|Pilot Sgt David
Stuart Brown, 401489 (POW, executed May 26, 1942) South Yarra, VIC
Force Landed April 11, 1942
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Constructors Number 16524. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40E Warhawk serial number 41-5532. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
During March 1942 assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Kittyhawk A29-38. This P-40 was to be assigned to 76 Squadron, but was instead allocated to 75 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. During April 1942 flown 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby.
On April 11, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Sgt David
Stuart Brown on a mission to attack Lae. Over the north coast of New Guinea, intercepted by A6M2 Zeros and force
landed or ditched into shallow water near the beach at Kwong Point on Salamaua.
Fate of the Pilot
Brown survived the landing unhurt but was immediately captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW) and was transported to Lae then Rabaul for interrogation. On May 26, 1942 he was last seen alive by two American POWs Reed and Lutz from B-26 40-1400 on the wharf at Rabaul. Brown was separated from them and never seen again. In fact, he was executed on Matupi Island and his remains were buried in a mass grave.
Recovery of Remains
During May to June 1947, Brown's remains were recovered and identified from a mass grave on Matupi Island by S/L Keith Rundle. In 1950 he was interred at Bita Paka War Cemetery at grave H. C. 8.
After the force landing, the Japanese moved his P-40 onto the shore during an attempted salvage. Until middle 1980s, this aircraft remained in situ, including the engine and propeller.
Rod Pearce recalls:
"I remember playing on this wreck as a child, and an elderly man witnessed it land. According to him, locals assisted the Japanese to move it closer to shore. I heard two different stories about it. One, that it landed wheels down on the tidal flat, and the Japanese pulled it up onto the beach, because there was a road behind it. Another story was the plane landed wheels down, and the Japanese jacked the wheels down and moved it to the beach to salvage it. By the middle 1960s the machine guns were removed."
Steven Mundt adds:
"I visited Salamaua in the fall of 1986, and this aircraft was still on the beach."
During the late 1980s, Ian Whitney salvaged this aircraft by moving it onto a pontoon and planed to tow it to Lae. The pontoon overturned in the Huon Gulf and the wreckage sank into a depth of roughly 600'.
Richard Leahy adds:
"I recall being informed that it was in fact an RAAF plane, and about
its removal and loss. It looked to be a total wreck.
Do not know why anyone would bother removing it."
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-40E Warhawk 41-5532
"5532 to RAAF as A29-38 Mar 1942. Shot down over Lae [sic], New Guinea 3/27/1942 [sic]. Pilot KIA [sic, executed]."
ADF Serials - P-40E A29-38
CWGC - David Stuart Brown
World War Two Nominal Roll - David Stuart Brown
The Siege of Rabaul (1996) by Henry Sakaida page 93 (Rabaul's Military Prisoners - Brown)
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
March 3, 2019