28 AUGUST 1944
CRASH OF A KITTYHAWK

NORTH OF CARDWELL, QLD

 

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Kittyhawk

 

RAAF P-40N-30 Kittyhawk, A29-910, (USAAF # 44-7281) crash landed just off the beach three miles north of Cardwell adjacent to the northern end of Hinchinbrook Island on 28 August 1944. The aircraft had oil pressure problems and the pilot decided to drop its belly tanks before attempting a forced landing. The pilot, Warrant Officer J. Guy, who was ferrying the aircraft to New Guinea, was unhurt during this incident and was able to recover all his personal gear. He was then able to make his way to Cardwell where he was transported to the Railway Station and regaled with Cairns beer and a feed of barramundi fish before catching the train ("The Rattler" as he called it) to Townsville. John said the locals were very hospitable and he was sorry to leave that night on "The Rattler" back to Townsville.

This aircraft had been delivered to the RAAF in July 1944. John Guy was hopeful that the aircraft, being brand new, would be lifted from the channel. The aircraft was subsequently dismantled, salvaged and later converted. The location of the crash was listed as within a radius of 2 nautical miles of 146.18 E by 18.30 S.

John James Guy (413581), of Test and Ferry Flight at 2 Aircraft Park, Bankstown had left Bankstown in Kittyhawk, A29-910, on 21 August 1944 and stopped in Amberley for fuel and continued on to Rockhampton, and then Mackay. He was accompanied on this ferry flight by John Sheehan who was flying Kittyhawk A29-917. Apparently Mackay was a very popular place for a Ferry Pilot's aircraft to mysteriously go "unserviceable", as there was a large American R&R centre in Mackay. On 25 August 1944 he made a test flight in the aircraft at Mackay. However John stayed in Mackay until 28 August 1944. On that day he took off for Cairns and ended up crash landing near Cardwell.

John Sheehan commented that the American R&R centre in Mackay was "vast". He was always keen to stopover in Mackay and spend some time at the Officer's Club. Steak, milk, butter, liquor, b & b, all for practically free was the big attraction. John's log book shows the Mackay to Cairns leg for the 28 August 1944 was 2 hours 45 minutes. He said in a letter to Jim Purdon "which is a mite longer than it should have been. Probably because I was watching silly bloody Guy go for a swim and waiting for a shark to get him!".

In another letter to Jim Purdon, John Sheehan stated:-

"But when the Kitty is found, half the whisky in the tail where the wireless was supposed to be is mine!

Johnny Guy and I had invested all of 25 quid in COR-10 @ 7/6 a bottle to trade with the Yanks in Moresby for cigarettes.

These we would bring back to Sydney and flog off at 2 - 3 quid a carton.

That's why Ferry Flight Pilots were always flush with cash.

Jim Purdon of the Gap, in Brisbane was most helpful in providing me with information on this crash a a number of others.

NOTE:- There has been some confusion with the date. The 28 August 1944 is the date from John Guy's Log Book, which I have a photocopy of. Various other sources have shown it as 4 August 1944 and September 1944.

 

Does anyone have access to the Crash Report?

 

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Subject:     Re: Kittyhawks
Date:              Fri, 12 Mar 1999 07:44:43 +1000
From:            Ray Blackwood <seaquel@tpgi.com.au>

Dear Peter,

Ray Blackwood told me that he received an email from a John Sheehan (lives at Bayview, NSW) relating his experience while serving with the RAAF Test and Ferry Flight at Bankstown. John Sheehan related the following information:-

'Now here's a funny thing. There was another one in, I think, mid-1944. (It was on 28 August 1944)

At this time I was a pilot in an RAAF Test & Ferry Flight based at Bankstown, Sydney, 'resting' after completing an operational tour. A Sgt. Pilot  named Jack Guy and myself were delivering a couple of P40-N25 Kittyhawks to squadrons in New Guinea.

About 20 minutes out of Townsville Jack rang me up to tell me his oil temp was going off the clock. He said he would bail out if it got any worse but I told him to hang on as he had all the liquor for trading with the Yanks in Moresby stowed in his aircraft. (1 bottle COR-IO whiskey @ 7/6d = 20 cartons Chesterfields worth a couple of quid a carton back in Sydney).

(NOTE: - Apparently it was quite common for Ferry Pilots to carry this sort of "contraband" which they would sell in New Guinea)

He did hang on but didn't make it to an airfield but force landed on a beach somewhere near Cardwell.

Dunno what happened to the grog. I had to continue to Moresby alone, after re-fuelling at Cairns and Iron Range, which I didn't like one little bit.

Two hours over the shark-infested Coral Sea in a single-engine aircraft before Valium was invented wasn't much fun.

John Sheehan told Ray that Jack Guy survived but he had lost touch with him when he went to England to live for a few years in the early 50's.

John said that Jack had died a couple of years earlier having moved from Sydney to live at possibly Ballina in northern NSW.

 

REFERENCE BOOK

"Diary of WWII - North Queensland"
Complied by Peter Nielsen

"Aircraft of the RAAF 1921- 71"
By Geoffrey Pentland & Peter Malone

"The Spitfire, Mustang & Kittyhawk in Australian Service"
by Stewart Wilson

 

SOURCE:-   Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia

Crash:         No. 337

Position:    

Department of Aviation Chart No:       3219

Location:    Partial wreckage only located in water at Rockingham Bay, north of Cardwell.

NOTE:- I've assumed that Crash No. 337 is the crash detailed in the e-mails above. Can anyone confirm this for me?

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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This page first produced 9 February 1999

This page last updated 13 January 2017