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  B-24D-110-CO Liberator Serial Number 42-40885  
USAAF
5th AF
43rd BG
64th BS

Click For Enlargement
John Douglas
1999

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Justin Taylan 2005

Pilot  F/O Carl A. Nelson (survived) Emporia, KS
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. John H. Pfieffer (survived) Cunberland, MD
Navigator  2nd Lt. Alexander E. Nagy (survived)
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Wilbert Alwedt (survived)
Gunner  TSgt Troy W. Selvey (survived)
Gunner  TSgt Lucian I. Oliver, 14070201 (survived) Memphis, TN
Gunner  SSgt Warren Brooks (survived)
Gunner  SSgt Anthony Cantazaro (survived)
Gunner  TSgt Paul Barbus
(survived)
Force Landed  October 18, 1943
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego at a cost of $297,627. Delivered to the U. S. Army on May 26, 1943. Flown overseas to Australia, arriving on July 14, 1943.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
Took off from 7 Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby armed with 100lbs bombs on a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. The formation included B-24 Liberators from the 43rd Bomb Group, 90th Bomb Group and 380th Bomb Group.

Due to bad weather, bombed Hoskins Airfield, the alternate target. Damage was noted as one small lugger sunk in harbor and a large column of smoke and a fire in target area.

Returning, this B-24 ran low on fuel approaching the coast of northern New Guinea. Pilot Nelson ordered the crew to bail out, while he and co-pilot Pfieffer force landed the bomber onto a flat grassy area west of Gona that proved to be a sago swamp.

In total, five bombers were lost, this aircraft plus B-24D "Mitsu Butcher" 41-24043, B-24D 42-40670 and B-24D 41-41088.

Rescue
The two pilots were unhurt in the crash landing. The remainder of the crew successfully parachuted to the ground. With the help of local people, the crew assembled at the crash site.

The next day, three B-24's (two from the 64th Bombardment Squadron and one from the 63rd Bombardment Squadron) located the crashed bomber and the crew. From the air, they dropped supplies to the crew. Afterwards, the crew was led to friendly forces and returned to duty.

On October 29, 1943 pilot Nelson flew his next combat mission. On November 21, 1943 TSgt  Oliver was killed as the radar operator/gunner aboard B-24D 42-40886 on a night radar search mission over Wewak.

Wreckage
After the crash, a US Army salvage team recovered the four engines, landing gear, machine guns and gun turrets from the bomber.

John Douglas visited the crash site in 2000:
"The villagers remember the plane crashed, including the fact that the pilot was named Nelson and the other crew member was a redhead."

Justin Taylan visited the crash site on September 4, 2005:
"Locals told the story of how their fathers: Clive Burau, Hayward Geroya and Copland Vigaba were gardening in the area near where the bomber force landed.  They witnessed the eight men bailing out, and the crash. One of the men, Copland Vigaba was given a note by the pilot and ran down to Yamboro where Australian soldiers were camped. He then led the Australians to the crash site to rescue the bomber's crew."

Relatives
Robert Nelson (nephew of Carl Nelson)
Are you a member or relative of this bomber's crew? Contact Us

References
Pilot Carl A. Nelson noted in his flight log: "Bombed Hoskin strip. Crash landed 6 miles N.W. Gona Wreach (sp), 8 men bailed out all ok. 2 men with ship ok".
After the war, John Pfeiffer wrote an account of the incident.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-40885

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Last Updated
May 2, 2014

 

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B-24

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