|Pilot 2nd Lt. Gerald T. Rogers, O-430849 (survived)
Crashed August 26, 1942
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number BW112 and painted in a three-color camouflage scheme. Instead, delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron. Tail letter R. No known nose art or nickname.
Possibly, this aircraft was nicknamed "Wahl Eye II" with tail number 13.
On August 26, 1942 took off from 12-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a mission over the Buna area. Over the target, intercepted by A6M Zeros, this Airacobra was damaged and force landed in the sea along the north coast of New Guinea near Pongani. Rogers was unhurt.
Assisted by friendly natives and missionaries, he was transported to Wanigela then back to Port Moresby.
Postwar, this Airacobra was located by a RAAF Searcher Team at roughly Lat 8.40 Long 148.24.
Ruff Stuff page 73
"After bailing out of his plane off Buna, he spent thirty days in the jungle trying to get back to friendly territory. Gerry was different. Before this mission he told me he would love to spend time in the back country of New Guinea - well, he got his wish. Before he went down, he would shoot birds with an air rifle, take the innards out, pack them with chemicals and cotton and send them back to the U. S. to some museum. As I remember I wasn't on the mission he got shot down on, believe it was on the coast between Buna and Milne Bay. He belly landed the P-39 in the ocean. The Zero came down and tried to get him in the water. He said he'd dive under water as the plane made passes firing at him."
ANGAU Diary, Nov/Dec 1942 Extracts from Annual Report for the TUFI DISTRICT - 1942
Capt. F.W.G. Andersen ADO Tufi District: "Natives in this District are loyal supporters of the British Empire, They look to the Magistrate for guidance and whatever policy was adopted they would carry it out. Natives established guards and runner systems to bring warning to the Station. They have assisted crashed airmen without making any demands upon them - considering it a part of their duty. One of the village guards saw a friendly plane shot down near Pongani, and called his people together and rescued the pilot out of the sea. They then fed him and sent him to Wanigela - Lieut Rogers"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 (P-400) Airacobra BW 112
Joe Baugher "Airacobra I for RAF, P-400"
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis
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February 4, 2018