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|Pilot 1st Lt Paul J. Larson, O-442520 (survived)
Ditched July 21, 1943 at 1:45pm
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Constructor Number 1028. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Over the target area, the P-38s encountered a formation of thirty-seven Japanese fighters including nineteen Ki-43 Oscars from the 1st Sentai and 24th Sentai plus eighteen Ki-61 Tonys from the 68th Sentai and 78th Sentai.
During the air combat, this P-38 claimed an enemy fighter shot down but was damaged by gun fire that broke off a section of the left engine cowling. Damaged, Larson feathered the left engine and turned for home. The aircraft was then jumped by three Zeros [sic KI-43 Oscars or Ki-61 Tonys], one in particular being an excellent pilot, and it took considerable effort for Lt Larson to shake off his adversary.
After reaching the Papuan coast on the southern coast of New Guinea, the other good engine started to overheat. Due to the rocky shoreline, the Larson ditched the aircraft in the surf, close to shore. He stalled the aircraft, and on touching the water. the right propeller broke off, and the plane swung around to face the shore, five miles northwest of Yule Island, close to the shore or on the beach. Also lost was P-38 Lightning piloted by McCarthy (MIA).
Fate of the Pilot
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