|Pilot F/O Kenneth Hillman Pike, 417113 (rescued) Adelaide, SA
Gunner Sgt Keith Beatty Morgan, 412019 (rescued) Batemans Bay, NSW
Force Landed February 27, 1944 at 9:45am
Built by Vultee as an A-31-NO Vengeance Mark Ia. Line number 284. Contract Number RFDA-2648. Constructors Number 684. RAF serial number EZ963. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia as part of lend-lease.
Assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
On May 20, 1943 received by the 1 AD. Next to 2 AD on August 30, 1943. Assigned to 21 Squadron on September 21, 1943 then back to 3 AD on December 9, 1943. Assigned to 24 Squadron on October 10, 1944 as a replacement for Vengeance A27-290.
On February 27, 1944 one of eleven Vultee Vengeances from 23 Squadron and 24 Squadron that took off at 9:00am from Nadzab Airfield armed with two 500 pound bombs on "Mission #46" a bombing mission against Alexishafen Airfield. The bombers were escorted by twelve P-40N Kittyhawks from 78 Squadron.
The formation, call sign "canvas" rendezvoused over the Markham and Ramu Rivers at 2,000'. Returning from the mission, this aircraft's engine overheated. At 9:45am, pilot Pike force landed in a kunai
grass field near the Leron River near Kiapit.
Both crew survived the landing unhurt. After the crash landing, another Vengeance from 24 Squadron
photographed the aircraft in the grass with both crew members standing on the
wing. Later, the crew were rescued by a light aircraft and transported back to Nadzab Airfield.
After the force landing, this aircraft was officially written off at Nadzab. Issued to 11 RSU, it is unclear if this aircraft was ever salvaged for spare parts and usable equipment during the war.
Until at least the early 1960s, wreckage of this aircraft remained in situ. During 1962, Charles Darby photographed the wreckage of this aircraft burnt by grass fires which ignited center fuel tanks,
leaving only the wings, tail and cowl. Reportedly, the remainder of the aircraft was broken up for
scrap metal afterwards.
WW2 Nominal Roll - Kenneth Hillman Pike
WW2 Nominal Roll
- Keith Beatty Morgan
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 26
ADF Serials - Vengeance A27-83
24 Squadron Diary
- February 27, 1944
Thanks to Charles Darby and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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September 2, 2015