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  P-39D-BE Airacobra Serial Number 41-6800  
5th AF
8th FG
36th FS

Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
Australian Army c1942
Pilot  2nd Lt. Don McGee (survived)
Force Landed  May 9, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39D-BE Airacobra serial number 41-6??? (last three digits unconfirmed) likely 41-6800. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Fighter Group (8th FG), 36th Fighter Squadron (35th FS) "The Flying Fiends". No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On May 9, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 2nd Lt. Don McGee to intercept strafing A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai. In the air, he was hit by one of the Zeros. Next, his Airacobra fatally damaged by friendly fire from a .50 caliber machine gun manned by the U.S. Army 101st Coastal Artillery. McGee force landed on Fishermans Island (Daugo), incorrectly believing it was flat sandy ground. On impact, coral boulders damaged the Airacobra.

After the crash, this Airacobra was stripped for usable parts and the armament and radio were removed. Possibly, the rest of the aircraft was salvaged by American forces during 1942. Or, the Airacobra was abandoned. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39D-BE Airacobra 41-6800
"6800 condemned Oct 31, 1944"
U.S. Army 101st Coastal Artillery Battery C Combat Operations Report of May 9, 1942
RAAF Central war Room Operations Diary May 9, 1942 lists P-39 serial number as 41-6800
Come What Will (1994) pages 57-58
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 Airacobra pilot McGee 9 May 1942
U.S. Aces book by Eric Hammel includes a 2-3 page account by McGee of the mission
Eagles of the Southern Sky (2012) pages 109-110 (May 9, 1942 does not list McGee force landing)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis

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Last Updated
May 8, 2021


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