Off Bridgeport, Connecticut – April 21, 1942
Long Island Sound
On April 21, 1942, 2nd Lt. Willard J. Webb was piloting a P-38E, (Ser. No. 41-2111) at 15,000 feet over the Bridgeport Airport on a performance test flight. He’d just completed the flight and was starting to head down to the field when the aircraft began to violently shudder and shake. The following is an excerpt from the Army crash investigation technical report in Lt. Webb’s own words.
“At 12:58, I was directly over the field at 15,000 ft., at which time I recorded the completion of the performance test. I turned at 90 degrees to the right, and 90 degrees to the left, making a combination of a lazy 8 and a power let-down, at which time the plane began to shake violently and automatically going completely out of control. The violent shaking of the airplane left me without any control over the airplane. I cut my gun, rolled stabilizer back with no results. At this time, the speed was tremendous, so my next decision was to jump.”
Lt. Webb managed to bail out as the aircraft plunged into Long Island Sound. Ha too came down in the water and was rescued by a boat and brought ashore where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder.
At the time of his accident, Lt. Webb was assigned to the 61st Pursuit Squadron (I). He received his pilot’s wings October 31, 1941.
Source: U.S. Air Corps Tactical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-4-24-13