Mapleton, ME. – July 3, 1943

Mapleton, Maine – July 3, 1943

 

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

     At about 5 p.m. on July 3, 1943, a U. S. Army B-26C bomber aircraft, (Ser. # 41-35181), took off from the Presque Isle, Maine, Air Base, for a routine training flight when it lost an engine shortly after take off and went down and exploded in a wooded area of Mapleton, about five miles west of the airfield.    

     There were five men aboard at the time, three of whom perished. 

     The dead were identified as:

     The pilot: 1st Lt. Walter M. Cochran of Wilmington, Del.

     The co-pilot: 1st Lt. Walter H. Peoples of Wilmington, Del.

     Flight Engineer: Corporal Albert O. Williams of Central, New Mexico.  

     The injured survivors were identified as:

     Corporal Richard P. Hamilton of Pasadena, Cal.

     1st Lt. Norman F. Smith, of Sandena, Cal.

     Both were brought to Presque Isle Air Base Hospital. 

     Sources:

     Evening Star, (Wash. D.C.), “Three Army Fliers Die In Maine Plane Crash”, July 4, 1943m, page C-7 

     Aviation Safety Network

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Groton, CT. – June 12, 1945

Groton, Connecticut – June 12, 1945

 

SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On June 12, 1945, a navy SB2C Helldiver, (Bu. No. 20916), was landing at Groton Field in strong gusty winds when the aircraft ground-looped at high speed, causing major damage to the aircraft.  Neither the pilot or the gunner aboard were injured.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated June 12, 1945    

New Bedford, MA. – December 11, 1944

New Bedford, Massachusetts – December 11, 1944

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     On December 11, 1944, a navy F4U-1D Corsair, (Bu. No. 82206), made an accidental wheels-up landing at New Bedford NAAF.  The aircraft skidded to a stop and there was no fire.  The pilot was not injured, but the aircraft suffered substantial damage. 

     The aircraft was assigned to Fighter Squadron 10, (VF-10) 

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated December 11, 1944.

 

New Bedford, MA. – December 7, 1944

New Bedford, Massachusetts – December 7, 1944 

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     On December 7, 1944, a pilot was making carrier practice landings at New Bedford NAAF in an F4U-1D Corsair, (Bu. No. 82205).  After making several successful landings, he attempted to make another.  Just before touchdown a strong gust of wind caused the left wing to dip.  The pilot attempted to correct, but the aircraft went into a ditch. The pilot suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and the aircraft was seriously damaged. 

     The pilot was assigned to Fighter Squadron 10, (VF-10).

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated December 7, 1944.     

Haverhill, MA. – November 4, 1944

Haverhill, Massachusetts – November 4, 1944

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of November 4, 1944, Ensign Robert E. McLoughlin, (22), was piloting an F4U-1D Corsair, (Bu. No. 50636), over the town of Haverhill when the aircraft was observed to go into a roll and then dive into the ground at high speed and explode. 

     Ensign McLoughlin was assigned to Carrier Air Service Unit 22, (CASU-22).

     Ensign Mcloughlin is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Haverhill.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated November 4, 1944.  

     www.findagrave.com   

 

Point Judith, R. I. – December 15, 1944

Point Judith, Rhode Island – December 15, 1944

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     On the night of December 15, 1944, a flight of U. S. Navy F4U Corsairs took off from the Brunswick Naval Air Station in Maine for a cross-country flight to Groton, Connecticut.  All of the aircraft were assigned to Fighter Squadron 10, (VF-10).  

     At about 3:00 a.m., the flight was passing over the water about a half-mile south of Point Judith, Rhode Island,  at an altitude of 600 feet, staying just below a layer of haze.  The flight was split into two sections.  Members of the first section included Ensign Herman Arthur Rodgers, piloting aircraft #57673, and Ensign William P. Brede, Jr., piloting aircraft #57514. 

     Suddenly Ensign Rodgers’, and Ensign Brede’s aircraft were observed by members of the second section to abruptly drop out of formation and plunge into the water and explode on impact.  Neither pilot had radioed any trouble with his aircraft, or given a distress signal.

     The aircraft and the pilot’s bodies were never recovered, and the cause of the accident is unknown.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated December 15, 1944.    

Quonset Point, R. I. – October 7, 1943

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – October 7, 1943 

 

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of October 7, 1943, a navy FM-1 Wildcat, (Bu. No. 15193), was in the process of landing at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station when a strong crosswind blew it off the runway as it was touching down.  The aircraft ground-looped at high speed and was heavily damaged.  The pilot was not injured.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-8979, dated October 7, 1943.

 

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – August 31, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – August 31, 1944 

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of August 31, 1944, a navy TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 06077), was landing at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the aircraft ground-loped at high speed damaging the landing gear and buckling the fuselage.  There were no injuries.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated August 31, 1944.

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – July 1, 1944

Quonset Point, R. I. – July 1, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the afternoon of July 1, 1944, a ground collision occurred between two aircraft on Runway 19 at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  An F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42300), taxied into the back of an SNJ-5 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 51651).  The SNJ-5 was damaged beyond repair, but there were no injuries reported from those aboard either aircraft.     

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated July 1, 1944.

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

Martha’s Vineyard – March 25, 1944

Martha’s Vineyard – March 25, 1944 

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the night of March 25, 1944, a navy TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 05880), was returning to the Martha’s Vineyard Naval Auxiliary Air Field after a night familiarization flight.   As the pilot was making his landing approach, he was waved off due to another aircraft which had just landed still being on the runway.  The Avenger circled around and came in for a second approach.  As it touched down it made a wheels up landing, and skidded on its belly for 900 feet before coming to rest.  The propeller, the bomb bay doors, and the starboard wing were heavily damaged, but there were no injuries.  

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-81.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-12653, dated March 25, 1944.  

Quonset Point, R. I. – February 17, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – February 17, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of February 17, 1944, a navy TBF-1C Avenger, (Bu. No. 48027), was landing at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the landing gear collapsed shortly after touchdown. The aircraft skidded for over 900 feet before coming to rest.  The aircraft suffered major damage but the three-man crew was not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to Torpedo Squadron Four, (VT-4).

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-11785, dated February 17, 1944.  

Windham, CT. – April 13, 1944

Windham, Connecticut – April 13, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

    On the morning of April 13, 1944, a navy TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 24124), landed short of the left side of the runway at the Windham Air Field.  The left wing dragged and the plane went off the runway where it went into some soft dirt and was thrown over onto its right wing.  The aircraft was damaged, but there were no injuries.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-13163, dated April 13, 1944.   

Quonset Point, R. I. – March 13, 1942

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – March 13, 1942 

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On March 3, 1942, a navy SNJ-3 trainer aircraft, (BU. No. 6911), landed at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a night training flight.  Just after touchdown the pilot realized the brakes weren’t working, and the aircraft went off the end of the runway and nosed over.  The pilot was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated March 13, 1942.    

 

Charlestown, R. I. – September 22, 1944

Charlestown, Rhode Island – September 22, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the afternoon of September 22, 1944, a navy F6F-3 Hellcat fighter, (Bu. No. 26052), was taking off from the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field when the engine suddenly lost all power just after the plane became airborne.  The aircraft fell back to the runway and the fuselage broke in half, but there was no fire.  The pilot suffered serious injuries and the aircraft was a total loss.  

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated September 22, 1944.

 

Squantum NAS – May 25, 1945

Squantum Naval Air Station – May 25, 1945

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On May 25, 1945, a navy SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 27007), landed at the Squantum Naval Air Station in a strong cross-wind and ground looped at high speed causing damage to the left wing, left aileron, propeller, and both landing wheels.  The pilot was not injured.    

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated May 25, 1945.

Greenwich, CT. – July 21, 1945

Greenwich, Connecticut – July 21, 1945

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     At about 3:30 p.m., on the afternoon of July 21, 1945, a navy SNJ-5 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 90720), with two men aboard left the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island for a training flight over Connecticut. About an hour later, while over Greenwich, Connecticut, the aircraft experienced problems with the engine’s fuel flow and began losing altitude.  The pilot made a crash-landing on a golf course.  The crew suffered non-life-threatening-injuries and the aircraft was heavily damaged.    

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated July 21, 1945. 

Quonset Point, R. I. – August 22, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – August 22, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of August 22, 1944, a flight of navy F6F Hellcat fighters were taking part in a night-carrier-landing-practice exercise at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station, when one of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 70169), landed with its landing gear still in the “up” position.  The plane skidded to a stop and suffered significant damage, but the pilot was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 22, 1944.      

Quonset Point, R. I. – August 21, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – August 21, 1944

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

      In the early morning hours of August 21, 1944, a flight of navy F6F Hellcat fighters were making night practice landings and take offs at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  At 2:00 a.m., one aircraft, (Bu. No. 58106), came in for its fifth landing, but the landing gear remained in a retracted position.  The Hellcat made a wheels-up landing and skidded to a stop causing damage to the aircraft, but the pilot wasn’t injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 21, 1944.

Charlestown, R. I. – August 24, 1944

Charlestown, Rhode Island – August 24, 1944 

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the afternoon of August 24, 1944, a flight of F6F Hellcat navy fighters was practicing mock daylight carrier landings on Runway 35 at the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field.  One Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42287), came in to land with the landing gear still up.  The aircraft crash-landed on the runway and skied to a stop.  There was no fire, but the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.  The pilot was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 24, 1944.

Brunswick, ME. – March 24, 1945

Brunswick, Maine – March 24, 1945

 

Lockheed PV-1 Ventura
U.S. Navy Photo

     On March 24, 1945, a navy PV-1 Ventura, (Bu. No. 48884), was returning to the Brunswick Naval Air Station after a 4.5 hour operational flight.  As the aircraft was coming in to land it ran out of fuel and crashed on approach.   Two of the six men aboard were injured, and the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.   

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated March 24, 1945.

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – July 14, 1942

Quonset Point, R. I. – July 14, 1942

 

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the night of July 14, 1942, a flight of navy aircraft were participating in a night-carrier-landing-drill at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  One of the aircraft was an F4F Wildcat, (Bu. No. 02137).   The flight circle took the planes out over Narragansett Bay.      

     As the Wildcat was making its landing approach from an altitude of 300 feet over the Bay, its engine suddenly lost all power.  The pilot was able to glide the plane in to make an emergency water landing just off shore.  The pilot was able to extricate himself before the plane sank in 18 feet of water.  The pilot suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

     The pilot was assigned to Fighter Squadron 41, (VF-41)

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-4487, dated July 14, 1942.

 

 

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – January 30, 1943

Quonset Point, R. I. – January 30, 1943

 

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     On January 30, 1943, a navy F4F Wildcat, (Bu. No. 12147), was taking off for a training flight from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  Just as the aircraft reached an altitude of 700 feet the engine lost all power.  The aircraft was too low for the pilot to bail out, so he tried to glide  towards a wooded clearing.  At an altitude of 50 feet he was able to restart the engine, and as he did so the Wildcat clipped some tree tops causing damage to the plane.  The pilot was able to gain enough altitude to make it back to Quonset Point.  As he was landing, the aircraft hit a snowbank which caused it to swing upwards into an almost vertical position and then slam back down.  The aircraft was heavily damaged but the pilot was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated January 30, 1943.

Quonset Point, R. I. – February 5, 1943

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – February 5, 1943

 

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     At 9:40 p.m. on the night of February 5, 1943, a navy F4F Wildcat, (Bu. No. 12156), was returning to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a night familiarization flight.  The pilot inadvertently made a wheels-up landing, and as the aircraft skidded to a stop it caught fire.  The pilot escaped, but the aircraft was destroyed by the flames. 

     The pilot was assigned to Fighter Squadron 16, (VF-16).   

     Source: 

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5879, dated February 5, 1943.

Quonset Point, R. I. – February 7, 1943

Quonset Point, R. I. – February 7, 1943

 

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     On February 7, 1943, a navy F4F Wildcat, (Bu. No. 5030), was taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the engine suddenly lost all power immediately after becoming airborne.  The aircraft crashed back onto the runway and required a major overhaul.  The pilot was not injured.

     This aircraft had been involved in another accident only five days earlier on February 2nd.  On that date, BU. No. 5030 was coasting to a stop after having just landed at Quonset Point when it was struck by another Wildcat, (Bu. No. 12149), which was taxiing into position in preparation of take off.  The accident was blamed on the pilot of Bu. No. 12149.

     Both aircraft were assigned to Fighter Squadron 16, (VF-16).

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5849, dated February 2, 1943.

     U. S. Navy accident report dated February 7, 1943.  

 

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – February 2, 1943

Quonset Point, R. I. – February 2, 1943

 

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     On February 2, 1943, a navy F4F Wildcat, (Bu. No. 5030), was landing at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  The pilot made a successful landing and as the aircraft was coasting down the runway and nearly to a stop, it was struck by another Wildcat, (Bu. No. 12149), which was taxiing into position in anticipation of taking off.  Both aircraft were damaged but there were no injuries.  The accident was blamed on the pilot operating Wildcat 12149.

     Both aircraft were assigned to Fighter Squadron 16, (VF-16).

     Wildcat 5030 was repaired and put back in service.  

     Five days later, on February 7, Wildcat 5030 was taking off from the Quonset Point NAS when the engine suddenly lost power just after becoming airborne and the plane crashed back onto the runway.  The aircraft required a major overhaul, but the pilot was not injured.  The cause could not be determined.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5849, dated February 2, 1943.

     U. S. Navy accident report dated February 7, 1943.        

Quonset Point, R. I. – February 9, 1943

Quonset Point, R.I. – February 9, 1943

 

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     On February 9, 1943, a navy F4F Wildcat, (Bu. No. 02027), was landing at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in a strong cross-wind when the wingtip hit a snowbank causing the plane to crash.  The aircraft was seriously damaged, and the pilot received non-life-threatening injuries.

     The aircraft was assigned to Fighter Squadron 16, (VF-16). 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #43-5932, dated February 9, 1943

Off Block Island – February 22, 1943

Off Block Island – February 22, 1943 

 

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of February 22, 1943, a flight of navy F4F Wildcat fighters was taking part in a low altitude flight tactics training exercise off Block Island.  One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 12045), was piloted by Lt. (Jg.), Edward Enalius Bailey of Fighter Squadron 16, (VF-16), based at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.  As Lt. (Jg.) Bailey was making a simulated attack on two torpedo planes he suddenly crashed into the water.  Neither the pilot or his aircraft could be recovered. 

     Source: U. S. Navy report, #43-6049, dated February 22, 1943.

Narragansett Bay – August 23, 1944

Narragansett Bay – August 23, 1944

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the night of August 23, 1944, a flight of navy F6F Hellcats were engaged in “night flying carrier landing practice” at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  The flight circle extended out over the waters of Narragansett Bay.  During the training exercise, one aircraft, (Bu. No. 58915), went down in the water and sank.  The pilot escaped with no injuries and was rescued about an hour later. The aircraft was later recovered.  

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 23, 1944,

Ayer, MA. – July 12, 1945

Ayer, Massachusetts – July 12, 1945

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 12, 1945, an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 68260), was approaching the Ayer Naval Auxiliary Air Field to land.  The pilot didn’t touch down until he was half-way down the 2,000 foot runway, after which time he was unable to stop the aircraft before it went off the end of the runway and flipped over onto its back.  There was substantial damage to the aircraft, and the pilot sustained non-life-threatening injuries.       

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated July 12, 1945. 

 

Norwood, MA. – August 5, 1944

Norwood, Massachusetts – August 5, 1944

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of August 5, 1944, the pilot of a navy F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58931), was practicing glide-angle training runs over the Norwood, Massachusetts, area when a sudden “jolt” occurred in the engine compartment followed by sections of cowling falling away, and oil spraying the windshield.  Immediately afterwards the aircraft began trailing smoke.  The pilot nursed the aircraft up from 1,500 feet to 2,500 feet where he bailed out.  The plane came down and was destroyed.  The pilot landed safely with a lacerated hand.     

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 5, 1944

 

Charlestown, R. I. – August 1, 1944

Charlestown, Rhode Island – August 1, 1944

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the night of August 1, 1944, several aircraft from Night Fighter Squadron 104, (VFN-104), were taking part in a simulated night carrier landing exercise at the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  During the exercise, one of the aircraft, an F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42994), crashed into the water just off shore from the air field.  The pilot escaped before the plane sank, and wasn’t injured.  The aircraft was later salvaged.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 1, 1944.

Sanford, ME. – July 25, 1944

Sandford, Maine – July 25, 1944

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 25, 1944, several aircraft were taking part in a “carrier landing practice” exercise at the Sanford Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  One aircraft was a F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42759).  As the pilot made his landing on a simulated aircraft carrier deck platform the arresting wire broke causing the plane to swing violently to the right and skid for about 40 feet.  The aircraft required a major overhaul, but the pilot was not injured.  

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated July 25, 1944

Ayer, MA.- July 10, 1944

Ayer, Massachusetts – July 10, 1944

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 10, 1944, an F6F-3 hellcat, (Bu. No. 26333), was taking off at Ayer Navy Auxiliary Air Field when the aircraft lost power just after becoming airborne and fell back onto the runway.  The aircraft was damaged beyond repair, but the pilot survived, receiving non-life-threatening injuries. 

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated July 10, 1944

Ayer, MA. – August 8, 1944

Ayer, Massachusetts – August 8, 1944 

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of August 8, 1944, Ensign Henry Clayton Youngdoff took off in an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58125), from the Ayer Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Ayer, Mass.  The purpose of the flight was to participate in rocket firing dive exercises.   After completing a practice dive over the airfield, Ensign Youngdoff climbed to 6,000 feet where he joined up with the division flight leader.  Just after doing so, Youngdoff’s aircraft began trailing blue smoke and loosing power.  After declaring an emergency, he was granted permission by Ayer tower to make an emergency landing.  Ensign Youngdoff turned towards the field but due to the loss of power his aircraft began loosing altitude.  When he was about three miles from the field he was only at 1,000 feet and still dropping, so he turned the aircraft towards a small lake.  The terrain below was rugged and hilly.  As he headed towards the lake the engine froze, and realizing he wouldn’t make it to the lake he bailed out.  Unfortunately his parachute didn’t fully deploy and he was killed.  The aircraft crashed and burned about a mile away.  Nobody on the ground was injured.  

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 8, 1944

Atlantic Ocean – September 22, 1944

Atlantic Ocean – September 22, 1944

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the evening of September 22, 1944, a U. S. Navy F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70568), took off from the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Rhode Island for a routine training flight off the New England Coast.  The pilot was Ensign Robert Lee Skinner, 20, of Comanche County, Texas.  The last radio contact with Ensign Skinner was heard about five minutes after take off.  When Ensign Skinner failed to return he was declared missing and a search was instituted, but nothing was found. 

     Five months later the wreckage of Ensign Skinner’s aircraft was discovered off the coast of Montauk Point, Long Island, N.Y.  The cause of his accident was never determined.

     Ensign Skinner was assigned to Night Fighter Squadron 107, aka  VF(n)-107.

     A photo of Ensign Skinner can be seen on www.findagrave.com, memorial #55702569.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated September 22, 1944.

     www.findagrave.com 

Wingdale, N.Y. – November 3, 1945

Wingdale, New York – November 3, 1945

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     The flight of this aircraft originated at the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Charlestown, Rhode Island, but ended in upstate New York. 

     On November 2, 1945, a U. S. Navy  SNJ-4 “Texan” trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 27381), left Charlestown, Rhode Island, on a cross country training flight to Chincoteague, Virginia, where it arrived safely. 

     The aircraft carried two men.  The pilot was Ensign James Frederick Wagner, 25, of Titusville, Penn.  The other man was Ensign Shannon R. Caulk, 21, of Columbia, Tenn.  Both were assigned to Carrier Aircraft Service Unit 26, (CASU-27), at Charlestown.        

     On the morning of November 3, the men took off from Virginia bound for Groton, Connecticut.  The aircraft’s expected time of arrival at Groton was to be 11:31 a.m.

     While passing over the upstate New York area not far from the Connecticut boarder, the men encountered foggy weather and a cloud ceiling of 1,000 feet.  At approximately 11:15 a.m. the aircraft crashed into East Mountain, an 1,800 foot tall hill in the village of Wingdale, New York.  The impact took place along a rocky ledge about 100 feet from the summit.  There was no explosion, but wreckage was scattered along the mountain side.  Both Ensign Wagner and Ensign Caulk were killed instantly.

     A man living nearby heard the accident and upon investigation found the crash site and notified authorities.       

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated November 3, 1945

     Poughkeepsie Journal, “Two Ensigns Killed In crash Of Navy Plane”, November 5, 1945, page 1.

     Poughkeepsie Journal, “Wrecked Ship And Bodies Found On East Mountain”, November 4, 1945

 

 

North Kingstown, R.I. – April 11, 1945

North Kingstown, Rhode Island – April 11, 1945

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On the afternoon of April 11, 1945, a U. S. Navy SNJ-5 “Texan” trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 43893), took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown with two men aboard.   The purpose of the flight was to test a newly installed “flight attitude” gauge in the rear cockpit.   As the pilot was putting the aircraft through a series of aerobatic maneuvers the engine suddenly lost all power and the plane went into a stall.  The aircraft then fell into a short spin and crashed killing both men.

     The pilot was identified as CAP USN Francisco P. Brunetti, 25, and the rear cockpit passenger was identified as AMM3/c John C. Costner, 23.     

     The location of this accident listed in the navy report was “Washington, R.I.”, however there is no such town, but there is a Washington County, R.I.  Within Washington County are the towns of Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Richmond, South Kingstown, and Westerly.  After contacting town halls form those towns, it was learned that the death records for this accident are kept at North Kingstown, Book 6, Page 335.  Therefore it is surmised the accident occurred in North Kingstown.   

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated April 11, 1945

 

Atlantic Ocean – December 3, 1944

Atlantic Ocean – December 3, 1944

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the night of December 3, 1944, a flight of U. S. Navy F6F Hellcats took off from the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Charlestown, Rhode Island, for a “practice night interception” training flight off the Rhode Island coast.  At about 7: 30 p.m., the lead aircraft, (Bu. No. 70632), piloted by Ensign Maynard F. Lednum, (21), was last seen making a “steep diving turn” while descending into a cloud bank at 6,000 feet.   Although not witnessed, he presumably crashed into the ocean and was lost.  Neither the pilot nor the aircraft were recovered.

     Ensign Lednum earned his wings at Pensacola Florida on April 11, 1944, and arrived in Rhode Island on October 7, 1944. 

     To see a photo of Ensign Lednum go to www.findagrave.com, see memorial #173204555.  

     Ensign Lednum was assigned to squadron VF(N)-91.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated December 3, 1944.

     www.findagrave.com

Atlantic Ocean – June 3, 1945

Atlantic Ocean – June 3, 1945

U.S.S. Mission Bay

 

Ensign John J. Zayak
Photo courtesy of
Allison M. Albert

     In the early morning hours of June 3, 1945, a flight of U. S. Navy F6F Hellcats assigned to Night Attack Combat Training Unit 9, (NACTU-9), took off from the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Airfield in Charlestown, Rhode Island, to rendezvous with the escort carrier U.S.S. Mission Bay, (CVE-59), which was operating off the coast of New England.  The purpose of the flight was to conduct night training exercises and practice landings with the carrier.   

     One of the F6F aircraft assigned to the flight, was Bu. No. 70957, piloted by Ensign John J. Zayak.   At 4:30 a.m., as Ensign Zayak was making a landing approach to the Mission Bay, he received a “wave off” signal.  He then “pulled up” and began a climb to the right in order to go around and make another attempt.  As the aircraft cleared the flight deck the engine suddenly lost all power, and the plane went down in the water and sank immediately.      

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     Neither the aircraft or Ensign Zayak could be recovered.  The cause of the engine failure could not be determined.    

 

 

 

 

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated June 3, 1945

Westerly, R. I. – March 9, 1945

Westerly, Rhode Island – March 9, 1945

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On the afternoon of March 9, 1945, a navy SNJ-5, “Texan” trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 43917), took off from the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field for a training flight over southern Rhode Island with two men aboard.  The pilot was Lt. (Jg.) William Edward Stakely.  With him was Lt. (Jg.) Howard Gilmore Boren, Jr., 23.  According to the navy accident report, “The purpose of the flight was to instruct Lt. (Jg.) Boren in recoveries on instruments from stalls, spins, and unusual positions.” 

     As the aircraft was going through a series of aerial maneuvers over the Bradford section of Westerly, Rhode Island, ground observers looked up to see the aircraft spinning violently towards the ground as a “detached portion” of the aircraft could be seen “fluttering” after it.  The aircraft dove into the ground and exploded and neither man was able to bail out.

     The “detached portion” that fell away was found to be the left wing of the aircraft which was recovered in a wooded area about three-quarters of a mile from the crash site. 

      An excerpt from the official U. S. Navy report reads: “A close examination of the left wing showed it to be completely crumpled.  It was curled up and twisted from the leading edge of the wing tip diagonally aft and inboard toward the wing root.” 

     It was believed the wing structure failed due to stresses placed upon it during the routine aerial maneuvers.  The accident was not the fault of the pilot.

     Lt. (Jg.) Boren was a combat veteran and had received the Navy Cross for his actions in battle.  To read the citation or to see a photo of Lt. (Jg.) Boren, go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #56951005.    

     As of this posting no further info is known about Lt. (Jg.) Stakely.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated March 9, 1945 

     www.findagrave.com

 

 

 

Squantum NAS – August 3, 1944

Squantum NAS – August 3, 1944 

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On August 3, 1944, a U. S. Navy SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 54546), made a normal landing at the Squantum Naval Air Station.  Just after touchdown, while the aircraft was still rolling at high speed, the landing gear suddenly collapsed dropping the plane onto the runway where it skidded on its belly to a stop.  The two-man crew was not injured, but the aircraft required a major overhaul.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 3, 1944. 

Otis Field – September 10, 1944

Otis Field, Falmouth, Massachusetts – September 10, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     Just after 2 p.m. on September 10, 1944, a U. S. Navy SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 54180), with two men aboard, took off from Otis Filed.  The pilot was a navy ensign.  The second man was Army Sergeant James Edwin Senter, (21 or 22). 

     The aircraft was seen to climb several hundred feet before it suddenly went into a downward spin to the left.  The pilot managed to jump clear of from an altitude of 500 feet, and his parachute opened just before he hit the ground.  Although injured, he would survive.

     Meanwhile the aircraft crashed just twenty feet away killing Sergeant Senter.

     Sergeant Senter is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  He enlisted in the army in 1940 at the age of 18.  To see a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #173920812.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated September 10, 1944.

Brunswick, ME. – March 10, 1943

Brunswick, Maine – March 10, 1943 

 

U.S. Navy PV-1 Ventura
U. S. Navy Photo

     On March 10, 1943, a U. S. Navy PV-3 Ventura aircraft, (Bu. No. 33949), ground-looped upon landing at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.  The aircraft required a major overhaul but the crew was not injured. 

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-6197, dated March 10, 1943.    

Quonset Point, R. I. – December 10, 1942

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – December 10, 1942

 

Lockheed PV-1 Ventura
U.S. Navy Photo

     On December 10, 1942, a U. S. Navy PV-3 Ventura aircraft, (Bu. No. 33951), was being used to demonstrate “wing-overs” and “flipper-turns” to student pilots when the tail section suddenly warped and became twisted.  The plane made an emergency landing and there were no injuries.  It was determined that the aircraft was damaged beyond repair and was scrapped.

     Source:

     U. S. navy accident report dated December 10, 1942.  

Cape Cod Bay – October 3, 1944

Cape Cod Bay  – October 3, 1944

 

OS2U Kingfisher
U. S. Navy Photo

     On October 3, 1944, a U. S. Navy OS2U Kingfisher aircraft was flying 700 feet over Cape Cod Bay when a muffled thud was heard from the motor followed by an immediate loss of power.  The pilot made an emergency landing in the water and awaited rescue from a nearby Coast Guard boat.  The aircraft was towed to shore by the Coast Guard.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 3, 1944.     

 

Squantum NAS – January 15, 1944

Squantum Naval Air Station – January 15, 1944 

 

OS2U Kingfisher without float
U. S. Navy Photo

     On January 15, 1944, a flight of U. S. Navy OS2U Kingfisher aircraft were returning to the Squantum Naval Air Station after an anti-submarine patrol.  The pilot of one of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 5564), was allowed to make a touch-and-go landing at an auxiliary air field located near the tip of Cape Cod so as to familiarize himself with the field. When the aircraft touched down, the left wheel hit a rut which damaged the left wheel strut of the landing gear.   The pilot was able to keep the aircraft airborne and advised his flight leader of the situation.  The flight leader then flew near #5564 and viewed the damage from his aircraft, and advised the pilot to jettison his bombs. (This was done three miles off Brant Rock.)  Afterwards the damaged aircraft continued to the Squantum NAS where preparations were made for an emergency landing.  When the pilot landed at Squantum the left landing gear collapsed and the plane ground-looped.  The aircraft required extensive repairs, but the pilot was not hurt.   

     This same aircraft had been involved in another accident a year earlier.  On January 10, 1943, the aircraft’s landing gear collapsed after a hard landing.  There were no injuries.    

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-10990, dated January 15, 1944.

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5635, dated January 10, 1943.

Salem Harbor, MA. – December 21, 1943

Salem Harbor, Massachusetts – December 21, 1943

 

OS2U Kingfisher
U. S. Navy Photo

     On December 21, 1943, a U. S. Navy OS2U-3 Kingfisher aircraft, (Bu. No. 5769), was landing in Salem Harbor when a sudden gust of wind tipped the plane causing the left wing and float to strike the water.  The aircraft came to an abrupt stop with the left side partially submerged.  The aircraft failed to right itself, so the pilot and his radioman climbed out onto the fuselage where they waited the arrival of a nearby crash boat.  After being tossed a line, the pilot secured it around the engine hub.   After this was done, the pilot and his radioman were taken aboard the boat, and the boat began to tow the aircraft towards shore.  However, the line snapped while in-route, and the current quickly carried the aircraft away and dashed it into some rocks.  Once recovered, the aircraft required a major overhaul.  There were no injuries.    

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated December 21, 1943

Squantum NAS – January 31, 1944

Squantum Naval Air Station  – January 31, 1944

 

OS2U Kingfisher without float
U. S. Navy Photo

     On January 31, 1944, an OS2U-3 Kingfisher aircraft, (Bu. No. 5369), was landing at the Squantum Naval Air Station when the landing gear collapsed just after touchdown causing major damage to the aircraft.  The crew was not injured.  The caused of the accident was determined to be mechanical failure.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-11356, dated January 31, 1944.   

Quonset Point, R. I. – June 17, 1943

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – June 17, 1943

 

Lockheed PV-1 Ventura
U.S. Navy Photo

     On June 17, 1943, a U. S. Navy PV-1 Ventura, (Bu. No. 29860), was making a landing approach to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a six hour cross-country training flight.  About thirty other aircraft were in the vicinity at the time, all trying to land quickly because the Quonset control tower had announced that the field was about to close due to weather closing in.  The Ventura came in close behind another aircraft and struck the slipstream of the preceding plane.  The Ventura landed hard on the runway and bounced, but was traveling fast enough for the pilot to apply full throttle and remain airborne.  The Ventura circled the field for a second try, and upon touchdown the landing gear collapsed and the aircraft skidded along the runway to a stop. There was no fire, but the aircraft received major damage.  The six man crew was not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VB-126.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-7297, dated June 17, 1943.    

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – March 10, 1943

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – March 10, 1943

 

U.S. Navy PV-1 Ventura

     On the morning of March 10, 1943, a U. S. Navy PV-1 Ventura aircraft, (Bu. No. 29834), with five men aboard, was taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  The pilot started a normal takeoff, and as the aircraft proceeded down the runway it began a gradual drift to the left.  The plane became airborne just before reaching the left edge of the runway at which time the left wing tip was observed to drop about 15 degrees and strike a snowbank.  At the moment of impact the wing burst into flames and the aircraft settled back down to the ground.  Both propellers hit the ground tearing the engines from their mountings.  The flaming fuselage skidded along the ground coming to rest 150 yards to the left of the runway.   The aircraft was completely consumed by fire.

     One crewman, Lieutenant, (Jg.) George L. Mawhinney, died in the accident.    

     The pilot and two other crewmen received first and second degree burns.  The fifth crewman escaped with minor bruises.  

     The aircraft was assigned to VB-125.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-6199, dated March 10, 1943. 

 

 

Westerly, R. I. – September 25, 1943

Westerly, Rhode Island – September 25, 1943

     On September 25, 1943, a U. S. Navy Howard NH-1 aircraft, (Bu. No. 29446), was landing in a strong cross wind the Westerly Air Field when the aircraft bounced causing major damage to the landing gear.  The plane then came down and struck the runway damaging the propeller and left wing and fuselage before coming to rest.  None of the four men aboard were injured.

     This aircraft was repaired and put back into service.  It was involved in another accident at Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, on May 5, 1944.  The aircraft ground looped upon landing; there were no injuries.   

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-8786, dated September 25, 1943.

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-43906, dated May 5, 1944.

Westerly, R. I. – January 15, 1944

Westerly, Rhode Island – January 15, 1944 

     On January 15, 1944, a U. S. Navy Howard NH-1 aircraft, (Bu. No. 29481), with four men aboard, was landing at the Westerly Airport when the right wheel broke away upon touchdown, and the aircraft skidded to a stop.  There were no injures.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-10895, dated January 15, 1944

New Bedford, MA. – April 18, 1944

New Bedford, Massachusetts – April 18, 1944

     On April 18, 1944, a U. S. Navy Howard NH-1 aircraft, (Bu. No. 44905), took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, bound for New Bedford’s auxiliary air field.  Upon landing at New Bedford, the aircraft went off the runway and flipped onto its back.  The plane was badly damaged, and the three men aboard received non-life-threatening injuries.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-13365, dated April 18, 1944.  

Otis Field – May 12, 1944

Otis Field, Massachusetts – May 12, 1944

     On May 12, 1944, a U. S. Navy Howard NH-1 aircraft, (Bu. No. 44913), ground looped after landing at the Otis Army Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  The right wing and aileron were damaged but no injuries were reported.

     Source:

     U.S. Navy accident report #44-44085, dated May 12, 1944. 

Otis Field – May 5, 1944

Otis Field, Massachusetts – May 5, 1944

     On May 5, 1944, a U. S. Navy Howard NH-1 aircraft, (Bu. No. 29446), was landing in a strong crosswind at Otis Army Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when the plane ground looped after touchdown.   The left wing and aileron were damaged, but the three men aboard were not injured.  

     This aircraft had been involved in a previous accident on September 25, 1943 when it crash-landed in a cross-wind at Westerly, Rhode Island.  There were no injuries.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-43906, dated May 5, 1944

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-8786, dated September 25, 1943

Quonset Point, R. I. – June 9, 1942

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – June 9, 1942

 

OS2U Kingfisher
U.S. Navy Photo

     On June 9, 1942, a U. S. Navy OS2U Kingfisher aircraft, (Bu. No. 5314), with two men aboard, was making a landing approach to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  Just before touchdown, a gust of wind caught the aircraft while it was low over Narragansett Bay causing the left wing to touch the water.  The aircraft spun around and hit the water and was then driven into the beach.  The aircraft sustained heavy damage but the crew was not hurt.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #4292, dated June 9, 1942.

Bourne, MA. – October 9, 1942

Bourne, Massachusetts – October 9, 1942

Cape Cod Canal

 

OS2U Kingfisher
U.S. Navy Photo

     On October 9, 1942, a U.S. Navy OS2U Kingfisher aircraft, (Bu. No. 09413), flew under the Sagamore Bridge which crosses the Cape Cod Canal in Borne, and just after doing so struck a high-voltage electric cable strung 350 feet above and across the Cape Cod Canal.  The impact sent the aircraft into a stall and caused it to hit the water near the southern shore of the canal.  The aircraft would require a major overhaul, but neither of the two-man crew was reported to be injured.   

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5038, dated October 9, 1942

Squantum NAS – January 10, 1943

Squantum Naval Air Station – January 10, 1943

 

OS2U Kingfisher without float
U. S. Navy Photo

     On January 10, 1943, a flight of U. S. Navy OS2U Kingfisher aircraft were returning to the Squantum Naval Air station after an anti-submarine patrol flight over the Atlantic.  One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 5564), landed too close behind the flight leader’s plane, and was caught in its slipstream.  The slipstream caused 5564’s left wing to drop and hit the runway with enough force to dislodge two depth charges, but they did not explode.  5564 was still traveling fast enough for the pilot to give full throttle and remain airborne.  The aircraft circled the field and came in for another landing attempt with flaps 1/3 down.  The aircraft hit the tarmac 4/5 of the way down the runway during which point the left landing gear gave way and the aircraft skidded to a stop.  The aircraft suffered substantial damage, but the two-man crew was not hurt.     

     This aircraft was repaired and put back into service.  It was later involved in another accident on January 15, 1944 when the left landing gear collapsed while making an emergency landing at the Squantum Naval Air Station.  There were no injuries.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5635, dated January 10, 1943.

     U. S. Navy accident report $44-10990, dated January 15, 1944.

Block Island – November 7, 1942

Block Island – November 7, 1942

 

U.S. Navy OS2U-2 Kingfisher
U.S. Navy Photo

     On November 7, 1942, a U. S. Navy OS2U-3 Kingfisher airplane, (Bu. No. 09416), was forced to land at Block Island due to being low on fuel.  Upon landing the aircraft flipped over and suffered heavy damage.  The two-man crew was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5762, dated November 7, 1942.  

Block Island Sound – February 13, 1942

Block Island Sound – February 13, 1942

 

OS2U Kingfisher
U.S. Navy Photo

     On February 13, 1942, two U. S. Navy OS2U Kingfisher aircraft were flying together 2,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean about four miles south of Newport, Rhode Island.  

     Each Kingfisher carried two men.  The first, (Bu. No. 5315), was occupied by Ensign Bradley Goodyear Jr., (30), of Buffalo, N.Y., and Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3/c Edward J. Hamner, (20-21), of Long Lake, N.Y.

     The second aircraft, (Bu. No. 5299), contained Ensign R. M. Nelson, and Aviation Radioman 1/c Reginald Henry Davis, (27), of Hardin County, Texas.  

     For some unknown reason, Ensign Goodyear’s aircraft was seen to enter a sharp left turn at a nose down angle.  It continued into the turn for about 270 degrees before it crashed in the water. 

     Ensign Nelson landed his plane in the water where the accident had occurred, and two bodies were seen on the surface.  AMM3/c Hamner left the aircraft in an attempt to retrieve them, and subsequently drowned in the process.

     The cause of the accident could not be determined as the aircraft had sank and was not recovered.       

     Both aircraft were assigned to VP-82.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #3793, dated February 13, 1942.     

Quonset Point, R. I. – August 15, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – August 15, 1944

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On August 15, 1944, a navy SNJ-3 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 7002), left Otis Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, bound for Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  Upon landing at Quonset the plane’s landing gear collapsed causing heavy damage to the aircraft .  There were no injuries.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 15, 1944.  

Hyannis, MA. – November 19, 1944

Hyannis, Massachusetts – November 19, 1944

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On November 19, 1944, a navy SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 26865), was landing at Hyannis Airport in a strong cross-wind, when the aircraft ground looped just after touchdown.  The right wing and aileron were damaged, as well as the right landing gear being torn away, and the left landing gear bent.  The propeller was also bent.  There were no injuries.

     Source:  U. S. Navy accident report dated November 19, 1944. 

Beverly, MA. – February 7, 1945

Beverly, Massachusetts – February 7, 1945

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On February 7, 1945, a navy SNJ-5 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 90667), was landing at Beverly, Massachusetts, when the aircraft went off the runway and into a snowbank and nosed over.  The aircraft was damaged but there were no injuries.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated February 7, 1945

Squantum NAS – May 20, 1944

Squantum Naval Air Station – May 20, 1944

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On May 20, 1944, an SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 5660), was in the process of taking off from the Squantum Naval Air Station when the pilot suddenly aborted the takeoff and applied the brakes.  The aircraft nosed over and was damaged.  The undercarriage broke loose, and the left wing, propeller, engine cowling, were all damaged, as well as the engine due to the sudden stoppage.  The pilot and his instructor were not hurt.  

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-14365), dated May 20, 1944. 

Quonset Point, R. I. – October 20, 1943

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – October 20, 1943

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On October 20, 1943, an navy SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 27815), landed at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station and as it was taxiing off the runway to an airplane parking area it collided with a parked tractor causing significant damage to the aircraft requiring a major overhaul.  The pilot and instructor aboard were not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VS-33.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated October 20, 1943.

 

Nantucket, MA. – October 18, 1943

Nantucket, Massachusetts – October 18, 1943

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On the morning of October 18, 1943, a navy SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 27276), was landing in a strong cross wind at the Nantucket Naval Air Station when the aircraft ground-looped just after touching down.  The pilot and his civilian passenger were not injured but the aircraft suffered significant damage.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-9145, dated October 18, 1943. 

Martha’s Vineyard – October 9, 1943

Martha’s Vineyard – October 9, 1943

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On October 9, 1943, an navy SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 27178), crashed while landing in a strong cross wind at Martha’s Vineyard Naval Auxiliary Air Field and flipped over onto its back.  The aircraft was damaged beyond repair and the two-man crew suffered non-life-threatening injuries. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-9008, dated October 9, 1943.

Brunswick, ME. – July 7, 1943

Brunswick, Maine – July 7, 1943

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On July 7, 1943, a U. S. Navy SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft , (Bu. No. 27614), was landing at the Brunswick Naval Air Station in a strong 90-degree cross-wind.  As the pilot attempted to use alternate brakes to prevent a ground loop the aircraft nosed over.  The pilot and instructor aboard suffered non-life-threatening injuries.  The aircraft required a major overhaul.        

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-7567, dated July 7, 1943.

Squantum, NAS – May 13, 1943

Squantum Naval Air Station – May 13, 1943

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On May 13, 1943, a U. S. Navy SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 26862), ground-looped upon landing at the Squantum Naval Air Station in Salem, Mass. The left landing gear was buckled, the left wing was warped, and the aileron and landing flaps were damaged.  The pilot and instructor aboard were not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VC-31.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-6880, dated May 13, 1943.    

 

Narragansett Bay – April 24, 1943

Narragansett Bay – April 24, 1943

     On April 24, 1942, a U. S. Navy  SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 27278), was returning to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a one hour training flight with a pilot and instructor aboard.  While five miles from the air base, and at an altitude of 1,000 feet, the fuel tank ran dry.  The pilot switched tanks, but the engine failed to re-start.  The pilot made an emergency landing in Narragansett Bay and the plane sank almost immediately.  The pilot and instructor were able to escape and were rescued.  The aircraft was recovered and required a major overhaul. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #43-6638, dated April 24, 1943.  

Ft. Devens, MA. – March 7, 1942

Ft. Devens, Massachusetts – March 7, 1942 

     On March 7, 1942, a U. S. Navy SNJ-3 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 01829), was taxiing for takeoff at Fort Devens Air Field when the pilot hit the brakes to avoid another aircraft and nosed over.  There were no injuries but the front of the aircraft received considerable damage.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated March 7, 1942.

Quonset Point, R. I. – January 12, 1942

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – January 12, 1942

    On January 12, 1942, an SNJ-3 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 6911), had just landed at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the brakes jammed.  The aircraft skidded forty feet and then nosed over.  The aircraft was damaged, but the two-man crew was not injured.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated January 12, 1942.

Fall River, MA.- September 9, 1943

Fall River, Massachusetts – September 9, 1943

     On the morning of September 9, 1943, a U. S. Navy SNJ-4C Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 27022), was on a training flight over the Fall River area with a pilot and instructor aboard.  Shortly before 10:00 a.m. the aircraft went into a practice spin from an altitude of 6,000 feet from which it recovered at 5,000 feet.  However, at that time the pilot discovered that the throttle was jammed in the closed position.  Repeated attempts to rectify the problem were unsuccessful, and the pilot selected an open field in which to make an emergency landing.  As the plane descended, the pilot continued to work on the throttle, which suddenly opened, but the engine didn’t respond with increased power.   As the aircraft lowered to 2,000 feet the cockpit suddenly began filling with smoke, and flames appeared from the engine cowling.   The decision was made to bail out, and the pilot rolled the aircraft onto its back.  After the instructor had successfully left the aircraft the plane rolled into a vertical position and the pilot was unsure of he could successfully jump clear of the plane so he remained at the controls and aimed for a small cove at the Fall River shoreline.  There he made a successful emergency landing in shallow water about 30 feet from shore.  The pilot and the instructor were not injured, but the aircraft was a total loss.   

     Source:  U. S. Navy accident report #41-8538, dated September 9, 1943.

Squantum NAS – April 6, 1944

Squantum Naval Air Station – April 6, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On April 6, 1944, an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28761), made a wheels-up landing at the Squantum Naval Air Station and skidded 300 feet to a stop.  The aircraft suffered heavy damage, but the crew was not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VS-31.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-12971, dated April 6, 1944. 

Quonset Point, R. I. – April 26, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – April 26, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On April 26, 1944, an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 54260), was approaching to land at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the pilot discovered that he couldn’t lower the landing gear.  He began to circle the airfield in an attempt to fix the problem but was unable to do so.  With fuel running low, he made a wheels-up emergency landing at the base.  The aircraft suffered extensive damage, but the crew was not injured.  The accident was due to mechanical failure. 

     The aircraft was assigned to VS-33.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy report #44-13575, dated April 26, 1944.  

Atlantic Ocean – April 19, 1945

Atlantic Ocean – April 19, 1945

 

U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of April 19, 1945, two FM-2 Wildcat aircraft were involved in a gunnery-training exercise ten miles south of Block Island, R. I.  Both aircraft had just completed a run at a simulated target in the water, when one of the pilots noticed gas fumes in the cockpit of his aircraft, (Bu. No. 47109).  He reported the trouble to the other pilot, and both aircraft began heading back to base.  At 11:40 a.m., while both aircraft were still over the water, the engine of Bu. No. 47109 suddenly cut-out and stopped.  The fuel gauge read 45 gallons.  The pilot was unable to re-start the engine and made a wheels up emergency landing in the water.  The plane remained afloat for about a minute giving the pilot time to escape.  He was rescued a short time later by a navy sea plane.  The aircraft was not recovered.

     Both aircraft were assigned to VC-15.

     Source:  U.S. Navy accident report dated April 19, 1945.     

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – May 1, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – May 1, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On May 1, 1944, an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28722), was taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  After achieving an altitude of ten feet, the engine suddenly cut out, and the aircraft settled back onto the runway.  Just as it did so, the engine suddenly restarted, and as the aircraft began to lift for a second time, the engine once again failed.  The aircraft went off the end of the runway and flipped over onto its back.  The Aircraft was heavily damaged, but the crew was not injured.

     The aircraft belonged to VS-33.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-13737, dated May 1, 1944.  

New Bedford, MA. – February 13, 1943

     New Bedford, Massachusetts – February 13, 1943 

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On the morning of February 13, 1943, two U. S. Navy SBD-4 Dauntless dive-bombers were participating an a tactical exercise over the water off New Bedford. 

      One aircraft, (Bu. No. 06870), was occupied by the pilot; Ensign Herber (Not Herbert) S. Graham, 23, and his gunner/radioman AOM2/c Louis P. Michael.  

     The other Dauntless, (Bu. No. 06867), was occupied by the pilot; Ensign Robert M. J. Veith, and his radioman/gunner AMM3/c Joseph L. Wallace.   

     Shortly before noon, both aircraft made a practice dive on a simulated target, and pulled out at 1,300 feet.  As both planes were re-forming in the air they were involved in a mid-air collision.  After the accident both aircraft went out of control and crashed into the water.  The only crewman to survive was AMM3/c Wallace who was able to bail out and use his parachute.  He was rescued from the water by a small surface craft.  

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5979, dated February 13, 1943.

Brunswick, ME. – April 2, 1944

Brunswick, Maine – April 2, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On April 2, 1944, an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28262), was returning to the Brunswick Naval Air Station after a training flight.  The pilot was making a normal landing approach, but was unable to establish radio contact with the control tower, and unknown to the pilot was the fact that one of the landing gear wheels had failed to come down.  When the aircraft touched down it went off the runway and nosed over.  The aircraft was heavily damaged, but the two-man crew was not injured.  

     The aircraft was assigned to VS-44.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-12844, dated April 2, 1944.

Quonset Point, R. I. – January 25, 1944

Quonset Point, R. I. – January 25, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     At 4:10 p.m. on the afternoon of January 25, 1944, an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28651), landed at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station and collided with another SBD-5, (Bu. No. 36454), that was stopped on the runway due to a flat tire.  At the time of the accident darkness was falling, and the control tower had failed to notify incoming aircraft of the hazard.

     The two-man crew of the incoming Dauntless were not injured.  The crew of the other Dauntless suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

     Both aircraft were substantially damaged, and both were assigned to VB-4.    

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-11175, dated January 25, 1944.

Squantum NAS – January 24, 1944

Squantum Naval Air Station – January 24, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     At 7:45 p.m. on the night of January 24, 1944, an SBD-5 Dauntless, was returning to the Squantum Naval Air Station after a night training flight.  As the Dauntless came in to land, a British TBF Avenger also landed on the same runway, but ahead of the Dauntless.  Neither pilot was aware of the other aircraft’s presence until it was too late.  The Dauntless landed directly behind the Avenger, and quickly overtook it, crashing into the back of it.   Both aircraft were damaged. There were no reported injuries aboard the Dauntless.  It’s unknown about the crew of the Avenger.

     The accident was due to miscommunication between aircraft and control tower.

     Source:

     U. S. navy accident report #44-11151, dated January 24, 1944.    

Squantum, NAS – January 24, 1944

Squantum Naval Air Station – January 24, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On January 24, 1944, a SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28952), was returning to the Squantum Naval Air Station after a training flight.  As the aircraft approached the runway the pilot noted that the right landing gear had failed to come down.  The pilot began to circle the field and attempted to fix the problem but was unable to do so.  When his fuel ran low he was advised to make an emergency landing on one wheel, which he did.  The aircraft was damaged in the landing, but the crew was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-11150, dated January 24,1944.    

Quonset Point, R. I. – January 11, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – January 11, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On January 11, 1944, an SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 29033), took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  Immediately after becoming airborne the pilot’s control stick locked.  The pilot cut the throttle and attempted to land on the remaining portion of the runway but overran the runway and struck a light and a mound of dirt.  The aircraft was damaged, but the two-man crew was not injured.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-10814, dated January 11, 1944.    

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – May 2, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – May 2, 1944

 

U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger
U.S. Navy Photo

     On May 2, 1944, a TBM-1D Avenger, (Bu. No. 25430), was due to take off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station to participate in an aerial gunnery training flight.  The aircraft was designated to be the “target-tug”, meaning it was to tow a canvas target behind it which other aircraft would take turns firing at. 

     At 2:00 p.m. the aircraft began its take-off run with the target sleeve attached.  As soon as the aircraft became airborne the pilot raised the wheels.  At an altitude of 100 feet, the right wing stalled due to recent squadron modifications to it, causing a loss of altitude.  At the end of the runway was Narragansett Bay.  The target sleeve hadn’t yet become airborne, and began dragging in the water off the end of the runway.  Then the right wing stalled a second time and the plane went down in the bay.

     There were four men aboard the aircraft; the pilot, a gunner, and two radio-men.  (The Avenger generally carried a crew of three)  When the plane hit the water one crewman suffered a broken left arm, another a lacerated hand, and the other two were not injured.  All were rescued.

    The aircraft was a total loss, with its fuselage having broken in half.   

    The men were assigned to CASU-22 at Quonset Point.

    Source: U.S. Navy accident report #44-13795, dated May 2, 1944.

 

 

Off Block Island – April 30, 1942

Off Block Island, R. I. – April 30, 1942

 

Vought SB2U Vindicator
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of April 30, 1942, a flight of Vought SB2U Vindicator navy aircraft were participating in a coordinated group bomb-attack training flight off Sandy Point, Block Island.  At 2:30 p.m., two of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 1365), and (Bu. No. 0746), were involved in a mid air collision.  (Bu. No. 1365) had its right wing sheared off in the collision.  (Bu. No. 0746) had part of its right wing and tail section torn away.  Both aircraft had been traveling in opposite directions in different groups at the time of the accident. 

     The pilot of (Bu. No. 1365 ) was Ensign David L. Kauffman, 21.  With him was Lt. (Jg.) Howard Lapsley, 31, serving as an observer.   As the aircraft fell, one man was seen to bail out, but his parachute never opened.  The aircraft crashed into the water north of Sandy Point.    

     The pilot of (Bu. No. 0746) was Ensign Frederick W. Tracey.  With him was his radioman, ARM3/c  J. C. Brown.  Both parachuted safely as their aircraft crashed into the water north of Sandy Point.  Both men were rescued from the water.

     The aircraft were assigned to VS-41. 

     The weather at the time of the accident was fair and hazy.  

     To see a photograph Ensign Kauffman, and to read his obituary go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #113970491.

     To learn more about Lt. (Jg.) Lapsley, go to www.findagrave.com, and see memorial #25898354.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #4091, dated April 30, 1942 

Quonset Point, R. I. – July 12, 1942

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – July 12, 1942

 

Vought SB2U Vindicator
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 12, 1942, a Vought SB2U Vindicator, (Bu. No. 0739), was returning to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a practice bombing training flight when it crash-landed due to heavy crosswinds.  The aircraft suffered heavy damage, but the two-man crew was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-4422, dated July 12,1942. 

Quonset Point, R. I. – July 27, 1945

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – July 27, 1945

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On July 27, 1945, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 06381), had just landed at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station, and as the aircraft was taxiing the landing gear suddenly retracted causing the aircraft the be damaged beyond repair.  None of the crew aboard was injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated July 27, 1945.  

Martha’s Vineyard, – January 2, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – January 2, 1945

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On January 2, 1945, a TBF-1C Avenger, (Bu. No. 24395), was landing at the Martha’s Vineyard Naval Air Station when the aircraft was hit with a strong crosswind while five feet from the ground.  The right wing fell and struck the runway causing the aircraft to crash-land.  The aircraft suffered significant damage, but the crew was not injured.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated January 2, 1945 

Cape Cod Bay – May 8, 1944

Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts – May 8, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of May 8, 1944, a TBM-1C Avenger, (Bu. No. 25500), was participating in a bomb-depth charge training flight over Cape Cod Bay.  The aircraft was carrying some 100 lb. bombs equipped with instantaneous fuses, and some depth charges equipped with 5-second delay fuses.  At 4:10 p.m., the pilot began a bomb run during which one of the bombs caused a fire in the bomb-bay.  As flames gushed forth from the open bomb-bay doors, the rest of the ordinance was jettisoned.  The aircraft was then seen to enter a steady glide and crash into the water.  The aircraft sank taking all aboard with it. 

     The navy identified the crew as follows:

     Pilot: Lt.(Jg.) Norwood H. Dobson, (27).  To see a photo of him, go to www.findagrave.com, view memorial #53923003.

     Gunner: AOM3/c John William Dahlstrom

     Radio Operator: ARM3/c Arthur N. Levesque 

     The crew was assigned to VT-7. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-13855, dated May 8, 1944. 

Sanford, ME. – May 16, 1944

Sanford, Maine – May 16, 1944 

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On May 16, 1944, a TBM-1C, (Bu. No. 17085), made a normal landing on Runway 14 at the Sanford Maine Navy Auxiliary Air Field.  As the aircraft was rolling down the runway the left landing gear collapsed.  The aircraft skidded to a stop and the three-man crew was not hurt. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-14211, dated May 16, 1944.

 

Groton, CT. – May 9, 1944

Groton, Connecticut – May 9, 1944

 

TBM-3E Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On May 9, 1944, a TBM-1C Avenger, (Bu. No. 45503), took off from Groton Field with a three-man crew aboard.  After climbing to an altitude of 500 feet the engine suddenly backfired and quit.  The pilot was unable to restart the engine, and the plane crashed in a wooded area of the Noank section of Groton.   The crew escaped with non-life-threatening injuries – the aircraft was consumed by fire. 

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated May 9, 1944.

Narragansett Bay – December 5, 1945

Narragansett Bay – December 5, 1943

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On December 5, 1943, a Douglas SBD-4 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 10543), took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a training flight.  Shortly after take off, while at an altitude of 1,000 feet,  the engine suddenly caught fire and lost power.  The pilot was forced to make an emergency water landing in the frigid waters of Narragansett Bay in the vicinity of Conimicut Point.  The aircraft sank but the pilot and gunner were able to escape with minor injuries.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-10109, dated December 5, 1943.

Nantucket, MA. – November 20, 1943

Nantucket, Massachusetts – November 20, 1943

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On the morning of November 20, 1943, a Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 29034), was approaching the Nantucket Naval Auxiliary Air Field in heavy haze.  Ground fog conditions were also present.  Due to poor visibility, the plane landed half-way down the runway.  The pilot applied the brakes but was unable to prevent the aircraft from running off the runway and into a ditch. The aircraft suffered heavy damage, but the two-man crew was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-9838, dated November 20, 1943.     

Charlestown, R. I. – April 27, 1944

Charlestown, Rhode Island – April 27, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On the afternoon of April 27, 1944, a Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 09747), overshot the runway while landing at the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field.  The aircraft was on a ferry mission with a Marine Corp 1st lieutenant aboard.   The aircraft first touched down at the approximate midpoint of the 1,400 foot runway.  To the right of the runway was a parked twin-engine PBM Mariner with a bomb truck parked alongside.   When the pilot of the Dauntless applied full brakes the aircraft swerved to the right, and its right wing struck the bomb truck causing the aircraft to pivot and crash into the fuselage of the Mariner. The pilot was not injured but the passenger suffered a cut lip.  No other injuries were reported concerning the truck or the Mariner.  Both aircraft were damaged beyond repair. 

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-15665, dated April 27, 1944.   

Brunswick, ME. – January 28, 1944

Brunswick, ME. – January 28, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On January 28, 1944, a flight of three Douglas SBD Dauntless aircraft were returning to the Brunswick Naval Air Station after a formation training flight.  As the aircraft approached the field at an altitude of 1,800 feet in a “V” formation, one of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 28727), left the formation and went into a spin from which it did not recover.  The aircraft crashed and burned killing the pilot, Ensign James A. Andrew, Jr., and the gunner, Seaman 1/c Harry Hoerr. 

     The men were assigned to VS-31.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-11278, dated January 28, 1944.  

Quonset Point, R. I. – October 12, 1943

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – October 12, 1943

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On October 12, 1943, a Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 24149), landed at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  As the aircraft was taxiing down the runway it collided with another SBD-5, (Bu. No. 11038), that was also taxiing from another runway.  The two aircraft collided where the runways intersected.  Both aircraft suffered substantial damage, but there were no injuries.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 12, 1943.

Charlestown, R. I. – March 3, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – March 3, 1943

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On March 3, 1943, a Douglass SBD-4 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 10448), was taking off from the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field when the engine lost power and the aircraft crashed.  The aircraft was damaged beyond repair, but the crew was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated March 3, 1943.

Charlestown, R. I. – February 12, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – February 12, 1943

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On February 12, 1943, a pilot was making practice landings and take-offs at the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field in a Douglas SBD-4 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 06850), when he crash-landed due to cross winds.  The aircraft sustained heavy damage, but the pilot and his gunner were not injured.   

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5790, dated February 12, 1943   

Hartford, CT. – October 9, 1942

Hartford, Connecticut – October 9, 1942

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On October 9, 1942, a civilian test pilot and a civilian observer took off from Hartford Airport in a Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 2187).  The purpose of the flight was to test the performance of a newly installed propeller.  As the pilot was making a power-climb to 12,000 feet smoke and oil began coming from the engine.  The pilot made a rapid descent towards the airfield but lost power and crash-landed short of the runway causing extensive damage to the aircraft.  The pilot, and the observer were not injured. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated October 9, 1942  

South Kingstown, R. I. – March 13, 1943

South Kingstown, Rhode Island – March 13, 1943

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On March 13, 1943, Ensign Charles W. Bradley, 22, was piloting a Douglas SBD-4 aircraft, (Bu. No. 01526), taking part in a gunnery practice training flight over southern Rhode Island.  The weather was clear, with a cloud ceiling at 5,00 feet, and visibility six miles. 

     After completing a gunnery run at 3,000 feet, the aircraft was observed to turn over and enter a vertical dive from which it did not recover.  Both Ensign Bradley and his gunner, ARM2/c Pat D. McDonough, 22, were killed. 

     Both men were assigned to squadron VB-23.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-6221, dated March 3, 1943.   

Quonset Point, R. I. – June 3, 1943

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – June 3, 1943 

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On June 3, 1943, Ensign Charles Howland Reinhard was taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in a Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 10940), for an authorized cross country training flight.  Almost immediately after becoming airborne, and with the landing gear retracted, the aircraft was observed by ground personnel to suddenly enter a left spin and crash.  Ensign Reinhard perished in the accident. 

     Ensign Reinhard was assigned to VB-15.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-7131, dated June 3, 1943.  

Charlestown, R. I. – September 15, 1943

Charlestown, R. I. – September 15, 1943

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the night of September 15, 1943, a pilot was making practice carrier landings at the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Field in a Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 11057).  On his third approach he was given a “high out” and due to darkness, made a hold-off landing.  The plane stalled and came down on the port landing gear causing it to collapse and break off causing damage to the port wing.  As the plane settled the propeller was also damaged.  The pilot was not hurt.      

     The pilot was assigned to VC-32.

     Source:

     U.S. Navy accident report dated September 15, 1943, #44-8014

Stratford, CT. – March 15, 1943

Stratford, Connecticut – March 15, 1943

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     On March 15, 1943, Chance-Vought civilian test pilot Boone T. Guyton, was piloting an F4U-1 Corsair, (Bu. No. 02157), over the Stratford area.  The aircraft had been brought to Chance-Vought and converted to a XF4U-3, with experimental equipment added.  Mr. Guyton was testing the performance of the aircraft when the engine suddenly failed forcing him to make an emergency landing at Bridgeport Airport, (Today known as Sikorsky Memorial Airport.)  Upon landing the aircraft struck a cement retaining wall.  The aircraft was damaged beyond repair, and the pilot was seriously injured.      

     Investigation determined that one of the rods in the engine had seized causing the engine failure.   

     Boone Guyton, (1913 – 1996), was a well known test pilot and navy veteran.  He wrote a book of his experiences called “Whistling Death: The Test Pilot’s Story Of The F4U Corsair, published in 1991 and 1997. 

     Source:

     U.S. Navy accident report #43-6245, dated March 15, 1943

New Milford, CT. – March 1, 1944

New Milford, Connecticut – March 1, 1944

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     At about 2 p.m. on the afternoon of March 1, 1944, Chance-Vought (Aircraft) civilian test pilot, Willard B. Boothby, was flying a navy F4U-1 Corsair, (Bu. No. 49882), over western Connecticut when the aircraft developed an on-board fire.  Boothby was forced to bail out as the aircraft went down in the Still River section of the town of New Milford, where it struck a private home on Rt. 7 and exploded.  The aircraft and home were destroyed, but the home was unoccupied at the time, and there were no injuries on the ground. 

     Meanwhile, the parachute malfunctioned, and the pilot came down in a wooded area on Corman Hill and was killed instantly.  At the time of the accident, strong winds were blowing, and police speculated that the lines became tangled. 

     The aircraft had been accepted by the Navy only six days earlier on February 23rd, and was at the Chance-Vought plant for experimental purposes. 

     Mr. Boothby began his flying career while a student at Purdue University, and became a test pilot for Chance-Voight in 1941.  He’s buried in Saccarappa Cemetery in Westbrook, Maine.  He was survived by his wife and son.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated March 1, 1944

     Unknown Newspaper, “Willard Boothby, Test Pilot For Chance-Vought, Plane On Fire, Bales Out, And Instantly Killed”, March 2, 1944 – courtesy of the New Milford Public Library.     

     www.findagrave.com, memorial #47668157

Quonset Point, R. I. – January 11, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – January 11, 1944

 

U.S. Navy Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On January 11, 1944, an F4F Wildcat, (Bu. No. 11863), with a target tow sleeve attached, was in the process of taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  At the time, the aircraft had been cleared by the tower for takeoff. When the Wildcat was about two-thirds of the way down the runway, a Grumman J2E Duck suddenly landed ahead of, and in the path of the Wildcat.  To avoid a collision, the pilot of the Wildcat skidded to the left and went off the runway and plowed into a snowbank.  The pilot was not injured, but the Wildcat was in need of a major overhaul.  

     Nobody aboard the other aircraft was injured.  

 

Grumman Duck
U. S. Navy Photo

Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated January 11, 1944   

 

Charlestown, R. I. – October 2, 1944

Charlestown, Rhode Island – October 2, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of October 2, 1944, an F6f-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70998), was coming in to land at the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field after a training flight when the pilot got vertigo and misjudged the altitude and distance to the runway.  The aircraft crashed a half-mile short of the runway and was damaged beyond all repair.  The pilot survived.  

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 2, 1944.  

Beverly, MA. – October 29, 1944

Beverly, Massachusetts – October 29, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On October 29, 1944, a F6F-5, Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58128), was taking off from the Beverly Navy Auxiliary Air Field for a training flight.  As the aircraft began to climb the engine began sputtering and then quit.  The plane came down and was damaged beyond all repair, and the pilot received non-life-threatening injuries.  The pilot reported that when the engine failed all instruments were reading normal.  The cause of the crash is unknown.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 29, 1944.

Quonset Point, R. I. – October 31, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – October 31, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On October 31, 1944, a pilot took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in a F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58302), for a familiarization flight over the area.  Thirty minutes into the flight the pilot detected the odor of gasoline fumes in the cockpit and returned to Quonset.  Just after landing safely the aircraft caught fire and was burned.  The pilot extricated himself without injury.    

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 31, 1944.  

Quonset Point, R. I. – October 17, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – October 17, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On October 17, 1944, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 01769), with three men aboard, was taking off for a training flight from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  Just after becoming airborne, but still over the runway, the engine suddenly lost power and the aircraft fell back onto the runway with its wheels retracted.  The aircraft suffered substantial damage as a result of the incident, but the crew was not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VTN-91.

     Source:

     U.S. Navy accident report dated October 19, 1944.  

Quonset Point, R. I. – September 16, 1943

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – September 16, 1943 

 

U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On September 16, 1945, a flight of three FM-1 Wildcat fighters took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station for an anti-submarine practice flight.  Just after the flight became airborne, the pilot of Bu. No. 15268 noticed that the oil pressure to his aircraft was dropping.  After notifying the flight leader he began his return to Quonset.  As he was making his approach to the runway the engine suddenly stopped, and the plane went down in the water of Narragansett Bay about three hundred yards short of the runway.  The pilot was rescued, and not injured.  The aircraft sank and was stricken after it was recovered.

     The aircraft was assigned to VC-55.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-8637 or 44-8687.       

Quonset Point, R. I. – February 16, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – February 16, 1944

 

U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

      At 7:50 p.m. on the night of February 16, 1944, two FM-2 Wildcat aircraft were returning to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a night tactics training flight.

     The first aircraft, (Bu. No. 16343), landed first and taxied down the runway.  The second aircraft, (Bu. No. 16161), landed just afterwards and collided into the back of the first aircraft.  The first aircraft was damaged beyond repair, but the second aircraft was repaired and put back in service. Neither pilot was injured.

     Both aircraft were assigned to VF-4.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-11748     

 

Quonset Point, R.I. – April 21, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – April 21, 1944

 

U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     At 10:30 a.m. on the morning of April 21, 1944, an FM-2 Wildcat, (Bu. No. 16583), was taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station on Runway 5 for a routine training flight.  Just after becoming airborne, at an altitude of 30 feet, the engine suddenly stopped.  The aircraft fell back onto the runway but there wasn’t enough time or room to stop.  The aircraft went off the end of the runway, over a sea wall, and into Narragansett Bay.  The pilot was rescued, but the aircraft was a total loss.  Inspection revealed fouled sparkplugs to be the cause.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-13366    

South Weymouth NAS – August 13, 1943

South Weymouth Naval Air Station – August 13, 1943   

     On the morning of August 13, 1943, the navy airship K-69, (Bu. No. 30191), was being removed from its hangar at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station when a gust of wind pushed the tail section against the side of the hanger causing a rip in the fabric.  The ship began rapidly deflating as it began to then swing away from the building.  The pilot quickly shut off all switches and abandoned the airship, along with nine other crewmen aboard.  After all hands had left the ship, the ground-handling officer ordered the forward rip paned to be pulled so the rest of the envelope would deflate.  There were 57 men in the ground handling party.   

     The K-69 was repaired and put back in service.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 13, 1943

Off Martha’s Vineyard – December 22, 1943

Off Martha’s Vineyard – December 22, 1943

 

U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of December 22, 1943, a flight of seven airplanes from the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, (CV-4), were taking part in a  gunnery practice flight over the ocean in the vicinity of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  As one aircraft served as a “target tug”, towing a canvas target behind, the other six aircraft would take turns making firing runs at the target.  All six of those planes were FM-2 Wildcats assigned to VF-4. 

     The tow plane leveled off at 6,000 feet and the Wildcats began their firing runs from 7,500 feet.  After all planes had made approximately eight runs, one Wildcat, (Bu. No. 46760), piloted by Lt. (Jg.) Lloyd Henry Launder, Jr., (22), was seen making another run when the left wing suddenly separated from the fuselage, and the aircraft went into a uncontrolled spin and crashed into the sea and disappeared.   A rescue boat and two OS2U water aircraft were dispatched to the scene, but only a small patch of discolored water from a dye marker was found. 

     Source:

     U.S. Navy accident report #44-40488 (or possibly 44-40438)

 

 

Atlantic Ocean – February 20, 1944

Atlantic Ocean – February 20, 1944 

 

U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     At 1:00 a.m. on the morning of February 20, 1944, Lt.(jg.) Howard Francis Edwards was piloting an FM-2 Wildcat, (Bu. No. 16367), over Block Island Sound off the coast of Rhode Island.  The aircraft carrier USS Ranger, (CV-4), was also operating in this area.   

     At 1:05 a.m. Lt. (jg.) Edwards attempted to land aboard the Ranger.  After making a normal approach the aircraft touched down on its wheels and bounced.  The pilot applied full throttle in an attempt to take off again and in doing so struck a radio antenna and part of the bridge structure.  The aircraft then crashed onto the deck forward of the safety barrier and went over the side and disappeared into the ocean before Lt. (jg.) Edwards could escape.  Due to the depth of the water the aircraft was not recovered.

     Source:

     U.S. Navy accident report #44-11844 

Quonset Point, R. I. – August 8, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – August 18, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the evening of August 18, 1944, a TBF-1D Avenger, (Bu. No. 47884), was taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the aircraft lost all power just as it became airborne and went into the waters of Narragansett Bay.  The crew escaped without injury and the aircraft was recovered 13.5 hours later.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 8, 1944. 

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – December 16, 1944

Quonset Point, R. I. – December 16, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of December 16, 1944, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 47576) was making a landing at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the aircraft suddenly ground-looped and was damaged beyond repair.  The crew was not injured due to wearing their safety harnesses.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-97.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated December 16, 1944. 

Off Ipswich, MA. – May 9, 1944

Off Ipswich, Massachusetts – May 9, 1944 

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of May 9, 1944, a navy TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 47692), from the Squantum Naval Air Station, was taking part in a glide-bombing training flight with other aircraft off the coast of Ipswich, Massachusetts.  The weather was clear with unlimited visibility.  During the exercise, the engine suddenly back-fired, and then began to emit dense black smoke followed by flames before all power was lost.  The pilot attempted to glide towards the mainland, but the aircraft went down in the water about 500 yards from shore.  The pilot and the radio operator were able to escape the aircraft before it sank in 35 feet of water, but the gunner, AMM3c F. Howe, was unable to do so and drowned. 

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-4

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated May 9, 1944.

 

 

 

North Kingstown, R. I. – August 21, 1944

North Kingstown, Rhode Island – August 21, 1944

Updated March 8, 2019

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of August 21, 1944, two TBF-1 Avengers, (Bu. No. 23967), and (Bu. No. 06104), left Quonset Point Naval Air Station as part of a flight of several planes that were to take part in a routine training mission.   The two Avengers were flying in a two-plane formation over Narragansett Bay along the western side of Jamestown Island while they waited for other aircraft in the flight to join up with them.  Bu. No. 23967, piloted by Ensign Walter L. Miller, Jr., 21, of Texas, was in the lead position.  The other aircraft, Bu. No. 06104 was piloted by another Ensign, and was flying in the number two position. 

    While both aircraft were about two miles southwest of the Jamestown Bridge, and at an altitude of 1,500 feet, they began to make a ten degree bank to the left.  The air was turbulent, and while the bank was being executed, the right wing of the number two aircraft collided with the elevator of the lead plane.  Immediately after the collision, Ensign Miller’s aircraft went down and crashed into a vacant house in the Saunderstown section of North Kingstown and came to rest in the side yard where it exploded killing all aboard.  The vacant cottage was destroyed by the fire.

     There was an 8-year-old boy playing in the front yard of his home 100 yards away who suffered non-life-threatening burns from the flaming gasoline sprayed by the explosion.   

     A second house in which an elderly invalid woman was residing was also set ablaze.  She was rescued by two Coast Guardsmen, Meredith E. Dobry, of Bensonville, Ill. and Daniel Caruso, of Meriden, Ct., who both happened to be in the area at the time of the crash.     

     The other Avenger was able to make it safely back to Quonset Point without injury to the crew.

     Both aircraft were assigned to CASU-22 at Quonset Point.

     The dead were identified as:

     Pilot: Ensign Walter Lee Miller, Jr., 21, of Morton, Texas.  To see a photograph of Ensign Miller, go to www.findagrave.com, see memorial #38854830.   

     ARM3c Jacob C. Beam, 20, of Pottstown, Pa. He’s buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery in North Coventry, Pa.  See www.findagrave memorial #130440147.

    AMM3c Donald J. Finkler. 19, of East Cleveland, Ohio.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 21, 1944 

     Providence Journal, “Three Quonset Airmen Die As Plane Falls, Fires House”, August 22, 1944, Pg. 1

     New York Times, “Plane Hits House; 3 Die”, August 22, 1944

     Newport Mercury, “Navy Men Identified In Bomber Crash”, date either Aug. 22, or 23rd, 1944

     Town of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records.

 

Atlantic Ocean – September 16, 1944

Atlantic Ocean – September 16, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of September 16, 1944, a Navy TBF-1C Avenger, (Bu. No. 47759), was taking part in a glide-bombing training exercise seven miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  Several other aircraft were also participating.  Each aircraft would make a run at the target from 5,000 feet at an angle of 45 degrees, and pull out of the dive at 1,200 to 1,500 feet, with a 2,000 yard interval maintained between planes.  

     The pilot of Bu. No. 47759 made four successful runs at the target.  On the fifth run, the aircraft was observed to make a 50 degree dive at the target from which it did not recover.  The aircraft plunged into the water just short of the dye marker and disappeared immediately.  No wreckage was recovered thereby leaving the cause of the accident unknown.   

     All aboard Bu. No. 47759 were killed.  

     The pilot: Ensign Townsend Doyle

     Radioman: ARM3c Theodore H. Jaffe

     Gunner: AOM3c Anthony N. Kulsa   

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-43.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated September 16, 1944

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – July 20, 1942

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – July 20, 1942

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     At 1:15 p.m. on July 20, 1942, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 00524), was returning to Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a training flight when the engine lost all power and crashed into a pile of rocks at the end of the runway while attempting an emergency landing.  Two men were aboard the aircraft at the time, and both suffered broken bones.

     The aircraft was a total loss.

     The aircraft was assigned to VF-4.   

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-4516

Quonset Point, R. I. – June 22, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – June 22, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On June 22, 1944, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 06152), was taking off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the engine suddenly lost power.  The aircraft came down at the end of the runway with it wheels retracted.  It went off the end of the runway skidding through soft dirt and then over a seawall.  The aircraft required a major overhaul but the three-man crew was not hurt.  The accident was blamed on mechanical failure.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-48. 

     As a point of fact, this same TBF Avenger, (Bu. No. 06152), had been involved in a previous accident.  On January 13, 1944, while landing at Martha’s Vineyard Naval Air Station during strong wind gusts, the aircraft went off the runway and was damaged, but the crew was not injured.  At that time the aircraft was assigned to VT-7. 

     Sources: 

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-15764 dated June 22, 1944

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-10853 dated January 13, 1944

Quonset Point, R. I. – June 6, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – June 6, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On June 6, 1944, a TBF-1D Avenger, (Bu. No. 24508), was landing at Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a training flight when the left brakes failed causing the aircraft to ground-loop at a high speed.  Damage consisted a buckled wing and buckled rear stabilizer as well as a blown tire.  The crew was not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VC-19.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #41-14953

Charlestown, R. I. – October 15, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – October 15, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On October 15, 1943, a lone pilot flying a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 47438), was practicing take offs and landings at Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field when he crashed due to insufficient air speed. The aircraft was a total loss but the pilot was not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-14

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-5161  

Charlestown, R. I. – September 27, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – September 27, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On September 27, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 00626), with a lone pilot aboard, was returning to Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field after a familiarization training flight.  Strong crosswinds were blowing at the time, and the aircraft went off the runway and suffered major damage.  The pilot was not hurt.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-14.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report # 44-8820  

Charlestown, R. I. – September 18, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – September 18, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On September 18, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 01768), with a lone pilot aboard, was making practice landings and takeoffs at the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field when the aircraft crashed and burned.  The pilot suffered serious burns to his face and hands and an injury to his right knee.  The aircraft was a total loss.

     The aircraft was assigned to VC-43.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-8671.

Charlestown, R. I. – September 21, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – September 21, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On September 21, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 24126), crashed while making practice landings and takeoffs at the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field.  The lone pilot aboard was not injured, but the aircraft required a major overhaul. 

     The cause was determined to be a failure of the fuel selector valve.  

     The aircraft was assigned to VC-43.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report # 44-5724

Charlestown, R. I. – September 20, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – September 20, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On September 20, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 00652), with a lone pilot aboard, was taking off in strong crosswinds  at the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field when the aircraft went into some trees at the end of the runway and nosed up violently.  The pilot wasn’t seriously hurt, but the aircraft was destroyed.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-14.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-5720 

Charlestown, R. I. – December 9, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – December 9, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On December 9, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 23961), with a lone pilot aboard, was making practice landings and takeoffs at Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  As the pilot was approaching to land, flying at 90 knots, 100 feet over the water, the engine suddenly lost all power and a successful emergency water landing was made.  The pilot was rescued, but the aircraft sank, and was not immediately salvaged due to weather conditions.  The aircraft was a total loss.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-13.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report # 44-10172 

 

Martha’s Vineyard, MA. – December 22, 1943

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – December 22, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of December 22, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 06209), was attempting to make an emergency landing due to engine trouble at Martha’s Vineyard Naval Air Station when the aircraft lost power and went into a wooded area near the end of Runway 24 and flipped on its back.  The pilot and one crew member received non-life-threatening injuries, but the aircraft was a total loss. 

     The cause of the accident was determined to be due to a missing bolt to the throttle control rod of the carburetor.     

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-10433

Westerly, R. I. – November 17, 1943

Westerly, Rhode Island – November 17, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the evening of November 17, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 47472), with a lone pilot aboard, was approaching the runway at Westerly Auxiliary Air Field at a 500 ft. altitude when the engine suddenly lost all power.  The pilot attempted to reach the end of the runway in a normal emergency approach but was unable to do so.  The aircraft burst into flames on impact, but the pilot escaped without injury.  The aircraft was a total loss.   

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-13.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44 – 9745

Quonset Point, R. I. – January 15, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – January 15, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On January 15, 1944, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 47520), landed at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a training flight.  Just after touchdown, the landing gear collapsed and the aircraft skidded to a stop.  The three man crew was not injured, but the aircraft suffered significant damage.   

     Source:

     U.S. Navy accident report #44-10885

Quonset Point, R. I. – January 22, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – January 22, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On January 22, 1944, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 48031) , was attempting to take off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station on an icy runway, and couldn’t get up enough speed to become airborne.  The pilot then aborted the attempt, and applied the brakes, but due to the icy conditions the aircraft went off the end of the runway and struck some railroad tracks causing significant damage to the aircraft.  None of the aircraft crew was injured. 

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report # 44-11077

Narragansett Bay, R. I. – August 20, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – August 20, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On August 20, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 24296), took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a low-level practice-bombing training flight over Narragansett Bay.  The weather at the time was clear and the water was reportedly smooth and glassy.  At about 10:15 a.m., as the pilot was making a low level pass at a target, the propeller struck the surface of the water causing damage to the aircraft and the engine.  Fortunately the aircraft made it back to Quonset Point safely and there were no injuries to the crew.  The engine required a major overhaul.

     The aircraft was assigned to VC-19.

     Source: U.S. Navy accident report dated August 20, 1943

Narragansett Bay, R. I. – August 13, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – August 13, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of August 13, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 24031) , was returning to Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a training flight when the engine suddenly lost all power.  At the time this occurred, the aircraft was at an altitude of 900 feet over Narragansett Bay. The pilot turned into the wind and made an emergency water landing with wheels and flaps down.  None of the crew were injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-2.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy crash report #44-8098

Narragansett Bay, R. I. – August 3, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – August 3, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of August 3, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 24028), with a crew of three aboard, left Quonset Point Naval Air Station on a navigational training flight.  When the aircraft was about fifty miles southeast of Quonset Point, and over the Atlantic Ocean, an oil line broke causing the pilot to turn back towards the air station. When the aircraft was about two miles from the base, and at an altitude of 1,000 feet, the engine suddenly stopped running.  The pilot made an emergency water landing, but the impact with the water tore away the bomb bay doors causing the plane to rapidly fill with water and sink within 45 seconds.  The pilot and turret gunner escaped, but the radioman, P. E. McCarthy, went down with the plane and was drowned.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-2.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy crash report #44-7931       

Nashawena Island, MA. – August 27, 1943

Nashawena Island, Massachusetts – August 27, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of August 27, 1943, a flight of four TBF-1 Avengers was rendezvousing over Nashawena Island off Cape Cod, as part of a torpedo tactics training flight.  As the planes were getting into formation, two of them were involved in a mid-air collision. 

     One of the aircraft involved was Bu. No. 24125.  The pilot and one of the crewmen was able to parachute safely, but the third crewman, AMM3C Roger W. Krager, (26) of Binghamton, N.Y., went down with the aircraft and was killed.

     To see a photograph of AMM3c Krager, go to www.findagrave.com, see memorial #71934510.

     The other aircraft involved in this accident was Bu. No. 24130.  The pilot was able to parachute safely, but the two crewmen, S2c Alexander E. Sabalianskas, and ARM3c Bernard G. Manning, (20), of New York City, were killed when the aircraft crashed.  

     Nashawena Island is part of the town of Gosnold, Mass.

     Sources:

     U. S. navy crash report #44-8210

Narragansett Bay, R. I. – December 22, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – December 22, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of December 22, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 05900), with three men aboard, was making practice carrier landings on a platform off the shore of Point Judith when the plane went off the platform and into the water and sank.  The crew escaped without injury.  The accident occurred due to faulty brakes.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy crash report #44-10432  

Narragansett Bay, R.I. – May 23, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – May 23, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of May 23, 1943, a flight of six TBF-1 Avengers took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a formation-practice bombing flight.  One of those aircraft was Bu. No. 06123, piloted by Ensign Leon T. Gerhart, (22), of Pennsylvania. 

     Ensign Gerhart’s aircraft had a crew of three aboard:

     ARM3c Donald J. Cross, (20-21) of Wisconsin.

     AMM2c Morrison C. Dobson

     AMM3c William Richard Walker

     Once airborne, the TBF’s rendezvoused with Ensign Gerhart flying in the No. 2 position.  The bombing mission was carried out, with each aircraft making their run individually at an anchored target boat.   At about 9:25 a.m., with the exercise completed,  the signal was given to re-form.  As this was taking place, Ensign Gerhart’s aircraft was involved in a collision with another TBF, (Bu. No. 47528).  During the collision, the tail section of Gerhart’s aircraft was completely broken off, and his plane fell out of control and crashed in Narragansett Bay.   All aboard were killed.

     The other aircraft (Bu. No. 47528) suffered damage to its right wing, but was able to successfully make an emergency landing at Quonset Point.  Nobody aboard that aircraft was injured.

     To see a photograph of Ensign Gerhart, go to www.findagrave.com, see memorial #86945634

     Source:

     U. S. Navy Crash Report #43-6986 

 

Narragansett Bay, R. I. – July 16, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – July 16, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     At 12:20 p.m. on the afternoon of July 16, 1943, a U.S. Navy TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 47517), took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station for what was termed a “special exercise” by the navy.   The weather was clear with unlimited visibility with surface winds of 15 knots. 

     There were three crewmen aboard the aircraft.

     The pilot: Lieutenant Robert Yarnell Bair, 29, of Iowa.

     AOM3C Wade Alexander Harris

     ARM3C Thomas Francis McConnon  

     At about 2:30 p.m., the aircraft was observed by crew members of the USS Thrush, a WWI era minesweeper operating in Rhode Island waters.  At the time, the Thrush was about four to five miles away from the aircraft, when the aircraft was seen diving towards the water and explode on impact. 

     All three crewmen aboard the Avenger were killed, and the aircraft was not recovered.  However, it is mentioned in the navy report of the incident that “confidential gear” was recovered by divers from the USS Thrush. 

     The aircraft was assigned to the Aircraft Anti-Sub Development Project Unit.

      Source:

     U.S. Navy  crash report #44-7664      

Brunswick, ME. – August 4, 1945

Brunswick, Maine – August 4, 1945 

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

    On August 4, 1945, an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 94055), was taxiing into position in preparation for take off at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.  Unbeknownst to the pilot, some workers were in the process of digging a trench along the side of the taxi way, however no signalman had been stationed on the tarmac to give warning.  As the airplane approached, one of the workers suddenly ran into its path waving his arms for the pilot to stop.  The pilot was forced to hit the brakes hard enough to cause the aircraft to nose over causing damage to the propeller and the engine.  There were no injuries.   

     Source:

     U. S. Navy crash report dated August 4, 1945

Charlestown, R.I. – August 2, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – August 2, 1945

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     At 7:55 a.m. on the morning of August 2, 1945, Ensign Walter G. Davies was taking off from Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 78413), when the engine suddenly lost all power.  The plane dropped back onto the end of the runway where it continued off the tarmac and over an eight-foot embankment where it nosed over onto its back.  The pilot was freed by the base crash-rescue team and wasn’t injured.  The aircraft was a total loss.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy crash report dated August 2, 1945   

Charlestown, R. I. – August 30, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – August 30, 1945

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On August 30, 1945, an F6F-5, (Bu. No. 78419), was taking off on Runway 7 at Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field when the engine suddenly lost power and the plane came back down on the tarmac and flipped over.  The aircraft was wrecked, but the pilot was not seriously injured. 

     Source:

     U. S. Navy crash report dated August 30, 1945  

Charlestown, R. I. – August 10, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – August 10, 1945

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     There were two aviation related accidents which occurred at Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field on this date.  

     At 8:15 a.m. on the morning of August 10, 1945, an F6F Hellcat aircraft was parked on the taxiway at Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field, with its engine running in preparation for takeoff.  Meanwhile, the LOS truck came up along side and parked next to it, waiting for the aircraft to begin its takeoff.  As this was taking place, a second F6F Hellcat, (Bu. No. 40737), taxied up from behind and struck the LSO truck causing significant damage to the truck and the aircraft, but nobody was injured.     

     The second accident occurred at 10:31 a.m., while Lieutenant R. A. Reese was making practice carrier landings at Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 41190), using a tail hook and arresting cable.  As he came in for a landing the tail hook snagged the arresting cable, and the cable snapped, causing the aircraft to make a 180 degree ground loop which resulted in major damage to the plane.  Lieutenant Reese was not hurt.  

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy crash reports dated August 10, 1945 

 

Cape Cod Bay – May 18, 1944

Cape Cod Bay – May 18, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     At 1:07 a.m. in the early morning hours of May 18, 1944, a flight of two U. S. Navy F6F Hellcats took off from Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Rhode Island for a night-training flight.  The mission was to make practice bombing runs on a designated target anchored in Cape Cod Bay.  According to the navy report of this incident, the training-flight was termed a “Masthead Bombing Flight”. 

     The weather was clear with visibility at six-plus miles, with a cloud cover at 8,500 feet. 

     One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 42520), was piloted by Lt. (jg.) James Francis Corroon, Jr., and the other, (Bu. No. 42221), was piloted by an Ensign De Masters.  Both aircraft were assigned to VF-74.      

     On the previous day, Lt. (jg.) Corroon had flown over the target during a daylight training flight, and was therefore familiar with its location.

     At 2:50 a.m., after both aircraft had finished making their mock attack runs on the target, Ensign De Masters radioed to Lt. (jg.) Corroon that he was returning to base.  Corroon answered, “This is thirty-three, Roger, out.”  This was the last radio transmission from  Lt. (jg.) Corroon.  Despite a careful search of the entire area, no trace of the missing pilot or his aircraft was ever found.

     Investigators were unable to come to an exact conclusion as to the cause of the disappearance. 

     Source:

     U.S. Navy Crash Investigation Report      

Sebago Lake, ME. – May 16, 1944

Sebago Lake, Maine – May 16, 1944

 

British Corsairs – WWII
U.S. Navy Photo

     Shortly before noon on May 16, 1944, a flight of British Navy D4V Corsairs, was on a low level formation training flight over Sebago Lake.  (Some sources state there were six panes in the flight, while others state there were only four.) The purpose of the flight was to give the pilots experience flying low over water.  

     Among those taking part in the exercise was Sub-Lieutenant Vaughn Reginald Gill, piloting aircraft number JT-132, and Sub-Lieutenant Raymond Laurence Knott, age 19, piloting JT-160.  Both men were assigned to 732 Squadron based at nearby Brunswick Naval Air Station.    

     As the formation was passing over the water, one aircraft suddenly dropped and struck the lake sending up a large plume of water that was struck by the second, causing it too to crash.  Both aircraft, one containing Sub-Lieutenant Gill, and the other, Sub-Lieutenant Knott, immediately sank in over 300 feet of water and disappeared.  Despite a search conducted immediately afterward, neither the airplanes or the pilots were found. 

     The aircraft were later discovered and photographed in the 1990s.  The courts have decided that these aircraft are not to be disturbed as they are considered war graves.

     Sources:

     Portland Evening Express, “Two British Planes Crash In Sebago Lake”, May 16, 1944, page 1.

     Maine Aviation Historical Society Newsletter, Dirigo Flyer, June, 1998. 

     Pacific Wrecks website:  https://www.pacficwrecks.com/aircraft/f4u/jt160.html

     Book: “Finding The Fallen: Outstanding Aircrew Mysteries From The First World War to Desert Storm, by Andy Saunders, Grub Street Publishing, London, 2011.   

Wilbraham, MA. – December 19, 1942

Wilbraham, Massachusetts – December 19, 1942

 

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

     On December 19, 1942, Lieutenant Russel D. Lynn, 24, was piloting a P-47B, (Ser. No. 41-5960), with a squadron of other P-47s over the area of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, when his aircraft suddenly developed engine trouble.  After directing the aircraft away from populated areas, he bailed out  at 2,500 feet.   The P-47 crashed and exploded just in from Stony Hill Road, about a quarter mile from the intersection of Old Boston Road, not far from the Ludlow town line. Lieutenant Lynn landed safely on Burbank Road and made his way to the scene of the crash where he was met by members of the North Wilbraham Fire Department and the state police.     

     Lt. Lynn was assigned to the 342nd Fighter Squadron based at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

     Source:

     Springfield Daily News, “Westover Pilot Bails Out As Ship Crashes In No. Wilbraham”, December 19, 1942

Westover Field – October 25, 1945

Westover Field – October 25, 1945

 

     On October 25, 1945, a four-engine C-54 aircraft, (Ser. No. 42-72321), with a crew of five men aboard, was practicing beam approaches to Westover Airfield when the aircraft developed an unspecified mechanical problem.  The order to bail out was given, and the now unmanned aircraft crashed in a remote area of the airfield and exploded. 

     One member of the crew, Corporal George K. Holloway, 24, reportedly struck a portion of the aircraft when he bailed out and was rendered unconscious, and thereby incapable of pulling the rip cord of his parachute.  He’s buried in Odd fellows Cemetery in Ponca City, Oklahoma. 

     Two other crew members, Sergeant Charles E. Walker of Long Beach, California, was seriously injured when he made a hard landing on a concrete strip, and Sergeant Bernard J. Lance of Flushing, New York, suffered minor injuries when he landed. 

     The pilot and co-pilot were not injured.

     Sources:

     Unknown newspaper, “Flier Killed At Westover”, October 26, 1945

     www.findagrave.com   

 

The pilot and co-pilot landed safely.     

Westover Field – January 14, 1943

Westover Field, Chicopee, Massachusetts – January 14, 1943

 

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

     On January 14, 1943, two P-47B fighter aircraft were over Westover Filed when they were involved in a mid-air collision.  One aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6005), piloted by 1st Lieutenant Joseph H. Freeman, Jr., of Weatherford, Texas, crashed and burned, killing Lt. Freeman.  The other aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6002), suffered little damage and landed safely. 

     Both aircraft were part of the 340th Fighter Squadron, 348th Fighter Group, then stationed at Westover.   

     Lt. Freeman is buried in City Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford, Texas.  To see a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com.  One will note that he was born on January 14, 1920, and died on his 23rd birthday.  

     The aircraft involved in this accident which landed safely, (41-6002), crashed and burned in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, on March 24, 1943.  The pilot did not survive.  The details of that accident are posted elsewhere on this website.

     Sources:

     Unknown Newspaper, “Plane Collision Kills One Pilot At Westover”, January 15, 1943

     www.findagrave.com

 

Bethel, CT. – November 29, 1942

Bethel, Connecticut – November 29, 1942

     There are few details about this accident.    

Douglas C-39
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 29, 1942, an army C-39 aircraft, (Ser. No. 38-516), with seven men aboard was seen circling the town of Bethel for about fifteen minutes before someone aboard fired a red flare.  Then five parachutes were observed before the plane crashed in a wooded area.  Two men had remained aboard the plane and were killed.   Those who bailed out landed safely.

     The dead were identified n the press as:

     Major Herman B. Leeth, 46, of Indianapolis, Indiana.

     Captain John F. Meehan, Jr., from Wyncote, Pennsylvania.

     The survivors were identified as:

     Colonel George V. McPike of Hannibal, Mo.

     Major Robert V. Dunn, of Marion, Md.

     Captain Gerald Garrard, of Cordele, Ga.

     Lieutenant Ross De Lue, of Chicago, Il.

     A civilian, William Kurylo, of Middletown, Pa.

     The flight had originated at the Rome Air Depot in Rome, N.Y.  The reason for the distress flare and cause of the crash were not stated.

     Sources:

     Hartford Courant, “Plane crash In Bethel Is Fatal To Two”, November 30, 1942

     New York Times, “Two Army Fliers Killed”, November 30, 1942 

 

Sunderland, MA. – August 7, 1941

Sunderland, Massachusetts – August 7, 1941

 

Stearman PT-17
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the afternoon of August 7, 1941, a PT-17 Stearman biplane took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight.  There were two men aboard, the pilot: Lieutenant Everett J. O’Connor; and a mechanic, Staff Sergeant Charles G. Nowark. 

     While over the Connecticut River Valley the aircraft suddenly lost all power and the pilot was forced to find a place to make an emergency landing.  He aimed for the Connecticut River, and made a perfect water landing near a point known as Whittemore’s Rock.  After the plane glided to a stop the weight of the engine caused the nose to sink in several feet of water, leaving the tail of the aircraft pointing upwards.  Neither man was injured.     

     Lieutenant O’Connor was praised for his skill in landing the airplane under such conditions.

     Both men were part of the 7th Squadron, 34th Bombardment Group.  The PT-17 was one of five stationed at Westover at the time.  Other than water damage to the engine, the plane was salvageable.   

      This was reported to be the “…first crash of an army plane stationed at Westover Field.” 

     Source:

     Springfield Republican, “Army Plane Makes Forced Landing After Motor Fails”, August 18, 1941. (With photo of aircraft in river.)

Ludlow, MA. – July 17, 1944

Ludlow, Massachusetts – July 17, 1944

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 17, 1944, a flight of three B-24 Liberator heavy bombers left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a combat formation training flight.  With the bombers was a P-47 Thunderbolt that was to participate in the exercise by making mock attack runs on the bombers as they flew in a three-ship triangle formation.

     As the formation was passing over central Massachusetts, the P-47 crashed into the lead B-24.  The P-47 immediately broke apart and caught fire, but the pilot, a major, was able to bail out safely.  At the same time, pieces of both aircraft struck a second B-24 in the formation causing serious damage to that aircraft. 

     Immediately after the impact between the P-47 and the first B-24, two crewmen of the B-24 bailed out of the aircraft.  Meanwhile, the nose turret gunner of the second B-24 was pinned in place due to the impact of debris from the first two aircraft and was forced to remain there.      

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

     Debris from the stricken aircraft rained down on the town of Ludlow, Massachusetts.  The P-47 crashed and burned on a farm on Rood Street, narrowly missing the barn.  Wing portions of one of the B-24s landed in the back yard of a home on Center Street, and a propeller landed in the yard of a home on Munsing Street.  Pieces of an engine and other small parts fell elsewhere.  There were no reported injuries to anyone on the ground.

     The major landed safely and made his way back to the air field on his own.  One crewman from the B-24 came down in a tree and was rescued by some telephone workers.  The other was found up by a state police officer. Neither was seriously injured.

     The damaged B-24s managed to limp back to Westover on three engines and land safely.  The trapped turret gunner was freed by the pilot and flight engineer immediately afterwards. 

     The third B-24 was undamaged in the accident, and was put in a holding pattern until the other two Liberators could land. 

     Source:

     Springfield Daily Republican, Fliers Are Safe In Mid-Air Crash Of Three Planes”, July 18, 1944 

Northampton, MA. – June 15, 1942

Northampton, Massachusetts – June 15, 1942

 

C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 15, 1942, a C-47, (Ser. No. 41-18377), with three crewmen aboard from Westover Field, was flying low along the Connecticut River on a navigation training flight when it struck a power cable that was strung across the river from MT. Tom to a power substation belonging to the Turner’s Falls Power Company.   The impact snapped the power cable, which was reported to be carrying 13,000 volts of electricity, and also caused damage to the aircraft.  The pilot managed to maintain control and brought the plane in for a crash landing at an open field about two miles away.  None of the crew was injured.

     Source:

     Unknown Newspaper, “High Voltage Wire Knocks Westover Bomber Out Of Air”, June 15, 1942.     

 

Westover Field – February 21, 1942

Westover Army Air Field, Chicopee, Massachusetts 

     At about 8:30 a.m. on the morning of February 21, 1942, 2nd Lieutenant Gordon C. McAthur, 24, of Paris, Texas, was piloting what was described as a “pursuit-type” aircraft that crashed while taking off on runway 33. 

     As the aircraft was leaving the ground the pilot raised the landing gear.  A strong crosswind was blowing at the time, and when the aircraft was at an altitude of about 20 feet it suddenly dropped back to the ground in a flat attitude.  Lt. McArthur was transported in critical condition to the airfield hospital where he succumbed to his injuries later in the day.

     Lt. McArthur is buried in Evergreen cemetery in Paris, Texas.  To see a photo of him, go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #55039852 

     Sources:

     Springfield Republican, “Dies After Crash Of Warplane At Westover”, February 22, 1942, page 1

     www.findagrave.com

 

 

 

 

Westover Field – January 29, 1942

Westover Army Air Field – January 29, 1942

     At about 3:00 p.m. on  January 29, 1942, Lieutenant Thomas Charles Bittner, 21, of Trenton, New Jersey, was attempting to take off from Westover Army Air Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, when his aircraft crashed just after becoming airborne and he was killed.  The specific type of aircraft wasn’t mentioned in the press, and was described only as a “pursuit plane”. 

     Lieutenant Bittner was an experienced pilot, and officials speculated that the cause of the accident might have been due to heavy cross winds or swirling dust fouling the engine, or both.  

     Lieutenant Bitner had a twin brother Robert, who was also serving in the Air Corps.  Both men obtained their pilot’s licenses at the age of 16. 

     It was also reported that Lt. Bittner was the first military fatality at Westover Field.  He’s buried in Our Lady Of Lourdes Cemetery in Trenton, N.J. 

      Sources:

     Springfield Union, “Westover Pilot Is Killed When fast Pursuit Plane Falls, Burns On Take-Off”, January 30, 1942     

     Springfield Union, “Lieutenant One Of “Flying Twins”, January 30, 1942 

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial #102737238

Rentschler Field – May 3, 1944

Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut – May 3, 1944

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the night of May 3, 1944, a B-24 Liberator with a crew of eleven men aboard, took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a night training flight.  While over the Hartford, Connecticut, area the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot, 2nd Lt. John W. Garrett, age 19, attempted to make an emergency landing at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.  The B-24 crashed upon landing, killing Lt. Garrett, and injuring four members of the crew.  The other six escaped without injury. 

     Lt. Garrett is buried in Green Mountain Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. To see a photograph of Lt. Garrett, as well as a photo of his grave, see  www.findagrave.com, Memorial #114672261.   

     Sources:

     Springfield Union, “Westover Pilot Is Killed In East Hartford Crash”, May 4, 1944   

     www.findagrave.com

Ludlow, MA. – May 4, 1944

Ludlow, Massachusetts – May 4, 1944

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 4, 1944, a B-24 Liberator with three crewmen aboard took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a training flight.  Shortly after take off, the aircraft experienced complete engine failure in all four engines.  According to two civilian witnesses living on Burnett Road in the neighboring town of Ludlow, all four engines were silent as the aircraft passed over their home, and someone aboard fired a red distress flair from the aircraft.   Moments later the B-24 crashed and exploded in a thickly wooded area, about 3/4 of a mile from Westover Field. The plane came down on land owned by the Chicopee Water Department in Ludlow just before the Chicopee town line.    

     All three crewmen perished in the accident. They were identified by the press as:

     Pilot: Captain Harold H. Melken, 26, of Watertown, Massachusetts.

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lieutenant William F. Davis, 21, of Baxter, West Virginia.

     Tec-Sgt. Harry Schultz, of Kansas City, Mo.

     Source: Springfield Union, “Three Westover Men Die In Ludlow Plane Crash”, May 5, 1944

West Hartford, CT. – September 7, 1944

West Hartford, Connecticut – September 7, 1944

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 7, 1944, a flight of B-24 Liberators out of Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, were on a combat training flight over the Connecticut River Valley when two of the aircraft were involved in a mid-air collision.  One aircraft crashed, but where it crashed was not stated.  It was initially reported that all of the crewmen aboard that plane parachuted safely however, by the end of the day it was realized that one man was missing.  His body was later recovered in the waters of Hartford Reservoir No. 5, located in West Hartford, Connecticut.

     The other aircraft was able to make it back to Westover Field. 

     The deceased aviator was identified in the press as Corporal John T. Melvin, age 20, of Selma, Alabama.  

     Sources:

     The Springfield Union, “Two Westover Planes Crash”, September 7, 1944.

     The Springfield Union, “Westover Man’s Body Is Found”, unknown date.

Hyannis, MA. – May 11, 1944

Hyannis, Massachusetts – May 11, 1944 

Updated July 8, 2019

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of May 11, 1944, navy Lieutenant (Jg.) George E. Orenge was piloting an F4U Corsair, Bu. No. 02665, over Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when the aircraft suddenly caught fire while in flight.  Being over a populated area, Lieutenant Orenge opted to stay with the plane, but was unable to direct it towards an open area, or to make it to Hyannis Airport.  The plane crashed on Barnstable Road about 200 yards from Main Street in the town of Hyannis.  In the process it struck an elm tree and broke in two, pitching Lieutenant Orenge, still strapped to his seat, from the cockpit.  As the aircraft came to rest and was consumed by flames, Lieutenant Orenge landed on the sidewalk in front of 62 Barnstable Road.   

     The homeowner of 62 Barnstable Road, Vernon Coleman, happened to be outside and witnessed the crash.  He later told a reporter from the Cape Cod Standard Times, “I looked up and saw the plane sort of wavering with the motor on fire.” 

     Lieutenant Orenge was transported to Cape Cod Hospital, but remarkably, he’d only suffered some minor bumps, scrapes, and bruises. 

     The cause of the accident could not be determined due to total destruction of the aircraft.  

     It was also reported that he flew another aircraft later in the day.   

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     This crash wasn’t the only one of Lieutenant (Jg.) Orenge’s  naval career.  On November 5, 1943, he was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 65895), when a tire blew out on landing at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.  The aircraft went off the runway and struck a truck.  The aircraft needed extensive repairs, but Lieutenant (Jg.) Orenge suffered only minor injuries.

     Sources:

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Pilot Who Survives Hyannis crash, Goes Aloft Again”, May 12, 1944      

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-14042 dated May 11, 1944

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-9523, dated November 5, 1943.             

Woods Hole Harbor – March 3, 1944

Woods Hole Harbor – March 3, 1944  

Woods Hole, Falmouth, Massachusetts  

U.S. Army - Douglas RA-24B, U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army – Douglas RA-24B, U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 10:13 a.m. on March 3, 1944, it was reported that an aircraft had crashed into the water at the entrance to Woods Hole Harbor, about halfway between Nonamessett Island and Juniper Point.  The plane had been seen circling low in the sky when it suddenly “pancaked” into the water.

      Observers on shore stated it appeared to be a navy plane with two men inside.  However, the first boats on the scene recovered an army fliers hat and some paperwork from Otis Field in Falmouth. 

     It was later announced by the Navy public relations office in Newport, R.I.  that the aircraft did not belong to the navy, and the Camp Edwards office on Cape Cod stated none of their coastal patrol aircraft were unaccounted for. Boston naval officials also reported that none of their aircraft were missing.  

     The plane was determined to be a U.S. Army RA-24B Banshee, (42-54555) piloted by 2nd Lt. Joseph H. Gardner, 29, of Sierra Blanc, Texas.   Gardner had been on a training flight from Otis Filed to practice stalls and spins. 

     Confusion over the plane’s branch of service was cleared up when it was explained that the RA-24B was the army’s version of the U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless dive bomber.       

Sources:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Plane crashes At Woods Hole” March 3, 1944  

Lawrence Webster, Aviation Historian and Archeologist.    

East Granby, CT – February 11, 1942

 

East Granby, CT – February 11, 1942     

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 11, 1942, a Lockheed A-29A attack bomber (41-23340) with six men aboard was flying at 28,000 feet when the aircraft suffered a catastrophic malfunction.  According to one press report, numerous people on the ground had seen the plane’s right wing fall off while it was still falling from the sky. 

     One witness was Gordon Hayes, an aircraft spotter on duty in the Suffield Observation Post.  He described how the aircraft went into a “corkscrew spin” as it came down.

     Another was Paul Hass of West Suffield, who said that at one point the plane appeared to straighten out before going into another spin, and from his vantage point one wing appeared to be missing.

     Mrs. Elmer Mortensen of Bloomfield related how she saw one crewman jump from the plane.  “Soon, a speck came out of the heavens”, she recalled, “Then as the speck grew, I saw a stream of smoke with it.  I heard the motor skipping, and then the plane came down fast, straight down it seemed.  While it was smoking a man bailed out with a parachute.” 

     An unidentified operator of a garage in East Granby also reported seeing the plane fall with a wing and a portion of the tail missing.  

     The plane crashed shortly before 4:00 p.m., in a gully behind the Petraitis residence at 161 South Main Street. There was no explosion or fire.  State police and officials from Bradley Field in Windsor Locks responded.  Hundreds of curious spectators descended on the scene and police were busy keeping crowds at bay.  

     The dead were identified as:

     1st Lt. Melvin W. Schoephoester, of Baraboo, Wisconsin. (Pilot)

     2nd Lt. Walter C. Boyle of LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

     S/Sgt. Michael M. Kaufman of Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

     Sergeant Gordon Johnson of Renov, Pennsylvania.

     Sergeant Thomas F. Quinn of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

     Sergeant John T. Howey, Jr. of New York City.   

     Missing at the wreck site was the body of the pilot, and it was presumed he’d bailed out prior to the crash.  An open parachute was later found a few miles away in East Willington, and a search was conducted there without results.  Schoephoester’s body was later recovered less than two miles form the crash without his parachute. An official from Bradley offered his opinion that Schoephoester had slipped from his chute after jumping, and that the weight of the harness was enough to keep it open while prevailing winds carried it a considerable distance.

     Other parachutes were found in the wreckage, but not on the men. While army regulations required that parachutes be worn, it was speculated that the crew of the A-29 wasn’t wearing theirs when the accident occurred.   

Updated March 7, 2016

     The following information comes from the U.S. Army Air Corps accident investigation report of the incident. (#42-2-11-4)

     The aircraft was assigned to the 1st Mapping Squadron, 1st Mapping Group, based at Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Ct.  At the time of the accident it was conducting a high altitude photographic mission.  

     As part of its investigation into this accident, the army interviewed 35 witnesses.  A statement issued by the accident investigation committee it said in part:

     “One fact of interest is the large number of witnesses who testified that they saw the right wing leave the airplane.  As can be seen from the photographs, both wings were in the wreckage, the right wing being badly crumpled and apportion of it under the remains of the fuselage. The committee has found no evidence to indicate failure of the wings. 

     It was later determined that what witnesses likely saw was the tail section, not a wing,  break away from the aircraft.

     Numerous witnesses have testified that they could see the ship trailing smoke at high altitudes.  The committee believes that this so-called smoke was in reality a condensation trail left by the airplane in-so-far as no traces of fire could be found in the wreckage.” 

     While examining the wreckage, investigators noted that both engine switches were cut, the throttles to the right engine were completely closed, while the throttles to the left engine were completely open, and the fuel selector valve for the right engine was turned off. 

     The right propeller appeared to have been feathered, and experts concluded that it was feathered at the time of impact.

     Investigators considered the possibility that the accident was caused by a failure of the automatic pilot, however the auto-pilot was so badly damaged that no conclusions could be drawn, only that the auto-pilot was in the “off” position after the accident.        

     Sources:

     U.S. Army Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-2-11-4

     Unknown newspaper, possibly the Hartford Courant – East Granby Public Library – Local History Room, “East Granby Bomber Crash Stirs Immediate Army Probe”, February 11, 1942.

     Unknown newspaper , possibly the Hartford Courant – East Granby Public Library – Local History Room. “Body Of Sixth Flyer Is Found In East Granby”, February 11, 1942

     Larry Webster – Aviation Historian

 

 

 

East Granby, CT – November 8, 1944

East Granby, Connecticut – November 8, 1944 

Updated December 16, 2017

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 8, 1944, a B-24J, (Ser. No.  42-51001), with twelve men aboard,  left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a scheduled combat crew training mission.  Once airborne, the plane headed south over Connecticut.  While over Connecticut, one of the engines began trailing smoke and before long flames became visible.  Despite efforts by the pilot, the aircraft continued to loose altitude, and it became apparent that an emergency landing was the only option.   The pilot aimed for an open area of pastureland located off Route 9 in East Granby, on what was then known as the Seymour Farm.   As the plane passed over the highway it clipped a telephone pole sending it out of control into a marshy section of the pasture where the wings and fuselage broke apart before coming to rest.  There was no fire, but one injured crewman was trapped in the crumpled wreckage and it was several hours before he could be extricated.   

     Of the twelve crewmen aboard, five were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

      Cpl. Gaetano L. Fastiggi, a top-turret-gunner from New Rochelle, N.Y., born September 23, 1925.  He enlisted in the army on April 5, 1944.  He’s buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in New Rochelle.    

      Cpl. Henry Colt Fay Jr., a gunner from Milburn, N.J., born September 12, 1923.  He’s buried in the Winsted Old Burying Ground, in Winsted, Connecticut.    

      Cpl. Charles W. Powell, a gunner from Holdenville, OK., born September 7, 1920.  He’s buried in Holdenville Cemetery.

      Cpl. Furman Watson, a gunner from Seneca, S.C., born June 22, 1923.  He’s buried in New Hope Cemetery in Seneca.

      Pfc. Lester L. Shoemaker, a tail-gunner from Hanover, PA., born September 18, 1918.  He’s buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, in Hanover.  

     Those who were seriously injured included:

     The pilot, 2nd Lt. Roland C. Curtiss.

     The co-pilot, Flight Officer Reese A. McClennahan, Jr.

     The bombardier, Flight Officer Vincent M. Vallaro.

     Gunner, Cpl. Francis A. Crawford.

     Gunner, Cpl. Cono A. Galliani.

     Gunnery Instructor, Staff Sgt. Charles J. Nigro. 

     The navigator parachuted safely away from the plane and received only minor injuries.  

     Today a housing development occupies the crash site. 

     Sources;

     The Hartford Courant, “Five Flyers Killed, Seven Injured As Bomber Crashes In East Granby”, November 9, 1944, page 1.

     New York Times, “Bomber Crash Kills 5”, November 9, 1944

     Town of East Granby Death Records

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Cpl. Gaetano Fastiggi Killed With 4 Others In Bomber Crash”, November 9, 1944.

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Fastiggi’s Body Is Escorted Here”, November 11, 1944.

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Fastiggi Rites Attended By 300”, November 13, 1944.

 

 

 

Windsor Locks, CT – June 5, 1942

Windsor Locks, Connecticut – June 5, 1942

 Narragansett Bay – Rhode Island

 

Curtis P-40 Aircraft
U. S. Army Air Corps Photo

     On June 5, 1942, 2nd Lt. Martin Taub of Newark, New Jersey, was piloting a P-40E (41-24782) over Rhode Island when his aircraft crashed in Narragansett Bay, killing him. 

     It was reported that he was the second serviceman from New Jersey to loose his life in an aviation accident over southern New England that day.  The other pilot was Richard M. Stafford, of Summit, N.J. who was killed in a crash at Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Stafford’s plane was a P-40F, (41-13765). 

Sources: New York Times, “New Jersey Pilot Killed”, June 7, 1942

Falmouth, MA – August 17, 1945

Falmouth, Massachusetts – August 17, 1945 

     On August 17, 1945, Ensign Daniel Ware Goldman, 24, took off from Otis Field in Falmouth in a navy fighter aircraft.  He had no sooner had he taken off when he radioed that he needed to make an emergency landing.  His altitude at the time was about 200 feet, and when he turned to approach the runway his aircraft went into a dive and crashed into a wooded area about a mile from the field.  Ensign Goldman had no chance to bail out and was killed in the wreck.

    Ensign Goldman had been at Otis since May of 1945 training for carrier duty on the new aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Midway. His body was brought to Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island before being sent to Arlington National cemetery for burial.

     Update: May 17, 2018

     According to a Cape Cod Standard Times article, this accident occurred in the neighboring town of Mashpee.   

Sources:

Falmouth Enterprise, ”Otis Field Flyer Dies In Crash”, August 24,1945

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-78

Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Field Pilot Dies In Mashpee Crackup”, August 18, 1945, page 1.

Gosnold, MA – November 18, 1944

Gosnold, Massachusetts – November 18, 1944 

     On November 18, 1944, two navy planes from Otis Air Field were on an operational flight when they collided in mid-air over Nashawena Island.  The Island is part of a chain known as the Elizabeth Islands, which make up the town of Gosnold, Massachusetts.

     One plane, piloted by Lieutenant Robert Shane Traverse, 27, of Absecon, N.J., crashed on the island, while the other made it safely back to Otis with minor wing damage. Traverse’s body was recovered by the Coast Guard with his parachute unopened. 

     He was survived by his wife, Margurite. 

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Otis Field Accidents”, November 24, 1944. awena

Camp Edwards, MA – September 2, 1943

Camp Edwards, Massachusetts – September 2, 1943 

     On September 2, 1943, a Curtis A-25A, (42-79670) (Army version of the Navy Helldiver) was taking part in a mock strafing exercise at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod when the aircraft crashed killing both men on board.

     The pilot was identified as Lt. Robert Ruthlein, 23, of Jersey City, New Jersey.  Also aboard was Major Francis M. Reigel, 35, of Dayton, Ohio.  Major Reigel was attached to the AAATC gunnery branch, and was observing the reaction of ground troops from the air.  

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Camp Edwards” (notes), September 10, 1943  

Atlantic Ocean – December 10, 1944

Atlantic Ocean – December 10, 1944 

     On December 10, 1944, a group of eleven navy fighter planes left Otis Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for an operational training flight over the Atlantic, but only nine returned.  By 8:00 p.m. a search was begun for the two missing planes, and aircraft from Otis and Quonset Point, R.I., as well as crash boats from Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, searched the area north of Nantucket where there had been unconfirmed reports of flares being sighted. 

     Despite the efforts, no trace of the missing aircraft or the pilots was ever found.

     The missing men are: Ensign John D. Cassidy, 21, of Macon, Georgia, and Lieutenant John I. Drew, 27, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Source:

Falmouth Enterprise, ”Planes Lost On Training Flight”, December 15, 1944.   

 

 

 

New Canaan, CT – January 2, 1943

New Canaan, CT – January 2, 1943

     At 7:30 p.m. on January 2, 1943, a U.S. Navy aircraft crashed on Ponus Ridge in the town of New Canaan.  The plane came down on the estate of Lindsey Bradford, and the wreckage was strewn for hundreds of yards.  The pilot was found still strapped to his seat lying against a stone wall. 

     As of this posting, no information is available as to the type of plane, where it was from, or the pilot’s identity.

Source: New York Times, “Crash Kills Navy Flyer”, January 2, 1943    

Near Bridgeport, CT – November 12, 1942

Near Bridgeport, Connecticut – November 12, 1942

P-47C Thunderbolt

U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 12, 1942, U.S. Army Captain Robert K. Noel, 23, was piloting a P-47C Thunderbolt, (41-6171), on a routine training flight over the Bridgeport area when according to witnesses the plane suddenly dove towards the ground and exploded on impact.

     Noel was from Beckley, West Virginia, and was engaged to be married to a Bridgeport woman in four days.  On the day he crashed, he had gone to Bridgeport Probate Court to obtain a waver of the state’s five-day waiting period.     

     Source: New York Times, “Army Pilot Dies In Crash”, November 13, 1942  

West Greenwich – March 24, 1943

West Greenwich, Rhode Island – March 24, 1943

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

P-47B Thunderbolt

U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 24, 1943, two Army P-47B fighter aircraft (41-6002) and (41-6040) were training over southern Rhode Island when both were forced to land for reasons not stated in the press. One plane, piloted by Flight Officer Oscar C. Kline, 22, of Barrington, New Jersey, came down on Nooseneck Hill Road in West Greenwich, barely missing an automobile before cartwheeling into the woods lining the east side of the highway.  The plane caught fire but did not explode.  The flames were quickly extinguished by the driver of the vehicle that was almost hit, and some other passers by, using brush-fire pump cans obtained from the nearby home of Richmond’s Chief of Police, John Potter.  Unfortunately Flight Officer Kline died as he was removed from the plane.  

     The second P-47B landed about a mile-and-a-half farther down Nooseneck Hill Road in the town of Richmond, near Dawley Memorial Park.  

     Witnesses told investigators that the two P-47s had circled the area several times with their wheels down before attempting to land. 

Sources:

Pawtucket Times, “Plane Crashes Kill 2 Pilots – Officials Of Army, Navy Probe Accidents In South County”, March 25, 1943   (This headline is in error.  Only one pilot was killed.)   

Woonsocket Call, “Pilot Identified In State Crackup”, March 25, 1943, Pg. 1 

Springfield Union, (Mass.), “Westover Fighter Pilot Killed, Another Escapes In Two-Plane R.I. Crash”, March 25, 1943

The Uxbridge Bomber Crash – May 18, 1944

THE UXBRIDGE BOMBER CRASH

May 18, 1944

 By Jim Ignasher

    

 B-24 Liberator

B-24 Liberator

Tucked away on a two-acre wooded lot in the middle of a quiet upscale neighborhood in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, is a granite monument honoring five servicemen who died in the service of their country when their B-24 Liberator (42-7347) crashed on that spot during World War II. The incident occurred on May 18, 1944, as a formation of three B-24 bombers droned through the sky over the Blackstone Valley.

     The planes were on their way back to Westover Air Field after a day of formation flight training, the purpose of which was to give one of the bomber crews experience in formation flying so they would have enough hours to qualify for overseas duty.  

      24-year-old navigator, Lieutenant Joseph H. Talbot, was sitting in the plexiglass nose of bomber number 42-7347, watching the landscape below take on more definition as the formation descended from 20,000 to 10,000 feet so the crews could come off oxygen.  Then, without warning, the plane suffered a hard jolt accompanied by the sound of crunching metal as it was struck by another B-24 in the formation.  Almost immediately the plane began shaking and shuddering and Talbot heard the pilot’s frantic voice come over his head phones, “Bail out! Bail out!”     

     Talbot was wearing his parachute harness, but not the chute, and the buffeting of the plane made attaching the two difficult.  As the seconds ticked by the plane dropped lower.  Other members of the crew were possibly in the same predicament, for Talbot was one of the first out of the plane. 

      He no doubt breathed a huge sigh of relief as his chute billowed open. He would later recall how quiet it was as he hung in the air over Uxbridge.  The other B-24s had disappeared, and his own was a flaming wreck.  He didn’t know it then, but another crewman, 18-year-old, Corporal Robert Kelly, was the only other member of the crew to get out safely. Three others jumped, but the aircraft was too low to the ground when they did, and their chutes didn’t have enough time to deploy.  The co-pilot had waited the longest, perhaps to make sure the others had jumped first. His remains were found in the bomb bay.  To his credit, the pilot, 2nd Lt. Arnold Moholt, never left the controls, trying to save his men while directing the plane away from the populated downtown Uxbridge area.    

Pathway leading to the Uxbridge Bomber memorial.

Pathway leading to the Uxbridge Bomber memorial.

Talbot came down in a wooded area where he was found by an army sergeant home on leave.  He had lacerated his hands while escaping from the plane, and was taken to Whitinsville Hospital.  There he and Corporal Kelly were admitted and prevented from returning to the crash site.

     The other aircraft involved in the collision, (41-28508), suffered damage, but was able to remain airborne and made it back to Westover.

     Woonsocket Call reporter Russell Krapp was at the downtown Uxbridge field office when he heard the formation passing overhead and happened to look out the window just as the accident happened.  The doomed bomber plummeted to earth in the High Street area where it exploded in a massive fireball sending a plume of smoke hundreds of feet into the air.  Krapp, along with dozens of others, raced to the scene.  

     The fire burned over forty acres before it was brought under control by firemen from Uxbridge, East Douglas, and two state forestry trucks. 

Memorial to those who lost their lives in the Uxbridge Bomber Crash - May 18, 1944.

Memorial to those who lost their lives in the Uxbridge Bomber Crash – May 18, 1944.

The site was cleared of wreckage, and little by little Mother Nature began to reclaim the land.  It remained wooded for many years afterwards, but by the 1980s the land ready for a housing development.  Fortunately, there were those who remembered the crash and sought to have at least a portion of the area preserved.  The result is a two-acre wooded lot across from 84 Chamberland Road, marked by a sign that directs visitors along a well maintained path leading to a memorial honoring those who died.  Next to the monument is a piece of melted aluminum that had once been part of the aircraft.  

The inscription on the monument reads: This spot is sacred to the memory of

2nd Lt. Arnold Moholt

2nd Lt. John T. Goodwin

S/Sgt Thomas L. Cater

Sgt. Merle V. Massar,

Sgt. Anthony J. Pitzulo

 They died when their US Army Airplane Crashed here May 18, 1944.  They Gave Their Lives Four Country And Humanity. 

    The monument was dedicated October 11, 1944.

Uxbridge Bomber Memorial Site - August, 2012

Uxbridge Bomber Memorial Site – August, 2012

 Lt. Arnold Moholt was born December 15, 1920 in Glendive, Montanna, where he lived until he graduated high school.  He went on to attended business college in Spokane, Washington, before enlisting in the Army ordinance division in March of 1941.  In 1942 he transferred to the Army Air Force, and was commissioned an officer in January of 1944 at Maxwell Field, Alabama. He had recently written to his surviving relatives in Missoula, Montanna, that he expected to be sent overseas in the near future.  He is buried in Missoula Cemetery.       

     Sergeant Merle Massar was 21-years-old, born June 7, 1922, and was just shy of his next birthday when the accident occurred.  He was born in Mount Vernon, Washington, where his father was a prominent businessman.  He was an accomplished violin musician, and often participated in musical and theatrical productions at Mount Vernon High School.  He was also a member of the school’s Thespian Society, and Ski Club. 

     After graduating in 1940, he enrolled in college, studying at the University of Washington where he excelled at writing.  One of the university professors, Dr. George Savage, stated Massar’s writing ability “showed great promise”. 

     “With Merle it is more than a personal grief,” said Dr. Savage, “It is the knowledge that a great writer is lost, for Merle was one of the few students I’ve had who was passionate about life – who felt deeply and surely because he loved and sorrowed for his fellow man.” 

     Dr. Savage last spoke with Merle when he was home on furlough.  He recalled Merle saying to him, “If I want to live for my generation, I have to be ready to die with it, too.” 

     Mrs. Mary McDonnell of Chicopee, Massachusetts, wrote to Merle’s mother after the accident.  Part of the letter said, “Just last Monday, he came to the door holding a lilac in his hand. ‘This is for Mother’s Day’ he said, but I know he was just plain lonesome for his own mother.”        

      In April of 1943 Merle entered military training for radio-aerial gunnery school, and at the time of the accident had been serving as a top-turret gunner. 

     He was survived by his mother and brother, Clifford.       

     Sgt. Anthony Pitzulo was two days shy of his 25th birthday when he died. He was born and raised in Lowellville, Ohio, the son of the late Joseph and Mary (Aurclio) Pitzulo.  He entered the army in 1942.  He was survived by a sister, four brothers, two half brothers, and a half sister. 

     Lieutenant Talbot survived the war and later married and raised four children. He later became a grandfather nine times over.  He returned to Uxbridge sometime in the1950s, and again in 1984 at the request of local officials to attend a memorial ceremony.  Forty years after his ordeal, he recalled the details of the crash to reporters.  He passed away in 1995.    

Sources:  

Uxbridge Times, “Three Chute To Safety When Bomber Crashes In Woods Off High Street.”, May 19, 1944, Pg. 1

Uxbridge Times, “Eyewitness Story Of Crash”, May 19, 1944, Pg.1

Uxbridge Times, “Death Toll Reaches 5 In Plane Crash”, May 22, 1944, Pg. 8

Woonsocket Call, “3 Forterss Crew Members Bail Out; Plane Explosion Starts Forest Fires” May 18, 1944.

Woonsocket Call, “Call Reporter Sees Crash, Covers Story And Fights Fire”, May 18, 1944

Woonsocket Call, “5 Airmen Dead In Plane Crash Are Identified”, May 19, 1944

Woonsocket Call, “Plane Crash Victims Remembered –Survivor Returns For Uxbridge Rites 40 Years Later.” May 21, 1984

Mount Vernon Daily Herald, “Merile Massar Loses Life In Bomber Crash”, May 19, 1944, Pg. 1.

Mount Vernon Daily Herald, “Rites Are Set Thursday For Heroic Flyer”, May 23, 1944, Pg. 1

The Daily Missoulian, “A Moholt Is Killed In Plane Crash”, May 20, 1944

The Daily Missoulian, “Rites Today For Army Lieutenant”, May 23, 1944

Youngstown Vindicator, “Air Crash Fatal To Sgt. Pitzulo”, May 19, 1944, Pg. 25

Youngstown Vindicator, “Plan Military Funeral For Sergeant Pitzulo”, May 21, 1944, Pg. A10

www.findagrave.com  Joseph H. Talbot

Hopkins Hill, R.I. – April 3, 1942

THE HOPKINS HILL BOMBER CRASH 

West Greenwich, Rhode Island

April 3, 1942

By Jim Ignasher

 

B-25 Mitchel bomber USAF Museum photo

B-25 Mitchel bomber
USAF Museum photo

      At 5:52 a.m. on April 3, 1942, a B-25A Mitchell Bomber (40-2193) left Westover Army Air Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, headed south towards Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic for an anti-submarine patrol.  The belly of the aircraft was loaded with depth charges.

    The crew of five servicemen aboard included: the pilot, 2nd Lt. George Loris Dover; co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Neil W. Frame; radio operator S/Sgt. Robert H. Trammell; the bombardier, Pvt. Robert H. Meredith; and tail gunner, Pvt. Thomas J. Rush. 

    The men were assigned to the 41st Bombardment Squadron, attached to the 13th Bombardment Group, recently transferred from Orlando Army Air Base in Florida.

     The weather that day was seasonable for early April with clear skies and five miles visibility.  The plane took a course over Rhode Island, but barely twenty minutes into the flight one of engines began to sputter and loose power.  Lt. Dover was an experienced pilot and evidently didn’t deem the situation serious as no radio distress call was sent and no attempt was made by the crew to bail out or salvo the depth charges.  What happened next is based on the findings of the Army Air Corps crash investigation committee.

     While still over the southern part of Rhode Island, the pilot turned the plane around and was most likely going to attempt a landing at Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick.  As the B-25 was passing over West Greenwich, Rhode Island, it either stalled or completely lost power, before it crashed into Hopkins Hill.

    The official crash investigation report (42-4-3-1) stated in part, “…the absence of a swath approaching the final scene of (the) accident would seem to indicate a complete lack of power.  The pilot is believed to have established a steep glide in order to maintain flying speed and headed for the nearest clearing.  Upon reaching terrain expedient with altitude and circumstances he is thought to have attempted recovery from this glide and mushed on into ground in a complete stall.”  

     When the plane hit the ground it was assumed that the crew was either killed or rendered unconscious.  Fire broke out immediately when the nearly full gas tanks ruptured, which set off the depth charges sending debris from the plane hurtling more than 200 yards.  Those living nearby later reported that the blasts shook their homes. 

     The first to arrive at the scene was Earl B. Harrington of Hopkins Hill Road.  He had heard the plane pass over his house; “It was fairly low”, he later said in his statement to the Army, “and the motors were not functioning properly in that they were skipping, popping, and snapping.”  

     Shortly afterwards one of his sons informed him that there was a column of smoke rising from the woods.  He related, “As soon as I could get dressed, my boy and I made our way through the woods towards the column of smoke.  On our way we heard three small explosions followed by a very big one which nearly knocked us to our knees.  We were at the time about two hundred and twenty five yards away.  Wreckage and rocks went over us.  We were shielded by the low hill.  We knew it was a plane then and that it was burning so we hurried to the Victory Highway and phoned the State Police.”  

     Mrs. Anne E. Esleck of Ten Rod Road in Exeter also heard the plane go overhead and the subsequent explosions.  In her statement to the Army she recalled, “The time was about 6:30.  The motors seemed to cut out, and in about two or three minutes we heard a series of small explosions for about ten minutes.  Then came the large explosion, which rocked the pictures on the walls.” 

     Another person who reported feeling the force of the explosions was Mr. R.F. Rathburn who stated, “About ten minutes later we heard a very loud explosion just over the ridge to the south, which shook the house badly.  I looked out the window and saw a lot of white smoke, and many bright sparks in the air.” 

     At 6:40 am Trooper Francis D. Egan of the Wickford Barracks received the first report of the plane crash and dispatched Sergeant Harold E. Shippee and Trooper Wilfrid L. Gates to investigate. 

A poor quality reproduction of the army investigation report photo of the  blast crater.

A poor quality reproduction of the army investigation report photo of the blast crater.

    While searching for the plane. Sergeant Shippee met Earl Harrington who directed him to the general location.  The sergeant parked his cruiser at the intersection of Hopkins Hill Road and Brown Trail Road and proceeded on foot through the woods.  (In 1942 the Brown Trail an unpaved dirt trail.)  When he reached the scene he discovered that there were no survivors and realized that the aircraft was a military plane by the star insignia on one of the wings.   He made his way back to his car and radioed the barracks requesting notification of military and fire officials.   

     Trooper Gates took a post at Hopkins Hill Road and Brown Trail Road to divert sightseers away from the area and keep the road clear for military vehicles. 

     Sergeant Shippee then returned to the crash site and made a wide search of the immediate area.  The fires were still burning and some of the aircraft metal was described in the official state police report as being “white hot”.  The sergeant noted a wide debris field and a large crater, about 25-30 feet wide, where the plane had landed and exploded.  

     At about 7:00 a.m. Captain Leonard C. Lydon, squadron commander of the 66th Pursuit Squadron, stationed at Quonset Point, was notified of the crash by Naval Operations.  He drove to the scene with Squadron Flight Surgeon, Lieutenant Mark E. Conan, and the Squadron D.P. officer, 1st Lieutenant Sherman Hoar, and a detail of eleven men.

    According to official reports, the contingent arrived at the scene about 9:00 a.m.  Sergeant Shippee met with Captain Lydon and turned the scene over to him.  The captain was informed that Trooper Eagan in Car 41 would be assigned to stand by in case any radio messages needed to be sent over the cars’ two-way radio. 

     In the meantime, firefighters led by Chief Fire Warden John H. Potter had been busy putting out the numerous fires since 8 a.m.  The chief had also detailed a group of men to conduct a search for anyone who may have parachuted out of the plane before it went down. 

X marks the Approximate location of the crash site.

X marks the Approximate location of the crash site.

    Two bodies and one partial one were found about one hundred yards and two hundred yards respectively from the major portion of the wreckage.  Two more were removed from the shattered tail section. All were transported to the Gorton Funeral Home in Coventry, R.I. under the supervision of Lieutenant Conan.

     At about 9:30 a.m., 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth B. Skoropowski, Armament Officer of the 66th Pursuit Squadron at Quonset, arrived to oversee the removal of all ordinance from the scene.  He recovered three .30 caliber, Browning M-2 machine guns, one .50 caliber Browning machine gun from the tail section, two flare pistols, and some live ammunition.        

     Captain John L. Sullivan, Lt. Harcos, and 1st Lt. Charles P. Sheffield arrived on the scene from Westover Field to take over the investigation.  They sifted through the debris, took photographs, and interviewed witnesses.

Diagram of the crash site drawn by 1st Lt. Charles P. Sheffield that was included with the official investigation report.

Diagram of the crash site drawn by 1st Lt. Charles P. Sheffield that was included with the official investigation report.

  Lieutenant Sheffield drew a diagram of the crash site which he included as “Exhibit 7- B” with the official report. 

     One item of interest to the investigators was the planes ignition switch, which the investigation report stated “The ignition switch installation was burned and damaged so as to preclude drawing of precise conclusions but the master ignition switch is believed to have been in the “off” position.”  This could be an indication that the pilot cut the engines just before impact in an attempt to prevent a fire. 

      The investigators concluded that the aircraft was almost level when it hit the ground due to the pattern of debris.  Weather and sabotage were ruled out as factors in the crash.

     The Army, as was the custom, made arrangements for all debris to be removed from the site.  Today, time and Mother Nature have erased all traces of the disaster, and except for the blast crater, there is nothing to suggest that a horrific tragedy once occurred there.

     The official investigation report contains several testimonials to the flying ability and competence of the pilot, Lieutenant Dover, and it is clear that investigators did not fault him for the crash.  

      The crash was blamed on a faulty engine and went on to state that there had been other problems with the R-2600-9 engines on other aircraft.  In paragraph #30, under “recommendations”, the report stated; “That the R-2600-9 airplane engine be tested in detail and that 17 engines changed (all for reasons other than normal running time and crashes) in this group since 1 Jan. 1942 to present date be minutely examined for such modifications and structural changes as are found necessary.  Unofficial information indicates that technical organizations other than this Group are experiencing like difficulties with this engine and that a serious situation exists endangering materiel; lives of flying personnel; and morale of Combat Crews.”     

     In paragraph 32 section b, the report states: “ A report, subject: “Troubles with R-2600-9 Engines” dated April 10, 1942 has been forwarded to the Commanding General Bomber Command, a copy which has been furnished the Commanding Officer, Sub-Depot, Westover Field, Mass.”

     It’s unknown if this accident report had any direct effect, but it’s interesting to note that future production B-25’s, beginning with the B-25D model, were equipped with different engines – Wright R-2600-13’s. 

Lieutenant George Dover. Photo from the Shelby Daily Star, April 6, 1942.

Lieutenant George Dover. Photo from the Shelby Daily Star, April 6, 1942.

     The pilot, 2nd Lieutenant George Loris Dover, known as Loris to his friends and family, came from Shelby, North Carolina. He was born December 23, 1916 and was 25 years old at the time of his death.

     He graduated Shelby High School and went on to attend Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, North Carolina, where he graduated in 1935.  He then went to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and graduated in 1937.

     After graduation, he relocated to Kent, Ohio, where he worked for Davey Tree Surgery before enlisting in the Army Air Corps on December 28, 1940.  He graduated flight training and was awarded his “wings” August 15, 1941 at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas.  From there he was assigned to the 41st Bombardment Squadron and sent to Orlando Air Field, in Orlando Florida.  In January of 1942 his squadron was transferred to Westover Field in Massachusetts.

     He was waked at his father’s home at 851 West Warren Street, and flowers completely filled two rooms of the home.  More than 3000 townspeople filed through the house to pay their respects. The funeral service was held at First Baptist Church, with members of the Warren Hoyle American Legion Post acting as pallbearers.  He was the first serviceman from Shelby, as well as Cleveland County, to lose his life in World War II.

     Lieutenant Dover was survived by his father and step mother, one sister, Nancy Ellen of Mars Hill, N.C., a half-sister Mary Ann Dover of Shelby, and two brothers, Grady Eugene and Paul.  He also left behind a fiancée, Miss Virginia Rose of LaGrange, Illinois.  They were to be married in August of 1942.

     The V.F.W. Post 4066 in Shelby, North Carolina, was named in Lt. Dover’s honor.  

     George was not the only loss suffered by the Dover Family in World War II.  At the funeral, George’s younger brother, 21-year-old Grady who was attending the University of North Carolina at the time, was quoted by the Shelby Daily Star as saying, “Somebody’ll have to take Loris’ place.”  He entered the Army Air Corps as a pilot and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.  He was killed in action when his B-17 bomber went down on a raid over Germany on February 10, 1944.

     George and Grady are buried next to their mother, who died in 1928, in the Cora Section of the Sunset Cemetery.   

Funeral of Lt. Dover - Shelby Daily Star April 8, 1942

Funeral of Lt. Dover – Shelby Daily Star April 8, 1942

     Co-pilot, 2ed Lieutenant Neil Ward Frame, was born in Porterville, California, during the First World War, on September 22, 1917, the youngest son of Jesse E. and Madge E. Frame.  He grew up with six brothers and sisters, graduated from Porterville High School, and went on to junior college before transferring to the University of California to study agriculture.  It was while he was attending college at Davis, California, that he decided to enlist in the Air Corps.  He earned his pilot’s wings at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas on August 15, 1941, graduating in the same class as Lieutenant Dover.    

     Like Lieutenant Dover, he was the first from his community to lose his life in World War II.  His boyhood friends served as pallbearers at his funeral, which the local paper, the Porterville Recorder, stated, “No funeral held in Porterville ever brought such a throng of sympathizers”. 

     An Episcopal service was conducted by Rev. Ralph Cox, assisted by the Rev. H.G. Purchase, at the Loyd-Frietzsche Chapel, before the procession proceeded to the Porterville Cemetery where the local American Legion conducted a funeral ritual and the high school band played “Nearer My God to Thee”, before an eight-man firing squad fired a salute, and two buglers played taps.  He was laid to rest in plot B-125-2.

     The Merchants Committee of the Porterville Chamber of Commerce voted to close all stores in the city during the funeral as a show of respect and patriotic duty. 

     Lieutenant Frame lived at 600 E. Street, Porterville, California, and besides his parents, he was survived by his brothers, Harold and Carl, and four sisters, Mrs. Carl Martin, of Palo Alto, California, Mrs. Kenneth Hill of Visalia, Mrs. Norman Castle and Miss Barbara frame both of Porterville.  His brother Carl had enlisted as a doctor in the armed forces and had sailed only a week earlier for overseas duty.   

    Staff Sergeant Robert H. Trammell was born April 23, 1916 and was 20 days shy of his 26th birthday.   Before the war he lived at 2309  Ellis Street , Brunswick, Georgia.  He was survived by his parents, Mildred B. and Joseph H. Trammell Sr., a sister, Mrs. H. Lee Haskins also of Brunswick, and an older brother, Blair Trammell, who was also in the service stationed at Pensacola Air base in Pensacola, Florida. 

     He is buried in Palmetto Cemetery, Glynn County, Georgia, Lot 152-8    

     Private Robert Huel Meredith, the bombardier, was the only married man of the crew.  He was survived by his wife of only three months, listed in his obituary as “Mrs. R.H. Meredith”, of Alexandria, Louisiana. 

     He was born May 22, 1920, which also made him the youngest of the crew – about five weeks away from his 22nd birthday.

     He attended high school in Thyatira, Mississippi, and went on to Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas.  He left his studies to join the Army Air Corps in 1941 and went to bombardier school.    

     Being a bombardier during World War II was considered a big responsibility.  According to the United states Air Force Museum, the training to become a bombardier lasted 12 to 18 weeks, during which the student learned his skill by dropping approximately 160 bombs.  He was scored by his “hits” and “misses”, and roughly 12% of each class was “washed out” for failing to gain enough “hits”.  

     In the beginning of the war, bomber aircraft such as the B-25 carried the Sperry S-1 Bombsight.  When the highly classified, top secret, Norden M-1 Bombsight was introduced later, bombardiers were required to take an oath stating they would protect the Norden with their life! 

     In addition to his wife, he left behind his parents, Kathleen Meredith of Thyatira, and  T.H. Meredith of  Memphis, Tennessee, as well as two sisters and a brother, Miss Marinelle Meredith, Thyatira, Mrs. Leonard Jones, Memphis, and Wilfred Meredith of Independence, Missouri.  

     The funeral services were conducted by Rev. H. I. Copeland, held in the Thyatira School Auditorium.  Burial was at Mt. Zion Cemetery

     The tail gunner, Private Thomas J. Rush, was the oldest crewman at 27.  He was born August 23, 1915 and enlisted in the Army Air Corps in June of 1941.  Before entering the service, he had been a caddy master at the Overbrook Golf Club in Philadelphia and an amateur boxer.  He had lived at 1688 N. 56th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was survived by his parents, Joseph and Catherine Rush, as well as three sisters, Mrs. Benjamin B. Evans, Mrs. John F. McFadden, and Miss Sue Rush, and three brothers, James, Joseph, and Patrick.

     The funeral was held at St. Gregory’s Church and burial took place at Holy Cross Cemetery.

     The B-25 Mitchell was a twin-engine medium bomber built by North American Aviation of Inglewood, California, and Kansas City, Missouri.  Of the roughly 10,000 that were produced between 1939 and 1945, only 40 were designated B-25A’s, thereby making this particular aircraft rare.   

     The “A” variant was an early production model powered by two Wright R-2600-9 engines capable of delivering a maximum of 1,700 hp each.  It was designed to carry up to 3,660 pounds of bombs and could defend itself against enemy fighters with up to four .30-caliber, and one .50-caliber machine guns.

    The plane involved in this accident was the only B-25 to ever crash in Rhode Island

Sources:

U.S. Army Air Corps crash investigation report dated April 1942, (#42-4-3-1)

Rhode Island State Police report, dated April 3, 1942

Newspaper article, “Five Killed In Bomber Near West Greenwich ”, The Pawtucket Times, April 3, 1942, page 1

Newspaper article, “Couple Heard Plane Motor Sputter before fatal Dive”, The Pawtucket Times, April 3, 1942, page 6

Newspaper article, “Lt. Neil frame Dies In Crash (of) Army Bomber”, Proterville Recorder, April 3, 1942, Page 1

Newspaper article “Local Boy One Of Five Victims OF Air Tragedy”, The Shelby Daily Star, April 3, 1942, page 1

Newspaper article, “Army Probes Bomber Crash”, The Pawtucket Times, April 4, 1942, page 1

Newspaper article, “Cause Unknown In Air Crash; 1 Body Missing”, The Woonsocket call, April 4, 1942, page 1

Newspaper article, “Bomber Crashes in R.I., Five Dead”, The Providence Journal, April 4, 1942, page 1

Newspaper article, “Dover’s Body On Way Home”, The Shelby Daily Star, April 4, 1942, page 1

Death notice, “Robt. Trammel Be Buried Here”, Brunswick News, Saturday, April 4, 1942

Newspaper article “Loris Dover To Be Buried Here”, The Shelby Daily Star, April 6, 1942, page 1

Newspaper obituary, “Lt Neil frame Funeral Rites 2 P.M. Friday”, Porterville Recorder, April 6, 1942

Newspaper article, “Dover Funeral Is Conducted”, The Shelby Daily Star, April 8, 1942, page 1, (two photos with article)

Newspaper article, “Close Stores For Lt. Frame Rites Friday”, Porterville Record April 8, 1942

Newspaper article, “Dover Funeral Hero’s Tribute”, The Shelby Daily Star, April 9, 1942, page 1

Obituary, “Robt. H. Meredith 2nd Tate Casualty Buried Tuesday”, The Tate County Democrat, April 9, 1942, Page 1

Newspaper article, “Military Service For First Porterville Boy To Give His Life In New World War”, Porterville Record, April 11, 1942

Obituary, “Thomas J. Rush Rites”, Unknown newspaper & date, sent by The Free Library of Philadelphia, to Greenville Library in June 2006.

Book, “Troopers Of The Rhode Island State Police And Their Story”, By Harold C. Jones, 2001, Vantage Press

United States Air Force Museum Website

Town of West Greenwich, R.I. Death Records

Footprints In Time, Tombstone Inscriptions In Tate County, Mississippi, Compiled by Mrs. Janice Barnett Craft, Page 17

Special thanks to Mr. Aaron Coutu, former Young Adult & Reference Librarian, Greenville Public Library, Greenville, R.I.,  for obtaining obituaries and news articles for this story.

 

 

 

 

Wickford, R.I. – March 24, 1943

Wickford, R.I. – March 24, 1943

    Not much is known of this incident as of this writing due to minimal information in the newspaper.   According to an AP release, Ensign George William Beal, 25, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, was killed when his navy aircraft crashed off Wickford Beach in Rhode Island. 

Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “Pilot Identified In State Crackup”, March 25, 1943, Pg. 1

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #43-16

Atlantic Ocean – September, 1942

Atlantic Ocean Off Newport, Rhode Island – September, 1942

     On September 8, 1942, it was announced by the Navy public relations office that a four-man naval aircraft was over due from a routine flight and presumed lost in the ocean off Newport, R.I..  

     Crew members were listed as:

     Lieutenant Jg. Eugene F. Gooding (24) of Albany, California

     Aviation Pilot 1st Class Hilmar W. Holey, (28) of Fairview, Mont. 

     Aviation Radioman 2d Class Joseph Mikes, (18) of Flushing, N.Y.

     Aviation Machinist 3d Class Erwin Match (22) of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Source: New York Times, “Four Lost In Navy Plane”, September 8, 1942

South Mountain, Vermont – October 24, 1945

South Mountain, Vermont – October 24, 1945

 

SB2C Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On October 24, 1945, a U.S. Navy Helldiver left Burlington, Vt., headed for Quonset Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, when it crashed into South Mountain at the 2,300 foot level, cutting a wide path and scattering wreckage over a large area.  Both men aboard were killed.  

     150  searchers found the wreck site after two days.     

     The pilot was Ensign Walter G. Smith, Jr., 22, of Kansas City, Mo.   

     The passenger was 28-year-old Lt. Cmdr. Maurice M. Stone of Raleigh, North Carolina.  Stone was the executive officer of a squadron based at Quonset Point, and had arrived in Burlington with his squadron for Navy Day exercises.   At some point his hand became infected, and he was being flown to R.I. for treatment when the accident occurred.  

     Stone was a veteran of the first aircraft carrier based attack on Tokyo, Japan.  He was survived by his wife Maureen (Smith) Stone. He’s buried in Savannah, Georgia.

Sources:

Providence Journal, “Bodies of Two Quonset Aviators, Wrecked Plane Found In Vermont”,  October 27, 1945, Pg. 1    

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-100 & 45-101

Camel’s Hump Mt. – October 16, 1944

Camel’s Hump Mountain, Vermont- October 16, 1944

B-24 Liberator  U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On October 16, 1944, a U. S. Army B-24J Liberator (#42-51067) crashed into Camel’s Hump Mountain killing all but one crewman aboard.  The sole survivor was Aerial Gunner James W. Wilson who was found by members of the Civil Air Patrol a short distance from the wreck.  Investigators found the wreckage near the top of the 4,083 mountain, covering more than an acre of land.   

     Other members of the crew included:

     Pilot: 1st Lt. David E. Potter, age 30.  To see a photo of Lt. potter, go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #54537510.

     Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Robert W. Geoffrey

     Flight Officer John J. Ramasocky, age 23

     Navigator: 1st Lt. David C. Mcnary, age 26

     Bombardier: Corporal Luther N. Hagler, age 21

     Radio Operator: Corporal Robert E. Denton, age 22 or 23

     Gunner: PFC Richard C. Wynne, age 18

     Gunner: PFC Casper Zacher, age 19

     A memorial plaque and a wing section of the aircraft can be found at the crash site.

     Sources:

     Woonsocket Call, “Single Member Of Crashed Bomber’s Crew Found Alive Near Vermont Mountain Debris”, October 18, 1944, pg. 1

     Aircraft Info supplied by Lawrence Webster – Aviation Historian

     New York Times, “Bomber Wreck Found On Vermont Mountain”, October 18, 1944

     www.findagrave.com

     Unknown Newspaper, “Wreckage Of Missing Westover Plane Found”, October 18, 1944

 

Hillsgrove Army Air Field – June 28, 1944

Hillsgrove Army Air Field, Warwick, RI, June 28, 1944 

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

     At 5:05 p.m. on June 28, 1944, a U.S. Army P-47 (Ser # 42-22591) took off from Hillsgrove Army Air Field on a routine training mission and crash-landed a few hundred yards north of the field.   The pilot, Daniel S. Miles, was relatively unhurt, and got away from the plane before it burst into flames.

Source: Providence Journal, “Plane Hits House;Man, Wife Burned”, June 29, 1944, pg. 1 (The headline refers to another accident in North Stonington Connecticut. )

Lawrence Webster – Aviation Historian

 

Franklin, Mass – April 4, 1944

Franklin, Massachusetts – April 4, 1944

 

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

     On April 4, 1944, two U.S. Army P-47 fighter planes were conducting “dog fighting” practice over Franklin, Massachusetts, when one aircraft crashed into a wooded area off Maple Street in Franklin.  The plane exploded on impact, killing the pilot, 2nd Lt. William J. Bradt, of Buffalo, N.Y.  The explosion reportedly left a crater 80 ft. wide and 20 ft. deep in a “boggy” area.   Wreckage was scattered for some distance.

     Witnesses said the plane went into a sharp dive trailing smoke before bursting into flames, and it was speculated that the pilot aimed for the wooded area to avoid nearby buildings. 

     News accounts stated “thousands” came to the scene and engaged in souvenir hunting, prompting police to issue warnings about unexploded .50 caliber bullets.  One news reporter found $330 dollars which had been blown from the pilot’s clothing, which he turned over to police.    

     The aircraft flown by Lt. Bradt was a P-47D. serial number 42-22449

Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “Plane Explodes Over Franklin” , April 4, 1944, pg. 1 

Woonsocket Call, “Shells From Plane Wreck Prompt Franklin Warning”, April 5, 1944, pg. 4 

 

 

Westfield, MA. – November 30, 1942

Westfield, Massachusetts – November 30, 1942 

 

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

     On November 30, 1942, 2nd Lt. Daniel B. Austin of Dorchester, Massachusetts, took off from Westover Air Field in Chicopee, Mass., for a routine training flight.  He was piloting a P-47B Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-6024).  At 3:30 p.m. he was killed when his aircraft crashed into Higgins Swamp, a marshy area to the east of Barnes Airport in Westfield.  Although numerous persons witnessed the accident, the cause was not immediately known.

     Lt. Austin was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron.

     Source:

     The Springfield Republican, (Springfield, Mass.), “Army Flier Dies In Westfield Crash”, December 1, 1942.  

 

Westhampton, MA. – April 10, 1943

Westhampton, Massachusetts – April 10, 1943

 

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

     On April 10, 1943, 2nd Lt. John Franklin Reed, 26, was piloting a P-47C Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-6095), over the Westhampton area when the engine stopped.  A 12-year-old boy who witnessed the event later told a reporter that he saw the plane, with its motor not running, gliding overhead at a low altitude.  Then he saw the pilot jump, but his parachute didn’t fully open before he hit the ground.  The plane crashed and exploded in a thickly wooded area off Route 66 in the southern portion of town.  The pilots body was found a short distance from the crash site.

     Lieutenant Reed was from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he attended Pine Bluff High School and graduated with honors.  He was a 1941 graduate of Ouachita Baptist College, in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where he earned academic honors, was active in athletics, and enrolled in the Army Reserve Officers Training Program, (ROTC).  After graduation he transferred to the Army Air Corps, and after completion of his training received his pilot wings and officer’s commission at Luke Field, Arizona.

     At the time of the accident he was assigned to the 320th Fighter Squadron based at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts. 

     He was survived by his mother and his wife whom he married in June of 1942.  Lt. Reed is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  

     Sources:

     Springfield Republican, (Mass.), “Westover Field Pilot Is killed At Westhampton”, April 11, 1943, page 1.  

     Arkansas Gazette, “Lt. Frank Reed Of Pine Bluff Crash Victim”, April 11, 1943, page 32

     www.findagrave.com

Litchfield, CT. – June 12, 1943

Litchfield, Connecticut – June 12, 1943

 

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

     On the morning of June 12, 1943, a flight of three U.S. Army P-47 aircraft took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts for a training flight.  While the airplanes were passing over the area of Litchfield, Connecticut, two of the aircraft were involved in a mid-air collision. 

     One of the aircraft, a P-47C, (Ser. No. 41-6081), piloted by Lieutenant Andrew Lemmens, crashed and burned in a wooded area off Norfolk Road in the town of Litchfield, near the Goshen/Litchfield  town line.  Lt. Lemmens was able to parachute safely, and landed in the woods about a mile from the crash site.  Two local youths who’d witnesses the incident found the pilot and led him out of the woods. 

     The other aircraft involved was a P47C, (Ser. No. 41-6088).  Further details are unknown as of this posting.    

     Both aircraft were assigned to the 320th Fighter Squadron.

     Sources:

     The Torrington Register, (Torrington, Ct.) “Plane Crash Reported Near Goshen”, June 12, 1943, page 1

     The Torrington Register, (Torrington, Ct.), “Airplane Burns Following Crash In Litchfield”, June 14, 1943

Off Charlestown, R.I. – October 21, 1945

Off Charlestown, Rhode Island – October 21, 1945

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On October 21, 1945, Lt. (Jg.) T. R. Delehunt was piloting an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70915), taking part of a training exercise off Block Island when he noticed grey smoke streaming from one side of his engine.  After declaring an emergency, he set a course for Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  Despite the smoke, all instruments were reading normal, until he came within the area of Point Judith.  At that time his oil pressure began dropping, so he was re-directed to the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  The oil pressure continued to fall, and as he neared Charlestown Beach the engine suddenly stopped.  Lt. Delehunt was forced to make an emergency landing in the water, coming down about a 1/2 mile from shore.  The aircraft was a total loss, but Delehunt was not injured.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, dated October 21, 1945

 

Block Island Sound – October 11, 1945

Block Island Sound – October 11, 1945

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of October 11, 1945, Ensign J. A. Guice, (USN), took off from Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field piloting an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 79664), for a gunnery training flight approximately 17 miles south of Block Island.  The night was particularly dark and the horizon wasn’t visible, necessitating instrument flight.  At the designated area, Ensign Guice and other aircraft took turns firing rockets at a target-spar that was being towed by boat and illuminated by flares.  While making a run at the target from an altitude of 3,000 feet, Ensign Guice’s aircraft was observed to clear the target and enter a barrel roll to the left and strike the water.  He didn’t get out of the aircraft before it sank.  

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report dated October 11, 1945.

 

 

Groton, CT. – July 4, 1945

Groton, Connecticut – July 4, 1945

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of July 4, 1945, a group of navy aircraft were making a series of landings and takeoffs at the Groton Naval Auxiliary Air Field as part of a training exercise.   One of the aircraft taking part was an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70879).  Another aircraft was an F4U Corsair, (Bu. No. 81612).

 

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

  Shortly before 11:00 p.m., the Corsair made a normal landing and taxied towards the end of the runway while the Hellcat made its approach and landed.  The Hellcat landed at a normal speed and proper interval from the Corsair however, due to excessive darkness, what the pilot of the Hellcat didn’t realize was that the Corsair hadn’t completely cleared the end of the runway.  At 170 feet before the end of the runway the Hellcat drove into the rear of the Corsair completely demolishing the Corsair, and causing substantial damage to the Hellcat.  Fortunately neither pilot was seriously hurt.    

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident report dated July 4, 1945.

 

Charlestown, R. I. – May 29, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – May 29, 1945

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     Just after midnight, on the morning of May 29, 1945, Lieutenant David Warren Allen took off from the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in an F6F-5n Hellcat, (Bu. No. 79104), for an OCI interception flight.  The night was particularly dark with scattered rain squalls.  Lt. Allen’s plane was last seen 100 feet in the air and climbing.  It was later learned that Lt. Allen was killed when his plane crashed into the water not far from the end of the runway. 

     There were no eye witnesses to the accident.  Due to the fact that Lt. Allen was an experienced pilot with 2,000 hours of air time, investigators concluded that the accident was caused by mechanical or structural failure of the aircraft.   

Charlestown, R.I. – May 31, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – May 31, 1945

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     Shortly before 10:00 p.m. on the night of May 31, 1945, Ensign George Robertson Miller was returning to the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field after a night operations flight.  The wind was gusting strongly that evening as he approached runway 35 in his F6F-5N Hellcat fighter aircraft, (Bu. No. 78136).  As he was coming in to land, a strong cross wind struck the aircraft causing it to crash. Ensign Miller was killed when the plane hit the ground.  

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident report dated may 31, 1945 

Hopkinton, R. I. – July 5, 1945

Hopkinton, Rhode Island – July 5, 1945

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the morning of July 5, 1945, a flight of U. S. Navy F6F-5 Hellcat fighter planes took off from Westerly Air Field in Rhode Island for a “section tactics” training flight.  One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 71620), was piloted by Ensign William Warren Rehberg, of Decatur, Alabama.  The other F6F, (Bu. No. 53055), was piloted by Lt. (Jg.) Wallace F. McCoy, 23, of Dallas City, Texas. 

     At 12:03 p.m., which conducting aerial maneuvers at 6,300 feet over the Westerly area, Rehberg’s and McCoy’s aircraft were involved in amid-air collision.  Both airplanes were seen to be trailing smoke as they dove toward the ground, and both crashed and burned in the Ashaway section of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, a town the borders Westerly to the north.  Neither pilot survived.

     To see a photograph of Lt. (Jg.) McCoy, go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #61030688.

     Source:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report dated July 5, 1945. 

 

 

Atlantic Ocean – October 19, 1943

Atlantic Ocean – October 19, 1943

Off Block Island

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     In the late afternoon of October 19, 1943, a flight of five SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft took off from Martha’s Vineyard Naval Air Station for a low visibility training flight.  The flight consisted of two groups; the leading group with three planes, and the other, following the first, with two aircraft. 

     Of the two aircraft in the second group, one was piloted by Lt. (Jg.) Herbert Feuer, of Brooklyn, N.Y., with his gunner, ARM2c C. H. Kennedy, Jr., of Richmond, Va.  The other aircraft was piloted by Ensign Bartholomew Salerno, of Bayonne, N.J., with his gunner ARM3c Vernon W. Geishirt, of Madison, Wi.  One of these aircraft bore the Bureau No. of 28593.   The other Bu. No. is unknown.

     The weather consisted of low intermittent clouds with a ceiling of 4,000 feet, and ten miles of visibility at 2,000 feet.  As the night came on there was no moon.

     The flight was proceeding at an altitude of 2,000 feet when the flight leader signaled for Feuer and Salerno to climb to 2,300 feet and get above the other three airplanes.  This was the last visual contact with both aircraft.  A short time later the flight leader called for all aircraft to join up again, but Feuer and Salerno failed to make the rendezvous. 

     At the pre-flight briefing earlier that day, it was directed that if the planes should become separated they were all to head back to the air field.  When Feuer and Salerno failed to return a search was instituted.  A radar search indicated the two planes were still airborne and in the vicinity of Block Island, which is three miles off the coast of Rhode Island, and Coast Guard and Navy boats, as well as search aircraft were dispatched to the area.  Unfortunately neither aircraft was ever seen or heard from again.  

     One of the aircraft sent to participate in the search operation was an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28131), piloted by Lieutenant Allen H. Thurwachter, with his gunner, ARM1c Bradley Edward Hunter, of East Boston, Ma.  This aircraft also disappeared and was never seen again. 

     Investigators could only speculate as to what had happened to each of the missing aircraft.  As to Feuer and Salerno, it was theorized they may have had a mid-air collision, or attempted unsuccessful emergency water landings, or suffered vertigo due to disorientation, or possibly inadvertently flew out to sea.   Some of these same theories were applied to the case of Lt. Thurwachter. 

     All three aircraft belonged to VC-43. 

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Accident Reports, #44-9173, #44-9174, #44-9175  

Quonset Point NAS – June 17, 1943

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – June 17, 1943

     On June 17, 1943, an Ensign pilot was in the cockpit of a navy NE-1 trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 26273), while Lt. (Jg.) Robert Allen Pierce stood at the nose and pulled the propeller thru to start the engine.  Once the engine started, Pierce turned to walkaway, and as he did so the aircraft suddenly lurched forward and struck him with the spinning propeller critically injuring him.     

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report #43-7295, dated June 17, 1943

Quonset Point NAS – January 31, 1944

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – January 31, 1944

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On January 31, 1944, Ensign A. G. King was piloting an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 29030), while practicing field carrier landings at Quonset Point.  As he was making a landing approach, he lowered the landing gear, but due to a mechanical failure with the aircraft, only one of the wheels came down.  The aircraft suffered heavy damage, but Ensign King was not hurt.

     Source; U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-11373 

 

Quonset Point NAS – December 9, 1943

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – December 9, 1943

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the night of December 9, 1943, an SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, ( Bu. No. 28767), struck an unoccupied truck that was left parked along the side of the runway during take off.  The aircraft was damaged beyond repair, but the pilot and the gunner were unhurt. 

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report #44-19181

Middletown, R.I. – May 26, 1943

Middletown, Rhode Island – May 26, 1943

 

     On the morning of May 26, 1943, an Ensign left Quonset Point Naval Air Station in an NE-1 trainer aircraft, (Bu. 26207), for a familiarization flight.  After about 45 minutes in the air the pilot noticed a decrease in engine RPMs which he though might be related to trouble with the plane’s magnetos.  He landed in an open hay field in Middletown, where he checked his engine and found everything in good order.  He then made preparations for takeoff.  The field had a slight downgrade to it, and the pilot taxied to the bottom of the grade.  He then proceeded to attempt an up-grade take off into the wind. Unfortunately the long hay slowed the speed of the aircraft, and the plane didn’t leave the ground until it was almost at a tree line bordering the field. The pilot, believing he wasn’t going to clear the trees, attempted a climbing left turn and stalled the aircraft at an altitude of about 30 feet.  The plane then crashed into an adjoining graveyard.  The plane was a total wreck, but the pilot wasn’t injured.  

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report #43-7026, dated May 26, 1943 

 

 

 

Off Martha’s Vineyard – September 27, 1943

Off Martha’s Vineyard – September 27, 1943

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of September 27, 1943, Ensign Thomas James Schmidt, (age 21 or 22), was piloting an SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 28658), taking part in a gunnery practice flight off Martha’s Vineyard.  After making his fourth firing run at fixed water targets, he leveled off and made an emergency water landing.  The aircraft sank within thirty seconds taking Ensign Schmidt with it.  The gunner, ARM3c E. A. Hollomon, was able to escape, and was rescued by a Coast Guard Cutter and taken to Newport Naval Hospital in Rhode Island for treatment. 

     It was later determined that the synchronizing unit regulating the .50 caliber machine gun in the nose of the aircraft had malfunctioned, and that the propeller had been damaged to the point that the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in the water.    

     Both men were assigned to VC-32

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, #44-8818, dated September 27, 1943    

 

Martha’s Vineyard – October 22, 1943

Martha’s Vineyard Naval Auxiliary Air Field – October 22, 1943 

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On October 22, 1943, an SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 28700), crashed on takeoff from the Martha’s Vineyard NAAF.  The aircraft was demolished, but the pilot, Ensign Robert S. Rice, and the gunner, ARM3c Ronald Q. Hoffman, escaped with non-life-threatening injuries.   The men were assigned to VC-33. 

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-9238, dated October 22, 1943  

Off Jamestown, R.I. – December 5, 1943

Off Jamestown, R. I. – December 5, 1943

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     At about 12:30 p.m. on December 5, 1943, APlc O. W. Putner, was piloting an SBD-4 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 10543), 1000 feet over Narragansett Bay when a fire suddenly erupted in the engine necessitating an immediate emergency landing.  The aircraft came down in the water about 500 yards south of Beavertail Point on Jamestown Island.  Both the pilot and the gunner, AM2c A. A. Bartczak, escaped form the plane before it sank and were rescued.  Both men were assigned to CASU-22 at Quonset Point.      

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident report #44-10109, dated December 5, 1943

Charlestown, R.I. – November 7, 1943

Charlestown, R. I. – November 7, 1943

 

Douglas SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     At 9:20 a.m. on the morning of November 7, 1943, Lieutenant George F. Connolly was returning to the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in an SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 28818), after a dive-bombing training flight.  He lowered the landing gear and made his approach, but upon touchdown with the runway, the right side landing gear collapsed causing the plane to be thrown sharply to one side, which tore away the left side landing gear before the plane skidded to a stop.  The aircraft was damaged beyond repair, but Lt. Connolly and the gunner, ARM3c  J. C. Burkhart, were not injured.  Both men were assigned to VC-52.

     The cause of the accident was found to be metal fatigue of the landing gear strut.      

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report – #44-9546, dated November 7, 1943

South Weymouth, MA. – September 14, 1944

South Weymouth, MA – September 14, 1944

 

U.S. Navy PV-1 Ventura

     On September 14, 1944, a U. S. Navy PV-1 Ventura, (Bu. No. 33280), with seven crewmen aboard, left Groton, Connecticut, bound for the South Weymouth Naval Air Station.  While landing at South Weymouth, the hydraulic system for the brakes failed, causing the aircraft to go off the end of the runway.  The airplane was damaged beyond repair, but nobody aboard was hurt.

     The aircraft was assigned to VB-128

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated September 14, 1944.   

Westerly, R. I. – September 20, 1943

Westerly, Rhode Island – September, 20, 1943

 

Douglas SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On September 20, 1943, Ensign Charles Frederick Leiserson, age 21, was piloting an SBD-4 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 10470), on a gunnery training mission when the aircraft crashed and burned in Westerly, R.I.   Also aboard was Ensign Raymond R. Strimel, age 28.  Both men were killed. 

     Ensign Leiserson is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, and Ensign Strimel is buried in East Lawn Memorial Park in Reno, Ohio.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy Accident Report #44-8706, dated September 20, 1943

     www.findagrave.com  

Charlestown, R.I. – September 14, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – September 14, 1943     

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the night of September 14, 1943, Ensign William Haley Brown was at the controls of his SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28204), awaiting instructions as he sat on one of the runways at the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  He and other aircraft in his squadron were scheduled to begin night field carrier landing training.  Ensign Brown was assigned to VC-32.

 

 

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     Meanwhile, an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 25732), was approaching to land on the same runway occupied by Ensign Brown and the other aircraft.  Due to darkness, and light intermittent drizzle, the pilot of the Hellcat didn’t see the Dauntless until it was too late.  The Hellcat crashed into the Dauntless killing Ensign brown.  The pilot of the Hellcat escaped without injury.

     The Hellcat received major structural damage, the Dauntless was damaged beyond repair.

     The accident was blamed on the airport facilities and poor organization. 

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-8817, dated September 14, 1943

Jamestown, R.I. – October 25, 1943

Jamestown, Rhode Island – October 25, 1943

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On October 25, 1943, flight of SBD Dauntless aircraft was passing over Jamestown on a patrol training flight.  As the aircraft began to peel off, one SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28822), was seen to go into a right-spin and nose dive to the ground where it crashed and burned.  Both men aboard were killed instantly.

     Pilot: Ensign Charles Morgan Perry, age 22.  He’s buried in Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut.   To see a photo of him, go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #14739026.

     Gunner: Keith Eugene Phend, age 21.  He’s buried in Greenhill Cemetery in Columbia City, Indiana.  

     Both men were assigned to VC-31. 

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report, #44-9297

     www.findagrave.com 

Quonset Point NAS – August 24, 1943

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – August 24, 1943

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of August 24, 1943, an Ensign was practicing “night familiarization landings” at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station when he failed to put the “wheels down” lever in the full “down” position.  The landing gear subsequently collapsed and the aircraft, an F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 08945) was seriously damaged.  The pilot was not  injured.

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-8263

 

Charlestown, R.I. – December 7, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – December 7, 1943

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On December 7, 1943, Lt. (jg.) Spero Constantine was making a landing approach to the runway at the Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Field when the engine of his F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 40354), suddenly lost all power.  Unable to make it to the runway, the aircraft landed in the water off the end of the runway and sank.  Fortunately the water was only eight feet deep and the pilot was able to extricate himself.  Due to its total submersion in salt water, the aircraft was scrapped.   

     Lt.(jg.) Constantine was assigned to Fighter Squadron 77, (VF-77)

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-10142, dated December 7, 1943

Hope Valley, R.I. – June 6, 1944

Hope Valley, Rhode Island – June 6, 1944

D – Day

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the evening of June 6, 1944, a civilian was piloting an F6F-3, (Bu. No. 41461), on a ferry flight from Boston, Massachusetts, to the Naval Air Station in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  While passing over the Hope Valley area in southern Rhode Island at 10,000 feet, the aircraft suffered a complete engine failure.  The pilot managed to make a wheels up landing in a field where the aircraft suffered relatively minor damage.  The pilot was uninjured. 

     Investigation revealed that the cause of the failure was due to a vent plug to the “A” diaphragm chamber of the carburetor coming out during flight.

     The specific name of the town in which the plane landed was not mentioned.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, dated June 6, 1944 

 

 

Ayer, MA. – July 14, 1944

Ayer, Massachusetts – July 14, 1944

Ten miles north-west

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the morning of July 14, 1944, Ensign Beeman Fallwell took off from the Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Ayer in a F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 40748), for a training flight.  When he was about ten miles north-west of the field, at an altitude of 6,000 feet, he began to experience a loss of power to the engine.  As the airplane began loosing altitude, the pilot began looking for a place to make an emergency landing.  Then a fire erupted in the engine, and the pilot knew he would have to jump.  He noted he was still over a populated area, so he decided to stay with the aircraft until it was over woodlands.  At the time he left the aircraft he was at the minimum level to jump and still have an expectation that the parachute would successfully open.  The parachute had just billowed open when the pilot landed in some trees sustaining injuries in the process.

     The aircraft crashed in a wooded are and was demolished.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated July 14, 1944

Groton, CT. – July 20, 1944

Groton, Connecticut – July 20, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of July 20, 1944, a flight of F6F Hellcat aircraft were returning to Groton Field after a night training flight.  The pilot of one Hellcat forgot to lower the landing gear and belly landed on the runway.  The aircraft suffered heavy damage, but the pilot was unhurt.

     The aircraft involved in the accident was assigned to Fighter Squadron 46, (VF-46)

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, dated July 20, 1944

Groton, CT. – July 17, 1944

Groton, Connecticut – July 17, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On July 17, 1944, Ensign Robert Byron took off in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 41485), from Groton Field with a tow target secured to the tail of his airplane.  He was to take part in a gunnery training exercise.

     Immediately after takeoff the engine began to sputter and loose power before stopping completely.  Ensign Byron crash landed in a creek with the tow target still attached. 

     The plane was damaged beyond repair.  Ensign Byron suffered non-life threatening injuries. 

     Ensign Byron was assigned to Fighter Squadron 46, (VF-46)

     The cause was found to be mechanical, and no fault was assigned to the pilot.

     Source:  U. S. Navy Accident Report, dated June 17, 1944

 

 

Long Island Sound – June 29, 1944

Long Island Sound – June 29, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of June 29, 1944, a flight of sixteen navy Hellcat aircraft were on a night formation training flight passing over Long Island Sound at an altitude of 500 feet.  One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 41482), piloted by Ensign L. N. Jones, suddenly lost power and fell away from the formation and hit the water.  The aircraft struck the water on a level keel and bounced upwards for a moment, and then struck the water a second time which caused the fuel tank to explode.  The blast flipped the plane over at which time it hit the water again and sank.  Ensign Jones was able to extricate himself while the plane was under water, and bobbed to the surface shortly after it disappeared.  Although injured, he was kept afloat by his life vest, and was rescued six hours later by a submarine.     

     The aircraft was not recovered.

     Ensign Jones was assigned to Fighter Squadron 46, (VF-46)

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report – dated June 29, 1944. 

Off Groton, CT. – June 14, 1944

 Groton, Connecticut – June 14, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On June 14, 1944, Lt. A. C. Howard was practicing air defensive tactics with other aircraft at an altitude between five to six thousand feet over the Groton area.  At one point Lt. Howard’s aircraft, an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42754), and another F6F-3, (Bu. No. 41482), were involved in a mid-air collision.  Lt. Howard was killed when his plane plunged into the waters of Long Island Sound off Groton.  The other aircraft was able to land safely.

     The aircraft were part of Fighter Squadron 46, (VF-46).           

     Source:  U.S. Navy Crash Investigation Report dated June 14, 1944.  

 

Cummington, MA. – December 1, 1942

Cummington, Massachusetts – December 1, 1942

 

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

     On December 1, 1942, three P-47 aircraft left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a formation training flight.  While passing over the Westborough area, the flight ran into heavy clouds which extended low to the ground, and the planes became separated.  One of the aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6011), was piloted by 2nd Lt. Jack P. Lastor of the 340th Fighter Squadron.  While encountering severe weather over the town of Cummington, he was forced to bail out of his aircraft.  The P-47B went down in a pasture on a farm belonging to Leslie W. Joyner across from the Cummington-Worthington Highway.  Lt. Lastor landed safely, and although suffering an injury, was able to make his way to a farm house to call for help.             

     Another P-47 aircraft assigned to this training flight crashed in the town of Westborough, Massachusetts.  In that instance, 2nd Lt. Charles C. Hay was killed when his aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-5924), crashed and exploded on Tob Hill.    

     Sources: 

     Springfield Republican, “Planes Crash In Westhampton, Cummington, December 1, 1942.    

     Springfield Republican, “Second Army Pilot Killed; Three Crash In Two Days”, December 2, 1942, page 1.

Somerset, MA. – July 17, 1943

Somerset, Massachusetts – July 17, 1943

Taunton River – Fall River, MA.

 

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

     Shortly before 4 p.m. on July 17, 1943, two P-47 aircraft were on a high-altitude training flight over the Fall River, Massachusetts, area.  Numerous people on the ground watched for roughly ten minutes as the aircraft conducted a series of maneuvers overhead, when it suddenly appeared that the planes had been involved in a mid-air collision.     

     One of the aircraft was a P-47C, (Ser. No. 41-6151) piloted by 1st Lt. Thomas J. Harding, 22, of Gypsum, Kansas.  The other was a P-47D, (Ser. No. 42-8210), piloted by 1st Lt. Benjamin Norris, Jr., 21, of Denver, Colorado.  Both men were assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron based at Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick, Rhode Island.  

     Lt. Harding’s aircraft was observed to fall to earth trailing smoke and flames.  He managed to bail out and his parachute was seen to open, and prevailing winds carried him eastward over Fall River until he came down on Main Street in the village of Assonet.  Meanwhile his airplane continued downward and crashed into a wooded area on the farm of Preston Hood in the town of Somerset.  Two youths working in a nearby field ran to the scene and being the first to arrive ascertained that the cockpit was empty before the flames consumed the plane.  

     While this was taking place, Lt. Norris’s P-47 was seen to go into a high-speed nose-dive and strike the Taunton River about 250 feet from shore across from an area known as “Harrington’s Switch”.   Lt. Norris was killed instantly. 

      Numerous bathers were along the river’s shoreline at the time.  The Taunton River lies between the municipalities of Somerset and Fall River. 

     One of the newspapers that covered the story was the Fall River Herald News, which described how debris from both aircraft rained down upon the area.  “The tail of the burned plane” it was reported, “as though sheared off with a knife, crashed to earth in the rear of Casey Filling Station on County St.” 

     It was also stated that a piece of aircraft tail section was also recovered on the farm of Chester Simcock in Swansea, Mass.  And smaller parts belonging to both aircraft were found in Somerset.

     Lt. Norris was the son of Army Colonel Benjamin Norris of the Medical Corps, and was survived by his wife whom he’d married barely three weeks earlier on June 28.  Lt. Norris was also a graduate of West Point Military Academy, class of January, 1943.  He’s buried in the military academy cemetery.  To see a photo of Lt. Norris in his cadet uniform, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #12388987.

     Sources:

     Fall River Herald News, “Crash Of Two Army Planes Over City Being Probed; One Pilot Killed”, July 19, 1943, page 16.

     (A Somerset, Mass. newspaper – unknown name.) “Somerset Gets Slight Touch Of The Realism Of War As Two Planes Crash; Civilian Agencies Put To The Test”, July 22, 1943  

Westover Field, MA. – August 17, 1943

Westover Army Air Field, Chicopee, Massachusetts – August 17, 1943    

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

     On the evening of August 17, 1943, 2nd Lt. William E. Neudorfer was killed when the P-47B, (Ser. No. 41-6019), that he was piloting, crashed and burned as he was attempting to land at Westover Field.

     Lt. Neuforder was assigned to the 320th Fighter Squadron.

     He’s buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.  To see a photo of his grave see www.findagrave.com, memorial #3614500. 

     Sources:

     Larry Webster – Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

     www.findagrave.com 

Holyoke, MA. – May 22, 1943

Holyoke, Massachusetts – May 22, 1943

 

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

     On Saturday, May 22, 1943, two Army P-47 fighter planes collided in mid-air over the city of Holyoke.  One aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6072), was piloted by 2nd Lt. Charnelle P. Larsen, 22, of Lakeland, Florida.  The other P-47, (Ser. No. 41-6050), was piloted by another 2nd lieutenant.  Both men were assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron based at Westover Filed in Chicopee, Massachusetts.   

     The accident occurred at 6:20 pm, and numerous people saw the collision and watched the planes come down.  As both aircraft began to fall, the pilot of P-47 #41-6050 bailed out while the aircraft was at an altitude of only 700 feet, and remarkably, and his parachute opened successfully.  His airplane crashed into a large tree before striking the side of a two-story brick house at the corner of Hampden and Linden Streets where it exploded into flame.  The pilot meanwhile landed safely in a nearby tall tree on Linden Street, but had to wait to be rescued.    

     A mother and her two older sons were in the house at the time, but were not seriously injured.  A mailman was wounded when the flames began setting off the machinegun bullets in the wrecked airplane.  One bullet struck him in the right hand, but the injury was not life threatening.       

     As to Lieutenant Larsen, one wing of his aircraft was severely damaged from the collision, but he fought to maintain control because he was over a heavily populated neighborhood.  Witnesses reported seeing him try to steer his plane away from the area, but it continued to fall despite his best efforts.  He was killed instantly when his plane crashed and exploded in an alleyway between the homes facing Pine and Beach Streets, to the south of Appleton Street.  While some buildings suffered damage, there were no reported injuries. One account stated the aircraft came down behind 200 Pine Street.

     Lt. Larsen was praised by the Mayor for his heroic decision to remain with his aircraft in order to protect civilians on the ground.   

     Source:

     Holyoke Daily Transcript, “Lt. Larsen Dies Avoiding Local Homes In Saturday’s Double Crash”, May 34, 1943, page 1.   

     Unknown newspaper, “Army Flier Killed, Second escapes In Holyoke Collision”, May 22, 1943 

Coventry, R. I. – June 25, 1944

Coventry, Rhode Island – June 25, 1944 

 

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

     On the afternoon of June 25, 1944, a flight of three P-47 aircraft took off from Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, for a low altitude, cross-country navigational training flight to Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick, Rhode Island.  (Today Hillsgrove Field is known as T. F. Green Airport.)  From Hillsgrove, the flight was to continue to Groton, Connecticut, and from there back to Bradley Field.   The flight leader was First Lieutenant William H. Brookman, (27), an experienced pilot and flight instructor.  The other two pilots were trainees. 

     During the first leg of the trip, Lt. Brookman supervised the other two pilots from the number 3 position.  As the flight neared the Connecticut – Rhode Island state border, it ran into thick cloud cover.  At that time Lt. Brookman ordered the flight to return to Bradley.  After turning around, the other two pilots noticed that Lt. Brookman’s aircraft, a P-47D, (Ser. No. 42-27835), had disappeared from the formation.  Attempts to contact Brookman by radio were unsuccessful.  The other two aircraft made it safely back to Bradley and reported the incident.     

      Lt. Brookman was reported missing, but no reports of a plane crash had been received, nor had he radioed to the other pilots that he was having any problems with the aircraft.  The wreckage of his P-47 was spotted from the air during a search the following day.  His plane had crashed and burned in a heavily wooded area in the western portion of the town of Coventry, Rhode Island, just a short distance to the west of Pig Hill Road.  The exact location is unknown.         

     Military investigators were unable to determine the direct cause of the accident due to the airplane being completely destroyed.  However, the following excerpt is taken from the Army Air Force investigation report of the incident.

     “The aircraft and engine were completely demolished, and the aircraft crashed approximately two and one half miles from the nearest house, thus, no person was found who had heard or seen the airplane. 

     The carburetor is the only evidence found that gives any clue to the probable cause and it was broken from the engine.  The bolt holding the fuel strainer was loose and could be turned slightly by hand.   The gasket was in good condition.  The seat under the strainer cover shows signs of burning which leads one to believe that gasoline did escape at this point and caused a fire in flight prior to the airplane’s contact with the terrain.  Picture 231 indicates a crack as well as picture 230 but these are only marks. 

     Although only the fuel strainer side of the carburetor was burned, it is possible that it could have caught fire as a result of the terrific impact and been covered with raw fuel during the crash, burning until it landed several yards from the engine as the grass upon which the carburetor was found was not burned.

     The 41-B shows that the carburetor screen was checked on the 22nd of June, on the 23rd and 24th the ship flew fifteen hours during which no notation of gas fumes were reported by the pilots.  This leads one to believe that the above assumption may be improbable and that the looseness was caused by the impact.”  

     Lt. Brookman enlisted in the Army Air Corps in January of 1942, and received his officers commission the following October.  He was assigned to the 9th Air Force, and served in North Africa until the German surrender in June of 1943.  He then returned to the United States to become a flight instructor, and after completing training in Stuttgart, Alabama, was assigned to Bradley Field in Connecticut.    

     Lt. Brookman is buried in Woodlawn – Hillcrest Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska.  To see a photo of him, go to www.findagrave.com, see ID# 75022710. 

     Sources:

     Army Air Force Crash Investigation Report 44-6-25-27

     Town of Coventry R.I. Death Records, Registration #61, page 299. 

     www.findagrave.com, ID #75022710

     Book, “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The Unites States, 1941-1945”, by Anthony Mireles, McFarland & Co., 2006, via research library, New England Air Museum, Windsor Locks, Ct.      

The Williamsburg, Mass. B-24 Bomber Crash – May 1, 1945

The Williamsburg, Massachusetts B-24 Bomber Crash – May 1, 1945

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of May 1, 1945, a flight of U. S. Army B-24 Liberator aircraft left Westover Field Air Base  in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a combat formation training flight.  Briefing for the flight had been held at 3:00 a.m. during which the pilots had been told that there would be a low cloud overcast covering the area, but that it was expected to clear.  However, after the flight was airborne for nearly two hours, instead of improving, weather conditions had continued to deteriorate, and the overcast gradually extended lower and lower to the ground.        

      Shortly before 8:30 a.m., one aircraft, a B-24J, (Ser. No. 42-50995), began to drop down through the overcast, which by now extended nearly to the ground.  The crew however, was unaware of this.  The pilots watched the altimeter closely.  It was reading 1,500 feet when they suddenly broke through the mist and found themselves at tree-top level over the town of Williamsburg, Massachusetts.  The pilots attempted to climb and gave the engines full throttle but it wasn’t enough.  The plane barely missed a private home before it began clipping tree-tops for a third of a mile and then crashed into a wooded area of second-growth trees off Briar Hill Road. The B-24 plowed several hundred feet though the woods knocking down trees and smashing through stone walls, breaking apart in the process.  Although its fuel tanks held high-octane aviation fuel, there was no fire which saved the lives of crew members trapped in the wreckage.    

     Two of the crew were killed instantly in the crash, a third died two days later.  The other seven suffered serious injuries. Only the co-pilot was able to extricate himself form the wreckage.  

     Among the first to reach the scene were some local residents including Doctor Ruth V. Hemenway, and a group of wood cutters who had been working nearby.  Fire and rescue crews from Williamsburg, Northampton, and Westover Field, as well as state and local police, also arrived to help.  It reportedly took rescuers more than an hour to free those trapped in the wreckage.  The injured were transported Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.       

     Those who lost their lives were identified as:

     (Nose Gunner) Corporal Kenneth Virgil Powell, age 19, of Urbana, Ohio.  

     (Gunner) Corporal Donald R. McKenzie, of Spokane, Washington. Cpl. McKenzie was survived by his wife and daughter. 

     (Gunner) Corporal Joseph Skwara, of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Cpl. Skwara survived the initial crash, but later succumbed to his injuries. 

    The following images of the crash scene are from the U.S. Air Force investigation report.

 Click on images to enlarge.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.

     Sources:

     Army Air Forces Report Of Major Accident, #45-5-1-5

     Research Paper, “Burgy Plane Crash, Briar Hill, 1945”, by Ralmon Jon Black, Williamsburg Historical Society, 2012.  Includes articles from the Springfield Union News, and Daily Hampshire Gazette, and other information about the accident.  

     Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Third Member Of Crew In Bomber Dies From Injuries”, May 3, 1945 

     Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Fire Chief Is Commended By Colonel Henry”, May 8, 1945

     Book, “History Of The Williamsburg Fire Department”, by Mary S. Bisbee, Roger A. Bisbee, Peter B. Banister, c. 1998

     Obituary for Cpl. Donald McKenzie, Spokane Daily Chronicle, May 5, 1945, page 6.

 

 

 

 

Off Block Island, R.I. – June 13, 1945

Off Block Island, Rhode Island, June 13, 1945

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On June 13, 1945, Ensign Herbert J. Audet took off from Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Charlestown, R.I., for a gunnery training flight off Block Island.  He was piloting an F6F-5E Hellcat, (Bu. No. 72735).

     After making a run, he began to climb and noted that the oil pressure began to drop.  The propeller went into a low pitch, and as the oil pressure continued to drop the engine froze.  Ensign Audet was able to make a safe emergency landing in the water about a half-mile south of Block Island.  He scrambled out of the plane before it sank, and was rescued a short time later.

     Sources:

     National Archives, AAR 11-45; TD450613RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

     U. S. Navy Accident Report dated June 13, 1945

Quonset Point, R.I. – March 29, 1945

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – March 29, 1945 

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     In the early morning hours of March 29, 1945, an Ensign piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71001), was making night practice landings on Runway 34, when the aircraft stalled and crashed into a sea wall coming to rest upside down.  The aircraft was a complete loss and the pilot was seriously injured.  

     Source: National Archives AAR 33-45: TD450329RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

Atlantic Ocean – February 1, 1945

Atlantic Ocean – February 1, 1945

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of February 1, 1945, Ensign John M. Roe, age 22,  took off from Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Charlestown, Rhode Island, for a night training flight.  He was piloting an F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 41144).

     On the same night, Ensign Robert L. Herren, age 23, also left Charlestown on a night training flight in an F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42776).  It is unknown if both aircraft were part of the same training flight.    

     About 25 miles off  Nantucket Light, two aircraft were seen by ships in the area to crash in the ocean, but in different proximity to each other.  Search and rescue operations were instituted, but neither  aircraft nor the pilots were recovered. 

     There is a memorial erected to Ensign Roe at the New Weston Cemetery, in Weston, Ohio.  See www.findagrave.com, memorial #121796478.  The memorial includes a photograph of Ensign Roe.

     There is a memorial to Ensign Herren at the Abilene Cemetery in Abilene, Kansas.  See www.findagrave.com, memorial #38430818 

     Ensign Roe and Ensign Herren are also listed on the memorial at the former Charlestown Aux. NAS, today known as Ninigret Park.   

     Sources:

     National Archives TD 450201RI

     www.findagrave.com

North Kingstown, R. I. – December 7, 1944

North Kingstown, Rhode Island – December 7, 1944

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of December 7, 1944, a flight of six F6F-5 Hellcat Aircraft took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station to practice night carrier landings on Quonset’s runways.  After takeoff, Quonset tower instructed the aircraft to orbit the field two miles outside the designated landing circle to allow an incoming flight of airplanes to land.  After that incoming flight was on the ground, Quonset tower gave clearance for the six Hellcats to begin their practice landings, but when the aircraft circled the field it was noticed that there were now only five airplanes instead of six.  After ordering all five to land, an accounting was made, and it was discovered that one Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71036), piloted by Ensign Patrick Aloysius Hackett, age 22, was missing.

     Shortly afterward another pilot reported seeing a fire in a wooded area of North Kingstown.  State police found the wreckage of Ensign Hackett’s plane on Stooke Hill to the north of Route 138. 

     There had been no witnesses to the crash, and investigators speculated that the cause may have been due to engine failure.   

     Ensign Hackett is buried in Philadelphia National Cemetery in Philadelphia, PA. 

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report dated December 7, 1944  

     North Kingstown, R. I. death records, # 44-96 

Off Charlestown, R.I. – January 4, 1945

Off Charlestown, Rhode Island – January 4, 1945

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of January 4, 1945, a flight of U.S. Navy Hellcat aircraft took off from Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station for a night gunnery practice flight.  Once sufficiently off shore, two float lights were dropped into the water, only one of which ignited. 

     After the aircraft had made a few runs at strafing the “target”, Ensign Bruce S. Little, piloting an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71411), was advised by the flight leader to drop his float light.  Ensign Little acknowledged and said he would drop it at the end of his run.  Ensign Little was seen turning his aircraft and start his run at a diving angle.    When he reached the area of the target-float-light his aircraft hit the water and disappeared. 

     The accident occurred at 40 degrees, 55′ N, 71 degrees, 01′ W.

     Lt. (jg.) Little was assigned to VF(N)-91

     Source:  U.S. Navy Accident Report dated January 4, 1945

 

 

Charlestown, R. I. – May 16, 1944

Charlestown, Rhode Island – May 16, 1944 

Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

    On May 16, 1944, Ensign Marion F. DeMasters took off from Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42550), for a rocket gunnery practice flight over Matunuck  Beach, about five miles from the airfield.  This training consisted of diving from an altitude of 6,000 feet towards a simulated target on the beach while maintaining a constant 40 degree glide angle. 

     While making his seventh training dive for the day, a large portion of the rear stabilizer suddenly tore away.  Ensign DeMasters was able to bring his aircraft in for an emergency landing at the air station, but just as he was about to touch down a gust of wind forced the right wing to strike the runway.  The aircraft suffered severe damage, but the pilot was not hurt.

     Ensign DeMasters was assigned to VF-74.  

      Source:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-14219

South Kingstown, R.I. – April 10, 1944

South Kingstown, Rhode Island – April 10, 1944

 

     On April 10, 1944, a U.S. Navy, North American SNJ-4 Texan, (Bu. No. 26988), with two men aboard, left the Lakehurst (N.J.) Naval Air Station bound for the South Weymouth, (Mass.) Naval Air Station.  The pilot was Herman Walter Smith, age 38, a pilot for the navy, and with him was Daniel Layton Humm, age 34, a civilian.  While passing over southern Rhode Island the men found themselves surrounded by heavy fog.  It was while flying in fog that the aircraft clipped the top of a 60 foot tree, causing the plane to crash and burn about 300 feet beyond, killing both men. 

     The crash occurred just to the north of Walsh Pond, about a half-mile north of Post Road, (aka Route 1), almost in line with Matunuck Beach Road.      

     Source:

     U. S. Navy Accident Report #44-13 053

     Lawrence Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.     

Richmond, R.I. – March 9, 1943

Richmond, Rhode Island – March 9, 1943

 

North American Texan Military Trainer

     Shortly before noon on March 9, 1943, a North American SNJ-4 Texan, (Bu. No. 26615), was flying over southern Rhode Island on a routine training flight.  There were two men aboard; Ensign Robert Foster Crader, age 21, of Gardena, California, and Ensign Robert Francis Wolfe, age 21, of Clinton, Iowa. 

     While over the town of Richmond, Rhode Island, the left wing of the aircraft suddenly folded and broke away which sent the plane into a violent spin.  Neither Crader or Wolfe were able to bail out before the plane crashed and burned in the apple orchard of the former Holly Farm, about 400 feet south of the junction of R.I. Route 2 and Heaton Orchard Road. 

     The left wing landed about a mile west of Route 2.

     Source:

     U.S. Navy Crash Report #43-6177   

Lake Memphremagog, VT – June 28, 1942

Lake Memphremagog, Vermont – June 28, 1942

     Very little information seems to exist relating to this accident.  The information was released in a small Associated Press article that also included two other military plane crashes; one in Boston, and the other in Rhode Island. 

     On June 28, 1942, an aircraft piloted by C. N. Pate, of the Royal Canadian Air Force, crashed and sank in Lake Memphremagog, off shore from Newport, Vermont.  The pilot did not survive. 

     The type of aircraft, the pilot’s full name, and rank, were not specified.  Only that he had flown out of Hubert Field in Quebec.

     Lake Memphremagog covers about 40 square miles, and straddles the Canadian and United States border, most of it being in Canada.  

     Source:

     Nashua Telegraph, “Three Army Plane Crashes Add To Weekend Death Toll”, June 29, 1942

Update February 24, 2017

     The following information was supplied to New England Aviation History by Mr. David Archer.  Thank you Mr. Archer.

     The full name of the pilot was Roy Nelson Pate, age 22, of Toronto, Canada.  He was born June 12, 1920, and was only 16 days shy of his 23rd birthday.  He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on August 22, 1941, and is buried in Toronto (Resthaven) Memorial Garden; Ontario Canada. 

Source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial

     Mr. Archer also included the following (AP) newspaper article:

     R.C.A.F. Flier Killed In Vermont Crash

     Newport, Vt., June 28 (AP) – An airplane plunged into Lake Memphremagog within sight of this town today, and the body of a Royal Canadian Air Force flier was recovered later by a diver.  The plane went into the lake about four miles from here and a half-mile from shore, close to the Canadian border.  Oliver Packer, a Newport fire department diver, operating from a special diving raft towed by a United States customs boat, said he found the flier’s body jammed in the cockpit of the plane, which was submerged in thirty feet of water.  There was no indication that more than one man was in the plane.  

 

Missing British Airmen of WWII

Missing British Airmen Of WWII

     Unfortunately no further details are available as of this posting. 

     On October 8, 1943, it was announced by the U.S. naval commander of the Squantum Naval Air Station in Quincy, Massachusetts, that units of the fleet arm of the British Royal Navy would be engaged in operational training at Squantum.   

     On December 7, 1943, three British naval fliers disappeared and were presumably killed when their plane went down in the water while on a training flight off Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The Coast Guard was unable to locate any trace of the missing plane, which carried two officers and one enlisted man.  The identities of the airmen and the type of aircraft were not released. 

     On March 14, 1944, a similar disappearance occurred while another British aircraft was “some distance at sea” while on a training flight out of Squantum.  That aircraft also carried two officers and one enlisted man, and their identities, and type of aircraft, were not released.

     Sources:

     Nashua Telegraph, “British Naval Airmen Train At Squantum”, October 8, 1943

     Schenectady Gazette, “Three Missing In Squantum Crash”, December 8, 1943

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “British Plane Missing From Base At Squantum”, March 16, 1944

UPDATE – March 6, 2017

     More information has been learned about the December 7, 1943 incident.  The three men aboard the missing plane were:

     Sub-Lieutenant Henry H. Lilley, son of Hugh Lilley of 12 Council House, Wisbech Road, Thornley, Peterborough, Northants, England. 

     Sub-Lieutenant Geoffrey J. Walters, son of William Waters of 103 Green Dragon Lane, Winchmore Hill, London, England.

     Leading Airman Donald Afford, son of Mrs. F. E. Afford, 273 Belgrace Road, Balasll Heath, Birmingham, England.

     All were members of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, (RNVR)

     Source:

     Patriot Ledger, “Reveal Identity Of Squantum Fliers Lost In recent Accident”, December 8, 1943    

     Those airmen lost in the March 14, 1944 incident have been identified as:

     Sub-Lieutenant Kenneth L. Leapman

     Sub-Lieutenant John R. Purton

     Leading Airman Henry T. Seddon

     The men were flying the British version of the U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger, (Bu. No. JZ-496) when they were lost on an anti-submarine training mission.

     Sources:

     RNVR Officers 1939-1945,  www.unithistories.com

     Royal Navy Casualties, Killed and Died, March 1944,  www.naval-history.net   

 

Plymouth Bay, MA – March 20, 1945

Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts – March 20, 1945

    

F4U Corsair National Archives Photo

F4U Corsair
National Archives Photo

     On March 20, 1945, Ensign Richard C. Forisso was piloting an F4U-1D Corsair, (Bu. No. 50513), over Plymouth Bay making practice bomb runs.  At one point while at 4,000 feet, hydraulic fluid and gasoline began spraying from under the instrument panel followed by smoke filling the cockpit. The fluids got all over the pilot’s lower extremities and partially obscured his vision. 

     Ensign Forisso elected to stay with the aircraft and aim it for a safe area of the water away from shore and watercraft.  He cut the engine and made a wheels up water landing, suffering minor cuts and bruises in the process.   He was able to escape before the plane sank to the bottom. 

     Maintenance records showed that the hydraulic lines on this particular aircraft had broken twice previously.  Rough weather put off the recovery of the aircraft for four days.  Once it was recovered, mechanics discovered a 1/2 inch crack in the hydraulic line behind the instrument panel.  This aircraft was later scrapped due to the time it had stayed submerged in salt water.

     Sources: 

     U.S. Navy accident brief.     

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Field Airman Prevents Crash On Plymouth Buildings”, March 21, 1945

5 mi. east of Howe Brook, ME – May 24, 1942

 5 miles east of Howe Brook, Maine – May 24, 1942

     On Sunday, May 24, 1942, a U.S. Army C-40D aircraft, (Ser. No. 42-22249) crashed  5 miles east of Howe Brook, Maine while on a transport mission from Bolling Field in Washington, D.C., to Montreal, Canada, to Presque Isle, Maine.   The plane dove in at a steep angle, (Estimated by investigators to be 75 degrees.) with such force that debris was thrown up to 1,000 feet ahead of the impact. 

     Due to the total destruction of the aircraft, investigators were unable to determine the cause of the accident, but noted that weather “was undoubtedly a strong causal factor”.  

     All aboard the aircraft were killed instantly.  They were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Clarence A. Wright.  He’s buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #3059564)

     (Flight Engineer) S/Sgt. Frederick J. Taylor.  (10th Ferrying Command.)  He’s buried in  Chester Rural Cemetery, Chester, Penn. (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #88208245)

     Lt. Col. Louis H. Gimbel.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #22787359)

     Capt. John D. Franciscus.  He’s buried in Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum in St. Louis, Mo.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #49551001) 

     Capt. Gilbert M. Herbach.  He was from New York.  Place of burial unknown.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #88680256)

     2nd Lt. Earl R. Wilkenson.  He’s buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Batavia, New York.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #75139854)

     Sources:

     U. S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-5-24-13

     www.findagrave.com

     Evening Star, (Wash. D.C.), “Arlington Pilot, Five Others Die In Army Plane Crash In Maine”, May 25, 1942, page A-2

    

Epsom, NH – April 24, 1944

Epsom, New Hampshire – April 24, 1944

    

B-24 Liberator  U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of April 24, 1944, a B-24 bomber, (42-5111), with ten crewmen aboard, left Grenier Air Field in Manchester, New Hampshire, bound for overseas duty in Europe.  The weather that day was poor, with only a 1,300 foot cloud ceiling.  Less than ten minutes after take off, the aircraft crashed into the top of  a 1,400 ft. mountain in the town of Epsom, New Hampshire.  All aboard were killed.    

     The Portsmouth Herald news articles of the crash published in 1944 identified the crash site as being on Washtub Mountain. However, one modern source  identifies the mountain as Nats Mountain. 

     One witness to the accident was identified in the Portsmouth Herald as 25-year-old Joseph Bozek of Mountain Road, who ran out of his house after hearing the bomber pass very low overhead. He later told a reporter, “I thought the plane was going to crash into the barn, and then it when it cleared the roof I though the pilot intended to make an emergency landing in the field.  When I saw the plane rise I thought to myself that the crew would have to gain much more elevation than they had in order to clear the mountain.  A few seconds later I heard a terrible explosion”

     Bozek ran up the mountain to see if he could help, but when he reached the crash site he saw there was nothing he could do.       

      The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. Marvin M. Rupp, 26, of Winfield, Kansas.  He’s buried in Highland Cemetery in Winfield.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com Memorial #58978546.)  He was survived by his wife Maxine.

     (Co-pilot) 2nd Lt. James H. Jones, 21, of Alumbank, Pennsylvania.  He’s buried in Ligonier Valley Cemetery.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com Memorial #24357871) He was survived by his wife Virginia A.

     (Navigator) 2nd Lt. Ardeth K. Gannon, 26, of Rockwell City, Iowa.

     (Bombardier) 2nd Lt. William G. Hunold, 22, of 404 Sterling Place, Brooklyn, New York.

     (Radio Operator) Staff Sgt. Anthony L. Ferrone, 27, of New York, N.Y.

     (Flight Engineer) Staff Sgt. Marion L. Wolfgang, 23.  He’s buried in Seaman Cemetery in Casnovia, Michigan.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  Memorial #45592673) 

     (Gunner) Sgt. John L. Eddins, 26, of Kingsville, Texas.  He’s buried in Chamberlain Cemetery in Kingsville.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  Memorial #62693878) 

     (Radio Operator) Sgt. Joseph H. Negele, 23, of Newark, Ohio.  He’s buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Newark.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  Memorial #61446219) 

     (Gunner) Sgt. Lloyd E. Utley, 25, of Mt. Vernon, Indiana.  

     (Flight Engineer) Sgt. Francis M. Weaver, 36, of Bryan, Texas.  He died just four days after his 36th birthday. He’s buried in Bryan City Cemetery, in Bryan, TX.  (For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  Memorial #90458409)  He was survived by his wife Hattie N. Weaver.    

     Sources:

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian and Archeologist 

     Portsmouth Herald, “Nine Bodies Found After Army plane Falls On Mountain”, April 25, 1944, pg. 1

     Portsmouth Herald, “Mass Funeral In Manchester For 10 Fliers”, April 26, 1944, Pg. 1

     Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States 1941-1945, By Anthony J. Mireles, McFarland & Co. Publishers, 2006 

     Manchester New Hampshire Airport (Grenier Army Air Field) In WWII, by Tom Hildreth

     Concord Monitor, “Ray Duckler: Looking For A Piece Of History”, May 12, 2014

     Town of Epsom, New Hampshire, death records.

     Associated Press, (Unknown Paper) “Nine Bodies Are Found In Wrecked Army Plane”, date unknown.  Specifically mentions the pilot (Lt. Rupp) as being one of the nine.  No other names mentioned.  Posted on Findagrave.com, Memorial #58978546.

     www.findagrave.com

Near Springfield, ME – November 15, 1941

Near Springfield, Maine – November 15, 1941

     According to the Army Air Corps investigation report on this accident, the aircraft involved crashed about ten miles south of Springfield, Maine.  Other sources put the location closer to Lee, Maine.      

Douglas B-18 National Archives Photo

Douglas B-18
National Archives Photo

     At 4:45 p.m., on November 15, 1941, two Douglas B-18A bomber aircraft, left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, bound for Bangor Air Base in Maine.  The two planes were not cleared as one flight, but as two individual flights.

     The first B-18, (Ser. No. 37-521) was piloted by 2nd Lt. Peyton W. Beckham, and the other by a pilot identified only as Lt. Offers.  The two men had agreed to stay in sight of each other during the trip, and had further agreed that in the event they had to fly above any overcast in the vicinity of Bangor that that Lt. Beckham would wait until Lt. Offers landed first.  This was due to the weather forecast for Bangor stating there was cloud cover over the area.

     At a point about half way between Concord and Augusta, both aircraft climbed to 5,500 feet to get above the 3,500 foot overcast.  When they reached Bangor shortly after 6:00 p.m., Lt. Offers made his descent first as per their agreement. The overcast ceiling at Bangor at this time was 1,400 feet, and dropping, and darkness was coming on.    

     At 6:32 p.m., after some garbled radio dialogue with the Bangor control tower due to interference with the radio signals from a Canadian source, Lt. Beckham advised he would try to make it to Portland, Maine, as his aircraft wasn’t equipped for instrument flying. 

     By 6:46 the overcast had dropped to 400 feet.

     At about 7:20 p.m. Lt. Beckham’s aircraft was seen approaching Springfield, Maine.  Ten minutes later it passed over the Carry Farm about ten miles south of Springfield, where three hunters later said it passed over their camp at a very low altitude heading southwest, and shortly afterwards they heard it crash. 

     According to the hunters, the weather in the area was very bad, with poor visibility due to fog and rain.    

     The plane had crashed in a remote and thickly wooded area surrounded by bog and swampland.  Investigators concluded that the left wing caught in the tree tops near the bottom of a hill, dragging the aircraft down and causing it to swing to the left for 10 to 15 yards before it began to cartwheel up the hill for 200 yards.  It was at this point the plane broke apart and caught fire.  Debris was scattered in all directions for 200 to 300 yards. 

     All four crewmen aboard the plane were killed.  They were identified as:

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. Peyton W. Beckham   

     (Co-Pilot) 2nd Lt. Wyman O. Thompson, 21.  He’s buried in Underwood Cemetery in Underwood, North Dakota.  To see photo of Lt. Thompson, and one of his gravesite, go to www.findagrave.com, and see Memorial #21814620.

     (Engineer) Corporal Jacob L. Parson, 30.  He’s buried in Rosemont Cemetery in Rogersville, Penn.

     (Radioman) Pfc. Lee E. Rothermel, 20.  He’s buried in Trinity Lutheran cemetery in Valley View, Penn.   

     One of the cockpit instruments that was recovered at the scene was the plane’s airspeed indicator, which was stuck at 195.

     The men were assigned to the 63rd Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group.

     This crash is said to be the first fatal military aviation accident to occur in the State of Maine.  To see photos of the crash site as it appears today, see www.mewreckchasers.com.   

    Twenty-two days after this accident, the United States was drawn into World War II. 

     Sources:

     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #41-11-15-6

     www.findagrave.com

    

       

Fort Devens Airport, MA – April 21, 1942

Fort Devens Airport, Fort Devens, Massachusetts

April 21, 1942        

      Fort Devens Airport was active at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, during World War II.  It was later named Moore Field after Chief Warrant Officer 2 Douglas Moore, who was killed in Vietnam.  The field closed in 1995.

     At 7:55 p.m., on April 21, 1942, an Army O-52 observation plane (Ser. No. 40-2702) was returning to Fort Devens Airport after a reconnaissance flight when the aircraft crashed in four feet of water at the edge of a pond.  The plane fell from an altitude of 500 feet while making a turn in preparation for landing.   Both the pilot and observer were killed.

      The dead were identified as 1st Lt. Gerald Patrick Kennedy, 26, of Providence, R.I., and 2nd Lt. Robert Wright Booker, 24, of Illiopolia, Ill.  

     Lt. Booker, the pilot,  is buried in Macon County Memorial Park, Section 14, in Harristown, Illinois.  He received his pilot’s wings on October 31, 1941. 

     Lt. Kennedy is buried in St. Francis Cemetery, Section 51, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  

     Later in the evening Lt. Kennedy was scheduled to attend a party in his honor due to his recent promotion to first lieutenant.  As a point of fact, Lt. Booker wasn’t scheduled to be on that flight, but he’d taken the place of another officer.  

     Today there is a hanger named for Lt. Kennedy  at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I. (Formerly Hillsgrove)

     The men were assigned to the 152nd Observation Squadron, and it was reported that these men were the first airplane related fatalities in the history of the 152nd.  The 152nd had been stationed at Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick, R.I. prior to being transferred in the summer of 1941 to  Fort Devens. 

     Sources:

     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-4-21-23

     Woonsocket Call, “Army Probing Devens Plane Crash In Which 2 Met Death”, April 22, 1942, Pg. 1

     Wikipedia – Fort Devens Airport 

     www.findagrave.com

 

 

Groton, CT – February 8, 1942

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.   

      Sources:

     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

Groton, CT – March 8, 1942

Groton, Connecticut – March 8, 1942

    

P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 8, 1942, a Curtiss P-40E, (41-24786), piloted by 2nd Lt. Gerald A. Brandon of the 61st Pursuit Squadron, crashed on take off from Trumbull Airport in Groton.  The aircraft failed to gain altitude as it left the ground and the left wing clipped a fence post at the end of the runway which caused the plane to rotate 90 degrees and crash into a field.  Lt. Brandon survived.     

     Source:

     U.S. Army Crash Investigation Report #42-3-8-2 

Preston, CT – October 19, 1944

Preston, Connecticut – October 19, 1944

Updated January 14, 2019

     

Hellcat Fighters
U.S. Navy Photo

 On the night of October 19, 1944, Ensign George Kenneth Krause, 22, and Ensign Merle Henry Longnecker, 20, took off from the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field in Rhode Island for a night tactics training flight over Connecticut.  Each was piloting an F6F-5N Hellcat.  The Bu. No. for Ensign Krause’s aircraft was 70519, and Ensign Longnecker was piloting Bu. No. 70826. 

     At about 10:30 p.m., both aircraft were over the Norwich State Hospital area conducting mock interceptions when they were involved in a mid-air collision with each other.  Scattered wreckage fell over a large area, some coming down about one mile northeast of the hospital. Neither pilot survived.        

     Both men were assigned to Carrier Air Service Unit (CASU) 25 at Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Rhode Island. 

     Ensign Krause is buried in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.     

     Ensign Longnecker was survived by his wife Blanche.  He’s buried in New Rockford, North Dakota.

     Ensign Longnecker had survived an earlier aircraft accident only a few days earlier on October 12, 1944.  On that date he was practicing night carrier landings at Charlestown NAAF, while piloting another F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42794).  The weather was foggy with a 700 foot cloud ceiling making for poor visibility.  After making four successful landings and take-offs, he crash-landed while making his fifth approach.  The aircraft was damaged, but he was not hurt.  

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 19, 1944

     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 12, 1944

     Rhode Island Department Of Health death certificates

     The Norwich Bulletin, “Veterans Group Plans 70th Anniversary Tribute To Pilots killed In Preston Crash”, October 17, 2014 

 

Little Compton, R.I. – July 6, 1945

Little Compton, Rhode Island – July 6, 1945

Updated May 24, 2019   

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On July 6, 1945, two navy SNJ-3 “Texan” trainer aircraft took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air station for a routine training flight to Otis Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  About twelve minutes into the flight, both aircraft encountered thick clouds and fog over the eastern passage of Narragansett Bay.  The pilots attempted to fly under the overcast until they got down to an altitude of 100 feet.  At that time one of the aircraft pulled up and went through the overcast and turned around and proceeded back to Quonset Point where it landed safely.

     The second aircraft, (Bu. No. 6946), was piloted by navy Lieutenant Nelson Eugene Wiggins, 29, of Oklahoma.  He followed the first aircraft into the overcast, but his plane suddenly experienced engine trouble and lost all power.  Unable to re-start the engine, he opted to bail out, but he was too low for the chute to deploy.  His aircraft crashed at a 45 degree angle and exploded in Little Compton.

     There had been no one else aboard the aircraft, and nobody on the ground was injured.     

     Lt. Wiggins’ body was brought to Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Sulphur, Oklahoma, for burial.  He’s buried in Oaklawn Cemetery.   A photo of his grave is on Findagrave.com, Memorial # 38305859.

     Sources:

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-62

     U. S. Navy Accident Report dated July 6, 1945

    

Off Jamestown, R.I. – September 4, 1942

Off Jamestown, Rhode Island – September 4, 1942

Updated March 9, 2019.

     On September 4, 1942, a Navy plane with two men aboard crashed in the water about 1,000 yards off Beavertail Light in Jamestown.  At the time, the area known as Beavertail was occupied by a coastal artillery unit to protect Narragansett Bay, and Beavertail Light was occupied by the U.S. Coast Guard.  Today the area is a state park, and the light is automated, and now serves as a museum.

     The crash was witnessed by shore personnel, four of whom entered the water and swam out to rescue the airmen.  They were identified at Privates First Class V.S. Sousa, and F. A. Hamilton, Corporal D. A. Corey, and Seaman Second Class R. F. Kirscher. The men reached the wreck at the same time as a passing Coast Guard boat.

     The plane’s crew consisted of (Pilot) Lieutenant (Jg.) Harry K. Stubbs, 29, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3C Fred Schumm, 20, of New York.  Lt. Stubbs was unconscious from a head  injury, while Schumm was cut and bleeding in several places.  Both were taken to the Fort Getty hospital located at Jamestown.

     The type of aircraft was not stated. It was reportedly recovered. 

     Lt. (Jg.) Stubbs survived the WWII and remained with the navy afterward.  He died on June 24, 1946 when the aircraft he was n crashed on take off from the Chincoteague Naval Auxiliary Air Station in Virginia.  Two others in the plane were also killed.  

     Commander Stubbs was born in Shawmut, Alabama, on August 3, 1913, but the family later moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he grew up on Bridge St.  He graduated Fairhaven High School and Silver Bay Preparatory School, and Columbia University.   He entered the Navy in May of 1937, and began his flying career at the navy base in Squantum, Mass.  He served aboard the aircraft carriers Lexington, Wasp, Enterprise, and Manila Bay.  During the war he commanded Composite Group 80 aboard the Manila Bay, which took part in a six month tour of duty in the Philippines.  During his service he is credited with shooting down two Japanese aircraft.  Among his medals earned are the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross.  He’s buried in Riverside Cemetery in Fairhaven, Mass.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Plane Dives Into Sea; Crew Of Two Saved”, September 5, 1942

     Fiarhaven Star, (Mass.) “Stubbs Rescued After Plane Crash”, September 10, 1942            

     Fiarhaven Star, “Commander Harry K. Stubbs Dies In Airplane Crash”, June 27, 1946.

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial #10683521

Narragansett Bay – October 11, 1942

Narragansett Bay – October 11, 1942 

Updated March 7, 2019

 

Vought SB2U Vindicator
U.S. Navy Photo

     The details of this accident have been learned, and this post updated. 

     On the afternoon of October 11, 1942, a Vought SB2U-2 Vindicator, (Bu. No. 1342), with a pilot and radioman aboard, was participating in a dive-bombing exercise over Narragansett Bay.  Other aircraft were also participating.  The aircraft was seen to enter a steep dive on a maneuvering target boat from an altitude of 10,000 feet.   When the pilot attempted to pull out of the dive at 3,000 feet, two small unidentified parts of the aircraft were seen to break loose. The aircraft crashed into the water in an almost vertical dive north of Patience Island.  Both the pilot and radioman perished in the accident.

     The pilot was identified as Lieutenant Commander John Randall Spiers, 31, of Philadelphia, PA.  To see a photo of Lt. Cmdr. Spiers, go to www.findagrave.co,, Memorial #115359760, and 76036118.

     The radioman was identified as Aviation Radioman Stanley D. Overfelt, 25, of Clarence, Missouri.  He’s buried in Maple Hills Cemetery, in Kirksville, Missouri.  Source: www.findagrave.com, memorial #59737610 

     Both men were assigned to VS-42.       

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5054, dated October 11, 1942

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #42-31

      

 

Sakonnet River, Tiverton, R.I. – September 29, 1942

Sakonnet River, Tiverton, Rhode Island – September 29, 1942

Updated June 19, 2018

Updated January 13, 2019

 

Curtis P-40 Aircraft
U. S. Army Air Corps Photo

     On the morning of September 29, 1942, a U.S. Navy Grumman JF-1 Duck, (Bu. No. 9455), and a U.S. Army P-40 fighter, (Ser. No. 41-14218), were involved in a mid-air collision over the Sakonnet River.  A security guard who’d witnessed the incident said that there had been three aircraft in close proximity to each other just prior to the accident, and that after the collision, two of the planes fell into the river.   

     Another witness to the accident was George Helger of Tiverton, who was working on his scallop boat off Jack Island Point south of an area known as Stone Bridge.  He saw two parachutes deploy and watched as the aviators dropped down into the water, and immediately went to their aid.  The first man he reached was Lt. Cmdr. Clarence A. Hawkins, the pilot of the Grumman aircraft.  After rescuing Hawkins, Helger set off to save the other man, 2nd. Lt. Robert A. Marsh, 24, the pilot of the army airplane, but Marsh sank beneath the water before he could be reached.    

Grumman Duck
U. S. Navy Photo

     Helger also came upon a body floating in the water and retrieved it.  The parachute the man was wearing hadn’t been opened.  He was identified as Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3/c James Harris Elmer, Jr