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  PBY-5  Catalina Bureau Number 2303 Squadron Number 51-P-6
USN

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Assigned to the US Navy (USN). Assigned to Patrol Squadron 101 (VP-101). Squadron number "51-P-6" was painted in black on both sides of the fuselage. No known nickname or nose art.

Wartime History
At the start of the Pacific War, this Catalina operated from Oahu.

On December 30, 1941 took off piloted by Ensign Frank M Fisler with co-pilot Leonard Howard Wagoner on a search mission. The crew included Ensign C. F. Gimber, 1st Class William B. Watson, 2nd Class Wilbur W. "Rip" Warlick, AR2c Howard C. Cupps, 2nd Class C. C. Forbes.

During the flight, they spotted a life raft in rough seas. Despite the danger of landing in the rough seas, this Catalina opted to land to perform a rescue. For the difficult landing, Wagoner took over the controls as he had more flight experience at the time. After landing safely, they rescued the nine survivors of B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2402 that had ditched out of fuel three days earlier over the next three hours. Afterwards, took off again and returned safely.

The ultimate fate of this Catalina is unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

Memorials
Pilot Ensign Frank M Fisler later went Missing In Action (MIA) piloting PB4Y-1 Liberator 31950 on March 5, 1943.
Cupps also went Missing In Action (MIA) and was officially declared dead on July 15, 1943

References
Navy Serial Number Search Results PBY-5 2303
PBY Catalina Foundation - Guardian Angel -- A True Story
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank M. Fisler
FindAGrave - LT Frank M Fisler (tablets of the missing)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard Charles Cupps
FindAGrave - ARm2 Howard Charles Cupps (courts of the missing photo)
Thanks to Jim Sawruk for additional information

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018

 

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