Air Force One 1/48 scale AF1-0150; Lockheed P-38J Lightning ‘Pudgy IV’ as flown by ace pilot Maj. Thomas McGuire of 431st FS, 475th FG, USAAF.
PLEASE NOTE: Air Force 1 models are never finished to the same standard as Corgi or Hobby Master ones. You will therefore inevitably find several minor paint imperfections on most of their models. Please do not purchase the model if this will bother you.
Thomas Buchanan McGuire Jr. (August 1, 1920 – January 7, 1945) was an Irish American United States Army major who was killed in action while serving as a member of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He was one of the most decorated American fighter pilots and the second highest scoring American ace of the war.
On August 18, 1943, Lieutenant McGuire was part of a group flying top cover for bombers striking at Wewak, New Guinea. Nearing their target, the fighters were attacked by Japanese aircraft. During the battle, McGuire shot down two Nakajima Ki-43 “Oscars” and one Kawasaki Ki-61 “Tony.” On the following day, near the same location, he downed two more Oscars. This established him as an ace in two days. In September, he was promoted to first lieutenant.
McGuires career nearly came to an end on October 17, 1943, when he scrambled from Dubodura, New Guinea to intercept approaching Japanese bombers being escorted by Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters over Oro Bay, New Guinea. During the ensuing dogfight, McGuire observed at least seven Zeros attacking a lone P-38 that was trailing smoke. McGuire dove into the enemy fighters and quickly shot down three. The remaining four Zeros were able to attack McGuire and severely damage his aircraft. With his controls out, McGuire decided to bail out but as he exited the aircraft, his parachute harness snagged on something in the cockpit. From 12,000 to 5,000 feet (3,658 to 1,524 m) McGuire struggled to free himself from the stricken fighter. Finally McGuire was able to free himself and deploy his parachute at 1,000 feet (300 m). He landed safely in the water and was rescued by a PT boat. McGuire suffered a 7.7 millimetres (0.30 in) bullet wound to his wrist and numerous other injuries including some broken ribs. He spent six weeks in the hospital before he returned to his unit. For his actions on this day he was awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart. In late December, he was promoted to captain and became the operation officer of the 431st Fighter Squadron.
In early May 1944, McGuire became the commanding officer of the 431st Fighter Squadron. McGuire wrote a book Combat Tactics In The Southwest Pacific Area, for Fifth Air Force, on 4 May 1944. On May 18, he was promoted to major. In December, McGuire became the Operation Officer of the 475th Fighter Group. On December 25–26, 1944, he downed seven Japanese fighter aircraft in just two days over Luzon, Philippines.
January 7, 1945, McGuire took off from Dulag Airfield on Leyte and led a group of four P-38s – himself, Major Jack Rittmayer, Captain Edwin Weaver, and Lieutenant Douglas Thropp – on a fighter sweep over northern Negros Island in the central Philippines. Their aim was to gain victories. McGuire desperately wanted to pass Bongs score of 40 kills. Descending through cloud cover, McGuires flight circled a Japanese airfield at Fabrica and then proceeded to a second airstrip at Manapla (also referred to as Carolina). As they approached Manapla, they were confronted by a lone Ki-43 “Oscar”, which immediately engaged McGuires flight.
Flying in the number-three position, Lt. Thropp saw the Oscar trying to attack him in a head-on pass. Thropp broke hard left. The Japanese pilot turned with him and fell into position behind him while firing. Major Rittmayer, flying as Thropps wingman, turned sharply towards and began firing on the attacker. McGuire saw the Oscar was being engaged by Rittmayer and turned to face an imminent threat to the flight from the opposite direction. McGuire and his flight had encountered Warrant Officer Akira Sugimoto, who was an instructor pilot with some 3,000+ hours in type. Sugimoto broke away from Thropp and Rittmayer and turned to find McGuire and his wingman Ed Weaver directly in front of him. Sugimoto was easily able to catch up and attack them from behind.
As Sugimoto approached Weaver from behind, Weaver radioed he was attacked and cut inside of the turn to present a more difficult shot. McGuire eased up on his turn rate in an effort to draw the attacker off of his wingman and onto himself. Sugimoto took the bait and switched his attack to McGuire. As Sugimoto approached from behind, McGuire rapidly increased his turn rate. This extremely dangerous maneuver, performed at an altitude of only 300 ft (90 m) (contrary to McGuires own dictates never to engage at a low altitude, caused McGuire’s P-38 to stall. It snap rolled inverted and nosed down into the ground. Despite the low altitude, McGuire nearly pulled out successfully; had he jettisoned his drop tanks at the start of the dogfight, he might have managed it. McGuire was killed on impact.
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning is a World War II-era American piston-engined fighter aircraft. Developed for the United States Army Air Corps, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Allied propaganda claimed it had been nicknamed the fork-tailed devil by the Luftwaffe and “two planes, one pilot” by the Japanese. The P-38 was used for interception, dive bombing, level bombing, ground attack, night fighting, photo reconnaissance, radar and visual pathfinding for bombers and evacuation missions, and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings.
The P-38 was used most successfully in the Pacific Theatre of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theatre of Operations as the aircraft of America’s top aces, Richard Bong (40 victories), Thomas McGuire (38 victories) and Charles H. MacDonald (27 victories). In the South West Pacific theatre, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the appearance of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war.
The P-38 was unusually quiet for a fighter, since the exhaust was muffled by the turbo-superchargers. It was extremely forgiving and could be mishandled in many ways but the rate of roll in the early versions was too low for it to excel as a dogfighter. The P-38 was the only American fighter aircraft in high-volume production throughout American involvement in the war, from Pearl Harbour to Victory over Japan Day. At the end of the war, orders for 1,887 more were cancelled.