Following are the details we have gathered on pilots who were qualified as “Aces” (five or more planes shot down) in the P‑38. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge, but if you find any errors or omissions, please let us know!

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The Better Known P-38 ACES

Richard Ira "Dick" Bong

Richard Ira Bong
“Dick Bong”

24 SEP 1920 / 6 AUG 1945
America’s “Ace of Aces”
40 aerial victories

"Happy" Jack M. Ilfrey

Jack Ilfrey
“Happy Jack”

31 JUL1920 / 15 OCT 2004
Major…er Lieutenant…er Colonel! United States Army Air Corps

Cadet Thomas B. McGuire Jr.

Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. “Tommy McGuire”

1 AUG 1920 / 7 JAN 1945
38 aerial victories


– Col. Al Griebling, USAF Ret.

Some pilots are good.
Some pilots are great.
The best of them all
Flew the P-38


There are many excellent books written about WWII Aces. Here are a few of the best below.

Happy Jack's Go Buggy book
Buy Now on Amazon

Happy Jack’s Go Buggy: A Fighter Pilots Story

Schiffer Military Aviation History

Undoubtedly one of the finest stories of aerial combat that has ever been written.  You will fly through the skies with eight-victory fighter ace, Jack Ilfrey, in his P‑38 and thrill to the stories of aerial combat.  Join him on his incredible trip to becoming one of America’s first WWII aces.​

P-38 Lightening Aces of the ETO/MTO book
Buy Now on Amazon

P-38 Lightning Aces of the ETO/MTO

Osprey Aircraft of the Aces No 19

Written by one of our expert P-38 Association Historians, John Stanaway, this book traces the careers of many unknown Aces within the USAAF in the European Theater. Some 17 pilots scored 7 or more kills in the P-38 in the ETO/MTO.

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Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson

Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson

Clarence Leonard "Kelly" Johnson 27 FEB 1910 – 21 DEC 1990 Kelly Johnson is credited with designing the first 400 MPH aircraft -- of course, our beloved P-38.Kelly Johnson's motto says it all: "Be quick, be quiet and be on time." At the remarkably young age of 33 he...

Richard Ira “Dick” Bong

Richard Ira “Dick” Bong

A Young Dick BongGo to Bong's complete biographyAmerica's "Ace of Aces" 24 SEP 1920 / 6 AUG 1945 People have asked us on occasion why we chose this picture of Dick Bong to highlight the page, rather than the more famous one of him sitting in the cockpit of his P‑38....

Test Pilot: Benjamin S. Kelsey

Test Pilot: Benjamin S. Kelsey

Benjamin "Ben" Kelsey 9 MAR 1906 – 6 MAR 1981 Benjamin "Ben" Kelsey is most well known by P-38 fans as the pilot who first flew the Lightning cross country.XP-38 Kelsey co-authored the technical specifications which led to the development of the P-38 Lightning.In...