|Pilot Flying Officer Arthur Bruce Sladen, 415639 (MIA / KIA) Motueka, Nelson, New Zealand
Crashed January 9, 1944
Sladen was age 23 and had 728 hours of flying time and was on his second tour of duty in the South Pacific.
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Constructors Number 28445. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40N-1-CU Warhawk serial number 42-104683. Disassembled and shipped overseas to New Zealand as part of defense aid.
Delivered to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as Kittyhawk NZ3121. Reassembled by No.1 Aircraft Depot (1 AD) at Hobsonville Airfield and BOC on June 25, 1943. Assigned to 17 Squadron. Coded "K".
On January 9, 1944 took off from Ondonga Airfield on New Georgia piloted by Flying Officer Arthur B. Sladen and landed at Torokina Airfield to refuel, then took off as one of eight RNZAF P-40s serving as close escort for TBF Avengers and SBD Dauntless dive bombers attacking Tobera Airfield south of Rabaul. Also escorting were eight F4U Corsairs as high cover, eight F4U Corsairs as medium cover and eight F6F Hellcats as low cover.
Over the target, intercepted by Japanese fighters. This P-40 was shot down and crashed into the seas near Cape Gazelle. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). 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.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-40N-1-CU Warhawk 42-104683
"104683 to New Zealand as NZ3121. Assembled by No.1 Aircraft Depot, Hobsonville and BoC at Hobsonville on 25 June 1943. Coded "K". To No.17 Squadron. Crashed into sea near Cape Gazelle on 9 January 1944. The aircraft was shot down by an enemy fighter during an escort sortie."
ADF Serials Kittyhawk NZ3121
CWGC - Arthur Bruce Sladen
Air-To-Air page 258 (photo) 260
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May 20, 2018