|Pilot P/O Ronald Kevin Critchley
O'Connor, 411175 (MIA / KIA) Unley, SA
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Disassembled and shipped to Australia and reassembled.
Delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Assigned to 75 Squadron and coded "J". No known nickname or nose art.
27, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome piloted by O'Connor on a morning patrol with P-40E Kittyhawk A29-15 piloted by F/O Woods.
At 1:30pm, they spotted an enemy formation of fighters and bombers thirty miles east of Port
Moresby and attacked. The other two P-40s piloted by Piper and Bailey attack the G4M1 Betty bombers, damaging G4M1 Betty commanded by Fujii that later crashed.
Over Mount Lawes, Woods and O'Connor attacked the escorting Zeros. During the dogfight with three Zeros, Wood reported
seeing a parachute below, believed to be that of O'Connor. A fire, possibly the crash site of this P-40 was also observed
in the Galley Reach area. Another source presumes he was lost 20 miles east of Port Moresby. O'Connor was
the second 75 Squadron fatality in New Guinea.
Afterwards, F/O Wood took off from 7 Mile at 2:00/Z to conduct a search of the combat area roughly four miles west of Mount Lawes, 29 miles north of Port
Moresby. On the ground an Australian Army patrol led by Lt. Garland from the 39th Battalion departed from Bomana to search for the missing plane, crossing the Loloki River and searched the area four miles west of Mount Lawes. No natives had any knowledge of the crash.
On August 29, Lt. Templeton led another patrol searching east of Mount Lawes, questioned five groups of natives on the area without result and found a Japanese drop tank.
In 1947, a RAAF Searcher Team led by F/Lt Coape-Smith investigated two crash sites near Haima (a village near Jackson Airport). They found two wrecks in the inland swamp country: a P-47 Thunderbolt and the wreckage of a fighter, possibly an Airacobra (P-39D Airacobra 41-38351).
O'Connor was officially declared dead on March 27, 1942. He is memorialized at the Port Moresby memorial, panel 9 at Bomana War Cemetery.
This wreck or the remains of the pilot have never been found.
Note, the Australian Air Force (RAAF) incorrectly lists the date of loss as March 26, 1942
New Guinea Force Diary. COIC Log Friday 27th March 1942
"Preliminary report - Raid no. 20 2 P40's attacked by 3 "0" fighters over Mt. LAWES. 1 P40 shot down and crashed abt. 20 miles East of 7-M 'drome. Pilot bailed out and landed abt. 4 miles West of Mt. Lawes. 1 enemy bomber definitely shot down and crashed 30-40 miles East of PORT MORESBY."
Seek and Strike page 19
CWGC - Ronald Kevin Critchley
ADF Serials - Kittyhawk A29-19
RAAFDB - Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk A29-19
RAAFDB - Ronald Kevin Critchley
44 Days pages 134-135 incorrectly states this combat happened on March 28, 1942
Thank to Edward Rogers and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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May 22, 2017