info on George Laven, 8th FS, 49th FG??

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wmlaven

Recruit
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Dec 30, 2006
I'm looking for info on my uncle, George Laven, a P-38 ace and was happy to find this forum. Any info would be appreciated by me and my cousins (ie his kids).
 
I'm looking for info on my uncle, George Laven, a P-38 ace and was happy to find this forum. Any info would be appreciated by me and my cousins (ie his kids).
Wow! If your uncle is George Laven, originally from San Antonio Texas he is a very famous P-38 ace, he was with the 49th FG, 5th AF. He flew a P-38 called "itsy bitsy." Check out this link that shows "itsy bitsy II."

B-24 "Asterperious Special"

George Laven was one of the first to score kills in the P-38. He spent the early part of the war in the Aleutians where he scored 4 kills. Later he served in the South Pacific where he picked up his last kill making him an ace. Although he only had 5 kills he was considered one of the more experienced P-38 drivers in the 5th AF. He flew with some of the most famous and high scoring P-38 aces of WW2 - Thomas McGuire and Jerry Johnson to name a few.

There is a book called "Peter Three Eight," which gives a very good perspective of P-38 aces. Your Uncle George has several pages written about him. One of his feats besides becoming an ace was flying his P-38 from the Aleutians to San Antonio Texas. By today's standards that's a long and treacherous trip.

I've attached a scan from the book "Peter Three Eight."

Are you in contact with him? Is he still alive? Anyway I hope this helps.
 

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Yup, that's my uncle Butz (his childhood nickname because as a baby he reponded when his parents said "butzy, butzy" -- sort of an antidote to his warbird escapades.)

When he flew to San Antonio he did a low pass over the field and rolled the plane -- my grandmother fainted on the spot. That's the story I heard from my dad. I heard many war stories from Butz as a child. He didn't visit often, but it was always interesting when he did. I remember, too, that he always had fast cars -- Jaguar XKE, DeLorean, Avanti -- and he once flipped a DeLorean at 100+ mph and walked away unscratched.

Thanks for all the info. I'll check out the book. He also has a diecast model of his F-104 Really George which was also a plastic model kit. I'll pass your response along to my cousin, ie his daughter.

Butz died in 1995. He had been McDonnel Douglass's advisor to Israel after his retirement from the AF, then left Israel and died not too long after that. My dad is dead, too, so I can't learn more from him, but I could ask his kids questions if you have any.
 
Glad to help - I did find info about his post war career, flying the F-100 out of George AFB and his F-104, but he will always be remembered as one of the early successful P-38 drivers. I worked for Lockheed for 10 years and actually worked in the building where they built P-38s so anything about the aircraft or those who flew them has always been of interest to me. There is also the P-38 association where many surviving P-38 drivers and enthusiast have reunions. You might want to check that out as well.

If you get any photos of your uncle and can post them here, please do!! Again, glad I could help!!!
 
Thanks again. If you have a link to the P-38 association, please pass it along. I'll check with my cousins about photos to post. I once had one of him with his F-104, but lost it years ago. As I understand he was one of Lockheed's test pilots for awhile, maybe just on the P-38.
 
Thanks again. If you have a link to the P-38 association, please pass it along. I'll check with my cousins about photos to post. I once had one of him with his F-104, but lost it years ago. As I understand he was one of Lockheed's test pilots for awhile, maybe just on the P-38.
I believe he did work for Lockheed for a while...
 
Hi, I'm an admirer of George Laven, too. Unable to establish any familial connections but we share a fairly uncommon surname so I suspect there's a link somewhere.

I made a skin for his P-38L which can be flown in the online air combat simulator "Aces High".

Here is a picture of the skin in flight in the game:
49th-FG-8th-FS-P-38L-Itsy-B.gif


Its a pretty easy game to download and get started in, if you are familiar with flight sims.
 
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Dr Frank Olynyk has a pretty good bio on Laven on page 396 of Stars and Bars which suumarizes his career, his scores in the 49th and his post WWII career through retirement.
 
Dr Frank Olynyk has a pretty good bio on Laven on page 396 of Stars and Bars which suumarizes his career, his scores in the 49th and his post WWII career through retirement.

Could you post a link to that? I don't think I have a way to see it otherwise, and I'd like to learn when Laven left the 54th FS to go to the 49th FG.

I'd like to skin his P-38E for the game too, and the paint scheme of the squad's planes changed during their deployment (bars were added to the star insignia, red border surround in '43, 2-digit tail code added on top of rudder, squad art painted on the radiator housing on the booms, etc)

I'd like to know if Laven's personal plane, #76, Itsy Bitsy, would've gotten this treatment or had he already left for the 49th.

Thanks for your help!
 
Could you post a link to that? I don't think I have a way to see it otherwise, and I'd like to learn when Laven left the 54th FS to go to the 49th FG.

I'd like to skin his P-38E for the game too, and the paint scheme of the squad's planes changed during their deployment (bars were added to the star insignia, red border surround in '43, 2-digit tail code added on top of rudder, squad art painted on the radiator housing on the booms, etc)

I'd like to know if Laven's personal plane, #76, Itsy Bitsy, would've gotten this treatment or had he already left for the 49th.

Thanks for your help!

Frank has not put his 668 page book online.

Laven went to 49th FG from 55th FG on 3 March 1945 - can't help with a/c details
 
Oh thanks, I think that would be sufficient. Just wanted to be sure his P-38E, "Itsy Bitsy" would've been flown by him during the period when USAAF insignia was surrounded with the red border.

Incidentally, I believe he served with the 54th FS, 343rd FG, while in the Aleutians, and transferred to the 8th FS, 49th FG.

The 55th FG served in the ETO, I believe.

Thanks for your help!
 
Oh thanks, I think that would be sufficient. Just wanted to be sure his P-38E, "Itsy Bitsy" would've been flown by him during the period when USAAF insignia was surrounded with the red border.

Incidentally, I believe he served with the 54th FS, 343rd FG, while in the Aleutians, and transferred to the 8th FS, 49th FG.

The 55th FG served in the ETO, I believe.

Thanks for your help!

you are correct - it was a typo.in Olynyk's book and I was braindead - so I do not know whether it was42, 56 0r 57th FS

He went from 49th FG to England in May 1942 to the 78th FG, then (I assume) to to 55th FG in July in Alaska. (Frank had written 55th FG/54th FS - there is no 55th FS in either the 54th or 55th FG - it is in the 20th FG another P-38 group in 8th AF))

Frank had the typo after the move from 78th FG. As the 55th was nearby to the 78th and in 8th AF, he may have crossed wires as aresult.

sorry for confusion

Bill
 
Here is a skin I made of George's early P-38, when he was serving with the 54th FS in the Aleutians. The time frame is 1943; the shark-mouthed plane was flown by Lt Colin MacDougal. I added the lens flare effect, grain, and desaturated the image to try to make it look like a color photo from the period. Just thought I'd share.

54thFS-climbout-1.gif
 
George Laven served at Dow Field, Bangor, ME between 1947 and 1949 with the 14th Fighter Group. He may have been a squadron commander. They were the first Group in the Air Force to recieve the P-84B Thunder Jet. There are photos in archives at the USAF Museum showing Major Laven with his F-84B "Itsy Bitsy III". There were many other WWII Aces in the 14th at Dow, Ray Wetmore, Ray Littge, Jon Petrovich, Lewis B. Chick, Arvid Olson, etc. Other Notables were Loring Stetson, Clure Smith, William Samways, and many others. Our business was across the street from Dow 47-57 and one of our mechanics, Milton "Andy" Andrews served in the 14th at the time. He was sent to Muroc in 47 to attend mechanic school on the P-84 as there was no formal P-84B school at the time. He witnessed Chuck Yeager testing the X-1 at the time. Andy served as a F-80 Crew Chief from 50-53 in Korea with the 80th FBS "Headhunters".
 

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