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  B-25C "Chattanooga Choo Choo" Serial Number 41-129??  
USAAF
5th AF
3rd BG
90th BS

Pilot  2nd Lt. Johnson (survived)
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. L. Baker (survived)
Crew   S/Sgt L. Cooley (survived)
Gunner  SS/ F. Aubrey (survived)
Gunner  Cpl. D. Welch (survived)
Gunner  Cpl. Holley Perkins, Jr. (survived)

Ditched  April 24, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by North American in Inglewood, California. Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army as serial number 41-129?? the last two digits are unknown. Ferried overseas via Hawaii across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 90th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Chattanooga Choo Choo".

Mission History
On April 24, 1942 took off from Charters Towers via Cairns as one of three B-25s bound for Port Moresby to fly a combat mission planned for the following day against Lae. The group reached the New Guinea coast, headed west, but unable to find Port Moresby, and turned around to fly east. At dusk and short on fuel they jettisoned their bombs into the sea. Ditched with B-25C "Tojo's Nitemare" near Mariawate, Mullins Harbor. The other plane in the group, B-25C "Salvo Sadie" ditched further to the west. This aircraft sank in 3 fathoms of water.  The crew swam ashore.

The crew were found and assisted by Reverand M. Nixon of the London Missionary Society, as well as Sgt Hill, the soul survivor of "Tojo's Nitemare". Nixon reported the ditching to ANGAU officer, Captain 'Mac' Rich, who sailed from Samarai aboard the Marek, who arrived and met them, then looked for "Salvo Sadie", returning with that crew on May 1st to Fife Bay area.

On May 2nd, "Chattanooga Choo Choo" crew wanted to salvage personal effects from the plane, and three launches were commandeered, and they unsuccessfully attempted to drag the aircraft to shallower water, they gave up at sunset.

The survivors of the triple ditching left the area on May 3rd aboard the Marek to Milne Bay, where they held a memorial service for the crew of "Tojo's Nitemare", then sailed on another boat, the MV Matoma to Port Moresby, arriving ten days late, and were sent back to Australia.

Issac Luile adds
"The bomber is actually in Mullins Harbor, part of Fife Bay district. As a school boy in about 1968 we used to go out there at low tide and play on the wreckage. Now, it is dropping deeper and deeper in the mud.  The whole body is still there, but bits and pieces have been taken only."

Relatives
Bill Perkins (son of Holley Perkins, Jr.)
"have a picture of Dad and the other surviving crew members on board a ship either going to Port Morsby or back to Australia."

Reference
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell piloted by Johnson
Flightpath Magazine "Underwater Trio" by Michael Claringbould

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-25

SCUBA
18'
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