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In mid February 1942, a group of 25 Warhawks 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 Warhawks. 

When they reached Port Pirie, Major Pell and his group of 15 Warhawks were diverted to Darwin for convoy escort duty to Timor. They were then to be ferried to Koepang in Java. Only 12 of the Warhawks 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 Flying Fortress 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 19 February 1942, a USAAF P-40E Warhawk, Serial No. 41-5369, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Richard E. Pingree O-421661 of the 33rd Pursuit Squadron (Provisional), 14th Pursuit Group, crashed on the airfield at Port Pirie in South Australia. It spun out of control into the ground from about 5,000 feet 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. Four other aircraft had become unserviceable while at Port Pirie.

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 


NOTE:- Some records show the Serial No. for this aircraft as 389 (?). This is actually the Curtiss Wright Customer Sequence number which is the 389th P-40E produced for the USAAF.



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 27 September 2022