Charlestown, R. I. – September 4, 1947

Charlestown, Rhode Island – September 4, 1947


F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the night of September 4, 1947, Lieutenant Alfred George Elpern, (26), took off from the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field in an F8F-1 Bearcat, (Bu. No. 95208), for a night tactical training mission.   About 36 minutes into the flight the cockpit lighting system of his aircraft failed, and he was given clearance to return to base.  His first two attempts to land were aborted.   While making his third attempt, his aircraft was observed to go into a spin while at an altitude of 300 feet.  The airplane crashed and exploded on the field instantly killing Lieutenant Elpern.

     At the time of the crash, the horizon was partially obscured by haze.

     The cause of the crash could not be determined.

     Lieutenant Elpern was assigned to VF-10A.

     Lieutenant Elpern is buried in Paradise Cemetery in Shannondale, Penn.


     U. S. Navy accident report dated September 4, 1947 Memorial #31314556

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. – 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

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.


     National Archives, AAR 11-45; TD450613RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

     U. S. Navy Accident Report dated June 13, 1945

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