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  P-39 Airacobra Serial Number ?  
USAAF
5th AF
8th FG
36th FS

Pilot  1st Lt Frederic T. Burley, O-792101 (KIA, BR) East Orange, NJ
Crashed  October 11, 1943 at 8:45am
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39 Airacobta model and serial number are unknown. Likely, this aircraft was a P-38Q model serial number 42-?????. Disassembled and shipped overseas 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 October 11, 1943 took off from Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt Frederic T. Burley as one of four Airacobras flying a gunnery training mission. Burley was flying as the element. During a strafing run, this Airacobra lost control and crashed near the beach south of Bootless Bay near Tubusereia, killing Burley in the crash. Afterwards, his remains were recovered.

Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the remains of Burley were recovered and buried in Port Moresby. Postwar, his remains were transported to Hawaii for permanent burial.

Memorials
Burley was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Previously, he earned the Air Medal. He is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) plot D grave 426.

Wreckage
Until the early 1970s, the wreckage of this aircraft remained at the tide line off Tubusereia.

Ray Fairfield adds:
"I only waded ashore to it once. There was nothing to salvage other than the guns - corroded right away. This one ditched between the tide lines in Tubusereia area, I had a .30 caliber machine gun from it, and Bill Chapman had the 37mm Cannon when I left PNG. Both had live rounds up the spout!"

References
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 Airacobra pilot Burley
Attack and Conquer (1995) page 313
FindAGrave - 1Lt Frederic T Burley (grave photo)
Thanks to Ray Fairfield for additional information

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Last Updated
January 29, 2020

 

Tech Info
P-39
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