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.

 

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.  

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.

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.  

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.

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.  

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.

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.   

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. – 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   

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

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.  

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. – 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    

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. 

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.

 

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 

 

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       

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      

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 

 

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

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

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

 

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.

 

 

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 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

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 

 

 

Off Charlestown, R.I. – July 13, 1944

Off Charlestown, Rhode Island – July 13, 1944

 

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

     On the night of July 13, 1944, a flight of U.S. Navy F6F Hellcats were practicing night field landings at the Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Field.  The night was relatively dark with no moon, and low cloud overcast obstructed the horizon line.  The aircraft were flying a in wide circle pattern at an altitude of only 200 feet.

     At approximately 11:45 p.m., two observers at the signal platform thought they heard an aircraft engine cutting-out followed by a possible crash into the water.  The control tower was notified, and a roll call of the aircraft was begun.  One pilot to acknowledge the roll call was Ensign George R. Rymal, piloting an F6F-3N, (Bu. No. 41478).  However, just as he was replacing the microphone he struck the water.  He managed to escape before the plane sank and was rescued shortly afterwards.

     When the roll call was completed, it was discovered that Ensign Gerald V. Brostkaux, piloting F6F-3N, (Bu. No. 42954) was missing.  An oil slick was later found in the water where it was believed his plane went down.   

     Both pilots were assigned to Night Fighter Squadron 102, (VF(N)-102)

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report, dated July 13, 1944

Off Block Island – July 25, 1944

Off Block Island – July 25, 1944

 

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

   On the evening of July 25, 1944, Lieutenant Kenneth D. Smith was piloting an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58238), about twenty miles off Block Island participating in a gunnery training flight.  Shortly after 8 p.m. he began making his run at a surface target from an altitude of 20,000 feet and pulled out of the dive at 14,500 feet.  He then began to climb to back to 20,000 feet when he noticed the cockpit gauges indicating a high oil temperature and low oil pressure.  Then the aircraft began loosing power and Lt. Smith was forced to make an emergency water landing.  The plane remained afloat long enough for Smith to climb out and swim away.  He then inflated his life vest and emergency raft and was rescued less than an hour later by a Coast Guard boat. 

     The aircraft was not recovered.

     Lt. Smith was assigned to Fighter Squadron 106, (VF(n)-106)

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, dated July 25, 1944

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.      

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.

     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 

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   

Four P-47 Thunderbolts Lost February 11, 1943

Four P-47 Thunderbolts Lost February 11, 1943

Cranston, R.I., Narragansett Bay, & Atlantic Ocean

        

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

     On the morning of February 11, 1943, a flight of four P-47B Thunderbolts took off from Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick, Rhode Island, for what was to be a routine half-hour flight to Trumbull Field in Groton, Connecticut. None of them ever arrived at their destination.

     Conditions were foggy that morning, with a cloud ceiling of only 900 feet. Once airborne the pilots would have to rely on their instruments to get them where they were going.

     The flight leader was 1st Lieutenant Gene F. Drake. The other three pilots, all second lieutenants, were Raymond D. Burke, Robert F. Meyer, and John Pavlovic. All were assigned to the 21st Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group. The 352nd was a newly formed unit then based at Trumbull Field.

   The flight took off at 10:15 a.m. with Lieutenant Drake flying aircraft #41-5922, Lieutenant Burke, #41-5943, Lieutenant Mayer, #41-5940, and Lieutenant Pavlovic, #41-5944.

     Witnesses later reported that the formation circled the airfield three times, but by the third pass one of the planes had disappeared. The remaining three P-47s were last seen headed in a southerly direction.   

“X” marks the approximate location in Cranston, R.I., where Lt. Meyer crashed Feb. 11, 1943

     The missing plane was piloted by Lieutenant Mayer. How he became separated for the group is unclear, but just minutes after take-off he crashed on some railroad tracks in the city of Cranston, Rhode Island, which borders Warwick to the north. Witnesses stated the right wing of Lt. Mayer’s aircraft struck a boxcar parked on a siding which caused it to crash and burn. Lt. Mayer was likely killed instantly. The site of the crash was located just south of Park Avenue, about four miles from Hillsgrove Field.

     Meanwhile, the other three P-47 pilots were heading southeast in zero visibility towards Jamestown and Newport instead of southwest towards Connecticut.  Shortly before 11:00 a.m. Lieutenant Raymond Burke crashed in the waters of Narragansett Bay between Jamestown and Newport on the eastern side of the island.  (For those unaware, the town of Jamestown is located on Conanicut Island, situated in the middle of Narragansett Bay.)  A short time later, one of the other P-47s crashed on the western side of the island, just off shore from Fort Getty, where the 243rd Coast Artillery was stationed.

     One serviceman who was stationed at Fort Getty was 2nd Lieutenant Roland D. Appleton who reported hearing a low flying aircraft pass over his duty station and then a loud crash out over the water a short distance from shore. Several enlisted men also reported hearing the same, but due to heavy fog nothing had been observed. However, within a few minutes the scent of gasoline wafted to shore confirming what they all suspected.

     In his official statement to investigators, Lieutenant Appleton later wrote, “I immediately called for a boat from the Fort Getty dock to go out searching. I called the Fort Wetherill dock to send a boat out and was informed that the USAMP Hunt would be sent at once to the area. In addition a Coast Guard boat was sent to assist in the search. Seaward Defense Station and the Adjutant, 243d Coast Artillery (HD), were notified.”

     By this point, the military was dealing with two downed aircraft, one on either side of the island.  

     Lieutenant Appleton’s statement continued, “Within 10 or 15 minutes the fog lifted and I searched the area with field glasses but did not discover any signs of the plane. A report was received that an oil or gas slick was sighted about 500 yards off shore and that the gas odor was still strong. The shore patrol continued searching.

     It is believed by the undersigned that the plane crashed and sank within a very few minutes. Approximately an hour and a half after the crash a black canvas bag about 15 inches long filled with cotton was picked up on shore. The center of the cotton was dry which indicated to me that it had been in the water but a short time. Other articles picked up on shore included a piece of leather possibly from an earphone, four rubber pieces of peculiar design, a handkerchief with numbers on it.

     The circumstances of the crash and the sounds heard at the time would indicate that the plane exploded just prior to or at the instant of crash.”

     Unfortunately, the numbers on the handkerchief were not recorded in the investigation report.  

     One of the officers in charge of the search detail along the shoreline at Fort Getty was Captain Stanley W. Smith. In his official statement to investigators he wrote; “At 1700 I went down to the beach again to investigate a stick-like object projecting out of the water approximately 50 yards off-shore. The visibility was poor. It was projecting about two feet above the surface of the water and appeared to be a stick.   It was impossible to distinguish any color on it or to tell just what it was without going out in a boat to see the object.”  

     Another officer who assisted in the Fort Getty search was Captain George E. Blicker. In his official statement he wrote, “Captain Smith immediately contacted me and together with a corporal and six men went down to investigate the accident. There was a dense fog that was beginning to lift about this time. Visibility was poor, but noticeable about 500 yards off shore was a slick approximately 50 yards in diameter with vapor fumes rising. The slick spread quickly and then disintegrated, giving off a strong gas odor in the air.”

     The following day, February 12th, The Newport Daily News reported that the body of Lieutenant Raymond Burke had been recovered from the bay between Jamestown and Newport by a navy picket boat and taken to Newport Hospital.

     On February 13th, a small news item appeared in The Woonsocket Call concerning the other plane that had crashed off Fort Getty. It reported that the unidentified P-47 had been located in 58 feet of water, but that the pilot was still unaccounted for.  

      The unidentified plane was marked with a buoy and a salvage boat was sent to attempt a recovery, however, bad weather and floating ice prevented this from happening. Unfortunately, the aircraft and its pilot were never identified in either newspaper accounts, or the official investigation report, nor does it appear that the pilot or the aircraft were ever recovered. Therefore, it has never been determined if this aircraft was the one flown by Lt. Pavlovic, or Lt. Burke.

   The fate of the fourth P-47 of this flight has never been determined, for the pilot and his aircraft were never seen or head from again. Presumably, the pilot continued on a southeasterly course and flew out to sea.

     1st Lieutenant Gene Frederick Drake, (Ser. # O-430925), was from Wilmette, Illinois,  born August 3, 1920.  He enlisted in the Air Corps in March 17, 1941, (Some sources state February, 1941), about ten months before the United States entered World War II. 

     From January to November of 1942, he served in Australia flying combat missions against the Japanese.  On his 22nd birthday, (Aug. 3, 1942), he was  flying a patrol mission when he and his fellow fighter pilots spotted 27 enemy bombers flying in formation approximately 2,00o feet below.  

      One newspaper described what took place in Lt. Drakes own words. “We flew into them and I shot up the first bomber.  I saw him stagger, burst into flames, and then go down.  I headed for another bomber but heard bullets going through my own crate.  Suddenly a solid sheet of oil came over my windshield and the cockpit was full of fumes.  I saw two little zeroes (Japanese fighting planes) sitting on my tail and it looked like time for me to leave.”   

     Lt. Drake was forced to bail but he landed safely. 

     Lt. drake was credited with shooting down the enemy bomber, as well as two more Japanese aircraft later that same month.  For his outstanding service he was awarded the Oak Leaf Cluster for gallantry in action under heavy fire, the Purple Heart, and the Silver Star.

     In late 1942 he returned to the states and became a flight instructor, training new pilots for overseas duty.  

     He was survived by his wife Shirley, and his son, Gene Jr..   

     He was officially declared dead on January 31, 1944.  

     Lt. Drake also had a brother serving in the Marine Corps, 1st Lt. Stafford W. Drake Jr.    

    2nd Lieutenant Robert Frederick Meyer was born January 29, 1920, in Shepherd, Michigan, making him just barely 23 at the time of his death. He was survived by his parents, and is buried in Deepdale Memorial Park, Lansing, Michigan.

     2nd Lieutenant Raymond D. Burke was just 15 days shy of his 22nd birthday when he died. He was born in Wilton, New Hampshire, February 26, 1921, the son of James R. and Margaret E. Burke. He’s buried in Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Wilton.

    2nd Lieutenant John Pavlovic, (Ser. # O-732341), was from the town of River Forrest, Illinois, and was 23-years-old at the time of his death.   He entered the Air Corps in March, 1942, and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in October of 1942 at Luke Field in Arizona.  He was officially declared dead one year after his disappearance.    

     Sources

    United States Army Air Force crash investigation reports for all four aircraft, Report numbers:

     43-2-11-3, dated March 29, 1943

     43-2-11-4, dated March 29, 1943

     43-2-11-5, dated March 25, 1943

     43-2-11-6, dated March 25, 1943

     Death Certificates obtained from the Rhode Island State Archives for Lt. Robert F. Meyer & Lt. Raymond D. Burke

     The Providence Journal, “Two Army Pilots Lose Lives In Crashes In R.I., Two Other Planes In Unit Believed Lost”, February 12, 1943, page 1

     The Newport Daily News, “Body of Army Pilot Recovered From Bay”,February 12, 1943

     The Woonsocket Call, “Searchers Locate Airplane In Bay”, February 13, 1943, page 1

     University of Illinois Veterans Memorial Project

     Chicago Sunday Tribune, “Wilmette Flyer Gets 2nd Award In Pacific Fight”, November 15, 1942, part 1, page 13 

     www.cieldegloire.com – 49th Fighter group – USAAF – Ciel de Gloire

     Wilmette Life, (Wilmette, Il.),”Flier Celebrates Birthday”, August 13, 1942

     Wilmette Life, (Wilmette, Il.),”Lieut. Gene Drake Reported Missing On Airplane Flight”, February 18, 1943

     Falling Leaves, (Oak Park, Il. newspaper), “River Forest Teacher Leaves For Navy,; Service Men’s News”, September 24, 1942  

     Falling Leaves, (Oak Park, Il. newspaper), “Lost Flyer Is Assumed Dead”, February 22, 1944 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off Watch Hill, R.I. – October 26, 1944

Off Watch Hill, Rhode Island – October 26, 1944

    

Ensign Norman Francis Day U.S. Navy - WWII

Ensign Norman Francis Day
U.S. Navy – WWII

     At 6:52 p.m., on October 26, 1944, Ensign Norman Francis Day, 20, piloting an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70895), and Ensign W. D. Cochran, piloting another F6F Hellcat, took off from Charlestown Aux. Naval Air Station in Charlestown, Rhode Island, for a night training mission. 

     The pair flew to Fisher’s Island, New York, (Off the eastern end of Long Island) and engaged in simulated strafing maneuvers on searchlight positions.  After about 40 minutes, Ensign Cochran attempted to call Ensign Day by radio and got no response. 

     A fisherman on a boat reported a plane apparently experiencing engine trouble had crashed into the water about 2 miles due south of Watch Hill, Rhode Island.  Watch Hill is in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island.

    

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

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

     The crash was not witnessed by Ensign Cochran.

     At the time of his death, Ensign Day was assigned to Carrier Aircraft Service Unit 27, (CASU-27), assigned to the Naval Air Station at Charlestown, Rhode Island.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  

     Source:

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Rhode Island.  

     U.S. navy Aircraft trouble report 48-44

South Kingstown, R.I. – November 26, 1945

South Kingstown, Rhode Island – November 26, 1945

Worden’s Pond

   

SB2C Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On November 26, 1945, Ensign Nelson Earl Carter, 22, was killed when the SB2C Helldiver (Bu. No. 65286) that he was piloting, crashed in Worden’s Pond during dive bombing practice.

     Ensign Carter’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Holland, Michigan for burial.  He’s buried in Pilgrim Home Cemetery in Holland, Plot PH3-C-74-4.  For a photo of the grave, go to findagrave.com, Memorial # 49817091.    

     Ensign Carter had been a recipient of the Air Medal. 

     Sources:

     Larry Webster, Aviation Archaeologist & Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records

     Findagrave.com

Narragansett, R.I. – November 9, 1945

Narragansett, Rhode Island – November 9, 1945    

 

F4U Corsair National Archives Photo

F4U Corsair
National Archives Photo

     On November 9, 1945, Ensign William Edward Andrews, 23, was killed when the F4U-4 Corsair, (Bu. No. 81327) he was piloting crashed on farm land off Boston Post Road in the town of Narragansett.  Further details of the accident are not available.

     Ensign Andrews was assigned to Fighter Squadron 81. (VF-81)

     His body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Georgia for burial.  He’s buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Tifton, Georgia. 

     To see a photo of Ensign Andrews, go to Findagrave.com, Memorial #30436265.     

     Sources:

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian and Archaeologist, Charlestown, R.I.

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records, #45-105   

Off Jamestown, R.I. – December 5, 1943

Off Jamestown, Rhode Island – December 5, 1943

     On December 5, 1943, a Navy plane with two men aboard crashed in the water about a mile to the north of Beavertail Light.  Acting on orders from his commanding officer, Seaman First Class C. A. Wood ran on foot along the shoreline before diving into the icy water and swimming out to the wreck.  Upon reaching the wreck he freed the trapped crewmen and assisted them to shore.  For his efforts he was awarded the Navy-Marine Medal. 

     Today Beavertail Light is automated, and home to the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum.

     Source: The Beavertail Lighthouse Museum

 

Little Compton, R.I. – July 6, 1945

Little Compton, Rhode Island – July 6, 1945

     On July 6, 1945, navy Lieutenant Nelson Eugene Wiggins, 29, was killed when the SNJ-3 trainer aircraft he was piloting crashed in Little Compton.  No further details are available.     

     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.

Source: North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-62

    

Off Point Judith, R.I. – July 16, 1943

15 Miles Off Point Judith, Rhode Island – July 16, 1943

    Updated March 9, 2018         

    

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

     On July 16, 1943, a division of navy F6F-3 Hellcats were engaged in a “Fighter Director Practice” off southern Rhode Island when an army P-47 Thunderbolt made two passes at the group.  Both passes were made from out of the sun, and each time the P-47 came within 50 to 200 yards of the division of Hellcats. 

     According to the U.S. Navy accident report, (#44-7667), “Immediately following the second pass, Ensign Staab entered a high speed stall from an abrupt climbing turn, resulting in a vertical dive and progressive stall.”  Ensign Staab, age 23, was killed when his Hellcat, (Bu. No. 25848), then dove into the Atlantic Ocean 15 miles off Point Judith, R.I.

     Ensign Staab was assigned to Fighting Squadron 31, (VF0-31).

     His hometown is listed as Burlington, Vermont.  He’s buried in Kingston, New York.

     The army P-47 was from the 326th Fighter Group at Westover Field.  There is a notation in the report that the pilot was disciplined however, he is not identified.  

     Sources:

     Rhode Island Department Of Health, death certificate.

     U.S. Navy Accident Report, #44-7667, dated July 16, 1943

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

Richmond, R. I. – March 16, 1944

Richmond, Rhode Island – March 16, 1944

Updated June 28, 2017

    

F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     At approximately 7:40 p.m. on the night of March 16, 1944, Ensign Herbert Leslie Woods, 22, took off from Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air station In Charlestown, Rhode Island, for a night training flight.  The weather that evening was cloudy, with a 500 to 600 foot cloud ceiling, and poor visibility of less than a mile.

     Ensign Woods was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 41008).

     Ensign Woods was last seen entering the clouds by those in the control tower.  At 7:46 p.m., an emergency IFF signal was received by the tower.  The signal lasted approximately three minutes before it stopped.  Afterwards Ensign Woods could not be contacted.

     The following morning the wreckage of Ensign Woods’s Hellcat was found next to a stream in a wooded area of the village of Kenyon, which is located within the town of Richmond, Rhode Island.  The plane hat crashed at high speed and Woods had been killed instantly.

     At the time of his death, Ensign Woods was assigned to Night Fighter Squadron 79, VF(n)-79.  

     Ensign Woods was from Springfield, Illinois.  He’s buried in Camp Butler National Cemetery in Section 3, Site 809.  One can see a photo of his grave at the Camp Butler National Cemetery, site search, www.Findagrave.com, Memorial #2562708     

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Crash Report #44-12450 

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records

     Larry Webster – Aviation Archaeologist and Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

     www.Findagrave.com

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.

     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., 18, of Bridgeton, New Jersey.  Elmer had been aboard the Grumman craft. 

     It was also reported that a third man aboard the Grumman airplane, a radio operator identified in the press only by his last name, “McAlendon”, was missing. 

     Update: According to U.S. Navy report 43-4907, the missing man was RM2c H. D. McLendon, and not “McAlendon”.  He is identified in the report only by his first two initials.

     No further information is available as of this update.

    

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-4907

     Fall River Herald, “Army and Navy Planes In Crash”, September 30, 1942

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #42-29

     Findagrave.com  Memorial # 144801195  (Shows a photo of the grave.)

Narragansett Bay – February 25, 1945

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – February 25, 1945 

    

F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On February 25, 1945, Ensign Thomas William McSteen, 21, was killed when the F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70670) he was piloting crashed near Fox Island in the west passage of Narragansett Bay, between Jamestown and the mainland.  Ensign McSteen and three other Hellcat aircraft were taking part in a carrier landing training exercise at the time.  After examining the recovered aircraft, investigators concluded the accident occurred as a result of engine failure.  

     Ensign McSteen graduated Mt. Lebanon, Penn. High School in 1941, and enlisted in the navy in February of 1943. He received his Ensign’s commission and his pilot’s wings at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, in July of 1944.

     Ensign McSteen was survived by his wife Margaret Elizabeth, who he married at Pensacola NAS on July 22, 1944.  He’s buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Pennsylvania.    

  

Image from  "That We Might Have A Better World" by the Mt. Lebanon, Penn. School Dist. 1946 CLICK TO ENLARGE

Image from
“That We Might Have A Better World” by the Mt. Lebanon, Penn. School Dist. 1946
CLICK TO ENLARGE

     Sources:

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian & Archaeologist

     Pittsburgh Post – Gazzette, “Mt. Lebanon Girl Ensign’s Bride”, July 30, 1944 

     Historic Pitsburgh General Text Collection – Pittsburgh Library, “That We Might Have A Better World”, authored by the Mt. Lebanon School District, 1946. www.images.library.pitt.edu 

U.S. Navy Accident Report dated February 25, 1945

Hopkinton, R.I. – December 13, 1945

Hopkinton, Rhode Island – December 13, 1945

SB2C Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

SB2C Helldiver

U.S. Navy Photo

     On December 13, 1945, an SB2C-4E Helldiver (Bu. No. 83080) took off from Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Station in Charlestown, Rhode Island, for a gunnery training flight.  While making a tight turn in the air at 1,400 feet, the plane suddenly spun in and crashed in woodland off Panciera Road in the town of Hopkinton, Rhode Island.  (The area of the crash is approximately eight miles from the airfield.) 

     Both crewmen aboard were killed instantly.  They were:

     (Pilot) Ensign Kenneth Walter Barnes, 25, of Cincinnati, Ohio.  He’s buried in St. Joseph’s New Cemetery in Cincinnati. He was survived by his wife Dorothy. 

    Aviation Ordnanceman 3cl Charles Otmar Henninger, 28, of Sumner, Iowa. He’s buried at St. Peter’s Evan. Cemetery in Bremer Co. Iowa.  He was survived by his wife Geneva.  For more information about the life of Charles Henninger see the website “Bremer County Veterans Affairs” at  www.bremercountyva.org/gravesite/charles-otmar-henninger/

     Sources:

     (book) BuNos! Dispostion of World War II USN, USMC, And USCG Aircraft Listed By Bureau Numbers, by Douglas E. Campbell, copyright 2012.

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records: 45-118, and 45-119. 

     Findagrave.com- Charles Otmar Henninger, Memorial # 27384806

     Findagrave.com – Kenneth Walter Barnes, Memorial # 129069814

     Bremer County Veterans Affairs website – see above.

     U.S. Navy Crash Brief, 6-45 

South Kingstown, R.I. – May 31, 1944

South Kingstown, Rhode Island – May 31, 1944

Worden’s Pond

     

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

     At 11:30 a.m. on May 31, 1944, Lt. Jg. Maxwell Michaux Corpening, 24, was killed when the U.S. Navy F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58317), he was piloting crashed in Worden’s Pond during a training flight.   

     Lt. (jg.) Corpening  was part of a flight of seven Hellcats practicing dive bombing techniques.  According to the U.S. Navy Accident Report, after the fourth dive, the formation was joined by “three strange planes” that were “seen to dive from above and maneuver in weaving stern attacks on the Hellcats, who were in extended column formation.  The flight leader continued to circle and climb as any further bombing runs would have been inadvisable while the other planes were mixed in the formation.”

     The “strange planes” are not identified, however their actions led to the breakup of the formation, which led to a mid-air collision between Lt. (jg.) Corpening’s aircraft and another Hellcat.  The other Hellcat was able to land safely at Groton Naval Auxiliary Air Field.     

Sources:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-44697, dated May 31, 1944

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records.  (Many navy deaths during WWII were recorded in North Kingstown, (Not South Kingstown) because Quonset Point NAS was located in North Kingstown.)   

 

East Greenwich, R. I. – May 16, 1944

East Greenwich, Rhode Island – May 16, 1944 

Near the Exeter town line, off Shippey Road

Updated December 8, 2018

    

F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     At 10:50 a.m. on the morning of May 16, 1944, Lt. Cmdr. David Wooster Taylor, Jr., 32, took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station in a F6F-3 Hellcat (Bu. No. 41944) for a routine training mission.  Fifteen minutes later his aircraft was observed by witnesses on the ground to be at about 3,000 feet and flying level when it suddenly went onto a spinning dive from which it did not recover.  Lt. Cmdr. Taylor was killed when his aircraft crashed and burned at the Sunset Valley Reservation in East Greenwich.  The cause of the crash was not stated in newspapers.

     Due to the complete destruction of the aircraft investigators were not able to determine an exact cause for the accident.   

     Lt. Cmdr. Taylor was reportedly survived by his wife Virginia, and two young children, Jean, 4, and David, 3.

     A housing development now stands on the site where this accident took place.

     Lt. Cmdr. Taylor was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross while assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) for his part in an attack against enemy shipping off Bodo, Norway, on October 4, 1943.   

     To learn more about Lt. Cmdr. Taylor, and to see a photo of him, go to https://usnamemorialhall.org/index.php/DAVID_W._TAYLOR,_JR.,_LCDR,_USN

Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “Lt. Cmdr. D. W. Taylor Killed In Plane Crash”, May 17, 1944, Pg. 1

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records

The Standard, “Quonset Pilot Falls To Death”, May 18, 1944

U. S. Navy Crash report, #44-14197

      

Exeter, R. I. – September 8, 1943

Exeter, Rhode Island – September 8, 1943

Updated March 9, 2018

    

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     Navy pilot Ensign Robert R. Hirshkind was killed instantly when his F4U-1 Corsair, (Bu. No. 02368), crashed on the farm of Wallace Foster in the town of Exeter, R. I.  Ensign Hirshkind had been on a formation training flight out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the accident occurred.  Approximately 12 miles south-west of Wickford the flight encountered thick overcast that dropped nearly to the ground.  The accident occurred as the flight was descending through the overcast on instruments.  

     Ensign Hirshkind was assigned to Night Fighter Squadron 75, (VF(n)-75).

Sources:

     The Standard, “Exeter Plane Crash Kills Navy Pilot”, September 9, 1943, Pg. 8 

     U.S. Navy Accident report, #44-8367, dated September 8, 1943

Westerly, R.I. – October 24, 1943

Westerly, Rhode Island – October 24, 1943

U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger

National Archives Photo

     On October 24, 1943, a Grumman TBF-1 Avenger (Bu. No. 06096) piloted by Ensign Ralph E. Sethness, 28, was approaching Westerly Auxiliary Air Field (Today known as Westerly State Airport) when the plane developed engine trouble and crashed on the golf course of the Winnapaug Country Club.  (The club was, and still is, located at 180 Shore Road in Westerly.)

     The plane came down near the 7th hole and burst into flames.  Two local men, Robert C. Gentile, and Benjamin B. York, were the first to arrive at the scene where they found the badly injured pilot lying right next to the burning wreck with live ammunition from the plane’s machine guns starting to go off.  With disregard for their own safety, they carried Ensign Sethness fifty feet away and lay him down.  No sooner had they done so, the plane’s fuel tanks exploded spraying flaming gasoline all about the area.  The flames quickly set off a succession of machine gun rounds, and Gentile shielded the injured man with his body.   This lasted for about two minutes until the heat of the flames forced them to move Ensign Sethness another fifty feet away.  There they tended to him as best they could until fire and rescue units arrived.     

     Both men were later awarded the Carnegie Medal of Heroism for their efforts.  

     The Grumman Avenger generally carried a crew of three men however, on this particular flight Ensign Sethness was alone.  The reason for the flight was not stated, nor was the cause of the accident.   Ensign Sethness was assigned to torpedo squadron VT-15.

    Sources:

     The Westerly Sun, “Saw Plane Crash, Shore Road Men Rush To Scene”, October 25, 1943

     U.S. Navy accident report #44-9275

     Carnegie Hero Fund Commission

 

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