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  P-40E Warhawk Serial Number ?  
5th AF
49th FG
7th FS

Pilot  2nd Lt. Clarence E. Sanford (survived) Syracuse, NY
Ditched  March 14, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On March 14, 1942 took off from Horn Island Airfield on a morning patrol returning at 11:30am. After receiving a call to scramble, 7th Fighter Squadron Commanding Officer (C.O.) Captain Bob Morrissey ordered his pilots: "Take off together. Stay together. Don't wander from your wingman. Take off to the northwest and make a left climbing turn at full power. Form up on me."

At 11:45am took off again from Horn Island Airfield at 11:45am one of nine P-40E Warhawks led by Captain Bob Morrissey scrambling to intercept an incoming formation of Japanese aircraft including G4M1 Betty bombers and A6M2 Zeros from the 4th Kōkūtai. Lt. Sanford was flying as the third plane in "A" Flight, with Captain Morrissey, Lt. House and Lt. Burtnette. They took off at 15 second intervals.

At 10,000 feet to the south of Horn Island they charged their guns. At this time bombs started to hit the western end of Horn Island Airfield. Intercepting the enemy fighters, Sanford was last seen being chased by an enemy aircraft, and found himself alone after the combat, with landing gear the would not stay retracted and spewing oil.

Flying south, he became disoriented in the haze above Torres Strait he actually overflew Horn Island and then continued to fly 400 miles across the Gulf of Carpentaria while trying to find the coastline of the Cape York Peninsula. Out of fuel, he ditched into the sea off off Cape Arnhem in the Northern Territory. When he failed to return, Sanford was declared Missing In Action (MIA) until reported to be alive by the RAAF the next day.

Fate of the Pilot
After ditching, Sanford swam to Bremer Island and fell unconscious on the beach. Late in the afternoon, he was found by Aboriginals and transported and carried him to Yirrkala Missionary Post on the mainland where it took him ten days to recover. On March 15, 1942 the RAAF advised C.O. Morrissey that he was safe.

After he recovered, Sanford was transported by motor launch to the RAAF Hospital at Darwin then the 1st Evacuation Hospital at Brisbane and finally back to the United States for hospitalization at Walter Ried Hospital until December 1942.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Clarence E. Sanford

Horn Island, page 17-18

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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