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  PBY-5 Catalina Bureau Number 2303 Squadron Number 51-P-6

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The Battle of Midway 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation at San Diego. Delivered to the US Navy (USN) as PBY-5 Catalina bureau number 2303.

Wartime History
Assigned to Patrol Squadron 51 (VP-51) on Oahu with squadron number "51-P-6" in black on both sides of the fuselage. No known nickname or nose art.

On December 30, 1941 took off piloted by Ensign Frank M Fisler with co-pilot Leonard Howard Wagoner on a search mission. The crew included Ensign C. F. Gimber, 1st Class William B. Watson, 2nd Class Wilbur W. "Rip" Warlick, AR2c Howard C. Cupps, 2nd Class C. C. Forbes.

During the flight, they spotted a life raft in rough seas. Despite the danger of landing in the rough seas, this Catalina opted to land to perform a rescue. For the difficult landing, Wagoner took over the controls as he had more flight experience at the time. After landing safely, they rescued the nine survivors of B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2402 that had ditched out of fuel three days earlier over the next three hours. Afterwards, took off again and returned safely.

The ultimate fate of this Catalina is unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

Pilot Ensign Frank M. Fisler later went Missing In Action (MIA) on March 5, 1943 piloting PB4Y-1 Liberator 31948 on a night bombing mission against Japanese shipping off southern Bougainville.

Cupps later went Missing In Action (MIA) and was officially declared dead on July 15, 1943.

Navy Serial Number Search Results - PBY-5 Catalina 2303
PBY Catalina Foundation - Guardian Angel -- A True Story
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank M. Fisler
FindAGrave - LT Frank M Fisler (tablets of the missing)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard Charles Cupps
FindAGrave - ARm2 Howard Charles Cupps (courts of the missing photo)
Thanks to Jim Sawruk for additional information

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Last Updated
January 22, 2021


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