On June 24, 1944, the 332nd Fighter Group was assigned a low-flying mission to strafe an enemy supply line near Aircasea, Italy. According to 15th AF records was a fighter sweep from Airasca ~ Turin (and not near their base), the engine quit in 2nd Lt. Johnson’s P-47 Thunderbolt. His plane hit the water almost immediately.
Johnson briefly recovered before making a belly landing, but failed to open the canopy before hitting the water. Johnson was trapped inside the plane as it sank.
Daily narrative mission reports of the 332nd Fighter Group for June 1944, notes “2nd Lt. Charles B. Johnson’s plane exploded as it hit the water, Time 0918 at 42 degrees 52 minutes North, 9 degrees, 31 minutes East. There is no reference to the aircraft serial number, but the geographic coordinates of the crash are given.
Sources conflict as to exactly what happened during a mission on the way to strafe a target in northern Italy on Jun 24, 1944; but they agree that 3 aircraft crashed into the sea near Corsica at about the same time. Two of the pilots were killed and one survived. He was 1 of the 2 killed. He was officially declared dead Jun 23, 1945. His body was not recovered.
The four missing P-47’s were: 42-26709 (2Lt Samuel Jefferson), 42-75798 (Capt Robert B Tresville), 42-26812 (2Lt Charles B Johnson), 42-75759 (2Lt Earl S Sherrard) (the numbers are confirmed with the aircraft cards and loss date).
Note: Jefferson’s P-47 serial number is different than the MACR – the boards are from the S-3 division and are updated during the day (in 1944). Should also be noted that the 332nd FG aborted the mission due to weather; group was unable to penetrate the coast.
The 332nd FG also lost 2 other P-47’s on 22 June 44:
42-27658 (2Lt Richard C Pullman) and 42-85772 (2Lt Gyynne W Pierson) both crashing.
Finally, we also have the location of two of the wrecks 42°55’59″N 9°33’0″E (location where Sherrard was rescued and near Jefferson circled and crashed)
Learn more about 2nd Lt Charles B. Johnson in Tuskegee Airmen Profiles!