|Pilot 2nd Lt. John H. Hartsfield, O-677035 (MIA / KIA) NM
MIA February 14, 1944
Built by Republic at the Indiana Division of Republic Aviation in
Evansville, IN. Constructor Number 413. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D-3-RA Thunderbolt serial number 42-22662. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South-West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 41st Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On February 14, 1944 took off from Gusap Airfield on an escort mission over Wewak. Returning from the mission, this P-47's engine was observed to be smoking and ceased functioning, causing the aircraft to begin gliding downward from 18,500'. By skilled maneuvering, Hartsfield was able to glide almost twenty miles before crash and burned a quarter mile west of Annanberg.
Captain Richard Mikiska witnessed the crash and did not see Hartsfield bail out. As Mikiska overflew the crash site, he saw no evidence of a parachute or the pilot.
On February 15, 1944 and February 16, 1944 search missions were conducted over the crashed aircraft and adjacent territory, but no evidence of the pilot was found.
The Air Intelligence Force was contacted relative to the possibility of dispatching an investigative patrol. After due consideration, it was decided that there was insufficient justification for sending a patrol so deeply into enemy territory.
During 1946, a Kiap (Patrol Officer) visited the crash site.
John Douglas adds:
"The Patrol Office located a grave, from which remains were removed."
After the recovery of remains, Hartsfield was buried at Woodbine Cemetery in Eddy County, New Mexico in plot 26-21-8.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-47D-3-RA Thunderbolt Serial Number 42-22662
"22662 (41st FS, 35th FG, 5th AF) crashed 1/4 mi W of Annanberg Madang, Papua New Guinea Feb 14, 1944 due to engine failure. MACR 15852. Pilot killed."
Missing Air Crew Report 15852 (MACR 15852)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-47D Thunderbolt 42-22662
Lists location as 1 mile north of Nodabu and 2 miles NW of Annanberg Mission.
FindAGrave - John H. Hartsfield (grave photo)
Thanks to Kenneth D. Wilson for constructor number
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February 17, 2019