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  P-39D-15-BE Airacobra Serial Number 41-6970  
USAAF
5th AF
8th FG
35th FS

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Ray Fairfield 1964

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Click For Enlargement
Ray Fairfield 1968

Pilot  Lt. J. F. Ward, Jr. (survived)
Force Landed  May 28, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron. Next, assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On May 28, 1942 one of fourteen Airacobras that took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby at 07:50am to intercept A6M2 Zeros over Port Moresby. Damaged, this Airacobra successfully force landed wheels up near the beach at Gaile, roughly 25 miles southeast of Port Moresby. Pilot Ward survived unhurt and returned to duty the same day.

Wreckage
Until 1968, this aircraft remained in situ.

Ray Fairfield recalls:
"Yes that's Bill hauling on the rope. This P-39 was on a grass area near the road to Gaile. It deteriorated rapidly after I first saw it in 1964, as it was so accessible."

Recovery
Recovered by Bill Chapman in 1968, and transported to Port Moresby for the proposed Air Museum of Papua New Guinea.

Ray Fairfield recalls:
"It was retrieved, mainly for parts, in 1968. The shot up on drums was in the compound where we were accumulating spares for the museum. This recovery was about the same time as P-47D "Frankie" 42-8130."

Fate after salvage unknown, abandoned or otherwise disappeared.

References
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39D Airacobra 41-6970
"In 1973 it was brought into Port Moresby for the proposed Air Museum, but was dumped by the owner of the land on which it was left standing."
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Info
P-39

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