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USAAF April 1941
|Pilot 1st Lt. Victor R. Talbot, O-416918 8th FG, 35th FS (MIA / KIA) San Diego, CA
MIA May 4, 1942
MACR 16438 / 16440
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39F-1-BE Airacobra serial number 41-7145. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Fighter Group (8th FG), 35th Fighter Squadron (35th FS). No known nickname or nose art.
On May 4, 1942 in the early morning took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Victor R. Talbot 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 Bettys 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 41-6971 pilot 1st Patrick M. Armstrong, Jr. (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.
Fate of the Pilot
Talbot remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA). It is possible he was captured by Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW) but was never officially reported. Likely he was executed or died in New Guinea.
According to his relatives, on November 21, 1942 a Japanese radio broadcast stated "Raymond Talbot" (Raymond was his middle name) was a Japanese Prisoner Of War (POW). His cousin in the United States heard his name read as a POW and informed his wife, Lena, who tried in vain to get more details about his disappearance from the U. S. Government.
Often, Allied aviators captured in New Guinea were not officially reported as POWs. During the Pacific War, Japanese radio broadcasts sometimes included the names of Allied POWs including their names, ranks and hometowns. These broadcasts were often heard in the United States and reported to officials but were never verified for authenticity.
Talbot was officially declared dead on December 14, 1945. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. At San Diego State University (SDSU) the street "Talbot Court" is named after Victor R. Talbot from the class of 1940.
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NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records Victor R Talbot
Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) Victor R. Talbot (201 File)
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - P-39D-BE Airacobra 41-7145 condemned October 31, 1944
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39F-1-BE Airacobra 41-7145
"7145 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 this aircraft] 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."
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 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.
(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-39D 41-7145 this aircraft] 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 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)
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File does not list Victor R. Talbot as an official POW of the Japanese
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Victor R. Talbot
FindAGrave - 1Lt Victor R Talbot (photo, tablets of the missing)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 Airacobra piloted by Talbot
Attack & Conquer (1995) pages 47, 310
Eagles of the Southern Sky (2012) page 100, 105
Supreme Sacrifice, Extraordinary Service: Profiles of SDSU Military Alumni pages 57, 63, 166
Page 57: "Victor Raymond Talbot - As a student in 1940 1st Lt. Victor R. Talbot was on the Rally Committee and was a member of Delta Pi Beta fraternity. He was declared missing in action after engaging enemy bombers and fighters in the vicinity of Port Moresby, New Guinea, on May 4, 1942, the day the Battle of the Coral Sea commenced. Six months later a cousin who thought he heard Victor’s name mentioned in a list of POWs on a Japanese broadcast informed his wife, Lena, who tried in vain to get more details about his disappearance from the government. Known for his brave exploits, an airfield in New Guinea was named in his honor. Victor, age 24, was awarded the Air Medal and Purple Heart."
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis
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