CRASH OF AN A-20A HAVOC
INTO MORETON BAY
NEAR BRISBANE, QLD
ON 5 JULY 1942
An A-20A Havoc, #40-3154, of the 89th Bomb Squadron, 3rd Bomb Group, crashed into Moreton Bay, near Brisbane on 5 July 1942. 1st Lieutenant Richard "Dick" Birnn (0-403701) was on a test flight in the A-20A Havoc, when it cartwheeled into the waters of Moreton Bay. Dick Birnn was killed in this tragic accident. The 89th Squadron was the first to be equipped with the A-20's which had been shipped from the United States in crates. They were then assembled in Brisbane and test flown before being flown to Charters Towers.
A total of 10 A-20's were lost in in the first few months of operation of the 89th Squadron. One of the reasons for the incidents were mismanagement of fuel requirements. In another incident, a crew chief ran an A-20A into the Group Operations hut in Charters Towers during an engine run-up.
The following is an extract from the 90th Combat Log which would seem to suggest he was with the 90th Squadron rather than the 89th Squadron:-
On July 5th Lt. Richard R. Birnn in Brisbane on official relief from combat zone, was testing an A-20a and from unknown causes crashed to his death. He had flown some 14 combat missions, been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Silver Star and had flown 140 combat hours without injury to his crew. His loss was deeply felt by the squadron and the group.
Another source states that this aircraft was #40-3152, rather than #40-3154.
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War II American Personnel Missing in Action in the South Pacific"
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This page first produced 9 February 1999
This page last updated 9 February 1999