Missing Aircraft – February 10, 1943

Missing Aircraft – February 10, 1943


     On the afternoon of February 10, 1943, a U.S. Army O-47B observation plane, (ser. #39-72) with two men aboard left Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, bound for Mitchel Field on Long Island, New York, and disappeared en-route.  Searchers flying the intended route of the plane failed to locate anything.  It’s possible that the plane went down in Long Island Sound.

     The pilot was Flight Officer Talmadge J. Simpson, 23, of Atlanta, Georgia, and his observer was Corporal Louis T. Vogt Jr., 25, of Brooklyn, New York.     


      New York Times, (No headline – press release from Westover Field, Massachusetts, from the Eastern Defense Command.), February, 14, 1943  

Killingly, CT – December 20, 1954

Killingly, Connecticut – December 20, 1954


Grumman AF-2 Guardian, Bu. No. 124785 Killingly, Ct., Dec. 20. 1954  U.S. Navy Photo

Grumman AF-2 Guardian, Bu. No. 124785
Killingly, Ct., Dec. 20. 1954
U.S. Navy Photo

      On the morning of December 20, 1954, navy Lt. (Jg.) George Delafield took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island in a Grumman AF-2W Guardian, (Bu. No. 124785), for what was to be an instrument training flight.  Shortly before 10 a.m., while over the town of Killingly, Connecticut, the aircraft’s generator stopped working resulting in an onboard fire.  Lt. Delafield managed to set the plane down in an open field and climbed out as soon as it came to rest.   He was uninjured, but the plane was a total loss.

     The aircraft was assigned to VS-39 at Quonset Point.  

     This accident is sometimes confused with another AF-2 Guardian that crashed in the neighboring town of Putnam, Connecticut, on May 7, 1953.  In that instance four men were killed.  The details of that accident can be found elsewhere on this website.  


Grumman AF-2 Guardian, Bu. No. 124785 Killingly, Ct., Dec. 20. 1954 U.S. Navy Photo

Grumman AF-2 Guardian, Bu. No. 124785
Killingly, Ct., Dec. 20. 1954
U.S. Navy Photo

     Only 398 AF Guardian aircraft were manufactured, making this a rare airplane when speaking in a historical context.  (Only a handful of examples are known to still exist, and not all are airworthy.)

     In 1996, members of the Confederate Air Force Museum, (Today known as the Commemorative Air Force Museum) visited the site in hopes of recovering pieces of Lt. Delafield’s AF-2W to be used in a restoration project of another AF-2W in the museum’s collection.   

     The Guardian aircraft in the museum’s collection was once flown by famous naval aviator Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale in the 1950s. During the Vietnam War, Stockdale flew 116 combat missions before being shot down and captured.  He spent the next seven-and-a-half years as a POW, four of them in solitary confinement for organizing a resistance movement among the prisoners.   For his efforts he was awarded the Medal of Honor.  He was also Ross Perot’s running mate in the United States 1992 presidential campaign.  

     Today the restored Guardian is in the Commemorative Air Force Museum’s collection as static display at their Arizona facility.

     The Norwich Bulletin, “Field May Yield Rare C…” (Rest of headline missing.) September 5, 1996  

     Wikipedia – Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale

     Wikipedia – Commemorative Air Force Museum 


Long Island Sound – December 24, 1942

Long Island Sound – December 24, 1942


U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger
National Archives Photo

     On December 24, 1942, a flight of four navy TBF-1 Avengers left Norfolk, Virginia, bound for Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.  After a stop in New Haven, Connecticut, the planes left for New London, flying over Long Island Sound along the coast of Connecticut.  Somewhere between New Haven and New London, Lt. (jg.) William Young Bailey and his aircraft disappeared from formation and was presumed to have crashed in the Sound.  The following day pieces of aircraft wreckage were found near New Haven.    

     Lt. Bailey was alone in the aircraft. 

     It is unclear whether or not Lt. Bailey’s body was recovered.  There is a memorial to him located in Woodlawn Cemetery in Zanesville, Ohio.  To see a picture of the memorial, and a photograph of Lt. Bailey, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #6290244.      


     The Sunday Morning Star, (Wilmington, Del.) “Navy Flyer Missing On Connecticut Trip”, December 27, 1942.  

Trumbull Airport – August 19, 1950

Trumbull Airport – August 19, 1950

Groton, Connecticut


B-26G Bomber U.S. Air Force Photo

B-26G Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 19, 1950, a Connecticut Air National Guard B-26 aircraft took off from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, bound for Trumbull Airport in  Groton, Connecticut for a transport flight.  

     There were four men aboard; the pilot, 1st Lt. Martin E. Coleman, 32, of Hartford, Connecticut, and three passengers, Major William B. Duty, Capt. Paul E. Kimper, and Sgt. Kyle C. Thresher.   

     They arrived at Groton during a driving rainstorm which hampered visibility, and made for slick runway conditions.  While attempting to land, the plane skidded off the end of the runway, over a seven foot embankment, and plunged into the Poquonoc River and flipped on its back and sank, leaving only the plane’s belly and landing gear protruding from the water. 

     Lt. Coleman drowned, but the other three men escaped with minor injuries.

     Lt. Coleman was a member of the 118th Fighter Squadron, 103rd Fighter Group, then based at Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.  He enlisted in the 118th Observation Squadron (Ct. Nat. Guard) after his high school graduation in 1936, and in the Army Air Corps in 1941.  In 1943 he earned his pilots wings and flew a variety of aircraft while serving with the Air Transport Command.  After his discharge in 1946, he re-joined the Air National Guard.   He’s Buried in Northwood Cemetery, in Windsor, Connecticut.   (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #150775556.)


     (New London, Ct.) The Day, “Air Force To Probe Fatal Crash At Trumbull Airport”, August 21, 1950


Norfolk, CT – March 31, 1943

Norfolk, Connecticut – March 31, 1943


Curtiss P-40   U.S. Air Force Photo

Curtiss P-40
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 3:34 p.m. on March 31, 1943, 1st Lt. Daniel H. Thorson, 24, took off in a P-40E fighter plane, (#41-36514), from Mitchell Filed, on Long Island, New York, bound for Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.  The weather was cloudy with a 1,400 foot ceiling. 

     The trip was expected to take less than an hour, however when Lt. Thorson failed to arrive, and no word was heard from him, he was declared “missing”, and a search was instituted.   After a week the search was called off.  Then, on April 24th, two Yale Forestry School students conducting a timber survey on Blackberry Ridge in Norfolk, Connecticut, happened upon the wreck of Lt. Thorson’s plane.  The wreckage was scattered over a wide area at the 1,571 foot level, and it was surmised the ridge had been hidden by the low cloud cover. 


Lt. Daniel H. Thorson U.S. Army Air Corps Photo

Lt. Daniel H. Thorson
U.S. Army Air Corps Photo

     Daniel Henry Thorson was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana.  Before the war, he’d worked for Western Air Lines and Lockheed Aircraft in Los Angeles, California.  He enlisted in the Army on February 2, 1942, and completed his pilot’s training at Luke Filed, Arizona, on August 27, 1942.   He was survived by his parents and three sisters, and is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Great Falls. 

     In June of 2003, a memorial to Lt. Thorson was dedicated at the site of his crash by a group of local citizens.  


     Norfolk/Connecticut Death records

     Memorial dedication pamphlet, dated June 25, 2003

     Great Falls Tribune, “Rites Conducted For Lt. Thorson”, unknown date.

     Great Falls Tribune, “Funeral Rites For Lt. Thorson Will Be Here”, unknown date.

     www.findagrave.com, memorial #59873652


Bozrah, CT – March 30, 1943

Bozrah, Connecticut – March 30, 1943


     On the morning of March 30, 1943, a flight of four SNJ-4 navy trainer aircraft from Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, were on a cross-country training flight over the Norwich, Connecticut, area.  The cloud ceiling was at 4,000 feet, and the planes were flying under it.  

     The SNJ-4 was the navy version of the army AT-6 Texan.  It was a single-engine, two-seat, aircraft manufactured By North American.    

     The aircraft were on loan to British pilots assigned to Carrier Aircraft Service Unit – 22, (CASU-22) based at Quonset Point.  One of the aircraft, (#26816), was piloted by Midshipman Raymond Clarke, 19, of Nottingham, England, and his instructor, Sub-Lieutenant Donald Frederick Dillon, 21, of Aesterfield, New Zealand.   

    At about 10:25  a.m., while the formation was passing over the town of Bozrah, just west of Norwich, Clarke’s aircraft began to experience engine trouble, and had to drop out of formation.  The plane was over a semi-populated area and neither man attempted to bail out.  They crashed in a wooded area in the village of Gilman, which is located in the northern part of Bozrah.   

     The aircraft was seen by two contractors doing work on the Gilman Mill to be trailing black smoke with its engine skipping just before it crashed and exploded.   

     Midshipman Clarke was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.  He was the son of Herbert and Constance Hilda Clarke of Lenton Sands, Nottingham, England.  He’s buried in Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island.  To see a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #15037563.  His date of birth is July 4, 1923.

     Sub-Lieutenant Dillon was a member of the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer reserve.  He was the son of Henry Charles Julian and Frances E. Dillon, of Ashburton, Canterbury, New Zealand.   He’s buried in Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island.  To see a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #15037560.  His date of birth is October 3, 1921.


     U.S. Navy crash brief, #43-6396

     Norwich Bulletin, “Two Fliers Lose Lives In Crash Of Plane At Gilman”, March 31, 1943.

     Pawtucket Times, “Dead Navy Fliers Are Identified”, March 31, 1943, page 1

     Providence Journal, “Fliers Identified”, April 1, 1943, page 22.

     Town of Bozrah death records.

     www.findagrave.com – Dillon, Clarke





Black Rock Harbor, CT – June 12, 1942

Black Rock Harbor, Bridgeport, Connecticut – June 12, 1942


P-47B Thunderbolt U.S. Air Force Photo

P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 12, 1942, 2nd Lt. Edward S. Almgren, 23, was piloting a P-47B Thunderbolt, (#41-6930), over the Bridgeport, Connecticut, area on an aircraft familiarization flight.   When it came time to land at Bridgeport Airport, he lowered the wheels, and discovered the aircraft was loosing power.  At first he wasn’t concerned, for it was his first time flying a P-47, and with no previous experience for comparison, he assumed the loss of power was due to the lowering of the landing gear.  (At the time all instruments were reading normal.)  As he was beginning to circle the field at 1,400 feet and contacting the tower for instructions, the engine abruptly quit without any prior warning.   As the plane rapidly lost air speed and altitude, Lt. Almgren retracted the wheels and aimed for Black Rock Harbor on Long Island Sound.  When the P-47 hit the water it skimmed the surface for about 100 yards before it nosed over and sank.  Lt. Almgren had to hold his breath as he freed himself and swam for the surface.  He was quickly rescued by two men in a passing boat and brought ashore.

     Once on land, he went directly to his home at 2445 Fairfield Avenue which was only a short distance from the harbor, and called his superiors at the airport to let them know he was safe.   

     The aircraft was recovered from the water. The cause of the accident was found to be material failure with the engine.       

     At the time of the accident Lt. Algren was assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron. 


     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-6-12-3 

     Unknown Newspaper, “Flier Is Saved In Harbor Crash”, Unknown Date. (Newspaper article was included with army crash investigation report. 



Bridgeport, CT – May 25, 1942

Bridgeport, Connecticut – May 25, 1942


P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 25, 1942, an army pilot was landing a P-40F, (#41-13814), at Bridgeport Airport, when he misjudged the distance and undershot the runway.  The landing gear was folded backwards when it struck an earthen bank at the end of the runway, causing the plane to hit the runway on its belly and slide to a stop.  Although the plane suffered considerable damage, the pilot was uninjured.   

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-5-25-5 

Windsor Locks, CT – June 15, 1947

Windsor Locks, Connecticut – June 15, 1947


P-47 Thunderbolt - U.S. Air Force Photo

P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 15, 1947, Captain William H. Greenleaf, piloting a P-47N, (#44-89106) took off from Bradley Field in Windsor Locks with seven other P-47 aircraft for a simulated combat training mission.  After the aircraft formed up over Bradley Field at 5,000 feet they split into two flights of four aircraft each, and each flight took turns making simulated attacks against the other.  

     When it was their turn, the group in which Captain Greenleaf was part of, climbed to 7,500 feet and made three successive mock attacks against the other group which was circling below at 5,000 feet.  After making two mock runs without incident, they climbed again for a third.  It was during this third mock attack that Captain Greenleaf’s aircraft never came out of the dive, and crashed at a step angle in a wooded area where it exploded and burned about 1/4 mile south of Bradley Field.     

     Capt. Greenleaf was killed instantly.

     Investigators were unable to determine the cause of the accident. 

     Captain Greenleaf was assigned to the 118th Fighter Squadron, 103rd Fighter Group, of the Connecticut Air National Guard.

     Source: Army Air Force Crash Investigation Report, # 47-6-15-1   


Bloomfield, CT – May 24, 1949

Bloomfield, Connecticut – May 24, 1949


P-47 Thunderbolt - U.S. Air Force Photo

P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 5, 1949, two F-47N fighter planes of the Connecticut Air National Guard took off from Bradley Field for a trai9ning flight.  One aircraft, (#44-89346) was piloted by 1st Lt. Marshall J. O’Quinn, 30, and the other by Lt. Russell B. Elliott.    

     The F-47 was the designation given to the former P-47 Thunderbolt used extensively by the allies during World War II.  By 1949 they had been relegated to National Guard units. 

     At about 6:00 p.m., Lieutenant’s O’Quinn and Elliott were flying at 3,000 feet about 2 miles due west of Talcott Mountain, heading north.  Lt. Elliott was leading with Lt. O’Quinn on his left wing.  At this time Lt. Elliott made a 180 degree turn and began heading south, while Lt. O’Quinn turned east towards Bradley Filed.  Lt. O’Quinn’s radio had stopped working about five minutes earlier, and believing he was returning to Bradley due to some other malfunction with the airplane, Lt. Elliott turned to follow.   

     The airplanes passed over Heublein Tower atop Talcott Mountain with Lt. Elliott trailing and continued in a northeast direction.  Then Lt. O’Quinn made a shallow 360 degree turn at an altitude between 1,500 and 2,000 feet.  After completion of the turn, he climbed to 3,000 feet and rolled the F-47 on its back and went into a split-S maneuver pulling streamers from each wingtip.  Lt. Elliott watched as Lt. Quinn’s aircraft dove all the way down then level off just before it crashed.  Lt. O’Quinn was killed instantly. 

     Air force investigators were at a loss to explain the accident.  In their conclusions they wrote, “All reports and information concerning this pilot indicate that he was a steady conscientious individual not inclined toward rash and erratic handling of aircraft.  The reason for the maneuver which caused this crash is unknown.”   

     Lt. O’Quinn was a veteran of WWII, and received his pilot’s wings on April 15, 1945.  At the time of his accident he was assigned to the 118th Fighter Squadron, 103rd Fighter Group, 67th Fighter Wing, of the 1st Air Force.  

     He’s buried in East Cemetery in Manchester, Connecticut, in the veteran’s section.  To view a photo of his grave, go to www.findagrave.com and see Memorial # 1374190.


     Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #49-5-24-6

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial # 1374190 

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