|Pilot 2nd Lt. John C. Johnston, O-789918 (MIA / KIA) NC
MIA November 30, 1942
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On November 30, 1942 one of sixteen P-40E Warhawks of the 7th Fighter Squadron that took off at 1:00pm from 3-Mile Drome near Port Moresby, flying top cover for twelve P-40E Warhawks of the the 8th Fighter Squadron, armed with 500lbs bombs. The formation proceeded to patrol and bomb Buna Village.
"Green Flight" was led by Carl Aubrey with wingman P-40E Warhawk piloted by 1st Lt Voorhees with element leader Don Lee and wingman John Johnson. Flying at 8,000', the formation was searching among the clouds for P-40s from the 8th Fighter Squadron to escort.
At 14:45 hours over the Dobodura area the 8th Squadron planes radioed that they were under attack by A6M2 Zeros from the 252 Kokutai west of Buna village. The two pairs of escort P-40s drifted apart and were attacked from above by Zeros. According to Captain Nelson, who was not in the dogfight, the combat was in the vicinity south of Embi Lakes, within a thirty mile radius of Dobodura Airfield.
Voorhees was credited with one enemy fighter shot down. Two other pilots: Lt. Paul J. Slocum of the 7th Fighter Squadron and and Lt. Furlso S. Wagner of 41st Fighter Squadron also claimed one enemy fighter shot down each. The Japanese lost two Zeros shot down.
This P-40 was shot down by A6M2 Zeros south of Buna. Also lost were P-40E piloted by Voorhees, P-40E piloted by Wesley.
After the crash, natives reported to U. S. troops near Dobodura that they had found a crash site not far from an army camp. A few days later, Lt. Dick Illing 8th Squadron engineer flew to Dobodura Airfield and visited the crash site. It consisted of a muddy crater on the bank of a stream surrounded by small debris suggesting a violent impact. Illing searched through the debris for any rubber cushions used for mounting the P-40's Allison engine. He found a .45 pistol whose number matched one that had been issued to Lt. Johnson.
At 2:45pm over the Dobodura area, twelve A6M2 Zeros were encountered in a loose formation and individual dog fights ensued lasting approximately twenty minutes. Johnston's P-40 was seen to crash and explode. Also lost was P-40E piloted by Voorhees. The remainder of the flight returned to their base.
Johnston was officially declared dead on the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Johnston was born in 1920 in Pitt County, NC. He enlisted in the U. S. Army at Fort Bragg on August 10, 1941.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-40 Kittyhawk piloted by Johnston
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John C. Johnston (MIA)
7th Fighter Squadron Association spells his name 'Johnson'.
Protect & Avenge page 94-95
49th Fighter Group page 30
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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May 3, 2016