Re: B-26 "40-1426" wreck

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Posted by Tom Hall on March 11, 2000 at 12:35:13:

In Reply to: B-26 "40-1426" wreck posted by Elias Giampuranis on February 20, 2000 at 09:25:55:

Dear Mr. Giampuranis,

As I understand it, the loss of 40-1426 went
something like this: One engine of the plane was disabled by anti-aircraft fire during a mission against Rabaul on May 2, 1942. The aircrew jettisoned loose equipment.

They evidently threw out the "Chinese laundry" encoder before communicating their intention to make an emergency landing at Owi, in the Trobriand Group. Having to use uncoded language, they signalled, but stopped in mid-sentence, realizing that they would be giving their position to the Japanese. Instead, the message that went out said, "Making forced landing where Francine used to live."

Pilot Chris Herron had an excellent reputation for flying ability, but decided to try to preserve the plane by landing with wheels down.
It proved to be a fatal mistake for him and his co-pilot, RAAF Captain C. R. Gurney, who had devised the clever radio communication. Gurney
had flown flying boats, probably Short Empires, for Quantas before the war.

At any rate, the nose wheel got caught on something in the landing, and the plane flipped over, killing both the pilot and co-pilot.

Gurney Field at Milne Bay (Alotau) is named for
Captain Gurney.

The loss records of the 22nd BG rather tenuously attribute the loss of this plane and these men to enemy aircraft.

I believe the pilot and co-pilot were buried beside the plane. The surviving members of the aircrew were rescued and flown to Port Moresby in Catalina A24-18. The wreck appears in Pacific Aircraft Wrecks and Where to Find them by Charles
"Bunny" Darby, Kookaburra Press.

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