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|Pilot 1st Lt. Gene Duncan, O-663024 (MIA / KIA) CA
Ditched March 14, 1944 at 11:30am
Built by Republic at the Indiana Division of Republic Aviation in Evansville, IN. Constructor Number 671. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D-11-RA Thunderbolt serial number 42-22920. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 39th Fighter Squadron. No nose art or nickname. When lost, engine R-2800-63 serial number 42-126047. Weapon serial numbers listed in Missing Air Crew Report 4112 (MACR 4112).
On March 14, 1944 took off from Gusap Airfield (No. 5 Strip) piloted by 1st Lt. Gene Duncan as flight leader on an escort mission over Wewak. Weather was overcast with unlimited visibility at 20,000'. Due to engine failure, the plane ditched near the mouth of the Sepik River about four miles from the shore near Blup Blup Island. After ditching safely and exiting and deployed his life raft as his plane sank immediately.
Fate of the Pilot
Duncan was last seen in his life raft and appeared unhurt to his squadron mates who circled him. An enemy plane approached from the mouth of the Sepik River and one of them chased it inland. They continued to track him as he drifted to the northeast until 6:50pm when their fuel was low and departed noting his last position at approximately Lat 03.40 Long 144.30.
On March 15, 1944 at 7:50am a rescue plane arrived escorted by the same P-47s that observed his ditching but Duncan had disappeared. All that was observed was a native canoe and appeared to be friendly. He was presumed dead and the case closed after review on November 2, 1949.
Wes Querns (son of Robert Querns):
"My father, Robert Querns was a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot who was over Duncan when he disappeared. I have heard the story dozens of times over the years. I will be glad to share details."
Duncan was officially declared dead on January 19, 1946. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-47D-5-RE Thunderbolt 42-22920
"22920 (39th FS, 35th FG, 5th AF) in forced landing near mout of Sepik River about 4 mi fro Bpup Blup Island, Papua New Guinea due to engine failure Mar 14, 1944, SW Pacific. MACR 4112. Pilot survived and got into his rubber raft, but when a rescue plane arrived he was not to be found."
Missing Air Crew Report 4112 (MACR 4112)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-47 Thunderbolt 42-22920
Thanks to Kenneth D. Wilson for constructor number
March 14, 1944
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