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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 98397
Last updated: 27 November 2021
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Date:24-MAY-1944
Time:13:15 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic B29 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Owner/operator:771st BSqn /462nd BGp USAAF
Registration: 42-63352
MSN:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 10
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Netrogoana -   Myanmar
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:Chengtu, China
Destination airport:Piadoba, Bishnupur, West Bengal, India
Narrative:
Bell-Atlanta B-29-1-BA Superfortress 42-63352. Built under licence by Bell Aircraft Company, Marietta, Atlanta, Georgia. Delivered to USAAF 30 December 1943, and assigned to the 462nd BG, 771st BS.

On a transport mission and written off when crew bailed out after running out of fuel near Netrogoana, Burma. May 24, 1944. According to the following eyewitness report (see link #4):

"It was on May 18, 1944, less than two weeks after they had arrived in India, that David Frederick McNeley and Hershall Barrett joined a crew headed by Major Manford K. Wagnon., for a flight to their advance base near Chengdu, China. They carried a load of fuel to be stockpiled for use on later bombing missions to Japan.

Retaining just enough fuel for the return trip, they took off from Chengtu, China, on May 24, 1944 for the return trip to Piadoba, West Bengal, India. Because they ran into a strong headwind they used more fuel than expected. (We now know they had encountered the Jet Stream, unknown at that time.) When they judged that they should be back to their base near Calcutta they found the cloud cover too dense to locate the air strip visually. They were also unable to establish radio contact and searched in vain for a landmark.

When the number four engine began missing for lack of fuel, they were forced to bail out. It was approximately 1 p.m. local time.

First to go was the tail gunner, S/Sgt Buck Blake. In opening his emergency hatch, preparing for the bail-out, he had disconnected his intercom. Afraid that he would not hear the order to jump, he did not wait for the order but just went. He landed near a village, breaking his leg. Not knowing if the natives would think he was Japanese, he pulled his gun to defend himself. However, when they did not come at him with weapons he concluded they were friendly.

By 10:00 p.m. they had put him on a train which took him to an army hospital operated by the British, somewhere on the Burma Road.

The other gunners left next, by the rear entrance door of the rear compartment of the plane. Hershall Barrett went first, then David McNeley. Robert Snow was last. They landed a few miles from a village, later identified as Netrogoana, Burma. There they met the Co-Pilot, 2nd Lt Samuel E. Snider who had been the first to bail out of the forward compartment. They were near a railroad and were able to ride the train to an Australian army base.

An aircraft that carried supplies picked them up from there and flew them back to their base. Wearing Aussie hats and uniforms, they arrived at Piardoba on May 26, eight days after they had left.

After the co-pilot and gunners had left, Major Wagnon kept trying to find a place to land. Finally, after the two outboard engines were out of fuel, the Navigator, 1st Lt. Helmer Hansen, the Bombardier, 1st Lt. Loyd Burchan, and Radio Operator T/Sgt. Tom Drew, all bailed out together. Flight Engineer, M/Sgt. Alvin Lebsack set the gas pumps working and Major Wagnon put the plane on course for the hills before they also jumped from the flight deck.

This last group all got together on the ground sometime after dark. Natives were hired to guide them and to carry their chutes and jackets. They followed a railroad track west and south, eating bananas and the food in their survival kits. After following the tracks and sleeping alongside them for two days, they were led to a British Army camp. It was part of the supply group that provided for Stillwell's forces and the Burma Road. They found they were a few hundred miles into Burma, near the lower end of the Burma Road.

The British drove them about 20 miles to a small railroad station where they bought first class tickets. After riding for the next twenty four hours, eating food the British had given them, they arrived at a base on the border between India and Burma, about seven hundred and fifty miles northeast of Calcutta. Col. Kalberer, their Squadron commander, met them in a large single engine airplane and flew them back to their base on May 27."

Sources:

1. http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/dbasqdn.asp?offset=6825
2. http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1942_3a.html
3. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/statesman/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=95490529
4. http://www.nhwallofhonor.com/pages/storyofahellbirdcrewmcneley1942+.html
5. http://usafunithistory.com/PDF/0700/771%20BOMB%20SQ.pdf
6. http://www.462ndbombgroup.org/Portals/0/Documents/462nd-Plane-list-master.pdf
7. https://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=203500
8. https://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=72211


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
04-Jun-2017 20:13 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
04-Jun-2017 20:14 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
29-Jun-2017 17:29 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Country, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
30-Jun-2017 00:52 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
23-Mar-2020 11:00 DG333 Updated [Operator, Operator]

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