475TH FIGHTER GROUP
"SATAN'S ANGELS"
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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visits since 11 September 2000

 

- 431st Squadron "Hades"  

- 432nd Squadron "Clover" 

- 433rd Squadron "Possum"

The 475th Fighter Group was constituted at Amberley airfield in Queensland, Australia on 15 May 1943 under the command of Colonel George W. Prentice. It's fighter squadrons, the 431st, 432nd and 433rd were all activated on 14 May 1943.

On 1 July 1943, the 431st Fighter Squadron, of the 475th Fighter Group transfers with its P-38 Lightnings from Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia to Amberley airfield, west of Brisbane, in southern Queensland, Australia. The squadron had not been in combat at that stage.

The 431st Fighter Squadron, of the 475th Fighter Group, based at Amberley Field, about 40 kms west of Brisbane, began operating from Port Moresby, New Guinea with its P-38's on 8 August 1943 after relocating from Amberley.

On 14 August 1943, the Headquarters group of the 475th Fighter Group and it's 431st, 432rd and 433rd Fighter Squadrons transferred from Amberley airfield to Dobodura, in New Guinea. The 431st and 432rd operated from Port Moresby. The 431st operated until October 1943 and the 432nd until September 1943.  The 433rd squadron flew it's first mission on 15 August 1943.

On Friday 11 June 1943, the 432d Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group transfers with its P-38 Lightnings from Charters Towers, Australia to Amberley Field?? (or was it Townsville?).

On 17 June 1943, the 433d Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group transfers with P-38's from Charters Towers, Australia to Amberley Field.

Teddy W. Hanks transferred from the 40th Fighter Squadron of the 35th Fighter Group to the 475th Fighter Group. He shared with me his memories of his move to the 475th:-

I was amazed to see that Eagle Farm was so near Ascot. The next morning after we who had been chosen to become the cadre for the newly formed 475th Fighter Group had enjoyed a night's rest in a downtown hotel, we were taken to Amberley Field at Ipswich. Other personnel who had arrived earlier had established a well organized camp. Those of us who were directly associated in aircraft maintenance were soon transported back to Brisbane -- to Eagle Farm -- to prepare the recently arrived P-38s for flight. The aircraft were brought to Brisbane aboard small aircraft carriers (baby flat-tops). I have no knowledge of the number of carriers involved. A fighter squadron was authorized 28 aircraft; three squadrons comprised a group. Also, two or three aircraft were usually allotted to Headquarters Squadron. Allowing for losses, I'm inclined to believe about 100 P-38s were initially brought over for the 475th.

As I recall, all wings had been removed to conserve space, and the propellers on some aircraft had been removed. All were either G or H series, which means the leading edge of the wings were utilized as intercoolers. In case that term is not familiar to you, each engine of the P-38 received air for combustion that had been compressed by a turbo-supercharger.

 Compression of air raises its temperature. To prevent pre-ignition or detonation of the fuel-air charge within the combustion chamber due to excessive temperature, the incoming air was cooled by routing it outward along the lower half of the wing leading edge then inward along the upper half of the wing leading edge and then via ducts to the carburettor. That method of cooling air was subject to air leakage at each rivet location. 

The 39th Fighter Squadron, the first 5th Air Force combat squadron to utilize the 38, had solved the problem by removing the wing leading edge and internally "painting" each possible leakage point with rubber-to-metal cement -- a viscous liquid that effectively sealed when it dried. At Eagle Farm, before reinstalling the wings, a crew would pressure check each intercooler and apply the sealing cement if needed. 

NOTE: In late '43 we began receiving the "J" series which employed a large radiator-type intercooler mounted beneath the engine. Lockheed soon began installing a 55-gallon fuel cell in the space formerly utilized by the wing-mounted intercooler. The extra fuel increased the operating range of the aircraft.

We worked long hours and, I'm sure, every day until all aircraft were prepared for flight. We then returned to Amberley where a pilot-qualifying program had been initiated. We expected to enjoy civilization for a few weeks, but that expectation was suddenly squelched when we were alerted for movement to New Guinea. Photo recon planes had detected a large increase of enemy planes at Wewak on the north coast of the island. Around the middle of August we were back "in business."

The photo of the tents at Ascot was taken long after my short stay there. I don't recall seeing a single U.S. 16 ft. by 16 ft. pyramidal tent at Ascot -- only Aussie small sleeping tents. As far as I can determine, our convoy was the third -- maybe the fourth -- to reach Australia. We "Yanks" were still somewhat of a curiosity in late February '42. 

 

Crash of a P-38 Lightning near Biboohra on 9 August 1943
2nd Lt. Andrew (or Allan) Kendall Duke was killed

 

E-mails from Curt Tinker of 475th Fighter Group

 

E-mails from Hugo Evareli

 

Charles Lindbergh serves with the 475th Fighter Group

 

Richard Ira Bong
Ace of Aces

 

Major Thomas B. McGuire

 

Al Coburn, P-38 Lightning pilot
475th Fighter Group, 433rd Fighter Squadron

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Teddy W. Hanks for his assistance with this home page.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

Lightning Strikes - The 475th Fighter Group in the Pacific War, 1943 - 1945
by Ronald W. Yoshino
Sunflower University Press
1531 Yuma - Box 1009 - Manhattan, Kansas 66502- 4228
ISBN 0 - 89745-104-X

 

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 Peter Dunn 2005

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This page first produced 22 April 1999

This page last updated 01 November 2009