BRUCE GRAHAM'S RESEARCH NOTES
ON THE 8TH FIGHTER GROUP

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visits since 22 December 2001

 

8th Fighter Group Home Page

 

Squadrons 33rd 1932-Jul41 To Iceland.

35th 1932-Beyond WWII.

36th Ditto

80th 10Jan42- Beyond WWII.

Aircraft Bell P-39D Airacobra.

P-39Q from first half 1943.

Curtiss P-40.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

Note. The different squadrons had different aircraft at different times.

Alias 36th Sqn Flying Fiends

80th Sqn Headhunters

[from Sqn signposts in photos, 158P82]

[80th Sqn still had that alias in Korea]

Command Smith Frederick H Jr 

Wise Lt Col Jul42 99P96

Fame 35th and 36th Sqns were the first US fighter squadrons in New Guinea. Both these
squadrons had been raised in 1917.

Score. From Apr42 to war end, 8th Gp claimed 443 air victories, 80th Sqn claiming 224 of
these. 202P571, etc



Movement. 

8th F Group. 208P47

Nov40-26Jan42 Mitchel Field, NY

6Mar42 Brisbane, Aust.

29Jul42 Townsville, Aust.

18Sep42 Milne Bay, NG.

Feb43 Mareeba, Aust.

16May43 Port Moresby.

23Dec43 Finschhafen

c20Feb44 Cape Gloucester, New Britain.

14Mar44 Nadzab

17Jun44 Owi, Schouten Is's.

19Sep44 Morotai

20Dec44 San Jose, Mindoro, PI.



35th F Sqn. 185P168

Nov40-26Jan42 Mitchel Fld, NY. 

6Mar42 Brisbane, Aust. 

26Apr42 Port Moresby 

29Jun42 Woodstock 

27Jul42 Garbutt 

18Sep42 Milne Bay 

24Feb43 Mareeba 

10May43 Port Moresby 

--Jun43 -- got P-40K and N. 201P32

25Dec43 Finschhafen 

19Feb44 Cape Gloucester P-40

14Mar44 Nadzab 

1Jul44 Owi 

4Oct44 Morotai 

5Nov44 Dulag, PI 

---Ops from Morotai 5-28Nov44,

20Dec44-9Aug45 San Jose, Mindoro ** See text!

36th F Sqn. 185P172

Nov40-26Jan42 Mitchel Fld, NY 

6Mar42 Brisbane, Aust. 

13Mar43 Lowood 

4Apr42 Garbutt [Antil Plains, says 191P29]

26Apr42 Port Moresby 

30Jun42 Garbutt 

18Sep42 MilneBay 

22Feb43 Mareeba 

22May43 Port Moresby 

--Oct43 -- Finish with P-39Q, get P-47D.

22Dec43 Nadzab 

9Jan44 Finschhafen 

14Mar44 Nadzab 

17Jun44 Owi 

19Sep44 Morotai 

5Nov44 Dulag, PI 

5-30Nov44 ---Ops from Morotai 

20Dec44-6Aug45 San Jose, Mindoro ** See text!



80th F Sqn. 

6Jan42 Constituted 

10Jan42 Activated 

10-26Jan42 Mitchel Fld, NY 

6Mar42 Brisbane, Aust 

28Mar42 Lowood 

10May42 Petrie 

20Jul42 Port Moresby 

8Nov42 Milne Bay 

6Feb43 Mareeba to re-equip with P-38

21Mar43 Kila, Port Moresby 191P155, P-38

11Dec43 Dobodura 

28Feb44 Cape Gloucester P-38

25Mar44 Nadzab 

18Jun44 Owi 

20Sep44 Morotai 

15Nov44 Dulag, PI 

15-30Nov44 ---Ops from Morotai 

20Dec44-5Aug45 San Jose, Mindoro ** See text!



8th Fighter Control Squadron. 

9Dec42 Activated, Mitchel Field, NY.

12Feb42 Depart San Francisco on Maui.

6Mar42 Land at Brisbane. To Ascot, then to Archerfield. 





158P82

8th P Gp once was known as Langley Field's 'Flying Circus' for distinguished visitors.

19P75

Shows a P-36A belonging to 35th P Sqn during 1939-40, while that unit was at Langley Field,
Virginia, in transition to new quarters at Mitchel Field, New York.

25Jul41 100P130

USS Wasp takes 30 P-40Cs of 33rd Sqn, 8th F Gp, to Iceland, arriving perhaps Aug41.

10Jan42 <BG>

80th P Sqn was activated at Mitchel Field, NY, assigned to 8th P Gp as its third pursuit
squadron, so replacing 33rd Sqn which had been re-assigned from 8th P Gp to Iceland in Aug41.

26Jan42 <BG> 

8th P Gp and its P squadrons 35th, 36th, 80th, and 8th F Control Sqn all cease listing at
Mitchel Field, NY. They are on their way to San Francisco, ultimately to Australia.

12Feb42 153P 16P58 299P27

8th P Gp departed San Francisco for Australia on the Maui which had been delayed a few days
by mechanical trouble.

6Mar42 153P 16P58 299P28

8th P Gp landed at Brisbane from the Maui. The bulk of its aircraft and tractors were landed
at Adelaide.

Arrived off Brisbane 5Mar42, dock & debark 6Mar42. First camp ashore was at Ascot racecourse.

153P206 also gives 10Mar42 as arrive Brisbane date.

153P285

Due to the congestion at Brisbane and Sydney docks, the ship carrying 8th Gp P-39s was
directed to Adelaide to unload.

9Mar42 153P282 

8th P Gp with Bell P-39 Airacobra was preparing to assume air defence of Brisbane, and 35th P
Gp with P-400 (export model P-39s) were moving into position in defence of Sydney area.

USAAF fighters continued to be assembled at the Amberley and Geelong erection depots.

internet 80th Sqn

Manny Pedroso was a medic in 80th Sqn. He travelled New York to San Francisco by train, to
Brisbane on the Maui , to temporary camp at Ascot racetrack. He was stationed at Archerfield,
Lowood, and Petrie. On 20Jul42 was shipped to Port Moresby. 8Nov42 they moved to Milne Bay.
At Milne Bay, most of the personnel contracted malaria. On 6Feb43 the transferred to Mareeba,
Aust, and returned to Port Moresby in Mar43.

internet 80th Sqn

Frank Cicerello story, radio man. 22Nov41 he was transferred into newly forming 80th Gp.
26Jan42 boarded train New York to San Francisco. Depart San Francisco 12Feb42 on Maui. 5Mar42
they anchored off Brisbane, docked at Brisbane 0730 6Mar42. 15Mar42 move to Archerfield.
31Mar42 move to Lowood.

12Mar42 299P28

35th Sqn moved to Eagle Farm strip, the first patrol missions were flown from this strip.

Photo shows Lt Ben Greene, CO of 35th Sqn in front of tented accommodation at Eagle Farm.

13Mar42 299P28

36th Sqn moved to Lowood.

cMar42 191P29

Some junior pilots of 49th Gp were transferred to 8th Gp, making way in 49th Gp for more
experienced pilots returning from Java. Some pilots from 9th Sqn 49th Gp were assigned to
36th Sqn 8th Gp.

36th Sqn at Lowood had some P-39D, and some they took to New Guinea were P-39F.

18Mar42 2P470

In Australia, the US had in commission 85 Airacobras -- 

33 P-39s, and 52 P-400s.

20Mar42 299P28

36th Sqn had twenty planes, some assembly work was still being completed.

24 new pilots have just arrived and training them has begun. 36th Sqn is alone at Lowood
except for an ordnance outfit. Next day about 20 men of 35th Sqn arrive Lowood to lend a
hand.

At this time 80th Sqn was based at Lowood with meagre staffing.

153P359

8th P Gp, 'The Flying Cobras', with P-39 Airacobras were sent to Townsville area. Some men
were flown to Townsville, others went by rail.

At Townsville they regrouped.



Airacobras to Port Moresby , first brief visit.

Visit dates c5-c11Apr42

Aircraft six Airacobra. [6971 & 6942 listed 99P-]

RAAF 75 Sqn hosted them during their stay at Port Moresby.

99P40 - says on the night before the flight to Port Moresby from Townsville, General Smith
called for volunteers for this operation.

<BG> From this, I gather the op was a rushed requirement, and important, such as escorting
B-26s or providing garrison cover for them at Port Moresby. At very least, it seems to be
more than just a familiarisation trip.

Reports on this first brief visit vary. 

The most common theme is that Lt Faletta led five other P-39s to Port Moresby to gain
experience and learn from RAAF 75 Sqn. It was to be a top-secret exercise.

99P40 - says Lt Lewis Meng was leader of this exercise.

One report has it that they had B-26 escort, while Falletta maintains there was no escort.

5Apr42 Six Airacobras were at Port Moresby seven mile airstrip --- this is never mentioned in
conjunction with the fact that US 22nd B Gp flew seven B-26s in to Port Moresby on 5Apr42,
stayed overnight to fly a raid next day.

59P143 [Gwynn-Jones] tells that Falletta in P-39 No 6951 shot down a Zero, and this aircraft
with another pilot flying it, also destroyed a Japanese bomber.

Another report, 99P39 [Wilson], has it that only on one day did they [two Airacobra] [Lts
Falletta in 6942 and Meng in 6971] intercept Japanese, and no result ensued.

115P79 has Falletta doing 17 combat missions in five days - perhaps that includes the other
five pilots as well. Also they claimed three Japanese aircraft destroyed.

P Phelan in AirPower,Jun 92 repeats [or initiates] the claim of Faletta doing 17 missions.
<BG> In six days???

99P40 - Falletta thinks he flew 3-5 missions, records were lost.

11Apr42 -- the six Airacobra returned to Townsville.



35th and 36th Sqns, transfer to Port Moresby. 

26Apr42 US Archives & <BG>

72 Men and three officers of US 35th Sqn [and perhaps 36th Sqn] were flown from Townsville to
Port Moresby, by flying boat.

<BG> Not specifically said, but probably two Empire boats of 33 Sqn.

26Apr42 191P29 [Aces v Japan. Hammel]

36th Sqn departed Townsville for Port Moresby, stopping the night at Cairns. Both 35th and
36th Sqns made this move together, stayed Cairns during 27Apr42, flew to Horn Is on 28Apr42,
then next day to Port Moresby.

Apr42 158P23 [Pacific Sweep, V F Command]

P-39s moved to New Guinea and operated under the control of Lt Col Boyd D 'Buzz' Wagner.

<BG> Wagner was ex PI, ex Provisional Sqns, ex 49th Gp.

<BG> Not to lose sight that Wagner is i/c 35th and 36th Sqns of US fighter planes in New
Guinea, not 8th Gp. 80th Sqn and Gp HQ were still back at Brisbane.

<BG> Wagner was not an 8th Gp member - he was now higher position, Fighter Director of V
Fighter Command.

26Apr42 99P- -

Two Hudson and 19 P-39 depart Townsville.

Two Hudson and 15 P-39 land Cairns.

Two Hudson depart Cairns, one lands Horn Island, escorting two P-39.

Eight P-39 stayed Cairns.



26Apr42 36P30

A Flt 9 lose 7

B Flt 6 lose 2.

Sic says 15 P-39 depart Woodstock for Port Moresby, are of 35th and 36th Sqns. Refuel at
Cairns, then split into two flights. Six made it safely to Horn Island and Port Moresby.

28Apr42 167P37 [Pacific Sweep, Hess]

35th and 36th Sqns of 8th F Gp were despatched from Townsville to Port Moresby. Of 41 P-39s,
only 26 P-39s reached Port Moresby -- 13 from each squadron.

94P64 says seven P-39 of 15 were lost in bad weather, then a few days later the score was 15
down out of 33.

Date not said [c26Apr42] 94P64 [Wings Around Us.]

The two 24 Sqn Wirraway which had been on reconnaisance missions at Princess Charlotte Bay
were ordered from Cairns to search for seven [sic] Airacobra missing in bad weather on Cape
York Peninsula. A third 24 Sqn Wirraway from Stock Route strip, pilot P Off Wilmot, joined
pilots Davies and Kelly in the search. Soon, 15 Airacobras of 33 were down.

<BG> 94P64 then gives a fairly general statement, no specifics, that Airacobras were down at
Princess Charlotte Bay, others at Port Stewart, and some at Cape Grenville [sic], that the 0
Wirraways operated from Coen and Cooktown, landed on beaches and rescued downed pilots. Their
search efforts took them to Horn Island.

Specific date not said Flypast, Oct84P14

33 Airacobras originally set out from Townsville. They encountered bad conditions. Half the
aircraft were forced to break formation, 14 force landed that day on Cape York Peninsula.

27Apr42 Airpower,Jun92. [Phelan]

Falletta was in charge of 16 [sic] Airacobras to be flown from Townsville to Port Moresby.

Eleven pilots were to leave Townsville this day, Lt Faletta would lead the remaining six a
few days later.

The first eleven struck bad weather, could not reach Horn Island, not enough fuel to return
to Cooktown, all ditched [sic] on east coast beaches, all pilots survived, rescued by small
ships.

1May42 - Faletta led the remaining six from Townsville, failed to reach Horn Island due to
weather, all six force landed, Faletta and Harvey on dry land, both OK.The other four
force-landed on beaches, one killed [Lt Lowe] three OK.

Late Apr42 Gwyn-Jones

35 fighters and a B-17 left Townsville, refuel at Cooktown, then encounter bad weather. 11
Airacobra force-land, 24 reach Port Moresby.

29Apr42[Zulu Time] 99P- -

<BG> Be careful - 29AprZ is not necessarily 29Apr local.

26 P-39 depart Horn Is.

2P547 -- says 26 P-39 reach Port Moresby.

30Apr42 28P37 [P-40 in Serv. Pentland]

26 Airacobras "fly in".

2P547 -- says 26 P-39 reach Port Moresby, does not give a date.

One report [undocumented by <BG>] says 24 Airacobra reached Port Moresby, 17 force-landed.

28Apr42 189P10 [P-39 In Action.]

Pilot Exum says 41 Airacobra were dispatched from Townsville, only 26 arrived Seven Mile
drome Port Moresby.

Pilot Exum says he was leading a flight of eight Airacobra. He doesn't say from where to
where, or if that eight lost any. 

It must be taken that he led the flight from Australia to Port Moresby, the article implies
this, he does not say otherwise.

Pilot Exum says he arrived in Australia in Apr42, so didn't sail/travel to Australia with the
main body of the group.

29Apr42 2P547 [Gillison]

26 P-39s of US 35th and 36th Sqns, 8th F Gp, were led into Port Moresby by Lt Colonel Boyd D
Wagner. Wagner had been appointed director of pursuit operations in Port Moresby area. 11
Airacobras were lost in transit.

Next day, 30Apr42, they lost four aircraft and pilots in a strike at Lae. They claimed three
enemy aircraft shot down



30Apr42 189P10 201P5 211P70

8th P Gp's first combat mission. 13 P-39D fly from Port Moresby to strafe Lae. Wagners report
said - they were out-numbered by Zeros, three P-39s were shot down, also four Zeros.

211P70 says Wagner was leading.

72P302 says they flew their first mission 30Apr42, strafe Lae and Salamaua. Lost four P-39s
of 13 dispatched.

30Apr42 18P94

RAAF 75 Sqn is relieved of Port Moresby air defence.





30Apr42 72P302

First operational mission flown by 35th and 36th Sqns.

<BG> ie, if one ignores the first brief visit to Port Moresby. 13 P-39 were dispatched to
strafe Lae and Salamaua, four were lost.

1May42 59P143 Gwynn-Jones.

Falletta leads the stragglers from Townsville, six P-39. The six refuelled at Cooktown and
departed at 1300 Hrs.

Unknown-source report says B-17 escort from Townsville.

All six force land, two inland on the cape, four on the beach.

P-39F 41-7215 Recovered by Mullins. [165P- -]

2May42 2P547

Seven Airacobra of 8th Gp and three P-40 of 75 Sqn took off to intercept a large formation of
enemy aircraft. One P-40 shot down, one crashed during take-off. Fate of Airacobras not said.

3May42 2P547

Eight Airacobras and one P-40 [the only flyable P-40 of 75 Sqn] intercept 20 enemy bombers
and their Zero escort.



115P259

35th F Sqn Woodstock 8May42

36th F Sqn Antil Plains 6May42

17May42 [sic] 298P136

P-400 [sic] 41-7122 of 36th Sqn 8th F Gp crashed into Bootless Inlet, Port Moresby. Pilot Lt
J M Bland returned to duty. <BG> Probably P-39F, due to American style number; yes 17May42.
Yes P-39F, see 189P18.

20May42 87P29

39th Sqn [pilot Lynch] gains first victories with P-400, over Port Moresby. [See above re
'first contingent' pilots.]

300P5 - says five US fighters were involved in this combat, names three pilots from 39th Sqn
and later names another, Lt Carey who bailed out, survived. Lynch's plane was shot up, but
landed safely. Says they were flying in co-operation with 35th Sqn.

Late May42 2P549

36th Sqn of 8th Gp had been in Port Moresby for a month, 35th Gp began to relieve them.

During the month 8th Gp estimated more than 40 enemy aircraft destroyed, their own cost was
20-25 Airacobra lost in combat, eight lost in forced landings, three lost on ground.

2Jun42 72P303

39th and 40th Sqns of 35th Gp fly first missions with P400.

Ergo, they have relieved 35th and 36th Sqns!

By 1Jun42 72P302 201P5

35th and 36th Sqns had lost :-

20 P-39 in combat

8 P-39 in crash landings

3 P-39 destroyed on the ground.

4Jun42 299P65

35th, 36th, and 80th Pursuit Squadrons officially name-changed to Fighter Squadrons.

29Jun42 36P41

35th and 36th Sqns debark [where not said] for a short staging period, and then move south.
[sic]

8th Group contributions ends, my own recordings continue to PI if useable.25Sep98.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Bruce Graham for his assistance with this home page. 

 

Can anyone help me with more information ?

 

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