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  P-40E Warhawk Serial Number ?  
USAAF
FEAF
17th PS

Pilot ┬áLt. Col. Charles Andrews "Bud" Sprague C.O. 17th PS (KIA, BR) CT
Crashed  February 20, 1942


Pilot History
Sprague was born in Connecticut. He graduated West Point class of 1937. Commanding Officer of the 17th Pursuit Squadron flying P-40 Warhawks from Java. Promoted to Lt. Col on February 19, 1942.

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

Wartime History
Assigned to the Far East Air Force, 17th Pursuit Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On February 20, 1942 took off from Ngoro Airfield at 6:15am leading the group of sixteen P-40s for a rendezvous at 12,000' with A-24 Dive Bombers and LB-30 Liberators on a mission to attack the Japanese landing on the southern coast of Bali. Approaching Denpasar Airfield from the sea, they formed a large box formation at 15,000' at 8:00am and were intercepted by A6M2 Zeros and a dogfight began over the target area. This P-40 was shot down by A6M2 Zeros and crashed near Sampalan.

Wreckage
Crashed onto the beach near Sampalan village, across the Badoeng Strait from Bali.

Recovery of Remains
Sprague's body was found on Nusa Penida Island near Sampalan, across the Badoeng Strait from Bali. A Dutch seamen from destroyer Piet Hein was approached by natives carrying the body of a pilot, who was observed to have been shot down by Japanese fighters. His parachute was covered in blood and all his equipment was Australian issue, but inside his pocket was a bone knife inscribed "C. A. Sprague".

Memorials
Sprague was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Sprague's body was initially buried near Sampalan with a marker indicating he was an RAAF pilot. Postwar, he was permanently buried at West Point Cemetery at section VII, site C-136. In 2007, his wife Lillian Sprague was buried with him.

References
Every Day A Nightmare page 247-250, 256, 257

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech Info
P-40

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