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|Pilot 2nd Lt. Frank J. Topolcany, O-667875 (KIA / BR) Cicero, IL
Crashed August 15, 1943
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39N Airacobra serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 35th Fighter Group (35th FG), 41st Fighter Squadron (41st FS) "The Flying Buzzsaws". No known nose art or nickname.
On August 15, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby pilot 2nd Lt. Frank J. Topolcany as one of twelve on a mission to escort C-47 Skytrains to Tsili Tsili Airfield. Also escorting were P-39N Airacobras from 40th Fighter Squadron (40th FS) "The Red Devils".
Near Tsili-Tsili, the Airacobras spotted a formation of Japanese planes including seven Ki-48 Lilys from 208th Hiko Sentai (208th Flying Regiment) at 10,000' escorted by twenty-two Ki-43 Oscars from 59th Hiko Sentai (59th Flying Regiment) and twelve Ki-43 Oscars from 24th Hiko Sentai (24th Flying Regiment) flying top cover roughly 5,000' higher to their rear.
The twelve P-39N Airacobras from 41st Fighter Squadron were the first to engage the Japanese bombers. Topolcany made a firing pass against a Ki-48 Lily from the rear, causing it to catch fire and crash. Evidently, he or his plane was hit by defensive gunfire or became fixated on his target as other Airacobra pilot observed him follow the bomber down to the ground and crashed roughly 200' away. Topolcany was killed in the crash.
The crash site of this Airacobra was found and his remains were recovered. Postwar, transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Topolcany was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is buried at Bohemian National Cemetery in section 26.
41st Fighter Squadron Diary, August 15, 1943
"On 15 August 1943, Beaver Red, White, Blue, and Yellow flights took off at 0756/K as close escort and cover for 12 transports to Marilinan and return. Out 12 P-39's arrived over the target area at 0900/K and at 0910/K, 9 medium bombers (Sally) were sighted at 10,000 feet about one mile northwest of target area, escorted by 15-20 Oscars, Type 3, and twin engine fighters. Fighters were above and behind the bombers at about 15,000 feet, and some of them higher. Our flights engaged the bombers as they circled to make run on target. They were in vics of 3 and took no evasive action. Nine bombers and two fighters were definitely destroyed. Three of our aircraft failed to return and another crash-landed at Tsili Tsili. The three missing pilots are: Capt George A. Hilbert Jr., 2nd Lt Frank J. Topolcany, and 2nd Lt John E. Bomar. 2nd Lt Richard L. Mikiska crash-landed at Tsili Tsili; no injury sustained. Capt George A. Hilbert, Jr., and 2nd Lt. John E. Bomar bailed out from planes and returned to Tsili Tsili base uninjured. 2nd Lt. Frank J. Topolcany was found dead in his crashed plane."
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II does not list any aerial victory credit for Topolcany on August 15, 1943
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 Airacobra piloted by Topolcany
FindAGrave - Lieut Frank Topolcany (photo, obituary, grave photos)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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