DITCHING OF A C-47
INTO SEA 30 MILES FROM COAST
BETWEEN COOKTOWN AND CAIRNS, QLD
IN JULY 1942

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A C-47 Dakota Troop Carrier aircraft on a routine personnel haul from Port Moresby encountered enemy flak after crossing some mountains. An anti-aircraft shell entered the aircraft through the floor at about a 45 degree angle from the front and lodged in a soldier's pack. It did not explode. The pilot left the area hurriedly and delivered his troops to their destination. Upon return to Port Moresby and assessment revealed that the aircraft need to fly back to the Townsville Air Depot for repairs.

The aircraft left Port Moresby with a full load of fuel and two passengers going on sick leave who had persuaded the pilot to take them to Australia. During the flight the right propeller suddenly ran away. The oil pressure failed and the right propeller was feathered. The left propeller then started to run away and oil pressure also began to drop. They were at about 1,500 feet when the trouble started.

The radio operator was instructed to transmit an SOS and report their position. He turned on the Liaison Transmitter when teh left propeller began to fail but all power was lost before the message could be transmitted.

The order to prepare for ditching was given when the aircraft was at about 1,000 feet. There was a low overcast and the C-47 was flying below it. The crew chief and passengers prepared emergency equipment for escape and braced themselves for ditching. The pilot, co-pilot and Radio Operator braced themselves in their normal positions.

Light conditions were good. There was approximately 600 gallons of fuel still onboard. The sea was rough with large swells. The pilot made a normal approach being careful to get the tail down. The approach speed during the glide was approximately 90 miles per hour. The pilot landed parallel to the swells and on top of the swell. They ditched into the Coral Sea about 30 miles off the coast between Cooktown and Cairns at about 1500 hours local time in July 1942.

 

NOTE:- It is possible that this may be the same accident as a C-50 ditching between Townsville and Cooktown on 12 November 1942.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Edward Rogers and Gordon Birkett for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 3 October 2013

This page last updated 07 December 2017