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by Michael Claringbould
Aerothentic  1999
Soft cover
133 pages
Index, photos, appendix

Cover Price: $22.50
Language: English

Available From
Pacific Ghosts

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Forty of the Fifth
The Life, Times, and Demise of Forty US Fifth Air Force Aircraft

Forty of the Fifth is impossible to put down, and reads like good fiction. It is hard to believe some of these stories are true, and sadly, that so few people know about the incredible feats of the 5th Air Force (5th AF) in the South West Pacific Area during World War II. As the title implies, the book tells the story of forty different planes in the 5th AF's WWII history. Needless to say, this book is a must for any aviation enthusiast, military historians, veterans or anyone interested in tales of true adventure. Everything from strange collisions, inferior equipment and facilities, unique air combat, and MIA searches that have gone unsolved to this day are cover in the 133 jam packed pages. Never before published photographs, maps, diagrams, nose art and airplane sketches, and photos of some of the wrecks today accompany each story. Listed below is a brief description of each profiles included in this remarkable book.

Profile 1
B-25 Mortimer
Flew on the daring Royce Mission. Later, goes MIA with no trace of the plane, or its crew.
Profile 2
Documents the first encounter between the Aircobra and the Zero.
Profile 3
P-51 Snooks
5th Shoots down seven planes in Twelve minutes in the Philippines!
Profile 4
Its navigator was the only American to go MIA in Australia after a crash.
Profile 5
Crew evades the Japanese and Communist (who also took USAAF prisoners) in after crash-landing in China.
Profile 6
Two bombers collide on the runway of Horn Island.
Profile 7
Crashes in New Guinea mountains after the end of WWII. Only post war air crew lost in New Guinea.
Profile 8
A-20 Spook
Rearming the Havoc with a nose gun pack, and its pilot's tragic loss.
Profile 9
C-54 Skymaster
Used to carry the Japanese delegation to surrender proceedings in Manila.
Profile 10
A pilot nicknamed "sweetmilk" because he did not drink is lost at Wewak
Profile 11
Given to the RAAF, and immediately pressed into service over Java
Profile 12
C-47 Flying Dutchmen
Sad legacy of a diary scrawled on the plane's door.
Profile 13
Photo Recon plane barely lands at a recently recaptured island.
Profile 14
Photo recon plane operating from Dutch New Guinea
Profile 15
The first combat aircraft to return to the USA, and finally rest with the Smithsonian.
Profile 16
B-32 42-108578
Engages in the final aerial combat of WWII, after armistice flak and a die hard Navy pilots refused to give up the fight.
Profile 17
Taxpayer's Pride shot down by a Japanese Irvin nightfighter over Rabaul
Profile 18
A-20G Big Nig
Half Century PHoenix
Hit by flak and force lands in a New Guinea swamp salvaged 1985
Profile 19
B-24D Big Emma
Violent demise in a mangrove swamp [ Read sample chapter ]
Profile 20
B-25D Chatterbox
Low Level and the Moresby Wreck
Lost on a practice strafing run against SS Purth.
Profile 21
B-25 Chow Hound
Forced landed in the Philippines on March 30, 1945
Profile 22
B-25D Stinky Jo
This plane accumulated 182 combat missions, and retired from service in April 1945
Profile 23
A-20 Old S
Destroyed in an explosion on the ground in March 1945
Profile 24
B-17E Chief Seattle
Purchased by citizens of Seattle, this plane went missing August 14, 1942
Profile 25
Story of Patricia Gaffney-Ansel whose father was MIA in PNG for 55 years, before being discovered and buried at Arlington National Cemetery

Profile 26

Shot down by Japanese Ki-43 and crash lands at Gusap
Profile 27
L-5 Jug Haid
Of the "flying sergeants" L-5's piloted by non-commissioned officers, otherwise know as the "Guinea Short Line"
Profile 28
Under attack, the pilot offers a cigar for each fighter shot down. Damaged, the plane crash lands on June 25, 1945
Profile 29
B-24D Moby Dick
After a successful combat tour has a propaganda tour to sell war bonds in the US.
Profile 30
C-47 Man-O-War
Flew disparately needed supplies to Guadalcanal, and work around the clock. They even shower underneath their plane.
Profile 31
Mitch the Witch
Medium Bomber Dogfight: B-25 shoots down a Japanese Sally over open water of the Bismarck Sea.
Profile 32
Destroyed in a landing at Cairns, Australia in August 21, 1944. The pilot kept a cylinder of the plane at his desk after the war until his death.
Profile 33
The remains of the pilot remain with this wreck, unclaimed by the US Military because they are deemed "non-recoverable"
Profile 34
A-20A Little Hellion
This plane had a double life, first as Little Hellion, then after being written off, was rebuilt as "The Steak and Eggs Special"
Profile 35
Missing on January 12, 1944, and the search by his family members that goes on to this day.
Profile 36
Account of the A-26's first combat in the South Pacific, the replacement for the A-20, that pilots rejected as inferior.
Profile 37
Skull with Tophat #16

Veteran of two theaters: New Guinea and Guadalcanal went MIA over the Bismarck Sea
Profile 38
B-26 Dixie
Crashed, and remains discovered in the early 1990's investigation by US and PNG governments still underway
Profile 39
P-38J Marge
Strange crash circumstances of USAAF ace Richard Bong's famous plane
Profile 40
A-20G Ravin Rachael
A mid air collision triggers napalm to explode destroying two planes killing three. The gunner of one plane survives with minor injuries.

Interview with author Michael Claringbould

Review by  Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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