AN F-4 (P-38 LIGHTNING) LOST ON A
PHOTO RECONNAISSANCE RAID TO RABAUL
ON 4 MAY 1942

 

One F-4, the reconnaissance version of the P-38E Lockheed Lightning - an advanced design, twin-seater, twin boom (two tails) - fighter-bomber, with a maximum speed of 414 miles-per-hour and a range of 450 miles - was despatched from Townsville via Port Moresby on photo reconnaissance over Rabaul. No further word was heard from the aircraft and it was presumed to be lost.

Michael Moskow believes that this may have been an F-4 piloted by Captain Connely (from San Antonio, Texas) from the 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron. See e-mails from Michael below.

UPDATE
I received a letter from Colonel Ralph K. Watts (Ret.) of Oregon, USA on 25 June 2001. Lt. Ralph Watts was another pilot in the 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron. Lt. Watts had made a forced landing in an F-4 Lightning on 4 May 1942 somewhere near
Townsville, the same day that Captain Conolly went missing. The following is a diary entry from Ralph's diary:-

Tuesday May 5, 1942
"Well I got my plane out of the tullies today. It is a wash-out from the cockpit to the front end. We hope to get the materials and get her flying eventually. Well yesterday was bad day. Capt. Conolly is 24 hour overdue. He was sent to Rabaul and never returned. There are three possibilities. (1) The Japs got him. (2) He made a forced landing on land or sea. (3) He bailed out and landed on land or sea. We are hopeing for the best but it looks doubtful. He may be our first combat death."

 


 

Subject:      F-4 lost over Rabaul
Date:               Sat, 24 Apr 1999 14:55:13 -0700
From:              "Michael Moskow" <steelydanman@worldnet.att.net>

Hello Peter,

I came across your reference to a Lockheed F-4 which disappeared over Rabaul after leaving Townsville. Maybe I can help a bit...

Given the time frame and location, I'm pretty certain you're referring to an F-4 belonging to the 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Photo Reconnaissance Group, of the 5th Air Force.

The 8th PRS was formed at March Field, California, on Feb. 1, 1942. The squadron originally consisted of three Flights...A, B, and C...which were united in Australia after the unit left March Field, in March and February of 1942. "A" Flight arrived in Camp Pell, Melbourne on April 7, and departed for Camp Doomben, Brisbane on April 24. That flight left Camp Doomben for Townsville on May 2. "B" and "C" Flights arrived at Camp Murphy, Melbourne, on July 16, and departed for Townsville on July 27. All three Flights began a depature from Townsville on September 5, 1942, and by mid-October, the entire squadron was operating from Schwimmer Field, New Guinea.

The 8th lost an F-4 on May 2, 1942. The plane was flown by Captain Louis J. Connely, and was reported MIA over Lae, New Guinea. I don't think Captain Connelly survived.

The above information was found in the Historical Records of the 8th PRS, which I obtained on microfilm from Maxwell AFB.

Hope this helps.
Michael Moskow

 


 

Subject:     F-4 Lost from Townsville
Date:             Mon, 26 Apr 1999 21:22:34 -0700
From:           "Michael Moskow" <steelydanman@worldnet.att.net>

Hello Peter,

In answer to your questions...

The Army Air Corps designated its photo recon planes with an "F" prefix, at least prior to 1947. ("P" stands for "pursuit".) So, by "F-4", I mean the reconnaissance version of Lockheed's P-38E Lightning. This was essentially a P-38 airframe from the the armament of four .50 machine guns and one 20mm cannon had been removed, and replaced with various combinations of cameras. The 8th PRS was equipped with both F-4s and F-5s, the F-5 being the recon version of the P-38G and P-38J.

The 8th was based at Garbutt Field during its residence at Townsville.

Based on the date, I'm convinced that Captain Connely (from San Antonio, Texas) took off from Garbutt Field. I can only assume that he was lost in bad weather, or encountered Japanese fighters.

About that B-17... As a matter of fact, you're right. The 64th BS was based at Mareeba, from Nov. 8, 1942, through Jan. 20, 1943.

Until "whenever"...type to you later...

Sincerely,
Michael

 

Other e-mails from Michael Moskow

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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