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John Douglas
Wreck News Update –  September 2001

by John Douglas

My main effort at the moment is exploring the forests around Port Moresby. The area back towards Kokoda from Port Moresby seems to have been a killing ground for planes. It was the main route for planes travelling between Port Moresby and points north, including Kokoda, Buna, Lae and Rabaul. Add in a mountain pass, regular bad weather, combat and occasionally inexperienced pilots, and you get a lot of mishaps. Much of this area is steep, forested and little used except by occasional hunters. So, there are wrecks to be found.

CILHI have been working on a couple with remains, but a lot more need to be located and checked out. For the moment we've been working in one valley that seems to have gathered up P-39s. located four, all aparently lost in May 1942, when matters were very evenly balanced between the opposing forces. These P-39s are all D or F models, not reported to the outside world before, and come from the 35the Fighter Squadron and 36th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force. No remains obvious. I've got a camera travelling in the lower Sepic river [Another good location for wrecks]as well. I attach a few photos for your gratification.

DAP Beaufort Mark VIII Serial Number A9-518
Pilot Chapman MIA March 25, 1945

P-39F Airacobra Serial Number 41-7191
Pilot Chapman MIA May 18, 1942

P-39Q Airacobra Serial Number 42-19939
Abandoned or crashed in Oro Province

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