|Pilot F/O Carl
A. Nelson (survived) Emporia,
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. John H. Pfieffer (survived) Cunberland,
Navigator 2nd Lt. Alexander E. Nagy (survived)
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Wilbert Alwedt (survived)
Gunner TSgt Troy W. Selvey (survived)
Gunner TSgt Lucian I. Oliver, 14070201 (survived) Memphis, TN
Gunner SSgt Warren Brooks (survived)
Gunner SSgt Anthony Cantazaro (survived)
Gunner TSgt Paul Barbus (survived)
Force Landed October
Built by Consolidated at San Diego at a cost of $297,627. Delivered to the U. S. Army on May
26, 1943. Flown overseas to Australia, arriving on July 14, 1943.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
18, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby armed with 100 lb. bombs on a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. The formation included B-24 Liberators from the 43rd Bomb Group, 90th Bomb Group and 380th Bomb Group.
Due to bad weather, bombed Hoskins Airfield, the alternate target. Damage was noted as one small lugger
sunk in harbor and a large column of smoke and a fire in target area.
Returning, this B-24 ran low on fuel approaching the coast of northern New Guinea. Pilot Nelson ordered the crew to bail out, while he and co-pilot Pfieffer force landed the bomber onto a flat grassy area west of Gona that proved to be a sago swamp.
In total, five bombers were lost, this aircraft plus B-24D "Sky Lady" 41-24043, B-24D
"Ben Buzzard" 42-40670 and B-24D
The two pilots were unhurt in the crash landing. The remainder of the crew successfully parachuted to the ground. With the help of local people, the
crew assembled at the crash site.
The next day, three B-24's (two from the 64th Bombardment Squadron and one from the 63rd Bombardment Squadron) located the crashed bomber and the crew. From the air, they dropped supplies to the crew. Afterwards, the crew was led to friendly forces and returned to duty.
On October 29, 1943 pilot Nelson flew his next combat mission. On November 21, 1943 TSgt Oliver was killed as the radar operator/gunner aboard B-24D
42-40886 on a night radar search mission over Wewak.
After the crash, a US Army salvage team recovered the four engines, landing gear,
machine guns and gun turrets from the bomber.
John Douglas visited the crash site in 2000:
"It is complete, but stripped. The villagers
remember the plane crashed, including the fact that the pilot was named Nelson and the other crew member was
Justin Taylan visited the crash site on September
"Locals told the story of how their fathers: Clive Burau, Hayward Geroya
and Copland Vigaba were gardening in the area near where the bomber force
witnessed the eight men bailing out, and the crash.
One of the men, Copland Vigaba was given a note by the pilot and ran
down to Yamboro where Australian soldiers were camped. He then led the
Australians to the crash site to rescue the bomber's crew."
(nephew of Carl Nelson)
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A. Nelson noted in his flight log: "Bombed Hoskin strip. Crash landed 6 miles N.W. Gona
8 men bailed out all ok. 2 men with ship ok".
After the war, John Pfeiffer wrote an account of the incident.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-40885
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April 19, 2015