|Pilot Captain Francis M. Potts, O-380475 (MIA / KIA) TX
MIA September 6, 1942
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number AP359 and painted in a three-color camouflage scheme. Instead, delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron.
No known nose art or nickname.
Captain Potts was flying as part of a four element "Charlie Red" between 10.20am - 11.30am hours. "Charlie Red" and "Green" flights dive bombed dropping 100 pound bombs, then strafed the Japanese held area around Lake Myola.
Fates of the Crew
Captain Potts bailed out at a low altitude over Lake Myola #2 and was seen to land safely. Possibly, his remains were buried at the crest of the Owen Stanley Mountains by Australian Forces.
During July 1981, this aircraft was located by PNG Defense Force (PNGDF) personnel on the southern side of Lake Myola No. 2.
Potts was officially declared dead on December 3, 1945. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
National Archives Frame 1351 A0759 History of the 80FS
National Archives microfilm 1065 Y3 eyewitness report of safe landing of Captain Potts beside a creek on Lake Myola
80th Fighter Squadron diary
"Captain Potts was flying as part of a four element "Charlie Red" between 10:20 - 11:30 am hours. 'Charlie Red' and 'Green' flights dive bombed with 100 lb bombs, then strafed the Japanese held area around Lake Myola. Captain Potts bailed out at a low altitude over Lake Myola #2 and was seen to land safely."
Col. Dick Legg diary - September 5, 1942
Raided Buna. Nothing on the field. Lost Jackson (Smoky). Played bridge with Hayes, Marwester and Glover. Potts jumped between "Nips and Aussies."
Attack and Conquer page 83
"The 80th flew its dive bombing mission on the next day when it attacked Myola Lake. Unfortunately, Captain Francis Potts went down in the area and it was believed that he was captured and killed. Most 80th pilots mentally crossed off chances of surviving in enemy territory. "
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-400 Airacobra AP 359
Pending Cases Australian New Guinea (Search Areas 73-77-78 & 81)
"A/C crashed near Kokoda. Pilot buried near crest of Owen Stanley [range] in Kokoda Pass."
Joe Baugher "Airacobra I for RAF, P-400"
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June 29, 2019