|Pilot 1st Lt. Gene Duncan, O-663024 (MIA / KIA) CA
Ditched March 14, 1944 at 11:30am
Built by Republic at the Indiana Division of Republic Aviation in
Evansville, IN. Constructor Number 671. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South-West Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 39th Fighter Squadron. No nose art or nickname. When lost, engine R-2800-63 serial number 42-126047. Weapon serial numbers listed in Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 4112.
On March 14, 1944 took off from Gusap Airfield (No. 5 Strip) as flight leader on an escort mission
to Wewak. Weather was overcast with unlimited visibility at 20,000'. Due to engine failure, the plane ditched near the mouth
of the Sepik River about four miles from the shore near Blup Blup Island, and his plane sank
after he exited it.
Fate of the Pilot
Duncan was last seen in his rubber raft and appeared
all right to his squadron mates who circled the area until. A plane
approached from the mouth of the Sepik and one of them chased it inland. During
the day, they tracking him as he drifted
to the northeast but by 6:50pm when their fuel was low, and departed, noting his position as Listing has the position at Lat 03.40 Long 144.30
the time a rescue plane arrived the next morning at 7:50am, escorted
by P-47s that had observed the crash, he had dissipated. All that
was observed was a native canoe and appeared to be friendly. He was
presumed dead and the case closed after review on November 2, 1949.
Wes Querns (son of Robert Querns):
"My father, Robert Querns was a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot who was over Duncan when he disappeared. I have heard the story dozens of times over the years. I will be glad to share details."
Duncan was officially declared dead on January 19, 1946. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-47 Thunderbolt 42-22920
Thanks to Kenneth D. Wilson for constructor number
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January 5, 2018