It was fast, heavily armed and extremely versatile. And many believe the Lockheed P-38 Lightning to be the finest American fighter of WWII. Its low-drag, aerodynamic shape and heavy weight enabled this twin-engine, twin-boomed aircraft to accelerate to high speeds faster than any previous warplane, making it a potent fighter and a superb fighter-bomber. Popular among fighter pilots, P-38s carried out the intercept mission that downed Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. In the Mediterranean, Luftwaffe pilots showed respect for the Lightning by calling it "der gabelschwanz teufel" (the forked-tail devil). The ultimate P-38 was flown by Dick Bong and Tommy McGuire, who were among the most successful American fighter pilots in history.
Pictured here is an extraordinary 1:48 scale diecast replica of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning that was flown by USAAF ace Major Bong when he flew with the 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 12.75 inches
Length: 9.25 inches
Historical Account: "Ace of Aces" - Richard Ira "Dick" Bong (September 24th, 1920 – August 6th, 1945) is the United States' highest-scoring air ace, having shot down at least 40 Japanese aircraft during World War II. Bong was a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF), and was a recipient of the Medal of Honor.
On September 10th, 1942, Lt. Bong was assigned to the 9th Fighter Squadron (aka "Flying Knights"), 49th Fighter Group, based at Darwin, Australia. While his squadron waited for delivery of the scarce Lockheed P-38s, Bong and other 9th FS pilots flew missions with the 39th FS, 35th Fighter Group, based in Port Moresby, New Guinea, to gain combat experience. On December 27, 1942, he claimed his initial aerial victories, shooting down a Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" and an Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar" over Buna (during the Battle of Buna-Gona). Bong was awarded the Silver Star.
In March 1943, he returned to the 49th FG, at Schwimmer Field near Port Moresby. On July 26th, 1943, Bong shot down four Japanese fighters over Lae and was consequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. On leave in November/December 1943 Bong met Marge Vattendahl at a Superior State Teachers' College Homecoming event and began dating her. On returning to the Pacific in January 1944 he named his P-38 "Marge" and adorned the nose with her photo. By April 1944, Captain Bong had shot down 27 aircraft, surpassing Eddie Rickenbacker's American record of 26 credited victories in World War I.