|Pilot 2nd Lt. Povlsen (survived)
Co-Pilot Major Joshua H. Barnes, C. O., 65th BS (survived)
Crew Chief TSgt Thomas H. Skorczewski (KIA, BR) MN
Ditched September 9, 1943
Built by Consolidated at San Diego for $297,627.00 on September 12, 1943. Delivered to the U. S. Army on December 15, 1942. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia arriving around April 14, 1943.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group, 321st Bombardment Squadron. This B-24 flew many combat missions over New Guinea during 1943. Next, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron. Pilot Bill Martin nicknamed it "Joltin Janie" after his wife. The nose art depicted a Walt Disney "Thumper" bunny rabbit.
Took off from Port Moresby on a training flight for co-pilot Barnes who was transitioning from B-17s to B-24s. Crew Chief Skorczewski asked to join the flight, but Barnes refused. Instead, he stowed away inside the bomber.
After take off, the landing gear did not raise nor did the B-24 gain altitude above 200' so the the pilots decided to ditch into Bootless Bay near Oyster Bay. During the ditching, the bomb bay doors were ripped off and the fuselage broken and Skorczewski was killed in the crash. After its ditching, Martin named his next aircraft B-24D "Joltin Janie II" 42-40233.
This aircraft was largely intact after the war, but gradually pieces have been removed by villagers for scrap metal. By the 1980s all that remained was the wings and center fuselage.
Skorczewski is buried at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery in Ivanhoe, MN. He has a military marker and is listed on his parents grave stone.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-40065
Wrecks & Reefs page 130-131
FindAGrave - Thomas Skorczewski (grave photo)
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January 5, 2018