COLLISION OF TWO KITTYHAWKS
NEAR ROSS RIVER AIRFIELD

ON 6
APRIL 1945
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

kittyhawk.jpg (10661 bytes)
Kittyhawk

 

At about 2:40pm on 6 April 1945, RAAF P-40N Kittyhawk, A29-1185 (#44-47805) piloted by Flying Officer Keith Henry Kearney (439836) collided with RAAF P-40N Kittyhawk A29-1220 (#44-47918) piloted by Flight Lieutenant James Alexander See (412195) one mile east of Ross River airfield near Townsville. The aircraft and pilots were attached to 84 Squadron RAAF.

Kittyhawk A29-1185 was No. 4 of Red Section during a formation flying exercise near the Ross River airfield. They were ordered to carry out a section break up for landing and F/O Keith Henry Kearney (439836) in A29-1185 did not wait the required time and climbed steeply possibly blinded by the sun and crashed into the starboard side behind the trailing edge of the wing of Kittyhawk A29-1220 which was No 3 of Red Section. There was an explosion and the aircraft separated. F/O Kearney appeared to level his Kittyhawk off but then crashed 200 yards from the other Kittyhawk and burst into flames killing him. Flight Lieutenant James Alexander See (412195) was killed in the ensuing explosion and crash with his aircraft being totally burnt out.

Flying Officer Kearney was apparently engaged to a Betty Smith at the time of his death. Betty is believed to have been a WAAAF working in the transport area in Townsville. Does anyone know any more details on Betty Smith?

 

Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 2 May 1945

ROLL OF HONOUR

KEARNEY. April 6, 1945 lost his life when the plane of which he was pilot was involved in a collision in mid-air, at Townsville, Flying-Officer Keith Henry Kearney, younger son of Mr. and Mrs. J. T. A. Kearney, and brother of Laurie, of Bogan Gate, N.S.W., aged 24 years. R.I.P.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Diary of WWII - North Queensland"
Complied by Peter Nielsen

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

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

"The Flying Officer from Bogan Gate"
by Cliff Kearney

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Dan Fredericks, Rebecca Lundy, Frankie Bouquiaux and Gordon Clarke for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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This page first produced 4 July 1999

This page last updated 21 December 2018