Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks    
  Missing In Action (MIA) Prisoners Of War (POW) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  
Chronology Locations Aircraft Ships Submit Info How You Can Help Donate
  P-400 Airacobra Serial Number ?  
5th AF
35th FG
41st FS

Click For Enlargement
USAAF c1942

Click For Enlargement
Jessie Hague June 1942
Pilot  1st Lt George Leo Cantello, O-388884 (KIA, BR) Calumet, WI
Crashed  June 8, 1942 at 12:15am
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number unknown and painted in a three-color camouflage scheme. Instead, delivered to the U.S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 35th Fighter Group (35th FG), 41st Fighter Squadron (41st FS). No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On June 8, 1942 at 12:15am, Japanese submarine I-24 surfaced about four miles off the coast of Sydney and fired ten shells at 30 second intervals towards Sydney. Six failed to explode and the other four caused minor damage to houses and one indirect casualty. For the second time in a week, Sydney was under direct attack by the enemy causing panic. Meanwhile, at Bankstown Airfield, Lt. Cantello received a phone call saying that Sydney was being shelled. At that moment, he was the only pilot available and immediately took off from Bankstown Airfield and climbed to 1,000' to intercept the submarine. After take off, his engine failed and his Airacobra plummeted to the ground and exploded in flames north of Hammondville killing Cantello on impact.

This Airacobra crashed north of Hammondville which was a small farming community (today Hammondville is a suburb of Sydney).

Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the remains of Cantello were recovered and buried in Australia. Postwar, his remains were transported to Hawaii for permanent burial.

Cantello was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Afterwards, a public memorial service was held for Cantello in Sydney.

Postwar, his remains were permanently buried at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) at plot C, row 640.

John Jewell, then a very young boy, witnessed the crash of the Airacobra and tried over many years to raise interest with American authorities about the crash. During the 1980's, the US Consul in Sydney started an investigation involving the United States Air Force Historical Research Centre, American Battle Monuments Commission, Washington National Records Centre and members of the 41st Fighter Squadron. On June 12, 1988, the citizens of Bankstown unveiled a memorial to the memory of 1st Lt Cantello as part of a Bicentennial project. It is located in Lieutenant Cantello Reserve. The plaque reads:

The Honourable John C. Dorrance
Consul General of the United States of America
To commemorate the dedication of this memorial to
Commander 41st Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group, who gave his life nearby on 8th June, 1942 in the defense of Sydney. Alderman C.R. Conway, J.P. (Mayor)

Don Cantello (son of George Cantello)

Joe Baugher "Airacobra I for RAF, P-400"
FindAGrave - George Cantello (photo, grave photo, memorial photo)
Joe Baugher "Airacobra I for RAF, P-400"
Australian War Memorial Collection Database - Item P05600.002

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
June 6, 2021


Technical Info
  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram