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  A-24 Dive Bomber Serial Number 41-15819  
USAAF
5th AF
3rd BG
8th BS

Click For Enlargement
US Army 1940

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James Larronde c1942
Pilot  Captain Virgil A. Schwab, O-023021 (MIA / KIA) NE
Gunner  Sgt. Philip H. Childs, 6971021 (MIA / KIA) Timpson, Texas

Crashed  July 29, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 952. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-24 Dive Bomber serial number 41-15819. On October 21, 1941 at Savannah, GA. On November 2, 1941 at PHAD. On 2, 1942 assigned to Project "X". On January 8, 1942 disassembled and shipped overseas as cargo with the Pensacola Convoy to "Sumac" Australia and unloaded at Brisbane and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 3rd Bombardment Group (3rd BG), 8th Bombardment Squadron (8th BS). This aircraft had an unknown tail code (two digits). No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On July 29, 1942 one of eight A-24s that took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Cassels on a mission to dive bomb Japanese ships off Gona. They were escorted by P-39 Airacobras from the 41st Fighter Squadron flying top cover, and 8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron P-39s flying close escort.

Inbound to the target, one A-24 aborted the mission, and seven remaining A-24s proceeded to bomb Japanese transports 20 miles north of Gona, 1 1/4 miles form shore. The convoy was protected by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai which intercepted the A-24s as they started their dives.

The A-24s dive-bombed in two waves. The first wave: A-24 41-15797 (shot down), A-24 piloted by Hill (heavily damaged and force lands at Fall River) and A-24 piloted by Raymond Wilkins (the only aircraft to return to 7-Mile). The second wave: A-24 41-15819 (this aircraft), A-24 41-15766, A-24 piloted by Cassels and A-24 piloted by Parker all four were shot down. The Kotoku Maru, was hit once at the No. 5 hatch by the second wave, forcing its troops to unload and leave its cargo undelivered. The Japanese ships all return to Lae.

Memorials
Both crew were officially declared dead on December 1, 1945. Both are memorialized at Manila American Cemeteryon the tablets of the missing.

Schwab earned the Silver Star for missions against Lae between April 7-13, 1942 and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Hooper Cemetery in Hooper, NE.

Childs earned the Silver Star for missions against Lae between April 7-13, 1942 and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Mount Olive Cemetery in Timpson, TX.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-24-DE Dauntless 41-15819
"USAAF version of SBD-3 / 15819 (3rd BG, 8th BS) shot down 20 mi N of Buna Jul 29, 1942. Pilot KIA"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - A-24 Dauntless 41-15819
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Virgil A. Schwab
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Philip H. Childs
FIndAGrave - Capt Virgil A Schwab (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Philip Howell Childs (photo)
FindAGrave - Philip H Childs (memorial marker photo, photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Larry Hickey for additional information

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Last Updated
April 7, 2021

 

Tech Info
A-24

MIA
MIA
2 Missing
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