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At about 11 am on 5 February 1942, a USAAF P-40 Kittyhawk (Plane No. 13) piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Ralph G. Martin (0-424979) of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron (Provisional) crashed at Charleville Airfield in Queensland. It was one of a flight of fourteen P-40 aircraft led by Strauss that arrived at Charleville Airfield that morning. They had left Amberley Airfield earlier that morning on their way to Java. Charleville was their first refuelling stop. Another group of P-40s from the 3rd Pursuit Squadron had arrived earlier that morning led by 1st Lt. Grant Mahony, the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron. 13 Enlisted Men from the Squadron travelled with the P-40s in a C-53 transport.

The local Police Sergeant was at the airfield at the time and noticed that this P-40:-

"..... appeared to travel a distance of a couple of hundred yards on the near front wheel. The ground at this spot showed that the brakes were applied and the off front wheel showed a skid of about 27 ft."

"From this point on the Plane veered to the left and eventually ran off the runway a distance of 40 yards from the edge of the runway. From where the plane commenced to bear to the left from the centre of the Aerodrome to where it eventually crashed was 175 yards."

"There were seven distinct propeller blade marks on the ground about a yard apart 40 yards from where the crash occurred. A little further from this spot it could be seen that the propeller blades were sinking deeper into the ground until they became embedded in the ground so far that they turned the Plane completely on its back."

"When I arrived at the scene of the crash I noticed that the Plane was lying on its back. At this time the Pilot was in the cockpit, and there was not sufficient room to release him on account of the force of the plane crashing forcing a hole in the ground under the Cockpit."

"Several American Airmen and a number of men who are employed on the Aerodrome had arrived at the scene and all men assisted to lift the tail of the plane sufficiently to release the Pilot, Lieutenant Martin."

"On being released it was found that the Pilot was unconscious, and he was immediately rushed to Dr. Shannasy of Charleville for medical attention, and later conveyed to the General Hospital, Charleville. Dr. Shannasy's examination showed that the Pilot was suffering from concussion, shock, head injury and laceration of the left hand. He was conscious when admitted to hospital and talking. Dr. Shannasy stated that the injuries were probably not serious."

"The matter was purely accidental and no person was to blame for what occurred, the runway on the Aerodrome where the accident occurred was in good order."

The Police Sergeant guarded the aircraft until 2 pm and then handed control over to 2nd Lieutenant Henry G. Newman O-427617, who was in charge of a USAAF Servicing Detail of eight Enlisted Men based at Charleville Airfield at that time.


The above quotes are from the Police Report in the file on this crash in the Queensland State Archives. Details are as follows:-

Series ID - 16865
Item ID - 2177677
Record Type/Description/Departmental Numbers - Correspondence, police; Charleville Aerodrome - 5 Feb 1942 - American P40 fighter aeroplane - injured Lieut MARTIN; 1861M/22



Every Day a Nightmare
American Pursuit Pilots in the Defense of Java, 1941-1942

by William H. Bartsch



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This page first produced 3 September 2010

This page last updated 02 February 2020