What is the real identity of 'Old Crow'

by Steve Mackenzie


P-40N 'Old Crow' while with 4 Sqn RAAF. Photo P.Malone.

As noted last issue there was a plan to equip the 2 Tac-Recon Squadrons which were operating in New Guinea and The Solomons (4 and 5 Squadrons RAAF) with Tac-R versions of the P-40N. Although this plan never actually came to fruition due to the end of WW.II on VJ-Day 4 surplus P-40N's were issued to each of the Sqns for training purposes before the end of the war.

The 4 Squadron airframes are known to have been A29-451, 607 plus 2 others not listed (the post war Operational Record Books carry very little info as the war had ended by the time they got to the unit). It has always been assumed that 'Old Crow' was A29-451 but there is much evidence that such an assumption is incorrect.

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Closeup of the aircraft serial.
Open-air workshop. Sumpies servicing the engine of 'Old Crow' at Townsville during WW II.
84 Squadron Kittyhawks were kept serviceable and battle ready by this scruffy but wonderful bunch of scallywags. Both images from the McLay collection now in the care of the RAAF Museum.
Drawing of the nose art.

The first photo above is a closeup of the serial on 'Old Crow'. While it does appear to be A29-45x, the last digit is a rounded number and thus it is not A29-451. So much for all the experts...

The 2nd and 3rd photos were on the RAAF Museum Facebook page in 2014. They are from the collection of an 84 Sqn ground crew member named McLay now held by the Museum. The one showing 'Old Crow' is extremely important as it shows that 'Old Crow' served with 84 Sqn at one stage (which A29-451 never did).

The colour scheme of the fuselage and tailplanes is overall Natural Metal with a Black anti-glare panel and serials (2" size ahead of the rudder). In contrast the wings are camouflaged (Olive Drab upper and Neutral Grey lower, complaete with White wing leading edges). Standard RAAF Dark Blue/ White roundels (5/2 ratio) in six positions and fin flash. The rear of the spinner, a strip down the front of the nose intake and code Letter 'L' are in Black. The nose art is painted in Black/ White (see the closeup photo for details as it is more complicated than previously shown). Spoked style wheel hubs on this one.

So to re-examine the facts: the only airframe in the A29-450 to 459 range that served with 84 Sqn was A29-459. According to the ADF Serials website listing the airframe had an accident "20/03/45 when taxying at Ross River Strip, struck a inert 250lb Bomb used for tying down aircraft in the way at a bomb disposal area , caused the port oleo leg to collapse, damaging airscrew and port mainplane". This explains the replacement wing which we can see in the heading photo. Thus I have no doubt that 'Old Crow' was actually A29-459 (and not 451). There is little doubt that 451 was also issued to 4 Sqn but is not this one.

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