Michigan Aviation Archaeology
Preserving Michigan's Aviation Heritage
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P-39Q Airacobra #44-3082 - 29 January, 1945

     An example of a P-39Q

Pilot: 2nd Lieutenant Scott B. Kidd, 23

29 January, 1945 - Lt. Kidd was flying a routine gun camera mission in clear weather at 9,500 feet when his plane’s engine began running a little rough. After checking his instruments he determined that he was losing manifold pressure and his oil pressure was at zero. At this point he notified his flight mates that he was going to attempt a forced landing. Ground control overheard the conversation and instructed Kidd to bail out immediately. He did so and landed safely on the ground, unhurt.

Accident investigators at the crash site discovered that the tail cone was filled with oil and determined that the accident was caused by a faulty oil line towards the rear of the plane. The engine and oil tank of the aircraft had just recently been replaced and only had 3 hours and twenty minutes of flight time on them.

Crash site visit - 29 April, 2011

We met the group for breakfast at a restaurant outside Nellis AFB and received our trip briefing. The large caravan made its way about an hour north of Las Vegas. Once there, we received a quick desert safety orientation (very helpful to us Michiganders!) and our guide Craig pointed and said, “It’s out there, somewhere, couple hundred yards….go find it!” With that we all spread out. It wasn’t long before the whoops and hollers could be heard indicating that somebody had found something. Not surprisingly we did not find a lot of very large pieces of wreckage, as could be expected due to the flat terrain and proximity to the highway.  However there were a multitude of small, interesting and identifiable pieces with little, if any, rust. As I stated before, I was amazed at the state of preservation of the pieces in the dry desert air. Data plates, inspection stamps and IDs were all clearly readable, and paint schemes remarkably intact. We found many interesting artifacts including a stamp with the plane’s call sign clearly legible, c-ration cans and a salt shaker (probably from the investigation/clean-up crew), gears, and tools. We left all artifacts in place at the crash site.  We had a quick lunch at the cars and were off to the F-4D crash site about 20 miles further down the road.

The gallery below is just a sampling of what was found.


Crash Site, today

                                                         Once you click a page in the gallery, you have to scroll down to see the pictures (sorry)

Other albums here, here and here contain more pictures of the site as well as information regarding the identification of parts by people more knowledgeable than myself in these matters.