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  Vultee Vengeance Mark IIA Serial Number A27-276  
23 Squadron

Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
Melvyn Maltz 1997
Pilot  F/Sgt Frank Graeme McDonald, 418154 (POW, executed March 1944, MIA) East Malvern, VIC
Navigator  F/O Charles McAllister, 23352 (KIA, BR) Norman Park, QLD
Crashed  February 24, 1944

Aircraft History
Built by Vultee in Los Angeles. This aircraft was built as a model 72, line number 96 under contract number AC24664. Constructor Number 4196. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-31-NO Vengeance serial number 41-????? (last five digits unknown). Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number AF841. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia as part of defense aid.

Wartime History
On August 19, 1943 delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Vengeance Mark II serial number A27-276. Assigned to 1 Air Depot (1AD) and reassembled. On November 9, 1943 assigned to 23 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On February 24, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by F/Sgt Frank G. McDonald as one of twelve Vengeance dive bombers escorted by P-40N Kittyhawks on a mission to attack anti-aircraft positions around Hansa Bay.

During the return flight, this aircraft was reported to fall out of formation and disappeared. Statements from accompanying aircraft crews indicated this aircraft was last seen on a bearing of 178 degrees from Amaimon losing altitude from 3000' at a probable speed of 100 to 130 miles per hour. Afterwards, clouds obscured vision and it was the opinion of accompanying air crews that the aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Sepu. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was Vengeance A27-275 (MIA).

Fates of the Crew
At low altitude, McDonald managed to parachute out at a low altitude and suffered a broken leg. McAllister did not exit the aircraft and died on impact when this Vengeance crashed into a deep gully between two mountains in the Adelbert Range.

Afterwards, local people found McDonald hiding in the jungle and hid him for five days. On February 29, 1944 Japanese Army soldiers captured him and he became a Prisoner Of War (POW). Transported to Amron he was detained by the Kempeitai (Military Police) and interrogation. During the middle or end of March 1944, MacDonald was executed in the vicinity of Amron with F/Sgt Leslie Stewart navigator Vengeance A27-82 who crashed ten days after him. McDonald remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Postwar, a RAAF Searcher Team lead by S/L Keith Rundle was advised that this aircraft was located in the vicinity of Aber village is situated in the mountain range west of Alexishafen, approximately 15 air miles inland.

In June 1946, a U.S. search party departed from Alexishafen and proceeded to Bau village at the top of a mountain range, which is 2 to 3 miles from Aber village. Villagers reported that they had seen the crash and proceeded to the scene, arriving 3-4 hours later. They reported seeing a parachute open and on arrival near the wreck. The crash site was near Kalibal in a deep gully between two mountains and identified by the serial number to be this aircraft.

Recovery of Remains
At the crash site, they found the remains of McAllister who was killed instantly when he hit a tree on descent and was buried by local people beside the wreckage and later to Bau village cemetery. After the Allies liberated the area in late April 1944, American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) visited the area and exhumed his remains and transported them to their headquarters on Kranket Island where formal identification was made from his wristwatch and belongings. Afterwards, the remains of McAllister were transported to Lae for permanent burial.

In 1997, the wreckage of this aircraft was rediscovered in the Adelbert Range.

Melvyn Maltz visited the crash site:
"According to locals, the pilot was killed, but the navigator survived the crash but was later executed by the Japanese. The pilot's body was recovered soon after the crash."

McAllister was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After his remains were recovered, he was permently buried at Lae War Cemetery at L. C. 8.

McDonald was officially declared dead on March 31, 1944 when excecuted as a Prisoner Of War (POW) and remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA). He is memorialized at Lae War Cemetery on the Lae Memorial on panel 7.

Paul Eden (nephew of Charles McAllister)

ADF Serials - Vengeance A27-276
RAAF Survey of Aircraft Wreckage, Papua New Guinea page 9
"#315 | 05.01-145.40 | Aber | USAC Mitchell B-25G 42-64827 | Wreckage recovered near Aber Village"
CWGC - Frank Graeme McDonald
CWGC - Charles McAllister
Thanks to Melvyn Maltz, Paul Eden and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
April 27, 2021


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