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  P-40N-1-CU Kittyhawk Serial Number NZ3121 Code K
17 Squadron

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RNZAF c1943-44

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RNZAF c1943-44

Pilot  Flying Officer Arthur Bruce Sladen, 415639 (MIA / KIA) Motueka, Nelson, New Zealand
Crashed  January 9, 1944

Pilot History
Sladen was age 23 and had 728 hours of flying time and was on his second tour of duty in the South Pacific.

Aircraft History
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Constructors Number 28445. Assigned U. S. Army Air Force serial number 42-104683. Disassembled and shipped overseas.

Wartime History
Delivered to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as Kittyhawk serial number NZ3121. Reassembled by No.1 Aircraft Depot at Hobsonville Airfield and BOC on June 25, 1943. Assigned to 17 Squadron. Coded "K".

Mission History
On January 9, 1944 took off from Ondonga Airfield, and landed at Torokina Airfield to refuel, then took off as one of eight RNZAF P-40s serving as close escort for TBFs and SBDs attacking Tobera Airfield south of Rabaul. Also escorting were eight F4Us on high cover, eight F4Us medium cover and eight F6F as low cover.

Intercepted by Japanese fighters over the target, this P-40 was shot down and crashed into the sea near Cape Gazelle. Officially, this P-40 was written off on January 31, 1944.

Sladen was officially declared missing the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the Bourail Memorial, panel 4.

ADF Serials Kittyhawk NZ3121
CWGC - Arthur Bruce Sladen
Air-To-Air page 258 (photo) 260

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018


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