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  P-39Q-5-BE "Snooks 2nd / Betty Lou 3rd" Serial Number 42-19995  
USAAF
5th AF
71st TRG
110th TRS

Former Assignments
8th FG
36th FS

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USAAF 1944

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Neville Mines April 7, 1973

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via PNG Museum 1974

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via Robert Rocker 2007

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Justin Taylan 2010

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 36th Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. Later, assigned to the 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 110th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. Assigned to Lt. William A. Shomo with crew chief Ralph Winkle from Milwaukee, WI and Mike Janigian from Fresno, California.

Nicknamed "Snooks 2nd" and painted in yellow on the right side on the nose. This aircraft was one of six that bore this nickname. Also, "Betty Lou 3rd" on the right side of the fuselage above the exhaust stacks and "Fresno, California" below, both painted in yellow, painted by the crew chief on the side of the fuselage, for his hometown and names of his brother's wives.

Shomo flew this Airacobra in combat over New Guinea. This aircraft was once was hit twice by a .25 caliber rifle bullet fired from the ground. During December 1944, this P-39 was abandoned at Tadji Airfield.

Wreckage
Until 1974, this aircraft remained in situ at Tadji Airfield Lemieng village and Vokau village.

Salvage
In 1974, salvaged by Charles Darby, as part of a recovery operation funded by David Tallichet / Yesterday's Air Force (MARC).

Charles Darby adds:
"I don't know much about what happened to the ex-PNG P-39s after they were delivered to Dave Tallichet. This is partly because Dave's people made no effort to identify which fuselage halves and wing sets they were nailing together to make complete airframes, and partly because no records were kept of which airframes went where. I do know that 42-19995 was one of the Tadji aircraft, and I do know that he sent a number of P-39 and P-40 airframes to MAPS for 'restoration', but so far as I can see they have played-around with them for many years with little being achieved and several airframes being on-sold. '995 is probably one of these airframes, so my guess is that it really is now in Buffalo."

Storage
Partially restored, then stored at Yesterday's Air Force (MARC) in Chino, California until 1980. Due to the efforts of Anthony LoRusso, then chairman of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Serviceman's Park contacted owner David Tallichet and ask him to donate an Airacobra. Transported cross country by Walt Runnels of Holton Livestock Express from California to New York, and was reportedly offered $110,000 USD for the aircraft while it was in transit, before delivery to the museum on December 29, 1980.

Display
At the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Serviceman's Park in Buffalo, New York. On January 2, 1981 the aircraft was reassembled, painted and placed on display on the museum floor using volunteer labor and unveiled on March 27 1981. Volunteers included Truman Partridge, Dick Smith, Bob Dromerhauser, Joe Kuty, Boy Hayes, John Branning and Dick Reading, among others. On March 25, 1981 William A. Shomo visited the museum to see his former aircraft.

Re-restoration
During the middle 2000, the P-39 was disassembled and re-restored. The aircraft returned to the museum on March 29, 2007 and was hung from the ceiling of the new exhibit building.

Relatives
Steve Janigian (son of Michael Janigian, crew chief)
"My Dad, Mike Janigian was the Crew Chief from Fresno, California, originally from Providence, Rhode Island. He named the plane the Betty Lou, after the wives of his two older brothers, Jerry & Betty Janigian, and Bud & Lou Janigian. My Dad passed away in 1978, 8 years before the restored "Betty Lou / Snooks 2nd" was placed on display in Buffalo. My family has traveled to see the plane, and I live about three hours away."

References
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 58 (lower), 60
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39Q Airacobra 42-19995
"P-39 Plucked from Jungle 'Lands' in Naval Park" by Betty J. Ott
"Bell Plane to be dedicated at Park - Pilot and Airacobra to Reunite" March 26, 1981|
Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Serviceman's Park - P-39

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Last Updated
January 9, 2018

 

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P-39

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