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|Pilot Lt. Carlos E. Dannacher (survived)
Force Landed July 14, 1943
Carlos E. Dannacher adds:
The weather was fairly clear over Wau and I could see C-47s in the pattern. I fell out of formation alone wondering what to do. I got rid of the belly tank and bent around toward the Wau Drome. When I tried to add throttle all I got was more backfires, so I left it in idle. I could tell that a circuit or two above the Wau area was about all I could get and if I didn't like the looks of it I could bail out and try for a friendly area.
Then the C-47s worried me, they were busy on the strip and I didn't want to get in their pattern. Finally, I spotted a large grassy spot to the east of the strip which meant that I would be headed toward the C-47s at 90 degrees to their strip.
I decided to put the bird down wheels up and devoted my time to arrange a complete circuit of the area so that I could have a final approach headed uphill toward the offloading C-47s. I called in the clear to warn them of my problem.
With a little maneuvering, slipping around and adding some backfires now and then, I managed to hit it just right and hit the ideal spot in some shallow kunai grass. When I contacted the ground my body moved up against the straps and my hand squeezed the grip and each gun fired one round. I had forgotten to de-arm the gun switch and I guess the gun sight wasn't one of my worries.
Anyway, it was a beautiful landing. I jumped out onto the ground and looked around, there was no fire, no fuel leaking, and no sparks flying around. In a few minutes a jeep from the offloading area came to pick me up. I was back to the squadron and flew again that afternoon. The P-39 was resting in the grass about a 1,500' from the C-47 strip and I realized that my gunfire only hit into the uphill slope not anywhere near the C-47s.
That evening in the mess hall my C. O., Mike Moore, chewed on me for not bailing out. I explained to him my reasons for not doing it was because I didn't know the state of things around that strip, and the trees and bush looked most unfriendly. Besides, the engine was at least idling and I wasn't gliding like a rock."
Carlos E. Dannacher adds:
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