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  P-39D-1-BE Airacobra Serial Number 41-38339  
5th AF
8th FG
36th FS
Anderson July 3, 1942
Pilot  Captain Paul G. Brown, O-417000 (MIA / KIA) Oak Park, IL
MIA  September 25, 1942
MACR  16434

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39D-1-BE Airacobra serial number 41-38339. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Fighter Group (8th FG) "Cyclone's Flying Circus", 36th Fighter Squadron (36th FS) "The Flying Fiends". No known nose art or nickname.

On September 23, 1942 took off from Ross River Airfield near Townsville piloted by Captain Paul G. Brown as one of twenty-two Airacobras on a ferry flight with refueling stops at Coen Airfield and Port Moresby, then onto Milne Bay. During this flight, two Airacobras experienced engine trouble and landed at Mareeba Airfield.

Brown followed them down to land, to expedite their repair and escort them for the remainder of the flight. After landing and determining the problems with the Airacobras, Brown volunteered to fly back to Townsville for spare parts and return. Also, to escort them on the remainder of the flight because they were unfamiliar with the flight path.

Mission History
On September 25, 1942 at 7:00am took off from Mareeba Airfield piloted by Captain Paul G. Brown on a solo flight bound for Garbutt Airfield at Townsville for the needed parts, arriving at approximately 8:00am. After picking up the parts, he departed at approximately 9:00am bound for Mareeba Airfield, but failed to arrive. A weather front was moving through the area at roughly 9:45. His fate is unknown, but presumed lost due to bad weather or mechanical failure. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Confusion over his status happened because Mareeba Airfield changed the day of his departure, and was unaware that he had failed to arrive. On September 28, all aircraft in the area were told to look for him for two days. The 19th Bombardment Group committed a B-17 on the search efforts.

Brown was Initially declared dead September 27, 1942 incorrectly. Afterwards, his status was changed to Missing In Action (MIA) on September 25, 1943. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

He earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. He did not earn the Purple Heart, posthumously as the flight was not over a combat area.

Previously, pilot Brown survived several crash landings: April 30, 1942 force landed P-39D Airacobra 41-6982 and May 17, 1942 force lands P-39 Airacobra at 30 Mile Drome (Rorona). He claimed three Japanese fighters shot down on May 13, May 14 and May 18, 1942. Also, he claimed three damaged.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - 41-38339
"38339 (MSN 14A-270, 36th FS (35th?), 8th FG) disappeared on flight from Garbut airfield, Townsville to Mareeba Sep 25, 1942. Pilot MIA."
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Paul G. Brown
FindAGrave - CPT Paul G Brown (tablets of the missing photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis

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Last Updated
September 21, 2021


Tech Info

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