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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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23 (NZ) Squadron Corsair F4U-1D 57754 Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Mcgowan

Operation: Test flight

Date: 13th December 1944 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 23 (NZ) Squadron

Type: Corsair F4U-1D

Serial: USN BuAer 57754

Code: 754

Base: Momote Airstrip, Los Negros, Bismark Archipelago.

Location: On airstrip

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth McGowan NZ/432222 RNZAF Age 22. Killed


Taking off at 14:56 hrs from Momote airfield, with his aircraft fitted with long range fuel tanks carrying 600 gallons of fuel. Lifted off and on passing the control tower drifted towards the left embankment southeast of the runway, crashed, overturned and burst into flames.

He had not run up the engine beforehand and started up using his main tank, rather than the reserve tank as was normal procedure. It was thought that flying with a near-full fuel overload for the first time, he may have been deceived during the take-off run by the humped runway and became airborne with inadequate airspeed.

The aircraft was one of eight that was about to be ferried by 23 squadron pilots to Leyte in the Philippines on behalf of the USN.

Burial details:

Initially buried at Los Negros and later reinterred.

Fl/Sgt. Kenneth McGowan. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Grave 5. 12. Born at Greymouth on the 15th November 1922. Worked as a tractor driver for the Public Works Department at Greymouth. Enlisted on the 19th of February 1943. Wings awarded on the 20th of March 1944. Promoted to sergeant on the 13th May 1944. Joined 23 squadron on the 07th August 1944. Promoted to Fl/Sgt. on the 10th November 1944. Son of Robert Greenlees McGowan (died 12th March 1967) and Lynda Clara McGowan (née Stewart, died 14th August 1963, age 60), of Cobden, Westland, New Zealand. A total of 439 flying hours were logged.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, Wings Over New Zealand Forum

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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