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  Lockheed Hudson Mark IVa Serial Number A16-126  
RAAF
Composite Squadron
6 Squadron

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Aerothentic 2008

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Jared Reichman 2008
Pilot  F/O Graham Ian Gibson, 657 (MIA / KIA) North Cottesloe, WA
Co-Pilot  P/O Frank Leslie Oliver Thorn, 401471 (MIA / KIA) Brunswick, VIC
Crew  Sgt Arthur Edward Quail, 404748 (MIA / KIA) Biloela, QLD
Crew  Sgt Barton Irving Coutie, 405543 (MIA / KIA) Malvern, VIC
Crashed  February 11, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructor Number 6055. On September 17, 1941 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as Hudson serial number 41-23196. Disassembled and shipped overseas as part of defense aid to Australia.

Wartime History
On December 15, 1942 assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Hudson A16-126 and reassembled by 2 Air Depot (2 AD). This Hudson was test flown on December 20, 1942. Assigned to 6 Squadron then sent for modification with cowl guns instead of turret by December 28, 1941 and fitted with a Boulton Paul Type C Turret by January 29, 1942. Assigned to the 'Composite Squadron' of Hudson bombers from 6 Squadron, 23 Squadron and 24 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On February 11, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby as part a formation of three Hudsons: this aircraft plus Hudson A16-91 and Hudson A16-126. Over the target, intercepted by four A5M4 Claudes from Chitose Kōkūtai led by Ensign Satoshi Yoshino that took off from Gasmata Airfield to intercept the bombers.

The Hudsons bombed two Japanese ships at Gasmata Harbor: Kinryu Maru and Kozui Maru. Lost was Hudson A16-91. Shortly afterwards, this Hudson was also shot down. Last seen crashing into a ridge line. Afterwards, Ensign Satoshi Yoshino claimed two Hudsons in that combat, including this bomber.

Search
Postwar, a RAAF Searcher Party led by S/L Keith Rundle originally believed the wreckage of a Hudson in the sea off Gasmata was this aircraft and were unable to recover any remains from the crash site. In fact, the wreckage was later confirmed to be Hudson A16-101.

Wreckage
In fact, this Hudson crashed into the jungle of New Britain. On May 5, 2008 the crash site was discovered by Mark Reichman and his son Jared Reichman in the jungle on New Britain. On the rear fuselage was the serial number "A16-126" confirming the identity of the aircraft. On June 29, 2008 the discovery was officially acknowledge by the Australian Defense Force (ADF).

Mark Reichman adds:
"Thanks to Daniel Kovi for assisting with transportation and manpower to get to the site. He arranged trucks and dozers and carriers for us. Without his help we wouldn't have gotten far."

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All crew members are listed on the Bikipaka Cemetery Memorial as having "No Known Grave". Gibson on panel 34. Thorn on panel 35. Quail and Couitie on panel 36.

Relatives
Tony Gibson (son of Graham Ian Gibson):
"I was only six weeks old when Ian was shot down but had the knowledge that he had seen me at my birth which gives me a small amount of comfort."

Fiona Thorn (step-niece of Frank Leslie Oliver Thorn):
"I never knew Frank, being born in 1958, but my step-father Les was very close to him. Unfortunately Les and the other 3 brothers are now dead."

Barbara Forrester (niece of Barton Irving Coutie):
"Sgt Barton Irving Coutie was known as "Bill" he was born in Malvern, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 20th October 1918. He was the youngest of Barton and Edith Coutie’s five children."

Gloria Woodward (step-niece of Arthur Edward Quail):
"I knew him well as we spent a lot of time together growing up. I wrote to him throughout the war."

References
Kodochosho, Chitose Kōkūtai, February 11, 1942
RAAF records for this mission are recorded under 32 Squadron
We Who Are About To Die page 194 - 197
RAAF Hudson Story Book Two
"WWII plane find ends son's years of torment" The Western Australian June 28, 2008 page 3
Australian Defense Force (ADF) News Release "WWII RAAF Aircraft Located in PNG" June 29, 2008
ADF Serials - Hudson A16-126
CWGC - Graham Ian Gibson
CWGC - Frank Leslie Oliver Thorn
CWGC - Arthur Edward Quail
CWGC - Barton Irving Coutie
Thanks to Mark Reichman, Dave Vincent, Lex McCaully and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
September 22, 2020

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