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Daniel Leahy 2004
|Pilot Lt. Walter Harvey (survived)
Force landed May 1, 1942
Built by Bell in Buffalo, NY. Constructors Number 15-554. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39F-1-BE Airacobra serial number 41-7215. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Pursuit Group (8th PG), 36th Pursuit Squadron (36th PS) "The Flying Fiends". No known nose art or nickname.
On May 1, 1942 one of six P-39s that took off from Antill Plains Airfield near Townsville pilot Lt. Walter Harvey on a flight bound for 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby as one of six Airacobras led by P-39F "Erminie" 41-6951 pilot Lt. Falletta with this aircraft was flying as his wingman. The formation also included P-39F 41-7216 piloted by Lt. Yundt and P-39F piloted by Lt. Love.
Flying northward, the Airacobras made a refueling stop at Cooktown Airfield, then encountered a storm near Horn Island, where they planned to land at Horn Island Airfield to and refuel before the final leg of the journey to Port Moresby.
While flying in bad weather and thick clouds, Lt. Falletta led the other pilots who were all inexperienced with instrument flying back to the Cape York Peninsula. Low on fuel, they searched for a suitable place to land. Lt. Faletta and wingman, Lt. Harvey chose a landing spot roughly 13-16 kilometers inland from Cape Orford Ness, near the Escape River near Weipa.
Landing wheels up, Harvey managed to land successfully and was unhurt. Nearby Faletta landed P-39F "Erminie" 41-6951 wheels down. Landing on a nearby beach was P-39F 41-7216 piloted by Yundt and P-39 piloted by Lt. Love.
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