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  P-39F-1-BE Airacobra Serial Number 41-7162  
USAAF
5th AF
8th FG
36th FS

Pilot  Captain Thomas W. Hornsby (survived)
Ditched  May 27, 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, 36th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On May 27, 1942 one of ten Airacobras from the 36th Fighter Squadron that took off from Port Moresby on a mid-morning alert to intercept an incoming raid of fifteen A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai in two formations of nine and six aircraft on a fighter sweep over Port Moresby. At the time, only fourteen Airacobras were in position to intercept them.

Hornsby was likely accidentally shot down by his friend and fellow pilot, Captain Wyatt Exum, who observed an Airacobra at long range enter his line of site. Mistaking an aircraft for an enemy Zero, he opened fired until he realized the plane was an Airacobra. Damaged, Hornsby ditched into the sea off Rigo. This aircraft was officially condemned on October 31, 1944.

Fate of the Pilot
Hornsby survived the ditching and returned to duty.

References
The Fight for New Guinea page 85-87
Attack and Conquer page 56, 263 (incorrectly states this P-39 force landed on the beach)
Eagles of the Southern Sky page 170
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech Info
P-39
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