PDA

View Full Version : Great article on the last dogfight of Thomas B McGuire



chris455
06-25-2005, 01:39 PM
Apparently the great man and his wingmen ran afoul of two Japanese instructor pilots with "thousands of hours" of stick time, one of whom was flying a Ki-84.
A great, and somewhat poignant article, highly recommended.
McGuire article (http://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/p-38/44-24845/)

Loc-Dog6
06-25-2005, 02:00 PM
Guess McGuire never got those 3 kills he wanted so bad. What I don't understand is how he died the way he did. I've read that he could do things in the 38 that no one could, or believe before they saw it with their own two eyes.

AerialTarget
06-25-2005, 02:07 PM
I blame the drop tanks. I know what would happen to me in the game if I were to try that!

chris455
06-25-2005, 02:10 PM
I'm looking forward to reading about the details of the dogfight, if they can be determined. Apparently, at least one of the Japanese participants are still alive. It should make for some interesting reading.

As for the major's abilities, no question the man was a great and courageous flyer, but by that stage of the war, Japanese pilot quality was in decline, and the Americans may have gotten cocky- apparently the fight took place at low altitude and low speeds- not exactly advantageous conditions for the lightnings. If the two Japanese pilots were indeed as experienced as claimed, the outcome was perhaps predictable.

A silent salute to Major McGuire.

stathem
06-25-2005, 05:05 PM
I have Bob Anderson's story of the engagement in 'Voices in the Air', Laddie Lucas. Don't know if it's available over there but the book's well worth a look in any case, loads of good stories.

The account's 4-5 pages long so I wouldn't be able to type much of it out. If there's any detail you particularly need to know, I could do a bit of it.

RAC_Pips
06-25-2005, 06:27 PM
Here is an extract of McGuire's last flight, from the book "Possum, Clover And Hades; The 475th Fighter Group In WWII', by John Stanaway. It is a superb read.

"The dwindling opportunities for increasing his score tormented Major Thomas McGuire, second ranking American ace of WWII. He was tormented by the thought that he would be pulled from combat just as he was to realise his fervent goal to become the ranking American ace of all time. And with Bong returned to the States, he considered he now had his best chance.

431st Squadron mission number I-668, a four-plane fighter sweep to Fabrica Airdrome on Negros Island, took off on January 7, 1945 at 6.20 in the morning. Major Thomas McGuire was flying the P-38 that happened to be shared at the momnent by Fred Chmplin, who was scheduled to rotate home in the next few weeks, and Lt. Hal Gray; it was squadron number 112.

Captain Ed Weaver went along as 'Daddy Special Two', flying Tom Oxford's number 122, 'Doots 11'. Jack Rittmayer led the second element in Lt. Rohrer's number 128, and Doug Thropp eagerly accepted the invitation to come along as tail-end Charlie, flying number 130, 'Miss Gee Gee'.

The four silver and red P-38's levelled off at 10,000ft, on course for Fabrica. The undercast was solid below at 6,000ft, so McGuire eased his flight down when they reached Negros and broke out below the clouds at 1,700ft. The Americans were about 10 miles north of Fabrica strip and boldly began to circle the base at exactly seven o'clock.

Five minutes later, McGuire set course at about 1,400ft for the airstrips on western Negros, dispairing of finding Japanese over Fabrica. Within a short time Weaver sighted what he took to be a 'Zeke 52' climbing directly below about 500ft and ahead about a thousand yards.

What Weaver identified as a Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero was actually a Ki-43 Oscar flown by W/O Akira Sugimoto of the 54th Sentai. He had been flying in search of an American supply convoy headed for Mindoro or Lingayen Gulf. The weather had been impossible and Sugimoto headed back after a long and frustrating flight.

Weaver had called the enemy fighter and McGuire made a diving turn to the left to trap it: Sugimoto was already directly beneath the P-38 flight. The Ocar pilot may have been tired after such a long flight, but he was sharp enough to turn left himself, and get onto the tail of Lt. Thropp, who was now the number three P-38 after having been ordered to switch positions with Major Rittmayer.

Thropp skidded his Lightning to avoid the fire coming from Sugimoto's two 12.7mm guns. It was amazing to Thropp that the japanese pilot missed, but he did! Rittmayer put his P-38 o the verge of a stall to get enough lead to discourage this puhnacious Japanese. That he managed to do, temporarily. Sugimoto simply tightened his turn in his extremely maneuverable fighter and drew a bead on Weaver.

With all he could do to avoid the attack, Weaver called a warning to McGuire and tightened his own turn until he was inside and a little below his leader. Sugimoto stuck like glue in his light olive-green Ki-43 with it's graceful yellow-orange tail insignia and confounded the entire flight of battle-tested Americans. A call from McGuire orderedthe flight to drop tanks even as the Oscarwas out-turnign the P-38's. The tanks were nearly full and hampered the flecibility of the American fighters. Within a moment that inflexibility would produce castastrophe.

Weaver saw McGuire"increase his turn tremendously" to get his sights on the Oscar. The lst thign eaver observed of his leader was when the P-38 "sna-rolled to the left and slipped in an inverted position with the nose down about 30 degree. Because of the attitude of my plane, I then lost sight of him (McGuire) momentarily. A second later I saw the explosion and fire of his crash."

Sugimoto either saw his opportunity to escape or was driven off by Doug Thropp, who had come around in the circle sufficiently to fire a three-second burst at the Oscar. The Japanese fighter raced off to the north where it made a forced landing, probably from damage received either by Rittmayer or Thropp. Sugimoto was caught by Filipino partisans and shot to death.

Meanwhile Sergeant Mizonori ***uda of the Ki-84 Frank equipped 71t Sentai was landing at Manapla strip on Negros when he noticed Sugimtot's plight to the north. He raced to the aid of of his comrade in the Oscar and arrived just about the time McGuire crashed and Sugimoto escaped into the clouds.

While the three remaining P-38's were still is dissaray, ***uda dived from the clouds to the left and got onto Rittmayer's tail in the middle. All the remaining P-38's had dropped their tanks and Weaver, in the third position, got a burst at ***uda just as his fired a killing shot at Rittmayer from 90 degrees deflection. A moment later another explosion was seen on the ground less than two miles from Pinanamaan Town. ***uda also put a couple of cannon shells into Thropp's tail boom and left engine manifold. Weaver had done some damage to the Ki-84, which made it back to Manalpa and crash-landed with twenty three bullet holes from Weavers guns. ***uda was uninjured.

Weaver and Thropp, totally stunned with the loss of both McGuire and Rittmayer, flew back home with the bad news."

chris455
06-25-2005, 09:48 PM
The words that come to mind here are those of the British medical officer in the movie
Bridge on the river Kwai:

"Madness. Madness!"

As sad as the death of Major McGuire and his wingman leave me, I am also saddened at the execution of warrant officer Sugimoto. Another brave man sacrificed on the altar of Mars.

War is Hell. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/51.gif

Thank you very much for that account Pips-

F4U_Flyer
06-25-2005, 11:13 PM
~S~.....


Thanks for the quip!

new-fherathras
06-26-2005, 06:11 AM
" n0OB!1 turnen wit a ki-43!!11 LOL!111 "

http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif



on a more serious note,
thanks for the read and RiP to all the pilots http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-indifferent.gif

CHDT
06-26-2005, 06:51 AM
Why was Sugimoto executed?

KraljMatjaz
06-26-2005, 07:29 AM
Ty, good read. S! to McGuire, Rittmayer and Sugimoto. And hail to both Japanese pilots, especially Sugimoto with a Ki43 and lower E, who had the guts to go alone against 4 P38s.

jarink
06-26-2005, 09:56 AM
Originally posted by CHDT:
Why was Sugimoto executed?

My guess would be simply because he was Japanese. Philipinos didn't have much love for them during the war, which is somewhat understandable considering the many atrocities committed by Japanese troops during their occupation.

jarink
06-26-2005, 10:15 AM
PacificWrecks is a great site!

The characterizations of McGuire in his last days and the pressure he put on himself to break Bong's record remind me a lot of Pappy Boyington. I his book, he described himself as suffering from several ailments (such as an ear infection so bad he would have to 'break the crust off' before a mission), but flew nonetheless. Much of this desire to fly at all costs was due to pressure of everyone asking him when he'd break Rickenbacker's record and his impending rotation back to the states.

TgD Thunderbolt56
06-27-2005, 07:50 AM
Cool read. Thanks for the link. Looks like there's quite a bit of intersting reading there.


TB

Worf101
06-27-2005, 12:49 PM
Quite a contrast to the combat experience of German pilots who had to litterally fly till they dropped. I think the Russians were the same way. In for the duration, no "rotation" just victory or eventual death... Sigh thrilling to read of such bravery, four on one's no "dogfall" but what a waste of fine men and women...

Da Worfster

TAGERT.
06-27-2005, 01:12 PM
Originally posted by chris455:
As for the major's abilities, no question the man was a great and courageous flyer, but by that stage of the war, Japanese pilot quality was in decline, and the Americans may have gotten cocky- apparently the fight took place at low altitude and low speeds- not exactly advantageous conditions for the lightnings. If the two Japanese pilots were indeed as experienced as claimed, the outcome was perhaps predictable.

A silent salute to Major McGuire. There are bold combat pilots, and there are old combat pilots, but there are no bold and old combat pilots

chris455
06-27-2005, 02:04 PM
Truer words seldom spoken....................

|CoB|_Spectre
06-27-2005, 02:40 PM
This is another interesting article on Thomas McGuire's last mission by the same author:

http://www.aerothentic.com/history/articles/McGuire.htm

SeaFireLIV
06-27-2005, 03:15 PM
wow. 4 p38s beaten off (with 2 down) by ONE Jap aircraft! And the Japanese aircraft started LOWER than them! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_eek.gif

To be honest this only confirms what i`ve always believed: The aircraft type is important, but always more so is experience. Add the 2 together and you have almost unbeatable.

Something else also important is that the military kept this secret right up to the sixties. This explains again what i`ve always felt, no country likes bad news. Historical accounts need to be cross-referenced to gain a true picture of aircraft performances plus pilot abilities. At least these days we are getting a better idea of the reality of war and how it was hell for everyone and not a `fun` game.

I`d give anything to see how this one Japanese plane flew and what it must have been like for the Allies when they realised that they might not make it and had to run.

Fascinating read, chris455 and good to see you on again.

SeaFireLIV
06-27-2005, 03:34 PM
Just read up on RAC_Pips` account:

That clears things up a little more. Still amazing.

RAC_Pips
06-27-2005, 04:58 PM
McGuire had a number of maxims that he used to constantly drum into his pilots. This concern for his pilots is what made him such a good combat leader, which was widely recognised.

Those maxims were:
a) Never dogfight with Jap planes.
b) Never enter a fight with drop tanks attached.
c) Never get low and slow.
d) Use the P-38's speed and climb rate to advantage.

In his desperation to beat Bong's score he broke just about every rule he laid down. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

Tailgator
06-27-2005, 06:58 PM
Originally posted by RAC_Pips:
McGuire had a number of maxims that he used to constantly drum into his pilots. This concern for his pilots is what made him such a good combat leader, which was widely recognised.

Those maxims were:
a) Never dogfight with Jap planes.
b) Never enter a fight with drop tanks attached.
c) Never get low and slow.
d) Use the P-38's speed and climb rate to advantage.

In his desperation to beat Bong's score he broke just about every rule he laid down. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

i doubt he was thinking of Bongs score at the time, his desperation was more likely Thropps predicament

F4UDash4
06-27-2005, 07:41 PM
Originally posted by Tailgator:
i doubt he was thinking of Bongs score at the time, his desperation was more likely Thropps predicament

Exactly.

VF-3Thunderboy
06-27-2005, 09:36 PM
You need to find the article on how he came in for a landing: looped his P-38, popped his gear going up, cut his engines on top, came in with right rudder, the wind made a wierd sound through the twin booms, and touched down perfectly at the bottom of the loop...

Thats what they meant by amazing stuff he did...

Its known alot of pilots tried the same thing... Came in low, looped, cut engines (too soon) stalled, crashed....etc....

blakduk
06-27-2005, 10:33 PM
Just goes to show you need to not only have the skill, the equipment, and the numerical and height advantages, you also need the luck!

The fact that the US airforces tried to suppress this information is not surprising, all armed forces rely on good morale to maintain their fighting spirit. An isolated incident such as this, at a time when the quality of Japanese aircrews and machinery was deteriorating rapidly, could have had a serious impact on morale way beyond the merits of the case. It may have served to make US aircrews more hesitant and less bold at a time when it was vital that they kept relentless pressure on the Japanese.
When an enemy does the same thing we call it propoganda http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

SeaFireLIV
06-28-2005, 01:32 AM
I did previously know about the fact that Maguire wanted to beat another Ace and this figured in his mistake, just not the exact circumstances.

I can kinda see how he could get sloppy through overconfidence. But can you blame him really? What would you think if there were 4 of you and 1 of him? A lot people would think, `Easy meat. One more score.`

Of course, throughout war in all the ages, some the biggest defeats have come through dangerous overconfidence.

pourshot
06-28-2005, 01:53 AM
Originally posted by SeaFireLIV:
I can kinda see how he could get sloppy through overconfidence. But can you blame him really? What would you think if there were 4 of you and 1 of him? A lot people would think, `Easy meat. One more score.`


I suppose he was thinking if I dont kill this guy NOW he will kill my wingman after all he did brake all his own rules to try and save him. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

TgD Thunderbolt56
06-28-2005, 07:18 AM
Originally posted by SeaFireLIV:
I did previously know about the fact that Maguire wanted to beat another Ace and this figured in his mistake, just not the exact circumstances.

I can kinda see how he could get sloppy through overconfidence. But can you blame him really? What would you think if there were 4 of you and 1 of him? A lot people would think, `Easy meat. One more score.`

Of course, throughout war in all the ages, some the biggest defeats have come through dangerous overconfidence.


Overconfidence borne from the fact that they knew the quality of their opponents had deteriorated drastically over the last 12 months AND the fact they (P-38's) held a numerical advantage.

I guess you can add this one to the list of things that make you go "hmmmm".


TB

SeaFireLIV
06-28-2005, 08:22 AM
A rat maybe small, but it`s still very dangerous when cornered.

stathem
06-28-2005, 01:03 PM
From Carroll Anderson' account :

'Sugimoto drove his Oscar closer to Thropp. Rittmayer wracked his P-38 to the edge of a stall and fired one burst form his guns which temporarily drove off Sugimoto. Still, it did not take him out of the fight. Turning even more tightly, Sugimoto drew a bead on Weaver and fired.

"Daddy Leader! This is Weaver! He's on me now!"

'The urgency in the voicce was clearly evident Weaver knew that the Japanese was no ordinary pilot. He was a true "wild eagle" of Nippon and he **** well meant to kill him, Thropp, Rittmayer and McGuire if he could!

Weaver tightened his bank slightly, skidding at the smae time to throw off the Oscar pilot's aim. The green-coloured Oscar clung tenaciously to the jinking Lighting, Sugimoto firing frugally. He wasted no ammunitino in long, undisciplined bursts.

McGuire used all his skill to bring his guns to bear on the enemy plane. Ordinarily, a Luftberry cirlce would have worked, but not this time. The Lightning shuddered at the edge of a stall. McGuire felt it. He had to feel it!

'The P-38 struggled...snap-rolled in one wild gyration and plunged, inverted, to the ground, 200 feet below.'


I'll try to post some more later, or tomorrow, about the fate of Rittmayer. In the meantime,

***uda's (the Frank pilot) letter to Carroll Anderson in 1975 -

"We fought each other in the nightmare of war, but after 30 years it is my pleasure that we, Americans and Japanese, lead the world in each [our] own way, and I hope to help each other{sic] with mutual understandins ever after. I hope you, the former members of the 475th Fighter Group, will take and active part in world peace with good health."

Satsuma-gun, Japan 1975.

VF-3Thunderboy
06-28-2005, 06:42 PM
Actually, this is the way most online flight sims are 99% of the time. Low and slow, which favors the Japanese....

This was a constant in CFS2, until a few of us figured out a program that could put us at any altitude instantly...Amazingly, this was ignored by alot of "Lowboyz" who never learned what the sim could do.....they actually would ramble on and on about it without ever trying it.....Its still unbeleivable....

WW2 combat at 1000 ft, constantly..... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/cry.gif



After ALTITUDE was discovered, the flight sim was never the same....It was truly amazing...


McGuire was too low and too slow, and went up against a well seasoned vet....

With out some type of program to get altitude, you will have to take your time to get there, or try to have Oleg work it into a patch down the road...
Or fly like McGuire did......

Incorrectly....


Some people of course, relish bad flying technique........

Some dont.... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/35.gif

Old_Canuck
06-28-2005, 08:23 PM
Looking forward to the author's writings on this topic as I've read a bit about McGuire's end but haven't seen details of the action yet.

This thread inspired a Google search to find out who first said "never underestimate the enemy" and nothing turned up. But this little jem might give you a chuckle in light of recent posts (not in THIS thread -- yet): "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups." http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/10.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

wayno7777
06-28-2005, 11:28 PM
There was also somewhere that I read he had righted the plane when it hit trees. If he had been 100 feet higher or had dropped his tanks...McQuire, Bong and Lynch. They all flew together at one time. Maybe Johnson and MacDonald were there, too. I can't recall...