Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) P-38J serial number unknown 44-23???. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 18th Fighter Group (18th FG), 44th Fighter Squadron "Vampire Squadron" (44th FS). No known nickname or nose art.
On October 12, 1944 took off from Sansapor Airfield (Mar) led by Lt. Harold Slupe on a dive bombing mission against Laha Airfield and Galela Airfield. This formation included two P-38s from the 44th Fighter Squadron and two P-38s from the 12th Fighter Squadron.
Returning, the flight was instructed to search the western and southern coasts of Waigeo, off western New Guinea. Searching, the flight became disoriented and low on fuel and were forced to ditch off Rouw Island on the western side of Geelvink Bay, near Wasior.
The four P-38s ditched in the following order:
1) Lt. George Thomasson
2nd Lt. James R. Glenny, O-760287 (rescued) UT
3) Lt. Ervin Christian
4) Lt. Harold Slupe
The four P-38 Lightnings were:
1) P-38J-20-LO Lightning 44-23511 (possibly)
2) P-38 ?
3) P-38 ?
4) P-38 ?
Fates of the Pilots
All four pilots landed safely and paddled ashore in their life rafts and slept on the beach and waited to be spotted and rescued.
On October 13, 1944 four P-38s from the 44th Fighter Squadron searched for the four missing pilots.
On October 15, 1944 all four pilots were rescued by a Catalina flying boat that transported them to Biak.
Three of the four P-38s remain in situ in shallow water on a sandy bottom. The fourth P-38 is likely in deeper water or is yet to be found.
War in Pacific Skies page 130-131
Thanks to Robert Rocker, Jack Fellows and Richard Leahy for additional information
No MACR was generated for this loss
Vampire Squadron: The Saga of the 44th Fighter Squadron pages 135-36
Lt Slupe's Flight Gets Lost: 12 October Mission - Two P-38's joined with 2 P-38's from the 12th Squadron and dive bombed Laha Airfield, Celebes. Twelve P-38's dive bomb Galela runway, Halmahera, with 500 lb bombs. Bombing results were excellent. On their return the 3 flights were instructed to search for a B-25 crew which was reported lost near Waigeo.
Section leader Lt. Robert Connolly asked Lt. Harold Slupe to search the western and southern coasts of Waigeo, off western New Guinea, while Connolly's flight searched the northern coast. In their flight, Lt. Slupe's flight became disoriented and when they realized their error they realized their error they did not have fuel to make it back to Mar - or any other strip.
Lt. Slupe decided to make a water landing along the shore of a tiny corral island named Rouw on the western side of Geelvink Bay. Lt. George Thomasson went first, followed by Lts. James Glenny, Ervin Christian and Harold Slupe. They all landed in the water safely and paddled ashore in their life rafts. They made themselves tents out of their parachutes and inverted their life rafts for beds and made themselves comfortable. They were picked up 15 October by a Dumbo and taken to Biak and returned safely to the squadron."
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October 31, 2019