|Pilot Captain William R. Gowdy (survived)
Co-Pilot Lt G. A. Putinan (survived)
Navigator 1st Lt John A. McMahon (survived)
Bombardier 1st Lt Walter E. Buchanan, O-726120 (survived) Ardmore, OK
Student Navigator Lt A. R. Steward (survived)
Engineer TSgt George W. Powell (survived)
Radio Operator TSgt Wesley D. Cowan (survived)
Asst Radio Operator TSgt Harold R. Peterson (survived)
Tail Gunner SSgt Bruce O. Yawn (survived)
Waist Gunner SSgt P. R. McNight (survived)
Crashed July 11, 1943
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 1137. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron as of May 31, 1943. No known nickname or nose art. This B-24 was officially written off as a non-combat accident on July 14, 1943.
On July 11, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby on a non-combat flight. Aboard was Stewart, a student navigator on his first mission. After take off, this B-24 hit trees on a hilltop damaging the left main landing gear and jamming the landing gear door and damaging the bomb bay.
Pilot Gowdy pointed the B-24 southward towards the sea, set the plane on autopilot and ordered the crew to bail out. Unmanned, the B-24 turned around and nearly hit Gowdy as he descended in his parachute before impacting into the ground roughly 1.5 miles northeast of 7-Mile Drome (Jackson).
Fates of the Crew
The entire crew landed unhurt and immediately returned to duty. Afterwards, the entire crew was photographed holding their "D" rings from parachuting.
During the 1980s, the crash site was surveyed by PNG Museum curator Bruce Hoy who located the constructors number on part of the fuselage adjacent to the life raft compartment stowage area and the engine cowling. Also, traces of the serial number visible on both tail fins. This crash site is located near the Granville Speedway which is/was located to the northeast of Jacksons Airport.
Walter "Buck" Buchanan, Jr. (son of
Walter E. Buchanan)
Note: The B-24 was incorrectly reported to have crashed near Bootless Bay at 2:00am.
1st Lt Walter E. Buchanan Flight Log July 11, 1943 via Walter "Buck" Buchanan, Jr.
- B-24D - 8 hours - C [combat] - PM crash - left main wheel jammed. All personnel parachuted safely."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-40060
Thanks to Bruce Hoy and Walter "Buck" Buchanan, Jr. for additional information
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February 14, 2020