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  P-40E-1 Kittyhawk Serial Number A29-109 Code K
RAAF
75 Squadron

Pilot  Sgt Bill Cowe, 401769 (KIA) Berwick, VIC
Crashed  August 28, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Curtiss. US Army Serial Number 41-36106. It was initially allocated to the RAF serial number ET752. Received by the RAAF on May 17, 1942. Assigned to 77 Squadron on May 25, 194, but instead to 75 Squadron and coded K.

Mission History
One of twelve P-40s that took off from 1621 to 1718 hours from Milne Bay bound for 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. Led by S/L Les Jackson, other pilots including Piper, Crawford, Gullifer, Mountseer, Holt, Atherton, Pettet, Johnston, Wilkinson, Watson, Jones, and Cowe.

Arriving over Port Moresby, there was a low cloud and Bill Cowe flew into the valley in the dark, around 1830 hours and crashed. Les Jackson forced landed at Paramana Point, returing to Moresby aboard a lugger and Lakatoi a few days later.

Michael Claringbould adds:
"In 1964, myself and other classmates from Boroko East Primary School at Port Moresby had become fascinated by the wreckage of an aircraft in a valley behind our school. It was quite a walk for us, being small kids. We would climb up the hill behind the school, walk along a ridge, and descend into a valley. There were the remains of an outer wing, engine mounts, and small pieces of wreckage everywhere. The other friend who was as fascinated as I was Mark Warren, whose father was then flying DC3s for Trans Australian Airlines. One day Mark and I and another student decided to collect the wing and take it back to my place. I recall with great clarity that the wing had a British roundel on it, and I wondered what a British aircraft had been doing in the New Guinea theatre.

The three of us carried the wing back to my house, located behind Port Moresby High School. Looking back on this feat, it was remarkable. It must have taken us hours, for we were all only between 9 and 10 years of age. The walking distance alone was one hour, and with that heavy outer wing, I really don't know how we did it. The wing was part of my "war collection" I had back in those days, kept mostly under my house, which included a 50 cal machine gun and samurai sword. I remember also walking to the site in 1966 with two of Bill Chapman's friends, and Peter Lamb, a school friend. After we had removed the wing, I recall with great clarity Mark Warren telling me his father had been annoyed that we had removed the wing as he had often used it as a landmark when departing Jackson's Drome in his DC3s!

For the next twenty years I wondered what aircraft this had been, although I was sure it had been a P-40. Even Bruce Hoy, the great guru of the times, had no answer. I finally discovered the identity when reading Odger's Involvement of the RAAF in the Pacific War 1939-42. There was a reference to a P-40 crashing in hills behind Port Moresby during a return from Milne Bay. After all these years, I finally collected sufficient information, to confirm positively that this is the aircraft, including an explanation for the British roundel! Mark Warren was killed in the Solomon Islands years later, and I left behind the wing at my house when our family left PNG in 1973. Thats where the story ends."

Memorials
Cowe's remains were recovered and he was buried at Bomana Cemetery at B2, C, 2.

References
ADF Serials - Kittyhawk A29-109

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Last Updated
January 1, 2014

 

Tech Info
P-40
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