Wirraway wrecks nr. Rabaul New Britian

Discussion about wrecks and losses as well as historic sites in the Pacific.

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flycol 1
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Wirraway wrecks nr. Rabaul New Britian

Post by flycol 1 » Thu Aug 30, 2018 5:28 am

On Jan.20 1942 with reference to "Invasion Rabaul" by B. Gamble, 2 wirraways patrolling the skies around Rabaul were joined by 5 others and were soon embroiled with overwhelming numbers of Japanese zeros. Within 10 minutes, 3 were shot down, 2 crash-landed and 1 miraculously returned unscathed.
Does anyone know, if the 3 presumably fatals fell in the sea, over land or both and if so where, particularly those over land.

RSwank
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Re: Wirraway wrecks nr. Rabaul New Britian

Post by RSwank » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:59 pm

There is some detail of the event here, starting on page 27

https://books.google.com/books?id=Pj3t7 ... ul&f=false

At least two went into the water.

flycol 1
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Re: Wirraway wrecks nr. Rabaul New Britian

Post by flycol 1 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:49 am

Thanks for that-I had looked in Bruce Gambles 1st book of his Rabaul trilogy "Invasion Rabaul" that had a briefer account of the battle. Correct, 2 of those shot down by the A6M2s crashed in the sea while the 3rd flown by R Blackman with his gunner S Woodcroft just "disappeared" in that no one sw it fall at least didnt report the crash. It points to a land crash as the coastal are was well populated on New Britian and all eyes would be turned skywards by the masses of aircraft swrling above and would hardly miss the sight of an aircraft or its components hitting the sea. In the interior-not so much and the stricken aircraft could have crashed in an isolated spot in the jungle. This brings me to exposing my motive for this information.
A gentleman I know has a theory that in 1937 Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan might have attempted to divert to Rabaul after their unsuccessful attempt to reach Howland Island from Lae PNG. He based his theory on evidence of an old note that came to light from one of a small
group of Australian soldiers who came across a half buried wreck while in New Britian in 1945. The note produced when the group met up in the 90s. Remarkably the gent in question came to see a copy of this note and according to him it showed the make of the one engine(half buried) to be a pratt and whitney wasp 1340 model no.SH3 1 and also a serial no. which came off the airframe supposedly and this was the cruncher-
CN-1055 which according to the gentleman was the serial no. of Lockheed 10 Electra that was Earharts il-fated aircraft.
I dont agree with the theory as I think they rest near Howland. I do believe the story in so far as it was a wasp engine and that it may very well have belonged to the wirraway (think the same engine but not sure if wirraway had the geared prop. not direct drive as on the electra ) that disappeared in that epic one-sided battle. Repeated attempts over the years have failed to find the wreck so we will probably never know unless the gentleman still could pull it off and find either Electra or wirraway.

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