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No. 86 Squadron
No. 84 Squadron
No. 78 Squadron
Keith Hopper 1982
|Pilot F/Sgt Keith James Nelson, 439665 (survived)
Force Landed April 8, 1945 at 3:25pm
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York under order Number AO-34423 fund F-1 at a cost of $36,199.00. On May 7, 1943 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40N-1-CU Warhawk serial number 42-104728. Disassembled and shipped to Brooklyn, New York and shipped overseas as part of lend lease to Australia and reassembled.
On August 8, 1943, assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as P-40N Kittyhawk serial number A29-446. On September 8, 1943 assigned to No. 78 Squadron with code code HU-S. No known nickname or nose art.
This P-40 operated from New Guinea, and sustained at least one bullet hole in the rear fuselage, that was patched. During April 1944, ground looped at Cape Gloucester Airfield piloted by S/L Adam Howie Brydon, 578.
Afterwards, repaired by 11 Repair Salvage Unit (11 RSU). On June 8, 1944 returned to No. 78 Squadron after a 240 hour inspection. On November 6, 1944 returned to 11 RSU for an engine overhaul and inspection. Afterwards, to 22 Repair Salvage Unit (22 RSU). On March 11, 1945 assigned to No. 84 Squadron until they converted to P-51D Mustangs. On April 1, 1945 assigned to No. 86 Squadron.
On April 8, 1945 took off from Bohle River Airfield piloted by F/Sgt Keith James Nelson, 439665 and landed wheels up at 3:25pm and sustained damage including the propeller broken off.
On May 25, 1945 approval was given to convert to components by 6 Central Recovery Depot (6 CRD). Afterwards, this aircraft was moved to Rattlesnake Island for use as a target for gunnery practice and afterwards abandoned on the island. By the 1980s wreckage remained including the wings and fuselage riddled with bullet holes and shrapnel from use as a target.
During 1982, this aircraft was recovered from Rattlesnake Island by Keith Hopper and transported to Townsville.
Keith Hopper adds:
"How the remains ended up on Rattlesnake Island, is a matter of conjecture. The most plausible explanation is that 6 CRD transported them to the island for use as gunnery targets when they converted P-40N A29-462 to components."
This aircraft was moved to Townsville and placed into storage. During the early 2000s, shipped to New Zealand for restoration at Pioneer Aero. Afterwards, shipped back to Townsville and placed into storage. During 2016, transported to Precision Aerospace (Precision Airmotive) for the final stages of restoration.
Keith Hopper adds:
"This aircraft was shipped to Pioneer Aero in New Zealand and restoration underway since the early 2000s until roughly 2012 to airworthy status. Afterwards, shipped back to Townsville and placed into storage. During 2016, to Precision Aerospace (Precision Airmotive) for the final stages of restoration to airworthy status.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-40N-1-CU Warhawk 42-104728
"104728 to RAAF as A29-446 Aug 1943. Crashed at Bohle River airstrip Apr 8, 1945. Recovered from airstrip and underwent restoration to airworthy."
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - P-40N Warhawk 42-104728
ADF Serials - P-40N Kittyhawk A29-446
WW2 Nominal Roll - Adam Howie Brydon, 578
WW2 Nominal Roll - Keith James Nelson, 439665
Pioneer Aero - Current Projects A29-446 / 42-104728 via Wayback Machine May 24, 2012
Thanks to Keith Hopper for additional information
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April 8, 2020
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