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Hugh Dickson 2005
|Pilot ? (see below)
Ditched October 21, 1944
Built by Republic. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D Thunderbolt serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 58th Fighter Group, 311th Fighter Squadron.
On October 21, 1944 took off from Kornasoren Airfield on Noemfoor Island as one of seven P-47s of "Tubby Flight" on a strike mission against Haroekoe near Ceram. Over the target, the flight remained in combat for too long and departed low on fuel. Returning, they encountered bad weather and while trying to orient themselves discovered that they were unable to return to base.
The flight agreed to dive down through an opening in the clouds and ditch their planes into the sea. The six with the least fuel ditched over a wide area around Wai. The seventh with more fuel remaining climbed to 13,000' contacted their base to get their position as a true bearing 105 miles west of Middleburg then descended through the clouds and also ditched.
The next day, OA-10 Catalina call sign "Daylight 13" piloted by Lt George A. Barnes of the 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron took off ay 6:30am to search for the downed pilots. He made no sighting along the southern coast of Waigeo and proceeded westward to Jeffman Island Group (Jeffman Islands) where they sighted two survivors on an unnamed island.
This Catalina landed and rescued Captain O. S. Benner and 1 Lt Kenneth J. Grapeau. After taking off, two escorting P-47 pilots sighted another man down in the sea in his life vest. Lt Barnes flew to that area and and picked up Lt R. W. Powell who was in good shape but very nervous and anxious. His hands were lacerated from the 15 hour immersion in the salt water. The fighters located another pilot in a life raft about ten miles away and directed Lt Barnes to him. Lt Barnes landed for the third time and rescued 1st Lt G. E. Taylor who was in a moderately severe state of shock, brought on by his being forced to remain in the water alone throughout the night. The fact that he could not swim added to his apprehensiveness. He was given a half grain of morphine and readily fell into a deep sleep. Lt Barnes took off and on his way back flew over the island where he had picked up the first two survivors and sighted another pilot waving frantically. However Lt Barnes was unable to land due to insufficient fuel. He called his fighter cover to continue circling the survivor while he contacted Daylight who proceeded to the area and rescued the fifth survivor. Aboard "Daylight 13", the survivors were given food, medical care, and made comfortable. Lt Taylor was taken to the hospital for rest and recuperation and the others were returned to their squadron. The two remaining P-47 pilots were rescued the following day.
This P-47 is upside down, one of the seven found by divers. One is broken up in 2m of water, the other two are intact at 28m and 38m depth.
Thanks to Douglas Gray and Max Ammer for additional information
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