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  P-40E Kittyhawk Serial Number A29-6 Code F
75 Squadron

Pilot  F/O Wilbur Lawrence Wackett (survived) Bellevue Hill, NSW
Crashed  March 22, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army as serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during March 1942 to 1 Air Depot (1 AD). Assigned to 75 Squadron on March 8, 1942 with fuselage code "F". No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On March 22, 1942 one of nine P-40s that took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby led by S/L Jackson against Lae. Six P-40s including this aircraft were to strafe Lae Airfield while the other three aircrft flew top cover.

Over the target, intercepted by A6M2 Zeros from the 4th Kokutai. While dog fighting with enemy aircraft, Wackett's gun sight failed while making a beam attack and only one of his machine guns fired. As he broke off his attack and dove for clouds, his P-40 took hits to the engine. At 1,000' his engine seized, halfway between Lae and Salamaua over the sea and Wackett successfully bailed out. His P-40 quickly sank, and he swam ashore. Also lost was P-40E Kittyhawk A29-16.

Fate of the Pilot
Ashore, Wackett found two Police Boys from Rabaul and walked for four days before reaching Bulwa village. The villagers debated turning him over to the Japanese, but was protected by his escorts. Departing, he walked to Bulolo, Wau, Waterbaum, Bulldog, the Lakakamu River and then to Yule Island. Finally, he was transported aboard a boat to Port Moresby arriving on April 12, 1942. Afterwards, he returned to duty.

Later, Wackett was assigned to 31 Squadron. On September 24, 1944 he went Missing In Action (MIA) piloting Beaufighter A19-208. He was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized at Adelaide River War Cemetery on the Northern Territory Memorial on panel 6.

RAAF Service Record Wilbur Lawrence Wackett (NAA: A9300 Wacket W L)
ADF Serials - Kittyhawk A29-6
Flightpath Magazine "Yamazaki" by Michael Claringbould, 2010
RAAFDB Wilbur Lawrence Wackett
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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