|Pilot F/L Richard Joseph "Dick" Darcey, 408172 79 Squadron (MIA / KIA) Hobart, Tasmania
MIA October 6, 1944
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. U. S. Army serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South-West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
This P-38 was likely assigned to the 5th Air Force, 475th Fighter Group at Sorido Airfield on Biak Island. Afterwards, likely assigned to the 15 Aerodrome Squadron (15 ADS). No known nose art or nickname. Nose number 679.
Daniel Leahy adds:
"NAA gives serial as "NR679", which I'm assuming is short for "Number 679" ... so that could be the last three digits, or possibly a 'buzz' number. NR679 is an RAF serial, though it IS NOT related to a Lightning (actually a DH-89A), so it MUST refer to [USAAF] "Number 679"
Keith Hopper adds:
"Yes, '679' could be serial number or constructors number, but would not be a 475th aircraft squadron number. Momote Airfield was a consolidation area for the 13th AF after the Solomons / Rabaul campaign."
During a lull in combat operations during September 1944, several senior U. S. officers flew their P-38s on an unofficial visit to Momote Airfield and fraternized with Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 79 Squadron pilots, including Darcey and others who posed for photos in the cockpit of P-38 Lightnings and likely the Americans flew their Spitfires while the Australians flew their Lightnings.
On October 6, 1944 took off from Momote Airfield on Los Negros Island piloted by F/L Richard Joseph "Dick" Darcey. After circling the airfield, this P-38 then flew straight out over the sea when the right engine failed. Darcey apparently tried to start th right engine which was smoking badly. Crashed three miles off shore into the sea off Southeast Point. Darcey was officially declared Missing in Action (MIA).
A crash boat was immediately dispatched to the site, but only an oil slick was observed, no wreckage was found.
Officially declared dead the day of the mission. Darcey is memorialized on the Rabaul Memorial at Bitapaka War Cemetery (Rabaul War Cemetery) on panel 34.
RAAF Casualty Cards - P-38 Lightning piloted by Darcey
NAA gives serial as "NR679", "Aircraft one of US 15 Aerodrome Squadrons"
RAAFDB.com - Unknown P-38 Lightning piloted by Darcey
RAAFDB.com - F/L Richard Joseph Darcey (photo)
AWM P02874.253 Darcey in the cockpit of P-38 September 1944
CWGC - Richard Joseph Darcey
Thanks to Daniel Leahy and Keith Hopper additional information
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May 22, 2017