Atlantic Ocean – June 3, 1945

Atlantic Ocean – June 3, 1945

U.S.S. Mission Bay


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

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

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

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

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






     U. S. Navy accident report dated June 3, 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

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