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  F-5A-1-LO Lightning Serial Number 42-12680  
13th AF
4th PRG
17th PRS

17th PRS c1943

17th PRS c1943
Pilot  2nd Lt. Charles B. Roberts, Jr., O-726474, (MIA / KIA) Gwinnett County, GA
MIA  May 8, 1943
MACR  620

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 7120. Converted from a model P-38G Lightning into a F-5A photographic reconnaissance version. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as F-5A-1-LO Lightning serial number 42-12680. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 4th Photo Reconnaissance Group (4th PRG), 17th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron (17th PRS). Each side of the nose was painted "680" in white (the last three digits of the serial number) forward of the camera window. Each propeller spinner was painted with three rings of color. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines V1710-55, V1710-51 serial numbers 42-32318 and 42-28572. This aircraft was not armed with any weapons, only aerial cameras.

Mission History
On May 8, 1943 at 9:20am took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal piloted by 2nd Lt. Charles B. Roberts on a photographic reconnaissance and visual search mission over Buka. The weather was low broken clouds from 1,000' to 12,000' while north of Kolombangara Island was a low overcast with ceiling of zero. Last seen on take off headed north. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Roberts was declared dead on December 17, 1945. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Roberts earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. Posthumously, he earned the Purple Heart and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

World War II Army Enlistment Records - Charles B. Roberts, Jr.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - 42-12680
"12680 (17th PRS, 4th PRG) lost May 8, 1943, Solomon Islands. MACR 620"
YouTube "With The 17th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron on Guadalcanal" includes footage of this aircraft at Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal during February 1943
0:18-0:37 footage of this aircraft near the 17th PRS sign
Missing Air Crew Report 620 (MACR 620) created August 21, 1943
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles B. Roberts Jr.
FindAGrave - 1Lt Charles B Roberts, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020


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