Squantum NAS – January 10, 1943

Squantum Naval Air Station – January 10, 1943


OS2U Kingfisher without float
U. S. Navy Photo

     On January 10, 1943, a flight of U. S. Navy OS2U Kingfisher aircraft were returning to the Squantum Naval Air station after an anti-submarine patrol flight over the Atlantic.  One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 5564), landed too close behind the flight leader’s plane, and was caught in its slipstream.  The slipstream caused 5564’s left wing to drop and hit the runway with enough force to dislodge two depth charges, but they did not explode.  5564 was still traveling fast enough for the pilot to give full throttle and remain airborne.  The aircraft circled the field and came in for another landing attempt with flaps 1/3 down.  The aircraft hit the tarmac 4/5 of the way down the runway during which point the left landing gear gave way and the aircraft skidded to a stop.  The aircraft suffered substantial damage, but the two-man crew was not hurt.     

     This aircraft was repaired and put back into service.  It was later involved in another accident on January 15, 1944 when the left landing gear collapsed while making an emergency landing at the Squantum Naval Air Station.  There were no injuries.


     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5635, dated January 10, 1943.

     U. S. Navy accident report $44-10990, dated January 15, 1944.

Atlantic Ocean – September 16, 1944

Atlantic Ocean – September 16, 1944


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of September 16, 1944, a Navy TBF-1C Avenger, (Bu. No. 47759), was taking part in a glide-bombing training exercise seven miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  Several other aircraft were also participating.  Each aircraft would make a run at the target from 5,000 feet at an angle of 45 degrees, and pull out of the dive at 1,200 to 1,500 feet, with a 2,000 yard interval maintained between planes.  

     The pilot of Bu. No. 47759 made four successful runs at the target.  On the fifth run, the aircraft was observed to make a 50 degree dive at the target from which it did not recover.  The aircraft plunged into the water just short of the dye marker and disappeared immediately.  No wreckage was recovered thereby leaving the cause of the accident unknown.   

     All aboard Bu. No. 47759 were killed.  

     The pilot: Ensign Townsend Doyle

     Radioman: ARM3c Theodore H. Jaffe

     Gunner: AOM3c Anthony N. Kulsa   

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-43.


     U. S. Navy accident report dated September 16, 1944


Wilbraham, MA. – December 19, 1942

Wilbraham, Massachusetts – December 19, 1942


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 19, 1942, Lieutenant Russel D. Lynn, 24, was piloting a P-47B, (Ser. No. 41-5960), with a squadron of other P-47s over the area of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, when his aircraft suddenly developed engine trouble.  After directing the aircraft away from populated areas, he bailed out  at 2,500 feet.   The P-47 crashed and exploded just in from Stony Hill Road, about a quarter mile from the intersection of Old Boston Road, not far from the Ludlow town line. Lieutenant Lynn landed safely on Burbank Road and made his way to the scene of the crash where he was met by members of the North Wilbraham Fire Department and the state police.     

     Lt. Lynn was assigned to the 342nd Fighter Squadron based at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts.


     Springfield Daily News, “Westover Pilot Bails Out As Ship Crashes In No. Wilbraham”, December 19, 1942

Sunderland, MA. – August 7, 1941

Sunderland, Massachusetts – August 7, 1941


Stearman PT-17
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the afternoon of August 7, 1941, a PT-17 Stearman biplane took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight.  There were two men aboard, the pilot: Lieutenant Everett J. O’Connor; and a mechanic, Staff Sergeant Charles G. Nowark. 

     While over the Connecticut River Valley the aircraft suddenly lost all power and the pilot was forced to find a place to make an emergency landing.  He aimed for the Connecticut River, and made a perfect water landing near a point known as Whittemore’s Rock.  After the plane glided to a stop the weight of the engine caused the nose to sink in several feet of water, leaving the tail of the aircraft pointing upwards.  Neither man was injured.     

     Lieutenant O’Connor was praised for his skill in landing the airplane under such conditions.

     Both men were part of the 7th Squadron, 34th Bombardment Group.  The PT-17 was one of five stationed at Westover at the time.  Other than water damage to the engine, the plane was salvageable.   

      This was reported to be the “…first crash of an army plane stationed at Westover Field.” 


     Springfield Republican, “Army Plane Makes Forced Landing After Motor Fails”, August 18, 1941. (With photo of aircraft in river.)

Chicopee, MA. – June 11, 1943

Chicopee, MA. – June 11, 1943


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of June 11, 1943, 2nd Lt. Bruce Cowan, 19, took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, in a P-47-B Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-5956), for a routine training flight.   

     At about 10:45 a.m., his aircraft was observed high over the field by a security guard for the Chicopee Water Supply.   The guard later related how the aircraft appeared to “side-slip” and rapidly loose altitude, before it crashed in a wooded area about 200 feet off Burrett Road, about a quarter-of-a-mile from Westover Field.  Lt. Cowan was killed instantly.

     Lt. Cowan died four months shy of his 20th birthday.  He was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron of the 326th Fighter Group.  He’s buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Birmingham, Alabama.


     Unknown Newspaper, “Westover Pilot Killed In Crash”, June 12, 1943

     Unknown Newspaper, “Pilot Killed As Westover Plane falls In Chicopee”, June 12, 1943  

     Springfield Union & Republican, “Pilot Crash Victim Came from Alabama”, June 13, 1943




East Longmeadow, MA. – December 17, 1942

East Longmeadow, Massachusetts – December 17, 1942


P-47C Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At about 11;30 a.m. on December 17, 1942, Lieutenant Raymond Murby, 23, of New York City, was piloting a P-47 Thunderbolt over central Massachusetts when the engine suddenly lost all power.  The aircraft was observed by a ground witness to go into a steep dive, with Lt. Murby fighting to regain control.  When he was almost to the ground, Murby was able to straighten the aircraft out on an even keel, and it was seen to sail overtop of a row of homes and a barn, barely missing the roof tops.  The aircraft then dropped to about 20-25 feet over the snow covered ground before it crashed into a stand of white pines at the edge of a field, shearing off both wings.  When the fuselage came to rest there was no fire, and Lt. Murby was able to extricate himself despite the fact he was seriously injured.  He attempted to walk toward some homes he could see through the trees, but discovered he couldn’t use his legs.  There he lay until rescuers found him about a half hour later.        

     Source: Unknown Newspaper, “Army Plane Crashes Near City – East Long Meadow Line; Pilot Rushed To Hospital”, December 17, 1942

Ayer, MA. – July 14, 1944

Ayer, Massachusetts – July 14, 1944

Ten miles north-west


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the morning of July 14, 1944, Ensign Beeman Fallwell took off from the Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Ayer in a F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 40748), for a training flight.  When he was about ten miles north-west of the field, at an altitude of 6,000 feet, he began to experience a loss of power to the engine.  As the airplane began loosing altitude, the pilot began looking for a place to make an emergency landing.  Then a fire erupted in the engine, and the pilot knew he would have to jump.  He noted he was still over a populated area, so he decided to stay with the aircraft until it was over woodlands.  At the time he left the aircraft he was at the minimum level to jump and still have an expectation that the parachute would successfully open.  The parachute had just billowed open when the pilot landed in some trees sustaining injuries in the process.

     The aircraft crashed in a wooded are and was demolished.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated July 14, 1944

Somerset, MA. – July 17, 1943

Somerset, Massachusetts – July 17, 1943

Taunton River – Fall River, MA.


P-47C Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     Shortly before 4 p.m. on July 17, 1943, two P-47 aircraft were on a high-altitude training flight over the Fall River, Massachusetts, area.  Numerous people on the ground watched for roughly ten minutes as the aircraft conducted a series of maneuvers overhead, when it suddenly appeared that the planes had been involved in a mid-air collision.     

     One of the aircraft was a P-47C, (Ser. No. 41-6151) piloted by 1st Lt. Thomas J. Harding, 22, of Gypsum, Kansas.  The other was a P-47D, (Ser. No. 42-8210), piloted by 1st Lt. Benjamin Norris, Jr., 21, of Denver, Colorado.  Both men were assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron based at Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick, Rhode Island.  

     Lt. Harding’s aircraft was observed to fall to earth trailing smoke and flames.  He managed to bail out and his parachute was seen to open, and prevailing winds carried him eastward over Fall River until he came down on Main Street in the village of Assonet.  Meanwhile his airplane continued downward and crashed into a wooded area on the farm of Preston Hood in the town of Somerset.  Two youths working in a nearby field ran to the scene and being the first to arrive ascertained that the cockpit was empty before the flames consumed the plane.  

     While this was taking place, Lt. Norris’s P-47 was seen to go into a high-speed nose-dive and strike the Taunton River about 250 feet from shore across from an area known as “Harrington’s Switch”.   Lt. Norris was killed instantly. 

      Numerous bathers were along the river’s shoreline at the time.  The Taunton River lies between the municipalities of Somerset and Fall River. 

     One of the newspapers that covered the story was the Fall River Herald News, which described how debris from both aircraft rained down upon the area.  “The tail of the burned plane” it was reported, “as though sheared off with a knife, crashed to earth in the rear of Casey Filling Station on County St.” 

     It was also stated that a piece of aircraft tail section was also recovered on the farm of Chester Simcock in Swansea, Mass.  And smaller parts belonging to both aircraft were found in Somerset.

     Lt. Norris was the son of Army Colonel Benjamin Norris of the Medical Corps, and was survived by his wife whom he’d married barely three weeks earlier on June 28.  Lt. Norris was also a graduate of West Point Military Academy, class of January, 1943.  He’s buried in the military academy cemetery.  To see a photo of Lt. Norris in his cadet uniform, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #12388987.


     Fall River Herald News, “Crash Of Two Army Planes Over City Being Probed; One Pilot Killed”, July 19, 1943, page 16.

     (A Somerset, Mass. newspaper – unknown name.) “Somerset Gets Slight Touch Of The Realism Of War As Two Planes Crash; Civilian Agencies Put To The Test”, July 22, 1943  

Andover, MA. – March 7, 1943

Andover, Massachusetts – March 7, 1943 


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the afternoon of March 7, 1943, two P-47 fighter planes from the 342nd Fighter Squadron based at Bedford Field, were conducting aerial maneuvers several thousand feet over the town of Andover.  The activity was closely monitored by members of the local civil defense who were manning a plane spotting tower. 

      One of the P-47s, (Ser. No. 41-6444), was piloted by 2nd Lt. John R. Prindle, 23, of Erie, Pennsylvania.  The other, (Ser. No. 41-6003), was piloted by another second lieutenant.  At 2:25 p.m., the two aircraft collided in mid-air, with Lt. Prindle’s plane loosing a significant portion of its wing.  As Prindle’s plane fell away, he bailed out and deployed his parachute, and northerly wind’s pulled him towards a large forested area. 

     Meanwhile his plane crashed and exploded on the estate of John B. Towle on Porter Road, barely missing the main house.  The resulting fire set off the live ammunition in the machine guns sending bullets flying in all directions and hindering firemen from extinguishing the blaze.  The house was unoccupied at the time and there were no injuries to those on the ground. 

     The other aircraft involved in the collision was able to safely make it back to Bedford Field. 

     The plane spotters immediately reported the crash, and the result was perhaps the largest search and rescue effort ever mobilized by the town.  Hundreds of military men, local and state officials, civil defense units, and volunteer civilians from Andover and nearby towns took part in the search to locate the missing pilot. The Red Cross supplied thousands of gallons of coffee and hundreds of pounds of food.   The search lasted throughout the night, with temperatures dropping to near zero.  One 15-year-old boy was reported to have frostbite. 

     Lt. Prindle was finally located the following morning, alive and in good spirits, in a wooded area near the Boxford town line.  His injuries received from the collision and bail out prevented him from walking out of the woods on his own.  He’d been able to keep warm due to the fact he’d been wearing his leather and fleece flying suit.   


     The Evening Tribune, (Lawrence, Ma.), “Pilot Found In Wooded Area”, March 8, 1943, page 1.       

     The Andover Townsman, “Army Flier Improves After Crash Sunday”, March 11, 1943, page 1.

    Waterbury Democrat, (Ct.), “Army Pilot Safe As Plane Burns”, March 8, 1943. 


Martha’s Vineyard, MA. – May 8, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – May 8, 1945


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     At 2:00 a.m. on the morning of May 8, 1945, an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70543), was approaching the runway of the Martha’s Vineyard Naval Air Station when one of the wings clipped an unlighted obstruction which caused the aircraft to crash.  The plane suffered considerable damage, but the pilot was not seriously injured.    

     Source: U. S. Navy crash report 4-45


Westport, MA – December 17, 1944

Westport, Massachusetts – December 17, 1944


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     At 1:40 p.m. on December 17, 1944, Lieutenant John Brodka left Martha’s Vineyard Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Massachusetts bound for Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.  He was piloting an F6F Hellcat, (Bu. No. 41380).

     Twenty minutes into his flight, while passing over the town of Westport, Massachusetts, the engine began to miss fire and the plane began losing altitude.  Forced to make an emergency landing, Brodka picked out a open field.  As he was making his approach the engine suddenly lost all power and stopped which caused the plane to settle faster than anticipated, which put it on a collision course with a wooded area just ahead of the field.  All the while the pilot continued to try restarting the engine.  Just before he was about to crash into the trees, the engine started and ran for three or four seconds before stopping again, but it was enough to carry the plane over the trees and into the field.

     The field was muddy which affected the brakes.  The aircraft crashed through a fence, crossed a road, and struck a telephone pole and went into a roadside ditch.  Despite extensive damage to the plane, Lieutenant Brodka was not hurt.    

     Lt. Brodka was assigned to VF-52.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, dated December 17, 1944

Chatham, MA – January 15, 1945

Chatham, Massachusetts – January 15, 1945


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On January 15, 1945, Ensign Robert C. Baker, piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70161), took part in a gunnery training flight off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  At about 1:15 p.m. as he was returning to base and passing over the town of Chatham,  the engine stopped working.  Baker dropped the landing gear and aimed for an open field.  As he came closer to the field he saw that there was a trench running across the middle of where he intended to set down so he intentionally overshot the area but wound up crashing into some trees lining the edge of the field.  

     Although the aircraft suffered significant damage, Ensign Baker was not hurt.  Investigators believed the engine failure was due to loss of oil pressure.  

     Ensign baker was assigned to VF-88.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated January 15, 1945

Plymouth Bay, MA – March 20, 1945

Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts – March 20, 1945


F4U Corsair National Archives Photo

F4U Corsair
National Archives Photo

     On March 20, 1945, Ensign Richard C. Forisso was piloting an F4U-1D Corsair, (Bu. No. 50513), over Plymouth Bay making practice bomb runs.  At one point while at 4,000 feet, hydraulic fluid and gasoline began spraying from under the instrument panel followed by smoke filling the cockpit. The fluids got all over the pilot’s lower extremities and partially obscured his vision. 

     Ensign Forisso elected to stay with the aircraft and aim it for a safe area of the water away from shore and watercraft.  He cut the engine and made a wheels up water landing, suffering minor cuts and bruises in the process.   He was able to escape before the plane sank to the bottom. 

     Maintenance records showed that the hydraulic lines on this particular aircraft had broken twice previously.  Rough weather put off the recovery of the aircraft for four days.  Once it was recovered, mechanics discovered a 1/2 inch crack in the hydraulic line behind the instrument panel.  This aircraft was later scrapped due to the time it had stayed submerged in salt water.


     U.S. Navy accident brief.     

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Field Airman Prevents Crash On Plymouth Buildings”, March 21, 1945

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