Lt. James O'Neil of Ames, Idaho enlisted on August 27, 1942 and earned his wings on April 26, 1943 at Moore Field, Texas and served in the South Pacific for 20 months as a P-40 and P-38 pilot. He was awarded the Air Medal in March 1944, Oak Leaf Cluster and Legion of Merit in April 1944. He was credited with three victories during the war. On March 12, 1944 he flew an escort mission to Wewak and claimed a fighter at low level over the sea off Brandi. He claimed two victories over Leyte on November 24, 1944. After returning to the United States, he was killed on June 14, 1945 in a crash at Riverside, California.
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Squadron. This aircraft was possibly a P-40N Warhawk nicknamed "Bucket O'Bolts" USAAF serial number unknown with nose number 3.
Sometime later in the war, this P-40 was demilitarized at Finschafen Airfield, with the guns and instruments removed, then the tail and wings cut. Finally, the remains were buried at the airfield.
During 2001, this aircraft was excavated from a 30' hole near Finschafen Airfield by by '75 Squadron'.
On the cockpit was the name "Lt. J. J. O'Neil" also "Lt. H. W. Harris" and "Crew Chief Sgt Frank
Jason Van Der Graaf is quoted:
"As you can imagine, the aircraft is in very bad shape and will require about 70 percent of its structure to be remanufactured. We have been working on it for a number of years and hope to eventually return this aircraft to flying status.”
WWII plane discovered in New Guinea connects to Ames pilot February 15, 2009
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January 9, 2018