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  B-25C Mitchell Serial Number 41-12478  
USAAF
5th AF
3rd BG
90th BS

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Doan May 16, 1942

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David Carne c1958
Pilot  2nd Lt. John D. Feltham (survived)
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Hugh L. Turk, Jr. (survived) Brooke County, WV
Crew  Sgt Dutrow (survived)
Crew  Cpl H. S. Taylor (survived)
Crew  Sgt Omar N. Ferguson, 19049493 (survived) Los Angeles, CA
Crew  S/Sgt P. R. Ervin (survived)
Force Landed  May 16, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by North American Aviation (NAA) in Inglewood. Constructors Number 82-5113. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25C Mitchell serial number 41-12478.

Purchased by the Netherlands for the Militaire Luchtvaart (ML-KNIL) Army Aviation Corps of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army for use in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) as B-25C Mitchell N5-131. Afterwards, ferried via Hickam Field then across the Pacific by a Royal Air Force (RAF) Ferry Command aircrew arriving in Australia on April 18, 1942. In Australia, retained by the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF),

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 16, 1942 in the morning took off from Port Moresby pilot by 2nd Lt. John D. Feltham on a bombing mission against Lae that was unsuccessful. During the afternoon, took off again on a repeat mission against Lae, but encountered solid overcast over the target and encountered intense but light anti-aircraft fire but encountered no enemy fighters. The formation successfully bombed from 2,400'. Returning, pilot Feltham diverted to strafe Japanese seaplanes off Salamaua.

Returning from the mission, Feltham became disoriented in an overcast. Low on fuel, his crew spotted Aiyura Airfield and while landing, the nose wheel hit a hole and buckled resulting in the nose section being crushed but the entire crew escaped without serious injuries. When this bomber failed to return, it was reported as Missing In Action (MIA).

Fate of the Crew
The entire crew survived and sent word they needed to be rescued. While waiting, they explored the area around Aiyura and repaired an abandoned Spartan biplane and made a successful test flight from Aiyura Airfield.

On May 20, 1942 an A-24 Dive bomber piloted by Captain Rogers, C.O., 8th Bomb Squadron (8th BS) flying over Aiyura spotted the crashed B-25 Mitchell and landed at Aiyura Airfield and conversed with Feltham then took off and continued his flight to Wau Airfield. When he returned to Port Moresby, he ordered a rescue mission.

Rescue
On May 24, 1942 three A-24 Dive bombers: A-24 41-15822, A-24 41-15820 and A-24 41-15783 took off from Port Moresby and landed at Aiyura Airfield to rescue the B-25 crew.

On May 25, 1942 during take off A-24 Dive Bomber 41-15783 crashed during take off, killing pilot Holcomb died and wounded Rogers.

On June 17, 1942 the Spartan biplane took off piloted by Feltham with passenger Australian WO Brechin on a flight bound for Bena Bena Airfield but crashed after take off. During the crash, Brechin was killed and Feltham suffered two broken legs and was later found trapped inside the wreckage and rescued by several Australians. Afterwards, Feltham's legs were splinted and a litter was made to carry him to Bena Bena.

On June 18, 1942 Jerry Pendleton landed at Aiyura Airfield in a DH Dragon and flew Rogers out, stopping at Karina / Kerema before returning to Port Moresby. The same day,

The same DH Dragon piloted by Pendleton flew to Bena Bena Airfield to transport Feltham back to Port Moresby and returned over the next few weeks to rescue the remainder of the crew. A-24 pilot Doan returned to Charters Towers on July 15, 1942.

Wreckage
After the crash, native laborers lifted the damaged nose upward but were unable push it off the runway area. Later, more native labors helped push the bomber to the side of the runway. Sometime later, the bomber was stripped for usable parts including the instruments, guns, engines and tail. Officially condemned March 1, 1943.

By the late 1950s, the fuselage and wings remained abandoned at Aiyura Airfield. Sometime afterwards, the bomber was further broken up and abandoned with some parts possibly abandoned.

Memorials
Ferguson remained in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and served in the Korean War and Vietnam War and retired with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt). He passed away on January 15, 1999 at age 82. Ferguson is buried at San Francisco National Cemetery at section OSA row 24 site 4.

Relatives
Are you a relative of Lt. Feltham or Lt. Turk or any of the crew members?
Contact Us

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Hugh L. Turk, Jr.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Omar N. Ferguson
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25C Mitchell 41-12478
"12478 (MSN 82-5113) to Netherlands Indies AF as N5-131 Feb 25, 1942. Shipped to Australia Apr 12, 1942 and retained by USAAF, condemned Mar 1, 1943."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25 Mitchell piloted by Feltham
Col. Oliver C. Doan diary and photo album made available courtesy of his Jean Doan
B-25C Mitchell 41-12478 rescue of the crew by Edward Rogers
FindAGrave - Omar N. Ferguson (grave photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis

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Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
July 13, 2021

 

Tech Info
B-25
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