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  P-38H-1-LO Lightning Serial Number 42-66561 Nose 181
5th AF
475th FG
433rd FS

Click For Enlargement
475th FG c1943
Pilot  2nd Lt. Virgil A. Hagan, O-746094, (MIA / KIA) Salem, OR
MIA  October 17, 1943
MACR  1420

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38H-1-LO Lightning serial number 42-66561. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 475th Fighter Group (475th FG) "Satan's Angels", 433rd Fighter Squadron (433rd FS) "Possum". No known nickname or nose art. Squadron number 181 (White 181) in white on the nose and tail. When lost, engines (left) V-1710-91 serial number 42-93621 (right) V-1710-89 serial number 42-29680. Weapon serial numbers noted in Missing Air Crew Report 1420 (MACR 1420).

Mission History
On October 17, 1943 took off from North Borio Airfield (Dobodura No. 15) piloted by 2nd Lt. Virgil A. Hagan as wingman for 1st Lt. John Babel on a mission to patrol over Allied shipping off Morobe Harbor off Cape Ward Hunt at 18,000' at 10:30am. The weather was favorable.

A large group of forty or more Japanese aircraft were sighted and the P-38s climbed to 20,000', released their drop tanks and dove to attack roughly a dozen A6M Zeros. This P-38 was last seen in a dive at 2,000' off Cape Ward Hunt chasing an enemy fighter over the sea east of Buna by 1st Lt. Babel.

When this aircraft failed to return, Hagan was officially reported Missing In Action (MIA).

Also lost are P-40N 42-104991 (MIA), P-38H 42-66743 (MIA), P-38H 42-66836 (rescued), P-38H "We Dood It" 42-66908 (survived).

Hagan was officially declared dead the day the mission. He earned the Air Medal, Purple Heart, posthumously. Hagen is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38H-1-LO Lightning 42-66561
"66561 (475th FG, 433rd FS) shot down over Oro Bay, New Guinea Oct 17, 1943, possibly by the famous ace Nishizawa. MACR 1420."
Missing Air Crew Report 1420 (MACR 1420) created October 18, 1943
Western Union telegram reporting Hagan missing in action piloting P-38H 42-66561
Letter from Daniel T. Roberts to Hagan;s mother October 22, 1943 [PDF]
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Virgil A. Hagan

FindAGrave - 2Lt Virgil A Hagan (photos, Tablets of the Missing)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38H Lightning 42-66561
Thanks to the Hagan family for additional information

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020


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