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Tarac Ridge Warplane crashes February 8-10 2018 write up by Nick Armbrister

I have had an interest in aeroplanes and history ever since my dad got me into planes back in 1980. He took me up to air crashes on the Pennines/Peak District/Manchester/Yorkshire/Lancashire area of England in the early 80s. There are over fifty crashes alone here ranging from the war years and later. We also went to wrecks in the Lake District and Wales. 

In 2014 in the Philippines I went to more wrecks. I Googled Bataan warplane crashes and found out about the LT Stone P-40 Warhawk and Sgt Kurosawa Ki-27 Nate dog fight and subsequent crashes. This read like something from a Battle or Warlord comic. 

Over the coming weeks I put together an expedition there. I talked to Kevin Hamdorf who was one of the group who found the P-40 wreck. He gave me much info and introduced me to the guide, Noel. Without his help the trip wouldn’t have been possible. 

We went to the crash area at Tarac Ridge on February 8-10 2018. This was the 76th anniversary of it. We went to the P-40 on Feb 9 and the Ki-27 on the 10th. 

The crashes are over a kilometer up altitude wise. We had to hike many hours through the forest/jungle and mountain to the area. We camped at the lower campsite. There is an easier site at the top of the mountain near Kurosawa’s Nate which is less than a hundred feet below the area. Because we never camped there we had to ascend the final hour to the summit each day.

The Warhawk site of Stone is hundreds of feet below Kurosawa’s in the forest on the mountain side. Little remains today but bits of alloy, Perspex, glass and other small fragments. We found these. Lt Stone is still listed as MIA Missing In Action. One of our group, Mike, searches for MIAs. We took hundreds of photos of the area and of our search.

I ventured up to the Nate site of Sgt Kurosawa on the last day of our three day stay. It was at the summit. We had to go through thick brush/jungle to the location. Kurosawa hit a rock face and his plane was fragmented. The engine used to be there but has since been removed. There is less at this site than at Stone’s P-40. We found bits of metal, Perspex and bits. Looking at the closeness to the summit, I realized that Kurosawa almost made it.

Nobody but God and the pilots know who shot down whom and who was on the other’s tail that day. The result is the same: two warplanes wrecked and two pilots dead. Maybe more answers will be found on future expeditions. It was a great experience to go there to Tarac Ridge, Mariveles, Bataan. In time I hope to return. This was my first international warplane trip. I want to go to a Grumman F-6F Hellcat at Capas next.

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