Cape Cod Bay – May 18, 1944

Cape Cod Bay – May 18, 1944


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

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

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

     One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 42520), was piloted by Lt. (jg.) James Francis Corroon, Jr., (25), and the other, (Bu. No. 42221), was piloted by an Ensign De Masters.  Both aircraft were assigned to VF-74.      

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

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

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

     Lt. (Jg.) Corroon was born in Freeport, Long Island, N.Y. in 1919, and received his wings in 1942.  To see more, click on the link below.


     U.S. Navy Crash Investigation Report      

Charlestown, R. I. – May 29, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – May 29, 1945


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

     Just after midnight, on the morning of May 29, 1945, Lieutenant David Warren Allen took off from the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in an F6F-5n Hellcat, (Bu. No. 79104), for an OCI interception flight.  The night was particularly dark with scattered rain squalls.  Lt. Allen’s plane was last seen 100 feet in the air and climbing.  It was later learned that Lt. Allen was killed when his plane crashed into the water not far from the end of the runway. 

     There were no eye witnesses to the accident.  Due to the fact that Lt. Allen was an experienced pilot with 2,000 hours of air time, investigators concluded that the accident was caused by mechanical or structural failure of the aircraft.   

     To see a photo of Lt. Allen, click on the link below.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report.

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.  

     To see a photo of Ensign Miller’s grave click on the link below.

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident report dated may 31, 1945 

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

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, (23), 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.

To see a photo of Ensign Brown, click on link below.

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

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