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  P-39D-BE Airacobra Serial Number 41-6971  
5th AF
8th FG
36th FS
USAAF 1941
Eagles of the
Southern Sky
Profile 77
Pilot  1st Patrick M. Armstrong, Jr., O-429512 8th FG, 36th FS (MIA / KIA) Converse, TX
MIA  May 4, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39D-BE Airacobra serial number 41-6971. 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.

Mission History
On May 4, 1942 in the early morning took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Patrick M. Armstrong, Jr. as one of ten Airacobras on a mission to strafe Lae Airfield at dawn. Inbound there was poor weather and clouds over the Owen Stanley Mountains caused five to aborted the mission.

The Airacobras that managed to reach Lae approached from Huon Gulf and strafed four G4M1 Betty bombers parked along the runway at Lae Airfield. Four Airacobras failed to return from the mission and were presumed lost due to bad weather. The other U.S. pilots including 2nd Lt. Don McGee did not observed their loss.

When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Officially, this aircraft condemned on October 31, 1944. Also lost was P-39D 41-6956 pilot 2nd Lt. Charles L. Schwimmer (MIA), P-39D 41-7145 pilot 1st Lt. Victor R. Talbot (MIA) and P-39D 41-6825 pilot 1st Lt. Jeff D. Hooker Jr. (MIA).

According to the Japanese side, seven A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai (Tainan Air Group) were flying a early morning Combat Air Patrol (CAP) over Lae Airfield and claimed to have intercept four Airacobras with WO Handa Watari claiming one shot down.

Armstrong was officially declared dead on November 18, 1945. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Armstrong was an aviation cadet at Kelly Field and graduated with with the class of 41-H during August 1941. He was trained to fly the A-24 Dive Bomber but instead became a pursuit pilot. Nicknamed Patrick "Army" Armstrong.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Patrick M. Armstrong
Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) - Patrick M. Armstrong, Jr. (201 File)
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - P-39D-BE Airacobra 41-6971 condemned October 31, 1944
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39D-BE Airacobra 41-6971
"6971 condemned Oct 31, 1944"
Missing Air Crew Report 16438 (MACR 16438) created retroactively circa 1945-1946 pages 5-7 relates to the loss of three pilots: [P-39F 41-7145] Talbot, [P-39F 41-7207] Chivers and [P-39D 41-6825] Hooker
(Page 5) "Subject: Determination of Status under Public Law 490, as amended.
4. The AG 201 files and the Casualty Branch 201 files contain nothing pertinent to the determination of the status of Lieutenants Chivers and Hooker. In the case of Lieutenant Talbot, his AG 201"
(Page 6) "file contains a letter from his wife dated January 6, 1943, addressed to the Adjutant General, which quotes certain statements made by her father-in-law in the letter to her. It appears from the letter that a cousin of Mrs. Talbot's father-in-law was listening to a Japanese broadcast on November 21, 1942 and that she became aware of the name Raymond Talbot as being on a prisoner's list. No rank, location or home address was given on the broadcast.
7. None of the reports received show them [Talbot, Chivers and Hooker] to be dead, returned to duty, or prisoners of war, except that in the case of Lieutenant Talbot there is a hearsay statement that a Raymond Talbot is a Prisoner Of War of the Japanese Government. The records of the PMGO do not contain the name of Victor R. Talbot."
(Page 7) "III. Recommendation It is recommended that Lieutenants Victor R. Talbot, Harold J. Chivers, and Jeff David Hooker, Jr., be continued in a status of missing in action as of May 4, 1943, under the provisions of Section 5, Public Law 490, March 7, 1942, as amended."
Missing Air Crew Report 16440 (MACR 16440) created retroactively circa 1945-1946 details three pilots in the same report: [P-39F 41-7145] Talbot, [P-39F 41-7207] Chivers and [P-39D 41-6825] Hooker. This report has a number of errors. Talbot and Hooker were lost on a fighter sweep over Lae Airfield on the north coast of New Guinea. The report does not list P-39D 41-6956 pilot 2nd Lt. Charles Schwimmer nor P-39D 41-6971 [this aircraft] pilot 1st Patrick M. Armstrong, Jr. who both flew the Lae strafing mission and both went Missing IN Action (MIA). The report incorrectly states Talbot, Chivers and Hooker were "attacking enemy bombers & fighters over Seven Mile Airdrome Port Moresby N.G." incorrectly. Talbot, Chivers and Hooker were lost on the Lae stafing mission at dawn on May 4, 1942. Chivers on a different sortie to intercept a Japanese air raid over Port Moresby during the morning of May 4, 1942.
Kodochosho Tainan Kōkūtai - May 4, 1942 (early morning Combat Air Patrol over Lae)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Patrick M. Armstrong Jr.
FindAGrave - 1Lt Patrick Mcgreal Armstrong, Jr (photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39D Airacobra 41-6971
Attack & Conquer (1995) pages 47, 310
Eagles of the Southern Sky (2012) pages 96 (May 1, 1942 mission), 100 (May 4, 1942 mission), 105 (May 4, 1942 mission), 295 (Artwork profile 77), 325 (Profile 77 description), 331 (Confirmed Aerial Victories: 3 May 1942 [incorrectly lists Schwimmer], 4 May 1942), 340 (index Armstrong)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020


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