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  P-40F Warhawk Serial Number ?  
13th AF
18th FG
44th FS
"Vampire Squadron"

Pilot  1st Lt. Grant Smith (survived)
Crashed  August 12, 1943
MACR  none

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

Aircraft History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 18th Fighter Group (18th FG), 44th Fighter Squadron "Vampire Squadron" (44th FS). No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On August 12, 1943 took off from Fighter 2 Airfield (Kukum) on Guadalcanal piloted by 1st Lt. Grant Smith as one of eight P-40s on a mission to escort mission for six B-24 Liberators from the 307th Bombardment Group (307th BG) and nine B-24 Liberators from the 5th Bombardment Group (5th BG), 31st Bombardment Squadron (31st BS) on a mission to bomb Kahili Airfield. Also escorted were twenty-two F4U Corsairs from Marine Fighting Squadron 124 (VMF-124).

Over the target, the B-24s drop 520 x 100 lbs bombs on the runway and revetment areas and claim twenty aircraft destroyed on the ground. Returning, the formation is attacked by roughly 30 A6M Zeros over Ballale Island.

This P-40 was last seen by an F4U being chased by four Zeros at 15,000' over Choiseul Island, and only this P-40 failed to return and Lt. Smith was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Fate of the Crew
In fact, Smith bailed out and landed in trees in the middle of Choiseul. Using a compass, he walked north over four days, avoiding Japanese patrols. On the third day he reached a river and followed it to the coast. Meeting friendly natives, Smith was taken aboard a canoe 30 miles to the east to Nanano Island off Chouseul.

On August 30, he was rescued by VP-23 PBY Catalina piloted by Lt(jg) Elmer E. Laughlin, landing at 10:20am and departed at 10:42am back to Guadalcanal.

13th Fighter Command in World War II page 198 (photo) 199
Thanks to Jim Sawruk for additional information

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Last Updated
October 31, 2019


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