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  TBF-1C Avenger Serial Number NZ2507  
30 Squadron

Pilot  F/O Ronald Dean Gardner, 413838 (MIA / KIA) Auckland, NZ
Crew  P/O Christopher Nicholls, 413884 (MIA / KIA) Nelson, NZ
Crew  P/O Harold Henry Sheather, 415560 (MIA / KIA) Auckland, NZ
Crashed  April 26, 1944 at 10:35am

Aircraft History
Built by Grumman as a model G-40. Constructors Number 5342. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as TBF-1C Avenger bureau number 24459. Disassembled and loaded as cargo aboard Dalfonn as cargo and shipped across the Pacific as part of defense aid to New Zealand.

Wartime History
Assigned to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as TBF-1C Avenger serial number NZ2507. on October 25, 1943 reassembled by No.1 Aircraft Depot (1 AD) at Hobsonville Airfield with Unit 36. Assigned to 30 Squadron at Gisborne Airfield. No known nickname or nose art.

On January 24, 1944 flown on a ferry flight from Gisborne Airfield to Espiritu Santo, then northward to the Solomon Islands and finally to Piva North Airfield on Bougainville.

Mission History
On April 26, 1944 took off from Piva North Airfield on Bougainville on a bombing mission over Rabaul. Over the target, hit by flak over Vunakanau Airfield. Damaged, this Avenger entered a spin and crashed at the end of the runway. When it failed to return the entire crew was declared Missing In Action (MIA).

The entire crew was officially declared dead on the day of the mission. All three are memorialized at Bourail War Cemetery on the Bourail Memorial. Gardner on panel 4. Nicholls and Sheather on panel 5.

Navy Serial Number Search Results - TBF-1C Avenger 24459
"24459 (MSN 5342) to New Zealand Oct 1943 as NZ2507. Hit by flak over Vunakanau Apr 26, 1944. The aircraft entered a spin and crashed onto the end of the runway."
RNZAF Serials - Avenger NZ2521
The Avengers pages 58-59
CWGC - Ronald Dean Gardner
CWGC - Christopher Nicholls
CWGC - Harold Henry Sheather

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020


Tech Info

3 Missing
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