Our P-47 arrived in Townsville Australia on May 7, 1944. It was condemned at Dobodura on September 18, 1944 and written off inventory on May 10,1945.
The historical research is ongoing as always. So far I have been able to eliminate 3 of the possible 5 fighter groups that flew P-47s in the 56th Air Force. Those five groups are the 35th, 49th, 58th, 318th and 348th.
The 35th Fighter Group added a mast to the vertical stabilizer to lift their antenna up a foot for better radio reception. They were in Morotai, Dutch East Indies by September of 1944. There is no evidence of an added mast on our original fin and it is unlikely that a war weary P-47 would be flown over 1000 miles from Morotai to Dobodura to be written off. That eliminates the 35th with reasonable certainty.
The 49th Fighter Group had P-47s for a brief period.. Only one squadron, the 9th FS was equipped with them. They converted to P-47s in November of ’43 and switched back to P-38s in April of 1944, so were no longer flying P-47s when 42-27609 arrived in theater.
The 318th also had P-47s but were flown off carriers directly to Saipan in June of 1944. So they were far enough away to rule them out as well.
That leaves the following Fighter Group and Squadron possibilities:
Group Squadron Dates in combat
58 th FG ... 69 FS 2/44-12/45
311th FS 2/44-12/45
348 th FG 340th FS 6/43-3/45
341st FS 6/43-3/45
342nd FS 6/43-3/45
460th FS 9/44-3/45
The 460th is pretty unlikely because of the date they began operations. All of the serial numbers from 42-27608 through 42-27637 that I can track down went to either the 58Th FG or the 348th FG , so that adds credence to the conclusions.
If anyone has photographs of 42-27609 while she was in service, we would love to hear from you. They would have to be shots that haven't been online since and exhaustive search has been conducted. If you or a family member served in one of the squadrons listed and you have a picture that shows 427609 on the fin, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd happily pay for the photo or for reproduction costs. It would be great to return this Thunderbolt to accurate wartime colors.