Sadly, we don’t have the millions of dollars that it would take to purchase a P‑38, even if one could be found (no easy task with so few surviving these days).
We did, however, originally have an airworthy Lightning on static display in our museum,
but it was ultimately sold to Ronald Fagen and is now in Minnesota at the Fagen Fighters facility with the “Ruff Stuff” nose art.
Since our museum was built large enough to house the real one, we decided to buy a full-sized P‑38 replica, which is currently on exhibit. There is also ample space for individual displays of the Fighter Squadrons, Fighter Groups and WASPs, members of each who have built and furnished their displays within the Museum.
Each display houses historic, priceless photographs, antiques and memorabilia from WWII having to do with their specific outfits.
There are genuine artifacts of all kinds. The entire history of the P‑38 Lightning can be found in this one facility. The walls are lined with countless photos of this beautiful aircraft and the men and women who built, maintained and flew it.
Needless to say, these exhibits offer a unique opportunity for visitors to have a genuine “P‑38 Experience.”
The photos alone are worth a trip to Riverside, but the Museum doesn’t stop there. Each group has gathered original uniforms (with combat ribbons), parts from the aircraft, gas masks, canteens, aircrew scarves, maps and much more, (all under the watchful eye of 24-hour live surveillance to ensure their safekeeping).
Since we didn’t have the millions necessary to buy an actual P‑38, we did the next best thing and bought and built a full-sized replica.
P-38 Pilot Joe Onesty with P-38 Replica
Our replica is from a company owned by the late Dave Tallichet called Military Aircraft Restoration Corp. I found that the company is now located in Chino, CA. Couldn’t find a website, but they have a very slim Facebook page here. The Pacific Wrecks website also has a bit of info about them.
Although the P-38 is a replica, Association Director Lowell Stacy dragged the landing gear out of a canyon behind someone’s farm. It was the result of a WWII midair collision.
The WAFs/WASPs Exhibit at the P-38 Museum is one of the “must-see” showcases. As with the other exhibits, it is built with volunteer time and volunteer artifacts.
The exhibit has several photos of P-38 ferrying WASPs. These were expertly framed and mounted with identification by WASP Iris Cummings Critchell.
It also features a tribute-to-WASP painting of a P-38 with a girl’s face in the clouds, a history of the Ferry Command, impressive commendations from Generals Arnold, Doolittle and Tunner and several original ferrying orders.
In addition to the standing exhibit, there is an entire display of other WASP memorabilia.
Little Black Bag
There is the “official” black purse donated by Catherine “Cappy” Vail Bridge, revealing a pair of silk stockings with a “1944 mending kit,” comb and toothbrush. To further accent femininity, “Cochran‘s cosmetic tube” is shown accompanied by a chart to show the movable sections for face cream, foundation, powder, rouge and lipstick.
A lifesized, uniformed mannequin (left) carrying headset, briefcase, and charts is also on display.
Her incredibly neat appearance compelled exhibit organizer, Mary Lou Neale, to display a famous “Dot Swain Lewis drawing” (with Dot Swain Lewis’ gracious permission) of one weary, bedraggled WASP returning home after a week of cross-country deliveries — just to instill that “spot of realism” into the exhibit. (Also see Dot’s drawing on the WASPs home page.)
This exhibit includes a glass-topped shelf featuring a U.S. relief map made of mahogany, which has the varied ferrying routes indicated by silk threads held by mat pins.
Parachute, orders and gun, oh my!
The bottom shelf of the exhibit holds a genuine parachute with skirt and high heels peeking out of the bag, aeronautical charts, several photos, donor-credit signs and our regular briefcase revealing orders, other papers and a photo only (for security reasons) of that burdensome Colt 45.