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P-38 Lightning Refuels By Hand at Henderson Field

Image Information
United States Army Air Force Lockheed P-38 Lightning of the 347th Fighter Group being refueled by hand from gasoline drums. Note ground crewman cleaning the P-38‘s guns. When the First Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942, the airfield was not yet completed by the previous Japanese garrison. No ground crews, refueling trucks, or bomb handling gear was available. But five days later the first Navy Consolidated PBY Catalina landed to remove wounded. Named Henderson Field (after Marine Major Lofton C. Henderson, killed in the Battle of Midway) on August 10, Henderson only had 400 drums of aviation gasoline, oil, and some machine gun ammunition landed with the Marines. The strip lacked anti-aircraft defenses and the only fighters were Navy and Marine Grumman F4F Wildcats and later USAAF Bell P-400 Airacobras; only the Wildcats had sufficient altitude to climb to meet the Japanese aircraft. Intending to make Henderson a base for offensive bombing operations, General George C. Marshall ordered General Douglas A. MacArthur to provide the P-38 to Guadalcanal, which had superior range and altitude compared to the other available Army types. Eight P-38s of the 339th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group, Thirteenth Air Force landed on November 12. Lightnings were extremely successful in the Pacific, where their long range made excellent escorts, and their performance was on par or better than their Japanese counterparts. With the P-38, heavy bombers had escorts for their entire missions throughout the Solomons. When heavy bombers from Henderson Field raided Buin on November 18, P-38s escorted Boeing B-17 flying Fortresses all the way to the target and back for the first time.
Image Filename wwii0041.jpg
Image Size 137.29 KB
Image Dimensions 500 x 287
Photographer Unknown
Photographer Title
Caption Author
Date Photographed January 01, 1943
Location Fighter One Strip
City Henderson Field
State or Province Guadalcanal
Country Solomons
Archive United States Air Force
Record Number
Status Caption ©2007, ©2024 MFA Productions LLC
Image in the Public Domain

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