USAAF Consolidated B-24 Liberator Bomber 41-23924
- Aircraft wreck
- North and Cape York
Quintell Beach, Lockhart 4870
South of the Lockhart River settlement, the remnants of a B-24 Liberator bomber, 41-23924, are visible at low tide in the sand of Quintell Beach. Although most of the aircraft has long since been salvaged and removed, surviving sections include the lower nose with the still retracted nose gear in place and part of a wing tank.
Flown by Captain Dale Thornhill of the USAAF 90th Bombardment Group(BG), 400th Squadron(BS), the B-24, named 'Condor', was returning to Iron Range on 15 December 1942 after its first mission. The aircraft was carrying a temporary belly tank in the bomb bay, but ran out of fuel just short of Iron Range after a fuel transfer problem. The pilot had only two engines working when he set the aircraft down on the beach with the wheels up and some 800 gallons of fuel still in the belly tank. None of the crew of ten was seriously injured.
Personnel of the US 28 Service Squadron at Iron Range laboured for 36 hours straight in an effort to recover the aircraft. Frantic attempts to jack-up the aircraft and lower the undercarriage ahead of the incoming tide were unsuccessful. In the end much of the brand new aircraft was salvaged for use as spare parts.
The 90th BG, comprising the 319th, 320th, 321st and 400th squadrons, was formed and activated in Mississippi and Louisiana, USA, early in 1942 and trained with B-24 Liberator bombers. The four squadrons flew to Hawaii in September 1942 to complete their training and were then ordered to the South-West Pacific Area.
The Group, equipped with 48 B-24 D’s, arrived in Queensland after an 8000 kilometre journey across the Pacific and were initially based at Iron Range from in mid November 1942. The Group numbered about 290 officers and 1400 other ranks. As part of the US Fifth Air Force they began combat operations and attacked Japanese airfields, shipping, ground installations and troop concentrations on New Guinea and the islands to the north.
The 90th BG was only based at Iron Range for several months before moving on to Fenton and Port Moresby by March 1943. However, during this short period the Group suffered a number of aircraft losses through flying accidents and combat action. This included, in addition to 'Condor', the loss of the B-24s 'Punjaub' 41-11902, 'Bombs to Nippon' 41-23942, 'Little Eva' 41-23762, 'Texas Terror' 41-23825, 'The Corsair' 41-23752, and another unidentified B-24 which blew up on take off.
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