|Pilot F/O Eugene Haydn Weber, 404864 (KIA, BR) Rockhampton, QLD
Crashed March 3, 1944
Built by Curtiss. Assigned U. S. Army Air Force serial number 42-105740. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia.
During September 1943, assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to 15 ARDRP. Assigned to 78 Squadron and delivered on January 28, 1944. No known nickname or nose art.
On March 3, 1944 took off on a mission leading "yellow section" on a barge strafing mission over the north coast of New Guinea. Over Uligan Harbor, this P-40 began strafing barges in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire that damaged several aircraft. This P-40 was shot down by anti-aircraft fire in the starboard wing causing it to explode before crashing into shallow water.
Weber was the first 78 Squadron pilot killed in action. For his actions, Weber was mentioned in dispatches:
"On the 2nd March, 1944, as a member of No 78 I/F Squadron, Flying Officer WEBER was engaged in a barge strafing operation and had just destroyed at least two barges in a small harbour when exceptionally heavy and accurate barrage fire was directed at his section from a concealed battery on the shore, damaging several aircraft. Instead of taking avoiding action, he at once diverted his attention to this battery and pressed home his attack at very close range.
He succeeded in scoring hits on the battery which consisted of at least six Bofors and eight light anti-aircraft guns before he was shot down and crashed into the gun emplacement he had been attacking.
Flying Officer WEBER had completed 99 hours of operational flying and had participated in 35 sorties including 30 strikes. He had at all times displayed great courage and an outstandingly aggressive spirit whilst engaged in active operations against the enemy."
Weber was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After his remains were recovered from the crash site, he was permanently buried at Lae War Cemetery at L. A. 11.
Postwar, the wreckage of this P-40 was first identified by a RAAF Search Team and remains recovered and noted "wreckage recovered" meaning, the wreckage was located or identified.
In the 1990s, Brian Bennett visited the wreckage which included a wing section with the .50 caliber machine guns still in place.
Note, wartime references incorrectly state the loss location as
F/O Eugene Haydn Weber
RAAF Service Record (NAA: A9300, WEBER E H)
ADF Serials - Kittyhawk A29-537
RAAFDB - Curtiss P-40N-5-CU Kittyhawk A29-537
RAAFDB - F/O Eugene Haydn Weber
RAAF Survey of Aircraft Wreckage in Papua and New Guinea - RAAF Kittyhawk A29-537
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information
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January 5, 2018