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  F4U-1A Corsair Bureau Number 17734  
USN
MAW-2
MAG-12
VMF-216

Pilot  2nd Lt. Frank G. Putnam (MIA / KIA)
Crashed  December 27, 1943


Aircraft History
Built by Vought. Delivered to the U. S. Navy as F4U-1A Corsair bureau number 17734. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to the Marine Air Wing 2 (MAW-2), Marine Air Group 12 (MAG-12) to squadron VMF-216 "Bulldogs". No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On December 27, 1943 one of fourteen F4Us led by Major Hargrave that took off from Torokina Airfield on Bougainville piloted by 2nd Lt. Frank G. Putnam on a fighter sweep mission over Rabaul. This Corsair was part of the 2nd division with Lt. Taylor, Putnam, Conrad and Meeker. Also participating were F4U Corsairs from VMF-214 led by Major Boyington and F6F Hellcats from VF-40.

After take off, the formation rendezvoused over Empress Augusta Bay. Shortly after take off, Lt. Barton aborted the mission because his landing gear who not retract but on the ground Lt. Hancock heard about his return over the radio and took off to replace him in the formation but was unable to catch them and returned to base. Lt Means spotted a friendly plane down in Matchin Bay and aborted the mission to circle it until a PBY Catalina arrived to rescue the pilot. Also, Lt. Conrad aborted due to a hydraulic failure.

Roughly five miles southeast of Rabaul, 10-12 enemy planes were spotted by the Corsairs taking off from Lakunai Airfield. The VMF-216 formation was instructed to make a wide turn to come in behind the Zeros and engaged them in air combat. Putnam was last seen at the start of the first attack run then failed to rejoin the formation after the combat.

Major Hargraves, Executive Officer from VMF-216 reported last seeing him in a shallow glide dive near Rabaul. When this Corsair failed to return, Putnam was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Memorials
Putnam was officially declared dead the day of the mission.

References
Navy Serial Number Search Results - Vought F4U-1A Corsair 17734
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List December 1943 - F4U-1 17734 2ND LT F. G. Putnam
NARA "War Diary of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Sixteen" December 1-31, 1943
(Page 16) "One was missing, Lt. Putnam. He was last seen by the other planes in his division at the start of their first run. Later, Major Hargraves reported seeing "
Thanks VMF-216 / Robert Marshall for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech Info
F4U

MIA
MIA
1 Missing

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