Off Bridgeport, CT – April 21, 1942

Off Bridgeport, Connecticut – April 21, 1942

Long Island Sound


P-38 Lightning U.S. Air Force photo

P-38 Lightning
U.S. Air Force photo

      On April 21, 1942, 2nd Lt. Willard J. Webb was piloting a P-38E, (Ser. No. 41-2111) at 15,000 feet over the Bridgeport Airport on a performance test flight.  He’d just completed the flight and was starting to head down to the field when the aircraft began to violently shudder and shake.  The following is an excerpt from the Army crash investigation technical report in Lt. Webb’s own words.

     “At 12:58, I was directly over the field at 15,000 ft., at which time I recorded the completion of the performance test.  I turned at 90 degrees to the right, and 90 degrees to the left, making a combination of a lazy 8 and a power let-down, at which time the plane began to shake violently and automatically going completely out of control.  The violent shaking of the airplane left me without any control over the airplane.  I cut  my gun, rolled stabilizer back with no results.  At this time, the speed was tremendous, so my next decision was to jump.” 

     Lt. Webb managed to bail out as the aircraft plunged into Long Island Sound.  Ha too came down in the water and was rescued by a boat and brought ashore where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder.

     At the time of his accident, Lt. Webb was assigned to the 61st Pursuit Squadron (I).  He received his pilot’s wings October 31, 1941.

     Source: U.S. Air Corps Tactical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-4-24-13  

Stratford, CT – February 15, 1942

Stratford, Connecticut – February 15, 1942


P-39 Aircobra - U.S. Air Force Photo

P-39 Aircobra – U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 10:45 a.m., on February 15, 1942, 2nd Lt. Harry L. Mathews, 24, took off from Bridgeport Municipal Airport in a Bell P-39C, (Ser. No. 40-2972), for an aerobatic training flight over the area.  After circling the field once he called for landing instructions and was given instructions to land on the east-west runway from the east.   After completing another half-circle of the airport the plane fell about one-and-a-half miles from the airport coming down in an area known as Lordship marshes, in the Lordship Village section of Stratford. 

     The first to arrive at the crash site were members of the Lordship Volunteer Fire Department, who raced from their fire station about a quarter of a mile away.   There they found Lt. Mathews had been killed in the crash.  

     A woman who witnessed the crash from her home at 491 Washington Parkway, Lordship, told reporters that the plane’s engine was sputtering, and as it was in a left turn about 100 feet above the ground it suddenly fell to the marsh landing on its left wing and nose.  There was no fire afterward.   

     The accident was blamed on mechanical failure with the aircraft’s engine.  

     Lt. Mathews, of Gates, North Carolina, was survived by his wife, Mary, whom he had married only two months earlier on December 18, 1941.  Prior to entering the Air Corps in April of 1941, he graduated Wake Forest College, and had been a school teacher.  He received his basic flight training at Randolph Field, Texas, and  graduated from Pursuit Training School at Victoria, Texas, December 12, 1941.  At the time of his death he was assigned to the 61st Pursuit Squadron.


     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-2-15-2

     Unknown Newspaper, “Flier Killed In Stratford”, unknown date.


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