Battle of Kasserine Pass Group Build: 1/48 P-38F “Texas Nightmare”
My last contribution for this GB is an Academy 1/48 P-38E converted to an F Model flown by Jack Ilfrey which he named “Texas Nightmare”. Born in 1918, in Houston, Texas, Jack while attending Texas A&M College enrolled in the Civilian Pilot Training program, then entered service with the US Army Air Corps in 1941. After Pearl Harbor, his first assignment was coastal patrol in P-38’s with the 1st Fighter Group. The Group was subsequently detailed to England and was part of “Operation Bolero”, where a mass of B-17’s and P-38″s would fly to England via, Labrador, then Reykjavik, Iceland, then a last hop to England. One group didn’t make it because of bad weather and landed on a glacier in Greenland. Years later an expedition would recover one of the P-38’s, restore it to flying condition and name her “Glacier Girl.”But that’s another story.
By November, 1942 ,the 1st Fighter Group was assigned the mission to participate in the invasion of North Africa. Their P-38’s were to fly 1500 miles non-stop to Oran, Algeria. If they encountered trouble Gibraltar could be used as a stopping point if need be. But the airport there was always over crowded. After taking of for Oran, Ilffrey would lose one of his 150 gallon belly tanks. Too low on fuel to make Oran,Ilfrey realized he couldn’t make Gibraltar either, so his options were ditching at sea or landing in Portugal. Fortunately, he found an airport near Lisbon, where he was greeted with six plumed hat horsemen with sabers and pistols. He was interrogated for about an hour an was informed that Portugal being a neutral country, interned all combatant pilots and their aircraft for the duration of the war. That explanation didn’t sit well with this Texan.
A Portuguese pilot expressed interest in Jack’s P-38 as he had never seen an American fighter plane let alone a P-38. They had plans to refuel it and fly it to a military base. The pilot asked Jack to explain the controls to him which he did. As the pilot was siting on the wing and a people were standing around another P-38 was circling to land, so the crowd left to greet the other fighter. Jack threw the throttles full open,which bounced the pilot off the wing, and proceeded to taxi and take off. Once airborne, he realized he had no chute, no map and no May West. And he recognized the P-38 that was landing was that of Capt. Jack Harman. Harman and his plane would sit out the war in Portugal.
However, Jack did made it to Gibraltar, where his CO, Col Willis, was furious for creating an International incident. Washington wired Willis to send Jack and his P-38 back to Lisbon but Wills took care of him and wired Washington Jack was already on his way to Africa.
Jack redeemed himself by becoming an Ace by March, 1943. The pic below shows him sitting on a captured German motorcycle in front of his plane.He was quoted as saying the German bike didn’t run very long but they did run very fast.
Jack would return stateside to train pilots in the P-38’s as well as the P-47’s. He would return to Europe with the 20th Fighter Squadron flying a P-38 he named “Happy Jack’s Go Buggy.” He finished the war flying 142 combat missions and a recorded 7.5 confirmed and 2 damaged aerial victories. Jack passed away on October 15, 2004.
The Academy kit has been around for several years and was build pretty much out of the box. I did add an Ultracast seat and some wheels. Also cut the front wheel then took some aluminum tubing to lengthen it as well as give it a tilt to the left. Aftermarket Nav lights were added and Tamiya paints from rattle cans were used, A Pitt pen highlighted the panel lines and aftermarket decals from Kits-World were used to denote Jacks plane. Pastel chalk was used for exhause and gun stains and that’s about all she wrote.
11 additional images. Click to enlarge.