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  P-38 Lightning Serial Number ?  
5th AF
8th FG
80th FS

Pilot  2nd Lt. Murtha J. McCarthy, O-743461 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
MIA  July 21, 1943 at 12:30pm
MACR  none

Pilot History
McCarthy was part of flight class 43-D (April 1943). He was lost on his first combat mission.

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Model and serial number unknown. Likely a P-38H Lightning. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron "Headhunters". No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On July 21, 1943 took off piloted by McCarthy on an mission to escort B-25 Mitchells over the Bogadjim area.

Over the target area, the P-38s encountered a formation of thirty-seven Japanese fighters including nineteen Ki-43 Oscars from the 1st Sentai and 24th Sentai plus eighteen Ki-61 Tonys from the 68th Sentai and 78th Sentai.

During the air combat, this P-38 was shot down by Japanese fighters at 12:30pm. McCarthy was observed to bail out and immediately opened his parachute. P-38 pilots Adams and Robbins attempted to protect him as he descended, but several enemy fighters were observed strafing him.

When this aircraft failed to return, McCarthy was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was P-38H 42-66517 (pilot survived)

McCarthy was officially declared dead December 19, 1945. He is memorialized at the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Murtha J. McCarthy
Attack & Conquer pages 118-120, 312
Page 119 ""[Lt. Bob] Adams was alone when he noticed the parachute falling. He saw the enemy fighters queued up in line, each one firing then turning away to get back in line. The sight enraged him with a vengeful fury and he dived into the midst of the enemy line calling frantically for help all the time. Two of the Oscars turned away, but Adams caught one of them and fired madly until he saw his victim hit the side of a mountain. There were many Japanese fighters in the area and Adams made recklessly close passes at every chance. Suddenly, he looked around and rejoiced at the sight of another P-38; it was [Lt. Jay] Robbins, who had turned back to help in spite of his low fuel and stayed with Adams to cover the parachute that now slipped into the treetops. McCarthy was undoubtedly killed by his attackers while he drifted slowly toward the forest below. For Adams, it was an experience that filled him with a special bitterness until he himself was lost in combat later in the year."
Page 312 "Appendix V: 2nd Lt. Murthea J. McCarthy He was from New York and one of the younger pilots to take off on a mission to cover a B-25 to the Wewak area. Apparently he was attacked by Oscars and bailed out of his P-38 at about 12:30 in the afternoon. He must have opened his parachute almost immediately because he was quickly beset by a number of enemy fighters around 11,000 feet. Bob Adams and Jay Robbins attempted to protect him on the way down, but he was an easy target for the Oscars."
Ki-61 Aces pages 21-22
4th Kokugun Takes Charge by Richard Dunn
"On July 21st the Type 3 fighters were involved in a real melee. Eighteen of the in-line engine fighters were part of the escort of 37 fighters that squired eight light bombers of the 208th FR for an attack on Australian positions on the Salamaua front. On the return flight they encountered an American strike mission in the vicinity of Bogadjim. Two squadrons of P-38s were escorting B-25s attacking Japanese road and bridge building sites when the action began. Both the 39th and 80th Fighter Squadrons claimed eleven victories. All the claims by the 80th were for “Zekes” while the 39th claimed Type 1 fighters and others identified as “Me 109s” or “resembling an Me 109.” Each American squadron lost one P-38 but four Type 3 fighters were shot down. 1Lt. Tomoshima who had claimed a victory on the 18th was wounded. One damaged Type 3 fighter landed at Tuvulu (Cape Gloucester) on western New Britain. It was quickly repaired and returned to Wewak the next day. One P-38 pilot attempted to elude the new fighter by going into a shallow dive. Speed built up to an indicated airspeed of 400 m.p.h. at low altitude but the Japanese fighter stayed with the P-38. The P-38 was saved when another P-38 dove steeply from above, fired at long range and chased the Japanese fighter away. The Japanese claimed eight victories so they thought they had bested the P-38s."
80th Fighter Group Headhunters - World War II Memoir by Paul Murphey
"Twelve of us were picked to be the first of 43-D to go overseas. Edwin L. DeGraffenreid, Richard E. Dotson, Robert E. Feehan, Stanley Johnson, Paul C. Murphey, John C. McClean, Jennngs L. Myers, Louis Schriber, James R. Farris, Robert W. Wood, William F. Williams and Murtha J. McCarthey [sic McCarthy]... McCarthey [sic McCarthy] was killed on his first mission."
FindAGrave - 2Lt Murtha J McCarthy (tablets of the missing photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis

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Last Updated
August 11, 2019


Tech Info

1 Missing

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