|Pilot 1st Lt. Paul G. Brown, O-417000 (survived) Oak Park, IL
Force Landed April 30, 1942
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 36th Fighter Squadron. No nickname or nose art.
Flown from Garbutt Airfield near Townsville area via Cairns to Horn Island, then to New Guinea to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on April 30, 1942, timed to arrive after noon, to avoid any Japanese air raid.
On April 30, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby at 13:00. One of eleven Airacobra led by Lt. Col Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner on a strafing mission against Lae Airfield, the 8th Fighter Group's first combat mission. The AIracobras strafed the airfield at 14:37, hitting parked aircraft and seaplanes, then departed. A6M2 Zeros of the Tainan Kōkūtai scrambled, and attacked the Airacobras while they were near Salamaua.
Returning from the mission damaged, this Airacobra force landed on the beach near Hood Point. The aircraft was officially condemned by the USAAF on October 31, 1944.
Fate of the pilot
Brown was taken to Abau where he met Japanese prisoner P.O. Yoshimitsu Maeda pilot of A6M2 Zero 1575 who force landed on April 28 in the same area. Both were transported aboard the MV Matoma to Port Moresby. Brown returned to duty with his squadron during early May.
When it force landed, this Airacobra bent its propeller and suffered broken oil coolers, bent flaps and cowling damage. In early October, 1942 a US Army salvage team, departed Port Moresby aboard a small ship bound for Hood Point to repair this Airacobra. Their ship floundered on the reef near their destination, forcing salvage tools and fuel to be dumped overboard, yet the ship still half capsized. Later, some of the salvage equipment and parts were located with the help of native divers from Hula village.
Salvage & Repair
An improvised hoist made of coconut palms was used to lift the wreck, as the original 'A-frame' was lost in the sea. About 100 natives were used to tow the Airacobra to a clearing and mark an improvised runway on the beach. On October 15, 1942 this aircraft was flown back to Port Moresby, without flaps or landing gear operative.
This Airacobra's service afterwards is unknown. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
AWM 012768 photograph of Lt. Paul Brown
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 Airacobra piloted by Brown
Attack & Conquer page 36, 46
Forty of the Fifth Profile #2 pages 7 - 12 (Salvage of Bevlock's P-39 41-7186 is incorrect, actually P-39D 41-6982 piloted by Brown)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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January 5, 2018