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Assigned to 27th Fighter Squadron, this P38 Lightning sported nose art painted by TSgt Warren Perryman and was flown by Capt Tom Maloney, whose crew chief Sgt Richard Abbott conceived the title. Eight swastikas added to the nose denote the aerial victories won by the Maloney who became the highest scoring ace in the Mediterranean theatre of operation. By the end of May 44, Maloney had clocked up 5 victories including a double on 23rd April. A sixth was added on 18th July and two more on 15th August.
On 19th August, while dive bombing a train near Avignon, Maloney's P38 was caught in the blast of an explosion which forced him to ditch in the sea. After struggling into his tiny life raft Maloney eventually made it to shore but an exploding mine seriously injured him. For 10 days he crawled and stumbled around in enemy held territory until he was finally helped by French patriots.
The P38 Tom Maloney was flying on that fateful day was 43-28537 but this was not "Maloney's Pony". While recovering from his injuries in hospital in Italy, his CO decreed that thereafter the 27th Fighter Squadron's aircraft #23 would be forever named "Maloney's Pony" in his honour. However, when the squadron lost its P38s for more modern replacements the tradition was lost until resurrected again years later when the 27th was equipped with F-15s. Several F-15s carried the title "Maloney's Pony" as a result of accidents and upgrades to later versions. When the F-22 Raptor became operational the squadron named one with the title and an updated variant of the nose art, unveiled by Maloney's son, but it was short-lived due to the disapproval of higher command and the tradition was lost again.
No mission listing is currently available for this aircraft
© Ray Bowden 18 November 2017