A55-3


Type: L-222-62-13 Lightning F-4-1-LO
MSN: 5362 *
Previous Identities: 41-2144 *
Owner: Darwin Aviation Museum (wreckage only). Darwin NT.

* IMPORTANT: See here for clarification of identities.

History:



41-2144
01JAN42 Received by USAAF as P-38E. (Source: 4)
13MAR42 Redesignated F-4. (Source: 4)
07APR42 Received by Long Beach Ferry Command. (Source: 4)
13APR42 Received at Windsor Locks, Connecticut. (Source: 4)
29APR42 Received at Felts Field, Spokane, Washington. (Source: 4)
05MAY42 Departed Felts Field. (Source: 4)
25MAY42 Received at Dallas. (Source: 4)
11JUN42 Received at Lowry. (Source: 4)
27JUN42 Redesignated F-4-1. (Source: 4)
02JUL42 Received at Scott Field. (Source: 4)
27JUL42 Received at Lowry. (Source: 4)
02AUG42 Received at Colorado Springs. (Source: 4)
02NOV42 Received at Sacramento Air Depot. (Source: 4)
21NOV42 To SUMAC (Fifth Air Force SWPA). (Source: 4)
A55-3
 
27FEB43 Allotted to 1PRU ex USAAF, Eagle Farm, Brisbane. The Form E/E88 for A55-3 shows "Late 41-2122" but it is now believed that this could have been an incorrect transcription of 41-2144. (Source: 7)
The diary of the 8th PRS records that 41-2122 crashed and burned on 05DEC43 near Hood Point (west of Port Moresby) with the loss of its pilot F/O Fred Cross. See here
16MAR43 Arrived Coomalie Creek, NT from Eagle Farm, Brisbane on delivery to 1PRU. Pilot Flt Lt C.C. Lawrie. (Source: 5)
20MAR43 Test flight 30,000ft 1hr 15min. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
21MAR43 Photo Recce Koepang-Penfoei experienced heavy AA 5hr. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
22MAR43 1PRU signals RAAF HQ that the intercooler system on A55-3 is unserviceable "after only 16 hours flying. Modifications unsuitable this climate." (NAA Series A11093 Item 3081559)
18APR43 Photo recce of Penfoei (5.00hrs). Pilot Flt Lt P.B. Sinnott. (Source: 5)
20APR43 Photo recce of Penfoei (4.40hrs). Pilot Flt Lt C.C. Lawrie. (Source: 5)
21APR43 Photo Recce of Dilli 4hr 15min. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
endAPR43 Unserviceable with leaking intercoolers. (Source: 5)
08MAY43 Engine test 25,000ft 1hr. Flt Lt Talberg. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
11MAY43 Survey Portuguese Timor, run of 150m Cape Hero to Cape Parimbala (northern coast) 20,000ft. 5hr. Flt Lt Talberg. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2) The 1PRU ORB also indicates that weather was unsuitable.
13MAY43 Travel Coomalie - Groote Eylandt for a survey of Frederick Henry Island and District. Weather unsuitable. Sqn Ldr Lawrie. (Source: 5)
13MAY43 Arrived Groote Eylandt at 122140Z F/Lt (sic) Lawrie refuelled and departed on reconnaissance at 122300Z. Arrived back at 130250Z refuelled and departed for Base at 130345Z. (Source: 6)
15MAY43 Travel Coomalie Creek - Groote Eylandt, Sqn Ldr C.C. Lawrie. (Source: 5). Note: Evidently F/Lt Charles Colin Lawrie was promoted to Squadron Leader between 13-15 May. He was discharged on 01DEC44 with the rank of Sqn Ldr.
15MAY43 Arrived Groote Eylandt at 150700Z S/L Lawrie. Refuelled and remained overnight. (Source: 6)
16MAY43 Departed Groote Eylandt at 160015Z on reconnaissance. Returned owing to bad weather conditions at 160035Z and remained at 51OBU. (Source: 6)
16MAY43 Survey of Frederick Henry Island & District. Weather unsuitable. (Source: 5)
19MAY43 Departed Groote Eylandt at 182245Z for Base. (Source: 6)
19MAY43 Returned to Coomalie Creek. (Source: 5)
22MAY43 Photo Recce of Kai Islands 2hr 20min. "was to have been under the low cloud base. Gp Capt R.H. Sims thought better of it. Recalled by W/T." Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
22MAY43 "Photographs of Lightning from Wirraway" 1hr. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
Flt Lt Robilliard's log book records that on 22MAY43 he piloted Wirraway A20-178 on a one hour sortie to photograph a Lightning at 8,000 feet. In the rear seat of the Wirraway was photographer Warrant Officer T.E. Wilcox. (Source: 1)

The 1PRU ORB for SEP43 records that "W/O T.E. Wilcox has resumed duty after having sustained concussion, shock and abrasions flying as photographer in Wirraway A20-605 when it overturned after landing at Bathurst Island Mission on 13th September 1943." (Source: 5)

The 1PRU ORB does not record the photographic flight by Wirraway A20-178 on 22MAY43 nor does it record any flight by A20-178 on this date. A55-3 returned from its aborted survey at 0950 so the photographic flight might have been a "target of opportunity". (Source: 5)
24MAY43 COO 26-2 Fuiloro, Dili, 25000ft 4hr 35min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
The 1PRU ORB records that weather was unsuitable.
29MAY43 Photo recce of Penfoei, Sqn Ldr C.C. Lawrie. (Source: 5)
12JUN43 Photo Recce Penfoei. Sqn Ldr Law. (Source: 5)
13JUN43 Photo Recce Tanimbar Is, Langgoer. Flt Lt Sinnott. (Source: 5)
14JUN43 Photo Recce Lautem, Fuiloro. Weather bad. Sqn Ldr Lawrie. (Source: 5)
21JUN43 COO 2/8 Photo Penfoei, Koepang 26000ft 4hr 55min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
23JUN43 Photo Recce Langgoer. Weather bad. Flt Lt Sinnott. (Source: 5)
25JUN43 Survey Cape Stewart area. Sqn Ldr Lawrie. (Source: 5)
26JUN43 COO 9/1 Penfoei 26000ft 5hr 30min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
27JUN43 Photo Recce Fuiloro, Lautem Flt Lt Sinnott. (Source: 5)
30JUN43 Photography Fenton. Sqn Ldr Lawrie. (Source: 5)
02JUL43 Photo Recce Dilli, Atamboea. Sqn Ldr Lawrie. (Source: 5)
07JUL43 Survey Cape Arnhem area. Unsuitable weather. 5hr. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
12JUL43 COO 25 Kai Is, Tanimbar, Saim, Trimetrogon run, CP Arnheim vicinity, 26000ft 5hr 40min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
13JUL43 Photo Recce Fuiloro, Chater, Lautem. Sqn Ldr Lawrie. (Source: 5)
21JUL43 Photo Recce Fuiloro, Cape Chater, Flt Lt Talberg, (Source: 5)
23JUL43 Photo Recce Dilli, Atamboea. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 5)
27JUL43 Aerial swing of compass and engine test. 55min. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
29JUL43 Engine test 55min. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
10AUG43 Engine test 24000ft 1hr 15min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
11AUG43 Photo Recce Tanimbar Islands 3hr 35min. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
12AUG43 COO 48 Penfoei, Tenau, Golf strip, new strip Roti 30500ft 5hr 30min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
Robilliard's family recalls that he had an engine failure on this flight and a decision on whether or not to bale out or attempt the return ocean crossing on one engine was influenced by the fact that it was his wife's birthday!
15AUG43 Flight test 25,000ft 1hr. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
17AUG43 Photo Recce Koepang. Flt Lt Sinnott. (Source: 5)
19AUG43 Base - Gorrie 3000ft 1hr 10min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
Flown to 14ARD at Gorrie for 240 hourly service. (Source: 5)
22AUG43 Received 14ARD ex 1PRU for 240 hourly. (Source: 7)
09SEP43 Test 25,000ft 1hr 20min. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
12SEP43 Test 30,000ft 1hr 5min. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
13SEP43 Gorrie-Coomalie Creek and test 25,000ft 1hr 5min. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
16SEP43 Test 1hr 5min. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
17SEP43 Signal from NWA advises that initial equipment Lightning aircraft are beyond repair and suitable only for conversion. (NAA Series A11093 Item 3081559)
18SEP43 Photo Recce Kai Islands 4hr 30min. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
No photos taken due 10/10 cloud. (Source: 5)
18SEP43 RAAF HQ advises NWA that replacement F-4s are not available and arrangements have been made for "complete overhaul first priority by USAAF. Can you fly both Lightnings to Townsville?" (NAA Series A11093 Item 3081559)
18SEP43 A note on stationery "From the Desk of Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney" to Col Victor E. Bertrandis, C.O., Advanced Echelon, Fifth Air Force Service Command, Townsville states simply: "2 P.38's for 1PRU to be repaired there". (NAA Series A11093 Item 3081559)
20SEP43 Coomalie Creek-Cloncurry 3hr 30min. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
20SEP43 Cloncurry-Townsville 3hr. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 2)
20SEP43 Signal from NWA: "Lightning A55-3 pilot F/L Talberg departed for Townsville 200800. ETA 201530". (NAA Series A11093 Item 3081559)
01OCT43 Signal from NWA: Repairs commenced on A55-3, Anticipate date for completion 31 Oct.. (NAA Series A11093 Item 3081559)
NOV43 Altitude test 34000ft acceptance test USA 1hr 15min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
(This would refer to a test flight in Townsville where the aircraft was overhauled by the USAAF. The exact date is not recorded but it could have been only 1 or 2 November).
01NOV43 Extract from a report on a visit to NEA and NWA by S.O. Admin: "A55-3 arrived over NWA HQ approximately 1800 hours (the 1PRU ORB says 1755) 1 Nov., and I later heard that owing to failure of the hydraulic system the pilot (F/L Robilliard) was forced to abandon the belly tank, cockpit canopy and make a belly landing. Some damage was caused to the aeroplane, but up to my departure the extent of same was unknown".

Note: This implies that A55-3 belly-landed on its delivery flight from Townsville on 01NOV. However, A55-3 did suffer a belly landing on 10DEC43. Is this the accident that the reporter "later heard" of, or were there two separate belly landings, given that pilot Robilliard is quoted for 01NOV and crash report for 10DEC states pilot Sinnott. (NAA Series A11093 Item 3081559)


Update 13JUL10:
It is now known from Flt Lt Robilliard's log book that A55-3 did not return to base until 02NOV43. Although Robilliard's family recall that he later mentioned some difficulty landing a Lightning (possibly a beach landing) it could not have been a belly landing on this occasion as the aeroplane was back on ops by 13NOV43.
02NOV43 Townsville - Cloncurry 15000ft 1hr 55min. (Source: 1)
02NOV43 Cloncurry - Pell 15000ft 4hr 30min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
05NOV43 Photo Recce Fuiloro. Weather unsuitable. Sqn Ldr Lawrie. (Source: 5)
13NOV43 COO 29 Lore, Fuiloro, Chater, Lautem 28000ft 3hr 20min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
Weather unsuitable. (Source: 5)
13NOV43 Consumption test 12000ft 1hr 45min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
14NOV43 Batchelor - Coomalie 20min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
15NOV43 Travel Coomalie - Millingimbi. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 5)
16NOV43 Photo Recce Kai Islands. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 5)
18NOV43 Photo Recce Fuiloro area. Sqn Ldr Lawrie. (Source: 5)
18NOV43 Coomalie - Drysdale 15000ft 2hr 50min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
21NOV43 Drysdale - Coomalie 15000ft 1hr 30min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
22NOV43 Coomalie - Drysdale 15000ft 1hr 25min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
23NOV43 COO 43 Drysdale - Penfoei - Koepang - Namlea - Jas (illegible) - Nth Coast Roti - Nembela 28000ft 3hr 15min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
23NOV43 Drysdale - Coomalie 15000ft 1hr 30min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
26NOV43 Travel Coomalie - Darwin. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 5)
27NOV43 Photo Recce Kai Islands. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 5)
30NOV43 Travel Coomalie - Darwin. (am) Flt Lt Sinnott. (Source: 5)
30NOV43 Photo Recce Kai Islands. (am) Flt Lt Sinnott. (Source: 5)
30NOV43 Coomalie - Millingimbi 1000ft 1hr 30min. (pm) Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
01DEC43 COO 48 Aroe Is. 15000ft 4hr 45min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
01DEC43 Millingimbi - Coomalie 10000ft 1hr 30min. Flt Lt Robilliard. (Source: 1)
This is the last recorded flight in A55-3 by Flt Lt Robilliard.
Total hours on Lightnings for Flt Lt Robilliard 91 hours 10 minutes (all in either A55-1 or A55-3)
03DEC43 Travel Coomalie - Batchelor. Sqn Ldr Lawrie. (Source: 5)
03DEC43 Travel Batchelor - Coomalie. Sqn Ldr Lawrie. (Source: 5)
03DEC43 Conversion to type. Flg Off Boss-Walker. (Source: 5)
04DEC43 Training flight Coomalie - Peron Is. - Darwin - Coomalie. Flg Off Boss-Walker. (Source: 5)
05DEC43 Training flight Coomalie - Cape Hotham - Coomalie. Flg Off Boss-Walker. (Source: 5)
06DEC43 Training flight. Photography local area. Flg Off Boss-Walker. (Source: 5)
07DEC43 Photography Darwin area. Flg Off Boss-Walker. (Source: 5)
07DEC43 Travel Coomalie - Darwin. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 5)
08DEC43 Photo Recce Atamboea, Dilli. Heavy cloud. Flt Lt Talberg. (Source: 5)
09DEC43 Travel Coomalie - Darwin. Flt Lt Sinnott. (Source: 5)
10DEC43 Photo Recce Dilli, Atamboea. Flt Lt Sinnott. Aircraft crashed on landing at Batchelor at 1240 hours. (Source: 5)
Note: the 1PRU ORB shows this flight and subsequent crash on 09DEC43. However, the preceding travel flight arrived at Darwin at 1800 hours and the photo recce to Dilli departed at 0815 hours so clearly the aircraft overnighted Darwin and departed on its mission on 10DEC43. (Source: 5)
10DEC43 Landed at Batchelor, N.T. with the undercarriage retracted. The Aircraft Accident Data Card confirms the date as 10DEC43 and the pilot as F/LT B. Sinnott. The card states: "Aircraft crash landed due to hydraulic pressure failure and the undercarriage indicator showing not locked". There are no injuries recorded and the time of the accident is recorded as daytime. (NAA Series A9845 Item 7127491)
13DEC43 Received by 4RSU. (Source: 7)
14DEC43 Signal from NWA: "A55-3 beyond repair capacity this area and will probably have to be converted to components". (NAA Series A11093 Item 3081559)
26DEC43 Received 14ARD ex 4RSU. (Source: 7)
10JAN44 Approved for conversion to components. (Source: 7)
08FEB44
Condemned as salvage obsolete by 5th AF, Brisbane. (Source: 4)
Wreckage acquired by Darwin Aviation Museum.

 

See also: 44 Reasons to be Confused


 

SOURCES

1
Log book of Flt Lt F.H.W. Robilliard via his son Iain Robilliard.
2
Log Book of Flt Lt W.H.S. Talberg via David Vincent
3
Log Book of Sqn Ldr R.M. Green via David Vincent
4
USAAF History Card for 41-2158 accessed by Terry Geary.
5
RAAF Unit History sheets (Form A50) [Operations Record Book - Forms A50 and A51] 1 PRU Number 87 Squadron Jun 42 - Oct 53. NAA: A9186, 118
6
Operations Record Book No 51 Operational Base Unit, Groote Eylandt via Phil Vabre.
7
RAAF Form E/E88 (Status Card)
8
Listing compiled by a CAC employee, Bill Audsley, and published in Aviation Heritage the journal of the Aviation Historical Society of Australia (AHSA) Vol 22 No 4.
9
Mosquito Monograph by David Vincent.
10
Log Book of FLGOFF P.B. Jones, RAAF.
11
The Eight Ballers by John Stanaway & Bob Rocker. Schiffer Publishing 1999
12
Log Book of Sqn Ldr Geoff Atherton.


ABBREVIATIONS


1AD No 1 Aircraft Depot based at Laverton, Vic.
14ARD No 14 Aircraft Repair Depot based at Gorrie, N.T.
8CRD No 8 Central Recovery Depot based at Darwin, N.T.
1PRU No 1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit based at Hughes, N.T. and later Coomalie Creek N.T.
1RSU No 1 Repair and Salvage Unit based at Manbulloo, N.T.
4RSU No 4 Repair and Salvage Unit based at Pell, N.T.
COO A task number
NWA North Western Area

 



Issue Date Remarks
16 01APR16
Refreshed page layout with no change to data.
15 04MAY14
Completely revised, based on the belief that A55-3 was actually 41-2144 and not 41-2122 as stated previously and as stated in most other references.
14 19JUN12
Added movements through Groote Eylandt in May 1943. Shown as (Source: 3). Thanks to Phil Vabre.
13 04JAN11
Added details from the log book of Flt Lt W.H.S. Talberg via David Vincent. Shown as (Source: 2)
12 19JUL10
Added details from the log book of Flt Lt F.H.W. Robilliard thanks to his son Iain Robilliard. Shown as (Source: 1). Also added five air-to-air images of A55-3 from the same source.
11 19JUN09
Added an image of the remains of A55-3 thanks to Owen Veal of the Aviation Historical Society of the Northern Territory.
10 17FEB04
Added several references from RAAF Command HQ files (NAA Series 11093 Item 3081559) and a report on the final crash (NAA Series A9845 Item 7127491)
9 04JAN04
Added more detail of the aircraft's USAAF service thanks to Terry Geary.



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