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  P-400 Airacobra Serial Number BW117 Nose 43
USAAF
5th AF
35th FG
40th FS


via AWM c1942

Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
Philip K. Shriver c1942

Pilot  2nd Lt. Edward J Gignac, O-430806 (survived) MA
Force Landed  July 11, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number BW117 and painted in a three-color camouflage scheme. Instead, delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 40th Fighter Squadron. Nose number 43. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
Took off 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby during a scramble against Japanese bombers. Climbing to 15,000', he experienced engine failure and crashed landed near 30 Mile Drome (Rogers). Afterwards Gignac did not fly combat for the rest of the month and was later sent back to the United States.

Pilot History
Afterwards Gignac did not fly combat for the rest of July 1942. He returned to the United States and was later assigned to the 352nd Fighter Group, Headquarters Squadron and promoted to the rank of Major. On June 7, 1944, Gignac was killed in action piloting P-51B Mustang 42-106661. The aircraft was hit by flak in the wing, causing it to explode (see MACR # 5556). He is buried in France at Epinal American Cemetery at plot A, row 33, Grave 28. During his service he earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart (posthumously).

Wreckage
A wartime photo shows wreckage including the bent propeller, upside down center section and tail wreckage in a clearing near 30 Mile (Rogers Drome). Likely, parts of the wreck were salvaged during the war. Until at least the 1970s, wreckage with serial number BW 117 visible remained in the vicinity of 30 Mile (Rogers Drome). Fate unknown, likely scrapped.

References
The Aircraft Wrecks in the South Pacific Area, Pacific Aviation Society notes wreck of BW117
Joe Baugher "Airacobra I for RAF, P-400"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 (P-400) Airacobra BW 117
Australian War Memorial Collection Database - Item P03338.001
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - E J Gignac
Together We Served - Maj Edward J Gignac
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Technical Info
P-400
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