Quonset Point, R. I. – January 11, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – January 11, 1944


U.S. Navy Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On January 11, 1944, an F4F Wildcat, (Bu. No. 11863), with a target tow sleeve attached, was in the process of taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  At the time, the aircraft had been cleared by the tower for takeoff. When the Wildcat was about two-thirds of the way down the runway, a Grumman J2E Duck suddenly landed ahead of, and in the path of the Wildcat.  To avoid a collision, the pilot of the Wildcat skidded to the left and went off the runway and plowed into a snowbank.  The pilot was not injured, but the Wildcat was in need of a major overhaul.  

     Nobody aboard the other aircraft was injured.  


Grumman Duck
U. S. Navy Photo

Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated January 11, 1944   


Quonset Point, R. I. – June 6, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – June 6, 1944


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On June 6, 1944, a TBF-1D Avenger, (Bu. No. 24508), was landing at Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a training flight when the left brakes failed causing the aircraft to ground-loop at a high speed.  Damage consisted a buckled wing and buckled rear stabilizer as well as a blown tire.  The crew was not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VC-19.


     U. S. Navy accident report #41-14953

Narragansett Bay, R.I. – May 23, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – May 23, 1943


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of May 23, 1943, a flight of six TBF-1 Avengers took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a formation-practice bombing flight.  One of those aircraft was Bu. No. 06123, piloted by Ensign Leon T. Gerhart, (22), of Pennsylvania. 

     Ensign Gerhart’s aircraft had a crew of three aboard:

     ARM3c Donald J. Cross, (20-21) of Wisconsin.

     AMM2c Morrison C. Dobson

     AMM3c William Richard Walker

     Once airborne, the TBF’s rendezvoused with Ensign Gerhart flying in the No. 2 position.  The bombing mission was carried out, with each aircraft making their run individually at an anchored target boat.   At about 9:25 a.m., with the exercise completed,  the signal was given to re-form.  As this was taking place, Ensign Gerhart’s aircraft was involved in a collision with another TBF, (Bu. No. 47528).  During the collision, the tail section of Gerhart’s aircraft was completely broken off, and his plane fell out of control and crashed in Narragansett Bay.   All aboard were killed.

     The other aircraft (Bu. No. 47528) suffered damage to its right wing, but was able to successfully make an emergency landing at Quonset Point.  Nobody aboard that aircraft was injured.

     To see a photograph of Ensign Gerhart, go to www.findagrave.com, see memorial #86945634


     U. S. Navy Crash Report #43-6986 


Charlestown, R.I. – May 31, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – May 31, 1945


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

     Shortly before 10:00 p.m. on the night of May 31, 1945, Ensign George Robertson Miller was returning to the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field after a night operations flight.  The wind was gusting strongly that evening as he approached runway 35 in his F6F-5N Hellcat fighter aircraft, (Bu. No. 78136).  As he was coming in to land, a strong cross wind struck the aircraft causing it to crash. Ensign Miller was killed when the plane hit the ground.  

     To see a photo of Ensign Miller’s grave click on the link below. 


     Source: U.S. Navy Accident report dated may 31, 1945 

Quonset Point NAS – March 29, 1945

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – March 29, 1945


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

     At 3:36 a.m. on the morning of March 29, 1945, an Ensign was practicing night landings and take offs at Quonset Point NAS in an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71001).  As the pilot was coming in to land, the right wing of the aircraft  suddenly dropped and the plane rolled over and crashed into a wall.  The aircraft was completely wrecked, and the pilot received lacerations, burses, and possible internal injuries, but he later recovered.          


     U.S. Navy crash investigation report #33-45

Westerly, R.I. – August 2, 1945

Westerly, Rhode Island – August 2, 1945


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

     On the morning of August 2, 1945, Ensign Walter G. Davies was cleared for takeoff from Runway 32 at the Westerly Auxiliary Naval Air Station.   Just after becoming airborne the engine of his F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 78413), lost all power and the airplane came back down on the runway.  The plane touched down near the end of the runway.  Ensign Davies applied full brakes but was unable to prevent the plane from going off the end of the runway and over an eight-foot embankment where it flipped over in trees and scrub brush pinning Davies inside.   There was no fire, and Ensign Davies was rescued a short time later with no serious injuries.  The aircraft was a total loss. The cause of the crash was blamed on faulty engine magnetos.     

     Source: National Archives, AAR W6-45, TD450802RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

South Kingstown, R.I. – April 10, 1944

South Kingstown, Rhode Island – April 10, 1944


     On April 10, 1944, a U.S. Navy, North American SNJ-4 Texan, (Bu. No. 26988), with two men aboard, left the Lakehurst (N.J.) Naval Air Station bound for the South Weymouth, (Mass.) Naval Air Station.  The pilot was Herman Walter Smith, age 38, a pilot for the navy, and with him was Daniel Layton Humm, age 34, a civilian.  While passing over southern Rhode Island the men found themselves surrounded by heavy fog.  It was while flying in fog that the aircraft clipped the top of a 60 foot tree, causing the plane to crash and burn about 300 feet beyond, killing both men. 

     The crash occurred just to the north of Walsh Pond, about a half-mile north of Post Road, (aka Route 1), almost in line with Matunuck Beach Road.      


     U. S. Navy Accident Report #44-13 053

     Lawrence Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.     

Richmond, R.I. – March 9, 1943

Richmond, Rhode Island – March 9, 1943


North American Texan Military Trainer

     Shortly before noon on March 9, 1943, a North American SNJ-4 Texan, (Bu. No. 26615), was flying over southern Rhode Island on a routine training flight.  There were two men aboard; Ensign Robert Foster Crader, age 21, of Gardena, California, and Ensign Robert Francis Wolfe, age 21, of Clinton, Iowa. 

     While over the town of Richmond, Rhode Island, the left wing of the aircraft suddenly folded and broke away which sent the plane into a violent spin.  Neither Crader or Wolfe were able to bail out before the plane crashed and burned in the apple orchard of the former Holly Farm, about 400 feet south of the junction of R.I. Route 2 and Heaton Orchard Road. 

     The left wing landed about a mile west of Route 2.


     U.S. Navy Crash Report #43-6177   

Quonset Point, R.I. – November 5, 1943

Quonset Point, R. I. – November 5, 1943



F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On November 5, 1943, Lt. (jg.) George E. Orenge was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (#65895) on a test flight from Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  At about 10:00 a.m. he came back to land at Quonset Point.  After touching down on the runway, the left tire on the landing gear blew out causing the plane to swerve into an ordinance truck parked on the extreme edge of the tarmac.  There were no injuries, but the aircraft required a major overhaul. 


     U.S. Navy Accident Report # 44-9523


Off Block Island, R.I. – December 30, 1943

Off Block Island, Rhode Island – December 30, 1943


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

     On the night of December 30, 1943, a flight of F6F-3 Hellcat aircraft assigned to VF(n)-76, took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a night training flight.  The night was clear, but there was no moon.

     One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 65930), piloted by Ensign Waldo E. Neuburg, was assigned to orbit the northern end of Block Island, which lies three miles off shore from Rhode Island.  About thirty minutes into the flight, Neuburg’s aircraft began having engine trouble.  He notified the flight leader, who advised him to return to Quonset Point.  Neuburg  put the plane into a climb and headed for shore, but a short time later radioed that he wasn’t going to make it and that he was bailing out.  Fifteen seconds later his aircraft disappeared from the Jamestown (R.I.) radar station’s tracking scope somewhere NNE of Block Island.   A search and rescue operation was instituted, but no trace of Ensign Neuburg or his airplane was ever found. 


      U.S. Navy Accident report #44-10567

Off Watch Hill, R.I. – October 26, 1944

Off Watch Hill, Rhode Island – October 26, 1944


Ensign Norman Francis Day U.S. Navy - WWII

Ensign Norman Francis Day
U.S. Navy – WWII

     At 6:52 p.m., on October 26, 1944, Ensign Norman Francis Day, 20, piloting an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70895), and Ensign W. D. Cochran, piloting another F6F Hellcat, took off from Charlestown Aux. Naval Air Station in Charlestown, Rhode Island, for a night training mission. 

     The pair flew to Fisher’s Island, New York, (Off the eastern end of Long Island) and engaged in simulated strafing maneuvers on searchlight positions.  After about 40 minutes, Ensign Cochran attempted to call Ensign Day by radio and got no response. 

     A fisherman on a boat reported a plane apparently experiencing engine trouble had crashed into the water about 2 miles due south of Watch Hill, Rhode Island.  Watch Hill is in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island.


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

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

     The crash was not witnessed by Ensign Cochran.

     At the time of his death, Ensign Day was assigned to Carrier Aircraft Service Unit 27, (CASU-27), assigned to the Naval Air Station at Charlestown, Rhode Island.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  (See link below.) 



     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Rhode Island.  

     U.S. navy aircraft accident report 48-44

East Providence, R.I. – January 12, 1943

East Providence, Rhode Island – January 12, 1943

Updated December 29, 2015


U.S. Navy SBD auntless National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy SBD auntless
National Archives Photo

     At 3:00 p.m. on January 12, 1943, two U.S. Navy SBD-4 Dauntless aircraft were returning to Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a patrol/photographic  flight when they encountered snow squalls over the Providence metropolitan area and were forced to make emergency landings. 

     One aircraft (Bu. No. 06925) attempted to land in a field near St. Mary’s Seminary on Pawtucket Avenue in East Providence, and in the process collided with a tree and flipped over.  The pilot, Ensign John Robert Jasper, 22, of St. Louis, Missouri, was killed, and his companion, Photographer 3C, Ollen Amay Stevens, 26, of  Detroit, Michigan, was seriously injured.

     St. Mary’s Seminary is today known as St. Mary’s Bay View Academy located at 3070 Pawtucket Avenue.  

    The second aircraft made a hard landing in another field about a quarter of a mile away.  The pilot, Ensign William E. McCarthy, 23, of Mansfield, Mass., and his companion, Seaman Apprentice Edward Goumond, 20, of Johnston, R.I., were slightly injured.      

     Ensign Jasper had just celebrated his 22nd birthday twelve days earlier on December 30th.   His body was brought to Quonset Naval Air Station In North Kingstown, Rhode Island in preparation for burial. He’s buried in Resurrection Cemetery in Afton, Missouri.  To see a picture of his grave go to www.findagrave.com and see Memorial # 47782542. 


     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records, #43-17

     Larry Webster, R. I. Aviation Archaeologist & Historian

     Newport Daily News, “Navy Pilot Killed In Crash Upstate”, January 13, 1943, page 12


Narragansett Bay – February 25, 1945

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – February 25, 1945 


F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On February 25, 1945, Ensign Thomas William McSteen, 21, was killed when the F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70670) he was piloting crashed near Fox Island in the west passage of Narragansett Bay, between Jamestown and the mainland.  Ensign McSteen and three other Hellcat aircraft were taking part in a carrier landing training exercise at the time.  After examining the recovered aircraft, investigators concluded the accident occurred as a result of engine failure.  

     Ensign McSteen graduated Mt. Lebanon, Penn. High School in 1941, and enlisted in the navy in February of 1943. He received his Ensign’s commission and his pilot’s wings at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, in July of 1944.

     Ensign McSteen was survived by his wife Margaret Elizabeth, who he married at Pensacola NAS on July 22, 1944.  He’s buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Pennsylvania.   To see a photograph of Ensign McSteen, click on the link below. 



     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian & Archaeologist

     Pittsburgh Post – Gazzette, “Mt. Lebanon Girl Ensign’s Bride”, July 30, 1944 

     Historic Pitsburgh General Text Collection – Pittsburgh Library, “That We Might Have A Better World”, authored by the Mt. Lebanon School District, 1946. www.images.library.pitt.edu 

    U.S. Navy Accident Report dated February 25, 1945

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