CRASH OF A P-40E KITTYHAWK
15 MILES NORTH EAST OF WEIR AIRFIELD
ON 21 MAY 1942
P-40E Kittyhawk A29-37 of 76 Squadron RAAF piloted by Sergeant Alan Bryant Martin (402245) dived vertically to the ground during a training dogfight with Sergeant Raymond Edward Barker (405711) and crashed 15 miles north east of Weir Airfield at Aitkenvale in Townsville at about 0900 hours on 21 May 1942. The crash site was about 3 miles north of Mount Black.
Kittyhawk A29-37 was one of six Kittyhawks taking part in formation practice to 20,000 feet after which the aircraft were to split into pairs and prepare and practice "follow the leader" and dog-fighting.
The Commanding Officer of 76 Squadron took off and pinpointed the position of the crash. An ambulance was dispatched to the location. Flight Lieutenant Norman Ludlow Newman, a Medical Officer in the ambulance stated that they found that the aircraft had dived vertically into the ground and the engine was buried about 6 feet below the surface of the ground. An explosion had occurred and thrown parts of the aircraft out to one side a distance of about sixty feet.
Sergeant Raymond Edward Barker (405711) stated his recollections of the crash at the Court of Inquiry, as follows:-
"At 0835 hours on 21st May 1942, I took off in a formation of six, led by Flight Lieutenant Meehan to do one and a half hours formation and dog-fighting.
After we had climbed to 20,000 feet in formation Flight Lieutenant Meehan signalled up by R/T to break away and commence dog-fighting in pairs which we did. In the ensuing melee I got on to Sergeant Martin's tail - my No. 1 having climbed into the sun and and lost me. We were dog-fighting for about five minutes during which time we lost a considerable amount of height.
I was on Sergeant Martin's tail, which he apparently did not know, as his manoeuvres were all very gentle. He did one or two rolls, which I followed through. I then thought that he was about to do another one and did not bother to follow him round. I next noticed him in a steep turn and I lost sight of him. When I next saw him he was going down vertically spinning very fast.
I then lost sight of him under the wing and the next thing that I saw was a red glow coming up through filmy cloud.
I then flew home and landed."
Sgt Alan Bryant Martin was killed instantly in this tragic crash. He was buried on the 22 May 1942 and on 23 August 1942 his body was exhumed along with others which were then concentrated in "A" Plot in the New Military Section of the Townsville Cemetery, on 23 August 1942, Grave No. A.A.15. This is now called the Townsville War Cemetery.
Wreckage of the P-40E Kittyhawk was recovered by the RAAF in 1972.
RAAF Casualty Database - Sergeant Alan Bryant Martin
I'd like to thank Gordon Birkett, Daniel Leahy and Phil Bailey for their assistance with this web page.
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 20 August 2015
This page last updated 02 February 2020