The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk first flew in 1938 as a modification of the Curtiss P-36 Hawk. Warhawk was the official U.S. designation while the name Tomahawk was used by the British Commonwealth and Soviet forces for the P-40B and C and Kittyhawk for P-40Ds and later variants. The P-40 was first used by British squadrons in North Africa and the Middle East in 1941. The P-40 lacked a two-speed supercharger making them inferior to German aircraft but was an adequate fighter in low altitude combat zones. Almost 12,000 P-40s were produced.
No. 80 Squadron was formed in September 1943 and equipped with Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk. On July 29, 1944 Curtiss P-40N 43-23237 was received by 80 Squadron RAAF and assigned an ADF number A29-671 and letters BU-O. BU-O was assigned to Lt. Ken Goldring who named the aircraft "Angry Bee". From mid-summer 1944 American and Australian forces were engaged in battles to drive Japanese forces out of Dutch New Guinea. Noemfoor Island was a major goal because of three airfields that could be used to support the Allied advance.