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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 took off from Antill Plains Airfield near Townsville pilot Lt. Walter Harvey as one of six P-39s 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 pilot Lt. Love.
After their landings, Falletta and Harvey located each other and made a two day trek to the nearest beach where they were rescued.
This aircraft remained in situ until 1971.
During November 1971, members of Cairns Aircraft Recovery Team (CART) including Nick Watling and Ian Mullins recovered the wreckage.
Afterwards, owned by Ian Mullins of Townsivlle. By 1988, the fuselage was in storage at Mount Isa Airport with the wings in storage at his residencey Townsville.
During December 2000, this aircraft was sold to Precision Aerospace where it was transported and awaiting further restoration. This Airacobra was then sold to Robert Jarrett and transported to Classic Jets Fighter Museum (CJM). Sometime during 2018, the parts were sold to a buyer in Russia.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39F-1-BE Airacobra 41-7215
"7215 (MSN 15-554) abandoned after landing accident May 1, 1942 on Cape York Peninsula, Australia. Recovered Nov 1971 by Nick Watling and reported 1988 stored a Mount Isa, Australia waiting for restoration. Restored to airworthy, Wangaratta, Victoria 2002"
Airacobra Advantage (1992) by Rick Mitchell
Warbird Regisry Group (WRG) - P-39 Airacobra 41-7215
Thanks to Ian Mullins for additional information
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