|Pilot 2nd Lt. William H. Payne (KIA, BR) OH
Crashed June 10, 1942
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Curtiss-Wright Number 577. Constructors Number 16549. Delivered to the US Army on December 27, 1941. On December 30, 1941 assigned to "Project X" then disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia on January 30, 1942 and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On June 10, 1942 took off on a mission to test oxygen equipment piloted by 2nd Lt. William H. Payne. While flying at an altitude of 10,000', it is believed this P-40's oxygen system failed causing Payne to blackout and crash at Brock's Creek roughly 20 miles south of Adelaide River. On impact, this P-40 exploded on impact killing the pilot.
After the crash, little wreckage remained aside from an impact crater.
Recovery of Remains
Payne's remains were recovered and he was initially buried at Adelaide River War Cemetery.
Payne was officially declared dead the day of the mission. During June 1942, Payne Field was named in his honor. Postwar, his remains were transported to the United States and buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at plot P, grave 552.
Other sources list the crash site as Hayes Creek.
FindAGrave - Lieut William Henry Payne, Jr (grave photo)
Protect & Avenge page 50 (map), 56
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January 5, 2018