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Bryan B. Cox
Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) No. 16 Squadron
F4U Corsair Pilot in the South Pacific

Bryan Barker Cox was born on January 15, 1925 in Cambridge, Waikato. On May 14, 1943 enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) with service number NZ437270.

Wartime History

Cox was Assigned to No. 16 Squadron as a fighter pilot in the South Pacific. He often flew F4U Corsair NZ5261 Nose 61 and flew missions from Nissan Airfield (Green Island) flying combat missions over Bougainville and New Britain and later Jacquinot Bay Airfield.

On January 15, 1945 on his 20th birthday took off from Nissan Airfield (Green Island) piloting F4U Corsair NZ5261 on a mission over Rabaul as one of 36 Corsairs from No. 16 Squadron, No. 14 Squadron and No. 24 Squadron. Lost over the target is F4U Corsair NZ5413 (pilot POW, died). Returning from the mission lost due to bad weather was F4U Corsair NZ5283 (MIA), F4U Corsair NZ5287 (MIA), F4U Corsair NZ5408 (MIA), F4U Corsair NZ5412 (MIA), F4U Corsair NZ5423 (MIA), F4U Corsair NZ5428 (MIA) and F4U Corsair NZ5294 (KIA).

On June 9, 1945 took off piloting F4U Corsair NZ5394 by Bryan B. Cox armed with a bomb for a strike against enemy troop concentrations near the Hari River on Bougainville. After take off, the engine failed and moments later exploded back to life. Afterwards, he turned over the sea expecting to ditch but the engine seemed to be performing normally and opted to rejoin the formation and complete the bombing and strafing mission and landed safely after the 1 hour 25 minute mission.

Click For EnlargementOn October 14, 1945 took off piloting a Corsair leading a formation of four Corsairs on a flight to escort B5N2 Kate Tail 302 and E13A1 Jake 4326 from Rabaul to Jacquinot Bay Airfield to surrender. This was the last confirmed flight of Japanese aircraft in present day Papua New Guinea (PNG).

After the surrender of Japan, Cox was part of the Allied occupation force in Japan. During 1947, Cox was demobilized having achieved the rank of Warrant Officer (WO).

Cox lives in retirement in Tauranga on the North Island of New Zealand. He has written several books about his World War II experienced including Too Young To Die: The Story of a New Zealand fighter pilot in the Pacific War (1987) and Pacific Scrapbook (1997) and Cats Have Only Nine Lives: Memorable Moments in the Air 1943-1993 (2004).

Bryan Cox Flight Statistics
Total hours flown: 21,145
Total number of flights logged: 21,620
Total instructional hours flown: 18,000 approximately
Total hours flown from Ardmore Airfield: 20,451
Average duration per flight: 59 minutes
Total takeoffs and landings: between 1 and 10 per flight
Total air taxi flights to Waiheke Island: 1,820
Total "Eye in the Sky" motorway patrols: 580
Total private pilot flight tests 08/24/67–12/01/93: 596
Serious accidents (in aircraft!): Nil

Too Young To Die: The Story of a New Zealand fighter pilot in the Pacific War (1987) by Bryan B. Cox
Pacific Scrapbook 1943-1947: A Pictorial History of a Young New Zealand Corsair Pilot in the Pacific and Japan, and of Allied Co-Operation in the Pacific War (1997) by Bryan B. Cox
Cats Have Only Nine Lives Memorable Moments in the Air 1943-1993 (2004) by Bryan B. Cox
Auckland Museum - Online Cenotaph - Bryan Cox
Artwork "Kiwi Strike" by Nicolas Trudgian depicts this aircraft on a strafing mission
The Siege of Rabaul (1996) by Henry Sakaida Chapter 17 A Black Day for the Kiwis pages 69-72
Wings Over Cambridge - Bryan Barker Cox
Bryan Cox - Pilot, Author, WW2 RNZAF Historian official website of Bryan Cox
NZ Herald "Tauranga 93-year-old war veteran gains his pilot's licence" January 19, 2018
Corsair NZ5394 The last survivor? by Bryan B. Cox (2011)
Thanks to Bryan B. Cox for additional information

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