Kit­ty­hawk flight in­spires heroic mem­o­ries

Wangaratta Chronicle - - News -

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

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