PEARL HARBOR P-40 GHOST SHIP



On December 8, 1942, one year and a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaiian radar picked up an unusual reading --- a lone aircraft heading towards the islands from the same direction as Japan.

Two American pilots were sent to intercept the mysterious plane. As they approached the aircraft they radioed back that the plane was a P-40 with the same type insignia and markings that had been used by American planes in the early days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. When they pulled alongside they were shocked to find a bullet-riddled plane with landing gear blown away. Puzzled as to how a plane in such condition could even fly, they noticed the pilot was slumped over in the cockpit, his flight suit stained with blood. As they peered into the window the pilot raised slightly, turned in their direction, and smiled offering a meek wave towards his two allies. Moments later the mysterious craft plummeted from the sky smashing into the ground with a deafening roar.


RESOURCED FROM THE BOOK BY COLONEL ROBERT L. SCOTT, JR.

DAMNED TO GLORY
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AND THE WORKS OF
THE WANDERLING

The above two paragraphs, referring to a shot-up P-40 headed toward the Hawaiian Islands on December 8, 1942, is often, because of similarities, confused with an account or narrative with basically the same story-line that appeared in a book published in 1944 titled "Damned to Glory." The shot-up plane in Damned to Glory was intercepted by two American pilots as well, however, as it headed toward China after bombing Formosa.

Damned to Glory is a collection of World War II stories put together by Colonel Robert L. Scott, Jr., the author of the bestselling book God Is My Co-Pilot. The dust-jacket for the hard cover book Damned to Glory, as shown below, depicts what appears to be the exact same moment mentioned above when the two pilots looked down and saw the pilot slumped in the cockpit, his flight suit stained with blood, his plane riddled with bullets. Nobody really knows who wrote the Pearl Harbor version of the story or how or if it morphed from Formosa and China to Japan and Hawaii, or stood on its own all alone --- although whoever did it if they did, pretty much played fast and loose with Scott's rendition.


(for an increased size click image then click again)

In February of 1942, ten months before the above incident, in the middle of the night and a half a world away, more specifically not Formosa, Taiwan, China or Hawaii, but Los Angeles, California, and unrelated in any fashion, a giant airborne object of an unknown nature overflew a good part of the whole city of Los Angeles and surrounding beach communities causing area-wide blackouts and wreaking havoc over most of the L.A. basin. Anti-aircraft guns threw as many as 1440 rounds of ammunition against it yet it still escaped unharmed. Although there was a viable number of pursuit aircraft that could have been launched against the object, said to have been as large as a Zeppelin, that is, around 800 feet in length, all, or at least most of the available aircraft stood down.

Paul T. Collins, writing for FATE Magazine, Volume 40, Number 7, Issue 448, in an article titled World War II UFO Scare, published July, 1987, 45 years after the fact and still debating the issue, wrote:


"Planes of the Fourth Interceptor Command were, in fact, warming up on the runways waiting for orders to go up and interview the unknown intruders. Why, everybody was asking, were they not ordered to go into action during the 51-minute period between the first air-raid alert at 2:25 AM and the first artillery firing at 3:16?"


It just so happened almost all of the planes available to the Fourth Interceptor Command that remained on the ground that night were P-40s and because they were P-40s, incredibly, whether they were in the air or not, escalated a prominent eyewitness to the above event, William "Bill" Stout, to become involved, although at a lesser extent, as an eyewitness to the events of our story here.

Stout, because of his prominence as a witness in the Los Angeles overflight, has had his personal history and background delved into and covered in a number of related places by a number of people, especially so as found in THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES: 1942 UFO as well as 1942: THE GREAT LOS ANGELES AIR RAID. Briefly, Stout had joined the Navy in his late teens or very early 20s almost immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor. A former carpenter, the Navy shipped him off to Point Hueneme and Point Mugu near Ventura, California, about sixty miles northwest of Los Angeles, to help in the early stages of construction of the naval facilities they were building there. In the process he met and started seeing a young woman that lived in a close by albeit fairly isolated section of the mountains east of Heuneme.

Late one night after cavorting around with the young woman he was racing back to the base to make sure he would not miss morning muster when the aforementioned giant airborne object came in off the Pacific Ocean headed toward Los Angeles at a very low altitude, and when it did it flew right over the top of his car --- a car he had stopped and got out of because of the need to change a flat tire.

When he got back to base he found it to be in nothing but full out turmoil. People were running everywhere, forming up into platoons, getting into the backs of trucks carrying rifles, grenades, and gasmasks. He was told the city of Los Angeles was under attack from the air, there was a statewide blackout and everybody was going to be spread out along the coastline to protect the city and country from invasion. Some trucks did leave, but most didn't and by sun-up everything had pretty much calmed down. Eventually they were told the whole thing was a fluke, to put the weapons away and to go back to their regular business. Shortly thereafter he was sent to the South Pacific and he pretty much forgot the incident.

Even though the Navy man was sent to the South Pacific and says he pretty much forgot the incident it should be stated that at the time of his cavorting around with the young woman he was engaged to another woman, a woman of which he eventually married after the war. Now while it is true he pretty much forgot about the incident, that is the fly over of the giant object, he found it difficult to discuss under most circumstances and so he didn't because he felt the how of how it happened undermined the fidelity of the relationship with his wife.

Then one day in the late 1980s he saw a movie on television titled 1941. Although a comedy, in the movie the California coast was attacked by a Japanese submarine and the ensuing outcome, except for the giant airborne object, was highly similar to what he began to remember from his experience in 1942. When he finally got up enough moxie to tell people what he had actually seen with his very own eyes in real life nobody knew what he was talking about, they would look at each other and behind his back make little air circles around their ears with their fingers like he was crazy.

The thing is, not only was the Navy man a super close-up eyewitness to the giant object that created such a maelstrom in the skies over Los Angeles in February of 1942, when he went to the South Pacific a few months later he got caught up in a similar, even more weird situation as well, and again, for much of the same reasons as above, he was reluctant to tell anybody about it.

In the movie 1941, actor John Belushi plays a pilot name Wild Bill Kelso who flies a Curtiss Wright P-40 adorned not only with the shark teeth of a Flying Tiger, but also U.S. military insignias on the fuselage and wings of the type with the red circle in the white star that had since been discontinued after Pearl Harbor. When the Navy man saw the movie for the first time, not only was he reminded of the Los Angeles incident, but he was also sent into a deep tailspin over Belushi's P-40 and it's markings.




Not long after being sent to the South Pacific, Bill Stout, the carpenter that he was, ended up being assigned to PT boats because they were, he was told, made of plywood. One day he found himself pretty much unprotected laying in wait out in the middle of the open ocean for several days with a couple of other PT boats somewhere in the South China Sea about 200 miles west of Luzon. Just at the crack of dawn on the start of their third day of waiting, a U.S. submarine breached the surface not far from their group. As the PT boats off-loaded a bunch of supplies, including medical supplies intended for guerrillas and hold outs still fighting the Japanese in some of the southern islands, the sub transferred aviation fuel to the PT boats.

When Stout first arrived in the South Pacific he and a bunch of other gobs got into a huge discussion regarding the International Date Line and how you can lose or gain a day by just crossing it. They went on and on about how there could be two December 7ths depending where you were relative to the date line. However, everybody was pretty much in agreement that the morning they were unloading supplies it was December 8, 1942, one year and a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

About eleven in the morning that day, while still in the process of unloading supplies and refueling, and even though they had a gaggle of spotters, most scanning the skies higher up, a lone plane very low to the surface of the water slipped into view heading in their direction. Caught out in the open and unprepared they began shifting their guns around toward the plane while the sub began preparing to submerge. Then, as the plane was almost on top of them, it was clearly seen to be an American P-40, the pilot tipped the wings up and down in a more or less friendly manner and when he did they spotted U.S. military insignias on the fuselage and wings --- although truth be told, they were of the type with the red circle in the star since discontinued after Pearl Harbor.

The P-40, loaded with bombs under her wings continued northward out of range and out of sight. Everybody just looked at each other glad it wasn't Japanese and wondering what a lone P-40 would be doing all by itself, not only out in the middle of nowhere, but where was it going with all those bombs.

It is not known if Bill Stout ever learned anything else about the mysterious P-40 he and his fellow crew members saw that day, but it is known that Colonel Robert L. Scott, a double ace P-40 pilot with 13 kills under his belt as a member of the Flying Tigers wrote a book called Damned to Glory published in 1944, two years after Stouts sighting from his PT Boat, that chronicled a story that practically paralleled what Stout saw. If you remember Stout was about 200 miles west of Luzon and around eleven in the morning saw a lone P-40 flying north toward Formosa loaded with bombs under her wings. Below is a short synopsis of Scott's Ghost Ship story:


"On Dec. 8, 1942 --- the anniversary of the Japanese attack --- Sherrill took off with four 300-lb bombs under his wings. He dropped the bamboo skis and flew 1,000 miles to Taiwan --- an extraordinary feat for a P-40, even with 50 extra gallons of gas.

"Lieutenant Sherrill attacked the Japanese airfield 'with its neat rows of parked fighters and bombers,' as Scott told the story. 'He strafed them row on row, and he cut the Jap flag from the headquarters building with his wingtip. He laid his first wing bomb right in the enemy offices.' Though intercepted by Zeros, he finished the job and made his escape, flying 250 miles to a Chinese airfield, where he was intercepted and shot down by P-40s of the China Air Task Force."


The publishers of Scott's book Damned to Glory, even though it was chucked full of a whole bunch of other stories and chapters about P-40 pilots, their crews, and their escapades, were so proud of the first chapter, Ghost Ship, that the hard cover dust jacket, as seen at the top of the page, clearly illustrated the exact moment wherein the pilots of the pursuit planes came across the invading P-40 only to see the pilot slumped over with him and the plane all shot to pieces. While most people and critics seem to give the chapter and story a sort of low level pass, as you can see, the publishers thought otherwise. By clicking the book image back up the page, then clicking it a second time you will see a totally expanded view of that specific incident the publishers gave so much credence to.


GHOST P-40: LORE, LEGENDS AND HER WHEREABOUTS


UFO OVER L.A.: THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES


1942: THE GREAT LOS ANGELES AIR RAID


BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES: 1942 UFO


THE FLYING TIGERS
THE BOY IN THE MAN REMEMBERS THE LEGEND



E-MAIL
THE WANDERLING

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