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  B-26 "Southern Cross" Serial Number 40-1363  
USAAF
5th AF
22nd BG
19th BS

Former Assignments
33rd BS
2nd BS

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US Bombers Blast
June 9, 1942

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Moresby Under the Blitz
June 9, 1942

Pilot  1st Lt. Pierre G. Powell (survived)
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. E. P. Ogonowski (survived)
Navigator  2nd Lt C. W. Casteel (survived)
Bombardier  Sgt. P.L. Ramsey (survived)
Engineer  Sgt. G. T. Piohum (survived)
Radio  K. R. Gundling (WIA, survived)
Gunner  T. C. Riley (WIA, survived)
Passenger  Lt. Col Dwight Divine, II (C.O., 22nd BG (survived)

Force Landed  June 9, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Martin. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 22nd Bombardment Group, 2nd Bombardment Squadron. On March 25, 1942 transferred to the 33rd Bombardment Squadron. During April 1942, assigned to the 19th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Southern Cross". This B-26 had olive drab upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces with "01363" on the left and right sides of the fuselage behind the U. S. Star marking.

Mission History
On June 9, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby at 8:51am piloted by 1st Lt. Pierre G. Powell armed with 100 pound bombs on a mission against Salamaua.

Over the north coast of New Guinea near Salamaua, B-25 Mitchells from the 3rd Bombardment Group had bombed Lae and were chased by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai southward over the Salamaua area. The formation of B-26 Marauders arrived over the same area and were intercepted by the same Zeros.

This B-26 was hit by gunfire in the left wing and hydraulics knocked out. Aboard, Gundling and Riley sustained minor wounds and their gunners claimed a fighter each. The bomber absorbed over 100 hits from the attacking Zeros including a large hole in the left side of the fuselage and rear of the left wing.

Over Cape Ward Hunt, friendly fighter escorts finally chased the Zeros away. Limping back to 7-Mile Drome, this bomber force landed with both engines feathered and the gear retracted due to the loss of hydraulic pressure. During the landing, Divine took over the controls. None of the crew were injured in the landing. On the ground, vehicles raced to the force landed B-26 to aid the crew.

On the ground, Australian war correspondent Damien Parer filmed the force landing and the B-26 on the ground. He wrote in his diary: "It was the most perfect belly landing possible, it was a gem. He landed with his engine cut off and as slowly as possible." Footage of this B-26 force landing appears in two newsreels: Cinesound Review: "Moresby Under the Blitz" and United News "U. S. Bombers Blast Jap Bases". In the former newsreel, the force landing is oriented left to right versus the latter right to left, indication one is version is reversed either by accident or deliberately.

After extensive repairs at Charters Towers Airfield and Tocumwal Airfield, this bomber was turned into a "fat cat" and used to ferry supplies and personnel in Australia. Nicknamed "Rum Runner" and assigned to the 2nd Bombardment Squadron.

References
YouTube "Cinesound Review – "Moresby Under The Blitz" (4:13 - 5:02) force landing left to right
YouTube "United News – US Bombers Blast Jap Bases" (1:17 - 2:00) force landing right to left
Winged Samurai page 42-45
Revenge of the Red Raiders page 106 - 107, 496
Damien Parer's War "It was the most perfect belly landing possible, it was a gem. He landed with his engine cut off and as slowly as possible."

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Last Updated
May 3, 2016

 

Tech Info
B-26

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