CRASH OF A KITTYHAWK
NEAR ROCKHAMPTON
ON 22 SEPTEMBER 1945

 

kittyhawk.jpg (10661 bytes)
Kittyhawk

 

RAAF P-40N Kittyhawk, A29-915, (USAAF No. 44-7292) of 82 Squadron RAAF crashed near Dingo, west of Rockhampton at 1030 hours on 22 September 1945. A witness at Balcomba Station stated that after hearing an aircraft flying in a severe local storm he saw smoke from a crash approximately six miles to the west of the homestead. A detailed examination of the wreckage showed that structural failure had occurred in the air to the starboard mainplane which had broken away, which was probably due to excessive load and/or speed, resulting from the aircraft getting out of control in bad and rough weather conditions.

The war had ended and 23 year old RAF Pilot Officer Robert George William Portas (177602) attached to 2 Aircraft Depot Richmond (2 AD) had taken off from Garbutt airfield headed for No. 6 Aircraft Depot at Oakey Airfield where A29-915 was destined to be stripped and melted down for scrap metal. He was accompanied on the flight by two other Kittyhawks A29-690 and A29-622 and Beaufighter A9-256. Somewhere west of Rockhampton F/O Portas had to divert westwards around a bad storm. The other aircraft were able to land at Mackay and Rockhampton. When A29-915 was near the town of Dingo, west of Rockhampton, it suffered engine failure and crashed. F/O Portas bailed out but he hit some trees before his parachute could open. He was buried in the Rockhampton cemetery.

Many of the local farmers and property owners collected various pieces of the crashed aircraft. Bill Martin was trying to restore this aircraft and was successful in recovering the pieces that various people had taken from the crash site. They were all relocated to Oakey for the restoration.

This aircraft had been delivered to the RAAF in July 1944.

Robert Portas was posted to Australia for duty with 54 Squadron and arrived in Australia on 27 April 1943. After a course at No. 2 OTU RAAF Flight Sergeant Portas was posted to 54 Squadron for duty on 28 September 1943. He was commissioned as an officer on 7 July 1944 with effect from 1 January 1944. On completion of his first tropical tour he was posted south on 23 July 1944 and after a period of leave was posted for duty to A.G.S. West Sale on 9 October 1944 and then at his own request to 2 A.D. Richmond on 26 November 1944. He was employed by the RAAF on testing and ferrying aircraft until his death.

 

REFERENCE BOOK

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

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

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 28 January 2001

This page last updated 30 August 2015