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  P-40E-1 "The Spoddessape" Serial Number 41-25178 Tail 68
5th AF
475th FG

Former Assignments
49th FG
8th FS

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49th FG c1943

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Bruce Adams 1970s

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via Barnstormers 2014

Pilot  2nd Lt. Nelson Elmer Brownell, O-660105 (KIA) NY
Crashed  November 6, 1943
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Constructors Number 19689. Purchased by the Military Aviation of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army / Netherlands Dutch East Indies Air Force (ML-KNIL). Disassembled as one of eighteen shipped aboard the USS Bantam bound for the Netherlands Dutch East Indies. These aircraft were not part of the original order placed by the ML-KNIL. It is unknown if Dutch markings or serial numbers were ever assigned or applied to these planes.

Wartime History
During April 1942, one of eighteen eighteen P-40s unloaded and reassembled in Australia. This aircraft was planned for delivery to the Military Aviation of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (ML-KNIL), but instead was assigned to the U. S. Army. Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 8th Fighter Squadron.

This aircraft participated in the defense of Darwin. During October 1942 to July 1943 assigned to pilot Lt. Lowell C. Lutton until he was transferred to the 475th Fighter Group.

During July 1943, assigned to pilot Randall B. Keator, who also painted his name under the windscreen and carried squadron number 68. Nicknamed "The Spoddessape" (short for "spotted assed ape") on the left side, in reference to pilot Randall Keator's description of how fast he left the Philippines, 'like a spotted ass ape'. The right side of the aircraft had a pelican with a frog bombardier and crayfish firing a shotgun under the bird's wing and carrying a bomb in its feet.

Mission History
On November 6, 1943 took off from 3-Mile Drome (Kila) near Port Moresby piloted by Brownell on a patrol over the Kokoda area. During the patrol, the engine stopped. Brownell attempted to make a dead stick landing, but crashed near Saga northwest of Kokoda, killing the pilot. Brownell was the 475th Fighter Group's first fatality in New Guinea.

On November 7, 1943 Brownell remains were recovered, identified, and temporarily buried at the Kokoda War Cemetery. Later, he was exhumed and interred at Bomana Cemetery. Postwar, his remains were exhumed and transported to the United States. On March 1948 he was permanently buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Canandaigua, NY at section 11 lot 139.

This P-40 Crashed near Saga northwest of Kokoda. Until November 2003, this P-40 remained in situ.

During November 2003, Robert Greinert / HARS and Jason Cockney salvaged the wreckage from this crash site, including the tail with "68" visible. Cockayne planned to use these parts as a basis for a new built P-40 Warhawk using parts from this aircraft as as an identity and is the owned the salvaged parts until at least April 2014.

During late April 2014, a "Curtiss P-40 project" was offered for sale on Barnstormers. This appears to be a new built P-40 using parts recovered from P-40E-1 "The Spoddessape" 41-25178, including an original piece of tail section with "68" visible.

Barnstormers - Curtiss P-40 Warhawk [auction removed] text read:
"CURTISS P-40 WARHAWK • FOR SALE • The best P-40 project we have seen. Rebuilt fuselage, wings as original. Includes Allison engine, engine mounts, exhausts, radiators, oil cooler, propeller, new tail surfaces, instruments, most parts to complete. • Contact Graham Orphan, Broker - located Blenheim, New Zealand • Telephone: 64-21-683 954 . 64-3-578 9609 . 64-3-578 9607 • Fax: 64-3-577 6451 • Posted April 8, 2014 • Show all Ads posted by this Advertiser • Recommend This Ad to a Friend • Email Advertiser • Save to Watchlist • Report This Ad • View Larger Pictures"

During February 2015 a "Curtis P-40K was offered for sale on Classic Wings Aircraft Sales Ltd and Aviation Advertiser NZ for $675,000 AUD. The photos show the same aircraft offered for sale in 2014. This appears to be a new built P-40 using parts recovered from P-40E-1 "The Spoddessape" 41-25178, including an original piece of tail section with "68" visible.

According to Classic Wings Aircraft Sales Ltd:
"The P-40 is a substantial project and one of the better P-40s we have handled over the years. The newly rebuilt fuselage is presently being fitted out internally. A fully rebuilt tail group is being completed, and the wings are complete but unrestored. The project includes an engine (will require overhaul), engine mount, radiators and oil cooler, exhausts, Hamilton Standard propeller."

Amanda Keator (granddaughter of Keator)

Other sources incorrectly spell the pilot's name as "Brownnell"
FindAGrave - Nelson E. Brownell
Woodlawn Cemetery North Pearl St., Canandaigua, NY - Nelson E. Brownell
Protect & Avenge page 57 (photo), 87
Rust In Peace page 80, includes a story of a local villager who witnessed the crash and photographs of the broken off tail section and wings in a crater.
The National World War II Museum (The National D-Day Museum has a display about Randall B. Keator
HARS Phoenix Spring 2010 "New to the restoration shop" page 8 [PDF]
"Jason [Cockayne] is also restoring a P40E Kittyhawk from the famous 49th Fighter Group, USAF. A long term project as they say in the industry."
Barnstormers - Pictures for Curtiss P-40 Warhawk [four photos of new built P-40 with tail "68"]
Thanks to Ken Peters, Amanda Keator, Edward Rogers and John Douglas for additional information.

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Last Updated
May 3, 2016


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  Pacific Wrecks Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to bringing home those Missing In Action (MIA) and leveraging new technologies in the study of World War II Pacific and the Korean War.  
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