Dave, pilots of 15 Sqdn whilst in Tonga flew mainly the 21 P-40E Kittyhawks (with USAAF 41-serials AND RAF serials), which carried codes between 1 and 24 (minus 17 to 19). They also had two P-40K-1s (short fuselage with the rather ugly vertical fin peculiar to this sub-type, 42-45958, -45959), coded 0 and 25 respectively, which were obviously replacement for the lost P-40Es (these were lost with the 68th Fighter Sqdn, USAAF). So yes, the a/c flown by Davis (always known as Max, he was introduced to me as such many years ago) in Tonga and to E/Santo (P-40E 41-25125, coded 7, later NZ3097) was quite a different aircraft to NZ3056/7, which he later flew to Guadalcanal. Note that Port Vila (not Villa) was in the then-New Hebrides (not New Caledonia). David D
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 19, 2019 22:15:15 GMT 12
I am going to revisit this thread and I am going to change my view that the photo in the original post was NZ3056.
Subsequent information that has come to light in my research suggests it is in fact ET449, which was also coded as '7', with No. 15 (Fighter) Squadron at Tongatapu, Tonga. The squadron took ET449 and the other aircraft to Fiji, then on to Espiritu Santo, and then back to Fiji, and then back to Santo where ET449 stayed till the P-40's were all withdrawn to New Zealand. I think it was at Santo that it assumed the new serial number NZ3097.
Here is the original post's photo
Here is a photo I found in the collection of Laurie Hamlet last week, and I think this is the same aircraft. It was take by the No. 15 Squadron photographer, and I am sure it is the same aircraft probably taken at the very same time. Laurie served with the Tongan P-40E's in Tonga, Fiji and Santo. He went on to Guadalcanal but not with those aircraft as the squadron took up new P-40K's. After that tour he and the squadron returned to NZ. So if the above photo is the same aircraft as the one below, it has to be Santo, not Guadalcanal, as ET449/NZ3097 never went up to Kukum.
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 19, 2019 22:20:04 GMT 12
Actually I just noticed how the under-wing white stripe wraps around the leading edge in the first shot but not in the second. Damn this is confusing. Is it the same aeroplane or are they NZ3056 and NZ3097?
I do think that they are the same aircraft in both photos, small details match up with that distinct and surely unique stain under the cowling being the same (it appears dark in the first pic and light in the second). Maybe it's just me but to my eye the bit of white paint that joins the upper and lower white stripes on the leading edge in the first pic looks like it is rougher than the rest, the edges being rougher and slightly wonky rather than nicely masked so perhaps they were joined up at a later date?
However I don't think it is ET449/NZ3097 as it is not an E but a long-tail K, the rudder is too far back from the tail plane, there's a radio antenna mast (the E didn't have it), the exhaust pipes are of the later flattened (fish-tail?) shape and the cowling lacks the small scallop behind the exhaust.
As an aside I got quite far on colourising the photo but didn't finish it, I really should get my finger out.
Whatever aircraft serial it is, those two pics of "7" are the same aircraft in my view. Look at the number and positioning of the scalloped sections of paint at the upper/lower join line of the camouflage. Same with the flaked/worn paint on the chin cowl starboard side. The stain on the lower cowl colour matches as well.....over to the "real" photo interpreters !
Last Edit: Dec 20, 2019 7:07:13 GMT 12 by Mustang51: Spelling
Post by angelsonefive on Dec 20, 2019 8:04:26 GMT 12
Definitely the same plane. The stain on the starboard lower cowl is, IMO, where the outer paint has peeled off. It appears lighter in the close-up pic. as the result of some tidying up with a paint brush. The wing stripes probably got some attention at the same time.
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 20, 2019 9:46:38 GMT 12
Yes we're all agreed it is the same aeroplane. And having consulted a P-40 expert, you're right, it is indeed a P-40K-15 so has to be NZ3056.
Laurie purchased his photo from the No. 15 (F) Squadron photographer when he was on the squadron. That is quite a marked degradation as NZ3056 was a new aeroplane brought on charge 28 Jan 1943, and allocated to No. 14 (F) Squadron in March 1943 at Whenuapai. They would have ferried it to Santo in April 1943, and No. 15 (F) Squadron would have used it in combat (the first unit to do so) for just a month or so in April-May 1943 before Laurie and the squadron returned to New Zealand and he was posted away from the squadron to Woodbourne where he'd no longer have had access to buying the photos). So it had almost two months in storage in Auckland, one month with 14 Sqn and a month in combat with 15 Sqn, and then looked this rough??
HBpencil, where did you get your photo from? Is it possible to get a bigger scan? Because you can see the serial number but when blown it's too hard to read.
Whew, I m glad the above discussion has got itself all sorted out, I agree totally with the final outcome! That would have to be P-40K 3056 "7", with the unique camouflage scheme worn only by these 20-odd aircraft, with the scalloped demarcation line between upper/side and lower surfaces. I also think it confirms that these paints were rather poorly applied, and thus seem to fit into the remarks that I made re the wholesale loss of this top coat on front-line aircraft in 1943, leading to the investigations at Rukuhia by the chemist from the NZ Branch of BALM paints in about October/November. David D
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 20, 2019 16:48:32 GMT 12
When you say " the unique camouflage scheme worn only by these 20-odd aircraft" I assume that you refer to those first P-40K' that No. 14 (F) Squadron took from Whenuapai up to Santo, and the survivors of which they handed to No. 15 (F) Squadron who took them to Guadalcanal?
Post by agalbraith on Dec 22, 2019 21:10:31 GMT 12
Wasn't NZ3072 an M-5? Although in discussions with Kerry I can see the cammo theory. I have yet to look at this more and view some of the USAAF/C serial numbers either side of 43-5505 (if my nerdy memory serves me correctly)
Great deduction work and photos Dave's et al
Last Edit: Dec 22, 2019 21:10:47 GMT 12 by agalbraith
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 22, 2019 22:03:14 GMT 12
I just deleted my 'good point' because it was wrong.
I realise now that when you look at NZ3072 it clearly has a soft demarcation between the OD and the Neutral Grey underneath so it was not that unique scheme with the wavy demarcation and the Sky underneath. So, as I originally thought, I still believe NZ3072 was OD/NG
Dave, you had me worried there for a minute! It has always been my understanding that all the P-40Ms arrived in the OD and NG scheme, plus the medium green blotching as became all the rage along leading and trailing edges of all flying surfaces, as did indeed the later P-40Ns. David D