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|Pilot Captain Joe Y. Copenhaver, O-729136 (MIA / KIA) MT
MIA March 5, 1944
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Manufacture Number 1871. Converted from a model P-38G into a F-5B-1 photographic reconnaissance version. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as F-5B-1-LO Lightning serial number 42-67360. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, 25th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines V-1710 serial numbers 42-94133 and 41-30806.
On March 5, 1944 at 9:40am took off from Nadzab Airfield pilted by Captain Joe Y. Copenhaver to conduct a visual reconnaissance over the Tadji area. This aircraft failed to return and was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
On September 19, 1962 this aircraft was located by by an Australian Patrol Officer (kiap) and a team from U. S. Army CILHI recovery mission "3-1962". A large portion of the site had been washed away by the headwaters of the Sepik River.
The only visible parts remaining were radio parts, a wing tip and a piece of metal showing the U. S. star insignia. A retractable landing gear from the main wreckage was found downstream roughly 155 yards. No human remains were found at the site.
Copenhaver was officially declared dead on February 5, 1946. He earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - F-5B-1-LO Lightning 42-67360
Missing Air Crew Report 4091 (MACR 4091)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joe Y. Copenhaver
FindAGrave - Capt Joe Y Copenhaver (tablets of the mission)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - F-5B Lightning 42-67360
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Robert Piper for additional information
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