At 1630 hours on 25 February 1944, a P-40 Kittyhawk #42-105306 landed on Gordon Strip at Iron Range and pulled up off the main runway on the right shoulder. Almost at once a P-47D-11-RA Thunderbolt #42-22973 piloted by 1st Lieutenant Mettler landed but did not touch down on the bitumen part of the runway. It was well over to the right with one wheel on the shoulder of the strip.

The P-47 continued on parallel with the strip in long low bounces. At the end of the fourth bounce the P-47 collided with the P-40 Kittyhawk. The main plane of of P-47 slid up the fuselage of the P-40 and struck the pilot 1st Lieutenant Marion J. Hawke (0-747264) of the 7th Fighter Squadron of the 49th Fighter Group on the back of the head severing his head and killing him instantly, also tearing away part of the wing of his aircraft. The P-47 proceeded on some distance before overturning. The pilot of the P-47, 1st Lieutenant Mettler was extricated from beneath the P-47 unharmed whilst his aircraft was badly damaged. 1st Lieutenant Hawke was returning to New Guinea from 2 weeks leave.

On 27 February 1944, officers of the USAAF arrived by air from Townsville and conducted an enquiry into the accident and conveyed 1st Lt Hawke's body to Townsville for burial.

The P-47 Thunderbolt was condemned on 2 March 1944. The aircraft wreckage was later sold to a fisherman who removed the aluminium from the wreckage which was late sold to Keith Hopper who placed the P-47 fuselage into storage. He plans to restore the P-47 Thunderbolt after he is finished restoring his P-40 Kittyhawk to flying status.

1st Lieutenant Marion J. Hawke was disinterred from the Townsville US Cemetery and reburied at the USAAF Ipswich Cemetery in south east Queensland on 25 June 1945. His body was returned to the USA after the war and was buried at Gibbon Riverside Cemetery..



"Protect & Avenge"
"The 49th Fighter Group in World War II"

By S.W. Ferguson & William K. Pascalis
A Schiffer Military History Book

Pacific Wrecks - P-47D-11-RA Thunderbolt Serial Number 42-22973

Find A Grave - Marion Hawke



I'd like to thank Gordon Birkett for his assistance with this web page.


Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?


I need your help


 Peter Dunn 2015


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any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
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This page first produced 16 July 2000

This page last updated 30 August 2015