|Pilot Captain Henry L. Leonhardt (survived) Bridgeport, OK
Force Landed 1943
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Constructors Number 222-751. Converted
from a G-10 model into a F-5A-10
photographic reconnaissance version. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia arriving at Brisbane on July 19, 1943 and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron. Tail number 84. No known nickname or nose art. On February 4, 1944 this aircraft was officially written off.
During 1943, this aircraft took off from 5 Mile Drome (Wards) near Port
Moresby piloted by Captain Leonhardt on a local flight bound for 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer). Instead, this Lightning force landed in the Waigani Swamp. Leonhardt was unhurt and later rescued.
This aircraft remained partially submerged and overgrown with vegetation in the western portion of Waigani Swamp. It remained in situ until July 18, 1979.
The wreckage was know and used for small arm target practice, leaving bullet holes in the left propeller blade.
During November 1969, Bill Chapman building an earthen causeway out
to the aircraft about 50-75 meters into the swamp. During the salvage, the crane being used got bogged in the swamp and broke. When the wet season began, the effort was abandoned.
Bruce Hoy adds:
"On 15 June 1970 when my late friend Barry Schulz and I got out to the aircraft. You will note one of the side plexiglass is still intact, which I pulled up from its recess. I later put it back down but of course it never survived the intervening nine years. Note also the bullet holes in the propeller blade, as it was used for target practice. The blade too now adorns someone’s wall or in the rubbish dump unfortunately."
On July 18, 1979, a team including PNG
War Museum modern history curator Bruce Hoy and the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) led by Warrant Officer Bob Wallis successfully salvaged the aircraft. Using the overgrown causeway from the 1969 attempted salvage, the aircraft was dragged by a bulldozer along until it reached dry land and was loaded using a crane onto a low-loader semi trailer an driven to the PNG
On July 19, 1979, the P-38 was put on display at the PNG
War Museum as an outdoors exhibit. Parts from this aircraft were used in the restoration of P-38F
The remainder of the aircraft remained on display until 2001. According to Robert
Greinert / HARS the "PNG Museum was cleaning up their yard and was going to dispose of the corroded remains of this aircraft". He recovered the outer wing panels and exported them to Australia and recommended the museum throw the rest of the aircraft away.
On December 17, 1943 Captain Leonhardt was killed as an observer in the crash of L-5 piloted by Mueller. After his remains were recovered they were buried at Bomana War Cemetery near Port Moresby. Postwar, his remains were transported via Australia to the United States for permanent burial. On April 8, 1948 Leonhardt was permanently buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at plot OFFIC, 320.
In memory of Captain Army Air Corps Henry Lewis Leonhardt
FindAGrave - Capt Henry Lewis Leonhardt (grave photo)
"KIA New Guinea. Married Mildred Alice Hoy Dec 6, 1929. Survived by four children 1. Marilyn Jean, 2. Donna Marie,3. Robert Hoy, 4. James Lewis"
Thanks to Bruce Hoy for additional information.
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September 26, 2018