Friday, November 18, 2011

Alaska wrecks, Part 1: Lightning 88

Judging by the toolbox on the wing and the cables being rigged
to apparently hoist the aircraft and the work that's going on, it
appears that these two photos show a salvage/recovery
team stripping the wrecked Lightning.
Over the next month or two, we'll on-and-off be taking a look at a series of photos of WWII-era aircraft wrecks in Alaska. The photos in this series came from a larger collection taken by an Army soldier who served in Alaska. Although most of the photos that he left behind are of non-aviation subjects - he seems to have been in a unit that operated heavy equipment - one of his group's duties appears to have been wreck salvage.

First up in our series are these two photos of a P-38 crash scene. The only unit in the Aleutian Theater during WWII that flew the Lightning was the 54th Fighter Squadron. The unit has the distinction of being the first one to down an enemy aircraft with the P-38, the first kill going to a Lt. Stanley Long, against a Japanese four-engine flying boat. Flying in that part of the world had its challenges. The weather for most of the year was horrible, and far more aircraft were lost to accidents and weather than to combat.

Presumably this was one of those. I know nothing about the scene shown here, no idea of the location nor the date, so there's not much of a story to tell. The only discernible markings are the nose numbers, barely visible in the image on the left, which appears to be "88".
By enhancing the contrast and rotating
the photo 90deg to the left, it appears
that the nose number of this aircraft
is "88".

Of course, I'd love to know more. If anyone has any info as to the location, the identity of the pilot or the date when this happened, please let me know!

(The National Park Service has a nice tribute web page to the 54th here.)

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