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  F4U-1A Corsair Bureau Number 17915  
USMC
MAG 11
VMF-214

Pilot  Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington (POW, survived)
Crashed  January 3, 1944 at 8:45am


Aircraft History
Built by Vought. Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to squadron VMF-214 "Black Sheep". No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On January 3, 1944 took off from Torokina Airfield on Bougainville at 6:30am piloted by Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington on a fighter sweep over Rabaul. Boyington was in tactical command of 46 fighters, including 8 F4Us from VMF-214, 12 F4Us from VMF-211 and 16 F6F from VF-33 flying from Ondonga Airfield. After take off, several planes aborted the mission due to mechanical failures, including three Corsairs from VMF-214.

Arriving over the target area at an altitude 20,000' to 24,000' the formation spotted a group of A6M Zeros and dove to intercept. Likely, this was 29 A6M Zeros from the 253 Kōkūtai. Also airborne were 27 A6M Zeros from 204 Kōkūtai that joined the dog fight.

During the combat, Boyington shot down a Zero from dead astern (his 20th victory) claiming it went down burning, and was confirmed by several other witnesses. Afterwards, Boyington's wingman F4U Corsair 02723 piloted by Captain George M. Ashmun was overwhemed by attacking Zeros and lost.

Boyington then got the brunt of the Zero attacks and was hit by a 20mm cannon shell that exploded in the belly of his plane, wounded him in the leg, head, ear and forearm. Severely damaged, he leveled off over St. Georges Channel, flew for a half mile until his fuel tank caught fire. At approximately 0845, Boyington bailed out at low altitude with his parachute opening moments before he hit the water. When this aircraft failed to return, it was officailly listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Prisoner of War
Boyington landed in St. Georges Channel and was at sea for eight hour until spotted and picked up by Japanese submarine I-181 and transported to Rabaul. Interrogated at Imperial Japanese Navy Headquarters, Boyington was interned as a Prisoner Of War (POW). While detained, he suffered from festering wounds, beatings and malaria.

On February 15, 1944 Boyington and fifteen other Allied prisoners were to be flown to Japan, but the flight was aborted due to an Allied attack warning. On February 17, 1944 Boyington was one of six Allied prisoners transported aboard a G4M1 Betty bomber from Rabaul to Truk. That same day, transported aboard a L2D Tabby (DC-3) from Truk to Saipan then Iwo Jima and on March 7, 1944 arrived in Japan. Transported to Ofuna Camp near Yokohama where he was detained as a prisoner until the surrender of Japan.

References
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4U-1A Corsair 17915
"17915 (VMF-214) shot down Jan 3, 1944 with Maj Gregory Boyington. Made POW."
Flying Aces "War Flyers In The Headlines" April 1944 page 35
The Black Sheep pages 335 -- 341
Black Sheep One pages 306 - 317
The Siege of Rabaul page 20-21, 23-24

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Last Updated
August 18, 2018

 

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F4U

POW
POW
Survived

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