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  P-39F Airacobra Serial Number 41-????  
5th AF
8th PG
36th PS

Pilot  2nd Lt. Robert R. Love (KIA, BR) Philadelphia, PA
Crashed  May 1, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Pursuit Group (8th PG), 36th Pursuit Squadron (36th PS) "The Flying Fiends". No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On May 1, 1942 took off from from Antill Plains Airfield near Townsville piloted by 2nd Lt. Robert R. Love as one of six Airacobras on a flight flight bound for Port Moresby. The formation was led by P-39F "Erminie" 41-6951 pilot Lt. Charles Faletta plus P-39F 41-7215 pilot Lt. Harvey, this aircraft and P-39F 41-7216 pilot Lt. Yundt.

Flying northward, the formation made a refueling stop at Cooktown Airfield, then encounted 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 began flying on instruments back leading the other inexperienced pilots 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. The other Airacobras attempted to force land on a nearby beach. Lt. Love attempted to land with his gear down and cartwhelled on landing, killing him inside the cockpit.

The wreckage of this Airacobra remains on the beach, buried in sand, near P-39F 41-7216.

Richard Rudd adds:
"The Love machine, thats the one we have to go back to to get to the dataplate. His serial and tail number are not confirmed or known."

Afterward, Love's remains were recovered from the crash site and were initially buried in Australia. Postwar, his remains were exhumed (from cemetery 825) and transported to the United States. Love was permanently buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery at section 2, site 415 (44th row from the front) on June 2, 1948.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records Love, Robert R.
FindAGrave - Robert Rittenhouse Love (grave photo)
Thanks to Richard Rudd and Bonnie Sanders (NPS) for additional information

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Last Updated
April 26, 2021


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