Off Martha’s Vineyard – December 22, 1943

Off Martha’s Vineyard – December 22, 1943


U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of December 22, 1943, a flight of seven airplanes from the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, (CV-4), were taking part in a  gunnery practice flight over the ocean in the vicinity of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  As one aircraft served as a “target tug”, towing a canvas target behind, the other six aircraft would take turns making firing runs at the target.  All six of those planes were FM-2 Wildcats assigned to VF-4. 

     The tow plane leveled off at 6,000 feet and the Wildcats began their firing runs from 7,500 feet.  After all planes had made approximately eight runs, one Wildcat, (Bu. No. 46760), piloted by Lt. (Jg.) Lloyd Henry Launder, Jr., (22), was seen making another run when the left wing suddenly separated from the fuselage, and the aircraft went into a uncontrolled spin and crashed into the sea and disappeared.   A rescue boat and two OS2U water aircraft were dispatched to the scene, but only a small patch of discolored water from a dye marker was found. 


     U.S. Navy accident report #44-40488 (or possibly 44-40438)



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