P-38 war story

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by davec8656, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. davec8656

    davec8656 New Member

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    I have read "Fork-Tailed Devil", by Martin Caiden and am curious if anyone knows about the story he wrote later in the book. A lone P-38 returns to base and basically "falls apart" as it gets over the field. The pilot is found to have been killed long before the plane returned and the gas tanks were also found to be empty. He also wrote of "many witnesses" who could verify the story. I'm not so much doubting the account as much as I would like to hear from someone else who knows of it. Thanks, DaveC.
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Caiden was a great writer but did stretch the truth a bit and he had a few "doozies" in that book, which even it's title is a myth, probably made up by him....
     
  3. davec8656

    davec8656 New Member

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    I suppose that goes a long way in publishing a book if you can fix a catchy title regardless of its accuracy. I've also read that the Japanese called it "Whistling Death". Also a myth? Just curious. Always admired the P38. Caiden's book did help me learn much about the P38 that I may not have otherwise, though some was dry reading going through the different models and mods. The battle accounts have always been exciting to me. American Aces by Sims is one of my personal favorites. Dad gave me a copy when I was a kid and later on I was able to find a good used copy from an online bookstore. Fascinating stories! Thanks for the reply. DaveC
     
  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I think the "Whistling Death" was more connected with the Corsair.

    Caiden was very entertaining and did inspire many to learn about WW2 despite his shortcomings. In his book the Fork Tailed Devil, his chapter about a famed P-38 driver named Danny Roberts was spot on IMO.
     
  5. davec8656

    davec8656 New Member

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    yeah, now that I think on it, that's right. It was the Corsair. Thanks, so much to remember, so little brain space. LOL
     
  6. merlin

    merlin Member

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    Really?

    More like the Bristol Beaufighter!!
     
  7. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Nope, Beaoufighter was the "whispering death" (another myth?).
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I thought the Beau was the "Whispering Death."
     
  9. Sweb

    Sweb Member

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    Whispering Death? Corsair as dubbed by the Japanese due to the sound of the air passing through the oil cooler air dump doors. Or, am I preaching to the choir?
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    "The Chance-Vought F4U-1D Corsair, one of World War II's most effective dive-bomber and attack naval planes, had a distinctive bent-wing configuration. The whistling sound generated by its wing air-intakes earned it the nickname 'Whistling Death"

    Corsair: dictionary on Aviations, Corsair, F4U Corsair,Whistling Death, Corsair, Chance-Vought F4U, U.S navy, Corsair had The Hose Nose, U-Bird, Royal Navy, The Chance Vought F4U Corsair was an American fighter aircraft that saw service in World War

    "Known as the "Whispering Death" by the Japanese in the far east during WWII, the Bristol Beaufighter was instrumental in driving the Japanese from South East Asia and in the defeat of the Luftwaffe's night bombing offensive against Britain."

    Bristol Beaufighter

    All the cyber sources I've come across say the same.
     
  11. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    The Whispering Death was named because it was a quieter airplane due to it's sleeve valve engine.
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Yep!
     
  13. merlin

    merlin Member

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    If I am wrong - I like to think I am man enough to admit it!

    So yes, sorry, I did misread 'whistling' for 'whispering' oops.

    Still - the 'Beau' got a mention!
     
  14. fly boy

    fly boy Member

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  15. davec8656

    davec8656 New Member

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    Back to the war story of the mysterious P38 incident. In the last chapter, Epilogue, the full story is recounted. Took place in North Africa. A group took off to patrol and after the melee with the enemy, one plane was missing. All landed but one. After enough time was allowed for the plane's fuel to expire it was considered MIA. Then, a lone plane was spotted coming in at a shallow angle towards the field and as it came over the field it literally fell apart onto the field. The pilot was seen to fall clear of the plane and his chute opened and he collapsed when he landed. He was found with a bullet wound in the forehead and had been dead "for hours". Further, the plane's fuel tanks were long empty and dry. Hundreds of witnesses were said to have seen this and would all sign papers stating the same. Seems like Divine intervention to me, as miracles still occur, and I am a believer. It's too bad that no one is known to be around that might still have at least heard of this incident. Love this mystery!!
     
  16. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    Forked tailed devil, whispering death and whistling death are all likely myths. I've never heard any positive statement from the countries which supposedly used them that they really ever did. Especially in the latter two cases, if those are real we should know by now the actual Japanese terms used (I believe there is a German version of the P38 one, which still doesn't prove it's real, but lack of a term in the language pretty strongly implies it's not real).

    I've heard the Beaufighter one was made up by a particular Allied journalist who worked in the Far East.

    When did Allied air men make up names for opposing planes that implied they were afraid of them? So I doubt Axis airmen would, especially the Japanese. 'Death is as light as a feather, duty is heavier than a mountain': they tended to really believe that aphorism from the Meiji emperor.

    Martin Caidin was (he passed away some years ago) a very entertaining and thoroughly unreliable, as to actual facts, aviation author. Nothing he wrote should be taken as fact just because he wrote it, or even said somebody else did (eg. lots of the stuff he said Saburo Sakai said in the supposed 'autobiography' 'Samurai'; Sakai later claimed not to have said or didn't recall saying, and most such things were otherwise demonstrably untrue, so I tend to believe Sakai's later denials). Just because Caidin said something doesn't automatically mean it's not true, but it has to be established separately from him.

    The specific P-38 story should be in the unit records of the unit in question if true (that's relatively few fighter groups) or in the Missing Aircraft/Crew Report if it happened after they started keeping those (sometime in '43), and the date could be narrowed down.

    Joe
     
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