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  F4F-4 Wildcat Bureau Number 11983  
USMC
MAW-1
MAG-11
VMF-112

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D Letourneau 1999

Pilot  SSgt James A. Feliton (survived)
Crashed  January 31, 1943


Aircraft History
Built by Grumman Corporation in Bethpage, New York as a model G-36 with manually operated folding wings. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4F-4 Wildcat bureau number 11983. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC). Assigned to 1st Marine Air Wing (MAW-1), Marine Air Group 11 (MAG-11) to squadron VMF-112 "Wolf Pack". No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On January 31, 1943 one of six Wildcats that took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal on an escort mission to attack a Japanese transport Toa Maru 2 in the central Solomon Islands. The formation was led by Lt James Secrest, with F4F "impatient Virgin 03520 piloted by 1st Lt Jefferson DeBlanc plus Wildcats piloted by Lt Lynch, Let Maas, Lt Hughes and SSgt James Feliton. After take off, two Wildcats aborted the mission due to mechanical problems while the rest of the planes continued to the target.

Over the Toa Maru 2 the Wildcats encountered enemy aircraft and engaged in a dog fight. Feliton was last seen attacking one of the enemy planes attacking DeBlanc. This aircraft was attacked by Ki-43 Oscar piloted by Sgt Takeo Takahashi and bailed out before his Wildcat crashed into a swampy jungle area near Vila on Kolombangara Island. Also lost was F4F "impatient Virgin 03520 (DeBlanc, survived)

Fate of the Pilot
Descending in his parachute, Feliton hit a large tree and fell to the ground badly shaken up. The next day, Feliton was located by men loyal to coastwacher Josselyn. He was transported to Reverand Silvester on Vella Lavella and reunited with 1st Lt. Jefferson J. DeBlanc who was also shot down, then both returned to Henderson Field.

Wreckage
During 1999, Feliton's Wildcat was identified by Dennis Letourneau in a swampy area on Kolombangara Island. The plane had crashed, exploded and burned.

Dennis Letourneau adds:
"Wreckage lies in a swampy area on the north shore of Kolombangara Island. Evidence of the fire that burned around the wreckage is still evident on the surrounding vegetation. Some of the original blue paint and the bureau number were still visible."

References
Thanks to Jefferson DeBlanc and Dennis Letourneau for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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Wildcat

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