Monday, September 09, 2019

Steak and Eggs, an A-20 (formerly numbered #13, crashed on the pilots 13th mission! ((Friday the 13th is in 4 days!!!))) made from parts of salvaged planes, and therefore didn't officially exist in the Army's paperwork, and the B 25 "Fat Cat" (pulled from combat status) were used for beer runs (and fresh food) in 1943 and 44, to Australia from Papua New Guinea (thanks Steve!)

For the men stationed in New Guinea during 1942 and 1943, a variety of fresh food was not easy to come by. There were plenty of coconuts soldiers were tired of eating, and the occasional banana, but no other fresh fruits or vegetables. Whatever came through was canned. By the end of 1942, they decided that they had had enough of the canned fruits and vegetables but had more than enough determination (think MASH tv show shenanigans) to figure out a way to ferry fresh food from Australia and extras like beer, records, and other treats, with a different crew along each time for R n R.

So they began working on their own plane and built it from the scrapped fuselage from the LITLE HELLION, which belly-landed on November 1, 1942, and the wing sections from THE COMET, which was scrapped after the nose wheel collapsed while the plane was being towed on December 15, 1942.

Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 89th Bombardment Squadron the "Little Hellion" had nose art of a girl next to a palm tree with nose number 13, and on November 1, 1942 took off on a strike mission against the Janapese at Lae. This was Ford's thirteenth combat mission. Over the target, damaged by anti-aircraft fire that ruptured the hydraulic lines, forcing it to make a wheels up, flaps up, forced landing - and was damaged enough that it was written off.

In need of an airframe they could use, the mechanics towed it back to base, the 40-166, although belly landed, had no wrinkles in the fuselage.

and placed it up on onto empty 55 gallon fuel drums

Since mechanics did quite a bit of waiting when they had nothing to do, the Little Hellion and parts from the Comet like inboard wing sections, with the landing gears and engine nacelles. New engines and props were obtained from Tech Supply.

and repaired using parts from "The Comet" which also suffered a landing accident. New engines were installed and the aircraft completely rebuilt without the armor plating, guns and bomb racks.

 It stood in the junk yard completely stripped.

Everybody cooperated – our commander, the Base Supply (graveyard), so I got a flatbed truck and trailer and went after the fuselage. I talked to my top non-coms to learn who was the best mechanic – “Kip Hawkins,” they said. Hawkins assembles a crew which included John Dugan, Joe Schram, and the whole sheet metal department of Johnnie Leonard and a kid from east Tennessee , Cline Parrott

It was a slow reconstruction that lasted all of January 1943, as the mechanics Kip and Joe had to go through a lot of scrap piles around Port Moresby for various parts.

 Soon enough, the fuselage was slid between the wings and the aircraft was put together. The A-20, now named THE “STEAK and EGG” SPECIAL, was christened with eggs on February 4th.

When completed, the aircraft still bore the tail serial number 40-166 and made a test flight renamed "The Steak and Egg Special".

Starting in Feb of 43 she departed Port Moresby with two passengers and 200 dollars to purchase steak, fresh fruit and vegetables in Australia, and returned three days later.

That logo? 89th attack squadron:

SUBJECT: Approval of Squadron Insignia. TO : Commanding General, USAF, Washington, D. C. THRU: Commanding Officer, 3rd Attack Group, APO 503.

1. Under the provisions of Section IV, paragraph 4, Circular Number 6, War Department, 1943, it is requested that the attached tentative squadron insignia be approved. In considering the request attention is invited to the fact that this squadron has been on foreign duty over eighteen months, in New Guinea one year, on three hundred combat missions (1236 sorties); and the only squadron in the 3rd Attach Group without a squadron insignia.

2. The meaning of the insignia: The background is blue and green, the squadron’s official colors. These colors were assigned to the squadron to distinguish it and its material for overseas movement. Together, they portray the colors of coral formation as seen from the air; these coral formations are characteristic of the Southwest Pacific Area, our first theatre of combat operations. Separately, the blue signifies our air echelon and the green signifies our ground echelon. The trees are representative of the altitude at which we attack. The clouds, which provide concealment for approach and cover for withdrawal, are truly benevolent courtiers (sic) in the heavens for the attack aviator. The Air Forces attempt to combine the explosive carrying ability of bombardment with the speed, maneuverability, and strafing power of pursuit is most nearly realized in the Attack aircraft: the mechanized falcon with a three bladed propeller. This fast attacker, the like bird it represents, is ever ready at the wrist of the air arm for short, devastating sallies. What better description of attack aviation than the Webster’s New International Dictionary (1931) definition of the falcon, …Though some of the species are very small, and none are of more than medium size, they are very courageous and represent the highest type of birds of prey. The analogy of the fierce, zoological prototype of the attack aircraft is perfectly portrayed by the conventionalized falcon on a three-bladed propellor (sic). The parafrag bomb (the darling of destruction peculiar to attack aviation) is inserted because it was used for the first time in the history of combat by this squadron against the Japanese in New Guinea in World War II, and because it has been brought to a high degree of effectiveness through the efforts of this squadron. The red and yellow of the prop, the black of the falcon, and the white of the cloud blend with the squadrons colors to give the colors of the Third Attack Group, our parent organization.

During the next six months, this aircraft was used as a "fat cat" on supply runs from New Guinea to Australian cities including Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane and Sydney for fresh food, vegetables, eggs and liquor.

Although the fresh food and an opportunity for leave time in Sidney were welcomed, the Steak and Eggs did manage to do something the enemy never could: stop the 89th cold.

 As Harris Ward recalls: “On one of the early trips of "The Steak and Egg Special" they brought back enough fresh potatoes to feed the entire squadron. The cook decided to make potato salad. A few unlucky fellows had to stay with the planes while everyone else went to lunch. The potato salad was so good it all disappeared and the men staying with the planes did not get any.

They were unhappy until the first of many started to feel bad in the middle of the afternoon. By suppertime everyone was sick including all the pilots. The only men who were not sick were the men who did not have any potato salad. The cooks had left the potato salad stand in aluminum containers. The entire squadron was out of commission and no one could make it to the flight line the following day. I don't think we did much the second day either. I remember thinking and saying I had to get better to be able to die."

During early May 1943, she moved with the squadron to Dobodura.

In about August 1943, “The Steak and Egg Special” had the paint removed, and the aluminium highly polished, making it an extra fast aircraft, its name was then changed to “Steak and Eggs”.

Being the only A20 in the South West Pacific in natural metal colour had its advantages. On a flight to Sydney in November, its pilot was double dog dared by the Lt in the nose section, to fly beneath the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Several minutes later a B26 Marauder landed, and as this aircraft was in its natural metal finish, the blame for the goofing off and hazardous bridge buzz was directed at this hapless aircraft and it’s crew.

“Steak and Eggs” was the most important morale booster in the squadron, and continued to ply her trade from Port Moresby to Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney.

At the end of January 1944, this aircraft moved with the squadron to Nadzab Airfield. Since this aircraft did not officially exist in unit records, precisely how many food runs it flew is unknown.

In June of 44 while flying in Queensland, Australia the A-20 was caught in bad weather and ran low on fuel and force landed on a beach on the northwest side of Low Wooded Island, near Cooktown. The one passenger in the nose section injured his shoulder during the landing, but four others escaped reasonably well.

After the crash, a salvage party did visit the aircraft, but a complete salvage was deemed too difficult. Today, the wreckage still remains on the beach including the two engines and wing section of the wreckage.

A-20A "Little Hellion / The Steak and Eggs" Serial Number 40-166

The pilot assigned to the A-20A on which Joe was Crew Chief first was 1st Lt. Elliott Hickam, the nephew of Horace Hickam for whom Hickam Air Force base at Pearl Harbor is named.

After the war, Kip and Joe, the mechanics that put together the Steak and Eggs, went to business together, in Holderness New Hampshire, with a garage,

 that evolved and became a VW and Porsche dealership!

Kip and Joe's Volkswagen dealership initially started in Holderness and later moved to 1428 Lake Shore Road, next to Kip and Joe's Trailer Park at 1424 Lake Shore Road

In 1954, Joe Long and Kip Hawkins (along with partner Rowland Keith, Yale Class of '48, BE, Mechanical Engineering, sports car racer that set the record on Mt Washington Hill Climb, unitl Carroll Shelby driving a Ferrari set a new record) served in the Army during the Korean War (1951-53) as an ordinance engineer, and won the Watkins Glen International Sports Car Grand Prix in 1950, driving a supercharged M.G. TC)  were awarded one of the early US Volkswagen auto dealerships with a handshake and without paperwork!

The dealership, based in Holderness, was known as "Kip and Joes". The partners moved the business to Gilford in 1962, ultimately expanding to include Toyota, Audi, Saab, Mazda, Fiat and Indian Motorcycle franchises. The partners also opened a marina in Holderness in 1957. (the Gilford dealership was sold in 1981)

Once the 89th started flying the Steak and Eggs Special to Australia on a regular basis, the other squadrons in the 3rd Group decided that they should have a plane of their own.

But they took the easy way out, and simply took a plane out of combat. Harris writes, “The 13th or 90th or both did the same thing with a B-25. They named the B-25 "Fat Cat". They took one of their planes, in lieu of building a plane from the junkyard from combat status. Both planes made many flights to Australia doing the same thing. In, “The Forgotten Fifth,” by Michael Claringbould, the author lists the Fat Cat as a B 25 in the 90th squadron.

that guy there in the plane?

Major General John Philip (Jock) Henebry, (Brigadier General by his 30th birthday) flew 219 successful combat missions, was Commander of the Third Attack Group, orchestrated the Korean Airlift, decorated with every obtainable Air Force medal and, by appointment of the Queen, named Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Before he was CO of Clark AFB... He was aboard the U.S.S. Missouri along side of General MacArthur for the signing of the Instrument of Surrender.

before that in January 1945, he became Commander of the Combat Replacement and Training Center in Nadzab, New Guinea

while just a year or two before that? He was flying the Fat Cat!

and had a hell of a boneyard of aircraft for parts, because Dobodura base was often bombed by the Japanese,


  1. Geez!...What a cool story!..I can't believe no one else commented...

    1. Thank you! It took a while to work it up and find the photos... for every link you see, it was about a half hour.
      I'm surprised to, but I've had the odd discovery that the stuff I find is the coolest, most incredible stories, get the least comments. I'm not kidding.
      Similar to this is the true and incredible story of the B 25 fixed up from one that was in the Libyan junkyard, and used to chill beer.

  2. Damn, amazing story.

  3. The best damn thing on the internet!

    1. Thank you sir! High praise indeed, and may I be clear that it wouldn't be possible without your lead?

    2. lol, 11:32 PM !

  4. Have not seen something this good since "Airpower" and "Wings" magazines.
    Great stuff!

    1. Thanks! Makes me wish (once again) that magazines would do a "Best Of" website. There've been a lot of magazines, and they've made a LOT of content happen over the years, but so many of them are unobtainable, and certainly not financially worth it, but wouldn't it be the coolest if someone would put together a "best of" website for each magazine?
      Thanks again!