“Jewboy” Fighter Aircraft

By Falk Kantor

During World War II a US Army P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft with the nickname “JEWBOY” boldly written on its side flew in combat against the German Luftwaffe in the skies over Europe. The pilot was Philip M. Goldstein.

Born in Baltimore, MD, in 1920 to parents who once performed in vaudeville, Philip Goldstein was raised in the Philadelphia area. From his early days Phil had a love for music and following his graduation from high school, he enlisted in the US Army in 1940 with the goal of serving in the Army Band. He was first assigned to a machine-gun company but soon transferred to the 12th Infantry Regimental Band where he played the French horn.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Phil was motivated to enter aviation training in the Army Air Corps. As an aviation cadet, he began flight training in California and eventually qualified as a pilot in the P-38, a single seat, twin engine, fighter aircraft. In October 1943, Phil was shipped overseas initially to North Africa where he trained Allied pilots to fly the P-38. He was then assigned to the 49th Fighter Squadron, 14th Fighter Group at Triolo, Italy.

All of Phil’s fifty combat missions were flown in 1944. While escorting B-17s and B-24s he had several victories, including a Messerschmitt ME-109 and a Focke-Wulf 190. He was also credited with destroying four Junkers JU-88 bombers during a strafing attack on a German airfield in Italy.

There were not many Jews in Goldstein’s unit. Phil himself was, not always affectionately, referred to as Jewboy. As Phil tells the story, one morning following one of his aerial victories, he went out to the flight line and there was “JEWBOY” painted on the side of his aircraft by his crew chief, Maurice Weiner. Phil understood the implications if he was shot down and captured but said he didn’t give a damn.

Phil returned to the US in July 1944 where he served as a flight instructor at Santa Rosa Air Base in California. During a dance at a synagogue in San Francisco he met his future wife, then a physics student at the University of California. Phil was discharged in California in June 1945 where he eventually began a career in the insurance business. Phil passed away on June 29, 2018 in San Francisco at the age of 97.

He was a proud fighter pilot, one of the 500,000 Jews who served in WW II, whose message that he boldly flew in the skies over Europe still resonates today.

Volume 77. Number 3. 2023