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  P-40E Kittyhawk Serial Number A29-7 Code A
RAAF
75 Squadron

Click For Enlargement
David Pennefather 1990

Pilot  Squadron Leader Bernard Barton "Barney" Cresswell, 82 (KIA) Exeter, NSW
Crashed  April 17, 1942

Pilot History
S/L Bernard B. Cresswell was assigned to 76 Squadron, but was on exchange to 75 Squadron when this aircraft was lost. Nicknamed "Barney".

Aircraft History
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Assigned U. S. Army Air Force serial number 41-5363?. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
During March 1942 assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Kittyhawk A29-7. Assigned to 75 Squadron and coded A. During March 1942, this P-40 was flown by by S/L John Jackson from Garbutt Field at Townsville northward to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby.

During March to April 1942, this P-40 was often flown by both F/L Les Jackson and S/L John Jackson. On March 23, 1942 this P-40 was flown by S/L John Jackson on a strafing mission against Lae. On March 24, 1942 flown by F/L Les Jackson when he claimed his first probable victory over Port Moresby.

Mission History
On April 17, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Cresswell along with P-40 piloted by Woods on a reconnaissance mission over Lae. This mission was so Cresswell could gain experience. Over the north coast of New Guinea, the pair turning south, to overflying the Wau-Bulolo-Lake State area at 8:00am.

Suddenly, Woods was fired on by a Tainan Kokutai A6M2 Zero, and waggled his wings to warn Cresswell, 150 yards astern, before diving into cloud. Probably, Cresswell was studying the terrain features and did not realize he was under attack until too late. Woods lost contact with Cresswell and was pursued by Zeros for the next fifteen minutes, but managed to escape to the south flying to Kerema, then eastward back to 7-Mile Drome at 500'.

Memorials
Cresswell first buried at Bulwa Cemetery with military honors. Later, he was permanently laid to rest at Lae War Cemetery at G. A. 3.

Wreckage
This P-40 crashed near the confluence of the Watut River and Bululo River near Bulolo. Afterwards, his remains were recovered. Until at least 1990, the engine, propeller and other smaller pieces of wreckage, including the flattened centerline drop tank.

Charles Darby adds:
"I did not salvage anything from this aircraft. I understand a few parts have gone to Australia, but by far the greatest bulk of the remains was sold for 'peanuts' as scrap."

During the early 1990's piece of this aircraft were salvaged by Ian Whitney. The the rest was reportedly scrapped by locals.

References
Kodochosho Tainan Kokutai April 17, 1942
RAAF Service Record (NAA: A9300, CRESSWELL B B)
RAAF Casualty File - Bernard B. Cresswell (NAA: A705, 163/26/201)
Seek and Strike mentions this loss.
"On this day [17 April] two Kittyhawks, flown by Woods and Squadron Leader B B Cresswell, the commanding officer of 76 Squadron, who was attached to gain combat experience, took off early in the morning to undertake a reconnaissance of Lae. After flying over La Suiga Island, the pair turned to Lae, from where they flew some thirty miles west."
World War 2 Nominal Roll - Bernard Barton Cresswell
ADF Serials Kittyhawk A29-7
RAAFDB - Kittyhawk A29-7
RAAFDB - Bernard Barton Cresswell
(photo)
Wings Over New Zealand Show Aviation Podcast - Episode 98 – WOA – Ian Whitney recorded November 14, 2015 includes reference to P-40E Kittyhawk A29-7 (39:28 - 40:43)
Warbird Aviation Services - Projects - P-40E 41-5363 A29-7
Warbird Aviation Services - Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk 41-5363 aka A29-7
"Restoration to airworthy commenced in Feb 2016 by Warbird Aviation Services Pty Ltd"
Facebook "HistoricAviation Aircraft" October 11, 2016
"Some exciting news coming out of Victoria tonight. We at HAA have had to sit on this until the respective owners were ready to go public with the launch of their new website to announce their new venture. Warbird Aviation Services in Melbourne,http://www.warbirdaviationservices.com.au/projects/ Have released the information on their four aircraft projects including excitingly the restoration of not one but three P-40 Kittyhawks. One in particular of mention is the rebuild of P-40E A29-7 which was one of the first 25 Kittyhawks delivered. The company will also be producing components for other projects as well. An example of this is the P-40 Artificial Horizon mount as seen on the attached photo of a P-40E instrument panel. Some exciting news for P-40 fans thats for sure. Incidentally the owners are looking for in service shots of A29-7 so come on HAA readers what have you? Of course we will bring you photos of the restorations as the owners allow."
Thanks to David Pennefather, Charles Darby and Ian Whitney for additional information.

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

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