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  A-20G-30-DO "Lady Constance" Serial Number 43-9628 Tail A
USAAF
5th AF
312th BG
388th BS

Former Assignments
417th BG

Pilot  2nd Lt. Joseph Gibbons (survived)
Gunner  Cpl Orville Rhodes (survived)
Force Landed  April 16, 1944 "Black Sunday" at 5:00pm
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built at Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-20G-30-DO Havoc serial number 43-9628. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 417th Bombardment Group (417th BG). During March 1944, transferred to the 312th Bombardment Group (312th BG), 388th Bombardment Squadron (388th BS). Nicknamed "Lady Constance". Tail letter A. Assigned to pilot Gibbons with crew chief Herman.

Mission History
On April 16, 1944 took off from Gusap Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt. Joseph Gibbons on a mission against Hollandia.  Returning from the mission, this aircraft had been lagging behind due to an erratic engine, using up extra fuel. When Gibbons reached a weather front, he circled a clearing and force landed there when his left engine ran out of fuel and the A-20 crashed into a ridge.  In the crash landing, the right engine was torn from its mount and both crew slightly wounded, and camped near the wreck.

Fate of the Crew
On April 17, 1944 the crew were spotted by P-38s searching for downed planes. Next, a L-5 piloted by Sgt James the 25th Liaison Squadron "Guinea Short Lines" spotted a flare fired by Gibbons. Before departing, he dropped medical supplies and rations, but the crew on the ground failed to locate them. At 4:00pm, they were informed to stay at the crash site by a note dropped from another L-5.

Australian soldiers attempted to reach the site from Musak, but encountered retreating Japanese. Instead, they were asked to clear a landing strip by burning a clearing in the nearby kunai grass. An L-4 piloted by Lockwood attempted to visit them, but met bad weather and returned in the afternoon to survey the strip.

Four days after the crash, on the morning of April 20, an L-5 piloted by T/Sgt Allen Lockwood landed at 15:30 on the crude strip, but was unable to take off until the following day due to the wet ground and rough strip evacuating Gibbons. The next day, Lockwood returned to rescue Rhodes.

Wreckage
This A-20 crashed near Wabusarik not far from where A-20G "Hell'N Pelican II" 42-86786 force landed. 

During October 1984, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) attempted to recover the left engine, but lost its left when it was cut loose from the sling. In November 1985, the remainder of the aircraft was salvaged by the RAAF.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-20G-30-DO Havoc 43-9628
"9628 (*Lady Constance*, 388th BS) in accident Apr 20, 1944 near Wabusarik during infamous Black Sunday mission to Hollanida. Crew rescued. Wreck was recovered in 1985 for use by RAAF Museum in restoration of A-20G 42-86786. Remains of this aircraft noted in storage at RAAF Amberley, Australia November 2002, for disposal by RAAF Museum now that their two A-20 restorations are complete. Forward fuselage noted at Hinckley, England Mar 2004 [sic?]."
RAAF Survey of Aircraft Wreckage, Papua New Guinea page 9
"#358 | 5.15-145.19 | Wabusark | USAC Boston A-20G 43-9628 | Wreckage located near [Wabusark] village"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - A-20G Havoc 43-9628
Black Sunday (2000) by Michael Claringbould page 97
Rampage of the Roarin' 20's (2009) pages 104, 106, 198 (photo 1985), 361 (388th BS: 43-9628), 405 (index Gibbon), 406 (index Rhodes), 408 (index Lady Constance)

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020

 

Tech Info
A-20
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