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View Full Version : McGuire's crash still shrouded in mystery



XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 05:35 AM
Many here understand the inconclusive details of this mystery but I've only recently come to understand the scenerio. As a P-38 pilot, Maj. Thomas McGuire Jr. was only 2 planes shy of Maj. Richard Bong's record of 40. McGuire crashed and was killed in early January 1945.

McGuire Air Force Base historian Sgt. Gary Boyd believes there was insufficient evidence to conclude he crashed in a stall, was shot down or some other circumstance because little was recovered of his plane.

In the Martin book, McGuire's wingman Weaver concedes, "To tell you the truth, it all happened so fast that we really didn't know what happened . . . it was impossible to explain how that (Zero) turned on us so quickly."

Douglas Thropp, the last surviving pilot from that mission said combat reports submitted by him and Weaver were edited by superiors and that his contains many errors. He said he last saw McGuire with Weaver as they made an inexplicable Lufbery circling maneuver - a turn pilots never made with a Japanese opponent. Thropp said the P-38s were flying with their heavy external fuel tanks still on because McGuire had ordered them not to drop them, probably figuring they needed the fuel to get to Mindoro 330 miles away.

"Weaver said in his report that he did not stay on the high side of McGuire on a left turn as we normally would but made a tighter turn for some reason and came to the inside and under him," Thropp said. "I think it is possible that the air stream of one aircraft can affect another . . ."

Thropp is hoping to meet with the surviving Japanese pilot in the dogfight, Mazunori ***uda, to try to answer the questions.

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 05:35 AM
Many here understand the inconclusive details of this mystery but I've only recently come to understand the scenerio. As a P-38 pilot, Maj. Thomas McGuire Jr. was only 2 planes shy of Maj. Richard Bong's record of 40. McGuire crashed and was killed in early January 1945.

McGuire Air Force Base historian Sgt. Gary Boyd believes there was insufficient evidence to conclude he crashed in a stall, was shot down or some other circumstance because little was recovered of his plane.

In the Martin book, McGuire's wingman Weaver concedes, "To tell you the truth, it all happened so fast that we really didn't know what happened . . . it was impossible to explain how that (Zero) turned on us so quickly."

Douglas Thropp, the last surviving pilot from that mission said combat reports submitted by him and Weaver were edited by superiors and that his contains many errors. He said he last saw McGuire with Weaver as they made an inexplicable Lufbery circling maneuver - a turn pilots never made with a Japanese opponent. Thropp said the P-38s were flying with their heavy external fuel tanks still on because McGuire had ordered them not to drop them, probably figuring they needed the fuel to get to Mindoro 330 miles away.

"Weaver said in his report that he did not stay on the high side of McGuire on a left turn as we normally would but made a tighter turn for some reason and came to the inside and under him," Thropp said. "I think it is possible that the air stream of one aircraft can affect another . . ."

Thropp is hoping to meet with the surviving Japanese pilot in the dogfight, Mazunori ***uda, to try to answer the questions.

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 10:20 AM
McGuire was known to be an arrogant *** and he probably got a bit too careless in his bid to be the american ace of aces. He probably went in expecting a further scalp...

Ruy "SPADES" Horta
http://www.xs4all.nl/~rhorta
-----------------------------
Il-2 - VEF JG 77
-----------------------------
'95-02 - WB Jagdgeschwader 53
'99-00 - DoA Jagdstaffel 18
-----------------------------
The rest is history...

http:\\www.xs4all.nl\~rhorta\brother.jpg

fluke39
10-22-2003, 11:16 AM
rhorta wrote:
- McGuire was known to be an arrogant *** and he
- probably got a bit too careless in his bid to be the
- american ace of aces. He probably went in expecting
- a further scalp...
-


funny you should say that.

although it's not about mcguire, after recently reading two books (although i have read several before on RAF pilots) - one about RAF pilots (first light) and one about the USAAF 4th fighter group (tumult in the clouds by james goodson)- i noticed that, according to goodson many of the american pilots were obsessed with scoring higher than other USAAF fighter groups and individually becoming the countries leading ace, some to the point of endangering others by "goofing off" after enemy planes and leaving their no.1 or bombers exposed. from the RAF book it seemed the british attitude was much more of a "job to be done" kind of thing. Although i realise this is probably the exception and not the rule - and that there were probably pilots like this in both USAAF and RAF - the attitude seemed to be much more prevalent with the USAAF pilots.

yes i am british and i would appreciate it if all the americans didn't jump on me (not saying that i would not welcome others opinions or facts) - i am merely pointing out something i observed from a comparision of the last two books i read.

<center><img src=http://mysite.freeserve.com/Angel_one_five/flukelogo.jpg>

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 12:30 PM
Your not wrong fluke, especially in the Pacific, over-claiming for kills was rife - on both sides. American and Japanese pilots would frequently put in claims for more enemy planes than were actually encountered! I think a lot of it has to do with the confusion of combat.

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 12:56 PM
Sometimes Occam's Law is the most befitting of all possible choices.

As others above me state, the simplest version, and yet the most likely version of what happened that day, would probably be "Yes, McGuire was careless, and he made a mistake which claimed his life".







-----------
Due to pressure from the moderators, the sig returns to..

"It's the machine, not the man." - Materialist, and proud of it!

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 02:39 PM
Just like the question "How many licks does it take to get to the middle of a Tootsie pop?"

...The world may never know. /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-indifferent.gif




http://home.earthlink.net/~aclzkim1/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/il2sig2.jpg

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 03:37 PM
fluke39 wrote:
-
- rhorta wrote:
-- McGuire was known to be an arrogant *** and he
-- probably got a bit too careless in his bid to be the
-- american ace of aces. He probably went in expecting
-- a further scalp...
--
-
-
- funny you should say that.
-
- although it's not about mcguire, after recently
- reading two books (although i have read several
- before on RAF pilots) - one about RAF pilots (first
- light) and one about the USAAF 4th fighter group
- (tumult in the clouds by james goodson)- i noticed
- that, according to goodson many of the american
- pilots were obsessed with scoring higher than other
- USAAF fighter groups and individually becoming the
- countries leading ace, some to the point of
- endangering others by "goofing off" after enemy
- planes and leaving their no.1 or bombers exposed.
- from the RAF book it seemed the british attitude was
- much more of a "job to be done" kind of thing.
- Although i realise this is probably the exception
- and not the rule - and that there were probably
- pilots like this in both USAAF and RAF - the
- attitude seemed to be much more prevalent with the
- USAAF pilots.
-
- yes i am british and i would appreciate it if all
- the americans didn't jump on me (not saying that i
- would not welcome others opinions or facts) - i am
- merely pointing out something i observed from a
- comparision of the last two books i read.
-

This will explain everything: http://www.turtletrader.com/patton.html



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XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 05:30 PM
- funny you should say that.
-
- although it's not about mcguire, after recently
- reading two books (although i have read several
- before on RAF pilots) - one about RAF pilots (first
- light) and one about the USAAF 4th fighter group
- (tumult in the clouds by james goodson)- i noticed
- that, according to goodson many of the american
- pilots were obsessed with scoring higher than other
- USAAF fighter groups and individually becoming the
- countries leading ace, some to the point of
- endangering others by "goofing off" after enemy
- planes and leaving their no.1 or bombers exposed.
- from the RAF book it seemed the british attitude was
- much more of a "job to be done" kind of thing.
- Although i realise this is probably the exception
- and not the rule - and that there were probably
- pilots like this in both USAAF and RAF - the
- attitude seemed to be much more prevalent with the
- USAAF pilots.

yes i am british and i would appreciate it if all
the americans didn't jump on me (not saying that i
would not welcome others opinions or facts) - i am
merely pointing out something i observed from a
comparision of the last two books i read.


Fluke,

You make an incendiary, nationlistic comment while offering no concrete, empirical support (i.e. statistical data) to back up your assertion the USAAF suffered from an excess of glory hounds, then you say you hope "Americans don't jump all over you...?"

To suggest for a minute one nation's pilots were singularly, or more commonly, predisposed to be self-centered score *****s is irresponsible and you know it -- especially when it's only based upon "two books" you've read.

In point of fact, you're wrong. A perfect example of this is the Red Tails/Tuskeegee Airman, who were known for their discipline in protecting the bombers they were escorting at all costs. They never lost one during the war but managed to rack up some pretty impressive victories, including 262s.

Breathe some oxygen. Please.

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 05:49 PM
But, you see, Fluke said he wanted other opinions, and he was passing on some things he had read, he wasn't saying they were fact, and....


Oh what's the point. Let's have another 9 page flame fest. It'll be a whole bunch of fun. :-|

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 06:45 PM
First...It is good to remember that there is no such thing as a fighter pilot with a small ego!

Try reading some more books. Just off the top of my head I can recall an incident from Johnnie Johnson's "Wing Leader" in which he was cut off by another of his RAF pilots who then promptly shot down the plane that Johnson was about to shoot.

I can also recall reading in another book about RAF pilots getting in each other's way while each was attempting to shoot down a single V-1.

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 07:40 PM
I would agree with this. I would almost say this is the rule and not the exception. American's by default are very competitive. We want to be the best at everything. This is both healthy and bad at the same time. I can guarantee the american's compatition for high scores got them more kills then if they had the layed back attitude of the Brits or Germans, but at what cost? Possibly killing a fellow pilot or letting the enemy have at an open bomber formation?

Also, I think it had a lot to do with WHEN the US came into battle. Not many aircraft were left late 43 to early 44 when the bulk of the US crews finally made it to combat. Very slim picking mixed with a lot of eager new pilots fed by wild story's of swarms of Germans in the air and instant ace's getting 5+ kills in a single mission. They all wanted a peace of the Krout before there was none left. The Brits had as much Krout as they could stumic and gladly let the Yanks "have at it".

A combo of both good compatition and eager pilots is a dangerous thing.

Gib

fluke39 wrote:
-
-
-
- funny you should say that.
-
- although it's not about mcguire, after recently
- reading two books (although i have read several
- before on RAF pilots) - one about RAF pilots (first
- light) and one about the USAAF 4th fighter group
- (tumult in the clouds by james goodson)- i noticed
- that, according to goodson many of the american
- pilots were obsessed with scoring higher than other
- USAAF fighter groups and individually becoming the
- countries leading ace, some to the point of
- endangering others by "goofing off" after enemy
- planes and leaving their no.1 or bombers exposed.
- from the RAF book it seemed the british attitude was
- much more of a "job to be done" kind of thing.
- Although i realise this is probably the exception
- and not the rule - and that there were probably
- pilots like this in both USAAF and RAF - the
- attitude seemed to be much more prevalent with the
- USAAF pilots.
-
- yes i am british and i would appreciate it if all
- the americans didn't jump on me (not saying that i
- would not welcome others opinions or facts) - i am
- merely pointing out something i observed from a
- comparision of the last two books i read.
-
- <center><img
- src=http://mysite.freeserve.com/Angel_one_five/flu
- kelogo.jpg>
-



No fancy quote or cool photo.... YET

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 07:45 PM
Calm down dude. He was only making an observation. One I find as an American to be dead on. It may not be because of some glory hounding, but other reasons I listed in my reply above.

feiz wrote:
-
- Fluke,
-
- You make an incendiary, nationlistic comment while
- offering no concrete, empirical support (i.e.
- statistical data) to back up your assertion the
- USAAF suffered from an excess of glory hounds, then
- you say you hope "Americans don't jump all over
- you...?"
-
- To suggest for a minute one nation's pilots were
- singularly, or more commonly, predisposed to be
- self-centered score *****s is irresponsible and you
- know it -- especially when it's only based upon "two
- books" you've read.
-
- In point of fact, you're wrong. A perfect example
- of this is the Red Tails/Tuskeegee Airman, who were
- known for their discipline in protecting the bombers
- they were escorting at all costs. They never lost
- one during the war but managed to rack up some
- pretty impressive victories, including 262s.
-
- Breathe some oxygen. Please.
-
-
-
-



No fancy quote or cool photo.... YET

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 07:57 PM
I read somewhere that he tried to dogfight while still carrying his drop tanks. And dropped the combat flaps to tighten the turn.

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 08:21 PM
Thats what I also heard. Anyone who knows anything about the P-38 knows you dont do that. The drop tanks dirty up the airstreem between the engine and the center gondola. This makes the aircraft VERY unstable, not to mention the added weight.

Gib

Iris47 wrote:
- I read somewhere that he tried to dogfight while
- still carrying his drop tanks. And dropped the
- combat flaps to tighten the turn.
-
-



No fancy quote or cool photo.... YET

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 08:25 PM
Gibbage1 wrote:
I can guarantee the american's
- compatition for high scores got them more kills then
- if they had the layed back attitude of the Brits or
- Germans, but at what cost?

As I understand it the LW pilots were far from "laid back" about scoring kills. According to Christer Bergstrom in Black Cross/ Red Star, German fighter pilots had a kill oriented ethic when it came to flying missions. Almost to the exclusion of the tactical significance of those kills in the broader perspective of the overall campaign on the ground as well as in the air. They still held on strongly to Manfried Von Richtoven's dictum of "Shoot down your enemy, nothing else matters". Thus, many LW fighter pilots at the beginning of the war were indignant at the idea of flying strafing or JABO missions whereas fighter pilots of the VVS saw these missions in light of the overall campaign and considered them to be all a part of a fighter pilot's job.

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 08:32 PM
A German officer in charge of a POW camp to an American POW:

"I don't know what I'm gonna do. You Americans are driving me crazy. I don't know what I'm gonna do with you! You can take a French man, a Russian, a Pol, or an Italian, it doesn't matter, and you put them on the garbage dump and leave them for three weeks, and what happens? They beg for their lives and they starve to death in three weeks. It's simple, no problem. But, I take one of you so and so's and I put you in the same garbage dump and leave you out there. What do you do? Do you starve to death? No! In three weeks you come out flying a home made airplane and try to kill me. I don't know what I'm gonna do with you people. You don't behave like anybody else on the face of the earth."

Obligatory link: http://capefearww2.uncwil.edu/voices/james_john005.html



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XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 08:42 PM
Ami pilots were known to be aggressive to a fault. Yes indeedy, I agree there.

Sorry Gibbage, but the AAf still had plenty of targets and good pilots left to fight in early 1944.

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 08:43 PM
BALDIE SAID- "No! In three weeks you come out flying a home made airplane and try to kill me."


Ah, but it was the Brits who actually DID it (more or less) -

If anyone one doesn't know the story of the Colditz glider - click here (http://www.colditz-4c.com/glider.htm) - it's a cool little story.



Message Edited on 10/22/0308:44PM by mikeyg007

RichardI
10-22-2003, 08:56 PM
rhorta wrote:
- McGuire was known to be an arrogant *** and he
- probably got a bit too careless in his bid to be the
- american ace of aces. He probably went in expecting
- a further scalp...

But you on the other hand are completely unbiased.....right?

I'm sure he seemed that way to the Japs.

The book I read said they figured he had died through a combination of mechanical failure and trying to protect his wingman. I buy that. May he rest in peace.

Rich

<Center>http://www.ghosts.com/images/postimages/THUNDERBOLT.jpg <Center>I've got 140 109's cornered over Berlin!

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 09:24 PM
RichardI wrote:
- rhorta wrote:
-- McGuire was known to be an arrogant *** and he
-- probably got a bit too careless in his bid to be the
-- american ace of aces. He probably went in expecting
-- a further scalp...
-
- But you on the other hand are completely
- unbiased.....right?
-
- I'm sure he seemed that way to the Japs.
-
- The book I read said they figured he had died
- through a combination of mechanical failure and
- trying to protect his wingman. I buy that. May he
- rest in peace.

Why should I be biased?

As far as the specific subject concerned I am pretty much uninterested (and objective), the race between McGuire and Bong being well publicized and McGuire's character being noted upon in a different light than Bong's.

His end was highly likely to have been stalling in with drop tanks while being surprised by the hard turn of what he probably considered to be an easy target.

Fatigue, arrogance, race to be the best, misjudging a situation...perhaps all of them together.

But yet again, I'd need to look up my sources before taking up further argument (and although the USN features relatively high on my book list for the pacific the AAF does not).

Do you still remember the title of your book?

Problem I know I read the version I stated above AND saw it repeated in a documentary covering the race of both McGuire and Bong in the Pacific. Was an American documentary as well, so why blame me of having a bias, if Americans themselves, at least in part, share that same opinion?

Don't be fooled by my sig picture...

EDIT

I took liberty to check what many here consider to be the P-38 bible (although I am sceptical and indeed biased against its use...). However in Caidin's Fork-Tailed Devil there is at least something to support what I wrote earlier:

"The other pilots waited for McGuire to give the order. McGuire didn't"

"The four fighters were out hunting for scalps, pure and simple. McGuire had thirty-eight kills. A few more and Bong would be in the records as number two."

"They wanted a long and effective "killing" sweep. Dropping the tanks now meant cutting short on the mission."

"Four Lightnings against a single Zero that was below the American fighters"

well...instead of an easy kill Sugita seemed to have turned into the attackers, shot down one and threatened another. McGuire in trying to clear this pilot stalled and was unable to recover the a/c sufficiently before hitting the water.

"...the only time he failed to handle his plane properly was the day he was killed. His confidence was such that he thought that the four P-38s flying patrol that day certainly could handle one lone Zero, but the Japanese turned out to be one of the great pros at a time when the pros were really scarce in the Japanese air ranks. You know by now that McGuire righted his plane before he hit, but that it was too late. "The combat report of Weaver and Thropp both indicate that the Japanese pilot's guns never hit McGuire. In fact, Sugita, as it seems to have been, never even took a shot at Tommy."

So in my previous writing I left out some detail (memory) and that can now be filled.

McGuire was so sure of his skill that he didn't consider a lone Zero flying at lower altitude a threat to his flight of P-38s. He didn't even consider it prudent to drop his drop tanks before attacking.

The enemy turned out to be the one unexpected thing, a skillfull and aggressive fighter pilot. It cost one of McGuire's subordinated men his life and almost another before McGuire tried to correct a messy situation. He probably, in the heat of battle, forgot that he still had his drop tanks on or underestimated the performance hit when all the performance was needed, he stalled and unfortunately with insufficient altitute to correct his mistake.

Perhaps you can call it heroic when he tried to clear his comrade, however the mistake started when he ordered an attack without the needed precautions.

Both the race to become the ace of aces and his own self confidence playing part (a fitting one to the character described to him).

In the end it was his responsability, it cost two lives one of which his own.

At least that's my interpretation of Caidin.

Of course, one mustn't underestimate Sugita either, for although he might not have brought his guns to bare on McGuire, it took a lot of skill and courage to turn the tide of that engagement. The odds were certainly favoring McGuire and that's what probably killed him more than anything else...

Again I say...opinionated, sometimes, but certainly in this case, biased my ***! http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

EDIT - after writing this post I remembered that I had a copy of P-38 Lightning Aces of the Pacific and CBI, so I thought it prudent to doublecheck Caidin (who I distrust - bias). Again I was shown that it pays to be cautious with Caidin since the story is quite different, although on some counts its still very much the same as are the conclusions.

No Zero and no Sugita, but a Ki-43 and Sugimoto, and a Ki-84 with ***uda to but some icing on the cake, but not to influence McGuire's accident, but to shoot down the other P-38 (Rittmayer).

Still Stanaway point to the same basic story, with McGuire stalling in.

Proofs that I must not quote Caidin and that this is not my field http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

No bias though...

Ruy "SPADES" Horta
http://www.xs4all.nl/~rhorta
-----------------------------
Il-2 - VEF JG 77
-----------------------------
'95-02 - WB Jagdgeschwader 53
'99-00 - DoA Jagdstaffel 18
-----------------------------
The rest is history...

http:\\www.xs4all.nl\~rhorta\brother.jpg

Message Edited on 10/22/0311:32PM by rhorta

XyZspineZyX
10-23-2003, 12:55 AM
Hey guys,

I'm not super familar with this story, but it is safe to say that as an American we do seek fame and fortune much more then other folks. In WWII our newsreel footage was very influencial and everyday folks would hear about the accomplishments of American fighter pilots and bestow upon them celebrity status. Maybe it's a Hollywood thing, but in America being the best at anything wins you the adulation of miillions and millions of dollars usually come along with it. Bong and McGuire migth have gotten caught up in the race to fame and maybe McQuire got so caught up he made a mistake that one day while trying to beat Bong. Maybe he just plain forgot to drop those tanks in his haste to get another kill.

Isn't history great ;-) Never a right answer.

BV

<center>http://777AVG.com/sigs/sig01.gif </center>