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  P-39F Airacobra Serial Number 41-????  
5th AF
8th FG
36th FS

Pilot  2nd Lt. Robert R. Love (KIA, BR) Philadelphia, PA
Crashed  May 1, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 36th Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
One of six P-39s that took off from Antill Plains Airfield near Townsville on a flight bound for Port Moresby. This aircraft piloted by Lt. Love. The formation was led by P-39F "Erminie" 41-6951 piloted by Lt. Falletta, P-39F 41-7215 piloted by Lt. Harvey, this aircraft and P-39F 41-7216 piloted by Yundt.

Flying northward, the formation made a refueling stop at Cooktown Airfield, then encounted a storm near Horn Island, where they planned to land at Horn Island Airfield to and refuel before the final leg of the journey to Port Moresby.

Flying in bad weather and lost in thick clouds, Lt. Falletta led the other pilots who were all inexperienced with instrument flying back to the Cape York Peninsula. Low on fuel, they searched for a suitable place to land. Lt. Faletta and wingman, Lt. Harvey chose a landing spot roughly 13-16 kilometers inland from Cape Orford Ness, near the Escape River near Weipa.

The other Airacobras attempted to force land on a nearby beach. Lt. Love attempted to land with his gear down by cartwhelled on landing, killing him inside the cockpit.

The wreckage of this Airacobra remains on the beach, buried in sand, near P-39F 41-7216.

Richard Rudd adds:
"The Love machine, thats the one we have to go back to to get to the dataplate. His serial and tail number are not confirmed or known."

Afterward, Love's remains were recovered from the crash site and were initially buried in Australia. Postwar, his remains were exhumed (from cemetery 825) and transported to the United States. Love was permanently buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery at section 2, site 415 (44th row from the front) on June 2, 1948.

Thanks to Richard Rudd and Bonnie Sanders (NPS) for additional information
FindAGrave - Robert Rittenhouse Love (grave photo)
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records Love, Robert R.

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Last Updated
October 20, 2018


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