenne's book.jpg

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