REASONS TO BE CONFUSED
is 41-2156 while in service with the 8th PRS USAAF. The data
block under the name Limping Lizzie confirms its identity
as 41-2156. In the complete image,
the aircraft also carries the number "56" on the engine
cowlings. Note that the aircraft carries the number "44"
on the nose. Usually, aircraft of the 8th PRS carried the last
two digits of the serial number in this location. Under these
circumstances one would not expect to find the number "44"
on 41-2156. (Photo: Bill Fairbank via Bob Rocker)
What is the connection between 41-2156 and "44"?
Australian War Memorial image (OG0566) by John Harrison is
said to depict a Lockheed Lightning attached to No 75 Sqn
at Milne Bay on 31 July 1943. This aircraft carries the number
"44" on the nose. It is known that 75 Sqn received
two F-4s on loan from the 8th PRS and that these aircraft,
41-2156 and 41-2220, were ferried from Port Moresby to Milne
Bay on 16 August 1943 after RAAF pilots had completed their
training on the aircraft. The presence of the number "44"
suggests that this aircraft is 41-2156 as it can't be the
other 75 Sqn F-4 as it carried the number "220"
in this location.
This aircraft (41-2156) could not have been photographed at
Milne Bay on 31 July 1943 because it didn't arrive in Milne
Bay until 16 August 1943. (Source: Geoff
Atherton's Log Book)
If the above photo was taken at Milne Bay on 31 July 1943
and if 41-2156 and 41-2220 did not arrive in Milne Bay until
16 August 1943, this raises the possibility that 75 Sqn may
have had another F-4 (and pilot) on loan from the 8th PRS
as a stop-gap until their "own" aircraft arrived.
This presupposes that the 8th PRS could have spared another
aircraft but it would have enabled 75 Sqn, particularly their
photographic personnel, to familiarise themselves with the
new aircraft, even if it were not used on operations. If this
is what happened, it raises the possibility that the aircraft
depicted above is 41-2144. However, it does not explain the
presence of the number "44" on the nose of 41-2156.
Australian War Memorial image (P00727.004) is said to depict
a Lockheed Lightning of No 1 PRU at Coomalie Creek in 1943.
Note that this aircraft also carries the number "44"
on the nose. Given that this aircraft has been repainted in
RAAF camouflage (dark earth, dark green with sky blue undersurfaces)
it has to be one of three aircraft that were assigned to 1PRU,
A55-1, A55-2 or A55-3. The previous USAAF serial numbers of
these three aircraft are usually quoted as 41-2158, 41-2159
and 41-2122 respectively. However, there is one reference (see
Note 1) which indicates that the RAAF received 41-2144 and not
The presence of the number "44" on an RAAF F-4 raises
the possibility that if the aircraft depicted above is indeed
A55-3, its previous identity was probably 41-2144 and not 41-2122
as stated in most references. While A55-1 and A55-2 were repainted
in RAAF camouflage at 1AD Laverton before delivery to 1PRU,
it is known that A55-3 was delivered to 1PRU directly from the
5th Air Force in Brisbane so it is likely that they also painted
the aircraft in RAAF camouflage. If the aircraft's future identity
(A55-3) was not known to the 5th AF at the time of the repaint,
it is likely that the aircraft would have retained its USAAF
serial as an interim identification, albeit in a low key manner.
is 41-2220 while in service with the 8th PRS USAAF. This aircraft,
along with 41-2156, was later loaned to 75 Sqn RAAF. Note the
three digit number "220" on the nose which was retained
during its RAAF service. (Photo: Bill Fairbank via Bob Rocker)
Why did this aircraft carry a three digit number instead of the
usual two? It can't have been to avoid duplication as neither
41-2120 nor 41-2320 were allocated to F-4s.
is almost certainly 41-2144. Note that it carries the number "44"
on the nose. Close examination of markings on the tail (see below)
reveals a "2" and a "44". Lightning 41-2144
was one of the aircraft assigned to the 8th PRS and it is pictured
here at Townsville in 1942. (Photo: Neville Rourke Collection
via Gordon Birkett)
is an enlargement of the tail of the aircraft depicted above.
The only markings discernible with any certainty are a "2"
on the rudder and a "44" on the fin.
dated 4 August 1943 from Air Member for Supply and Equipment
to No 5 Maintenence Group, RAAF listing aircraft received in
Australia from the USA and the NEI states that three F-4s were
delivered to the RAAF (see below). They are identified as 41-2144,
41-2158 and 41-2159. As the latter two almost certainly became
A55-1 and A55-2 respectively, this document implies that A55-3
could have been formerly 21-2144. Nevertheless, the status card
for A55-3 is clearly endorsed as 41-2122. Given that 41-2122
is reported to have been lost in action by the 8th PRS, this
increases the likelihood that A55-3 was actually 41-2144.
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