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(44th FS Detachment)
|Pilot 1st Lt. Michael J. Carter, O-727403 (MIA / KIA) Los Angeles, CA
Crashed February 4, 1943
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40F Warhawk serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific (SOPAC) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 347th Fighter Group (347th FG), 68th Fighter Squadron (68th FS). No known nickname or nose art. This aircraft was assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron Detachment (44th FS Detachment) operating from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal. When lost, engine Packard V-1650-1 Merlin serial number unknown. Armed with six .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 610 (MACR 610).
On February 4, 1943 took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal piloted by 1st Lt. Michael J. Carter (assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron) on a mission to escort SBD Dauntless dive bombers on a mission against Japanese destroyers north of New Georgia. The weather was clear with good visibility.
Around 5:00pm intercepted by Japanese fighters north of New Georgia. During the air combat, this P-40 was accidentally shot down by an F4F Wildcat and pilot Carter did not bail out and possibly made a controlled landing or ditching in the sea. When he failed to return, Carter was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Primary sources state Carter was shot down in combat and missing. "Preliminary Intelligence Summary of Operations of Army Fighter Planes at Cactus - December 1, 1942 to February 17, 1943" dated February 21, 1943 states he was "Shot down in combat. Lt. Carter - missing". Missing Air Crew Report 610 (MACR 610) created September 11, 1943 states on page 2: "Shot down by F4F, no bail out" and page 3 states "No bail out hit the water safe" implying a possible ditching or controlled landing in the sea.
Secondary sources have different information about Carter's loss. Another source, Vampire Squadron (1985) page 22-23 states: "However, Lt, Michael Carter bailed out over the water right in front of some Japanese ships. He could have been picked up by the enemy, or it is possible he was strafed in the water." Yet another source, Operation KE (2012) page 238 states something different: "In turn, the Japanese CAP sent Lt. Mike Carter's Warhawk down with cannon fire. Carter managed to bail out, but he was never seen again."
Afterwards, Captain Al Johnson searched the area with two P-40s without result.
Carter was officially declared dead on December 13, 1945. He earned the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously. Carter is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Michael J. Carter
347th Fighter Group Advanced Echelon APO 709 "Preliminary Intelligence Summary of Operations of Army Fighter Planes at Cactus - December 1, 1942 to February 17, 1943" February 21, 1943
(Page 2) "Date: 2/4 Type: P-40 How Lost: Shot down in combat Pilot: Lt. Carter - missing."
Missing Air Crew Report 610 (MACR 610) created September 11, 1943
(Page 2) "Other circumstances: Shot down by F4F, no bail out."
(Page 3) "14. Capt. Matson saw Carter shot down by F4F in the Slot. No bail out hit the water safe."
Missing Air Crew Report 611 (MACR 611) pilot Johnson was created created September 11, 1943 (with map circa June 1943 indicating the approximate loss locations of 1. Morrissey, 2. Johnson, 3. Sooter and 4. Carter)
The Los Angeles Times "Loyola Football Star Missing on Air Raid" April 15, 1943
"Michael J. (Mike) Carter, Loyola University quarterback in 1940-41, but more recently piloting a bomber [sic fighter] against the Japs in the South Pacific is 'missing in action,' the war department notified his parents here yesterday."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Michael J. Carter
FindAGrave - 1Lt Michael J Carter (tablets of the missing photo)
Vampire Squadron (1985) by William H. Starke pages 7 (overseas), 17 (attached to 44th FS), 22-23 (February 5, 1943 bail out), 24 (Diary January 28, 1943 Carter), 43 (Carter listed as MIA), 68 (Carter listed as MIA), 86 (Carter listed as MIA), 203 (index)
(Page 22-23) "4 February ... However, Lt, Michael Carter bailed out over the water right in front of some Japanese ships. He could have been picked up by the enemy, or it is possible he was strafed in the water. But the first named was added to the unit's honored roll of 'Missing In Action'."
Operation KE (2012) by Roger & Dennis Letourneau pages 145, 237-238 (February 4, 1943 loss), 362 (index Carter)
(Page 238) "In turn, the Japanese CAP sent Lt. Mike Carter's Warhawk down with cannon fire. Carter managed to bail out, but he was never seen again."
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis
Feb 4, 1943
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