|Pilot 2nd Lt George "Ed" Talbot (survived)
Force Landed December 20, 1942
Built by Curtiss as a model H87-B3 in Buffalo, New York during 1941. This aircraft was the 606 of 699 P-40Fs powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin engine with a shorter fuselage. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40F Warhawk serial number 41-14205. Disassembled and shipped aboard USS Nassau (CVE-16) across the Pacific before being unloaded at New Hebrides then reassembled.
Assigned to the 18th Fighter Group, 44th Fighter Squadron "Vampire Squadron". Nicknamed "Bone Crusher". No known nose art.
On December 20, 1942 one of four P-40s that took off from Bauerfield Airfield on Efaté on a training and navigation mission. The other aircraft in the formation were flight leader P-40 piloted by 1st Lt John E. Little, P-40 piloted by 2nd Lt Frank Radzuikinas and P-40F "Pee Wee"
41-14112 piloted by C. B. Head plus this aircraft.
Thirty minutes into the mission, the formation encountered severe weather
and the aircraft ran short on fuel. The four P-40s force
landed in a clearing
atop Mount Santop on Erromango. All four pilots were unhurt in the landings. The two aircraft piloted by Little and Radzuikinas belly landed successfully. During the landing, this P-40 and P-40F "Pee Wee"
41-14112 went over
an embankment and were badly damaged.
During the war, Americans cleared a path to
the aircraft and stripped them for parts.
Over the years, more parts were removed. This P-40 remained in situ until November 1989.
During November 1989, Robert Greinert, Ian Whitney and Martin Mednis salvaged this aircraft and P-40F "Pee Wee"
41-14112 (along with parts from two others). The wreckage was containered and exported to Australia.
During 1989-1991 owned by
Ian Whitney and stored in Romsey, Victoria. Next, owned by Graham Hoskings, Tyabb, Victoria who performed some restoration during 1991-1996. Afterwards, acquired by the RNZAF
Museum in exchange for a F4U-5N Corsair.
During 1996, shipped to the RNZAF
Museum. Starting in 1997, additional restoration began in focusing on the fuselage, and converting the aircraft into an Allison V-1710-powered P-40E model, operated by the RNZAF. Most of the original structure of the aircraft was replaced. During 2002, work on the badly damaged wings began.
According to the RNZAF Museum - P-40 Kittyhawk restoration page:
"Much of the original structure of the aircraft has required replacing, as 48 years in the tropical climate had taken its toll on the aluminum airframe, not including the damage caused by the actual crash. Any replacement structure and parts are constructed using the correct materials and repair schemes applicable to this type of aircraft. The airframe will be fitted out to RNZAF P-40E standard and will be painted in a late-war scheme, to represent the various marks of Kittyhawk operated by the RNZAF."
While being restored, this P-40 was viewable by the public on the museum's behind the scenes tour in No. 2 hanger. The restoration was completed during May 2013. According to the museum, a total of 16 years of work and 22,319 hours of restoration effort were required to restore this aircraft. At one time, the markings of P-40E Kittyhawk NZ3024 were suggested for the paint scheme. Instead, painted in the markings of P-40 NZ3000 (this serial number was never assigned to any RNZAF P-40).
On June 20, 2013 RNZAF
Museum had a public unveiling for this aircraft, prior to installation at the museum's aircraft hall.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-40F Warhawk 41-14205
"14205 w/o in belly landing with 18th FG, 445h FS in New Hebrides Dec 20, 1942. Hulk recovered Nov 19089 and shipped to Australia. Restored to airworthy at Tyabb, Victoria. To RNZAF Museum, Wigram AB, New Zealand 1996-2002. Being rebuilt as P-40E in RNZAF scheme, painted as NZ3024"
RNZAF Museum - P-40 Kittyhawk restoration page
Peninsula Aero Club - Warhawk Restoration by Judy Pay
Air Force Museum - Painting the Kittyhawk
Facebook / Air Force Museum of New Zealand "Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk Restoration Project Completed!" June 20, 2013
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May 22, 2018