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    Wai Island West Papua Province Indonesia
Location
Lat 1° 4' 0N Long 128° 34' 60E  Wai Island is a small island in the Raja Ampat Group (Raja Ampat Islands) off western New Guinea. Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). Today located in North Maluku Province in Indonesia.

Wartime History
On October 21, 1, 1944 seven P-47D Thunderbolts from "Tubby Flight" from the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 58th Fighter Group (58th FG), 311th Fighter Squadron (311th FS) took off from Kornasoren Airfield on Noemfoor on a strike mission against Haroekoe near Ceram. In their eagerness to destroy the enemy, they departed the target area low on fuel. On their return trip they encountered bad weather and while trying to orient themselves discovered that they were unable to return to base. They all agreed to dive down through an opening in the clouds and ditch their planes in the sea near Wai Island. Today, three of the seven P-47s that ditched have been found by SCUBA divers. One is broken up in 2m of water, the other two are intact at 28 meters and 38 meters depth.

P-47D piloted by George E. Taylor
Piloted by George E. Taylor ditched October 21, 1944 rescued by OA-10 Catalina

P-47D-21 Thunderbolt Serial Number 42-25417
Pilot Captain Stephen O. Benner ditched October 21, 1944 rescued by OA-10 Catalina

P-47D-21 Thunderbolt Serial Number 43-25636
Pilot Robert W. Powell ditched October 21, 1944 rescued by OA-10 Catalina

P-47D-16 Thunderbolt Serial Number 42-75935
Pilot Kenneth J. Crepeau ditched October 21, 1944 rescued by OA-10 Catalina

P-47D-16 Thunderbolt Serial Number 42-75893
Pilot Donald L. Murrie

P-47D-15 "'Tot's Terror" Serial Number 42-23235
Pilot Jack T. Brown

P-47D-21-RA "Santa Maria" Serial Number 43-25642
Piloted by Harry M. Odren ditched October 21, 1944 off Batanta Island in the Dampier Strait

Max Ammer adds:
"We located three of the P-47's, however there are probably ten more aircraft still to be located on the reefs surrounding this island."

P-47D Thunderbolt (No. 1)
One of three P-47s ditched on October 21, 1944 at a depth of 2m and broken up

P-47D Thunderbolt (No. 2)
One of three P-47s ditched on October 21, 1944 at a depth of 28 meters

P-47D Thunderbolt (No. 3)
One of three P-47s ditched on October 21, 1944 at a depth of 32 meters

A6M Zero
Zero is reportedly ditched in this area at 14m depth

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019

 

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