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Hague February 20, 1942
|Pilot Lt. Thomas L. "Tommy" Hayes, O-403857 Brooks, OR
Crash Landed February 20, 1942
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. At the factory painted with green upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces with U. S. Star with red dot at the center. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40E Warhawk serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped across the Pacific to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the Far East Air Force (FEAF), 24th Pursuit Group (24th PG), 17th Pursuit Squadron (17th PS) to pilot 2nd Lt. Jesse R. Hague. Nicknamed it "Colleen" by Hague after his girlfriend in America painted in white block letters on the rear fuselage above the U. S. star. Tail number 6 was painted in white.
On February 20, 1942 at 6:15 took off from Ngoro Airfield on eastern Java piloted by Lt. Thomas L. "Tommy" Hayes with a drop tank attached as one of sixteen P-40s on an escort mission. After take off, the P-40s flew to Singosari Airfield and rendezvous at 12,000' with seven A-24 Dive Bombers from the 27th Bombardment Group (27th BG) plus three LB-30 Liberators on a bombing mission against Japanese ships off Bali.
At 8:00am while approaching Denpasar Airfield from the sea, the aircraft formed a large box formation at 15,000'. At 8:12am over southern Bali intercepted by A6M2 Zeros from 3rd Kōkūtai and a dogfight began over the target area.
During the dog fight, over the radio, pilot Hayes heard "break – Zeros on your tail – break left" but the warning was too late for him to react and his Warhawk was hit by 20mm cannon shells in the fuselage and tail as he dove.
Leveling out with a damaged elevator and jammed canopy, Hayes managed to fly back to eastern Java and tried to land at Ngoro Airfield but crash while landing. During the crash, the aircraft came to rest at the side of the runway with the propeller broken off and wings damaged with one wingtip ripped off.
After the crash, 2nd Lt. Jesse R. Hague took cine film footage of his crashed aircraft showing the damage sustained including the broken off propeller, engine, cockpit battle damage including bullet holes, rear fuselage with "Colleen" and tail with "6".
Hayes continued as a fighter pilot and continued to serve in Europe where he became an ace. In total, he was credited with 8 1/2 aerial victories against German aircraft and two Japanese aircraft and flew a total of 485 hours on 143 combat missions during World War II. Postwar, Hayes joined the U. S. Air Force (USAF) and served in the Korean War and Vietnam War and retired with the rank of Brigadier General. He earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters and the Purple Heart. Hayes passed away on July 25, 2008. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 60, site 8498.
The 17th Pursuit Squadron Diary, February 20, 1942 "Four of our P-40's failed to return, and another, piloted by Lt. Hayes, cracked up at field on attempting to land. It had been shot up during the fight."
World War II Magazine Tommy Hayes: From Bali to Berlin February 2001 interview with Jon Guttman with Brig. Gen. Hayes
"While the A-24s were making their almost vertical dives, I heard: 'Break Zero on your tail break left!' I kicked that airplane hard left, looked behind and saw the sparkling gun barrels along the leading edge of that Zero's wings. Then I heard a deafening crash as his cannon shells hit the tail and fuselage behind me. The canopy was dislodged an inch off its track, so I couldn't crank the handle and I couldn't budge the canopy. I was about 150 miles from base and knew I had to get home or belly-land the aircraft. I couldn't bail out. ... And I knew that I couldn't trim the aircraft. I extended my final approach and carried extra power. But the damage to the tail was greater than I realized. Flare-out was over a grove of coconut trees. As I eased the excess power, the tail dropped off. As the first jute fronds slapped across the windscreen, I turned power off and turned my head left (to avoid striking the gun sight head-on). I did see the propeller and gear box cart wheeling ahead, but I did not feel or was not aware of the impact when the tree trunk stopped forward movement. On being helped out I noticed the left wing had been torn off at the fuselage."
Every Day A Nightmare (2010) pages 247-248, 250
Arlington National Cemetery - ANC Explorer - Thomas L. Hayes (grave photos)
Arlington National Cemetery Website - Thomas Lloyd Hayes (photo, grave photos)
FindAGrave - BG Thomas Lloyd “Tommy” Hayes (grave photos)
Everyday A Nightmare (2010) page 475 (index Hague)
Thanks to William Bartsch and Edward Rogers for additional information
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February 20, 2021
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