The Greater America

Jack Newkirk crash site

Photo-map of Newkirk's crash site
Photo-map of Jack Newkirk's crash site, based on a 1944 RAF reconnaissance photo with labels by Jack Eisner. The railroad bridge is at the top (north) of the image. Newkirk first strafed this bridge, and the anti-aircraft gunners at the bridge — presumably Thai — returned fire. Newkirk then turned west, and circled the old city to attack the bridge again, from the south, lining up with the north-south road. Along the road he spotted two ox-carts on a wooden bridge at the approximate point marked by the lower (southern) circle. He presumably felt that these were legitimate military targets, and his fellow Flying Tigers reported them as such. In later accounts they were magnified into Japanese armored cars, one of which supposedly shot him down.

[Hank Geselbracht reported that he flying "in string" with Newkirk, presumably just behind him. "The next target we dove on," he wrote, "were two vehicles vehicles (sic) on the road south of Chiangmai. Newkirk dove and fired and as he cleared the target I began to fire. I saw a flash of flame beyond the target ... and realized that he had crashed.... The two vehicles we fired at, I believe were armored cars. They were camouflage brown and were squarish in appearance." His was the only combat report I could find from Newkirk's flight, and none were excerpted in the Group War Diary. See Bob Bergin's different conclusion. — DF]

In any event, Newkirk fired on them, according to Thai witnesses. Interestingly, the Thais assumed the oxcarts were attacked because they were loaded with rice — possible military supplies. In that attack, he either flew too low, or could not pull out of his dive with the result that one wing clipped a flame tree next to the bridge and was torn off. The wing landed about 200 m further north, in front of the west gate of a temple, and the fuselage crashed farther along, breaking up into pieces. He was buried near the crash site. (Photo by permission of Williams-Hunt Aerial Photos Collection; original from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Digital Archive from Center for Southeast Asia Studies, University of Kyoto)

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