B-17F "Black Jack" 41-24521 ditched at Cape Vogel is
perhaps what I am best remembered for and people often ask me how I
came to find it. My friend Dave Pennefather happened to mentioned
to me that the local inhabitants had told him of a plane adjacent to
their village. On a trip to that area I called into that particular
village and asked about the aircraft that was supposed to be there.
To my surprise the locals said that the plane was at
another village next door so started making a few inquires and found
that an aircraft had gone down in the area. (in fact it was a Australian
Beaufort A9-02 yet to be found).
I arranged a Christmas dive trip for Dave Pennefather and
Bruce Johnson to go and see to if it was possible to find this plane.
On arriving Cape Vogel, we were told that the plane was at Boga Boga
and not at the other village next door. Anyway, the inhabitants of Boga
Boga showed us the exact place where the plane went down so we prepared
to dive on the site.
To cut a long story short the three of us dived and
spread out to cover as much area as possible and I swam into the tailplane
of a B-17. It was not until we had the ID plate and contacted Richard
Leahy back in Lae who contacted a friend who gave us the details of
the aircraft. We were told that we had discovered the 5th Air Force 's
most famous bomber, "Black Jack" mostly flown by Ken MacCullur. Steve Birdsall brought the former pilot, Ralph DeLoach to New Guinea and made a documentary Black Jack's Last Mission.
The locals still insisted that there was another plane out side their
village "next door" and in fact, there is. Both these planes are related to one another, and that
is, after bombing a Japanese destroyer off Cape Ward Hunt, "Black Jack"
was out of ammo and bombs but the destroyer was badly damaged and still
afloat, so MacCullar called his base and asked for another strike on
A Beaufort arrived from Port Moresby and as she entered
her bomb run the DD blew up and sunk. MacCullar was credited with the
sinking and the Beaufort flew off back to Pom. On the return trip due
to cloud build over the mountains and running low on fuel Beaufort A9-2 ditched at Cape Vogel at the village next to Boga Boga. Hence the confusion
with the two aircraft.
Beaufort A9-2 will be my next big project along with
a must and that is F/L William Newton VC's aircraft a DB-7 Boston A28-3.
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