Built by Curtiss. Assigned to the 49th Fighter Group, 8th Fighter Squadron. Assigned to pilot Ernest A. "Ernie" Harris. Nicknamed "The Carolina Belle".
This P-40 was flown by Harris
on combat missions spanning at least January 7 until April 11, 1943. Flying this P-40, he scored seven (of his ten) claimed victories, including:
January 7, 1943 - 3 victories
March 3, 1943 - 1 victories
April 11, 1943 - 3 victories
After his 7th victory, Harris was promoted from 1st Lt to Captain and assigned another aircraft.
Next, this P-40 was taken over by another (unknown) pilot who claimed two additional victories.
Later, the plane crash landed at Finschhafen
Airfield and was written off and later buried or partially buried.
The fuselage section and portions of the tail remained buried at Finschhafen
Airfield until 1997. On the wreckage, the pilot's name "Capt
E. A. Harris" is still visible on the fuselage, plus ten victory
flags and the original olive drab exterior paint.
During 1997, the cockpit section and pieces of the tail were excavated from the ground with a bulldozer from where they were buried at Finschhafen
Airfield by Robert Jarrett / Classic Jets Museum and exported to Australia.
Since at least 1999, displayed at Classic Jets
Fighter Museum, combining this fuselage with that
from other planes to make a more complete looking display.
Robert Jarrett, of Classic Jets
Fighter Museum adds:
"Murray Griffiths and I did a swap, Murray gets Carolina Belle in exchange for P39F 41-7215 which was statically restored by Ian Mullins in Queensland. The P-39 was disassembled to supply patterns for Murray's three flying [Aira]cobra projects. Capt. Ernest (Ernie) Harris was the highest scoring ace in the Pacific war in P-40 Kittyhawks and this will be Murray's new P-40."
Circa 2005, this P-40 was traded to Precision Aerospace / Pacific Fighters Museum where it was placed on display in their restoration area as of 2006.
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October 25, 2012