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  P-39F-1-BE Airacobra Serial Number 41-7188  
5th AF
8th FG
35th FS

Pilot  2nd Lt Alva Guy Hawkins, O-431877 (survived) Zavalla, TX
Ditched  May 8, 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, 35th Fighter Group. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On May 8, 1942 one of eight Airacobras from the 36th Fighter Squadron plus five Airacobra from the 35th Fighter Squadron took from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby during the early afternoon on a mission to intercept nine A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kokutai that took off from Lae Airfield on a fighter sweep over Port Moresby.

After take off, the Airacobras managed to climb to 20,000' and dived into the Zero formation, initiating a dog fight that lasted approximately twenty minutes. During the combat, Hawkin's Airacobra was damaged by enemy gunfire and forced him to ditch onto the reef off Varivari Island near Caution Bay.

In total, the Americans claimed four Zeros shot down but in fact none of the attacking Zeros were lost. The Japanese claimed three Airacobras by FPO1c Mototsuna Yoshida. Three probable Airacobras were claimed by Lt. Shiro Kawai, FPO2c Seiji Ishikawa, PFO1c Toru Oshima and FPO3c Masami Arai. Afterwards, the Zeros lingered over the Port Moresby for thirty minutes longer, but when no Allied planes challenged them, they departed the area at 3:20pm and returned to Lae Airfield at 4:30pm.

Fate of the Pilot
Hawkins survived the landing unhurt and returned to duty and continued flying combat missions until May 27, 1942 when he went missing in action (MIA) piloting P-39F 41-7153.

Scott Thomas (great cousin of Hawkins)

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Alva G. Hawkins
Kodochosho, Tainan Kōkūtai, May 8, 1942
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 Airacobra piloted by Hawkins
Eagles of the Southern Sky page 107-108
On May 27, 1942, Hawkins went Missing In Action (MIA) on May 27, 1942 piloting P-39F 41-7153.
Thanks to Scott Thomas for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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