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|Pilot 2nd Lt. Alva Guy Hawkins, O-431877 (MIA / KIA) Zavalla, TX
MIA May 27, 1942
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39F-1-BE Airacobra serial number 41-7153. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Fighter Group (8th FG), 35th Fighter Squadron (35th FS). No known nickname or nose art.
On May 27, 1942 due to a mid-morning air raid alert, took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 2nd Lt. Alva Guy Hawkins as one of seven Airacobras from the 35th Fighter Squadron (35th FS) plus ten Airacobras from the 36th Fighter Squadron (36th FS). Hawkins was flying as the wingman for P-39F Airacobra pilot 2nd Lt. Hervey Carpenter.
Meanwhile, inbound were fifteen A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai (Tainan Air Group) that took off from Lae Airfield. Six from the 1st chutai and nine from the second chutai. Twelve other Zeros from 3rd chutai were patrolling elsewhere.
Over the Port Moresby, a furious air combat occurred between the Airacobras and Zeros approximately twenty-five minutes and drifted eastward. Carpenter reported last seeing Hawkins fly into clouds, he was "last seen 5-10 miles south of Rigo." When Hawkins failed to return and was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). His Airacobra was officially condemned on October 31, 1944. Hawkins was likely one of the P-39s claimed by the Zero pilots. Also lost was P-39F 41-7162 (survived).
The Japanese claimed a total of seven planes shot down and three probables, including three Spitfires [sic] shot down by FPO1c Yoshino Satoshi, FPO3c Take'ichi Kokubun and F1c Mitsuo Suizu. Four P-39s were claimed by FPO1c Yoshino Satoshi, FPO3c Take'ichi Kokubun, FPO1c Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, FPO3c Ken'ichi Kumagaya and F1c Takeichiro Hadaka. They also claimed three probables including two P-39 probables by FPO1c Saburo Sakai and a Spitfire (sic) probable by FPO1c Masami Arai. None of the attacking Zeros were lost or damaged and safely landed back at Lae Airfield at 12:30pm.
Hawkins was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Hawkins also has a memorial marker at Zavalla Cemetery in Zavalla, TX.
Scott Thomas (great cousin of Hawkins) adds:
"I have been in contact with CILHI, and also the National Museum and Art Gallery of Port Moresby. In my last conversation with CILHI, they were studying a crash site approximately 5-10 miles off shore, this is unconfirmed. PNG National Museum told me of 3 P-39 crash sties all 3 wreckages approximately 3 hours by foot away from each other. I haven't heard anything from the National Museum since 1997. I have not heard from CILHI since over 2 years. I would like to find his crash-site to see if there is any body remains, to bring home to be buried beside his parents. His now deceased brother, Arthur Ray Hawkins, was a Navy fighter pilot, with 14 kills and 3 navy crosses. Do you know how I can find out more information about my cousin, Alva, the P-39's mentioned or the mission on May 27, 1942?"
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Alva G. Hawkins
Previously, on May 8, 1942, Hawkins ditched on May 8, 1942 piloting P-39F Airacobra 41-7188.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39F-1-BE Airacobra 41-7153
"7153 condemned Oct 31, 1944"
Kodochosho, Tainan Kōkūtai, May 27, 1942
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Alva G. Hawkins
FindAGrave - 2Lt Alva G Hawkins (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Alva Guy Hawkins (memorial marker photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 Airacobra 41-7153
Eagles of the Southern Sky page 170
Thanks to Scott Thomas and Edward Rogers for additional information
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