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Ray Fairfield 1965
John Loughman 1969
Philip Treweek 1991
Robert Greinert 2001
Robert Greinert 2003
Robert Greinert 2004
|Pilot Lt. Wallace M. Harding (survived)
Force Landed October 1, 1943
Built by Republic at Farmingdale, NY. Painted with olive drab upper surfaces and a white tail section. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D-2-RE Thunderbolt serial number 42-8066. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 348th Fighter Group (348th FG), 340th Fighter Squadron (340th FS) "Minutemen". Assigned to pilot 1st Lt. William O. Carter, Jr. Nicknamed "Carter’s Little Pill" as a play on Carter's surname and the popular regularity medicine Carter's Little Liver Pills.
During July 1943 until September 1943, Carter flew this aircraft on missions from Port Moresby flying escort missions over Bulolo, Dobodura, Marilinan, Wau, Bena Bena, Tsili Tsili and Nadzab. No enemy aircraft were intercepted. Two missions were aerial gunnery training missions over Port Moresby.
On October 1, 1943 took from Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Carter on a morning escort mission over Nadzab and returned safely. Later that same day, Lt. Wallace Harding borrowed this P-47 and took off from Port Moresby on another flight. During the flight, the oil pump failed, causing the engine to seize. Harding made a wheels up landing roughly 18 miles northwest of Port Moresby at Lake Iraguma near the Waigani Swamp (Gavagabada). The plane was virtually undamaged in the landing.
Fate of the Pilot
Harding survived the landing unhurt. For two days, he walked through swamps and kunai grass before he found Allied personnel and was returned to his squadron.
This P-47 remained in situ at the edge of Waigani Swamp (Gavagabada).
During December 1943, Lt. Klages from the 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron (8th PRS) and others trekked to the crash site and likely recovered some of the cockpit instruments and equipment. The trip took them two days and nights to reach the plane and return.
On December 17, 1943 anothe plane, L-5 Sentinel pilot Mueller with observer Leonhardt crashed a few hundred yards away, killing both on impact.
During 1965, William "Bill" Champan decided to salvage the P-47. Between 1965–1966 he worked to clear a track towards the plane. By 1968, the P-47 was lifted onto a trailer flatbed then towed out by a bulldozer. Due to the wet seasons and difficulty transporting it, the intact plane was cut into five sections and moved by hand onto dry land then trucked to Port Moresby.
Ray Fairfield adds:
"Our fist visit would be the dry season in 1965. That would be the first visit in a long time - some accessories had been salvaged from behind the engine & cowls left on the ground, major flight instruments removed but minor instruments and stick pistol-grip, usually first to be souveineered, were still in place. Salvage attempt quickly planned as swamps were dry. I didn't get there for the work clearing the track in & hoisting onto the trailer, but heard first-hand that success was very near. Ready to start towing when a soft spot was found in the crossing pushed into the only major creek. Come back next weekend... But it started to rain! Access impossible until 67/68. Luckily they had the (borrowed) bulldozer on the right side of the creek. Two to three years later the destructive salvage was done."
Bruce Hoy recalls:
"In 1967, the Air Museum of PNG recovered the plane from a swamp. The previous year almost saw it recovered but the onset of an early wet season prevented this. After the ground had dried, someone set fire to the kunai, which resulted in the destruction of all the wheels on a specially built trailer on which the aircraft had been loaded. It was decided that rather than rebuild the trailer, it would be quicker to cut the aircraft into five major sections, wings, cockpit, rear fuselage, tail, engine, and manhandle these onto dry land."
Bob Piper adds:
"I walked to it in 1969, after it had been salvaged onto a trailer. We had to walk through tall grass, cross small river to get there. The radio and compass were the only things missing. It was completely intact and fully armed. Only the bottom propeller blade was bent. While on the trailer there was a grass fire that damaged it slightly, causing its retracted tires to catch fire and burning not to any great extent. Later it was taken to the South Pacific Motor Sports Club in Port Moresby where it was dismantled."
After salvage, the P-47 was stored at the South Pacific Motor Sports Club (SPMSC) in Port Moresby then outside at The Air Museum of Papua New Guinea (AMPNG) until the early 1970s.
Bruce Hoy adds:
"The AMPNG attempted restoration. Very little substantial work was done, and the remains languished, firstly in a holding yard owned by a local car dealership, and then behind the local car club without any security. Then along came the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, New Zealand. A deal was hatched, and the remains were shipped to New Zealand in about 1970-1972."
Export and Display
During the early 1970s, the P-47 was transported to New Zealand on loan to the Museum of Transport and Technology (MoTAT). The museum attempted some external restoration of the aircraft for static display. Until 1991, this P-47 was displayed outdoors until swapped to the RNZAF Museum in exchange for restoration work done on their Mosquito.
Between 1991–1995, the disassembled P-47 was stored inside the RNZAF Weedons facility. During 1995, the P-47 was swapped or sold to Robert Greinert / HARS for a Sopwith Camel replica that included some original parts. The P-47 was loaded as air freight aboard a RNZAF C-130 from RNZAF Weedons and flown to Sydney Airport then transported to HARS at Sydney Airport (Mascot).
During the late 1990s, Robert Greinert began to restore this P-47 with plans to make it airworthy. During 2000 to 2004, this aircraft was under restoration by Peter Salmon and volunteer labor from HARS.
Around 2010, this aircraft was transported to HARS at Albion Park Airfield (Illawarra) and on public display. Around this time, a new built tail group was attached to the fuselage. As of April 2012, this aircraft is not on display at Albion Park Airfield (Illawarra). Possibly this P-47 was moved to Greinert's personal hanger space at Wedderburn Airfield.
Reportedly, this restoration is being done for John Sayers of South Africa who purchased or swapped for this aircraft. The aircraft is not on public display and it precise location or status of the restoration is unknown.
Former pilot Harding survived World War II. Postwar, he continued in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and served in the Korean War and Vietnam War and retired with the rank of Major. He passed away December 17, 1984 at age 62 and is buried at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, OR at Col-1, D, 405.
Former pilot Carter flew a total of 190 missions flying 500 hours during World War II and continued in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Reserves until retiring with the rank of Colonel. He passed away May 2, 2001 at age 84. He is buried at Sweetwater Cemetery in Sweetwater, TX at block 48.
William Otto Carter, III (son of William Otto Carter, Jr.)
"My father had five different planes during his wartime service. [This] plane crashed before dad had a chance to have the nose painted. His two planes were named "Carter's Lil' Pill", named after a popular "regularity" medicine which was popular back then."
Previously, it was believed and incorrectly assumed this P-47 was nicknamed "Sweetwater Swatter". In fact, this was the nickname of Carter's two later aircraft: P-47D "Amaranthus / Sweetwater Swatter" and P-47D "Sweetwater Swatter!"
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-47D-2-RE Thunderbolt 42-8066
"8066 (340th FS, 348th FG, 5th AF) in forced landing making wheels-up belly landing in Waigani Swamp NW of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Oct 1, 1943 due to engine failure. Pilot survived and was rescued. Aircraft recovered from swamp in 1968. To Museum of Transport and Technology, to RNZAF Museum 1992."
William Otto Carter Letter - July 3, 1943 "By the way, my plane’s name is “Carter’s Li’l Pill"
William Otto Carter Letter - August 1, 1943 "I named my plane “Carter’s Little Pill”
Individual Flight Record - William Otto Carter, July 1943
Individual Flight Record - William Otto Carter, August 1943
Individual Flight Record - William Otto Carter, September 1943
Individual Flight Record - William Otto Carter, October 1943
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-47D Thunderbolt 42-8066
The Eight Ballers Eyes of the Fifth Air Force: The 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron in World War II page 97-98
"17 December 1943 - Friday
"...Lt. Klages took off for Madang and Saidor area loaded with color film, but the wrong filter. Lucky enough for Camera Repair that the weather was bad, and the film wasn't wasted because of the filter. On the way back, Klages flew low over the wrecked P-47 [this aircraft] he and others had spent two days and nights getting to."
Wings, W.A.S.P. and Warriors "The Otto Carter Story"
Abilene News "Internet holds big surprise for retired Air Force colonel" March 12, 2000
Classic Wings Issue 78 "Return to Thunder Alley" pages 22-25 Vol 17, No 5 2010
"Rob's [Greinert] team made an early start on these [tailgroups] and have now completed several sets with the first horizontal and vertical stabilizers fitted to the completed fuselage of 42-8066 already."
WarbirdRegistry - P-47 42-8066 Profile
WIX - Sweetwater Swatter resto updates?
FindAGrave - Wallace M Harding (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Col William Otto Carter Jr. (grave photos)
Thanks to Otto Carter, III for additional information
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