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  B-25D "Eight Ball Esquire" Serial Number 41-29709  
USAAF
5th AF
3rd BG
13th BS

Click For Enlargement
Jack Heyn 1942

Click For Enlargement
Dean Cropp 2006

Pilot  1st Lt. William C. Hellriegel
Passenger
 Charley Valade
Passenger  
Lt. Schwartz
Passenger
 Sgt McMann

Crashed  December 20, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by North American. Assigned to the 3rd Bombardment Group, 13th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Eight Ball Esquire".

Mission History
On December 20, 1942 took off from Cooktown Airfield enroute to Port Moresby at 5:10pm. Hellriegel had to feather the left engine when oil pressure failed and he turned back towards Cooktown. The aircraft lost altitude rapidly and made a hard ditching approximately 25 miles north and slightly east of Cooktown. The plane sank in about 3 minutes.

Of the twelve on board, seven were injured. They all made it to the beach at a point half way between the mouth of Morgan River and Cape Flattery. 10 stayed behind, two uninjured: Lt. Schwartz and Sgt McMann started out early on December 21, 1942 walking towards Cooktown. They walked and swam for two days and reached Cooktown after dark on December 23rd. Early the next morning a rescue boat picked up the rest of the crew on a beach after a four hour trip.

Wreckage
The plane is lying upside down and two-thirds covered in mud.

Dean Cropp adds:
"I have been digging through that mud in zero visibility to find these. I recovered one 50 cal from nose and in the process of removing a second (flexible nose gun with handles). In the process of pulling these out, I have found two smaller machine guns ith sights and handles, I am guessing they are 30 cal. Not sure why they are loose in the nose though. Plenty of ammunition for them as well. So, as far as I can tell, this plane had a 50 cal mounted nose gun, a 50 cal flexible nose gunners gun and two 30cal loose in the nose section that I have dug out."

References
Oz @ War - Crash of a B-25 Mitchell on December 20, 1942

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-25

Photos
Photo Archive

SCUBA
15m

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