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  P-38G-5-LO Lightning Serial Number 42-12856  
5th AF
49th FG
9th FS

Pilot  1st Lt. Frank G. Wunder, Jr., O-729400 (MIA / KIA) Minden, IA
MIA  October 13, 1943
MACR  1104

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38G-5-LO Lightning serial number 42-12856. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 9th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines V-1710-51 and V-1710-55 serial numbers: 42-32181 and 42-39161. Weapon serial numbers listed in in Missing Air Crew Report 1104.

Mission History
On October 13, 1943 at 10:20am took off Kiriwina Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. Frank G. Wunder Jr. on an mission to escort B-24 Liberators over Rabaul. The P-38s rendezvoused with the B-24s north of Kiriwina. Wunder part of "Green Flight" flying as wingman for P-38G 42-12698 pilot 1st Lt. Ralph L. Hays. The P-38s rendezvoused with the B-24s north of Kiriwina.

Inbound to the target, the weather was approaching frontal region with precipitation and clouds. The P-38s entered bad weather this aircraft was last sighted by Captain Gerald R. Johnson at roughly Lat 7°  S Long 152° E over the Solomon Sea, south of New Britain and northeast of Kiriwina. Likely, lost due to bad weather. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost were P-38H "Charlcie Jeann" 42-66516 (MIA) and P-38G 42-12698 (MIA).

Captain Gerald R. Johnson, MACR 1116 page 6 / MACR 1104 page 6:
"Green flight lost Lt. Ralph L. Hays and Lt. Frank G. Wunder, Jr., wingman, and the remainder of the flight returned to Dobodura... I believe the reason for the loss of these pilots was due to mid-air collision. All pilots had sufficient experience to turn out of the rain."

On October 14, 1943 a search was initiated by P-38s from the squadron the searched between Dobodura and Kiriwina and offshore islands. The search found a B-24 bellied in on a reef whose crew had already been rescued. The aircraft also searched from Kiriwina to Woodlark with nil sightings. The entire search lasted 5-7 hours.

Wunder was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized at the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Wunder also has a memorial marker at Graceland Cemetery  in Avoca, Iowa.

Previously, Wunder claimed a single aerial victory over Salamaua, but was not offically credited victory in USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Wunder, Frank G., Jr.
NARA - World War II Army Enlistment Records - Frank G. Wunder, Jr.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38G-5-LO Lightning 42-12856
"12856 (49th FG) lost Oct 13, 1943. MACR 1104"
Pilot Roster, 9th Fighter Squadron 1942-1943 via Edward Rogers
Missing Air Crew Report 1104 (MACR 1104) created October 15, 1943
The Journal-Herald "Lt. Frank Wunder Missing In Action" November 4, 1943
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank G. Wunder Jr.
FindAGrave - 1Lt Frank G Wunder, Jr (news, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Frank G "Buddy" Wunder (news, obituary, memorial marker)
Fighter Pilot (1979) page 50-51
"My flight was the first to land, and we waited two hours for the rest of the squadron to straggle in. Three planes were missing - Frank Wunder, Ralph Hays and Theron Price, the pilots. I had my ship refueled and four of us searched until dark without finding a trace of them. Early the next morning we received permission to conduct a full-scale search; for three days we combed the area without success. The fourth day [October 17, 1943] we were needed for another Rabaul raid, so the search was called off."

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020


Tech Information

October 13, 1943

1 Missing
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