CRASH OF A P-40E WARHAWK
3 MILES NORTH OF MAGNETIC ISLAND
OFF TOWNSVILLE, NORTH QUEENSLAND
ON 11 MAY 1943

 

2nd Lt Theodore S. Zendarski (ASN 0794379) flying P-40E-1 Warhawk # 41-35954 "Star Dust" was participating in an Aerial Gunnery mission flight with two other P-40E aircraft north of Magnetic Island off Townsville in north Queensland on 11 May 1943.

2nd Lt Zendarski completed the target shooting exercise with an Air Target Towing aircraft and lost control when he broke away from a flight of three P-40Es to start a series of slow rolls. Zendarski stalled his aircraft at 6500 ft, which then entered into an inverted spin which was not corrected in time. The aircraft crashed and cartwheeled into the sea about 3 miles north of Magnetic Island at 1210 hours on 11 May 1943 killing the pilot. His body was never recovered.

 


Photo:- Gordon Birkett Collection

P-40E Warhawk "Star Dust" #86

 


Photo:- Gordon Birkett Collection

P-40E Warhawk "Star Dust" #86

 

3 Fighter Sector Headquarters requested 41 Squadron RAAF to send out a crash boat to search for the downed P-40 and rescue the pilot. The Operations Record Book for 41 Squadron has the following entry:-

On request from No. 3 Fighter Sector, 08-12 proceeded on search at 1305 hours for P-40, reported to have crashed between Magnetic Island and Rattlesnakes Islands. After five hours search returned to TOWNSVILLE having found no trace of either aircraft or missing pilot. During time of search, no aircraft sighted which were supposedly assisting in location search.

 

RAAF Crash Boat 08-12 moored in Ross Creek, Townsville

 


Photo:- Gordon Birkett Collection

Capt Andy Reynolds sitting in P-40E Warhawk "Star Dust" #86

 

The aircraft and Pilot were assigned to the 5th Fighter Command Replacement Centre (5FCRC), Headquarters V Fighter Command, 5th AAF in Townsville.

2nd Lt Zendarski had 272 Hours 55 minutes flying hours at the time of this tragic accident. The two other Pilots of the accompanying P-40E-1s were 2nd Lts Robert Croft and Harry McCullough.

 

History of Aircraft from Gordon Birkett:- 2d Lt Theodore S. Zendarski speared in #41-35954 ET600 (Ex A29-125 #1)
New Orleans 2/3/42 to Australia originally A29-125 #1, re-issue USAAF 4/06/42. Flown in at Batchelor 10/05/42 with #75/#74 and #99. December 1942, aircraft transferred to 5FCRC ex 9thFS/49FG. Aircraft and Pilot with 5th Fighter Command Replacement Centre 5th AAF non-combat loss 1210 Hrs May 11, 1943 in the sea 3 miles north of Magnetic Island North Queensland Australia. 2nd Lt Theodore S. Zendarski, ASN 0794379 KIA on Aerial Gunnery mission flight when on completion of target shooting with Air Target Towing aircraft. Lost control when he broke away from flight of three P-40Es to start a series of slow rolls, which resulted in the pilot stalling his aircraft at 6500 ft, which then entered an inverted spin which was not corrected in time. Aircraft impacted and cartwheeled in sea near Station Z319 AP710. He had 272 Hours 55 mins up at the time. Two other Pilots of the two accompanying P-40E-1s were 2nd Lts Robert Croft and Harry McCullough. Engine V1710-39 FY 42-34281 at time of flight. Aircraft had TTHrs 306:35 at time of accident.

 

 

 

Note:- Another source shows this accident happening on 12 May 1943. 2nd Lt Zendarski is listed on the American Battle Monuments Commission web page and the date is shown at 11 May 1943.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Gordon Birkett for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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This page first produced 26 February 2011

This page last updated 14 March 2022