Ludlow, MA. – March 20, 1943

Ludlow, Massachusetts – March 20, 1943

     On March 20, 1943, an army fighter pilot took off from Westover Field in Massachusetts for a routing training flight.  At some point during the flight, the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing, and crash-landed in an open field on the farm of Herbert Gates.  Fortunately, a recent warm spell had thawed the frozen ground thus making the landing softer.  Although the plane suffered heavy damage, the pilot didn’t receive any serious injuries. 

     The pilot’s name and type of aircraft were not state in the newspaper article. 


     Transcript-Telegram, “Pilot Escapes In Ludlow Crash”, March 22, 1943, pg. 2.  (Article submitted by Eric Wiberg, author and historian.)    

Ludlow, MA. – July 17, 1944

Ludlow, Massachusetts – July 17, 1944


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 17, 1944, a flight of three B-24 Liberator heavy bombers left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a combat formation training flight.  With the bombers was a P-47 Thunderbolt that was to participate in the exercise by making mock attack runs on the bombers as they flew in a three-ship triangle formation.

     As the formation was passing over central Massachusetts, the P-47 crashed into the lead B-24.  The P-47 immediately broke apart and caught fire, but the pilot, a major, was able to bail out safely.  At the same time, pieces of both aircraft struck a second B-24 in the formation causing serious damage to that aircraft. 

     Immediately after the impact between the P-47 and the first B-24, two crewmen of the B-24 bailed out of the aircraft.  Meanwhile, the nose turret gunner of the second B-24 was pinned in place due to the impact of debris from the first two aircraft and was forced to remain there.      

P-47N Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     Debris from the stricken aircraft rained down on the town of Ludlow, Massachusetts.  The P-47 crashed and burned on a farm on Rood Street, narrowly missing the barn.  Wing portions of one of the B-24s landed in the back yard of a home on Center Street, and a propeller landed in the yard of a home on Munsing Street.  Pieces of an engine and other small parts fell elsewhere.  There were no reported injuries to anyone on the ground.

     The major landed safely and made his way back to the air field on his own.  One crewman from the B-24 came down in a tree and was rescued by some telephone workers.  The other was found up by a state police officer. Neither was seriously injured.

     The damaged B-24s managed to limp back to Westover on three engines and land safely.  The trapped turret gunner was freed by the pilot and flight engineer immediately afterwards. 

     The third B-24 was undamaged in the accident, and was put in a holding pattern until the other two Liberators could land. 


     Springfield Daily Republican, Fliers Are Safe In Mid-Air Crash Of Three Planes”, July 18, 1944 

Ludlow, MA. – May 4, 1944

Ludlow, Massachusetts – May 4, 1944


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 4, 1944, a B-24 Liberator with three crewmen aboard took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a training flight.  Shortly after take off, the aircraft experienced complete engine failure in all four engines.  According to two civilian witnesses living on Burnett Road in the neighboring town of Ludlow, all four engines were silent as the aircraft passed over their home, and someone aboard fired a red distress flair from the aircraft.   Moments later the B-24 crashed and exploded in a thickly wooded area, about 3/4 of a mile from Westover Field. The plane came down on land owned by the Chicopee Water Department in Ludlow just before the Chicopee town line.    

     All three crewmen perished in the accident. They were identified by the press as:

     Pilot: Captain Harold H. Melken, 26, of Watertown, Massachusetts.

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lieutenant William F. Davis, 21, of Baxter, West Virginia.

     Tec-Sgt. Harry Schultz, of Kansas City, Mo.

     Source: Springfield Union, “Three Westover Men Die In Ludlow Plane Crash”, May 5, 1944

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