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  P-39Q-5-BE Airacobra Serial Number 42-20355  
5th AF
71st TRG
82nd TRS

Pilot  1st Lt Claude A. Diffenderffer, Jr. O-796103 (MIA / KIA) MD
Crashed  April 9, 1944 at 3:05pm
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39Q-5-BE Airacobra serial number 42-20355. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned 5th Air Force, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on November 24, 1943. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On April 9, 1944 took off from Saidor Airfield piloted by 1st Lt Claude A. Diffenderffer, Jr. as one of five P-39 Airacobras on an armed reconnaissance mission over the north coast of New Guinea. The formation included: 2nd Lt Thomas B. Sellers, 2nd Lt Michael F. Moffitt and Captain George R Karr flying top cover with Lt. Diffenderffer and Lt. Sellers at minimum altitude as a strafing element.

While flying approximately two miles out to sea off Ulingan Harbor, this airplane was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire (believed to be from a coastal battery) and was seen to explode in mid air. The only remaining trace of the crash was burning oil and gasoline on the surface of the water. The remains of the pilot were not recovered.

Diffenderffer was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, posthumously. Diffenderffer is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Diffenderffer earned the Purple Heart (posthumously). He also has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery at memorial section H.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - C. A. Diffenderffer, Jr

USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39Q-5-BE Airacobra 42-20355
Casualty File, Frames 343 and 344 Microfilm A0912
M/Sgt. W.E. Ursprung Journal April 10 - Lt. Diffederfer was shot down [April 9] by Jap ack ack this afternoon.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39Q Airacobra 42-20355
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Claude A. Diffenderffer, Jr.
FindAGrave - 1Lt Claude A Diffenderffer, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Claude Augustus Diffenderffer, Jr (memorial marker photo)

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Last Updated
February 23, 2021


Tech Info

1 Missing
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