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

Charlestown, R.I. – April 17, 1944

Charlestown, Rhode Island – April 17, 1944

Great Swamp

Updated July 8, 2017 


Hellcat Fighters
U.S. Navy Photo

     On April 17, 1944, a flight of four F6F-3 Hellcats left Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a familiarization training flight.   During the flight the aircraft flew in a line of four, in a “follow the leader” type of pattern.  It was during a phase of the exercise when the aircraft were changing positions in the formation that a mid-air collision between two of the aircraft occurred.  Both aircraft, (Bu. No. 40345), piloted by Ensign Stephen L. Smith, 21, and (Bu. No. 66034), piloted by Lieutenant Robert C. Stimson, 27, crashed and exploded in a wooded portion of the “Great Swamp” area of Charlestown.  Neither pilot survived.

     Ensign Stephen Luther Smith was from of St. Andrews, Florida. He’s buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Panama City, Florida.  (See, memorial #32844142)

     Lieutenant Robert Charles Stimson was from of Shelby, Ohio, and was survived by his wife. He’s buried in Oakland Cemetery in Shelby.  To read more about Lt. Stimson, and to see photographs of him, go to, memorial 73196817.


     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records       

     U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-12263

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