|Pilot Captain Frank P. Smart, O-421649 C. O. 387th BS (MIA / KIA) TX
Gunner T/Sgt Mike Music, 15073584 (MIA / KIA) OH
Ditched April 16, 1944 "Black Sunday" at 17:35
Built by Douglas. Assigned to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 417th Bombardment Group, 673rd Bombardment Squadron.
On March 20, 1944 assigned to the 312th Bombardment Group, 387th Bombardment Squadron to pilot Smart. Nicknamed by Smart "The Texan" with the Texas flag and shooting stars on the left side of the cockpit, in honor of his home state. Assigned tail letter "S" for Smart's surname, and the diamond marking on the rear fuselage near the tail. Assigned to crew chief SSgt Charles S. Bidek and assistant crew chief Sgt Donald M. Cooper.
On April 16, 1944 took off from Gusap Airfield on a mission against Hollandia. Returning, it became lost in bad weather with other A-20s. Low on fuel, Smart radioed asking permission proceed to Saidor Airfield, a request granted by Col Strauss. Several other A-20s proceed along the coast together and encountered anti-aircraft fire over Ulingan Harbor, but avoided the fire. They were forced to sea level over Astrolabe Bay near Madang to avoid the bad weather.
Next, the group of A-20s split, with three including Smart proceeding inland 5 miles to avoid any other enemy fire. At 17:30 Smart radioed again seeking a PBY Catalina rescue and that he was ditching. He was observed to ditch under power off Yalau Plantation southeast of Bogadjim at 17:35.
Fates of the Crew
After successfully ditching, both crew were seen in their life raft within minutes of ditching. A-20s from the squadron circled them and dropped their rafts and remained in the area, radioed their position and waited until the crew waved to them. Roughly ten miles away, two PT-Boats were observed, but they did not approach and instead landed at Saidor.
The next day, A-20s from the squadron that observed the ditching returned to the site on their way to Gusap Airfield. From above, they observed the submerged outline of this A-20, but saw no trace of the crew.
The crew were officially declared dead on February 6, 1946. Both crew are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
During 1982 discovered by Rod Pearce. The aircraft is intact on a sandy bottom in 60' a quarter mile off Nom plantation (formally Yalau Plantation).
Rod Pearce adds:
"During 1982, I was coming back from Madang to Lae, looking for a place to anchor. Of all the places, I happened to stop right on the wreck, I could see it on the sounder. The next morning, I dove it, and it was all there. The cockpit hatch was ripped off, but the entire plane was there. When I told people about it, they claimed to have known of a wreck there, but I have never heard of someone who dove it before then."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - A-20G 43-9098
Black Sunday page 97
Rampage of the Roarin' 20's pages 103-104, 303 (profile #6), 212, 348, 357, 379-380
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January 5, 2018