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  B-25C Mitchell Serial Number 41-12448  
5th AF
3rd BG
90th BS

Pilot  1st Lt John E. Hesselbarth, O-403850 (MIA / KIA) KA
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Joseph W. Ferguson, O-429779 (MIA / KIA) CO
Crew  T/Sgt Ivan M. Wright, 6823767 (MIA / KIA) LA
Crew  Cpl George E. Thigpin, 14014675 (MIA / KIA) MS
Crew  Cpl Hugh W. Douglas, 14020373 (MIA / KIA) TN
Crew  Cpl Albert H. Smith, 6971033 (MIA / KIA) LA
Crashed  May 25, 1942
MACR  15724

Aircraft History
Built by North American in Inglewood, California, the fifteenth B-25C Mitchell produced. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25C Mitchell serial number 41-12448. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 3rd Bombardment Group (3rd BG), 90th Bombardment Squadron (90th BS). No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On May 25, 1942 took off from Cooktown Airfield piloted by 1st Lt John E. Hesselbarth on a morning flight bound for 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby  to stage for a combat mission then took off again from 7-Mile Drome as one of eight B-25s on a bombing mission against Lae Airfield.

Over the target, attacked by approximately fifteen Tainan Kōkūtai A6M2 Zeros in vicinity of the airfield for twenty minutes. This B-25 was last seen being engaged by two A6M Zeros, losing altitude with both engines in flames.

The entire crew was officially declared dead on November 18, 1945. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Beth Bender (niece of Ferguson)

Previously, co-pilot Ferguson assigned to the 27th Bombardment Group, 91st Bombardment Squadron. He was a A-24 Dive Bomber pilot in flying combat missions from Bali and Java.
3rd Bombardment Group History incorrectly lists date of loss as being May 24, 1942
90th Bomb Squadron History, page 39
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-12448
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
July 6, 2020


Tech Info

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