|Pilot 2nd Lt. Howard B. Donaldson, O-746061 (MIA / KIA) Tacoma, WA
Crashed December 22, 1943
Howard Banks Donaldson was born July 6, 1921 in Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington State. His parents were J. Henry Donaldson from Arkansas and his mother was Ruth Donaldson from Minnesota. During 1940 U. S. census, the family lived at 3105 N. 20th Street, Tacoma, WA.
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California at a cost of $98,990.00 using funds F-1 for Army Air Force Order Number AC-24636. On September 9, 1943 delivered to the U. S. Army. The next day assigned project number 96198-R. On September 12, 1942 flown to Alhambra Airfield. Afterwards, disassembled and shipped overseas to "LEFT" (5th Air Force) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On December 22, 1943 one of seventeen Lightings (3 x P-38Gs, 9 x P-38Hs and 5 P-38Js) that took off at 7:20am from North Borio Airfield (Dobodura No. 15) on a mission to escort B-25 Mitchells over Boram Airfield near Wewak. The weather was overcast at 7,000' to 8,000' with light rain over the entire area. This P-38 was flying as no. 4 element in the rear of the formation.
This P-38 was flying as no. 4 element in the rear of the formation. Over the target, the formation was intercepted by enemy fighters including Ki-43 Oscars and Ki-61 Tonys from the 68th Sentai and 78th Sentai. During air combat, this P-38 sustained damage to one engine causing it to smoke.
the damaged engine and was escorted homeward. During the return flight, the right engine suddenly burst into flames, causing this Lightning to nose over from 1.000' and crashed into a swamp roughly 35 miles south of Wewak near the northern bank of the Sepik River.
When Donaldson failed to return from the mission, he was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). This aircraft was officially condemned the day of the mission. Also lost was P-38H 42-66631 (MIA).
This P-38 crashed into a kunai grass swamp near Chimbian to the north of the Sepik River. The wreckage includes portions of the tail booms and both vertical stabilizer with the partial serial number stencil in yellow "67142" on the right stabilizer and "7142" on the left stabilizer.
On June 14, 2003, this crash site was visited by Robert Jarrett / Classic
Jets Museum during the recovery of P-38H
Donaldson was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Donaldson also has a memorial marker at the Tacoma Mausoleum in Tacoma, WA.
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - P-38J 42-67142
8th Fightter Group Casualty Records Dec 22/43
"Howard B. Donaldson, 2nd Lt., 0746061 3105 N. 20th St, Tacoma, Wash, KIA
(Number 4 man in flt that was jumped by enemy planes. He received hits, pulled forward with one engine smoking, started home with escort, flying one engine feathered at about 1000 ft. when other engine burst in flames. Plane went straight in on a marshy plain about 35 miles S Se of Wewak)"
Missing Air Crew Report 16251 (MACR 16251) lists aircraft as "P-38" and does not list the serial number and was likely created retroactively
CILHI Pending Cases Australian New Guinea (Search Area 73 - 77 - 78 & 81) P-38J 42-67142
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard B. Donaldson
2Lt Howard B Donaldson (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Howard B Donaldson (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - James Henry Donaldson (father's grave with memorial marker photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38H Lightning 42-67142
Attack & Conquer pages 135-136, 267 Appendix II: J. Donaldson P-38J #42-67142", 313 "Appendix V: 2nd Lt. Howard B. Donaldson (80th) P-38 #42-22640 [sic]",
"He was the number 4 man in the rear flight that was jumped by Tonys on the mission to the Wewak area. He received hits and was escorted home with one engine feathered and smoking. The other engine burst into flames and the P-38 went straight in from 1,000 feet into a marshy plain about 35 miles southeast of Wewak, New Guinea."
Classic Wings "Lighting On The Sepik Plains" by Robert Jarrett & Margaret Jarrett, Issue 43, June 2004 pp 36-37
Note, Missing Air Crew Report 5367 (MACR 5367) and Missing Air Crew Report 6213 (MACR 6213) incorrectly list P-38J Lighting 42-67142 as piloted by 2nd Lt. Robert P. Richardson, O758071 (MIA) from the 9th AF, 367th FG, 392nd FS MIA May 19, 1944 over Manston, England returning from a bomber escort mission. Both these MACR 5367 and 6213 are therefore incorrect and Richardson was lost in a different aircraft.
American Air Museum in Britain - 42-67142 P-38 Lightning [serial number incorrect]
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
January 5, 2018