|Pilot Captain Wallace R. Jennings, O-663049 (MIA / KIA) CA
Crashed January 7, 1944
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 1376. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38H-5-LO Lightning serial number 42-66865. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 18th Fighter Group, 12th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On January 7, 1944 took off from Stirling Airfield piloted by Captain Wallace R. Jennings on a mission to escort B-24 Liberators on a bombing mission against Rabaul. Weather was deemed to be poor with clouds closing in over Stirling Island area. After take off, other P-38s observed Captain Jennings' right engine was out, smoking then burst into flames at 1,500' altitude. He was observed to circle Stirling Airfield once, then crashed into the sea. When he failed to return, he was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Jennings was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38H-5-LO Lightning 42-66865
AAIR Search Result For Squadron: 1 - P-38H 42-66865 Wallace R. Jennings, 13AF, 18FG, 12FS [sic] Munda [sic]
12th Fighter Squadron - January-March 1944 (USAF Historical Research Agency IRSUM: 55724) does not mention this loss or pilot
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Wallace R. Jennings
FindAGrave - Capt Wallace R Jennings (photos)
FindAGrave - Wallace Robinson Jennings (tablets of the missing)
Vampire Squadron: The Saga of the 44th Fighter Squadron in the South and Southwest Pacific page 96
"Capt. Wallace Jennings Crashes - At 0940 hours on 7 January Captain Wallace R. Jennings, as leader of the third of five flights leaving on a bomber escort mission to Rabaul took off from Stirling Island. The weather at the time was closing in fast around the island. It was reported that Captain Jennings' prop went out. He circled the field once, low, and was not seen again from the ground.
Captain Frank Gaunt observed smoke pouring from Capt. Jennings' right engine at 1500 feet altitude. He called Capt. Jennings and told him to cut his mixture control. About three seconds later the engine burst into flames. Capt. Gaunt then told Capt. Jennings to pull up and bail out. There was no reply. The P-38 soon became a mass of flames and crashed into the sea."
13th Fighter Command in World War II page 243
"On 7 January Capt. Wallace Jennings was leading the third of five flights that took off from Stirling Island to escort B-24s to Rabaul. At take off the weather was closing in, and after he took off his engine malfunctioned and he was seen to circle at 1,500 feet over the island by Capt. Frank Gaunt. Gaunt radioed Jennings to cut his fuel mixture, but the engine caught fire and immediately began the entire fighter was on fire and crashed into the sea before Jennings could bail out."
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January 7, 2019