|Pilot Captain William P. Martin C. O. 7th FS (survived)
MIA November 24, 1942
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On November 24, 1942 one of twelve P-40s that took off from 17 Mile Drome (Durand) near Port Moresby at 7:15am piloted by Captain Martin leading a mission to strafe the Buna area. Over the target, the formation met no opposition but encountered light anti-aircraft fire that hit this P-40's radiator causing the engine to overheat. Martin radioed that his engine was over heating then force landed wheels up into kunai grass roughly five miles east of Popondetta.
Fates of the Pilot
Martin survived unhurt and after three days was led by natives to an Australian Army patrol and taken to Dobodura Airfield where he was flown aboard a transport back to Port Moresby and returned to duty. During his absence, Lt. Frank Nichols served as temporary Commanding Officer (C.O.)
Note, some sources incorrectly list the date of this loss as November 23, 1942.
Weekly Status and Operations Report (Form 34) November 22, 1942 - November 28, 1942
"11/24 strafe Buna area. One plane crash landed 3 mile S.E. Buna * Creek pilot O.K."
" * Captain Martin was seen walking away from plane. Returned to 7th Squadron Nov. 27. Four ships only strafed while others (8) covered. Beaufighters & B-17s were bombing and strafing area, which was unknown to our pilots until arrival."
History Highlights of the 49th Fighter Group 1941-1946 page 40
"November 23rd [sic 24th]. Captain Martin, Commander of the 7th Sq. was nearly forced down behind enemy lines. While strafing the enemy ground forces in the Buna area, he radioed to Lt. Nichols that his engine was over-heating and that he was going to land. After making a wheels-up landing, Capt. Martin reported that he could see the transports making their runs over the Popondetta Air Strip about three miles away. It was three days before Captain Martin made his way to the Australian ground troops and was returned to his squadron."
Protect & Avenge page 92
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January 5, 2018