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  B-26 "Miss Mercury" Serial Number 40-1446  
USAAF
22nd BG
2nd BS

Pilot  1st Lt. John T. Watkins, Jr. (survived)
Damaged  December 18, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Martin in Baltimore, Maryland. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-26 Marauder serial number 40-1446. During March 1943, assigned to the 22nd Bombardment Group (22nd BG), 19th Bombardment Squadron (19th BS) at Langley Field. The rear fuselage had "01446" stenciled in yellow. The nose wheel had a USAAF star on the nose wheel hub.

Wartime History
This B-26 was partially disassembled and shipped as cargo to Oahu then transported to Hickam Field and reassembled at the Hawaiian Air Depot (HAD). Assigned to pilot 2nd Lt. Charles I. Hitchcock and took off from Hickam Field on a ferry flight across the Pacific arriving at Amberly Field near Brisbane on April 14, 1942.

On April 22, 1942 in the morning flown to Garbutt Field at Townsville and soon afterwards to Reid River Airfield. In Australia, field modified with the addition of long side window to improve visibility for the side gunners.

This B-26 flew a total of seventeen combat missions in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) assigned to pilot Hitchcock, co-pilot 2nd Lt. John T. Watkins, Jr. with crew chiefs McClaren and SSgt Anthonly "Tony" Chunis. Nicknamed "Miss Mercury" (but the nickname was never painted on the bomber) with the nose art of the Greek goddess mercury holding a U.S. flag, but the nose art was never completed with only the figure painted. In total, this B-26 flew seventeen combat missions.

On April 19, 1942 took off piloted by 2nd Lt. Hitchcock on this bomber's first combat mission against Simpson Harbor off Rabaul. Over the target, gunner Pfc Campbell was credited with shooting down a Zero.

On April 30, 1942 took off from Garbutt Field at Townsville piloted by piloted by 2nd Lt. Hitchcock and flown northward to land at 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby in the late afternoon to stage for a bombing mission.

On May 1, 1942 at 7:30am took off from 7 Mile Drome piloted by piloted by Lt. Charles I. Hitchcock as one of seven B-26s armed with either incendiary clusters or 100 pound bombs on a mission to bomb Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. Shortly after off, four aborted due to mechanical issues. The three remaining B-26s experienced bad weather and diverted to bomb the alternate target Gasmata. Without opposition, the bombers made a second pass to strafe the area and before midday returned to 7 Mile Drome.

On May 9, 1942 at 6:00am at 7 Mile Drome piloted by Lt. Hitchcock armed with two 1,000 pound bombs was unable to participate in bombing mission (PM 1) due to mechanical trouble and instead flew to Garbutt Field.

On May 22, 1942 took off from 7 Mile Drome on a mission against Lae and was damaged with damage to the ailerons from machine gun fire gunner Pfc Campbell was credited with shooting down another Zero. Afterwards, the damage was repaired and out of action for ten weeks in Australia.

On August 7, 1942 returned to service and later in the month was flown northward to 7 Mile Drome and flew five missions with engineer Sgt John C. Caputo was credited with shooting down a Zero. During December 1942 flew two more combat missions.

Mission History
On December 18, 1942 took off piloted by 1st Lt. John T. Watkins, Jr. on an armed reconnaissance mission over the Solomon Sea to Gasmata. Returning, the one engine caught fire but managed to reach Gurney Airfield (No. 1 Strip, Fall River) near Milne Bay. While landing, the right landing gear leg collapsed. Afterwards, this bomber was written off. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-26 40-1446
22nd Bombardment Group mission summary for Mission PM 1 via Thomas Hall
Form 5 Lt. Charles I. Hitchcock
Revenge of the Red Raiders (2006) pages 62 (map, 40-1446), 86 (April 30, 1942–May 1, 1942), 128 (August 13, 1942 convoy mission), 161 (December 18, 1942), 303 (profile no. 9), 490 (2nd BS, 40-1446), 517, 549-550 (profile no. 9 description), 608 (index Ewbank, John N., Jr.), 611 (index Hitchcock, Charles I.), 616 (index Miss Mercury)
The co-pilot’s great-nephew, Tom Hall, offers his interpretation, March 2021

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Last Updated
April 26, 2021

 

Tech Info
B-26
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