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Bruce Hoy
PNG Museum Acquisitions 1978-1988
Richard Culton's P-39 Wreck

Recovered 19 December, 1980, the day we were shown to it by an elderly villager who had also brought Culton into the village in 1943. It was dismembered from the rest of the wreckage (only wiring and a small section of stringers) and then manhandled onto the back of my Datsun pickup truck and brought back to Moresby, causing quite a bit of damage to the paintwork of my vehicle in the process.

When we arrived in the village, I asked the kids if they knew anything about an aircraft wreck close by. They all said no, but one little fellow said that there was one close by, he had not seen it, but his grandfather knew all about it. The other kids then ridiculed him, and he went running off to fetch his grandfather who was working in the garden. Eventually, he returned with this wizzened old fellow, who confirmed what his grandson had said, and related how he had brought the pilot into the village, made him a cup of tea to steady his nerves, and then await the arrival of other Americans. He then led us to the crash site, and after wandering away a little while, with me thinking he was senile, there it was, barely 200 yards from the village! The reason the kids did not know of it, was that normally, the water and reeds covered the wreckage, and this was the first year in memory when the swamp all but dried out.

The tail section and one propeller were recovered and brought back to Port Moresby. We were still digging out the 37mm cannon, but gave up. P-39D 41-38351 was lying in the middle of a swamp, and only about 150 yards from a village. Even the kids did not know of its existence. We were shown to it by an old man, whom we first though as being mad, as we were told it was a mile or so from the village. You can imagine everyone's surprise when we were shown it. The story about Culton after his bail out was was told by the same old man who showed us the wreckage. I since obtained a copy of the report covering this action, which partially verified what the old fellow had told me.

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P-39D 41-38351

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Richard Culton


G4M1 Wreck Mt. Albert Edward

I have been to this wreck [G4M1 Betty 1605] as the museum representative while a Japanese party retrieved the remains of the tail gunner. Wednesday, 3 November 1982, landed. Set up camp, then walked down to the crash-site. Back up to camp, over-night, and then lifted out the next day. Saw no ghosts, but I came down with a terrible migraine, possibly caused through the altitude and physical excursion. The two Japanese that accompanied me were from the Ministry of Health and Welfare they kept to themselves, and did not appear interested with the museum's request to make contact with veterans.

I was later informed of the name of the gunner, and that his loss occurred on 12 April 1943. Took quite a few pictures of the wreckage. The fuselage from about the trailing edge of the wing to the tail is lying between two large boulders. It is not touching any ground, so it may last for years and years without massive deterioration. The aircraft was painted dark green with the lower section a blueish-white. I cam down with altitude sickness, and the walk back up to our camp site was agonizing, with my head about to burst!

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PNG Museum 1982


Japanese Ki-61 Tony at PNG Museum

Roy Worcester [man who recovered the plane [Ki-61 Tony 299] in Wewak in the 1970's] had painted his name on these bits with the expectation of having them shipping back to Wewak. Roy never held a recovery licensed for scrap in the Madang area, so I can only assume that he was trying to do it on the sly at the time.

The Oscar bits and pieces came from Wewak and were a part of Worcester's collection [Roy Worcester Historical Centre]. We were only able to bring across a fraction of his material to Port Moresby before the Defense Force encountered problems in obtaining water at the wharf, and before we could get another LCH back to Wewak, the port authority bulldozed the lot into land fill. Just another gruesome episode.

My museum was swamped with lack of funds, and we did not have anything available to have the stuff shipped commercially. All that came was the cockpit section, and I do not think I found a constructor';s number anywhere there.

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Ki-61 Tony Fuselage

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Ki-43 Oscar Wings


William F. Hanning's P-40E 41-36166
The intention of The Air Museum of Papua New Guinea was that the P-40E 41-36166 was to got to David Tallichet, who would rebuilt it and then return it. Bill Chapman thought that Armstrong had in fact recovered everything and that all had gone to Chino. He only found out when the owner of the farm came in one day and asked Bill when he was going to recover the wings. It turns out that the fuselage did not end up in China, but "elsewhere". Putting it mildly, The Air Museum was furious with this apparent misuse of trust. Click For Enlargement
P-40 Wings

Door from Yamamoto's Crashed G4M1 Betty

I brought the door and seat [from Yamamoto's G4M1 Betty 2656] with me from The Air Museum of Papua New Guinea having been collected by Bill Chapman.

 

Radio Compartment Machine Gun from B-17E 41-2446
As was the 50 caliber machine gun that originally came off B-17E 41-2446 (aka "Swamp Ghost").

 

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Yamamoto Door
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50 Caliber Machine Gun
from B-17E 41-2446


Tail of B-24D "Weezie" 42-41081

The tail off B-24D "Weezie" 42-41081 was one of the highlight displays - quite a job bringing it off the mountain in the last helicopter lift. It was the slowest chopper flight I have experienced, as even though we had weighted the net with rucksacks and a 50 calibre gun, it was still really too light. But we did make it, and I guess the museum owes CIL a vote of thanks, as that flight would have cost them treble what it should have.

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B-24 Tail


B-17E "Naughty But Nice" 41-2430

Jose Holguin and his pilot Hal Winfrey visited PNG in 1981. I became aware after the visit, and we struck up friendly exchange of letters. Holguin decided to make another visit to PNG to try and find his aircraft. He arrived in Port Moresby on 21 July 1982 and while there, I toured him on several occasions around Port Moresby. We found the location for the 65th Bomb Squadron Officer's Club, as well as the 65th Enlisted Men's Club, and found the approximate location of his tent.

He flew to Rabaul on or about 25 July, my wife, daughter and I then flew to Rabaul on 27 July and met up with he and Brian Bennett. I had copies of the Missing Aircraft Report, and with Brian, we tried to ascertain where 41-2430 could be. In the meantime, Brian had tracked down the village that Holguin had ended up in, and located the family who had nursed his wounds. They were taken to one B-17 crash-site, but that turned out to be a B-17F. After my arrival, we decided to pool our funds, and fly into the village mentioned in the 1948 report. This we did on 29 July, landing at Wusing Village.

We then hiked to Leming Village, crossing a river on our way. In Leming, we found several young fellows who knew where an aircraft was lying. Spending the night in a smokey hut with about three families, we set off the next morning at about 6am, and walking mostly down-hill, we decided to call it quits at 8.45am, as we had been continually told that the wreckage was "close". We decided to walk until 9am and if the river that was supposed to be close to the wreckage was not reached by then, we would turn back to the village. Well, promptly at 9am, a river was reached, and we crossed it, sending the villagers out to scout out the aircraft. They returned after about 20 minutes, and we were then guided to the wreckage, the first part being a large squashed item. We saw that it was the cockpit and then I noticed what looked like artwork. Using two poles, Brian levered up the wreckage and Holguin and I were able to see the artwork and nickname. [This relic is now on display at the Kokapo War Museum in Rabaul]

We then spent a little while there, and I had to forcefully restrain Holguin from digging in the cockpit nose area for anything from the bombardier, as he was in danger of disturbing the site that had yet to be fully investigated. He retrieved a Colt .45 We then walked down the slope, and stumbled across the rear fuselage resting on the edge of a small creek. On not seeing the tail section, we were at a loss as to what had become of it. Holguin had told us that after he had landed, he slid down the slope, found the fuselage and tail section, and the dead tail gunner, and tried to reach in and remove his boots as he had lost his. He then saw the ball turret gunner, badly consumed by fire, still in his turret. Not seeing the tail, we just assumed that the only conclusion was that the Japanese had carried it out as a trophy. [I found the tail section 300 metres away in 1984, and the ball turret was also discovered in many pieces, none of which having been damaged by fire.]

We then walked back to the river, and Brian set off up the hill to Leming Village where the chopper was to have collected us, leaving Holguin and I trying to keep dry from a sudden tropical down pour. The chopper with Brian arrived several hours later, and whisked us back to Rabaul. Although Joe had his camera, I took many with mine, which I subsequently gave him some copies.

Recovery of Remains
An American recovery team in 1948 recovered what they thought were two individuals. These were exhumed in 1983 and deemed to have been either four or five individuals. The first CILHI recovery took place in 1983, after Holguin had ripped up half the jungle in extracting the cockpit section. Then another in 1984, during which I found the tail section 300 metres from the rear fuselage, and Brian found the wing and bomb-bay section. Then it was last visited in 1986.

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Cockpit Section
Bruce Hoy 1982

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US Star
Bruce Hoy 1982

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Tail with Serial 12430
Brian Bennett 2000

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Nose Art
Bruce Hoy 1982

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Brian Bennett with Nose Art
Bruce Hoy 1982

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Nose art & Top Turret
in Kokapo Museum
Justin Taylan 2000


P-38 Lightning at the Museum

P-38F 42-12647, recovered in November 1978. Was assigned to the 39th Fighter Squadron, and originally the mount of Ralph C Bills. Last known flight was on 14 May 1943 when Wayne Rothgeb took off to intercept Zeros approaching Dobodura. The right turbo-charger exploded, and Rothgeb made an emergency landing at 14 Mile Drome Port Moresby. Aircraft subsequently repaired, and lost at a later date, possibly in early 1944.

P-47 Cockpit section (formally) at the Museum
P-47D "Frankie" 42-8130 cockpit section was badly restored by a museum in New Zealand [Museum of Transportation and Technology MoTaT). This was "Frankie" used by Capt S V Blair.

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