|Pilot 1st Lt. James J. "Hoot" Bevlock, O-420568 (survived) Scranton, PA
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 known nickname or nose art. Flown from Garbutt Airfield near Townsville via Cairns Airfield to Horn Island Airfield, then the final leg of the flight to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby arriving on April 30, 1942, timed to arrive after noon, to avoid any Japanese air raid in the morning.
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.
Another Airacobra pilot, Louis Meng led Bevlock in a right turn when several A6M2 Zeros attacked attempting to break up their flight. They evaded the Japanese, but ended up heading north, Meng turned the both in the right direction, but flew into clouds over the Owen Stanley Mountains, and lost sight of Bevlock. Short on fuel and likely lost, this Airacobra force landed on the beach near Iokea. Officially condemned on October 31, 1944.
Fate of the Pilot
Making his way along the coast back to base, Bevlock reached Yule Island on May 1 where the RAAF Spotter Station radioed his arrival and he boarded the Nusa bound for Port Moresby, arriving during the afternoon on May 2 and returned to duty.
It is possible portions of this aircraft were salvaged during October 1942 by a US Army salvage team.
Today, some wreckage remains on the beach including the Allison engine, drive shaft, 37mm cannon and bent propeller. The rest of the wreckage was scrapped or otherwise removed.
Justin Taylan visited on October 22, 2007:
"Only the engine, propeller shaft, nose landing gear leg, cannon, and propeller remain. According to locals, the rest of the wreckage was scrapped over the years. None had any recollection of the pilot or the story of this particular aircraft wreck, possibly a ferry flight or mechanical failure. Buried in the sand was the lower portion of the wing, heavily corroded and scrapped."
On September 10, 1942 Bevlock was killed in the crash of a DH82A Tiger Moth. He had earned the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Air Medal.
New Guinea Force Diary - May 1 & 2, 1942
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 Airacobra piloted by Bevlock
Attack & Conquer page 36, 46
Forty of the Fifth Profile #2 pages 7 - 12 (salvage of Bevlock's P-39 is incorrect, actually P-39D 41-6982 piloted by 1st Lt. Brown)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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January 5, 2018