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Justin Taylan 2003
Andy Decker 2009
|Pilot 2nd Lt Delmar L. Wichmann, O-742399 (MIA / KIA, BR) McLean County, IL
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Warren W. Everett, O-738126 (MIA / KIA, BR) Minneapolis, MN
Radio SSgt George R. Belchik, 16070703 (MIA / KIA, BR) Lake County, IN
Engineer SSgt Fred A. Clayton, 14125311 (MIA / KIA, BR) Spartanburg, SC
Gunner SSgt Edgar D. Faulkner, Jr., 19170027 (MIA / KIA, BR) Lane County, OR
Photographer SSgt William J. Hogan, 19033171 (MIA / KIA, BR) Spokane, WA
Crashed May 21, 1944 at approximately 9:51am
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-5 Mitchell serial number 41-30074. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
On April 5, 1943 assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG), 501st Bombardment Squadron (501st BS). Assigned to pilot 1st Lt. Sylvester K. Vogt with crew chief Sims.
During early August 1943, converted into a B-25D-1 strafer by the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field near Townsville then returned to the 501st Bombardment Squadron at Port Moresby. A identification white vertical stripe was painted on nose below the cockpit.
Nicknamed "Tin Liz" painted in red cursive next to the nose art of a grasshopper riding an aerial bomb. The nose had a white vertical nose identification stripe. Both engine cowling were painted red. The tail had a horizontal white stripe above the serial number. Below the pilot window was "Dead-eye Sy". A scoreboard with yellow bomb markings indicating missions flown plus white aircraft silhouettes and a ship were to the rear indicating claims.
On October 18, 1943 took off from Dobodura No. 4 piloted by Captain Bruce T. Marston armed with 100 pound bomb wire wrapped "daisy cutter" and parafrag bombs leading the 501st BS over Rapopo Airfield southeast of Rabaul.
On November 15, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Sylvester K. Vogt on a strike mission against Boram Airfield and Wewak. The formation was led by Major Fridge leading all four squadrons of the 345th Bombardment Group plus two squadrons of B-25G's from the 38th Bombardment Group. An escort by P-47s was planned, but were not met at the rendezvous point at Mount Yonkie. Instead, approximately 15 "Zeros" (sic Ki-43 Oscars) were encountered at roughly 10:00am. The fighters made 15 firing passes including a "Zero" (sic Ki-43 Oscar) made three passes from below before turret gunner SSgt Joseph Forman claimed it as shot down with a 60 round burst. The B-25 continued as far north as Dumpu, and observed Japanese twin engine bombers escorted by fighters intercepted by friendly fighters bombing Gusap Airfield. At roughly 10:17, this mission was aborted, since the element of surprise was lost and returned to Port Moresby.
On December 22, 1943 took off piloted by 1st Lt. Sylvester K. Vogt with co-pilot 2nd Lt. Frank J. Flanagan, Jr. armed with 300 pound bombs on a low level strike against Boram Airfield near Wewak. Over the target first was the 500th BS and 499th BS that targeting Wewak followed by the 501st and 498th targeting Boram Airfield second. This B-25 was part of the last flight led by B-25D "Thumper" 41-30071 pilot Captain Walter D. Kilroy with no. 2 B-25D "Little Stinky" 41-30080 pilot 1st Lt. Edward E. Bailey and no. 3 this B-25. Over Wewak, the formation was targeted by anti-aircraft fire that was described as the most intense and accurate yet encountered over this target. Already airborne and scrambled were Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) fighters including Ki-43 Oscars from the 59th Sentai and 248th Sentai plus Ki-61 Tonys from the 68th Sentai and 78th Sentai. As the last flight began their turn to attack, the fighters made a firing pass against the B-25s then were engaged by the escorting P-38s and dog fights developed. As the 501st BS formation turned over Wiruri Mission (Wewak Mission) to begin their strike on Boram Airfield, the Japanese fighters attacked the bomber formation. A K-43 Oscar attacked the left side of the formation and came within 50 yards and was fired on by gunners aboard this bomber plus B-25D "Thumper" 41-30071 that caused the fighter to wing over and crashed into a hill east of the mission.Afterwards, the flight bombed and strafed both Wiruri Mission (Wewak Mission) and Boram Airfield. Returning, escorted damaged B-25D "Thumper" 41-30071 until it force landed in the Ramu Valley then dropped supplies to the crew, circled and landed at Gusap Airfield. Afterwards, Vogt used a liaison aircraft to overfly the crashed bomber to aid in their rescue.
On February 15, 1944 took off piloted by 1st Lt. John R. Tunze, Jr. on a low level strike over Kavieng. Over the target, damaged by anti-aircraft fire. Returning this B-25 landed at Finschafen Airfield and afterwards was repaired.
This B-25 flew at least eighty-five combat missions, with a scoreboard with three lines of bomb markings. Later, the nose art was revised with a different variation of the nose art with a grasshopper riding an aerial bomb atop a white circle. When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers were not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 16180 (MACR 16180).
On May 21, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt Delmar L. Wichmann on a low level strike against Dagua Airfield. Over the target, hit by anti-aircraft fire, this bomber crashed roughly 3/4 of a mile off the end of the runway.
The last time this B-25 was seen was approximately 9:51am off the eastern end the runway during the strafing run. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Returning, crews returning to base reported a fire arid black smoke about 3/4 mile southeast of Dagua Airfield and some of the crew stated it might be a crashed airplane.
After the crash, search aircraft spotted the wreckage of this bomber, identifying it by the 501st Bombardment Squadron markings visible from the air. At 3:15pm, the wreckage was still burning. It was the opinion of the pilots on the search mission that it would have been impossible for any crew members to have survived the crash.
Recovery of Remains
During April or May 1946, the remains of the crew were recovered by an Australian Army graves team and temporarily buried in Wewak Cemetery then moved to Finschafen Cemetery and finally Manila American Cemetery, before being transported to the United States for permanent burial.
The entire crew were officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the crew were buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in a group burial at section 82 site 46B-46D during 1951.
During the crash, the tail section broken off and was separated from the rest of the aircraft. This B-25 crashed nearby A-20G "Sweet Milk" 43-9113 that crashed six days earlier.
In 1972, Assistant District Commissioner (ADC) Patrol Officer (Kiap) for East Sepik Province David Pennefather inspected the crash site and wrote a letter to the U. S. Air Force Museum (USAF) October 26, 1972 describing the condition of the wreckage. The letter included the main dataplate with the serial number 41-30074 recovered from the crash site.
During 1974, the tail section was recovered transported to Tadji. There, it was attached to B-25C "Feather Merchant" 41-12442, for a WWII memorial at Aitape.
Charles Darby recalls:
"Strange that I went to all the trouble of getting fin and rudder assemblies from [B-25D-1 "Tin Liz" 41-30074] shot-down at Dagua, then found the original assemblies buried in sand on the last day of the work, long after we had taken the bomber down to the school."
During 2003, U. S. Army CILHI excavated a pit in front of the right engine.
Justin Taylan visited in 2003:
"This wreck is in close proximity to A-20G "Sweet Milk" 43-9113. I was told at the time of my visit that the hole near the engine was dug by U. S. Army CILHI during a search for additional remains at the crash site."
During 2010, a team from Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) visited the crash site and did additional digging.
Andy Decker visited the crash site on May 21, 2009:
"The wreck has deteriorated from the 2003 visit in that the right engine has fallen away from the wing and is sinking down into the muck. Locals have been harvesting sago around the wreckage and built a small lean-to over the right wing, presumably for shelter from the elements. Their activities had cleared out a lot of the undergrowth though, so we found many smaller pieces of wreckage that otherwise would have been overlooked. The left wing is present, but looks as though it had been on fire by the condition of the aluminum sheeting. We found a 50 cal fixed mount machine gun with a round corroded to the feed tray. There were also several lengths of the flexible ammo feed belts that ran from the ammo boxes to the guns. While at the Dagua Parish Mission, I met an older woman who said she saw the TIN LIZ get shot down by a machine gun that was set up at the base of a hill just west of the A-20 wreck. She said that she and her friends went to look and that everyone was dead. At the B25 site, I at first thought that I was seeing both wings and some fuselage wreckage, but further examination leads me to believe that the wing in the background of the attached picture was also a right side wing. Also, the engine mounts do not look like anything I've come across for a B-25."
Andy Decker visited again in May 2011:
"I also visited the B-25 41-30074 crash site. It has been picked through since I was there last with some new parts visible on the ground. I had dinner with a local cocoa grower and he was quite emphatic that CILHI visited the site in 2010. I'll check with them to see if they will tell me anything of their visit. One interesting note: what I assumed to be wing wreckage off another type of aircraft turns out to be the horizontal stabilizer off a B-25. If the Tin Liz tail went to Aitape for the Feather Merchant static display, then there is another B-25 here. I found an assembly number stamped into that piece of wreckage that I then was able to find in a B-25 parts manual I have. I guess I'll be going back next year to investigate further.
Andy Decker (nephew of Everett)
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Delmar L. Wichmann
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Warren W. Everett
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George R. Belchik
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Fred A. Clayton
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Edgar D. Faulkner, Jr.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William J. Hogan
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D-5 Mitchell 41-30074
"30074 (345th BG, 501st BS) shot down May 21, 1944 near Dagua, New Guinea airstrip. MACR 16180. All 6 crew KIA."
Missing Air Crew Report 1463 (MACR 1463) page 7 December 22, 1943 mission
Missing Air Crew Report 16180 (MACR 16180)
FindAGrave - Delmar L Wichmann (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Warren W Everett (grave photo)
FindAGrave - George R Belchik (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Fred A Clayton (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Edgar D Faulkner, Jr (grave photo)
FindAGrave - William J Hogan (grave photo)
Letter David Pennefather to U. S. Air Force Museum (USAF) October 26, 1972
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-30074
Warpath Across The Pacific (1996) pages 65, 92, 98, 126, 149 (map), 162 (photo), 214 (profile no. 8), 369, 397, 414 (photo), 447 (index), 448 (Wichmann/Vogt)
Thanks to David Pennefather, Charles Darby and Andy Decker for additional information
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