KITS 01/2023

80th FS, 8th FG, Port Moresby, New Guinea, Autumn 1942

On August 26, 1942, the formation of Airacobras of 80th

FS managed to ambush Japanese Zeros taking off from

the Buna airbase and shoot down six of them during two

attacks with two more claimed as damaged. The interesting fact is, that it all happened due to the “lucky” naviga-

tional error. Owing to the minimal activity of the Japanese

air forces over New Guinea during the second half of 1942,

these were the only kills credited to 80th FS in the course

of 1942. George T. Helveston and Gerald T. Rogers claimed

one Zero each, so it is therefore highly probable that Aira-

cobra carrying Y letter code and kill marking belonged to

one of these airmen. Black painted propeller spinner and

vertical tail surface are very unusual and not documented

on any other Airacobra operating over New Guinea. The

aircraft also featured replacement rudder.

AP356, Lt. Edward J. Kurt, 35th FS, 8th FG, Milne Bay, New Guinea, 1942–1943

Airacobra named “Earthquake McGoon” was personal aircraft of Lt. Edward J. Kurt and flew with 35th FS from Gurney

Field built on the Eastern peninsula of New Guinea island

during 1942/43. Lt. Kurt joined the squadron in August 1942

after he received his transfer orders at 15th FG based on

Hawaiian Islands. His Airacobra sports the standard British

camouflage scheme, however with many repair patches on

the surface. There is a color touch up with darker grey paint

on the aircraft nose lower part and patches in distinctly

darker green color are visible on the fuselage. Another

curiosity is the cockpit door salvaged from the Airacobra

belonging to the sister 36th FS commander, Maj. McNay, who

left the position in October 1942. The artwork adorning the

left door was painted over during the aircraft service life

and in the pictures taken on Gurney Field it only the white

circle is apparent. Blue painted propeller spinner and top of

the vertical tail surface indicate that this Airacobra originated from 39th FS inventory. A single bomber kill marking

on the starboard side of the fuselage was probably achieved

by another pilot of the same unit since Lt. Kurt did not claim

any victory while serving with 35th FS.

67th FS, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, November 1942

P-400 listed in the squadron records as “Old 13” was

one of few original Airacobras delivered to 67th FS in

the spring of 1942 and still serving on Guadalcanal in

the beginning of 1943. Rudimentary conditions of the

remote Pacific airbases and lack of the spare parts

forced the ground personnel into many improvisations. Textbook example is the story of the “Old 13”

Airacobra which already crash-landed during her

service on New Caledonia and her wreck was cannibalized for the spare parts. 67th FS heavy losses after its transfer to Guadalcanal and the critical lack

January 2023

of the aircraft on the island caused the abandoned

Airacobra wreck to be restored to the airworthy condition after a complex repair. The aircraft received

a new wing and also a number of many fuselage panels and hatches had to be replaced. According to

the surviving repair record the replacement parts

were painted in Olive Drab/Neutral Grey colors and

therefore the Airacobra sported the unique display

of the British and American camouflage shades. Furthermore, the more powerful engine was installed,

and the damaged propeller blade was replaced by

another one balanced by pouring the melted plumb

into its tip. The instrument panel was furnished

with the essential gauges only, there were only holes after the rest of the instruments. This repaired

Airacobra was christened “The Resurrection” and

this inscription was painted on both sides of the

fuselage. Unfortunately, no photographic evidence exists so the inscription appearance is based

on another 67th FS airplane.

INFO Eduard