|Pilot Alex Illnicki (survived)
Ditched November 27, 1943
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF). Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 475th Fighter Group, 432nd Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On November 27, 1943 one of seven P-38s that took off from Dobodura Airfield on a patrol mission over Salamaua and Finshafen. During the mission, this aircraft experienced problems and set a course back to Dobodura, but made
mistake, only realizing when he passed Misima Island, then turned for Milne Bay, but ran
out of fuel and ditched,
150 yards off Basilaki Island north coast. Illnicki landed unhurt and delpoyed his life raft.
Fate of the Pilot
Illnicki reached the shore in his life raft and was returned to duty.
This P-38 remains in situ and intacted on the sandy bottom. On
December 1, 1981 this aircraft was located by SCUBA diver Bob Halstead. The aircraft was located at 258° from North Point and about 150 yards offshore. During another dive during April to May 1982, Bob Halstead confirmed the serial number by locating the radio dataplate affixed to the instrument panel.
Winged Ghosts of the Pacific documentary has underwater footage of this wreck.
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September 26, 2018