|Pilot 1st Lt. Spears R. Lanford, O-401186 (MIA / KIA) AL
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Gerald W. McClune, O-427152 (MIA / KIA) OK
Navigator 2nd Lt John T. Moore, O-434996 (MIA / KIA) SC
Bombardier S/Sgt Russell R. Bradley, 6910760 (MIA / KIA) MI
Radio Sgt D. A. Martin, Jr., 18010454 (MIA / KIA) TX
Engineer Cpl Raymond A. Arendell, 17004405 (MIA / KIA) NE
Gunner Pvt Anthony J. Petitti, 12034939 (MIA / KIA) NY
Ditched May 28, 1942
Built by Martin. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Shipped disassembled from the United States to Melbourne. On arrival it was reassembled by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC).
Assigned to the 22nd Bombardment Group on May 5, 1942 and flown to Queensland. Operating from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby, this bomber flew a total of three combat missions, the first on May 21, 1942.
This mission was originally planned for May 27, 1942, but was delayed a day due to a Japanese air raid against 7-Mile Drome and bad weather.
On May 28, 1942 one of five B-26s that took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a bombing mission against Lae Airfield. Over the target, the bombers observed Zeros taking off from the airfield below. Over the airfield, they were met with accurate anti-aircraft fire. Intercepted by at least six A6M2 Zeros of the Tanain Kōkūtai.
Attacked, this aircraft was hit and observed to have its left engine on fire following which it ditched or crashed into into Huon Gulf roughly two miles off Lae. Credit for the shoot down was given A6M2 Zero pilots PO1 Saburo Sakai and Lt(jg) Jun-ichi Sasai.
RAAF P/O Graham Robertson flying co-pilot with Lt. Burnside witnessed the demise of this B-26:
“Over to the right, one B-26 had three Zeros on him and, at last, his engine caught fire and he turned away towards the land, with the whole of the body alight. The Zeros did not give him any rest but kept on him. ... The last we saw of [Lanford] was on the water, where he made a good landing, and we were able to distinguish, through glasses [binoculars], that some had got out onto the wing. They were a half-mile from land. We turned on the radio and wished them luck.”
There is no evidence that any of the survivors were captured by the Japanese. All crew members remain MIA. All were declared dead on the day of the crash. Memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Revenge of the Red Raiders page 99, 473, 500
Samurai! Autobiography of Saburo Sakai includes a sensational account of all of the survivors being eaten by sharks [ Read excerpt ].
Log of P/O Graham Brindley John Robertson RAAF (412717) 1914-1942
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-26 40-1467
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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January 5, 2018