ON 9 MARCH 1942

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On the afternoon of 9 March 1942 Queensland Police at Cairns Police Station were advised at about 4:20pm that there had been an aeroplane crash at the Cairns Aerodrome.

When two Queensland Police officers, Constable Jenkin and Constable Langusch arrived on site, they found that the aircraft had been destroyed by fire. The Queensland Police Manual, General Instruction No. 40 (7), prevents Police from interviewing RAAF or other Defence Force members in relation to such incidents. Police did however interview Mr. Douglas Grosset, who was a mechanic employed by Airlines of Australia at Cairns Airfield. Mr. Grosset advised Police that he saw the aircraft taking off from one of the runways, and it appeared to crash into a heap of obstacles which were placed on one side of the runway, just after leaving the ground. The aircraft then fell to the ground and appeared to catch fire. Mr Grosset refused to give or sign any written statements about the incident as he he had been advised not to do so.

As the Cairns Airfield was a Prohibited Area, Police were unable to locate any other civilians to interview who may have seen the crash. The Police Report stated as follows:-

"We made an examination of the scene of the accident and the remains of the plane, and from all appearances the plane had struck the obstacle, which appeared to have been under fire evidently burning oil or petrol. It had then come to the ground, and had travelled for a distance of about 70 yards, leaving parts of the plane along the whole distance. The plane then came to a stop, and was almost completely destroyed by fire. One wing, evidently the left one, had been broken off, and was not damaged by fire to any great extent."

The Flight Lieutenant from the RAAF Detachment at the Cairns Airfield advised that the pilot of the aircraft, Lt James T. Hutchison O-431885, was only slightly injured and had been conveyed to the Cairns District Hospital. The pilot suffered an incised wound over his right eye and he suffered severe shock.

Gordon Birkett confirmed that this aircraft was P-40E Kittyhawk #41-5572 (#16) from the 7th Provisional Squadron of the 49th Pursuit Group. There were no other USAAF P-40E units around at that time.



Police Files on Aircraft Crashes in Queensland File A/64580J13 at Queensland State Archives.



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This page first produced 4 June 2014

This page last updated 22 July 2021