Building The Steak and Egg Special

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, although the men grew tired of eating them, 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 and began working on their own plane that would ferry fresh food from Australia.

This plane, an A-20, was being built from scrapped pieces by T/Sgt. Kip Hawkins and a few other mechanics from the 89th Bomb Squadron. The fuselage was taken from LITTLE 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.

Wings for THE "STEAK & EGG" SPECIAL

An A-20 named THE COMET was scrapped after its nose gear collapsed. The wings from the aircraft were taken and propped up on barrels, ready for a new fuselage of the aircraft that would become THE “STEAK & EGG” SPECIAL.

 

THE "STEAK & EGG" SPECIAL's new fuselage

Here, the scrapped fuselage from the A-20 formerly known as LITTLE HELLION is being slid between the waiting wings propped up on barrels.

It was a slow reconstruction that lasted all of January 1943, as the mechanics had to go through a lot of scrap piles around Port Moresby for various parts. At one point, a wing that was propped up on barrels fell right on the head of a mechanic. Luckily, he escaped without serious injury. Soon enough, the fuselage was slid between the wings and the aircraft was put together. The A-20, now named THE “STEAK & EGG” SPECIAL, was christened with eggs on February 4th.

THE "STEAK & EGG" SPECIAL christening

T/Sgt. Clifton H. Hawkins and Cpl. Schraam sit in the A-20 after its dedication on February 4, 1943. Notice the splattered egg above the name.

Given the nature of how this A-20 came to exist, there were a few mechanical problems to work out. Once fixed though, the aircraft regularly made trips from Port Moresby to Australia. The Squadron enjoyed the fresh food and meat immensely. In August, the paint was stripped and the aircraft was renamed STEAK & EGGS, then later STEAK AND EGGS (without the ampersand). On June 11, 1944, STEAK AND EGGS was low on fuel when it flew into bad weather. Both factors led to a forced landing on an Australian beach and the subsequent end of the aircraft. No one was seriously injured in the landing. Parts of the aircraft were salvaged, with the rest still on the beach today.

Read more about the missions of this aircraft, including a stories from a veteran who flew the plane, at Australia @ War.

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50 thoughts on “Building The Steak and Egg Special

  1. A really excellent story! Somebody should go and get the few bits that remain to put them in a museum. It would be a pity if they just melted away after such a heroic career.

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  2. Delightful story. They did better than soldiers of Union in Civil War. Unless they looted farms they had hardtack and potted meat in cans which the corrupt manufacturers “stretched” with sawdust.

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  3. Excellent insight into the ingenuity back in those days, those foodstuffs were valuable.
    I recall the Americans had Milk and Ice Cream flights into Vietnam daily, ironic how the needs change as war becomes more technological. Cheers.

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  4. Genius!!! I have to tell you, GP, that Jamie had to do a term paper on WW2 and it was supposed to be min. 5 paragraphs long with 5 works cited. Jamie’s was 8 pages/19 works cited. You should have seen the teacher’s face when he turned it in! LOL!!!

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  5. Talk about ingenious creativity solving a problem that would seem at first glance insurmountable. Your writing is always worth reading.

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    • Thank you very much! And it sounds like they had to get pretty creative once in awhile to find solutions to various problems. It wasn’t always easy to get things in a timely fashion. Other units would just use an old plane for a “fat cat” (or one would mysteriously disappear from the roster), but this way is much more interesting.

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  6. So great you’ve written these stories to share and if you have grandchildren – they will know. My father in law worked in B-29, my husband was crew chief on b52’s. My dad was in the Navy and was at Bikini Atoll for all three atomic bomb testing. How I wish he had written his stories. Keep writing!
    Jeanne

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  7. Pingback: International Historical Research Associates | Putting Together The Steak and Egg Special

  8. Pingback: Looking Back at Our Top Posts of 2016 | IHRA

  9. Pingback: Repost: Building the Steak and Eggs Special | IHRA

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