the US Army & the NSW Far South Coast
16 December 2016 – 4 June 2017
During the Second World War, around 1 million American military personnel served in Australia. This included the United States Army Air Corp’s 49th Pursuit Group consisting of the 7th, 8th and 9th Fighter Squadrons who were stationed at various posts across the country.
On 28 March 1942, four Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawks left Fairbairn airfield (east of Canberra) on a training flight bound for the Snowy Mountains. Severe fog resulted in the pilots becoming hopelessly lost over the NSW Far South Coast. Tragically, two pilots lost their lives as a result of not being able to regain control after clipping mid air above Eden. The two remaining pilots managed to land safely but sadly lost their lives just three months later while serving in the Northern Territory.
Through photographs and artifacts recovered from the Kittyhawk crash sites, Kittyhawks Down commemorates the lives of Second Lieutenants Fielder, Musial, Namola, Takala on the 75th anniversary of these events.
Second Lieutenant Arthur ‘Doc’ Fielder safely landed his P-40E Kittyhawk on Aslings Beach. After an unsuccessful take-off from the beach at Boydtown, American personnel dismantled the aircraft for road transport back to Canberra. Photograph courtesy of the Whiter Family.
The 8th Fighter Squadron, 49th Pursuit Group, US Army Air Corp. Photograph courtesy of Mr C Suthern & Mr B Piper.