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Justin Taylan 2003
|Pilot 2nd Martin P. Hawthorne, O-855043 (KIA, BR) MI
Crashed January 22, 1944
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 7145. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38G-1-LO Lightning serial number 42-12711. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 39th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. Later, transfered to the 475th Fighter Group, 431st Fighter Squadron at Dobodura Airfield. Likely assigned a tail number between 110–130. No known nickname or nose art.
On January 22, 1944 took off from Dobodura Airfield on a test flight and crashed roughly 700 yards off the northwest end of Doboudra No. 7 (Girua Airport). Pilot Hawthorne was killed in the crash.
Hawthorne was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Afterwards, his remains were recovered. Postwar, his remains were transported to the United States for permanent burial at Rock Island National Cemetery at section E site 246.
This aircraft crashed into a ditch and broke into pieces. During the 1980s, the wreckage was rediscovered by villagers while clearing land for a new garden. The aircraft has a large "7" painted in yellow on the tail. This is possibly from serial number "212711" or possibly a digit from one of the squadron numbers assigned.
Justin Taylan visited the site in 2003:
"Villagers talk about several bones [part of skull and arm bone] found at the site. They took the bones and buried them in village cemetery. I left them with a U. S. flag for the grave that they were happy to accept it."
Kieth Hopper adds:
"I found the USAAF serial number stamped into a cowl panel beside the manufacture number. This is quite rare. I have only seen it once before, on the F-4 41-2140. I suspect it was stamped in theatre upon arrival and the practice was discontinued as more and more P-38's started to arrive. I have the individual aircraft card for this aircraft. It was officially written off on the 23rd of January 1944 as Converted Missing Enemy Action. I suspect the reference to missing enemy action refers to the immediate lack of access to the crash site due jungle and remoteness and the fact the loss occurred in a combat zone. The land owner is expecting his friend Rob back this week to collect the wreckage which he has already signed over."
Charlie Kerr adds:
"There are still living relatives in the Hastings MI area including myself. My step son Tyler Kerr is researching Martin's death on behalf of the family."
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38G-1-LO Lightning 42-12711
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38 Lightning 42-12711
FindAGrave - Martin P Hawthorne (grave photo)
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