Groton, Connecticut – February 8, 1942
At 10:40 a.m., on February 8, 1942, 2nd Lt. Melvin B. Kimball, and Staff Sergeant Sherrill Roark, began a scheduled training flight from Trumbull Field in Groton. As their aircraft, a Stearman PT-17, (Ser. No. 41-8001) began to lift from the ground, Lt. Kimball noticed a lack of power in the engine. As the plane struggled to climb to 50 feet, Kimball decided to return to the field, and initiated a turn. While doing so, the plane went down in a swamp next to the airfield and flipped over on to its back. Neither man was seriously injured.
The accident investigation committee determined the possible cause of the crash to be carburetor icing.
The men were assigned to the 65th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Trumbull Field.
Lt. Kimball obtained his pilot’s rating December 12, 1941.
Lt. Kimball later served in China under Brig. Gen. Claire Chennault. In March of 1943 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “repeated dangerous missions flying men and material to fighting front bases in Free China.” He was credited with shooting down two enemy aircraft; a Japanese Zero on November 8, 1942, and a bomber aircraft on December 26, 1942.
He was later credited with two more aerial victories on January 16, 1943, and May 8, 1943.
U. S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-2-8-7
(N.H.) Newmarket News, “Lt. Kimball Receives Distinguished Cross”, March 26, 1943
Book – Army Air Force Victories: a daily count, by Arthur Wyllie, 2004