P-40s at Spence Field, Georgia

Georgia Belles

Line up of P-40s from the 19th SEFTG at Spence Field. Ship #79 is named 'Joyce' and the ship two
places back is named 'Dottie'. Both are P-40Fs, as seem to be the rest of these ships, except
one... the Hawk in the foreground is an initial production P-40, serial number 39-210.

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Lt. Keith Finch, an instructor at Spence Field, with 'Ginny', a P-40F he named after his wife Virginia.

Original Image via The Daily Record - Larger Image

On May 6th, 1943 Lt. Finch made a forced-landing in P-40F 41-14138 near Decatur Georgia. It seems
that the Hawk may have been a well-used combat veteran that had recently been returned to the
USA from North Africa. Here's Keith Finch's description of the incident: (Found HERE.)


Finch's first brush with death didn't happen overseas. It happened over Georgia.

He was flying one of those P-40s from an aircraft carrier in Norfolk, Va., to a base in Alabama,
when the combat-tested, bullet-riddled plane's engine quit while flying at 10,000 feet near Atlanta.
He radioed the nearest tower to tell them he was going down.

"The engine quit, and nothing would start up," Finch recalls. "So I saw a wheat field, had to keep the landing
gear up, and flew toward it. The engine caught fire, and that was all around me. I knew this was a problem."

Finch thought about bailing from the plane, but he wasn't much higher in the air than the top of the pine
trees, so he stayed in. The impact tore the plane to shreds and shredded Finch's legs pretty well, too.
Otherwise, miraculously, Finch was able to walk away.


Tifton Hawks

Line up of twenty-plus P-40Fs and P-40Rs at Tifton Army Airfield, 1944. Tifton
was one of at least four auxiliary fields attached to Spence Field and home to a P-40
transition training outfit, though I do not currently know its name/designation.

Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection) - Larger Image

Ship 41-20039 was assigned to the C.O. of the transition outfit at Tifton. She was built
as a Merlin-powered P-40F-20-CU and re-engined with an Allison, becoming a P-40R-1.

Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection) - Larger Image

A closer look at the rest of the gang. The first six ships on the right, and possibly one other,
are P-40Rs, re-engined P-40Fs (and maybe some P-40Ls). The rest appear to be P-40Fs.

Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection) - Larger Image

Ship Number Two

A P-40N at Spence Field in 1944 or 1945.

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