|Pilot 1st Lt Claude A. J. Diffenderffer, Jr. O-796103 (MIA / KIA) MD
Crashed April 9, 1944 at 3:05pm
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned 5th Air Force, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on November 24, 1943. No known nose art or nickname.
On April 9, 1944 one of five P-39 Airacobras that took off from Saidor Airfield on an armed reconnaissance mission over the north coast of New Guinea. The formation included: 2nd Lt Thomas B. Sellers, 2nd Lt Michael F. Moffitt and Captain George R Karr flying top cover with Lt. Diffenderffer and Lt. Sellers at minimum altitude as a strafing element.
While flying approximately two miles out to sea from Ulingan Harbor, this airplane was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire (believed to be from a coastal battery) and was seen to explode in mid air. The only remaining trace of the crash was burning oil and gasoline on the surface of the water. The remains of the pilot were not recovered.
Diffenderffer was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Diffenderffer earned the Purple Heart (posthumously).
Casualty File, Frames 343 and 344 Microfilm A0912
M/Sgt. W.E. Ursprung Journal April 10 - Lt. Diffederfer was shot down [April 9] by Jap ack ack this afternoon.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39Q Airacobra 42-20355
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Claude A. J. Diffenderffer
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February 4, 2018