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  Fairchild 91B / Model XR-942-B "Kono" Registration NR777  

Aircraft History
Built by Fairchild Aircraft Manufacturing Company in Hagerstown, Maryland during 1936 as the fourth Fairchild 91 manufactured. Designated the Fairchild 91B, the sole model A-942-B built by the company.

Purchased by Richard Archbold a research associate of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, NY. Registered in the United States as NR777. Nicknamed "Kono", the local name for a rare New Guinea duck that lives in mountain lakes in the interior. The nickname was painted in capital letters in black on the left side of the cockpit. A stripe was painted down the fuselage with the Archbold expedition logo on the left side of the nose a red triangle with three white five pointed stars in each corner and an upside down triangle in the center with the letter "A" for Archbold. The tail rudder had "NR777" painted in black vertically on both sides.

This aircraft was to be used during the "Second Archbold Expedition" led by Richard Archbold and scheduled for February 1936 to January 1937 to explore southern New Guinea around Yule Island to Mount Albert Edward and in the Oriomo River region near Daru Island.

In late June 1936, flown back to Fairfax Harbor at Port Moresby to buy supplies from Burns Philp for the expedition in the field.

Sinking History
On June 2, 1936 while at anchor in Fairfax Harbor at Port Moresby, a tropical storm (known as a "Guba" in the local Motu language) swamped the aircraft and submerged the fuselage. Sea water damaged the electronics and radio equipment. At the time of the sinking, no one was aboard the aircraft.

Salvage and Sinking
Afterwards, the aircraft was raised to remove it from the shipping lane and towed to shore to be salvaged. After being stripped, the wings, hull and floats were sunk into deeper water for insurance purposes.

Afterwards, Archbold purchased PBY-2 Catalina NC 777 and nicknamed it "Guba" in honor of the tropical storm that claimed this aircraft. During 1938-1939 he returned to New Guinea using PBY-2 Catalina NC 777 "Guba II".

References
The Archbold Expeditions to New Guinea by Michael Cookson
Richard Archbold and the Archbold Biological Station by Roger A. Morse pages 16-17, 21, 105 (footnote 5)
Flickr - Fairchild XR-942-B, NR777 (photo)
Post Courier "Amphibian aircraft raised from the depths after 67 years" March 4, 2004

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Last Updated
January 9, 2018

 

Tech Info
Fairchild
91B / XR-942-B

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