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90th BG c1943
90th BG October 1943
|Pilot 1st Lt Warren H. Smeltzer, O-380234 (survived)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Russell A. McKinni, O-74244 (survived)
Navigator 1st Lt Charles M. Hynes, O-734566 (survived)
Bombardier 2nd Lt Lawrence J. Baldwin, O-738606 (survived) New Orleans, LA
Engineer T/Sgt Roudolph Vetter, 39381460 (survived)
Assist. Engineer S/Sgt George H. Hermerding Jr., 35456332 (survived)
Radio T/Sgt Steve Velicoff, 33265647 (survived)
Assist. Radio S/Sgt Richard J. Leyer, 32143175 (survived) NY
Gunner S/Sgt Carl L. Nelson, 36032395 (survived)
Gunner S/Sgt Jack G. Wu, 39168830 (survived) CA
Crashed October 18, 1943 at 12:45
Possibly, this B-24 participated in the January 5, 1943 mission against Japanese shipping off Rabaul.
When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers: 42-36526 42-39780 42-38549 and 42-36486. Weapons included three turrets with two .50 caliber machine guns each, a twin belly turret with two .50 caliber machine guns plus two .50 caliber flexible waist machine guns. Weapon serial numbers unknown.
The formation flew northeast toward Kiriwina Island then northward to Rabaul then encountered bad weather and aborted the mission and instead bombed Sio then flew southward to Lae before crossing the Owen Stanley Mountains at an altitude of 8,000' at roughly 1:00pm.
In bad weather over the range, formation broke up. When last seen, this B-24 was flying in the No. 2 position of the formation, on the left wing of B-24 piloted by Lt. Young. This B-24 was last seen dropping back in the formation near Mount Yule at approximately 1:00pm. When this B-24 failed to return from the mission, it was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Aboard this B-24, the no. 2 engine feathered and the instruments were not reading normal, with manifold pressure of 45" and fuel pressure of 20 and oil pressure high. Without instruments, the bomber entered a vertical dive before breaking out of clouds. Pilots Smeltzer and co-pilot McKinni ordered the other eight members of the crew to bail out simultaneously while attempting to keep the B-24 trimmed and level while it buckled and the tail fluttered. After circling their parachutes once, the pilots trimmed the B-24 and bailed out.
According to Smeltzer, the B-24 crashed into the ground roughly a half mile away. According to McKinni, the B-24 crashed eight miles northeast of Mount Yule and burned on impact at roughly Lat 8° 5' S and Long 147° 55' E.
Fates of the Crew
The crew used their parachutes to draw the 90th BG insignia (skull and cross bombs insignia) on the ground. Spotted by friendly planes, supplies were dropped to them, and communication was made by signaling with the planes. The crew asked for coffee and cigarettes. Rescue efforts were directed by Captain Phillip W. Casper of the 90th Bomb Group.
Afterwards, the crew walked for two days to an emergency airfield. On November 11, 1942 they were flown out aboard an Australian Tiger Moth, then aboard a C-47 Dakota back to Port Moresby and returned to duty.
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