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Παρασκευή, 22 Ιουλίου 2016

WW2 Pacific Treasures: B-25 "stubborn Hellion" ditched in Papua New Guinea, 1944

B25 Stubborn Hellion
PHOTO: Andrew Hamilton

Photo by Andrew Hamilton

On February 15, 1944 took off on a low level strike mission against Kavieng. 

Leading a three plane flight over the main wharf and Chinatown areas, this B-25 was hit by anti-aircraft fire that damaged in one engine and left shrapnel holes down the left side of the fuselage. 

B-25 "Stubborn Hellion" with the nose art of a white mustang that spanned the entire nose.
This B-25 lagged behind the formation and pilot Hochella unsuccessfully attempted to feather the propeller and dove down to sea level.

The damaged engine caught fire forcing this B-25 to ditch roughly 75 yards off Selapiu Island near New Hanover at roughly Lat 2.21° Long 150.37°. 

During the ditching, the B-25 spun 180 degrees before sinking. 

On impact, pilot Hochella was thrown through the cockpit windshield strapped to his seat and armor plate, before inflating his life jacket and releasing his seat belt and briefly passed out. 

Navigator Howard was never seen again and presumed to have gone down with the sinking bomber.

Rescue
On February 16, 1944 a B-25 Mitchell pilot by Captain Dougherty from the 345th Bombardment Group spotted the downed crew. On April 17, 1944 he guided a PBY Catalina to the location. It landed and successfully rescued the surviving crew members.

Memorials
Howard was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. 

Howard also has a memorial marker at Fairview Cemetery in Pryor, OK.

Hochella attained the rank of Lt. Col. and earned the Bronze Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with oak leaf cluster and the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster. 

Hochella died on September 13, 2005 and is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery (Bethlehem Memorial Park) in Bethlehem, PA in section B.

Wreckage
Wreckage is in excellent condition, but water visibility is poor. Both engines were torn off on impact and rest prop down in the mud about 100 feet from the fuselage.

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