Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 347th Fighter Group, 70th Fighter Squadron. Nicknamed "Diablo". Operated from Guadalcanal flying combat missions in the Solomons.
On December 28, 1942 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Rex Barber on a two plane reconassiance mission over Munda. Over the target, spotted nine Zeros over Munda Airfield at 13,000' and a single "Betty" bomber (sic G3M Nell bombers) flying below at 1,000' making a landing approach.
Ultimate fate unknown, not lost in combat or accident, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
13th Fighter Command page 97
"On the 28th [December 1942] 1Lt Rex Barber and his wingman 1Lt William Daggitt (70th FS) were flying a two plane P-39 reconnaissance patrol over Munda Point at 9,000' when nine Japanese fighters were spotted orbiting at 13,000' directly over the airfield. At the same time a Betty bomber [sic G3M Nell] was flying below at 1,000' making a landing approach on the field. Barber and Daggitt dove on the bomber, with Daggitt feinting towards the fighters while Barber, in [P-39 nicknamed] "Diablo" attacked the Betty. As he dove his aircraft seemed sluggish and would not come up to speed. He realized that he had not dropped his belly tank, jettisoned the tank, and continued his dive on the bomber and set its right engine on fire. It continued to fly on until it crashed into the ocean for Barber's first victory. As Barber climbed he saw some aircraft off to his left and he thought were Marine [F4U] Corsairs. As he closed he discovered that they were Zeros, but the two Japanese pilots saw him and high tailed it back to base. When he returned to Cactus Barber's crew chief told him that it had been reported he "bombed" a Japanese bomber. An Australian coastwatcher had seen him drop his belly tank before he fired on the enemy aircraft and thought it was a bomb!"
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January 31, 2018