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Tom McGuire’s P-38H

Trumpeter P-38 with Jerry Rutman’s early P-38 conversion set. Had a friend up-size 1/48 personal markings to 1/32 for this. Hard to believe I did this 13 years ago, but there you go…

Thomas Buchanan “Tommy” McGuire, Jr., was born on 1 August 1920 in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He left the campus of Georgia Tech to join the Army Air Forces on 12 July 1941. Following graduation with pilot training Class 42-B on 2 February 1942 at Kelly Field, Texas, he was sent to the 50th Pursuit Group at Key Field, Mississippi for fighter transition.

McGuire’s first assignment was to the 54th Pursuit Group in Nome, Alaska, where he served until 16 October 1942. On 14 March 1943 he departed for the Pacific and the beginning of a brilliant combat career. Assigned initially to the 49th Fighter Group, he was transferred to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group on 20 July.

Flying a P-38H with “Pudgy” emblazoned across its nose, McGuire shot down two Zekes and a Tony near Wewak, New Guinea on 18 August. Three days later he destroyed two more Zekes and damaged a twin-engine fighter to become an ace. By the end of the month he had added four more to his score and made no secret of the fact that he wanted to surpass Dick Bong’s steadily climbing record.

Downing Japanese aircraft in multiples, McGuire himself was shot down and wounded on 17 October after downing three Zekes near Buna. Back in the saddle in December, he shot down three Vals over Cape Gloucester on the 26th

24 additional images. Click to enlarge.

9 responses to Tom McGuire’s P-38H

  1. Stunning build Tom!!

  2. Another nice one Tom!

  3. Bong said he was a lousy shot…he’d drive his P-38 as closed to opponent and blast him from the skies. Others considered him to be a “One trick pony.” even Bong was aware of this and went back to the states for gunnery training. The need for pilots in theater cut the training syllabus in gunnery school the first time around. Bong still was a excellent pilot. What about McGuire did he combine piloting skills with deflection shots and did he lead his target and fire ahead of his opponent so that his rounds would fly into the aircraft? I’m reading that another H is now flying in the Warbird community. Glacier Girl now has a sister. So this article is cool.

    • There actually was no gunnery training in the USAAF until late 1943. Bong came back on tour as the top-ranked Army ace in the Pacific and asked for gunnery training – then said when he completed it that if he’d known then what he knew now, “my score would be double.”

  4. OD P-38’s are the sexiest of them all, yours nail it to perfection. Good paint job indeed Tom

  5. Gorgeous work. Truly masterful.

  6. I did the old [Revell?] 1/32nd scale “Pudgy II” several years ago – but this one was NMF (same nose number and red trim). It’s still hangin’ from the ceiling – albeit dust-laden from the litter box these days. 🙁

  7. Excellent P-38, very well done.

  8. Very, very nice, it’s lasted 13 years very well.

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