US Army Signal Corps
January 20, 1943
|Pilot 1st Lt. Carl G. Planck, Jr., O-390618 (rescued) Charleston, SC
Ditched November 2, 1943
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 9th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines V-1710-55-51 serial number 42-32304 and 42-28739. Weapon serial numbers: 50 caliber machine guns 52254, 53457, 53276 and 468268 and 20mm cannon 59335.
On November 2, 1943 took off from Horanda Airfield (Dobodura No. 4) at 11:00am piloted by 1st Lt. Carl G. Planck, Jr. leading the second element of Green Flight with wingman Lt. Wood. At the rendezvous point over the Gona Wreck [Ayatosan Maru], the flight leader Captain Jordan experienced engine trouble and aborted from the mission. His wingman, Lt. Lewelling joined Green Flight.
The P-38s rendezvoused with thirteen B-25 Mitchells and escorted them an escort for them to Rabaul. Weather was good with a layer of cumulus clouds base at 2,000'. The formation flew up the St. Georges Channel at 100' to try to avoid Japanese radar, then climbed to 5,000' over the Duke of York Island Group before arriving over Rabaul. The P-38s made a circle to let the B-25 catchup to them.
Over the target between Simpson Harbor and Vunakanau Airfield, the P-38s released their drop tanks and began weaving through heavy anti-aircraft fire before being intercepted by Zeros. Planck went into a shallow climb into a cloud. His wingman emerged, but Planck was never seen again. His last position was two miles southeast of Vunakanau Airfield.
Separated, Planck attacked an A6M Zero, firing three bursts, causing it to catch fire. After turning, another Zero made a head on pass against him while Planck opened fire and observed hits on the attacking plane which stopped firing. He assumed the pilot was dead, and kept firing, intending to explode the plane, but pulled up too late to avoid a collision.
When the two aircraft collided, the Zero hitting the P-38's left engine knocking out the oil coolers and damaging the left boom, and left vertical stabilizer. Fighting to keep the plane under control, he dove to avoid other Zeros then ditched between Induna Island and Talili Point, hitting his head on the bullet proof glass during the landing. When Planck failed to return from the mission, he was declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Escape and Evasion
While swimming towards shore, Planck observed Zeros strafing another downed plane near Put Put. Reaching land, he spotted two local girls and asked them to bring him food and water and cared for him in their village.
On November 9, he was joined by Edward Czarnecki pilot of P-38H 42-66849 who bailed out on October 23, 1943. Both were led to an Australian coastwatcher party led by Major Roberts arriving on November 17, 1944 There, they met two more Americans aviators: Gordon Manuel and Owen Giertsen.
Gordon Manuel writes in 70,000 to One:
"Carl Planck was twenty-six, a little guy who was partially bald. He had been escorting bombers over Rabaul. By a weird coincidence, he landed at the exact spot I did nearly seven months ago. Natives found him, convinced him they were friendly, and took him to Watwat village. Then my boys came along with Czarnecki and they headed for the Australian camp. Carl's foot was in pretty bad shape."
During early February 1944, the group moved to Open Bay to await rescue by submarine. On
February 5, 1944 the USS Gato (SS-212) surfaced in Open Bay and rescued the group of aviators from behind enemy lines. Afterwards, all were transported transported to Finschafen and wrote their escape an evasion reports.
Before departing New Guinea, Plank requested to rejoin the 9th Fighter Squadron, then based at Gusap Airfield. He was unable to tell them all the details of his escape and evasion on New Britain under strict orders of secrecy. During an emotional ceremony, he removed his name from the squadron's memorial cup at the pilot's bar and painted out his name on the honor roll on their scoreboard. Planck was the only Missing In Action (MIA) 49th Fighter Group pilot to ever return safely. Planck's crew chief asked if anything was wrong with his P-38 on the November 2, 1943 mission and was relieved to learn nothing mechanically caused him to crash.
Missing Air Crew Report 1016 (MACR 1016)
Pilot Roster, 9th Fighter Squadron 1942-1943 via Edward Rogers
The Daily Republican "Marengo" November 18, 1943 "Mr. and Mrs. H. V. Patrick have been advised that their nephew First Lieut. Carl G. Planck, Jr. is missing in action somewhere in the southwest Pacific since November 2. The young officer, whose parents reside in Charleston, S.C. was in the air corps and have been awarded several medals and citations."
The Index-Journal "Five From This State Reported Missing In Action"
December 13, 1943
E&E Report No. 38 Carl G. Planck pages 1–7
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38G Lightning 43-2387
Special Missions Bismarck Archipelago, New Guinea, & Solomon Islands
"05-Feb-44, USS Gato (SS-212), War Patrol No. 8, LCDR R. J. Foley - On February 2, 1944, Gato got underway from Milne Bay, New Guinea, for a special mission to evacuate personnel from a location near Matanakunai, on New Britain. On February 3, she rendezvoused with two PT boats off Dreger Harbor, south of Finschhafen, New Guinea. The two PT boats escorted her to the northern limits of Vitiaz Strait, where they parted ways. On February 5, she reconnoitered Open Bay to locate the point designated for the evacuation. At 1100 hours, she spotted the proper security signal ashore and that night she surfaced close to shore in a trimmed down condition. At 2100 hours, she launched two of her rubber boats to ferry the evacuees from shore. In short order, eight men were embarked and Gato headed seaward. The evacuees were: Wing Commander W. Townsend, Commanding Officer, 22nd Squadron, RAAF (shot down at Palmalmal, November 3, 1943); Major A. W. Roberts, AIF (ANGAU), a coast watcher attached to AIB; Captain Fred Hargesheimer, USAAF (bailed out of his P-38 near Ubili, June 5, 1943); Lieutenant Edward J. Czarnecki, USAAF (bailed out of his P-38 near Wide Bay, October 23, 1943); Lieutenant Carl G. Planck, USAAF (crash landed in water off Talili Plantation, November 2, 1943); Flying Officer D. McClymont, RAAF (shot down over Palmalmal, November 3, 1943); Lieutenant O. N. Clertsen [sic, Giertsen], USAAF (crash landed a P-38 eight miles off Wide Bay, November 3, 1943); and Master Sergeant G. R. Manuel, USAAF, Bombardier of a Flying Fortress and its only survivor (bailed out six miles off Put Put Harbor, May 21, 1943). The airmen had been rescued and protected by coast watchers and friendly natives. Gato disembarked the evacuees at Dreger Harbor on February 7, 1944."
70,000 to One mentions when Planck is found, pages 126-127
Hostages To Freedom pages 235-237
Protect and Avenge pages 100 (photos), 104, 110, 125-126, 138-139, 233 (photo)
"Initial Japanese Army Air Operations" by Richard Dunn
Target: Rabaul (2013) pages 190, 243, 248, 383 (index)
My Life - A Holy Spirit Led Life - An Interview with Carl Planck, Jr., July 2015
Pacific Wrecks Interview with Carl G. Planck, Jr. May 21, 2016
Thanks to Carl G. Planck, Jr. for additional information
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September 26, 2018