Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York under contract AC-40071. Delivered to the U. S. Army on October 22, 1943. Painted in Soviet markings and assigned U.S. Army serial number 44-2485. This Airacobra was part of Lend Lease bound for the Soviet Union.
During the ferry flight across the United States, Canada and Alaska, assigned to Air Transport Command (ATC), 7th Ferrying Group, 25th Ferrying Squadron. On November 29, 1943 departed from Buffalo on a ferry flight across the United States and Canada arriving at Fort Nelson on December 6, 1943.
On December 6, 1943 took off from Fort Nelson Airfield piloted by Lt. Delos R. Carpenter on a flight bound for Whitehorse Airfield then to Ladd Field in Alaska where it would be handed over to a Soviet pilot. During the flight, this aircraft was number two in a flight of two on ferry flight and became lost when the lead aircraft's compass failed and experienced bad weather the pair became separated.
This P-39 ran out of fuel and jettisoned his drop tank. Before running out of fuel, he made a wheels up belly landed atop the frozen surface of Carpenter Lake roughly 120 miles north of Smith River in northern Canada causing little damage, aside from damaging the propeller and buckling the right wing and tearing off one of the .50 caliber machine guns. Carpenter survived unhurt.
Fate of the Pilot
Carpenter radioed for help and made contact with Lake Army Airway. The next day at 3pm, he was rescued when another plane on skids landed on the frozen lake and rescued him.
During February 1944, U. S. Army personnel visited the aircraft and removed all
salvageable parts abandoned the aircraft while they camped along the shore. The personnel and parts were flown out by Norseman aircraft. During the salvage efforts one Norseman crashed killed the pilot and a crew member. Afterwards, the aircraft was abandoned. During the spring of 1944 thaw, the aircraft sank into the lake when the ice melted and sank to the bottom of the lake.
During July 1990, located by Gary Larkins using side scan sonar at the bottom of the lake at a depth of 30' to the tail and 60' to the nose encrusted in mud. During July 19-20, 1990 salvaged from the lake, with the tail section removed first and towed to shore. The remainder of the aircraft was lifted by a Bell 205 helicopter and place on the shore. Afterwards, the aircraft was flown to Watson Lake and loaded onto a trailer and trucked to California.
This P-39 will be restored to static display or airworthy. Restoration status and location unknown.
Airacobra Advantage pages 109-110
Warbird Resource Group - P-39Q/44-2485
Aviation Safety Network P-39Q 44-2485
AAIR Search Result For Serial Number: 44-2485 Accident Report
Hidden Warbirds II pages 88-95
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
January 9, 2018