Kittyhawk flight inspires heroic memories
THE magnificent sound of the Allison V12 engine in that famous World War II Curtis P40 Kittyhawk thundered over my house and had me grabbing the binoculars, and then driving out to Wangaratta airport.
Doug Hamilton’s beautifully restored warbird was taking a deserving passenger for a flight he would never forget in the normally single seat fighter aircraft on this sunny September afternoon.
Seventy-five years ago our RAAF 75 Squadron, led by squadron leader Peter Jeffery and the brothers John and Les Jackson, comprising 40 such Kittyhawks flew out from Townsville to Port Moresby to arrest the might of the Japanese navy maritime aircraft based in Lae on the northern side of New Guinea who were equipped with the superior Mitsubishi A6M Zero Fighter.
Those Kittyhawks of 75 Squadron fought valiant multiple daily sorties against the Imperial invasion forces and were reduced to only three serviceable aircraft and five surviving pilots over the next 44 days.
The loss of pilots was horrendous but those 44 days delayed the inevitable invasion of Port Moresby, which if used as a Japanese base, Queensland would surely suffer.
Following closely, the USA led battle of the Coral Sea blunted the Japanese naval aircraft carrier fleet which became the beginning of the end of the threat to Australia.
Pilot Doug Hamilton roared his P40 over the Wangaratta aerodrome, climbed straight up into a corkscrew, flipped over the top off a loop, and magnificently rolled to level and thundered along the runway at 50 feet, that Allison V12 engine singing those dulcet tones relished by ordinary people like me.
Roger Guley, Wangaratta