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  P-39F-1-BE Airacobra Serial Number 41-7186  
USAAF
5th AF
8th FG
36th FS

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Anderson July 24, 1942

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PacificWrecks.com
Justin Taylan 2007
Pilot  1st Lt. James "Hoot" J. Bevlock, O-420568 (survived) Scranton, PA
Force Landed  April 30, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39F-1-BE Airacobra serial number 41-7186. 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", 36th Fighter Squadron (36th FS) "The Flying Fiends".No known nickname or nose art.

During late April 1942 this aircraft was flown from Garbutt Airfield via Cairns Airfield and Horn Island Airfield before reaching at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on April 30, 1942 after noon, an arrival time scheduled to avoid a morning Japanese air raid.

Mission History
On April 30, 1942 at 1:00pm took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. James "Hoot" J. Bevlock as one of eleven Airacobras led by Lt. Col Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner on a strafing mission against Lae Airfield. This was the first combat mission flown by the 8th Fighter Group (8th FG) in New Guinea. Over the target at 2:37pm the Airacobras commenced strafing hitting parked aircraft and seaplanes then departed. During the attack A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai scrambled and attacked the Airacobras in the vicinity of Salamaua.

Another Airacobra pilot, Louis Meng led Bevlock in a right turn when several A6M2 Zeros attacked attempting to break up their flight. The pair managed to evaded the Zeros but ended up heading north, Meng turned them both in the right direction, but flew into clouds over the Owen Stanley Range and lost sight of Bevlock. Short on fuel and likely lost, this Airacobra force landed on the beach near Iokea. This aircraft was officially condemned on October 31, 1944.

Fate of the Pilot
Bevlock survived the landing unhurt. Afterwards, he made his way along the coast headed eastward until he reached Yule Island on May 1 where the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Spotter Station radioed his whereabouts and he embarked aboard the Nusa and was transported back to Port Moresby, arriving in the afternoon of May 2 and returned to duty.

Wreckage
It is possible portions of this aircraft were salvaged during October 1942 by a team from the U. S. Army tasked with salvaging usable parts. Today, some wreckage remains on the beach including the Allison engine, drive shaft, 37mm cannon and bent propeller. The rest of the wreckage was scrapped or otherwise removed.

Justin Taylan visited on October 22, 2007:
"Only the engine, propeller shaft, nose landing gear leg, cannon, and propeller remain. According to locals, the rest of the wreckage was scrapped over the years. None had any recollection of the pilot or the story of this particular aircraft wreck, possibly a ferry flight or mechanical failure. Buried in the sand was the lower portion of the wing, heavily corroded and scrapped."

Memorials
On September 10, 1942 Bevlock went missing in the crash of a DH82A Tiger Moth. He earned the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), Silver Star and Air Medal. Bevlock is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - James J. Bevlock
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39F-1-BE Airacobra 41-7186
"7186 condemned Oct 31, 1944"
New Guinea Force Diary - May 1 & 2, 1942
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 Airacobra piloted by Bevlock
Attack & Conquer page 36, 46
Forty of the Fifth Profile #2 pages 7 - 12 (salvage of Bevlock's P-39 is incorrect, actually P-39D 41-6982 piloted by 1st Lt. Brown)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James J. Bevlock
FindAGrave - Capt James J. Bevlock (photo, tablets of the missing)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis

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Last Updated
January 29, 2020

 

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P-39

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