|Pilot Lt. Wallace S. Dinn, Jr., O-431949 (survived) Corpus Christi, TX
Crashed October 28, 1942
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 347th Fighter Group, 339th Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On October 28, 1942 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by DInn as one of nine P-39s led by Captian John W. Mitchell on a mission to escort SBD Dauntless on a dive bombing mission over Santa Isabel Island. Over the target, the bombers dropped their bombs without opposition. Next, the Airacobras made two passes strafing the area twice. Afterwards, Dinn spotted a fuel dump and strafed it, then circled around to attack it again from an altitude of 30'.
Suddenly, the P-39 was rocked by an explosion that left Dinn temporarily numbed and anti-freeze leaking into the cockpit and streaming smoke. He considered ditching but was too near the enemy base. Slowly, he was able to gain altitude to 2,000', trailing smoke but was able to depart the target escorted by two other Airacobras before he had to bail out. As he desended, Dinn witness his damaged P-39 crash into the sea.
Fate of the Pilot
As he neared the ground, his parachute caught in a large tree, Dinn managed to landed unhurt. With the help of local people, he was able to return to duty. Later, Dinn went Missing In Action (MIA) on January 5, 1943 piloting P-38G Lighting over Vella Lavella.
The Bell Ringer Vol 3, No. 9 "Birdman of the Solomons" August 1943 page 26-29
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis
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February 4, 2018