8 APRIL 1945
CRASH OF A KITTYHAWK
AT BOHLE AIRFIELD,
NEAR TOWNSVILLE, QLD
RAAF P-40N-1 Kittyhawk, A29-446 (ex USAAF No. 42-104728), HU-S, of 86 Squadron RAAF was forced to belly land alongside the Bohle River airfield just north of Townsville on 8 April 1945. The Kittyhawk was piloted by Flight Sergeant Keith James Nelson (439665). This aircraft had been delivered to the RAAF in August 1943. On 25 May 1945 approval was given to convert to the wreckage to components at 6 CRD.
This Kittyhawk had been reallocated to 86 Squadron RAAF from 78 Squadron RAAF.
(Photo supplied by Peter Howard)
P-40N Kittyhawk A29-446 of 86
crash landed at Bohle River airfield on 8 April 1945
Kittyhawk A29-446 was recovered from the western sand spit of Rattlesnake Island near Townsville 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.
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.
John Knocker's uncle flew with 78 Squadron at Nooemfoor and Moratai. He returned to Australia before the Squadron progressed on Tarakan, as his operational time was considered to be up.
The squadron code of his kite was HU-S. John discovered that there was an aircraft A29-405 HU-S that collided with another aircraft in early 1944 at Tadji strip, New Guinea, and was written off. John's uncle joined the Squadron in mid 1944 and flew an aircraft with the markings HU-S. Could this be the above aircraft A29-446 perhaps?
I'd like to thank Keith Hopper, Gordon Clarke and Gordon Birkett for their assistance with this home page.
"Diary of WWII - North
Complied by Peter Nielsen
"Aircraft of the RAAF 1921- 71"
By Geoffrey Pentland & Peter Malone
"The Spitfire, Mustang & Kittyhawk in
by Stewart Wilson
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 4 July 1999
This page last updated 02 February 2020