Judy Pay’s P-40F, s/n 41-14112, is currently under restoration at “The Old Aeroplane Company” in Tyabb, Victoria, Australia with the wings and other components for this P-40 having been rebuilt by Pioneer Aero Restorations. The components rebuilt by us have now been shipped to Judy’s facility at Tyabb.
On 20 December 1942 four P-40F Warhawks from the 44th fighter squadron, 18th fighter group (13th Air force), took off from the Bauerfield (American base) at Efate in Vanuatu on a navigation & training exercise.
Some thirty minutes south of Efate they ran into severe tropical storms, and with diminishing fuel supplies, decided to make a forced landing on the island of Erromango (approx 86 miles S.E. of Efate) in a clearing on the slopes of Mt Santop – the highest peak on the island.
The pilots involved in this loss of the P-40Fs were:
1Lt John E. Little flight leader
#2 2Lt Frank “Zoom” Radzuikinas
#3 2Lt Ed Talbot
#4 2Lt C.B. Head Jr. (Pilot of this P-40 under restoration)
Although all four pilots made successful landings in the sense of surviving the incident, the same could not be said for the planes. The Air Force cut a trail to the planes, removing most of the reusable furnishings. It was only in 1989 when 41-14112, the best of the bad lot was extracted – along with some components from the remains of the other aircraft – to be given a second chance. When this plane is completed it will be the only flying genuine ‘F’ model left in existence.