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  F-6D "Snooks the 5th" Serial Number 44-14841 Number 66
USAAF
5th AF
71st TRG
82nd TRS

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82nd TRS 1945
Pilot  2nd Lt Robert Sidell Huffman, O-827209 (KIA, BR) IN
Crashed  March 5, 1945 at 1:45pm
MACR  12924

Aircraft History
Built by North American Aviation (NAA) in Inglewood. Constructors Number 109-28474. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-51D-10-NA Mustang serial number 44-14841. Converted to F-6D photographic reconnaissance version with aluminum finish. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. Assigned to pilot Captain William A. Shomo with crew chief Ralph Winkle. Squadron Number 66 in black painted on the tail. Nicknamed "Snooks the 5th". On the left side of the cockpit was a scoreboard with Shomo's victory claims painted inside a black rectangle.

During late 1944, this aircraft operated from Pitu Airfield (Pitoe, Moratai) on Morotai Island as part of a detachment. On January 1, 1945, flown to the Philippines via Tacloban Airfield on Leyte, then onward to Hill Field (Hammer) on Mindoro.

On January 11, 1945, took off from Hill Field (Hammer) piloted by Captain William A. Shomo with wingman F-6D Mustang 44-14873 piloted by Lt. Paul Lipscomb on an armed photographic and strafing mission over Tuguegarao Airfield, Aparri Airfield, and Laoag Airfield. Over northern Luzon, the pair sighted a formation of enemy planes flying south at about 2,500' below them. Despite being obviously outnumbered, they immediately pulled an "Immelmann" turn and found themselves behind a force of eleven Ki-61 Tonys and one Ki-44 Tojo escorting a G4M Betty.

Although the odds were 13 against 2, Major Shomo immediately ordered an attack. Accompanied by Lipscomb they closed on the enemy formation in a climbing turn and scored hits on the leading plane of the third element, which exploded in midair. Maj. Shomo then attacked the second element from the left side of the formation and shot another fighter down in flames. When the enemy formed for counterattack, Maj. Shomo moved to the other side of the formation and hit a third fighter which exploded and fell.

Diving below the G4M Betty, Shomo put a burst into its underside and it crashed and burned. Pulling up from this pass he encountered a fifth plane firing head on and destroyed it. He next dived upon the first element and shot down the lead plane; then diving to 300 feet in pursuit of another fighter he caught it with his initial burst and it crashed in flames. During this action his wingman shot down 3 planes, while the 3 remaining enemy fighters fled into a cloud bank and escaped. Maj. Shomo's extraordinary gallantry and intrepidity in attacking such a far superior force and destroying seven enemy aircraft in one action is unparalleled in the South West Pacific Area. For his actions, Shomo earned the Medal of Honor on April 3, 1945.

Mission History
On March 5, 1945 took off from Lingayen Airfield on Luzon piloted by 2nd Lt Huffman flying the number four position as wing man for F/O Robert Ross on a mission to bomb and strafe enemy supplies and fuel stored near Cattagoaman (Cattagoaman Nuevo). Weather was CAVU with smoke and haze over the target area. Over the target, the formation started their bomb run diving down from 8,000'. Afterwards, this aircraft did not rejoin the formation. Last seen at approximately 1:45pm one and one half mile southwest of Tuguegarao. When lost, engine V-1650-7 serial number V-325473. Weapon serial numbers listed in Missing Air Crew Report 12924 (MACR 12924).

Search
When this aircraft failed to rejoin the formation, the other aircraft immediately searched the surrounding area, but observed no trace of a downed plane. The 308th Bomb Wing Air Sea Rescue section was contacted and the next day a search led by 1st Lt. Harlan B. White searched the area and took K-22 vertical photographs of the Tuguegarao area. The search found nothing.

Memorials
Huffman was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is buried at Manila American Cemetery at Plot N Row 9 Grave 48.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-51D-10-NA Mustang 44-14841
"14841 (F-6D, 82nd TRS, 71st TRG, 5th AF) crashed 1 1/2 mi SW of Tuguegarao Cagayan, Luzon Island, Philippines Mar 5, 1945. MACR 12924. Pilot killed."
Missing Air Crew Report 12924 (MACR 12924)
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Shomo, William A. page 172 (PDF page 179), Alphabetical list by theater of operation (SWP) Shomo, William A.: 01/10/45 1/11/45 (seven) page 364 (PDF page 370)
The Strafin' Saints - The 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group Memories of their Service in the Pacific Theater 1943 Through 1945 pages 304-309 (interview with Shomo transcribed and edited from audio interview with Shomo August 1982)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert Sidell Huffman
FindAGrave - 2Lt Robert Sidell Huffman (tablets of the missing)
Mustang and Thunderbolt Aces of the Pacific and CBI (1999) pages cover, 4, 38-42, 58 (color plate 24), 95, 88 (ace list)
Thanks to Tony Feredo, Osamu Tagaya and Richard Dunn for additional information

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Last Updated
March 1, 2020

 

Tech Info
F-6D

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Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor

Map
Map
March 5, 1945
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