|Pilot 2nd Lt. Russell N. Erum, O-796800 (MIA / KIA) Minneapolis, MN
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Mack L Sims, Jr., O-735828 (MIA / KIA) Hedker, TX
Radio T/Sgt Raymond O. Blair, 39317307 (MIA / KIA) Independence, OR
Gunner S/Sgt Robert J. Edwards, 39106055 (MIA / KIA) Phoenix, AZ
Crashed March 26, 1944
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force. During June 1943 assigned to the 22nd Bombardment Group, 2nd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "The Ringmaster" with circus nose, plane #1. Regular pilot Barrett and Brittain. First combat mission was on October 14, 1943. Flew at least 46 combat missions over New Guinea. Converted to a strafer variant (B-25D-1) by the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field near Townsville.
On January 31, 1944 assigned to the 345th Bombardment Group, 499th Bombardment Squadron on January 31, 1944. Crew chief was Mottern. When lost, engines R-2600-13 serial numbers 42-77606 and 41-27771. Weapon serial numbers noted in Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 4496.
On March 26, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield No. 3 at 3:50pm on a local transition flight that would return to the same airfield. This B-25 was last seen after take off flying at 1,000' heading of roughly 300 degrees. The weather was visibility unlimited and 5,000' to 6,000' ceilings in the Markham Valley area. This aircraft was believed to have crashed in the mountains to the north-east near Nadzab.
After failing to arrive at 6pm, it was too dark to conduct a search mission for the 30279missing plane. The next morning, a search by three B-25s took off at 9am and searched the Markham Valley area and bordering mountains and coastline from Lae to Finchafen to Salamaua. The planes returned at 11:30am with nil sighting. A second search was flown at 2pm concentrating on the area near the airfield, but returned at 4:30 with nil sighting.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All area memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Missing Air Crew Report 4496 (MACR 4496)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Russell N. Erum
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Mack L. Sims Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Raymond D. Blair
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert J. Edwards
FindAGrave - 1Lt Russell N Erum (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
Mack L Sims, Jr (grave photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25D-1 Mitchell 41-30259
Revenge of the Red Raiders page 492. 526
Warpath Across The Pacific page 144, 369, 387
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February 14, 2020