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  P-39Q-5-BE Airacobra Serial Number 42-19949  
5th AF
6th PRG
25th PRS

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Stuckey Dec 27, 1943

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Phil Bradley 2002

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Justin Taylan 2003

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Gail Parker 2006

Pilot  2nd Lt. Thomas "Tommy" Harbaugh Roberts, O-794504 (MIA / KIA) Hot Sulfur Springs, CO
Crashed  January 12, 1944
MACR  2287

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39Q-5-BE Airacobra serial number 42-19949. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned 5th Air Force, 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, 25th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On January 12, 1944 took off from 17 Mile Drome (Durand) near Port Moresby at 10:32 piloted by 2nd Lt. Thomas "Tommy" Harbaugh Roberts on a local flight. Although listed as a non-combat flight, it is likely Roberts intended to overfly Shaggy Ridge to drop candy and cigarette to his buddies in the Australian Army Australian Army 2/16th Battalion that he had served with the prior month. This aircraft was last seen headed inland with a one hour supply of fuel. When it failed to return, Roberts was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

An extensive search was conducted by various types of aircraft between January 13, 1944 until February 12, 1944 covering the area to the north of Port Moresby to Kokoda, the sea to the south and coastline of New Guinea. No trace of the plane or pilot were observed.

Reportedly, this wreckage of this Airacobra was located post war and Roberts remains were buried at the site by the Australian Army. The exact location of the wreck is not noted in their report.

Roberts was officially declared dead the day of the mission. For his actions December 27-28, 1943 Roberts earned the Silver Star for gallantry in action. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Ted Roberts (brother of Thomas Roberts)

USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39Q-5-BE Airacobra 42-19949
"19949 (6th FG) lost Jan 12, 1944, SW Pacific. MACR 2287"
Missing Air Crew Report 2287 (MACR 2287)
AG 201 Roberts, Thomas H. 29 August 1949
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas H. Roberts
FindAGrave - 1Lt Thomas H Roberts (tablets of the missing)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39Q Airacobra 42-19949
Forty of the Fifth Profile 35 "The Hunter in Tommy Roberts" pages 103-108
On Shaggy Ridge pages 136-137, 139, 145, 152, 157-158
After the Battle Issue 135 "The Tommy Roberts Story" by Gail Parker
Thanks to Phil Bradley and John Douglas for additional information.

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Last Updated
January 21, 2019


Tech Info

1 Missing

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