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  B-25C "Pistoff" Serial Number 41-12830  
5th AF
38th BG
71st BS

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38th BG c1942

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Don Silcock October 2009
Pilot  1st Lt William R. Lett (survived)
Co-Pilot  1st Lt Mortie M. Marks (survived)
Navigator  1st Lt John B. Johnson (survived)
Bombardier  2nd Lt Gustave R. Rau (survived)
Engineer  S/Sgt Joe G. Maupin (survived)
Radio  T/Sgt Thoedore J. Bokoles (survived)
Gunner  S/Sgt William W. Holmes (survived)
Ditched  January 8, 1943
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by North American Aviation (NAA) in Inglewood. Constructors number 82-5462. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25C Mitchell serial number 41-12830.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 38th Bombardment Group (38th BG) "Sun Setters", 71st Bombardment Squadron (71st BS) "The Wolf Pack". Nicknamed "Pistoff" in white lettering on the left and right side of the nose. On the right side below the cockpit was "Butch".

Mission History
On January 8, 1943 took off from from Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt William R. Lett on a mission to attack a Japanese convoy off Lae. This bomber was one of six B-25s from the 71st Bombardment Squadron (71st BS) plus six B-25s from the 405th Bombardment Squadron (405th BS) Over the target, attacked by five A6M2 Zeros and was hit in the right engine that was feathered.

This B-25 proceeded down the north coast of New Guinea seeking a place to land. Running out of fuel, ditched into Collingwood Bay nearby Wanigela Mission at Wanigela. During the landing, one crew member sustained injuries, the rest survived unhurt.

Fates of the Crew
Immediately, friendly villagers paddled in canoes to assist the crew and dove underwater to the sunken bomber. Once ashore, the crew were flown from Wanigela Airfield back to Port Moresby and returned to duty.

This B-25 remains in situ on the sea floor at a depth of 44' / 13.5m. The bomber is occasionally dived by tourists from Tufi Resport.

Don Silcock dove the wreck in October 2009:
"I was diving the B25 at the end of a long day out - couple of hours from Tufi to Boga Boga, then diving B-17F "Black Jack" and then a couple of hours to Wanigella followed by an hour searching for the B-25, then about 2m viz, so I was quite pleased with the results given the conditions. Overall the plane is in quite good condition given the environment it's in with all the siltation, the cockpit is missing though but the rest is all there as I recall it."

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25C Mitchell 41-12830 incorrectly states scrapped January 9, 1945
38th BG, HQ, "Performance of B25 Aircraft of 38th Bomb Group During 18 Months of Combat in New Guinea." March 29, 1944. "B-25C    41-12830 “Pistoff”-Crashed at Wanigela Mission, N.G. 1/8/43 after being badly shot up attacking enemy convoy at Lae, N.G."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-12830
Dive Tufi - SCUBA diving - Pistoff B25
Thanks to Larry Hickey and Don Silcock for additional information

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Last Updated
February 12, 2023


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44' / 13.5m
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