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|Pilot 2nd Lt. Leonard G. Leighton, O-665582 (MIA / KIA)
MIA August 16, 1943
Also providing escort were twelve P-38 Lightnings from the 475th Fighter Group, 431st Fighter Squadron which had only recently begun operations in New Guinea. The 5th Air Force was providing a much stronger fighter escort for the C-47s following the loss of two transports to Japanese Army fighters the previous day at Tsili Tsili
All of the twenty-four C-47s landed safely at Tsili Tsili Airfield. While unloading was underway a Japanese aircraft consisting of 33 Ki-43 Oscars and 3 Ki-51 Sonias from Wewak arrived over the area and attempted to attack the transport at Tsili Tsili Airfield.
The escorting fighters, including this P-47 enraged in dogfights against "Zeros" [Ki-43 Oscars] and numerous claims were made on both sides. Lost during the air combat was this P-47. Damaged in the combat was P-38 piloted by Blythe that made a landing at Tsili Tsili Airfield.
The Japanese report losing two pilots. The Japanese attack was thwarted and no transports were lost. This marked the first the combat use of the P-47 Thunderbolt in the New Guinea theater.
American pilots claimed a total of 15 planes. The 340th Fighter Squadron claimed one. The 341st Fighter Squadron claimed two and the 431st Fighter Squadron claimed twelve.
Everette Frazier writes in "Saga Of Tsili Tsili, Vol. II":
Recovery of Remains
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