Off Martha’s Vineyard – September 27, 1943

Off Martha’s Vineyard – September 27, 1943


Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of September 27, 1943, Ensign Thomas James Schmidt, (age 21 or 22), was piloting an SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 28658), taking part in a gunnery practice flight off Martha’s Vineyard.  After making his fourth firing run at fixed water targets, he leveled off and made an emergency water landing.  The aircraft sank within thirty seconds taking Ensign Schmidt with it.  The gunner, ARM3c E. A. Hollomon, was able to escape, and was rescued by a Coast Guard Cutter and taken to Newport Naval Hospital in Rhode Island for treatment. 

     It was later determined that the synchronizing unit regulating the .50 caliber machine gun in the nose of the aircraft had malfunctioned, and that the propeller had been damaged to the point that the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in the water.    

     Both men were assigned to VC-32.

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

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, #44-8818, dated September 27, 1943    


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