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|Pilot Captain Frank P. Smart, O-421649 C. O. 387th BS (MIA / KIA) Beaumont, TX
Gunner T/Sgt Mike Music, 15073584 (MIA / KIA) OH
Ditched April 16, 1944 "Black Sunday" at 5:35pm
Built by Douglas. Assigned to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-20G-25-DO Havoc serial number 43-9098. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 417th Bombardment Group (417th BG), 673rd Bombardment Squadron (673rd BS). On March 20, 1944 assigned to the 312th Bombardment Group (312th BG), 387th Bombardment Squadron (387th BS) to pilot Captain Frank P. Smart with crew chief SSgt Charles S. Bidek and assistant crew chief Sgt Donald M. Cooper. Nicknamed by Smart "The Texan" with the Texas state flag and shooting stars on the left side of the cockpit, in honor of his home state. Assigned tail letter "S" the first letter of Smart's surname plus a diamond motif on the rear fuselage near the tail.
On April 16, 1944 took off from Gusap Airfield pilot Captain Frank P. Smart on a mission against Hollandia. Returning, it became lost in bad weather with other A-20s. Low on fuel, Smart radioed asking permission proceed to Saidor Airfield and his request was granted by Col Strauss. Several other A-20s proceed along the coast together and encountered anti-aircraft fire over Ulingan Harbor but were able to avoid the barrage. To avoid bad weather near Madang, the formation descended to sea level over Astrolabe Bay.
Next, the group of A-20s split, with three including Smart proceeding inland five miles to avoid enemy fire. At 17:30 Smart radioed again seeking a PBY Catalina rescue and that he was ditching. At 5:35pm this aircraft was observed to ditch under power into the sea off Yalau Plantation southeast of Bogadjim. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
In total, the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) lost 46 aircraft returning from the mission due to bad weather from a severe front with clouds, rain and thunderstorms. This was the largest operational losses suffered by the U. S. Army Air Force during World War II and afterwards the mission was dubbed "Black Sunday".
Fates of the Crew
After successfully ditching, both crew were seen in their life raft within minutes of ditching. A-20s from the squadron circled them and dropped their rafts and remained in the area, radioed their position and waited until the crew waved to them. Roughly ten miles away, two PT-Boats were observed, but they did not approach and instead landed at Saidor.
The next day, A-20s from the squadron that observed the ditching returned to the site on their way to Gusap Airfield. From above, they observed the submerged outline of this A-20, but saw no trace of the crew.
The crew were officially declared dead on February 6, 1946. Both crew are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Smart earned the Purple Heart, posthumously and later was posthumously promoted to the rank of Major. He also has a memorial marker at Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont, TX at section L.
Music earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
During 1982 this aircraft was located by Rod Pearce. The aircraft is intact on a sandy bottom in 60' a quarter mile off Nom plantation (formally Yalau Plantation).
Rod Pearce adds:
"During 1982, I was coming back from Madang to Lae, looking for a place to anchor. Of all the places, I happened to stop right on the wreck, I could see it on the sounder. The next morning, I dove it, and it was all there. The cockpit hatch was ripped off, but the entire plane was there. When I told people about it, they claimed to have known of a wreck there, but I have never heard of someone who dove it before then."
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Frank P. Smart
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Mike Music
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-20G-25-DO Havoc 43-9098
"9098 (387th BS) MIA Apr 16, 1944 on infamous Black Sunday mission to Hollanida"
Missing Air Crew Report 5376 (MACR 5376) created April 21, 1944
RAAF Survey of Aircraft Wreckage, Papua and New Guinea page ?
"#200 | 05.16-146.30 | In sea | USAC Boston A-20G 43-9098 | Aircraft ditched in sea 30 miles north of Saidor"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank P. Smart
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Mike Music
FindAGrave - CPT Frank Pierce Smart (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - MAJ Frank Pierce Smart Jr. (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Mike Music (tablets of the missing)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - A-20G 43-9098
Black Sunday (2000) by Michael Claringbould page 97
Rampage of the Roarin' 20's (2009) pages 103-104, 303 (profile #6), 212, 348, 357, 379-380
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