RNZAF Kittyhawk III
Flight Sergeant Lyn William Williams didn't have to go to war. The family had been farmers in New Zealand since 1841, and he had just inherited the family farm when the war broke out. Raising food was a protected profession, but he volunteered regardless, at the ripe old age of 24. By 1943, he was a trained fighter pilot, assigned to 16 Squadron RNZAF. That Spring 14, 15 and 16 Squadrons moved first to Vanuatu where their new P-40Ms (a gift from the USAAF) which they called Kittyhawk IIIs were assembled and the squadrons flew on to Espiritu Santos. 15 Squadron went up to Guadalcanal first on April 8, 1943. 8 weeks later they were relieved by 14 Squadron, which arrived just in time to take part in major fighting in June and July as the Allies prepared to invade New Georgia and Munda. 16 Squadron took over on July 25; among the pilots was F/Sgt Williams. Six days after arrival, on July 31, 1943, the squadron was tasked with patrolling the Rendova area. Climbing through cloud, F/Sgt Williams and his wingman and friend, F/Sgt Sam Sharpe broke out at 20,000 feet to see two other Kiwi P-40s under attack by Zeros. In what was likley his first combat, F/Sgt Williams went to the rescue with his wingman. A larger formation of Zeroes dove on them from out of the sun, and within minutes, Sharpe was diving through the clouds with a dead engine; bailing out, he was picked up almost immediately by a PT Boat. Above F/Sgt Williams fought on until his Kittyhawk was set afire and fell out of the sky, at which point the Zeroes attacked the formation of PT boats, so no one saw what finally happened. At first it was thought he might have crashed on Munda, but when the US Marines took the airfield and its vicinity 5 days later there was no sign of a Kiwi P-40. Most likely, F/Sgt Williams went into The Slot, the graveyard of hundreds of pilots during the year-long battle of Guadalcanal and the central Solomons. His younger brother, who had joined up with him and gone on to the Fleet Air Arm where he was shot down to become a German POW, returned home from the war to take over the family farm.
The model was built on commission for F/Sgt Williams' grand nephew and represents NZ3076, the airplane he was lost in. The picture third from the end of this group was taken of F/Sgt Williams on Guadalcanal, some three days before his final mission.
14 additional images. Click to enlarge.