|Pilot 1st Lt.
Lowell C. Lutton, O-433707 (MIA / KIA) Danforth, IL
MIA November 2, 1943 at 2:30pm
Lutton earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Silver Star, Soldier's Medal, Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart (posthumously).
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 475th Fighter Group, 431st Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engines V-1710-89 serial number 42-30047 and V-1710-91 serial number 42-93929.
On November 2, 1943 one of four P-38s that took off from Dobobura Airfield led by 1st Lt. Wenige on a mission to escort bombers over Rabaul.
Over the target, Lt. Lutton was singled out for attack by two or three enemy fighters
and was saved from destruction
by the valiant efforts of other members of his squadron. Despite
this, Lt. Lutton continued to lead his men in passes against enemy
aircraft attacking the bombers. Returning from the mission, Lutton was last seen in an overcast and storm with both engines functioning normally. Unable to reach Kiriwina, Lt. Lutton likely crashed
or ditched into the sea south of Wide Bay.
Marion Kirby, who flew with
Lowell on this mission noted:
"The way we exited Simpson Harbor (Rabaul)
we flew right over one of the enemies largest airfields and from
what I could gather, they were waiting on us. Lt. Weinege should know
because he was in Lowell's flight. Our losses were relatively
light until we were jumped as we were leaving. Like I mentioned
earlier, I became separated as we were leaving the harbor. I
arrived at Kiriwina Island, where we always gassed up, and counting
the planes as they landed. That was the time I learned our losses
had been heavy. We only had 9 planes that day, (the
431st FS) , on the mission, lost three of them."
Afterwards, a search was conducted but no trace of either the pilot or aircraft was found.
Lutton was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Ken Peters adds:
"Lowell was born March 18. 1918 and was only 25 when he was killed. To the
best of Lt. Wenige's knowledge three years later, he believes Lt. Lutton was
hit repeatedly by enemy fire over Wide Bay,
an extremely shallow dive, struck the surface of the water,
and sank about fifty to one-hundred miles south west of Rabaul. He did
not answer his radio calls and his flying was erratic. Lowell
made no attempt to bail out of his plane and crashed with
the canopy closed.
Missing Air Crew Report 1262 (MACR 1262)
431st Fighter Squadron History and casualty file
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lowell C. Lutton
FindAGrave - 1Lt Lowell C Lutton (photos, tablets of the missing photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38 Lightning 42-66821
Thanks to Ken Peters for additional information
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June 29, 2019