|Pilot Lt. Wallace Harding (survived)
Landed October 1, 1943
Built by Republic at Farmingdale, NY. Painted with olive drab upper surfaces and a white tail section. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 348th Fighter Group, 340th Fighter Squadron. Assigned to 1st Lt. William Otto Carter, Jr. According to an August 1, 1943 letter to his parents, Carter states: "I named my plane “Carter’s Little Pill”." after the popular regularity medicine named Carter's Little Liver Pills.
During July to October 1, 1943, Carter flew this aircraft on combat missions from Port Moresby flying escort missions over Bulolo, Dobodura, Marilinan, Wau, Bena Bena, Tsili Tsili and Nadzab. No enemy aircraft or targets were intercepted, only two gunnery training missions over Port Moresby.
On October 1, 1943 took from Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Carter on a morning escort mission over Nadzab and returned safely. Later that same day, Lt. Wallace Harding borrowed this P-47 and took off from Port Moresby on another flight. During the flight, the oil pump failed, causing the engine to seize. Harding made a wheels up landing roughly 18 miles northwest of Port Moresby at Lake Iraguma near the Waigani Swamp. The aircraft was virtually undamaged during the force landing.
Fate of the Pilot
Harding survived unhurt. Traveling for two days through kunai grass he reached dry land an was located by Allied forces and returned to duty.
Until 1965, this P-47 remained in situ where it force landed.
During 1965 to 1968, Bill Champan decided to salvage this P-47. He began by clearing a track to the wreck, to allow access. The P-47 was lifted onto a trailer flatbed then towed out by a bulldozer. Due to the wet seasons and difficulty transporting it, the aircraft was cut into five sections and moved by hand onto dry land, then transported to Port Moresby.
Ray Fairfield adds:
"Our fist visit would be the dry season in 1965. That would be the first visit in a long time - some accessories had been salvaged from behind the engine & cowls left on the ground, major flight instruments removed but minor instruments and stick pistol-grip, usually first to be souveineered, were still in place. Salvage attempt quickly planned as swamps were dry. I didn't get there for the work clearing the track in & hoisting onto the trailer, but heard first-hand that success was very near. Ready to start towing when a soft spot was found in the crossing pushed into the only major creek. Come back next weekend... But it started to rain! Access impossible until 67/68. Luckily they had the (borrowed) bulldozer on the right side of the creek. Two to three years later the destructive salvage was done."
Bruce Hoy recalls:
"In 1967, the Air Museum of
PNG recovered the plane from a swamp. The previous year almost saw
it recovered but the onset of an early wet season prevented this. After
the ground had dried, someone set fire to the kunai, which resulted
in the destruction of all the wheels on a specially built trailer on
which the aircraft had been loaded. It was decided that rather than
rebuild the trailer, it would be quicker to cut the aircraft into five
major sections, wings, cockpit, rear fuselage, tail, engine, and
manhandle these onto dry land."
Bob Piper adds:
"I walked to it in 1969, after it had been salvaged onto a trailer. We had to walk through tall grass, cross small river to get there. The radio and compass were the only things missing. It was completely intact and fully armed. Only the bottom propeller blade was bent. While on the trailer there was a grass fire that damaged it slightly, causing its retracted tires to catch fire and burning not to any great extent. Later it was taken to the South Pacific Motor Sports Club in Port Moresby where it was dismantled."
After salvage, this P-47 was stored at the South Pacific Motor Sports Club (SPMSC) in Port Moresby then outside at The Air Museum of Papua New Guinea (AMPNG) until the early 1970s.
Bruce Hoy adds:
attempted restoration. Very little substantial work was done, and the
remains languished, firstly
in a holding yard owned by a local car dealership, and then behind
the local car club without any security. Then along came the Museum
and Technology in Auckland, New Zealand. A deal was hatched, and
the remains were shipped to New Zealand in about 1970-1972."
Export and Display
During the early 1970s, the P-47 was transported to New Zealand on "loan" to the Museum
of Transport and Technology (MoTAT). The museum attempted some external restoration of the aircraft for static display.
Until 1991, this P-47 was displayed outdoors until MoTAT swapped this aircraft to the RNZAF Museum in exchange for restoration work done on their Mosquito.
Until 1995, the P-47 was stored disassembled inside the RNZAF Weedons facility. During 1995, the P-47 was swapped or sold to Robert
Greinert / HARS for a new built Sopwith Camel that included some original parts. The P-47 was transported as air freight aboard a RNZAF C-130 to Sydney.
During the late 1990s, Robert
Greinert began to restore this P-47 with plans to make it airworthy. During 2000 to 2004, this aircraft was under restoration by Peter Salmon and volunteer labor from HARS.
Around 2010, this aircraft was transported to HARS at Albion Park Airfield (Illawarra) and on public display. Around this time, a new built tail group was attached to the fuselage.
As of April 2012, this aircraft is not on display at Albion Park Airfield (Illawarra). Possibly this P-47 was moved to Greinert's personal hanger space at Wedderburn Airfield.
Reportedly, this restoration is being done for John Sayers of South Africa who purchased or swapped for this aircraft. The aircraft is not on public display and it precise location or status of the restoration is unknown.
William Otto Carter, III (son of William Otto Carter, Jr.)
"My father had five different planes during his wartime service.
plane crashed before dad had a chance to have the
nose painted. His two planes were named "Carter's Lil' Pill",
named after a popular "regularity" medicine which was popular
Previously, it was believed and incorrectly assumed this P-47 was nicknamed "Sweetwater Swatter". In fact, this was the nickname of Carter's two later aircraft: P-47D "Amaranthus / Sweetwater Swatter" and P-47D "Sweetwater Swatter!"
Thanks to Otto Carter, III for additional information.
William Otto Carter Letter - July 3, 1943 "By the way, my plane’s name is “Carter’s Li’l Pill"
William Otto Carter Letter - August 1, 1943 "I named my plane “Carter’s Little Pill”
Individual Flight Record - William Otto Carter, July 1943
Individual Flight Record - William Otto Carter, August 1943
Individual Flight Record - William Otto Carter, September 1943
Individual Flight Record - William Otto Carter, October 1943
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-47D Thunderbolt 42-8066
Wings, W.A.S.P. and Warriors "The Otto Carter Story"
Abilene News "Internet holds big surprise for retired Air Force colonel" March 12, 2000
Classic Wings Issue 78 "Return to Thunder Alley" pages 22-25 Vol 17, No 5 2010
"Rob's [Greinert] team made an early start on these [tailgroups] and have now completed several sets with the first horizontal and vertical stabilizers fitted to the completed fuselage of 42-8066 already."
WarbirdRegistry - P-47 42-8066 Profile
WIX - Sweetwater Swatter resto updates?
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
August 7, 2015