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  F4U-1A Corsair Bureau Number 17915  
MAG 11

Pilot  Major Gregory 'Pappy' Boyington (POW, survived)
Ditched  January 3, 1944

Aircraft History
Built by Vought. Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to squadron VMF-214 "Black Sheep". No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On January 3, 1944 took off from Torokina Airfield at 6:30am on a fighter sweep over Rabaul. Boyington was in tactical command of 46 fighters, including 8 F4Us from VMF-214, 12 F4Us from VMF-211 and 16 F6F from VF-33 flying from Ondonga Airfield. Several planes aborted due to mechanical failures (three from VMF-214).

The fighters reached Rabaul for a fighter sweep, flying from 20,000' to 24,000' spotting Zeros below, they dove to intercept (probably 29 Zeros of the 253rd Kōkūtai).  Also, twenty-seven A6M Zeros of the 204th Kōkūtai already in the air, joined the dog fight.

Boyington shot down a Zero from dead astern (his 20th victory), send it down and burning, and confirmed by several other witnesses. He and his wingman, F4U Corsair 02723 piloted by George Ashmum was overwhemed and went Missing In Action (MIA).

Boyington then got the brunt of the Zeros attacks.  Hit by a 20mm shell that exploded in the belly of his plane, he was wounded in the leg, head, ear and forearm. Severely damaged, he leveled off over St. Georges Channel, flew for a half mile and then his gas tank caught fire, he bailed out at approximately 0845 low to the water, his parachute just opening before he hit the water.

Prisoner of War
At sea for eight hours, he was picked up by Japanese submarine I-181 and transported back to Rabaul. Interrogated at Navy Headquarters, Boyington was interned as a prisoner and suffered from festering wounds, beatings and malaria.

On February 15, 1944 Boyington and fifteen other POWs were to be flown back to Japan, but the flight was aborted due to an Allied attack warning. On February 17, 1944 Boyington was one of six Allied prisoners transported aboard a G4M1 Betty bomber from Rabaul to Truk, and then aboard a L2D Tabby (DC-3) to Saipan then Iwo Jima and on March 7 arrived in Japan.

Transported to the Ofuna Camp near Yokohama where he was a prisoner until the end of the war.

The Black Sheep pages 335 -- 341
Black Sheep One pages 306 - 317
The Siege of Rabaul page 20-21, 23-24

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


Tech Info


Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor Citation

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