ON 12 JULY 1942

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During the late afternoon of 12 July 1942 four P-40 Kittyhawks from the 49th Fighter Group were taking part in a training flight over Manton Reservoir. The pilots were:-

2nd. Lt. John Sauber
2nd. Lt. George Preddy
Lt. Jack Donalson

2nd Lt. Deems Taylor

The exercise was being led by Sauber, the wingman from the 9th Squadron's Blue Flight. Sauber had instructed Preddy to simulate an attack and he would then show the appropriate escape manoeuvre. Sauber dove in from a higher altitude on Preddy, but unfortunately he misjudged his separation and collided with Preddy's Kittyhawk.


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This series of 3 sketches by Donalson shown the events that happened on that tragic day. Donalson was flying on Sauber's wing when the incident occurred.


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Sauber was most likely killed on impact and his Kittyhawk, #87, broke into pieces and fell to the ground. Although badly injured, Preddy managed to jump from his Kittyhawk, # 41-5509, #85, and parachuted to the ground. Both Kittyhawks hit the deck west of Manton Reservoir. Preddy's aircraft ended up about 800 yards to the south of Sauber's aircraft in the rugged forest area.

The rescue team was directed to the area where Preddy had landed by Clay Tice who flew his Kittyhawk over the area. Preddy's parachute got caught up in a gum tree and he was found hanging in his parachute harness. He was rushed to Kahlin Hospital with a broken right leg and right arm, and some cracked ribs.

The next day, Flight Leader Reynolds, along with Sauber's crew chief Sgt. Harley Yates, and Landers and Donalson, travelled to the crash site by truck. They recovered Sauber's body from the wreck of his Kittyhawk.


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2nd Lt. George Preddy in front of #85 "Tarheel"


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Kittyhawk #85, "Tarheel" piloted by 2nd. Lt. George Preddy


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2nd. Lt. John Sauber of the 9th Squadron, 49th Fighter Group
killed during a mid-air collision on 10 July 1942


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Subject:     Darwin Kittyhawks
Date:              Sun, 21 Nov 1999 17:28:55 -0800
From:            s.frawley@bom.gov.au

I was in Darwin in 1976/77 and visited a pair of Kittyhawks near the Darwin River Dam. I couldn't find any explicit reference to them in the NT crash list. Are they two of the "eight P-40's lost over Darwin in the period 28 Mar - 27 Apr 1942"? (see above)

Stephen Frawley

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Subject:    Darwin Kittyhawks
Date:             Mon, 22 Nov 1999 00:59:58 -0800
From:           c busby <sandylowlead@hotmail.com>


The two Kittyhawks you talk about are the aircraft of Lt Sauber and Lt Preddy (of P-51 Fame in ETO). They were involved in a Practice Intercept when they collided. Lt Sauber was flying aircraft #87 (this aircraft had an Eagle on a Yellow background on the fuselage sides ala Lt Reynolds aircraft "Stardust") and was killed, he had approx 3 Confirmed Kills with the 49th Fighter Group at the time. Lt Preddy Bailed out and was found with numerous Injuries, His aircraft was #85 named "Tarheel".

Hope this helps



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Subject:    Darwin Kittyhawks
Date:             Mon, 22 Nov 1999 14:39:18 -0800
From:           s.frawley@bom.gov.au

G'day Peter,

I visited the P40's with a 4WD club. They impacted on a ridge NW of the dam and are pretty well smashed up.

I have photographs but they in the form of slides. Don't know how easy they are to have scanned, but will investigate if you like.

The Top End is the place to be for WW2 wreck chasers. I spent a day or two poking around Fenton and other old airstrips. Found bits of Liberators and Dakotas, including two almost complete B24 tails (these may since have been removed to provide parts for the B24 being restored in Melbourne). There is also a Catalina in the mangroves on the southern side of Darwin Harbour. Apparently it was fairly intact before Cyclone Tracy, but by 1977 was badly broken up.

Stephen Frawley


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Subject:    Darwin Kittyhawks
Date:             Mon, 22 Nov 1999 17:04:51 -0800
From:           s.frawley@bom.gov.au

Thanks Buz,

I was told at the time that they had collided in bad weather and that both pilots had bailed out, but it's good to know the true story.

Stephen Frawley


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Subject:    Darwin Kittyhawks
Date:             Fri, 26 Nov 1999 13:28:31 -0800
From:           c busby <sandylowlead@hotmail.com>


Althought the book "Protect and Avenge" makes the top pic of Preddy standing infront of the P-40 with the Dragon on it, it is thought that that is not his aircraft.

This is still open to debate but its thought that that aircraft is Clay Tice's after the crash when Preddy was out of hospital or its possible that it is before Preddy took over the No. 85. I have a very bad pic of Preddy's aircraft that shows that Tarheel was painted on both sides of the Aircraft.

Are we confused yet? I know I am. I do have someone looking into this question for me as I cannot find any more on the subject.




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Subject:    Darwin Kittyhawks
Date:             Sat, 27 Nov 1999 14:02:09 -0800
From:           c busby <sandylowlead@hotmail.com>


Problem with the picture has to do with something within the 9FS called the Dragon flight. Dragon flight was lead by Kruzel (he had a dragon painted on the nose of his aircraft whilst flying during the early engagements with the Japanese over Java.

Preddy was never part of Dragon flight, so its highly unlikely that he had the Dragon painted on the nose of his aircraft. For other flights I refer you to Lt. Reynolds Aircraft "Star Dust". If you look on the side of his aircraft there is a Eagle painted on a yellow background (all his flight members had this on their aircraft) lt Sauber being in the same flight as Reynolds also had one. Preddy's aircraft according to all my references (Protect and Avenge, Darwin air war, 49FG by Squadron sigs, and a few others I cannot remember of the top of my head) indicate that this was correct. There is also a pic of Preddy's "Tarheel" with the name "Tarheel" on the Starboard side. If you notice in the Picture of him standing in front of the dragon there is no indication of repainting or the Name "Tarheel".

Hope this helps




Subject:    George Preddy
Date:             Tue, 02 May 2000 16:55:54 -0400
From:           Joe Noah <noahbjr@kerrlake.com>

CC:             Sam Sox <kopykat@beachaccess.net>

Sam Sox referred me to your story on the collision of Preddy & Sauber in July 1942. First, let me congratulate you on the interest you have shown in WWII. You have developed a great web site. We may stay in touch much easier now.

There should be two books in the Darwin library: Wings God Gave My Soul, Joseph W. Noah, 1974; George Preddy, Top Mustang Ace, Joe Noah & Sam Sox, Jr., 1991 & 1999. Both document the collision with eye witness sources. Lt. Sauber was diving on Lt. Preddy when the collision occurred.

Keep up the good work,

Joe Noah, George Preddy's cousin

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Click on book more more details

George Preddy
Top Mustang Ace

The complete combat biography
of a 27-victory ace

By Joe Noah and Samuel L. Sox, Jr.


Preddy Memorial Foundation



Subject:    Darwin Kittyhawks- email from Buz 11/27/99
Date:             Thu, 15 Jun 2000 10:50:02 -0400
From:           Sam Sox <kopykat@beachaccess.net>

After some looking I located this drawing (see below) which the original was prepared by Donalson and sent to a fellow researcher who comes from Ludmilla NT. Name Bob Alford. You may want to check with him as he recovered about 12 pieces of Tarheel and gave them to the Greensboro North Carolina Historical Museum on our behalf. If you can get this to come up let me know and I will keep trying until I get it to you.

Cheers. Sam

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Subject:     MID-AIR COLLISION JULY 1942
Date:              Wed, 28 Jun 2000 09:43:31 -0400
From:            Joe Noah <noahbjr@kerrlake.com>

CC:                Ted Merrill <twmerrillsr@earthlink.net>, Sam Sox <kopykat@beachaccess.net>

Dear Sirs:

Thanks much for including a write-up on George Preddy in your web site. However, we would be happier if you would correct the mistake made. This accident occurred on July 12, 1942 (now fixed - Peter). According to I. B. Jack Donalson who was there and one of them, there were four in the flight:

Donalson, Preddy, Sauber and Taylor. Preddy and Taylor were the guinea pigs; that is, they were flying straight and level while Donalson and Sauber made passes at them. Donalson was flying wing to Sauber when the accident occurred. On one of the passes, Sauber P-40 collided with Preddy's, hitting it just behind the cockpit. Sauber had misjudged his attack; perhaps the sun got in his eyes. Donalson later recalled that Sauber was too close to Preddy when he started his pass.

This story is told in detail on pages 46-48 of GEORGE PREDDY, TOP MUSTANG ACE, Motorbooks International, 1991.


Joe Noah



Subject:    The Fighters at Humpty Doo
Date:             Wed, 28 Jun 2000 09:47:40 -0400
From:           Joe Noah <noahbjr@kerrlake.com>

Dear Sirs:

Another source for the Preddy/Sauber story is the Reader's Digest article that appeared in 1942 by Lucien Hubbard.

Joe Noah


NOTE:- Gordon Birkett's information gave the date of this crash as 10 July 1942.



I'd like to thank Joe Noah, Sam Sox, Craig Busby, Stephen Frwaley and Gorden Birkett for their assistance with this home page.



"Protect & Revenge"
"The 49th Fighter Group in World War II"
by S.W. Ferguson & William K. Pascalis


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 Peter Dunn 2015


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This page first produced 23 November 1999

This page last updated 05 September 2015