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  P-400 Airacobra Serial Number AP335  
USAAF
5th AF
8th FG
36th FS

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Jack Taft 1984
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Richard Leahy 1984
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Jack Taft 1993
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R. Abbott 2010

Pilot  Lt. Everett Van Patton (survived)
Force Landed  August 3, 1943
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number AP335 and painted in a three-color camouflage scheme. Instead, delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 36 Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
Took off on a mission to escort C-47 Dakotas bound for Tsili-Tsili Airfield. Over the target, intercepted by Japanese Ki-43 Oscars. This Airacobra's coolant system was hit by a bullet and disabled. Returning from the mission, Van Patton made a wheels up emergency landing at Bulldog Airfield.

Wreckage
Until 1984, this Airacobra remained in situ at Bulldog Airfield.

Ray Fairfield over flew the area in 1968:
"I remember the strip as just north of the village of Bulldog. I was told about some intact airplanes at Bulldog that survey crew had visited, and taken a few parts off. These planes had reportedly crashed before the strip was built. When I over flew the area in 1968 or 1969 I could not see anything. Finally, after carefully looking I could just make out the former runway - if the jungle was 80' tall, the trees on the former runway were about 40', they grew that fast. I could not see any wrecks. Later, Jack Taft went in there by boat and walked to the Airacobras. He later told me a story about when he walked there, the locals told him to stop. He wondered why, and they said he was at the aircraft. It was so overgrown, he had not seen it."

Salvage
Purchased by the US Military Aircraft Museum, through the efforts of Jack Taft, himself a veteran of the 345th Bombardment Group. Taft donated the funds for recovery of P-400 AP335 and P-400 AP347, from Bulldog Airfield to acquire the export permit. Both were recovered November 30, 1984 by RAAF Chinook helicopter, and brought to Jackson Airport.

During 1985, this aircraft was shipped to the United States.

Restoration
During 1985 to 2009 this Airacobra been under restoration by Jack Taft at his home in Michigan. He first restored the tail section. On August 15, 1993, the 50th Anniversary of the force landing at Bulldog Airfield, former pilot Everett Van Patton of P-400 AP335 and Tom Huff , former pilot of P-400 AP-347 were reunited with this aircraft.

Jack Taft passed away March 16, 2009. His Airacobra was sold to the Fighter Factory in Suffolk, Virginia and is in storage there as of August 2010

References
Note, it is unclear if date of combat when damaged was August 2 or August 3, 1943
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-400 Airacobra AP 335
Airacobra Advantage, by Rick Mitchell
Attack and Conquer page 263
Thanks to Ray Fairfield and Charles Darby for additional information
Joe Baugher "Airacobra I for RAF, P-400"

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Info
P-400

Photos
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