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  A-20A "Strawberry Roan" Serial Number 40-173  
5th AF
3rd BG
89th BS

Click For EnlargementClick For Enlargement
3rd BG c1943

Pilot  2nd Lt. William Langley (survived)
Gunner  unknown (survived)

Ditched  April 22,1943
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-20A Havoc serial number 40-173. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 89th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed ”Japanese Sandman” and later renamed "Strawberry Roan" after Lieutenant Bill Roan who had red hair. On April 20, 1943 this A-20 experienced engine problems and was serviced.

Mission History
On April 22,1943 took off from Kila Drome (3-Mile) near Port Moresby piloted by 2nd Lt. William Langley an unidentified gunner on a training mission. During the flight, Langley had hydraulic trouble and could not lower the landing gear prior to one engine citing out. This A-20 successfully ditched into Bootless Bay.  Both Langley and his gunner swam safely to shore and were returned to base.

Michael Claringbould adds:
"John Kelly in his diary records the loss date as 22 April 1942. This cannot be, as the first 89th BS A-20As did not arrive in the New Guinea theatre until September 1942. Kelly has clearly mistaken 1943 for 1942 in his diary. The US loss report writes off this aircraft on 23 April 1943, but in fact it was lost the day before, on 22 April 1943 (it is very common to see a one-day lag in US loss reports.) John Kelly's diary, which implies that 40-173 was on a test flight is correct. The ship was being tested after its engine problems of 21 April. John Kelly's diary, which implies that 40-173 was not returning from a mission, but perhaps from a training or test flight is correct ­ the ship was being tested after its engine problems of 21 April [1943]."

This A-20 is intact on a sandy bottom with the nose embedded into a coral reef inside Bootless Bay off Loloato Island.  The nose is embedded into the coral reef ahead of the cockpit canopy at a depth of 18.3m / 60'. The tail section is at a depth of 18.9m / 62'. The right engine nacelle cone is slightly broke and the nose cose is broken off to the right of the aircraft. The rear canopy is open and both .30 caliber machine guns remain in place. Since the 1980s, this aircraft has become a popular SCUBA dive site for tourist staying at Loloata Island Resort.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-20A Havoc 40-173

"173 lost in combat Apr 26, 1943"
Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving Web Site - A-20 Havoc
Wrecks & Reefs Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea pages 231-235 mentions this loss and includes photos
Thanks to Michael Claringbould and Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
September 25, 2018


Tech Info

Map 1994

18m / 59'
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