Last week 5 of the 7 still flying P-38s flew from Chino to the Sacramento Capital airshow at Mather for the weekend show. John Maloney flew chase in a P-51!
The fighters joined up over Lake Mathews for a photo shoot and then climbed up and headed north to Mather. Along the way Hinton decided they would buzz Shafter where his son was preparing “Stega” for the Reno Races. The WWII fighters went screaming by the hangar all in a row at about 300 MPH! The Air Museums P-38 23 Skidoo cracked a head so they followed her to descent at FAT and then pressed on. At one point in the flight Maloney came from behind in the Mustang and dove down the right of the formation and pulled up into a giant exaggerated barrel roll around the rather loose goose formation so the camera man could snap a photo thru the canopy of the Mustang as he was inverted over the P-38 flight. Sounds like fun!
Other P-38’s that made it to Mather included Ruff Stuff, Thoughts of Midnight, and Tangerine.
This is P-39N-5 “Little Sir Echo / Small Fry” Serial Number 42-19027 which served with the USAAF 5th Air Force (AF), 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group (TRG), 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS), from June 1943 to July 16, 1944. It was abandoned at Tadji, Papua New Guinea, a Japanese airfield that was liberated by the US Army on April 26, 1944. Tadji became a major Allied air depot for American and Australian forces, and the resting place for this P-39 for the next thirty years. It is now on static display at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA.
This specific P-39 was delivered to the US Army on April 28, 1943, and sent to the Pacific in May. Lyndall W. Tate was assigned to this aircraft. Lyndall was born Oct 20, 1920 in Texas, and passed away Sept 15, 2008. He served over 28 years in the military. If anyone else has any further information on Lyndall, please let us know more about this hero. The aircraft was recovered from Tadji in a 1974 salvage operation funded by David Talichet’s Yesterday’s Air Force (MARC). It currently is on static display at the Planes of Fame museum. It still supports its original markings of Olive Drab over Neutral Grey with White New Guinea theatre markings on tail unit, wing leading edges and spinner (thin White band on nose). In addition it features an interesting shark mouth on the center drop-tank.
The Bell P-39 was one of the US’s main-line fighters when war first broke out in the Pacific at the beginning of World War II. It was unique at the time for having a tricycle undercarriage and a mid-mounted engine located behind the pilot. This arrangement was due to the proposed installation of a powerful 30 mm cannon in the nose. Ultimately, the P-39 was unable to achieve the same performance of later US and European fighters, mainly due to a lack of a turbo-supercharged engine which greatly limited the P-39’s ceiling and speed. However, its low-altitude performance, mid-mounted engine, and armor plating allowed it to become a great ground-support aircraft, most notably used by the Soviet Air Force. In the end, the Bell P-39 became Bell’s most successful fixed-wing aircraft that they ever produced.
I recently visited the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino California. What a wonderful place to visit and stroll through dozens of old classic birds. Where else can you find a perfectly restored Corsair and Mustang along side a B-29 fuselage waiting for some loving care?
The Air Museum was founded by Edward Maloney, who recognized the importance of preserving WWII aircraft at a time when most of these planes were being cut up into scrap metal. The Air Museum was the first permanent air museum west of the Rocky Mountains. It officially opened its doors to the public in January 1957, with an initial collection of six aircraft and a great deal of hope for the future. Of the museum’s approximate 150 aircraft, 30 are flyable. On a typical Saturday, you may see two P-51 Mustangs fly by escorting a B-25 Mitchell bomber, or a Grumman F6F Hellcat with a Chance-Vought Corsair making a formation overhead approach to the airport.