475th Fighter Group and P-38

The 475th Fighter Group, also known as “Satan’s Angels,” was the only Fighter Group with only P-38 Lightning aircraft. Their mission was critical as U.S. forces regained control in the Southwest Pacific.

The 475th Fighter Group was activated in May 1943. The Papuan Campaign in New Guinea ended four months earlier, and forces in the Southwest Pacific were ready to begin its offensive to gain air control over New Guinea. The squadron was made up of the only three P-38 squadrons in the 5th Air Force, the 80th squadron of the 8th Fighter Group, the 39th Squadron of the 35th Group, and the 9th Squadron of the 49th Group. The 475th trained for three months and began operating out of Port Moseby, Austrailia by August 1943.

The P-38 Lightening was the only fighter aircraft in the Southwest Pacific that’s range was far enough to escort bombers to and from Australia to New Guinea. The twin-tailed fighter entered service with the U.S. in 1941. It served in every theater of war, to include Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. Built as a high-altitude interceptor, the P-38 was also saw success as a fighter aircraft and was used for photoreconnaissance, bombing, and night fighting. The last P-38 was received in 1945 and was phased out of service by 1949.

A total of 38 pilots of the 475th achieved the title “Ace” by shooting down at least 5 enemy aircraft in a battle. Col. Charles MacDonald downed a total of 27 enemy aircraft. Captain Daniel T. Roberts shot down 14. Lt. Francis J. Lent and Lt. Col. John S. Loisel both shot down 11. Capt. Elliot Summer also downed 10 aircraft. The pilots were also joined by Charles Lindbergh in at least two missions.

The highly decorated P-38 group participated in 7 campaigns and 3,042 missions during two years of active combat. Pilots shot down 551 enemy aircraft while losing only 56 P-38s. The group was awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations for outstanding performance of duty in action.

Our exhibit highlights uniforms and memorabilia belonging to members of the 475th Fighter Group. The fiberglass cockpit displays instrument panels and equipment used by 475th pilots. All items have been provided by the 475th Fighter Group Historical Foundation.

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