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  P-39D-15-BE Airacobra Serial Number 41-6970  
5th AF
8th FG
35th FS

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Ray Fairfield 1964

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Ray Fairfield 1968
Pilot  Lt. J. F. Ward, Jr. (survived)
Force Landed  May 28, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Constructors Number 15-309. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39D-BE Airacobra serial number 41-6970. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Fighter Group (8th FG) "Cyclone's Flying Circus", 80th Fighter Squadron "The Headhunters". No known nickname or nose art. Next, asssigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron (35th FS) "The Black Panthers". No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On May 28, 1942 at 07:50am took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. J. F. Ward, Jr. as one of fourteen Airacobras on a scramble mission to intercept A6M2 Zeros over Port Moresby. Damaged, this Airacobra force landed wheels at Gaile, roughly 25 miles southeast of Port Moresby. Pilot Ward survived unhurt.

Fate of the Pilot
Ward was transported to Port Moresby and returned to duty the same day.

Until 1968, this aircraft remained in situ near the beach at Gaile.

Ray Fairfield recalls:
"Yes that's Bill hauling on the rope. This P-39 was on a grass area near the road to Gaile. It deteriorated rapidly after I first saw it in 1964, as it was so accessible."

Recovered by Bill Chapman in 1968, and transported to Port Moresby for the proposed Air Museum of Papua New Guinea.

Ray Fairfield recalls:
"It was retrieved, mainly for parts, in 1968. The shot up on drums was in the compound where we were accumulating spares for the museum. This recovery was about the same time as P-47D "Frankie" 42-8130."

Fate after salvage unknown, abandoned or otherwise disappeared.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39D-BE Airacobra 41-6970
"6970 (MSN 15-309) reported recovered in Papua New Guinea. Reported 1982 at National Aviation Museum, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39D Airacobra 41-6970
"In 1973 it was brought into Port Moresby for the proposed Air Museum, but was dumped by the owner of the land on which it was left standing."
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020


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