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John Dunbar
P-38 Pilot, 39th Fighter Squadron

Born July 25, 1919. In June '41, graduated from Univ of Pittsburgh with BS in Aeronutical Engineering, while at Pittsburgh, he completed Primary and Advanced CPT flight schools.

Enlstment & Overseas
He Enlisted in Air Corps Sept '41, graduated Class 42D at Kelly Field April '42. Assigned P-38 training at Paine Fd Washington, in P-38 Pursuit Grp patrolled Northwest coast. In Sept '42 flown to Brisbane via C-47 to join 39th Fighter Squadron. He arrived at Port Moresby as one of about 26 newly assigned P-38 pilots with the 39th Fighter Squadron in September.

P-38F "Dumbo!" 42-12847 Nose Number 37
Assigned to P-38F "Dumbo!" 42-12847 #37, with crew chief Ray Chartrey (now deceased). Flew a number of his 151 missions in this aircraft. All the 39th pilots gave him the nickname of 'Dumbo', which he named his plane.

The noseart was a pink baby elephant with wings, about 3 or 4 feet high, which Dunbar painted himself as an enlargement of the Disney character " Dumbo", the flying elephant. He drew dust puffs and nuts and bolts trailing his path and a big "DUMBO!" call in front. Dunbar had experience drawing enlargements of comic page shadow drawings like "Prince Valient"  

On September 2, 1943 on his off-duty flying day, his diary notes that the plane crashed at Terapo with one of our newly assigned pilots, Hamilton Laing. Landed with propeller out and low on gas. With the help of natives he returned unharmed to base at Laloki (14 Mile Drome). Dunbar was assigned another P-38, #37 and continued missions. On Nov 7, 1943, another new pilot, Al Quinones, was assigned to fly his P-38H 42-66911 Nose Number 37 on a Rabaul mission (his 7th mission) as Dunbar departed on a leave to Sydney. Al Quinones was shot down from the middle of the formation, bailed out and became a POW at Rabaul and survived the war.

Remainder of the War
After 151 combat missions rotated home Jan '44.  Received Electronic Officer rating (MOS 0141) in radar course at Boca Raton FL, flew P-61. Then assigned to Wright Field as project/engr pilot, on to MIT to earn MS degree in aero engr in June '45. Returned to Wright Field. Married Sept '46, 7 children, 21 grandchildren.

Post War Life
Oct '46 to '51 was engr/test pilot with American Airlines and Pan American airlines flying DC-4 and L-49. He also served 21 months during Korean War, Group Maintenance officer in a C-46 Wing, then a project test pilot at the Air Force Armament Center at Eglin Field.

Next 31 years with MIT - Draper Labs as engr/test pilot. Flew F6F, B-26, F-94, JD-1, B-29, C-97, CH-46, CH-47. Work entailed development of inertial guidance systems, flight control, navigation systems, weapons aiming (air to air gunnery), dive bombing and advanced flight controls for CH-46, and CH-47 (Chinook) military aircraft. Phased into development of space guidance and control for Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz and Space Shuttle.  Helped train Apollo astronauts in simulators of Command Module and LEM.

Discovery of the Wreckage of "Dumbo!"
The remains of Dunbar's P-38F "Dumbo!" 42-12847 #37 force landed at Terapo Airfield was revealed by Bruce Hoy (former PNG Museum modern history curator) in October 1980. Hoy gave Dunbar a color picture of the wreckage. Hoy made a business trip to USA soon after and visited Dunbar's home to give him a souveneir from the plane, one of the gun blast tubes. He has it displayed in his office with other momentos.

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