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Gen. Kenney and Charles Lindbergh

P-38 Lightning, New Guinea 1944, Col. Perry Dahl, pilot

P-38 Lightning, New Guinea 1944, Col. Perry Dahl, pilot

On 4 July 1944, a correspondent notified Gen. Kenney that Colonel Charles Lindbergh was in New Guinea.  Kenney did not know about it and neither did General HQ!  So the Colonel was flown to Brisbane to explain his presence.  He wanted to know more about fighter design, especially how well the 2-engine P-38 could hold up against the enemy one-engine models.

Kenney suggested they go to see MacArthur for Lindbergh’s official status paperwork.  When Mac asked the colonel what he could do for him, Kenney interrupted, he wrote in his reports:

“I said I wanted to look after him… If anyone could fly a little monoplane all the way from New York to Paris and have gas left over, he ought to be able to teach my P-38 pilots how to get more range out of their airplanes.  If he could do that, it would mean that we could make longer jumps and get to the Philippines that much quicker…”

Gen. George C. Kenney

Gen. George C. Kenney

Mac said: “All right Colonel.  I’ll just turn you over to General Kenney, but I warn you.  He’s a slave-driver.”

Kenney instructed Lindbergh that during these teachings, he was not to get himself into combat, he was a high-profile personality and a civilian!  For 6 weeks everything went well.  Lindbergh taught the pilots how to stretch their distance from 400 to 600 miles, spending most of his time with Col. Charles MacDonald’s 475th Fighter Group, Fifth Air Force.  The men became so enthusiastic, they began to talk about stretching their distance to 800 miles!

During a raid on the Japanese oil depot at Boela, on Ceram Island, a lone enemy aircraft suddenly aimed for Lindbergh, who fired a burst and the Japanese airplane went down.  Kenney was told about the incident, but being as no one claimed credit for the action, the General could pretend he never knew.

Lindbergh with the 5th Air Force

Lindbergh (l.) with the 5th Air Force, Thomas McGuire (r.)

Photo is by Teddy W. Hanks who was a member of the 433rd Squadron, 475th Fighter Group at that time.  The photos were taken on Biak Island in July 1944.  They had just returned from a combat mission to an unrecorded enemy area.  The P-38 obviously was assigned to the 431st Fighter Squadron because the propeller spinner is a solid color — apparently red. The spinners in Teddy’s squadron,  were blue and only the back half were painted.  Could very well have been McGuire’s plane, # 131, since he was assigned to the 431st at that time.

To prove the long-range capabilities, Lindbergh, Col. MacDonald, LtCol. Meryl Smith and Captain Danforth Miller headed for Palau, 600 miles north, in their P-38’s.  While strafing an enemy patrol boat, Japanese pilots went air-borne and Lindbergh discovered that once an enemy airplane was on his tail – he could not shake it.  Luckily, he was traveling with 3 experts who downed the Japanese before they got him.

But, there was never to be a ‘next time.’  Kenney felt the celebrity was pushing his luck and Lindbergh agreed; he also had taught the pilots all he could.  As long as the war on, he would not mention his combat experiences.  Colonel Charles Lindbergh headed back for home.

Information taken from “General Kenney Reports: A Personal History of the Pacific War” by George C. Kenney

Click on images to enlarge.

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Aviation Humor – 

What a hairy situation !!

What a hairy situation !!

On A WINDY Day !!

On A WINDY Day !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

aviation-humor

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ted Acker – Wooster, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Joan Carby – Bolton, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, radio operator cemetary-flag-bench-final-2-72-res

Milton DeVries – Grandville, MI; US Army, WWII

Charles Eby Jr. – Kensington, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot / Korea

Guy Hunter Jr. – Atlanta, GA; US Army, WWII

Max Lyons – Tasmania, AUS; RA Navy # H2578

Donald Minnich – Virginia Bch., VA; US Navy (Ret. 26 yrs.), WWII, Korea & Vietnam, USS Pine Island

Phyllis Paul – New Westminister, BC, CAN; RC Medical Corps, WWII, ETO

Harold Rothbard – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, B-17 tail gunner

Herbert Sweney – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 7650, WWII

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