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No. 75 Squadron
Jackson April 24, 1942
|Pilot Squadron Leader John F. Jackson, 493 C. O. 75 Squadron (KIA, BR) Clayfield, QLD
Crashed April 10, 1942
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York during 1941. Assigned to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40E Warhawk serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia.
During March 1942, delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Kittyhawk serial number A29-24. Assigned to No. 75 Squadron coded "D". No known nickname or nose art.
On April 10, 1942 at dawn took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Squadron Leader John F. Jackson on a reconnaissance mission over Lae-Salamaua-Nadzab. When this P-40 failed to return, it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
When this aircraft reached the Lae area, intercepted by three A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kokutai (Tainan Air Group) piloted by FPO2c Un'ichi Miya, FPO3c Tatsusuke Goto and FPO3c Yutaka Kimura that took off at 7:15am from Lae Airfield on a Combat Air Patrol (CAP). The trio jointly claimed a lone "Supermarine Spitfire" [sic P-40E Kittyhawk A29-24] then landed safely at 9:20am. This was the first aerial victory claimed by the Tainan Kokutai.
Caught by surprise, this P-40 was heavily damaged by gunfire that shot away the windscreen, left holes in the aircraft and was set on fire. Pilot Jackson successfully bailed out and opened his parachute and landed unhurt.
This P-40 crashed into the sea roughly three quarters of a mile off Busana south of Lae and sank a few seconds later.
When this P-40 failed to return, in the mid morning a Morse code transmission with the word "Lori". Afterwards, at 11:45am, A-24 Dive Bomber took off to search near Lori village and Oroi village roughly fifty miles northwest of Port Moresby. Later at 4:00pm, P-40 Kittyhawk A29-31 took off piloted by Cox on a search mission to the north, but experienced bad weather including heavy clouds and rain near the Kairuku and Mount Cameron area and was forced to return to base.
On April 11, 1942 six P-40s with seven A-24s took off on another search mission flying in a wide abreast formation to search for Jackson. On April 12, 1942 another search was made by P-40E Kittyhawks flying along the Kokoda Track as far as Lake Triste then to within thirty miles of Salamaua without results.
Fate of the Pilot
After bailing out, Jackson located two friendly natives who helped him to trek to Navos and was then taken to soldiers from the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (NGVR). On April 18, 1942 they transmitted a radio message to Port Moresby that "John F." was safe at Navos roughly twenty miles west of Salamaua.
At Port Moresby, a rescue mission was planned using a U. S. Army Air Fore (USAAF) A-24 Dive Bomber escorted by a RAAF Kittyhawk. On April 23, 1942 a first attempt was made to pick him up but bad weather prevented the rescue aircraft from finding Wau.
On April 24, 1942 Jackson was rescued by a A-24 Dive Bomber Tail 14 piloted by 1st Lt. Virgil Schwab escorted by a P-40E Kittyhawk piloted by John Piper. After landing safely, Jackson sat in the rear gunner position. Returning to 7 Mile Drome, Schwab buzzed the runway to signal the mission was a success. While landing, an A6M2 Zero intercepted and hit the plane with gunfire including a 20mm cannon shell. Inside the fuselage, Jackson's right hand index fingertip was severed by shrapnel. Meanwhile, the escorting Kittyhawk piloted by John Piper attempted to drive away the Zero.
Jackson was officially declared dead on April 28, 1942 piloting P-40E Warhawk A29-8 that crashed into the eastern slope of Mount Lawes. After the crash, his remains were recovered and buried at Bomana War Cemetery at B2. C. 17.
Afterwards, 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby was renamed "Jackson Drome" in his honor. Postwar known as "Jackson Airport" or "Jacksons International Airport". Today known as "Port Moresby Jacksons International Airport" or "Port Moresby International (Jacksons)".
Outside the old terminal building at Jackson Airport is a wing shaped memorial dedicated to Jackson. The bronze plaque in the center of the wing reads: "Erected in the memory of Squadron Leader John Francis Jackson, D.F.C. 75 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, killed in action 28th April, 1942 aged 34 for whom this airfield is named."
During 2016, a display devoted to John Jackson including wreckage from this Kittyhawk including a bent .50 caliber machine gun and pieces of wreckage was unveiled in the international departure terminal at Jackson Airport.
ADF Serials - P-40E Kittyhawk A29-24
CWGC - John Francis Jackson
Eagles of the Southern Sky (2012) pages 51-52, 293 (profile), 331 lists loss as April 9, 1942 incorrectly
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April 17, 2021
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