FORCED LANDING OF TWO P-39
IN BURDEKIN RIVER NEAR HOME HILL, QLD
ON 5 OCTOBER 1942
At about 1:50pm on 5 October 1942, a P-39 Airacobra from the 40th Fighter Squadron based at Antil Plains airfield collided with the Post and Telegraph wires suspended over the Burdekin River at the Railway Bridge near Home Hill. Mr James Hollywood, the caretaker at the Inkerman Sugar Mill, Carstairs near Home Hill reported the accident to the local Police Station.
Police Sergeant 2/C J.H. Cooke set out to search for the downed aircraft. After patrolling a considerable stretch of the river the Police ascertained that local residents had discovered the aircraft in the bed of the Burdekin River about 4 miles downstream from the Railway Bridge.
Police arrived at the scene and interviewed the pilot Lieutenant Herbert Kohrs of the 40th Fighter Squadron. His only injury was a small laceration to his scalp. The propeller blades on the aircraft and the wings were badly damaged.
On interviewing The Police Report stated as follows:-
"Lt Kohrs he stated that at the time in question he was flying the aeroplane at a low altitude, flying downstream over the Burdekin River. He was accompanied by other aircraft and when in the vicinity of the Railway bridge which spans the Burdekin River at Carstairs, near Home Hill, he looked to the side of his plane to ascertain the position of his flight leader, while his attention was thus drawn from his course the wings of the plane struck Post and Telegraph wires and Railway wires which are suspended over the river in the vicinity of the Railway bridge."
"As a result of the impact with the wires the starboard side wing was damaged to such an extent that the aeroplane could not be kept under proper control. After travelling a distance of approximately four miles, following a course over the river bed, he came to the conclusion that he would be unable to return to his base with the plane so decided to make a 'pan-cake' landing, that is a landing with the under carriage in a folded position. He selected a patch of sand in the river bed, clear of the water and landed at a speed of about 100 miles an hour. The plane eventually same to a standstill in an upright position, facing practically in the direction from which it had came"
Lieutenant Williams of the USAAF arrived at the scene at about 6:30pm and placed a guard over the damaged aircraft.
Soon after the above aircraft crashed a number of other P-39 Airacobras flew over the scene and another aircraft piloted by Lieutenant James Hebert made a forced landing in the river bed about 1.5 miles upstream from the other crashed aircraft when he ran short of fuel. There was some damage to the propeller blades and the pilot was uninjured. Police Constable Ensinger from Ayr arrived at the scene of the second crash and stayed there until Lieutenant Williams placed a guard over the second aircraft.
Aircraft Crashes Police Files A/64580/13
Queensland State Archives
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This page first produced 18 April 2014
This page last updated 17 June 2017