7 APRIL 1943


kittyhawk.jpg (10661 bytes)


The wreckage of RAAF P-40N-5-CU Kittyhawk, A29-462 was located on the western sand spit of Rattlesnake Island on 7 April 1943. 


(photo supplied by Clinton Kempnich)

A29-462 being salvaged by a crew on a beach with a Chev Blitz.
Salvage crew inspecting the undercarriage


Another Kittyhawk was recovered from roughly the same location in approximately 1982 by Keith Hopper. As A29-462 was the only P-40 known to have ever crashed on the island, it was initially assumed that this Kittyhawk recovered in about 1982 was A29-462.  

A29-462 had a cut down rear fuselage as was standard on the "-5" variant. Keith's recovered  fuselage does not have this modification, but does have all the other mods standard to the "N" model. With the assistance of Mr Charles Darby(P-40 authority) and Mr Gordon Clarke (www.adf-serials.com), Keith's airframe has now been identified as P-40N-1-CU RAAF Serial Number A29-446 (USAAF Ser No.42-104728). The aircraft saw action in New Guinea with 78 Squadron. A patched bullet hole in the rear fuselage supports this, and it was damaged in a landing accident at Cape Gloucester. The damage was repaired, and the aircraft continued with 78 Squadron until it was issued to 84 Squadron from 11 RSU following an engine change. When 84 Squadron converted to P-51's, A29-446 was transferred to 86 Squadron at the Bohle Airstrip, Townsville. It was finally written off following a gear up landing at the Bohle strip by F/Sgt Keith Nelson on the 8th of April 1945, and was converted to components by 6 CRD.


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P-40N Kittyhawk A29-446 of 86 Squadron
crash landed at Bohle River airfield on 8 April 1945

(Photo supplied by Peter Howard)


How the remains of A29-446 ended up on Rattlesnake Island, is a matter of conjecture. However the most plausible explanation is that 6 CRD transported the remains to the island for use as gunnery targets when they converted A29-462 to components. Keith Hopper is hoping that viewing the 6 CRD unit diaries will shed more light on the matter.


SOURCE:-   Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia

Crash:         No. 329

Position:     19.01 - 146.36

Department of Aviation Chart No:       3219



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


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 Peter Dunn 2015


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This page first produced 22 June 1999

This page last updated 30 August 2015