41ST FIGHTER SQUADRON
35TH FIGHTER (PURSUIT) GROUP
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

401st Fighter Squadron

 

The 41st Fighter Squadron was constituted as the 41st Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 22 December 1939. It was activated on 1 February 1940.

The 41st Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group left San Francisco on 31 January 1942 and arrived in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on 25 February 1942 onboard the USS Ancon. They were first taken to Camp Ascot at Eagle Farm in Brisbane, then to Archerfield RAAF until 8 March 1942. Then they would sail for Ballarat, Mount Gambier and Melbourne.

On April 6th, 1942 the squadron traveled by train from RAAF Mt Gambier Airfield to their next station at the RAAF Bankstown Airfield near Sydney, arriving there on 7 April 1942.

 


Photo:- via Keith Balog

Believed to have been taken on the train
journey from Mount Gambier to Bankstown

 


Photo:- via Keith Balog

Bankstown Airfield with a B-17 Flying Fortress in the foreground,
plus a P-39 Airacobra and several P-40 Warhawks.

 


Photo:- via Keith Balog

A B-17C Flying Fortress at Bankstown Airfield

 


Photo:- via Keith Balog

Control Tower at Bankstown Airfield during WWII

 

The Squadron was redesignated as the 41st Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942.

On 29 May 1942, a Japanese floatplane carried out a reconnaissance flight over Sydney in readiness for a midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour on 31 May 1942. It was initially thought by those who spotted the Japanese floatplane, that it was an American aircraft, but eventually some Airacobras from the 41st Fighter Squadron were sent up to intercept the floatplane. Another unidentified plane was also reported in the Newcastle area. Neither could be found.

On Sunday, 8 June 1942, Japanese submarine I-24 surfaced about 4 miles off the coast of Sydney. The submarine opened fire with its deck gun on the sleeping city of Sydney. It fired ten shells at 30 second intervals. Six of the shells failed to explode and the other four caused minor damage to houses and one indirect casualty. For the second time in a week, Sydney was under direct attack by the enemy (see below).

At Bankstown Airfield, Lt George Leo Cantello (0-388884) of the 41st Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group, received a phone call saying that Sydney was being shelled. He was the only pilot on the base at the time. He took off immediately in his P-400 Airacobra aircraft, Serial #BW140, and climbed to 1000 feet. The aircraft's engine failed about two minutes after takeoff and it plumetted to the ground and exploded in a ball of flame north of Hammondville, which was a small farming community about 3 miles south south west of Bankstown airfield. It is now a suburb of Sydney. Lt. Cantello died instantly.

The 41st Fighter Squadron moved to Port Moresby, New Guinea on 20 July 1942.

 


Photo:- via Keith Balog

Engagement photo for M/Sgt Alexander Balogh
of the 41st Fighter Squadron and his Australian
 Fiancee Joyce Etherton in October 1942

 

P-51 Mustang of the 41st Fighter Squadron at
Clarke Field, Manila, spills fuel while taxiing near end of WWII

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Ross Whistler for his assistance with this web page.

I'd like to thank Keith Balog for his assistance with this web page. Keith's father, Alexander Balogh, was a Master Sergeant mechanic with the 41st Fighter Squadron. Keith's father met his Australian mother while he was based at Bankstown. They met on the train from Sydney to Bankstown the day after Alexander arrived in Bankstown from Mount Gambier.

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 20 July 2016

This page last updated 20 July 2016