P-47D-23RA, serial number 42-27609, served in the Southwest Pacific. It arrived at Townsville, Australia on May 8, 1944. It was abandoned at Dobodura Airfield in Papua New Guinea on September 18,1944. Later it was recorded as sitting in the yard of a house in Popondetta, the capital of Oro province in northern Papua New Guinea.
After extensive research, we have determined that the 35th Fighter Group is the most likely Fighter Group for 42-27609’s assignment. The primary supporting evidence is that out of all 5th Air Force P-47 groups, only the 35th Fighter Group had the D-23 model earlier than August of 1944. The 35th Fighter Group consisted of the 39th, 40th and 41st fighter squadrons.
Less likely than the 35th, but unable to be ruled out is the 348th Fighter Group. Their inventory reports show that they had D-23s by September 1944 that they undoubtedly received during August of 1944. The 348th Fighter Group consisted of the 340th, 341st, 342nd, and 460th Fighter Squadrons.
The individual Fighter Squadron histories of the 340th, 341st, 342nd, and 460th, note that their first D-23s came to them from the 35th FG with several hundred hours already on them. It is possible that 42-27609 could have belonged to any of these 4 fighter squadrons in the 348th Fighter Group. However, the 460th Fighter Squadron was being created in August and September of 1944, and it would make sense that war-worn Thunderbolts (which would have come from the 35th FG) would have been sent there instead for training purposes.