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In mid February 1942, a group of 25 Kittyhawks left Amberley on their way to Perth to be partially disassembled and placed on ships for Java. Major Pell of the 33rd Pursuit Squadron (Provisional), led the second flight of 15 Kittyhawks. 

When they reached Port Pirie, Major Pell and his group of 15 Kittyhawks were diverted to Darwin for convoy escort duty to Timor. They were then to be ferried to Koepang in Java. Only 12 of the Kittyhawks made it to Daly Waters and of these only 10 made it to Darwin on 17 February 1942. After reaching Darwin, they had tried to follow the lead B-17 to Timor on 18 February 1942 but had to turn back due to fog. They stayed the night in Darwin hoping for clearer weather the next day.

On 14 February 1942, a USAAF P-40E Kittyhawk, Serial No. #389?, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant R.E. Pingree of the 33rd Pursuit Squadron (Provisional) crashed on the airfield at Port Pirie in South Australia. It spun out of control into the ground and caught fire. It was a total loss.

Pingree had some problems with his gun system. After a number of test flights to get his guns working he did a slow roll over the airfield but his aircraft dived into the swampy ground near the airfield. He was buried the following day.

On that same day, Major Floyd J. Pell and the rest the rest of his unit (10 aircraft) flew off towards Darwin arriving there on 15 February 1942. Four other aircraft had become unserviceable while at Port Pirie.

NOTE:- While the document referenced below gives the date as 19 February 1942 it is more likely to be the 14 February 1942 or an earlier date. Can anyone please confirm?

The following information was from the American Battle Monuments Commission Home Page:-

Richard E. Pingree

Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces


33rd Pursuit Squadron

Entered the Service from: Utah 

Died: February 19, 1942

Honolulu Memorial:  Honolulu, Hawaii 



Document prepared by 1st Lt. Elmore G. Brown, titled:-

"Headquarters, USA Air Forces in Australia
A-4. Aircraft Movements Status & Statistics Section
Location and Status of Damaged Aircraft in Australia"

"Darwin's Air War - 1942-1945. An Illustrated History"
By the Aviation Historical Society of the Northern Territory (Bob Alford)



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This page first produced 9 June 2001

This page last updated 10 September 2018