|Pilot F/Sgt Donald Alfred Williams, 421125/130600 (survived) Nelson, NZ
Ditched September 13, 1943
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Constructors Number 21782. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40M-5-CU Warhawk serial number 43-5494. Disassembled and shipped overseas to New Zealand as part of defense aid.
Delivered to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as Kittyhawk NZ3066. Reassembled by No. 1 Aircraft Depot (1 AD) at Hobsonville Airfield on March 13, 1943. Assigned to 14 Squadron operating from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal.
On June 16, 1943 took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) at 1:05pm piloted by F/O Maurice R. Clarke on scramble as one of eight P-40s to meet approaching Japanese air raid. In total, 104 Allied fighters were airborne to intercept. The P-40s were flying in two sections of four aircraft. This aircraft was flying in the first section in the no. 4 position. After take off, two abort leaving only six to climb to 20,000 over Lunga Point. Vectored to intercept, P-40M NZ3070 piloted by Oldfield dove with Clarke to enter a dog fight southeast of Savo. Diving, Clarke was unable to stay on his wing and became separated then opened fire on a Zero without result then climbed to 5,000' and attacked a pair of Zeros from the rear, the second caught fire as had the first, both crashing into the sea at 2:07pm. Out of ammunition, he returned to land at 2:40pm.
Later, assigned to 16 Squadron. Finally, transfered to 17 Squadron coded "14" with the letter "A" on the rear fuselage. The fuselage had a white vertical forward and rear of the cockpit. Each wing had a white diagonal stripe. No known nickname or nose art.
On September 13, 1943 took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) piloted by F/Sgt Donald A. Williams, on a patrol mission. On finals to land, this P-40 suffered an engine failure and ditched into a reef off Munda Airfield. Pilot Williams was unhurt. Officially written off books on November 1, 1943.
Afterward, usable parts were removed from the aircraft, including the tail assembly, cockpit canopy and access panels. The wreckage remained until at least October or November 1943 and was photographed by a Marine from VMSB-144. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise removed.
Other sources state this aircraft ran out of fuel during the approach to land.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-40M-5-CU Warhawk 43-5494
"5494 (MSN 21782) to New Zealand as NZ3066. Assembled by No.1 Aircraft Depot, Hobsonville and BoC at Hobsonville on 13 March 1943. Coded "14". To No.16 Squadron. Crashed into sea near Munda airstrip on New Georgia Sep 13, 1944 due to fuel starvation. Pilot apparently failed to switch tanks in a timely manner, and plane ditched in shallow water and some components were salvaged. Pilot was unhurt."
ADF Serials Kittyhawk NZ3066
RNZAF P-40 Serial Numbers and Identities NZ3006
Air-To-Air The Story Behind the air-to-air combat claims of the RNZAF pages 96-99 (June 14, 1943), 153 (photo), 314 (Clarke) 403 (index NZ3066)
USMC Aviators page 28 (photo)
Thanks to Buz for additional information
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May 22, 2018