Information on aircraft gives the type, and if available, the serial number of the operator in italics, the constructors number, also known as the manufacturer's serial number (c/n), exterior codes in apostrophes, nicknames (if any) in quotation marks, flight callsign in italics, and operating units.
Bell XP-39B Airacobra, 38–326, modified from prototype XP-39, on test flight out of Buffalo, New York, suffers failure of main gear legs to retract fully, stopping 18 inches (460 mm) short of flush stowage. Pilot, Wright Field P-39 project officer George Price, saves prototype with deft belly-landing, damage mostly limited to the propeller.
The Mechelen Incident, also known as the Mechelen affair, was an event during the Phoney War in the first stages of World War II. A German Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun piloted by Major Erich Hoenmanns, 52, base commander of Loddenheide airfield, near Münster with an officer on-board carrying the plans for Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), a German attack on the Low Countries, becomes lost and crash-lands in neutral Belgium near Vucht, in the modern-day municipality of Maasmechelen. This prompts an immediate crisis in the Low Countries and amidst the French and British authorities, whom the Belgians notify of their discovery; however the crisis abates relatively quickly once the dates mentioned in the plans pass without incident. It has been argued that the incident led to a major change in the German attack plan, but this hypothesis has also been disputed.
US Army Air Corps Chief of Staff Gen. Henry H. Arnold's personal staff transport, Northrop A-17AS, 36–350, c/n 290, 3-seat command transport, written off in accident this date.
RAF pilot Peter Townsend, flying a Hawker Hurricane of 43 Squadron, downs Heinkel He 111, Werke Nummer 3232, 1H+FM, of KG 26, on a shipping strike, piloted by Hermann Wilms, which crashlands near Bannial Flat farm, Whitby, the first German aircraft downed on English soil since a Gotha bomber at Harrietsham, Kent, on 18 May 1918. (Previous German aircraft had been downed during World War II, but in Scotland.) Luftwaffe observer Peter Leushake on the He 111 killed by gunnery, gunner and flight engineer Johann Meyer, gunner Unteroffizier Karl Missy both wounded.
First fatal accident involving a Saro Lerwick flying boat occurs when Flt. Sgt. Corby attempts landing of L7253 of No. 209 Squadron RAF (209 Sqn) off Lismore Island near Oban in poor visibility. Aircraft stalls, bounces on water several times, starboard wingtip float breaks off, airframe capsizes. Water pours into hull through open windows, pilot Corby drowns but body recovered, three crew missing, two survive. Salvaged, becomes instructional airframe, later sinks in gale at RAF Wig Bay on Loch Ryan.
Prototype SNCASE SE.100-01 crashes at Marignane, France, returning from test flight. Approaching field, gear down, flaps up, it is seen to execute a flat turn at 1,000 ft (300 m), sink abruptly and crash. Unprotected fuel tanks in fuselage belly rupture, pilot Rouland and his mechanic perish in fire. Starboard propeller pitch mechanism inadvertently went into reverse on power increase causing loss of control.
Blackburn B-20, V8914, experimental flying-boat with retractable lower-hull, lost after suffering severe aileronflutter – 3 crew killed, 2 rescued by HMS Transylvania. The aircraft's wreck still exists, but remains undisturbed as it is designated a War grave. In 1998, one of the engines was raised as it had been caught in a fishing boat's nets and dragged away from the wreck, into shallower water. It is currently an exhibit in the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum.
Grumman XF4F-2 Wildcat prototype, BuNo 0383, c/n 356, suffers engine failure during test flight out of NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C., force lands causing considerable damage. Aircraft grounded for several weeks for repairs.
The sole prototype Kimura HK-1 tailless glider, purchased by the Japanese Army, crashes this date after only 13 flights.
Prototype Yakovlev I-26, first of what became the Yak-1 fighter, crashes, killing pilot Yu. I. Piontkovskiy. The investigation of the crash found that the pilot performed two consecutive barrel rolls at low altitude which was in violation of test flight plan. It was believed that during the first roll, the main landing gear became unlocked, causing it to crash through the wing during the second roll. It has been theorized that Piontkovskiy's deviation from the flight plan was caused by frustration that his aircraft was being used for engine testing while I-26-2, built with the lessons of I-26-1 in mind, was already performing aerobatics.
First prototype Hawker Tornado, P5219, suffers a failure in the monocoque structure just forward of the cockpit while in flight. Test pilot Philip G. Lucas manages to land damaged fighter safely, is awarded the George Medal. Airframe repaired, flying again a month later.
As the British Expeditionary Force retreats to the French coast in the face of German advances, a flight of obsolescent Hawker Hector army co-operation biplanes of No. 613 Squadron RAF is dispatched from RAF Hawkinge at 0950 hrs., each armed with 2 X 120lb. general purpose (GP) bombs, to support the Calais garrison trapped in the town's Citadel. Over the channel, Plt. Off. Bernard Brown, flying Hector K8111, with gunner LAC R. V. Brown, test-fires his front gun but after a few rounds the muzzle explodes, holing his fuel tank. He jettisons his bombs and attempts to return to Hawkinge, but runs out of fuel and force-lands on Herne Bay golf course.
Edgar James "Cobber" Kain, the RAF's top ace (17 confirmed kills during the Battle of France), due to return to England after a combat tour in France this date, is seen off from the airfield at Échemines by squadron mates who bid him farewell as he takes off in his Hurricane to fly to Le Mans to collect his kit. Unexpectedly, Kain begins a "beat-up" of the airfield, performing a series of low level aerobatics in Hawker Hurricane Mk. I, L1826. Commencing a series of "flick" rolls, on his third roll, the ace misjudges his altitude and hits the ground heavily in a level attitude. Kain dies when he is pitched out of the cockpit, striking the ground 27 m in front of the exploding Hurricane. Kain is buried in Choloy Military Cemetery.
Seventh (of 13 ordered) Bell YFM-1 Airacuda, 38–492, crash lands in farmer's field at East Aurora, New York, before acceptance by U.S. Army Air Corps when aircraft will not recover from spin, rudder locks, pilot cuts power prior to bail-out. After Bell test pilot Brian Sparks departs airframe, suffering severe injuries (two broken legs) when he strikes vertical fin and horizontal stabilizer, fellow Bell pilot John Strickler regains rudder control, dead-sticks the pusher twin into field ~15 SE of Buffalo. Sparks parachutes down, Strickler uninjured, airframe written-off.
The second prototype Heinkel He 177A V2, CD+RQ, suffers in flight break up from control flutter. Test pilot Rickert fails to bail out and is killed. The tail surfaces of the third, fourth and fifth prototypes nearing completion are then enlarged.
209 Sqn loses a second Saro Lerwick flying boat, L7261, when Flg. Off. Pain returns to Oban from escort mission due to severe weather. While taxying cross wind to the moorings, the starboard float breaks loose, flying boat capsizes, sinking within 30 minutes at RAF Oban in Ardantrive Bay. Airframe is beached four days later and salvage operations begin, but L7261 never flies again.
During shakedown cruise of the aircraft carrier USS Wasp off Cuba, one of her Vought SB2U-2 Vindicator scout bombers, BuNo 1358, crashes two miles (3 km) from the ship. Wasp goes to flank speed to close, as does the plane-guarding destroyer USS Morris. The latter's boats recover items from the plane's baggage compartment, but the plane sinks with its two crew.
On its fifth test flight, the prototype Vought XF4U-1 Corsair, BuNo 1443, runs low on fuel, Vought test pilot Boone Guyton attempts landing on rain-slicked fairway of the Norwich, Connecticut golf course, crashes into woods, flips over, slides into tree stump, comes to rest in ravine with wing and empennage torn off, propeller damage, but pilot unhurt. Vought rebuilds wreck to airborne condition in two months.
Bell XP-39B Airacobra, 38–326, suffers second landing accident when pilot Capt. Ernest K. Warburton, chief of the Wright Field test unit, on his third landing attempt, pulls back power as he approaches Wright Field, Ohio, at ~106 mph (171 km/h), stalls, and hits ground harder than intended. "The wing structure yielded where the main gear attached, damaging the wing and integral fuel tanks. Damage proved more substantial than first thought. As it turned out, this was the last flight of the XP-39B. Paper work was submitted to survey the airframe 11 days later and final approval was received 27 December 1940. (Air Corps record card for XP-39B, serial number 38-326.) The prototype Airacobra was scrapped."
Three members of the Australian cabinet, the Chief of the Australian Army's General Staff and six other passengers and aircrew were killed when Lockheed Hudson II, A16-97, which they were travelling in crashed in hilly country about 8 miles from Canberra.
LuftwaffeDornier Do 17Z-2, Werke Nummer 1160, 5K+AR, of 7 Staffel, III Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 3, is hit by Boulton-Paul Defiants of No. 264 (Madras Presidency) Squadron RAF, that leave both engines dead and the crew wounded  while over Kent during a raid to attack airfields in Essex in the Battle of Britain. Attempts a wheels-up low-tide landing on the Goodwin Sands in the English Channel, according to records obtained by the BBC, sinking to a depth of 50 feet, coming to rest inverted in the Sands off the coast of Deal, Kent. Two of the crew members die on impact, while two others, including the pilot, Feldwebel (Flt. Sgt.) Willi Effmert, are taken prisoner and survive the war. Hidden and preserved by shifting sands, the discovery of the rare bomber is announced 3 September 2010. The airframe was initially found in 2008 when a fishing boat snagged nets on it. In March 2011 sonar images are taken by high-tech sonar equipment, undertaken by a Port of London Authority (PLA) vessel. High-resolution images appear to show that the Do 17, known as the "Flying Pencil", suffered only minor damage, to its forward cockpit and observation windows, and propellers, on impact. "The bomb bay doors were open, suggesting the crew jettisoned their cargo," said Port of London Authority spokesman Martin Garside. As the only known survivor of the type, and in a remarkable state of preservation, the Royal Air Force Museum has launched an appeal to raise funds for the lifting operation of the Dornier 17. In May 2013, the RAF Museum is on site, assembling a special lift to raise the airframe from the seabed, which attempt will probably take place in June. The wings will then be demated from the fuselage and the components moved for chemical stabilization and preservation, a lengthy process expected to cost about a half million pounds. The Ministry of Defence is responsible for the investigation of all military aircraft crash sites in the United Kingdom (including those situated in UK territorial waters) and has only issued a licence for recovery of the Dornier because it is NOT a war grave. The aircraft's crew of four are all accounted for and no human remains are present in the aircraft.
Fairey Battle, L5343 of No. 98 Squadron RAF (98 Sqn), the first RAF aircraft to deploy to Iceland on 27 August 1940, comes to an unexpected end on a test flight from Kaldadarnes, Iceland to Akureyri, Iceland when engine quits over remote area, wheels down emergency landing results in gear collapse, but pilot Fg. Off. "Willie" Wilcox and passenger Lt. Col. H. Davies of the Royal Engineers okay. Airframe is finally retrieved in 1972, restored, and is now displayed at the RAF Museum at Hendon, UK.
Roald Dahl's Gloster Gladiator Mk.I, K7911, low on fuel, crashes in the Libyan Desert (a.k.a. Western Desert) at sundown. "The landing gear hit a boulder and collapsed instantly into a pile of twisted metal and rubber, burying the nose of the plane into the ground. He was thrown violently forward against the front of the canopy. His nose was driven back into his face, his skull was fractured, and he was knocked unconscious." a No. 80 Squadron RAF (80 Sqn) report the following day states that "P/O Dahl posted to this squadron from T.U.R.P. for flying duties w.e.f. [with effect from] 20th September. This pilot was ferrying an aircraft from No. 102 Maintenance Unit (102 MU) to this unit, but unfortunately not being used to flying aircraft over the Desert he made a forced landing 2 miles west of Mersa Matruh. He made an unsuccessful forced landing but the aircraft burst into flames. The pilot was badly burned and he was conveyed to an Army Field Ambulance Station." Haunted by the experience, he pens a slightly fictionalized account, "Shot Down Over Libya", (Hawker Hurricane instead of a Gladiator; enemy fighter attack rather than low fuel), which is published in the 1 August 1942 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, credited only to "an RAF pilot at present in this country for medical reasons." This marks the beginning of his writing career.
Svenska Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force) Seversky B6, 7203, '16', of Flotilla 6 (F6), written off during landing at Karlsborg at 10:25 by neophyte pilot who attempts a go-around without applying power and stalls. Pilot G. B. H. Lindstrom killed, flight cadet A. G. Nystrom in the rear seat is severely injured. Aircraft stricken 22 October 1940.
Two Avro Ansons after emergency landing in Brocklesby, New South Wales, 29 September 1940.
First Bell YP-39 Airacobra, 40-027, crashes near Buffalo, New York on eighth flight when only one main landing gear extends. Bell test pilot Bob Stanley bails out at 7,000 feet (2,100 m) rather than try a wheels-up landing, suffering only minor injuries when he lands in a tree. Examination of the wreckage shows that universal joints attached to the torque tubes driving the main gear struts had failed, as had limit switches placed in the retraction mechanism to shut off the electrical motors.
Prototype North American NA-73X Mustang, NX19998, c/n 73-3097, first flown 26 October 1940 by test pilot Vance Breese, crashes this date, on its fifth flight. According to P-51 designer Edgar Schmued, the NA-73 was lost because test pilot Paul Balfour refused, before a high-speed test run, to go through the takeoff and flight test procedure with Schmued while the aircraft was on the ground, claiming "one airplane was like another." After making two high speed passes over Mines Field, he forgot to put the fuel valve on "reserve" and during third pass ran out of fuel. Emergency landing in a freshly plowed field caused wheels to dig in, aircraft flipped over, airframe was not rebuilt, the second aircraft being used for subsequent testing.
Saro Lerwick, L7251, of 209 Sqn, is caught in a gale while moored on Loch Ryan, entrance hatches and front turret apparently not properly secured allow water to pour in, flying boat sinks.
Two Northrop Nomad Mk. Is, of No. 3 Training Command RCAF, ex-USAAC Northrop A-17As, 93 of which were originally purchased by France but taken up by Great Britain after the Germans overran the continent in November 1940, with 32 transferred to Canada, collide in a blizzard whilst on a search and rescue mission for a third missing Nomad. One airframe, 3521, along with the remains of her crew, is discovered in Lake Muskoka, near Bracebridge, Ontario, by divers of the Ontario Provincial Police in July 2010. "A subsequent dive by the Royal Canadian Navy's Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) in October, 2012 saw the recovery of the two crewmen, RCAF pilot LAC Ted Bates and RAF pilot Flt.Lt. Pete Campbell, their personal effects, and three .303 machine guns." On 30 October 2014, recovery of the remarkably intact airframe, although in five major pieces, was begun by the National Air Force Museum of Canada, at Trenton, Ontario, where it is anticipated that the rare aircraft will undergo a full restoration. The aircrew received "a proper military funeral, which their families held in Guelph, Ontario," on 13 September 2013. The crew of the other Nomad involved in this accident, 3512, were Sergeant L. Francis and William J. P. Gosling. "Nomad 3512 and its pilot and co-pilot were located shortly after the crash." They were looking for Nomad 3503, flown solo by L.A.C. Clayton Peder Hopton, who is buried at Cabri, Saskatchewan. The wreckage of 3503 found in a swamp five miles SE of Camp Borden, Ontario, on 14 December.
The Grumman XF4F-3 Wildcat prototype, BuNo 0383, c/n 356, modified from XF4F-2, is lost at Norfolk, Virginia under circumstances that suggested that the pilot may have been confused by poor lay-out of fuel valves and flap controls and inadvertently turned the fuel valve to "off" immediately after takeoff rather than selecting flaps "up". This was the first fatality in the type.
A Vickers Wellington IA bomber, N2980, R for Robert, of No. 20 OTU, out of RAF Lossiemouth, suffers starboard engine failure at 8,000 feet in a snow storm while on a training flight over Great Glen, Scotland. Pilot, Squadron Leader Marlwood-Elton orders crew of six trainee navigators and the tail gunner to bail-out, all escaping safely save the gunner whose chute fails to open. Marlwood-Elton and P/O Slatter (also reported as Slater) then notice a body of water and they successfully ditch in the northern basin of Loch Ness near the A82 road, both escaping before the airframe sinks. Discovered by side-scan sonar in 1976, the rare Wellington is raised on 21 September 1985, and restored at Weybridge where she was built. Now on display at the Brooklands Museum, it is one of only two known intact Wellingtons.
Sole Kellett XR-2, 37–378, modified from a Kellett YG-1C autogiro, is destroyed in ground test by rotor-ground resonance problem – never flew. Funding transferred to Kellett XR-3.
Renowned aviatrix Amy Johnson takes off from an overnight stopover at RAF Squire's Gate near Blackpool in Airspeed OxfordV3540 on an Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) delivery flight from RAF Prestwick, Scotland to RAF Kidlington, in Oxfordshire. In bad weather Johnson becomes lost and was next seen more than three hours later over the Thames Estuary. Johnson parachuted into the water, where the barrage balloon tender Hazlemere, spotting her descent, hurries to pick her up. By the time the vessel reaches Johnson she is exhausted and unable to grab the line thrown to her. An officer from the tender, Lt.Cmdr. Walter Fletcher, dives into the sea to help, but numbed by the cold Johnson sinks beneath the surface. Johnson's body is never recovered. Fletcher succumbs to the cold and also dies. Johnson had made headlines in 1930 when she had become the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.
Saro Lerwick flying boat, L7262, of 209 Sqn is lost when pilot Flt. Lt. Spotswood is unable to take off near Stranraer, Scotland. After a long take off run, the hull strikes a floating obstacle and rapidly takes on water, sinks. Two crew are trapped and drown.
Brewster F2A-2 Buffalo, BuNo 1407, accepted 4 October 1940, to BatFor, San Diego, 14 October 1940; to VF-2, assigned to the USS Lexington, 15 October 1940, '2-F-2'; is lost prior to embarkation when a squadron pilot engaged in dive-bombing practice out of Pearl Harbor, H.I., loses both ailerons during 6G pull-out from what was claimed to be a 400 mph (643 km/h) 45-degree angle dive. With little control remaining, pilot successfully bails out. SOC 31 January 1941 with 132 hours on airframe.
Prototype Tupolev ANT-58, also known as Samolet 103 (aircraft 103), first of what became the Tupolev Tu-2, crashes after uncontrollable fire in problematic starboard Mikulin AM-37 engine. Pilot Mikhail A. Nyutikov and observer A. Akopyan bail out, but Akopyan's parachute lines entangle in tail structure and he is killed.
Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle prototype, P1360, written off in crash landing on test flight out of RAF Boscombe Down when six-foot square panel is lost from port wing surface. John Hayhurst bails out successfully, but flight test engineer Norman Sharp's parachute entangles with tail structure and he releases his chute just before touchdown on a flat ridge on top of a quarry SE of Crewkerne, Somerset, landing at ~150 mph (240 km/h; 130 kn) in snow and bushes, surviving with serious injuries. Pilot Brian Huxtable survives crash landing.
Focke Achgelis Fa 223 V1 crashes when right rotor pylon breaks off in flight. Test pilot Carl Bode (25 February 1911 – 16 November 2002) successfully parachutes from the stricken helicopter (quite possibly the first helicopter parachute attempt ever), but passenger Dr. Ing. Heinz Baer is killed in the crash.
Boeing B-17B Flying Fortress, 38–216, c/n 2009, crashes near Lovelock, Nevada while en route to Wright Field, Ohio, killing all eight on board. Pilot Capt. Richard S. Freeman had shared the 1939 MacKay Trophy for the Boeing B-15 flight from Langley Field, Virginia via Panama and Lima, Peru at the request of the American Red Cross, for delivering urgently needed vaccines and other medical supplies in areas of Chile devastated by an earthquake. General Order Number 10, dated 3 March 1943, announces that the advanced flying school being constructed near Seymour, Indiana is to be named Freeman Field in honor of the Hoosier native. Ref The World War II Heritage of Ladd Field, CEMML, Colorado State University- Chapter 4.0 Cold Weather Test – page 22; “One of the B-17s was lost in a February crash that took the lives of the eight men on board. They had been en route to Wright Field via Sacramento, carrying records and reports of the station. The loss of this crew weighed heavily on the small contingent at Ladd who were weathering the first winter of operations. Roads on Ladd Field were later named for the some of these crew members: Freeman, Ketcham, Whidden, Trainer, Gilreath, Davies, and Applegate.” Lost aboard 38–216 was Captain Richard S. Freeman of Indiana, 1Lt. Edward W. Ketcham (Home of Record Unknown), Sergeant Everett R. Crabb of Harrisburg, Illinois, Sergeant Joseph Pierce Davies, Jr. of Ohio, Technical Sergeant E.H. Gilreath of Virginia, Sergeant Elmer S. Trainer of California, and Sergeant Frank C. Whidden of Florida.
Prototype Curtiss XSB2C Helldiver, BuNo 1758, suffers engine failure just prior to landing and fuselage is heavily damaged. Repaired.
Saro Lerwick flying boat, L7263, of 209 Sqn, piloted by Plt. Off. Fyfe, goes missing. Extensive air and sea searches turn up no trace, nor any of 14 on board, including Wing Commander Bainbridge. A new C.O., Wing Commander MacDermott, is appointed a few days later.
"Langley Field, Va. March 6 (AP) - An Army bomber on a training flight crashed in to the shallow waters adjacent to Langley Field today, killing the pilot, 2d Lieut. Barnard P. Smith Jr., 20, of Bartow, Florida. Boats reached the wreckage of the Martin B-10 ship and the body was extricated within a few minutes, but Smith was apparently killed by the impact of his plane with the water." B-10M, 34-91, c/n 622, of the 3d Observation Squadron, stalled and spun in into the Back River.
Lt. j.g. Yasushi Nikaido, fighter squadron leader of the Imperial Japanese Navy carrier Kaga, survives close call when Mitsubishi A6M, number 140, loses both port and starboard ailerons as well as part of the upper wing surface while performing dive of 550 km/h at 2,300 rpm, but pilot makes skilful emergency landing at Kisarazu Air Field. Accident is reported to Naval Aeronautical Headquarters, the Naval Aeronautical Technical Establishment, and the Yokosuka Air Corps.
During dive tests to determine why wrinkles are appearing on the surface plates of the wings, Lt. Manbei Shimokawa, squadron leader at Yokosuka Naval Air Corps, is killed in Mitsubishi A6M Model 21, number 135, equipped with balance tabs, when, during pull-out at 1,500 m (4,900 ft) from dive from 4,000 m (13,000 ft), parts are seen by ground observers to depart from the port wing, fighter drops nose, plunges into ten fathoms of water off Natsu Island. The popular pilot is found in the wreckage with "his head entirely crushed into the instrument panel". Aeronautical Technical Establishment investigation reveals that flutter and vibration tests had not simulated the stiffness distribution of actual airframes and that the ailerons and horizontal stabilizers had been torn out. Fighter had previously been assigned to the carrier Akagi. Shimokawa is posthumously promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
The second prototype MiG I-200, fitted with a prototype of the temperamental Mikulin AM-37 engine and first flown on 6 January 1941, experiences severe vibration problems and, despite efforts to cure the problems, it fails during a flight this date, and the airframe is destroyed in the ensuing crash.
At 2305 hrs. Messerschmitt Bf 110D, Werknr 3868, 'VJ+OQ', appears over Eaglesham, Renfrewshire. Pilot bails out and when challenged by David McLean, Head Ploughman of a local farm, as to whether he is German, the man replies in good English; "Yes, I am Hauptmann Alfred Horn. I have an important message for the Duke of Hamilton". Horn is taken to McLean's cottage where McLean's wife makes a pot of tea, but the German requests only a glass of water. Horn has hurt his back and help is summoned. Local Home Guard soldiers arrive and Horn is taken to their headquarters at the Drill Hall, Busby, East Renfrewshire, near Glasgow. Upon questioning by a visiting Royal Observer Corps officer, Major Graham Donald, Horn repeats his request to see the Duke. Donald recognises "Hauptmann Horn" to be none other than Rudolph Hess. The remains of Hess' Messerschmitt Bf 110 are now in the Imperial War Museum.
Junkers Ju 288 V4, D-AACS, crashed during one of its first test flights from Dessau, Germany. Fire starts in the port BMW 801MA radial engine nacelle during landing approach at Dessau, burning so fiercely that it cuts through the main longerons, virtually severing the forward fuselage from the center fuselage. Despite severe damage, airframe is rebuilt and resumes flight test programme in late November.
First British Consolidated LB-30 Liberator II, AL503, on its acceptance flight for delivery from the Consolidated Aircraft Company plant at San Diego, California, crashes into San Diego Bay when flight controls freeze, killing all five civilian crew, CAC Chief Test Pilot William Wheatley, co-pilot Alan Austen, flight engineer Bruce Kilpatrick Craig, and two chief mechanics, Lewis McCannon and William Reiser. Craig, who had been commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1935 following Infantry ROTC training at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering, had applied for a commission in the Army Air Corps before his death. This was granted posthumously, with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, and on 25 August 1941, the airfield in his hometown of Selma, Alabama was renamed Craig Field, later Craig Air Force Base. Investigation into the cause of the accident causes a two-month delay in deliveries, so the RAF does not begin receiving Liberator IIs until August 1941.
USAAFDouglas O-38F, 33–324, c/n 1177, first aircraft to land at Ladd Field, Alaska, in October 1940, this aircraft flew various missions until it crashed on 16 June 1941, at 1450 hrs., due to engine failure about 70 miles (110 km) SE of Fairbanks. Uninjured, the pilot, Lt. Milton H. Ashkins, and his mechanic, Sgt. Raymond A. Roberts, hiked to safety after supplies were dropped to them. The abandoned aircraft remained in the Alaskan wilderness until the National Museum of the United States Air Force arranged for its recovery by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from Fort Greely on 10 June 1968. Despite being exposed to the Alaskan weather for 27 years, the aircraft remained in remarkable condition. Only the wings required extensive restoration.
Lieutenant Colonel Elmer D. Perrin, a native Texan, and the district supervisor, Eastern Air Corps Procurement District, since 1939, and Air Corps representative to the Glenn L. Martin Company, Baltimore, Maryland, is killed in a crash during an acceptance test of, Martin B-26 Marauder bomber, 40-1386, near the aircraft plant north of Baltimore, coming down ~1/2 mile after take off in woods and burning. Copilot A. J. Bowman of the Martin Company was also killed. Lt.Col. Perrin was the Air Corps' most experienced B-26 pilot at the time of this accident. In January 1942, Grayson Basic Flying School, Grayson County, Texas, is renamed Perrin Field in his honor, later Perrin Air Force Base.
Royal Air ForceBoeing Fortress I, AN522, c/n 2054, of 90 Squadron, RAF Great Massingham, flown by F/O J. C. Hawley, breaks up in mid-air over Yorkshire during a training flight. Single survivor, a medical officer from RAE Farnborough, reports that the bomber entered a cumulo-nimbus cloud at 33,000 feet (10,100 m), became heavily iced-up with hailstones entering through open gunports, after which control was lost, the port wing detached, and the fuselage broke in two at 25,000 feet (7,600 m). Survivor, who was in the aft fuselage, was able to bail out at 12,000 feet (3,700 m).
In a span of under three hours, three Junkers Ju 88As suffer controlled flight into terrain in northeast England, believed to be due to a British radio counter-measure 'Meacon' which falsifies German navigational beacon signals and caused the planes to fly headlong into coastal hills. The first Ju 88A comes in from the sea in mist and flies into the ground at Speeton near Bridlington at 2348 hrs. All crew KWF. At 0006 hrs., another Junkers flies into a cliff at Cliff Farm, Staithes, Yorkshire, in bad weather, killing all crew. A third bomber comes in from the sea in mist and flies into the ground at a shallow angle at Speeton near Bridlington at 0120 hrs. The aircraft is burnt by the crew who are all captured.
A Heinkel He.111 bomber, DA+AZ, of Luftwaffe flight school FFS (C) 12, goes out of control while returning to Prague Ruzyně Airport, Prague (Hlavní město Praha), Czechoslovakia, and crashes into a house at 975 Novotny Street in the village of Jeneč. Airframe destroyed. Two pilots, a student and instructor Marahrens Hans Otto Herbst, killed, but sole occupant of the house, railwayman Mr. Rufr, Spice, survives. Luftwaffe pays for identical rebuild of the destroyed home.
Bruno Mussolini, the son of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and commander of the 274a Squadriglia (274th Squadron), was piloting one of the prototypes of the "secret" Piaggio P.108B bomber, MM22003, near the San Giusto Airport in Pisa. He flew too low and crashed into a house. The cockpit section separated from the rest of the aircraft and although the aircraft did not catch fire, it was nevertheless totally destroyed in the impact. Five members of the crew were injured and three died, including Bruno. Benito Mussolini rushed to the Santa Chiara Hospital to be at the side of his dead son.
Wisconsin-native Lieutenant Thomas "Bud" L. Truax is killed, along with his wingman, Lt. Russell E. Speckman, in a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk training accident during poor weather in San Anselmo, California. In the late afternoon, San Anselmo residents are startled when two low-flying Curtiss P-40C Warhawks, 41-13375 and 41-13454, roar up the valley at just above roof level and crash into the east side of Bald Hill just shy of the peak at 1740 hrs. It was almost dark, was misty and they were under a low cloud ceiling. They were critically low on fuel and part of a larger training group that had gotten separated. They were under the wintertime marine layer of low clouds that are common in the Marin County area, searching for nearby Hamilton Field to land. Madison Army Air Field, Wisconsin, is named Truax Field in his honor in 1942. A third pilot, Lt. Walter V. "Ramblin" Radovich, flying 41-13392, had left the formation over San Rafael, almost hit the city courthouse on 4th Street, circled the Forbes Hill radio beacon (37°58'44.73"N,122°32'50.78"W), clipped a tree and then turned northeast, towards Hamilton Field. Unsure of what the oncoming terrain might be and critically low on fuel, he decides to climb up though the typically thin marine cloud layer to 2500 ft, trim the airplane for straight and level flight and bail out. According to USAAF accident reports, his left leg was broken when exiting the plane and he parachuted down, landing near Highway 101 in Lucas Valley reportedly near where Fireman's Fund / Marin Commons is currently located (38° 1'10.66"N, 122°32'29.36"W). Ironically, after Lt. Radovich bailed out, the airplane slowly descended back down through the clouds and made a relatively smooth "gear up" landing. All aircraft were of the 57th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), on a cross-country flight from Windsor Locks Army Air Field, Windsor Locks, Connecticut, to McChord Field, Washington.
Luftwaffe expertenWerner Mölders, traveling as a passenger in a Heinkel He 111, bearing Geschwaderkennung code '1G+TH', of Kampfgeschwader 27 "Boelcke" from the Crimea to Germany to attend the funeral of his superior, Ernst Udet, who had committed suicide, is killed during an attempted landing at Breslau during a thunderstorm when the aircraft crashed at 1130 hrs. Near Breslau, the port engine failed and the crew tried to land at the nearest available airfield, Schmiedefelde. At low altitude, the second engine cut and the He 111 hit the ground near Martin Quander Farm at N°132 Flughafenstrasse. Mölders, pilot Oberleutnant Kolbe and flight engineer Oberfeldwebel Hobbie were killed. Major Dr. Wenzel and radio operator Oberfeldwebel Tenz survived the crash landing. Dr. Wenzel sustained a broken arm and leg as well as a concussion, and Tenz a broken ankle. Mölders' fatal injuries included a broken back and a crushed ribcage. Accident investigators then and since have speculated whether Mölders would have survived the crash if he had used his seat belt. In his memory, on 20 December 1941, JG 51 was bestowed the honor name "Mölders".
Mitsubishi A6M2, c/n 3372, coded 'V-172', of the 22nd Air Flotilla Fighter Unit, forced-lands on a beach at Leichou Pantao, China, as lost flight of two runs low on fuel. Discovered mostly intact, dismantled and shipped to United States for testing, this was the first of the type to fall into Allied hands. Later test-flown at Eglin Field, Florida, then put on tour as war bond exhibit. Disposition unknown following end of hostilities.
First prototype Grumman XTBF-1 Avenger, BuNo 2539, suffers fire in bomb bay during test flight out of Long Island, New York factory airfield, forcing pilot Hobart Cook and engineer Gordon Israel to bail out. (Joe Mizrahi source cites date of accident as 28 August 1941.)
The Japanese submarine I-10, patrolling in the South Sea region in advance of the attack on Pearl Harbor, launches a Yokosuka E14Y floatplane on a night air sortie of Suva Bay in the Fiji Islands. It reports sighting no enemy in the harbor but then fails to return to the sub. The I-10 searches for three days but fails to find the scout.
American John Gillespie Magee, Jr., serving with newly formed No. 412 Squadron RCAF at RAF Digby on 30 June 1941, is killed at the age of 19, while flying Supermarine SpitfireAD291 'VZ-H', in a mid-air collision with an Airspeed Oxford trainer from RAF Cranwell, flown by Leading Aircraftman Ernest Aubrey. The aircraft collided in cloud cover at about 400 feet (120 m) AGL, at 1130 hrs. over the village of Roxholm which lies between RAF Cranwell and RAF Digby, in Lincolnshire. Magee was descending at the time. At the inquiry afterwards a farmer testified that he saw the Spitfire pilot struggling to push back the canopy. The pilot stood up to jump from the plane but was too close to the ground for his parachute to open, and died on impact. Magee is buried at Holy Cross, Scopwick Cemetery in Lincolnshire, England. On his grave are inscribed the first and last lines from his poem High Flight.
A RAF Lockheed Hudson III, V9032, of No. 6 Operational Training Unit RAF (6 OTU), crashes onto the farmhouse of Quarry Farm at Ingleby Barwick near Thornaby, England, while on a training mission when aircraft stalls soon after takeoff. Plane and house destroyed in inferno. Of the occupants, a farmer, his wife and two of his children are killed, two other children, boys aged nine and eleven escape. The twenty-three-year-old pilot and five other crew members are KWF. The pilot's fiancee offers to adopt the surviving children. Killed are F/Sgt Albert G. Graves RAF, pilot, 23, of Ashford, Kent; Sgt Richard H. D. Palmer RAFVR, pilot, 27; P/O Michael B. Van Heerdan RAFVR, observer, 23, of Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa; Sgt Leslie Hogg RAFVR, WOp/AG, 27, of West Croydon, Surrey; Sgt Harry W. G. Hewitt RAFVR, WOp/AG, 21, of Teddington; Mr. James R. Garbutt, 39; Mrs. Violet M. Garbutt, 41; Master Alick R. Garbutt, 8; and Master Charles R. Garbutt, 6, all of Quarry Farm, Ingleby Barwick.
Curtiss XSB2C-1 Helldiver, BuNo 1758, destroyed after suffering inflight wing failure. Pilot Baron T. Hulse bails out. Airframe had previously crashed on 8 February 1941 due to engine failure during approach. Sustained damage to fuselage but was repaired.
Nine Martin B-26 Marauder bombers of the 33d Bombardment Squadron, 22d Bombardment Group, depart Muroc Army Air Field for March Field, California, but only eight arrive. In bad weather, B-26, 40–1475, snags a pine tree and crashes on Keller Peak in the San Bernardino Mountains, killing nine. Wreckage not found until 14 January 1942. Late the next day, a recovery team of sheriff officers and members of the 33rd Squadron reaches the site after a four-mile trek with toboggans from Snow Valley. All of the crew had been thrown from the plane except for one, whose body was trapped beneath the fuselage. A plaque was installed on a rock near the crash site in August 1995 commemorating the lost crew. Two of the other Marauders in this flight were deployed onto Midway Island and saw action in the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942 in a torpedo attack on the IJN Akagi. One was shot down.
Lt. Ivan Chisov of the Red Air Force survives miraculous fall from 22,000 feet (6,700 m) without opening his parachute after departing a heavily damaged Ilyushin Il-4 twin-engined medium bomber when he passes out at high altitude. Afraid of being attacked by German fighters, he delayed opening his chute but passed out from the lack of oxygen at high altitude. After achieving a terminal velocity of about 150 mph (240 km/h), he is decelerated when he hits the lip of a snow-covered ravine, sliding down with decreasing speed until he stops at the bottom, suffering a broken pelvis and severe spinal injuries.
Heinkel test pilot Helmut Schenk becomes the first person to escape from a stricken aircraft with an ejection seat after the control surfaces of the first prototype Heinkel He 280 V1, DL+AS, ice up and become inoperable. The fighter, being used in tests of the Argus As 014 impulse jets for Fieseler Fi 103 missile development, had its regular Heinkel-Hirth HeS 8A turbojets removed, and was towed aloft from Rechlin, Germany by a pair of Messerschmitt Bf 110C tugs in a heavy snow-shower. At 7,875 feet (2,400 m), Schenk found he had no control, jettisoned his towline, and ejected. A 12 June 2003 press release by the Martin-Baker Company gives the details of this incident as "The first recorded live emergency ejection took place from a Heinkel 280 on the 13th January 1943. The pilot Herr Schenke, was on a ferry flight." Note the date discrepancy and the different spelling of the pilot's name. The release also states that "It is estimated that some 60 emergency ejections were made in WW2 by Luftwaffe pilots. It is not known how many were successful."
A Hawker Hurricane Mk.I, P3664, of No. 55 OTU, based at RAF Usworth, crashes in bad weather in an orchard opposite the High Marley Hill Radio Mast, killing RCAF Sergeant Pilot James D’Arcy Lees Graham, 24, of Carstairs, Alberta. The Air Ministry Crash Card records that the fighter flew into high ground in a squall, the weather deteriorated and the aircraft dived out of low cloud into a snow squall and failed to pull out of the dive. The pilot was interred at St Margaret’s Church Cemetery, Castletown, Sunderland.
"Lieutenant Clark of the army air corps, flying an army pursuit plane, made a forced landing on the farm of Stephen Shirley in the Oakway community about 12:30 last Thursday afternoon, February 25," reported The Keowee Courier, Walhalla, South Carolina, on 5 March 1942. "The plane was slightly damaged and the pilot suffered no injury except being jarred lightly as the plane 'pan-caked' onto the cotton field. The cause of the forced landing was not disclosed and the mission of the flight was not given as other than practice maneuvers. Friday morning army wrecker service from the air base at Savannah was on the site to dismantle the plane for shipment back to the base for repairs. The Oconee home guard stood guard duty on the spot of the crash from an hour or so after the mishap until the plane was removed Friday." About 30 different men of Company G of the Oconee Home Guard stood guard duty during the approximate 24-hour vigil. The Aviation Archeological Investigation & Research database lists Curtiss P-40C, 41-13382, of the 65th Pursuit Squadron, 57th Pursuit Group, out of Trumbull Field, Groton, Connecticut, flown by Thomas W. Clark, as suffering a forced landing near Seneca, South Carolina, in Oconee County, suffering moderate damage on 26 February 1942, which, in this case, was the date of the airframe's recovery. Repaired, this airframe would go to reclamation at Patterson Army Airfield, Ohio, on 12 May 1945. Captain Clark would later score four aerial kills with the 57th Fighter Group in the Mediterranean Theatre, two on 26 October 1942, and one each on 13 January and 26 February 1943. In a related story, a man whose automobile was halted by the Oconee guard on Thursday night, fled on foot through a nearby cotton field after being told to halt. The vehicle was found to have 90 gallons of illegal liquor concealed in its trunk, which was packed in 15 cases containing six gallons each in half-gallon fruit jars. The county officers were notified immediately. "The booze was confiscated by the officers and a search for the missing driver was begun." The man's hat was found about 100 yards from the road on a terrace of the field.
The first German A-4 flight-test model, ("Launch Aggregate 1"), completed 25 February 1942, but which slips out of its "corset" after being fully tanked at Test Stand VII at Peenemünde due to contraction of the fuselage from the cold propellants, falling 2 meters, smashing three fins, and coming to rest on the rim of the engine nozzle; repaired and renamed Versuchsmuster 1 (V1: Experimental Type 1), at 2345 hrs., this date, the rocket fails during a test firing with flame bursting through the side just above the engine, wrecking the steam generator and many lines on board, with the engine shutting off automatically. Leaks in the fuel and oxidizer lines caused by vibration and stress are determined to have let an explosive mixture to have built up over the head of the motor and the rocket is junked for parts without any launch attempt. Albert Speer witnesses this test failure.
The first Bell XP-39E Airacobra (of three), 41-19501, with lengthened fuselage to accommodate the Allison V-1710-E9 engine, and used for determining handling qualities, armament tests, and maneuvers, crashes on its 36th test flight during a spin test out of Wright Field, Ohio.
The fifth Republic P-47B Thunderbolt, 41-5899, is lost when pilot George Burrell is forced to bail out after fabric-covered tail surfaces balloon and rupture. Pilot dies when his chute has insufficient time to open. Future P-47s have enlarged all-metal surfaces.
US NavyVought SB2U-2 Vindicator, BuNo 1363, of VS-71, assigned to the USS Wasp, but flown ashore to clear deckspace for Spitfires bound for Malta, crashes in peat bog near Invergordon, Scotland, killing Ens. Jackson and Aviation Machinist's Mate Atchison. Atchison's body recovered, but squadron diary records that Jackson's body and bulk of airframe were buried too deeply, so remains and wreckage were covered over.
Reggiane Re 2001, MM8071, (third one built), downed in the Tyrrhenian Sea apparently by engine failure, pilot recovered, possibly during ferry flight to Sardinian-based 2nd Gruppo. Airframe recovered 23 November 1991 by Sardinian chapter of the Gruppo Amici Velivoli Storici (GAVS), the Italian national aircraft preservation society for the Italian Air Force Museum. This is the only example of a Daimler-Benz inline engine equipped fighter to survive in Italy.
Three Bristol Blenheim Mk. IVs, Z7513, Z7610, and T2252, of No. 15 Squadron SAAF, detached to support Allied ground forces garrisoning the oasis at Kufra in Libya, become lost while on a familiarisation flight and land in the Libyan Desert. They are not found until 11 May by which time only one of twelve crew survive. Z7610 and T2252 are flown out in May but damaged Z7513 is abandoned in place.
Lockheed C-40D, 42-22249, c/n 1273, ex-NC21770,Air Transport Command, Trans-Atlantic Sector, Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., crashes in swamp one mile NE of Howe Brook Mountain, NW of Houlton, Maine, during "routine" flight out of Houlton Army Air Base, after possible disorientation in poor visibility, killing all six aboard. KWF are 1st Lt. J. D. Fransiscus; Lt. Col. Louis S. Gimbel, New York City; 1st Lt. Herback; S/Sgt. Frederick Taylor; 2d Lt. Earl R. Wilkinson; and Lt. Col. Clarence A. Wright. SOC 1 June 1942. This airframe was one of eleven civilian Lockheed Model 12A Electra Juniors impressed 14 March 1942 by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF), with standard six-passenger interior. Surviving examples redesignated UC-40D in January 1943. The board of inquiry was unable to determine a cause, but listed weather and pilot inexperience under instrument conditions as factors. Lt. Col Gimbel, "who resided with his wife and two children at 163 East Seventy-eighth Street, New York City, was once an executive of the Sacks Fifth Avenue and Gimbel stores. A graduate of Yale, he entered the Atlantic Ferry Service about six months ago and later transferred to the Army Air Corps. He was a son of the late Louis S. Gimbel and a cousin of Bernard F. Gimbel, President of Gimbel Brothers, Inc."
The Akutan Zero – During a Japanese raid on Dutch Harbor, eastern Aleutians, Alaska, the Mitsubishi A6M Model 21, 4593, 'D1-108', flown by Flying Petty Officer 1st Class Tadayoshi Koga (10 September 1922 – 3 June 1942) takes hit to oil line in a brush with a U.S. NavyPBY Catalina. Pilot realizes he cannot make return flight to carrier Ryujo so he attempts emergency landing on what appears to be grassy terrain on Akutan Island but turns out to be soft muskeg, fighter overturning as landing gear makes contact, pilot killed by a broken neck. Attempt by Japanese submarine crew to rescue pilot is unsuccessful. U.S. Navy search team discovers nearly undamaged Zero with dead pilot still under the canopy, retrieves it and in August 1942 ships it to the Assembly and Repair Department at NAS North Island, San Diego, California for repair and evaluation, the second intact example to fall into American hands. Airframe had been built by Mitsubishi at Nagoya in February 1942.
Second prototype Fairey Firefly, Z1827, first flown 4 June 1942, of the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE), Boscombe Down, is lost shortly thereafter in a crash that kills chief test-pilot Flt. Lt. Chris Staniland. Investigation of wreckage reveals few clues, and loss is initially attributed to failure of the tailplane following failure of the fabric-covered elevators. Later, it is suspected that the cockpit hood detached in flight and lodged itself in the tailplane, disabling the elevators.
English Electric-built Handley Page Halifax BMk.II, serialV9977, crashed on a test flight from RAF Defford carrying a secret H2S radar system at 16:30 hrs at Welsh Bicknor, Herefordshire, killing the crew and several EMI personnel on board, including Alan Blumlein, pioneer of television and stereoaudio recording. Blumlein, together with Cecil Browne and Frank Blythen, all from EMI, were attached to the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) at the time of the accident. Also killed was Geoffrey Hensby of TRE. While flying at 500 ft (150 m) a fire starts in the starboard outer engine. Unable to extinguish it and by then too low for a parachute escape, while attempting to reach an open area to put down the fire burns through the outer main spar at low altitude causing the outer wing to fold and detach, whereupon the aircraft rolls almost inverted and impacts the ground. The aircraft's highly secret cavity magnetron is recovered the next day by a TRE team from RAF Defford led by Bernard Lovell. An investigation into the cause of the fire by Rolls-Royce concludes that an insufficiently tightened inlet valvetappetlocknut during maintenance caused the inlet valve to drop, where it was hit by the rising piston and broken off at the stem, allowing burning fuel to enter the rocker cover whereupon it quickly spread.V9977 was one of only two Halifaxes fitted with H2S, the other being the Handley Page-built Mk II, R9490, used for trials of a klystron-based version of the system, developed for security reasons due to the difficulty of self-destructing a magnetron should its carrying aircraft come down over enemy territory. The crash of V9977 wiped out almost the entire H2S development team, delaying its introduction to the extent that Churchill has to be informed.
Goodyear prototype G-Class Blimp, G-1, purchased 23 September 1935, in constant use until it is lost in a mid-air collision on this date with L-Class Blimp L-2. The two blimps were conducting experimental visual and photographic observations during a night flight off of Manasquan, New Jersey. Although twelve people were killed in the crash (one survivor), the G-1 had demonstrated her capabilities as a trainer and utility blimp. As the Navy needed additional training airships during the World War II war time build up, a contract was awarded on 24 December 1942 for seven more G-class airships. These were assigned the designation "Goodyear ZNN-G". (Z = lighter-than-air; N = non-rigid; N = trainer; G = type/class). The envelope size of these new G-class blimps was increased over that of the G-1 by 13,700 cubic feet (390 m3).
During Operation Bolero, the ferrying of combat aircraft from the U.S. to England by air, a flight of two Boeing B-17E-BO Flying Fortress bombers, 41-9101, c/n 2573, "Big Stoop", and 41-9105, c/n 2577, "Do-Do", of the 97th Bomb Group and six Lockheed P-38F Lightnings of the 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, on the 845-mile (1,360 km) leg between Bluie West 8 airfield and Reykjavík, Iceland, run out of fuel after being held up by bad weather, and all force-land on the Greenland icecap. All safely belly in except for the first P-38 which attempts a wheels-down landing, flipping over as nosewheel catches a crevasse, but pilot Lt. Brad McManus unhurt. All crews rescued on 19 July, but aircraft are abandoned in place. One P-38F-1-LO, 41-7630, c/n 222-5757, now known as "Glacier Girl", recovered in 1992 from under 200 feet (61 m) of accumulated snow and ice and rebuilt to flying status, registered N17630. One Boeing B-17 ("Big Stoop") also found, but it is too badly crushed for recovery. Although the USAAF had expected to lose 10 percent of the 920 planes that made the North Atlantic transit during Bolero, losses were only 5.2 percent, the majority being involved in this single incident.
The sole Republic XP-47B Thunderbolt, 40-3051, operating out of the Republic plant at Farmingdale, New York, is lost when the pilot interrupted wheel retraction, leaving the tailwheel in the superchargers' exhaust gases. This set the tire alight which ignited the magnesium hub. When the burning unit retracted into the fuselage, it severed the tail unit control rods, forcing the pilot, Fillmore "Fil" Gilmer, a former naval aviator, to bail out with the airframe crashing in the waters of Long Island Sound. Loss of prototype went unpublicized at this early stage of the war. Nothing is ever found of the wreckage.
When Lt. Elza Shahn ferried his Lockheed P-38F Lightning to England, he spotted a German Focke-Wulf Fw 200C-3 Condor near Iceland. These German long-range reconnaissance aircraft gathered data on weather and allied shipping to help U-boats attack ships in the Atlantic. Lt. Shahn shot the Condor down, becoming the first American Army pilot to shoot down a German plane in World War II.
Messerschmitt Me 262 V3 fails to achieve flying speed on his first take-off in the type from Leipheim air field, overruns runway, crashing in an adjacent potato field, in the first Me 262. Both engines of the aircraft are torn from the nacelles, both wings damaged and starboard wheel shorn off, but the airframe is deemed repairable. The pilot was uninjured.
The Prince George, Duke of Kent (George Edward Alexander Edmund; 20 December 1902 – 25 August 1942) is killed while a passenger on a Short Sunderland Mk.IIIflying boat, W4026, 'DQ-M', of No. 228 Squadron RAF. Thirteen of 14 on board killed including the Duke of Kent, three members of his staff, pilot Flt. Lt. Frank Goyen, Wing Cmdr. Moseley, and six other crew. Tail gunner Sgt. Andrew Jack was thrown clear of the wreckage in his turret, suffering burns and other injuries. The plane was en route from Evanton, Rosshire to Iceland, and then on to the Dominion of Newfoundland. The four-engined Sunderland struck Eagle's Rock near Morven, Caithness but the accident was never fully explained and several conspiracy theories have been circulated regarding the accident and Prince George's mission. Sole survivor Jack refused to discuss the accident throughout his life, fuelling the conspiracies.
No. 422 Squadron RCAF, temporarily operating Saro Lerwick flying boats cast off from No. 4 Operational Training Unit (4 OTU) while awaiting arrival of Short Sunderlands, suffers loss of L7267 this date when Plt. Off. Hoare crashes on landing at Lough Erne in good weather, airframe breaks up and sinks, but crew escapes safely. This is the final Lerwick write-off as the type is withdrawn from operation, remaining airframes sent to Scottish Aviation in November 1942 for reduction to salvage. Operations were generally not successful, with negligible contributions to the U-boat war. None now exist.
Martin-Baker MB-3, R2492, prototype fighter crashes on its tenth flight after its engine seized shortly after takeoff from RAF Wing at a height of no more than 100 ft (30 m). A crank on one of the Napier Sabre II's sleeve valves had failed. While trying to land in a field, Captain Valentine Baker (Company manager, aircraft-designer and test pilot) was forced to turn to port to avoid a farmhouse, a wing clipped a tree stump, the fighter cartwheeled and burst into flame, killing him.
Engine failure of Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/trop, Werke Nummer 14256, "Yellow 14" (on its first combat mission), of 3./JG 27, fills cockpit with smoke, forces Luftwaffe ace Hans-Joachim Marseille to bail out near Sidi Abdel Rahman, Egypt. His chest strikes the vertical fin as he departs the fighter, either killing him outright, or rendering him unconscious, as he makes no effort to deploy his parachute. His body is recovered from the desert, about 7 km S of Sidi Abdel Rahman.
Early production Messerschmitt Me 163BKomet being test flown by renowned pre-war glider and test pilotHanna Reitsch, from Obertraubling, near Regensburg, while on unpowered flight towed by Messerschmitt Bf 110, jettisoning of take-off dolley at 30 ft (9.1 m) altitude fails, causing severe juddering of airframe. Bf 110 tows Reitsch to height of 10,500 ft (3,200 m) and Reitsch casts off. Despite violent maneuvering to try to shake off dolly, which also fails, Reitsch decides to attempt landing in order to save aircraft. On approach to field, sideslipping to lose height, the unfuelled Me 163 stalls at a higher than normal airspeed, due to disturbed airflow caused by wheels of dolly. Komet impacts ground and somersaults. Although conscious immediately after the crash, Reitsch passes out as rescuers arrive. She is taken to the Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy, Regensburg, where she is discovered to be suffering from skull fractures in four places, compression of the brain, displacement of the upper jaw-bones, and separation of the bones of the nose. Regaining consciousness in hospital, she makes a slow recovery, being well enough to be discharged from hospital in March 1943. Shortly after the accident, Reitsch is awarded the Iron Cross, First Class.
North American B-25C-1 Mitchell, 41-13206, operated by the USAAF 5th Ferrying Group, Air Transport Command, piloted by Captain James M. Treweek, is on a routine flight from Rosecrans Field, St. Joseph, Missouri to Dallas Love Field when bad weather closes airfield and controllers advise crew to divert. Pilot heads west, presumably bound for Meacham Field, flying below 500 ft (152 m) altitude to stay in visual conditions under low cloud deck. As bomber nears Grapevine, Texas, a wingtip and aileron are sliced off by a guy-wire of WFAAradio tower, causing pilot to lose control; all 6 crew-members die in subsequent crash. Also killed in the crash was, Colonel Edward Standifer Fee of Little Rock, Arkansas, Corporal Joseph L. Tyndall, Captain Louis M. Rawlins, Jr., of Baltimore, Maryland, Staff Sergeant Wilfred E. Miller of Washington D.C. , and Private William A. Echko of Lorain, Ohio.
Mid-air collision at 9,000 feet (2,700 m) altitude between American AirlinesDouglas DC-3, NC16017, "Flagship Connecticut", flying out of Lockheed Air Terminal (now Burbank Airport) en route to Phoenix, Arizona and New York City, and USAAFLockheed B-34 Ventura II bomber, 41-38116, on a ferry flight from Long Beach Army Air Base to Palm Springs Army Air Field. Pilot of B-34, Lt. William N. Wilson and copilot Staff Sergeant Robert Leicht, were able to make emergency landing at Palm Springs, but DC-3, carrying nine passengers and a crew of three, its tail splintered and its rudder shorn off by B-34's right engine, went into a flat spin, clipped a rocky ledge in Chino Canyon, California below San Jacinto Peak, and exploded in desert, killing all on board. Among the passengers killed was Academy Award-winning Hollywood composer Ralph Rainger, 41, who had written or collaborated on such hit songs as "Louise", "Love in Bloom" (comedian Jack Benny's theme song), "Faithful Forever", "June in January", "Blue Hawaii" and "Thanks for the Memory", which entertainer Bob Hope adopted as his signature song. Initial report by Ventura crew was that they had lost sight of the airliner due to smoke from a forest fire, but closed-door Congressional investigation revealed that bomber pilot knew the first officer on the DC-3, Louis Frederick Reppert, and had attempted to wave to him in mid-air rendezvous. However, Wilson misjudged the distance between the two aircraft and triggered the fatal collision when, in pulling his B-34 up and away from the DC-3, its right propeller sliced through the airliner's tail. The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) placed the blame directly on the "reckless and irresponsible conduct of Lieutenant William N. Wilson in deliberately maneuvering a bomber in dangerous proximity to an airliner in an unjustifiable attempt to attract the attention of the first officer (copilot) of the latter plane." Lt. Wilson subsequently faced manslaughter charges by the U.S. Army but about a month after the accident a court martial trial board acquitted him of blame. In a separate legal development, a lawsuit seeking $227,637 was filed against American Airlines on behalf of crash victim Ralph Rainger's wife, Elizabeth, who was left widowed with three small children. In June 1943 a jury awarded her $77,637. The Ventura, repaired, and eventually modified to a RB-34A-4 target-tug, would crash at Wolf Hill near Smithfield, Rhode Island after engine failure on 5 August 1943, killing all three crew.
Second prototype Messerschmitt Me 262 V2, PC+UB, first flown 1 October 1942, is damaged when pilot strikes ground vehicle with starboard wing during flight preparations, due to restricted visibility from cockpit in tail-dragger configuration of early 262s. Aircraft repaired.
Henschel Hs 130E V2, high-altitude reconnaissance and bomber design, first flown in November 1942, is lost on its seventh flight due to an engine fire. Replaced in testing by the V3. Type is never accepted for production.
The sole Lockheed XP-49, 40-3055, a development of the P-38 Lightning, first flown 11 November 1942, suffers a crash landing at Burbank, California when the port landing gear fails to lock down due to a combined hydraulic and electrical problem. Pilot was Joe C. Towle. Repaired, it returns to flight on 16 February 1943, and is sent to Wright Field, Ohio, for further testing. Despite improved performance over the P-38, difficulties with the new engines, as well as the success of the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and the P-51 Mustang, leads to no additional orders or production.
Boeing B-17F-27-BO Flying Fortress, 41-24620, c/n 3305, "snap! crackle! pop!", 'PU-O', of the 360th Bomb Squadron, 303rd Bomb Group, on daylight raid over Saint-Nazaire, France, loses wing due to flak, goes into spiral. Ball turret gunner Alan Eugene Magee (13 January 1919 – 20 December 2003), though suffering 27 shrapnel wounds, bails out (or is thrown from wreckage) without his chute at ~20,000 feet (6,100 m), loses consciousness due to altitude, freefall plunges through glass roof of the Gare de Saint-Nazaire and is found alive but with serious injuries on floor of depot:saved by German medical care, spends rest of war in prison camp. On 3 January 1993, the people of St. Nazaire honored Magee and the crew of his bomber by erecting a 6-foot-tall (1.8 m) memorial to them.
Junkers Ju 290 V1, (Junkers Ju 90 V11), modified from Ju 90B-1, Werknummer 90 0007, D-AFHG, "Oldenberg", crashed on takeoff evacuating load of wounded troops from the German 6th Army at Stalingrad. The need for large capacity transports was so dire at this point that the Luftwaffe was taking Ju 290As straight from the assembly line into operation.
Prototype Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation CA-4 Wackett Bomber, A23-1001, crashes on a test flight to assess powerplant performance and evaluate aerodynamic effects of a new fixed leading edge slat. During return to CAC airfield at Fisherman's Bend, Australia, pilot Sqn. Leader Jim Harper detects fuel leak in port Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine; as problem worsens he attempts shut-down and feathering of propeller but actuation of feathering switch causes explosion and uncontrollable fire. Crew of three attempts evacuation at 1000 feet (300 m), but only pilot Harper succeeds in parachuting, CAC test pilot Jim Carter and CAC power plant group engineer Lionel Dudgeon KWF. Airframe impacts ~three miles SW of Kilmore, Victoria. Wreckage recovered by No. 26 Repair and Salvage Unit on 18 January, delivered to No. 1 Aircraft Depot, RAAF Laverton, on the 19th. Final action taken on 26 January when the Air Member for Supply and Equipment approves "conversion to components" for what remains of the CA-4.
A Douglas B-23 Dragon, 39-052, c/n 2738, of the 34th Bomb Squadron, assigned at McChord Field, Washington, piloted by Lt. Robert Orr, attempts ferry flight from Tonopah, Nevada, back to McChord Field, with eight aboard, but runs into a snowstorm and has to divert. Unable to locate another landing field and running low on fuel, pilot spots a clearing which is actually frozen Loon Lake in the Payette National Forest, Stevens County, Washington, and attempts landing, with one engine afire, but overshoots and shears wings as it crashes into a grove of trees on the shore. Only two of eight suffer injuries; rescued several days later. Wreckage is largely still there.
Blohm & Voss BV 222 V1, X4+AH, of air transport squadron Lufttransportstaffel 222 (LTS 222), sinks following a collision with a submerged wreck while landing at Piraeus harbour, Greece. Between 1942 and 1943, the aircraft flew in the Mediterranean theatre.
North American B-25C Mitchell, 41-12740, of the 473d Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 334th Bombardment Group (Medium), (activated as a combat crew training group on 16 July 1942) en route from Greenville Army Air Base, South Carolina, to Key Field, Meridian, Mississippi, crashed into the Blue Ridge Mountains ~21 miles N of Walhalla in Pickens County, South Carolina, at about midnight, killing all five crew "apparently instantaneously." The aircraft was assigned at Greenville AAB. Despite a large-scale search by army aircraft along the route from Greenville to Meridian, the wreckage was finally found 21 March 1943 by a 15-year-old mountain boy, Seab Crane, who was riding a horse along a remote path known as the Moody trail. The bomber had clipped off treetops at the peak of a mountain, just off Turnpike road about 2 1/2 miles from the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery, and plunged into a ravine. The altitude where the plane first struck is more than 2,000 feet. Heavy recent rains kept the crash fire isolated to the actual wreckage. Crane, who lived in the Cheohee community, was riding to visit relatives who lived beyond the Tri-State Fishing club house, when his horse balked at an unknown foreign object on the trail. The boy and his mount galloped 2 1/2 miles to the nearest cabin, the club house, where he recruited the caretaker Ben Rogers, and they returned to the site where the mystery object turned out to be one of the Wright R-2600-13 radial engines that had been thrown a hundred yards beyond the main wreckage, the bulk of which had ploughed into an embankment in a ravine after it had sheared through tree tops for a quarter mile. "Three of the airmen were thrown from the plane and they lay as they fell – twisted and gesticulating. One of the men's wrist watches had stopped at 9:30. One of the men had died in his seat and the fifth body was found in the wreckage." One of the motors and the gasoline tank had burned, but only a few square yards of woods had burned. "After Rogers and Crane had found the wrecked ship they reported it to R. A. Stewart at the Fish Hatchery, an aircraft warning service spotter. Stewart put in a 'red flash' call to the filter center in Columbia and immediately afterwards notified Derrill B. Darby, of Walhalla, chief of the aircraft warning service in Oconee county [sic]. That was shortly before 1 o'clock Monday afternoon." After the wreckage had been viewed, home guardsmen took charge and kept watch until army men from the Greenville air base arrived. The victims were: Flight Officer Richard S. Brook, 22, pilot, of 10 Superior Court, Lima, Ohio; Second Lieutenant Earl S. Monroe, 26, co-pilot, of Bolivar, New York; Second Lieutenant Philip J. Graziano, 23, navigator, of 166 Chestnut Street, Lawrence, Massachusetts; Staff Sergeant Harvey M. Capellman, engineer, of Blanchard, Idaho; and Sergeant Michael Sekel, 29, radio operator, of Buffalo, New York. "Soldiers, home guardsmen, and volunteers labored into the night to remove the bodies and carry them on stretchers up the steep mountain side to the ambulance. Salvage of the wrecked ship was started on Tuesday."  A later report stated that the B-25 was en route TO Greenville Army Air Base from Meridian, Mississippi. A memorial marker to the crew was dedicated at the site on 21 March 2014 by the Walhalla American Legion and the Oconee Veterans Council.
Two RAAFBristol Beaufort torpedo bombers, in a flight of three, collided with each other over Jervis Bay. They were A9-27 and A9-268 of Base Torpedo Unit, HMAS Albatros, Nowra, Australia, carrying out a series of dummy runs and torpedo attacks on HMAS Burra Bra for a group of accredited War Correspondents on board the ship when the centre aircraft of the vic, A9-27, coded 'B', pulled up, causing the port wing of the right-hand bomber, A9-268, coded 'I', to clip off its tail with both aircraft crashing. The flight was attempting a "Prince of Wales" break-up formation. KWF aboard A9-27 were F/O Raymond Sydney Green (408110), 23, pilot; Sgt. Albert John Bailey (409976), 22; F/O Maurice Francis Hoban (409118), 30; and P/O Eric William Sweetnam (408077), 20. Fatalities aboard A9-268 were Flt. Lt. David George Dey (280627), 27, pilot; F/O Rex Lindsay Solomon (408149), 21; F/O Jack Norman (407561); and Sgt. Hugh Sydney George Richardson (410093), 23. The accident was filmed by Fox Movietone News cameraman Eric Bieve, and footage is available on the web. "Green, Hoban and Bailey were buried in the Air Force section of the War Cemetery at Nowra on 15 Apr 43 at 1500 hours. The funeral was attended by Wing Commander Dibbs, Base Torpedo Unit (BTU) staff officers, Instructional crews and personnel of No 7 Beaufort course. On 17 April 1943, the body of Sweetnam was recovered and buried at 1600 hours with Air Force honours at Nowra. Late on the same day a diving party reported that they had not located the bodies of Dey, Norman, Solomon and Richardson. A Funeral held on 18 April 1943 on board the "Burra-Bra" at 1030 hours attended by the same people as listed for the 15 April Funeral."
Republic P-43 Lancer, 41-6718, converted to P-43D. To RAAF as A56-7. Assigned to 1 PRU, it went missing in flight from Wagga, Australia, this date. Aircraft found crashed in thick forest on the side of Gordon Gully near Healesville in Victoria, NE of Melbourne, in June 1958. The airframe was approved as a write-off on 30 April. The pilot was P/O A. W. Green (406393) of 1 PRU Rear Echelon based at Laverton. His body has not been found.
U.S. Army personnel remove bodies from the wreckage of General Frank Maxwell Andrews' B-24D after it struck a mountain side in Iceland, 3 May 1943. The rudders and elevators have lost their fabric covering after the accident
During an inspection tour, Lt. Gen. Frank Maxwell Andrews (1884–1943) is killed in crash of Consolidated B-24D-1-CO Liberator, 41-23728, "Hot Stuff", of the 330th Bomb Squadron, 93d Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, out of RAF Bovingdon, England, on Mt. Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes peninsula after an aborted attempt to land at the RAF Kaldadarnes, Iceland. Andrews and thirteen others died in the crash; only the tail gunner, S/Sgt. George A. Eisel, survived. Others KWF included pilot Capt. Robert H. Shannon, of the 330th BS, 93rd BG; six members of Andrews' staff, including Maj. Ted Trotman, B/Gen. Charlie Barth, Col. Marlow Krum, and the general's aide, Maj. Fred A. Chapman; and Capt. J. H. Gott, navigator. Andrews was the highest-ranking Allied officer to die in the line of duty to that point in the war. At the time of his death, he was Commanding General, United States Forces, European Theatre of Operations. Camp Springs Army Air Field, Maryland, is renamed Andrews Field (later Andrews Air Force Base), for him on 7 February 1945. It appears that "Hot Stuff" was actually the first heavy bomber to complete 25 missions successfully, despite the publicity given the "Memphis Belle" and "Hell's Angels" of the 303d Bomb Group, when the B-24 bombed Naples on 7 February 1943. The bomber was, in fact, on the first leg of a trip back to the United Stes for a War Bond Tour when she was lost.
First Consolidated XB-32 Dominator, 41–141, crashes on take-off at Lindbergh Field, San Diego, probably from flap failure. Although bomber does not burn when it piles up at end of runway, Consolidated's senior test pilot Dick McMakin is killed. Six others on board injured. This was one of only two twin-finned B-32s (41–142 was the other) – all subsequent had a PB4Y-style single tail.
First Curtiss YC-76 Caravan constructed at the Louisville, Kentucky plant, 42-86918, loses tail unit at 1729 hrs. due to lack of "forgotten" securing bolts during test flight, crashes at Okolona, Kentucky, killing three Curtiss test crew, pilot Ed Schubinger, co-pilot John L. "Duke" Trowbridge, and engineer Robert G. Scudder. Miserable attempt at building all-wood cargo design is cancelled by the USAAF on 3 August with only nineteen completed, all grounded by 12 September 1944. Four C-76s at the St. Louis, Missouri plant are granted one-time flight clearance and flown directly to Air Training Command bases for use as instructional airframes.
Handley Page Halifax BMk.V bomber suffered starboard inner engine failure shortly after takeoff from RAF Holmsley South en-route to RAF Hurn. Crashed in Thatcher's Lane, Sopley, at grid reference OS SZ164986. All on board were killed. The names of those that died are: Donald J Smith ( J10798 Fg Offr RCAF Pilot ), M.W. Collins (J10509 Fg Offr RCAF Pilot ), Barrie Noel Stephenson ( RAFVR Flight Engineer ), P.S. Thomas ( Gunner ), Frances Joseph Davies ( Sgt Glider Pilot passenger ), Roland Davies Sunter ( Sgt Glider Pilot passenger ) and Ronald Herbert Borton ( Sgt Glider Pilot passenger ).
Northrop N-9M-1, one-third scale flying testbed for the Northrop XB-35 flying wing design, crashes approximately 12 mi (19 km) W of Muroc Army Air Base, California, killing pilot Max Constant. First flown 27 December 1942, airframe had only logged 22.5 hours, and little data was accumulated before the loss. Post-crash investigation suggested that: "...while Constant was conducting stalls and aft centre of gravity stability tests, aerodynamic forces developed full aft, which were too strong for Constant to overcome, trapping him in the cockpit. To prevent this happening on future flights, a one-shot hydraulic boost device was installed to push the controls forward in an emergency."
Consolidated B-24E-5-FO Liberator, 42-7053, c/n 77, of the 1014th Pilot Transition Training Squadron, Tarrant Army Airfield, Texas, departing there at 0650 hrs. CWT, piloted by David S. Alter, hits the side of a 20 million cubic foot gasometer of the People's Gas Light and Coke Company at 3625 73rd Street and Central Park Avenue, the largest of its type in the world, ~2 miles SE of Municipal Airport, Chicago, Illinois, between 1140 and 1145 hrs. CWT, killing all 12 crew.Joe Baugher cites date as 5 May 1943, but this is incorrect. Approaching the airport from the southwest in light rain, light fog and light smoke, with a 500 foot ceiling and ~.75 miles visibility, the bomber circled the field to the north and east before striking the ~500 foot tall tank at the ~125 foot level whilst on a southern heading, initially with the port wingtip, according to witness Lawrence Kinsella, an employee of People's Gas Light and Coke Company. Much of forward fuselage fell inside the tank structure which exploded, throwing steel plate over 100 yards with heat felt over a mile away. Nine employees were on the grounds but none were injured. Four United Airlines flights rejected landings at the airport between 0957 and 1027 hrs. and continued onto Milwaukee due to conditions. Capt. Monstad of the 9th Tow Target Squadron, Chicago Municipal Airport, made arrangements for a Board of Inquiry. The dead were identified as Capt. James R. Gilcrease, of Houston, commanding officer of the 1014th PTTS and a flight instructor, in charge of the flight; 2d Lt. David S. Alter, an instructor from Pittsburgh; 1st Lt. Harry B. Messick, Jr., navigator, of Indianapolis; 2d Lt. Frederick L. Dutt, student officer, of Wadsworth, Ohio; 2d Lt. John C. Wallace, student officer, of Luling, Texas; Pvt. Nick Lonchar, aerial engineer, of Weirton, West Virginia; Sgt. Arthur A. Huber, aerial engineer, of Queens, New York; S/Sgt. Norman W. Yutzy, aerial engineer, of Canton, Ohio; and Tech/Sgt. Ben F. Zumwalt, aerial engineer, of Ingram, Texas. The identified passenger was Capt. A. W. Lent, from Hamilton Field, California. The names of the other two passengers were to be announced after notification of the next-of-kin. The USAAF Report of Aircraft Accident listed the other two victims as 2d Lt. A. L. Gentry and Capt. John M. Wallace. The storage tank was erected in 1928 at a cost of $2 million, according to a Chicago Daily Tribune account. It was not rebuilt.
Second production Mitsubishi J2M2Raiden (Thunderbolt), Allied codename "Jack", noses over shortly after take-off and crashes for unknown reasons. When pilot of tenth production J2M2 experiences same phenomenon just after gear-retraction on test flight, he has enough altitude to drop gear and recover. It is discovered that retractable tailwheel shock strut can press against elevator torque tube during retraction, forcing control stick full-forward. This is modified and fighter production resumes.
Blohm & Voss BV 138C-1, WNr.0310158, K6+AK, of 2.Staffel KüstenFlieger Gruppe 406, capsizes upon landing at Drontheim See Ilsvika in Trondheim harbour, Norway. Crew has to swim underwater to escape. Oblt. Ludwig Schönherr, wounded; Ltn. Günther Behr, wounded; Uffz. Heinz Kitzmann, unhurt; Uffz. Reinhold Zwanzig, unhurt; Ofw. Ernst Neumann, drowned. His body is recovered from inside the flying boat when it is recovered the following day.
Boeing XB-38-VE, 41-2401, powered with Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled engines, crashed near Tipton, California, on its ninth test flight when the number three (starboard inner) engine caught fire. Attempts to extinguish it were unsuccessful, and as the fire spread to the wing, the pilots bailed out after pointing the aircraft to an uninhabited area. Lockheed test pilot George MacDonald was killed when his parachute did not deploy, and Lockheed test pilot Bud Martin was seriously injured when his parachute did not deploy properly.
US Navy Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina, BuNo 04447, returning to NAS Pensacola, Florida, after anti-submarine patrol flight over the Gulf of Mexico, attempts ill-advised landing in a storm brought on by a passing weather front, hits swell, bounces twice and overturns in Pensacola Bay. Nose section breaks away right at the wing tower and sinks, taking with it U.S. Coast Guard Motor Machinists Mate Chief Dana W. Heckart, in the co-pilot's seat as a pilot trainee. Rest of crew, all U.S. Navy personnel, pilot Ltjg. John W. Nichols, Lt. Norman Bennett, Ens. Francis R. Young, AMM3c Van C. Hardin, AM3c William E. Mutch, AMM2c Robert H. Ovink, ASM3c Albert W. Smith, and ARM3c Ralph E. Stuckey, survive as rest of airframe floats. Hardin, Mutch, Ovink and Smith suffer minor injuries, rest of crew more seriously injured. A seaplane wrecking derrick (YSD) retrieves floating section the following day. Heckart's body never recovered. Investigation finds pilot Nichols at fault for trying to land in storm conditions.
RAFConsolidated LB-30 Liberator II, AL523, crashes on takeoff from RAF North Front, Gibraltar, killing the exiled Polish Prime Minister General Władysław Sikorski, together with his daughter, his Chief of Staff, Tadeusz Klimecki, and seven others. The flight departed at 2307 hrs., coming down in the sea after only 16 seconds of flight. Only the pilot, Eduard Prchal (1911–1984), survives. "This crash is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Throughout World War II Sikorski tried to organize the Polish Army and constantly negotiated with Churchill and Roosevelt to circumvent any appeasement deals between the Allies, Russia, and Germany which would come at Poland's expense. By this time, the Free Poles had found out about the Katyn Massacre, and thus terminated relations with the Soviet Union on 26 April 1943. As Sikorski was the most prestigious leader of the Polish exiles, his death was a severe setback to the Polish cause, and was certainly highly convenient for Stalin. It was in some ways also convenient for the western Allies, who were finding the Polish issue a stumbling-block in their efforts to preserve good relations with Stalin. This has given rise to persistent suggestions that Sikorski's death was not accidental. This has never been proved." 
The prototype Platt-LePage XR-1 helicopter, 41-001, tested at Wright Field, Ohio, by the Rotary Branch of the Air Technical Service Command from May 1943, is damaged this date by the failure of a rotor blade spinner. Never ordered into production, its last flight will take place on 21 June 1946 with 91 hours, 45 minutes of flight time, and it will be donated the National Air Museum in Washington, D.C., where it remains in storage at the Paul Garber Facility at Silver Hill, Maryland.
The first prototype Focke-Wulf Ta 154 V1, TE+FE, powered by Jumo 211R engines, first flown 1 July 1943, tested at Rechlin, is written off in a landing accident this date when the landing gear collapsed. This was a recurrent problem that accounted for the loss of several of the type.
During a demonstration flight of an "all St. Louis-built glider", a WACO CG-4A-RO, 42-78839, built by sub-contractor Robertson Aircraft Corporation, loses its starboard wing due to a defective wing strut support, plummets vertically to the ground at Lambert Field, St. Louis, Missouri, killing all on board, including St. Louis Mayor William D. Becker, Maj. William B. Robertson and Harold Krueger, both of Robertson Aircraft, Thomas Dysart, president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, Max Doyne, director of public utilities, Charles Cunningham, department comptroller, Henry Mueller, St. Louis Court presiding judge, Lt. Col. Paul Hazleton, pilot Capt. Milton C. Klugh, and co-pilot/mechanic PFC Jack W. Davis, of the USAAF 71st Troop Carrier Squadron. The failed component had been manufactured by Robertson subcontractor Gardner Metal Products Company, of St. Louis, who, ironically, had been a casket maker.
A Boeing B-17F-95-BO Flying Fortress, 42-30326, c/n 5440, of the 541st Bomb Squadron, 383d Bomb Group, piloted by Roy J. Lee, was headed north up the Oregon coast on a routine patrol flight. The plane had left Pendleton Field, near Pendleton, Oregon, at 0900 and was tasked with flying to Cape Disappointment on the Oregon coast. They were then to fly 500 miles out to sea, followed by a direct flight back to Pendleton Field. On arriving at the coast, the crew found the entire area hidden in overcast clouds which extended to an elevation of 8000 feet. The pilot decided to locate Cape Disappointment by flying below the overcast. The overcast proved to reach almost to the level of the sea. The plane was flying at about 50–150 feet above the waves. Deciding that the risk was too great the crew began to climb back up into the overcast. Unfortunately, the plane crashed into the side of Cape Lookout at about 900 feet in elevation. The Aviation Archeological Investigation & Research website lists the crash date as 2 August.
 Future ETO double ace Captain Walker Melville "Bud" Mahurin gets off to an ignominious start this date when, "On a training mission over England he had spotted a B-24 Liberator – at the time not a particularly common aeroplane in English skies. While flying formation with the bomber he took his Thunderbolt (41-6334) a little too close resulting in the empennage being slashed off by the Liberator's propellers. Mahurin came down by parachute, his P-47 disintegrated in an English field and the Liberator made a successful landing having sustained only minor damage. Thunderbolts, costing $104,258 each, were still in short supply and Mahurin's folly did not endear him to the authorities." The P-47C-5-RE, of the 63d Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, impacted ~one mile NW of Metfield, Suffolk. Mahurin will somewhat redeem himself on 17 August 1943 when he downs two Focke-Wulf Fw 190s. The 11 August date may be the date that the airframe was officially written off.
Curtiss XP-60E-CU, 42-79425, is damaged in a forced landing just before being released to the USAAF for official trials. Becomes XP-60C when it is retrofit with wings, landing gear, and other items from the Curtiss XP-60A-CU, 42-79423. Meanwhile, original Curtiss XP-60C-CU, 42-79424, becomes second XP-60E with removal of 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) R-2800-53 engine and contraprops, replaced with R-2800-10 engine and four-blade prop. Whole P-60 project is essentially a dead-end, being nothing more than Curtiss' attempt to stretch pre-war design that started out as the P-36, and the company's unwillingness or inability to start fresh with a new fighter design will force them out of the airframe business a few years after the war.
Following a Royal Air Force raid on the test facilities at Peenemünde on 17 August, the Messerschmitt Me 163B Komets of training unit EK 16 are moved to a new airfield at Anklam. The airframes are towed to the new location, with one Komet, ferried by test pilot Paul Rudolf Opitz, suffering malfunctioning flap hydraulics. After casting-off from the tow plane, the rocket fighter's landing skid fails to function, the airframe decelerates over a patch of rough and rutted ground at the end of the landing run following an otherwise normal approach. Pilot suffers two damaged vertebrae due to hard landing, spends three months in hospital. Investigation reveals that a force of 15 to 30Gs were required to cause this injury, and Me 163Bs are subsequently fitted with a torsion sprung seat for the pilot, eliminating this type of injury.
A B-17E Flying Fortress, on a return mission from Germany ran out of fuel and was ditched in the English Channel, one mile off of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex; all crew members survived.
Second prototype Arado Ar 234 V2 crashes at Rheine, near Münster, after suffering fire in port wing, failure of both engines, and various instrumentation failure, the airframe diving into the ground from 4,000 feet (1,200 m), killing pilot Flugkapitän Selle.
First (of two) Northrop XP-56 tailless flying wing fighters, 42-1786, suffers blown left main tire during ~130 mph (210 km/h) taxi across Muroc Dry Lake, Muroc Air Base, California. Aircraft tumbles, goes airborne, throws pilot John Myers clear before crashing inverted, airframe destroyed. Pilot, wearing a polo helmet for protection, suffers only minor injuries.
U.S. Navy Goodyear ZNP-K airship K-94, BuNo 33486, probably assigned at NAS Richmond, Florida, on a ferry trip from Guantanamo, Cuba, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, is lost. After the 13th hourly position report at 2200, nothing more is heard from the flight and it disappears abruptly from the shore radar-tracking screen. Eyewitnesses on surface craft report seeing a small flaming object similar to a flare dropping from the airship. Almost immediately afterward, a bright colored flame was noticed, increasing in size until the entire airship was engulfed in flames on its descent into the Caribbean Sea. Eight crew lost. A B-25G-10 Mitchell, 42-65118, of the 417th Bomb Squadron, 25th Bomb Group, piloted by Jaspar J. Kraynick, searching for survivors of K-94, also disappears ~3.5 hours later at approximately the same position, 15 miles NW of Borinquen Field.
Lt. Walter L. Chewning effecting pilot rescue aboard USS Enterprise, 10 November 1943.
U.S. NavyGrumman F6F-3 Hellcat, BuNo 25974, '30', of VF-2, on a routine training exercise off of USS Enterprise en route to Makin Atoll, piloted by Ensign (later Lieutenant) Byron Milton Johnson of Potter, Nebraska, suffers engine problems, makes emergency landing, catches 3 wire on his third attempt, slams into deck and ends up with port landing gear leg in the port catwalk near 20mm (.78 caliber) Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns. Airframe rests on belly tank, which begins to leak, propeller blades turning against deck edge emit sparks which set fuel alight. Hard landing jams canopy, retaining pin sheared. One of the Pacific war's iconic images is caught as Lieutenant (later Lieutenant Commander) Walter Lewis Chewning of Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, Enterprise new catapult officer, rescues Johnson, stepping on the burning tank to reach the cockpit. While waiting for '30' to be cleared from the deck, Ensign S. S. Osbourne in F6F-3, BuNo 25985, has to ditch. USS Brown picks Osbourne up. Both Hellcats written off. "Chewning was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his actions. The commander of VF-2's Air Group, famed fighter pilot Edward "Butch" O'Hare (March 13, 1914 – November 26, 1943) recommended that night that all pilots drop their external tank before landing to prevent such an accident repeating."
The first XP-55 lies inverted following a crash during flight testing.
First of three prototypes of the Curtiss XP-55 Ascender, 42-78845, on test flight out of Lambert Field, St. Louis, Missouri, crashes when pilot is unable to recover from a stall, engine then quits, Curtiss test pilot J. Harvey Gray divorces airframe after 16,000-foot (4,900 m) plummet, landing safely, fighter impacts inverted in an open field.
During a joint U.S. Navy–U.S. Marine simulated close air support exercise near Pauwela, Maui, Territory of Hawaii, the pilot of a U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless, BuNo 36045 of squadron VB-10, initiates a slight right-hand turn and deploys dive brakes in preparation for a bomb run, but his aircraft is struck by a second VB-10 SBD-5, 36099, that did not have dive brakes deployed. Both aircraft crash, and a bomb knocked loose from 36045 falls in the midst of a group of marines and detonates, killing 20 and seriously injuring 24. Both SBD pilots parachute to safety, but both SBD gunners die, one after an unsuccessful bailout attempt. The collision is attributed to poor judgment and flying technique by both pilots. Aviation Archaeology Investigation & Research gives the date of this accident as 6 December.
Luftwaffe pilot Lt. Joschi Pöhs is killed when, upon takeoff in a Messerschmitt Me 163A of training unit EK 16 from Bad Zwischenahn, near Oldenburg, he releases the takeoff dolly too soon. The bouncing dolly strikes the airframe, apparently damaging a T-Stoff line, and the engine loses power. The pilot banks the Komet round for an attempted landing but just prior to lining up for touchdown a wingtip grazes a flak tower, all control is lost, and the rocket fighter crashes just outside the airfield perimeter. It was felt that if Pōhs had begun his turn back to the airfield immediately after the power loss he would have made a safe return; however, he lowered the landing skid and dropped flaps before beginning the turn and ate up precious altitude.
Sole prototype of the Kawasaki Ki-64 (Allied code name: Rob), an experimental heavy, single-seat fighter with two Ha-40 engines in tandem; one in the aircraft nose, the other behind the cockpit, both being connected by a drive shaft, driving two 3-bladed, contra-rotating propellors, first flown in December 1943. During the fifth flight, the rear engine catches fire, the aircraft makes an emergency landing, but is damaged. The design is subsequently abandoned in mid-1944 in favour of more promising projects. The airframe survives the war and parts are sent to Wright Field for examination.
Thirtieth Mitsubishi J2M2Raiden (Thunderbolt) disintegrates over Toyohashi airfield. Cause never satisfactorily explained but believed to have been either violent engine shaking due to failed attachment point causing secondary airframe failure, or, possibly, engine cowling detaching and striking tail assembly. Both power attachment points and cowling fasteners strengthened, but Raidens continue to be lost after these modifications.
CDR. Frank A. Erickson, U.S. Coast Guard, receives an official commendation after he pilots a Sikorsky HNS-1 helicopter with two cases of blood plasma lashed to its floats from New York City to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, for treatment of U.S. Navy crewmen of the destroyer USS Turner, which had exploded, burned, and sunk off New York harbor, this date. In this heroic deed, in violent winds and snow that grounded all other aircraft, Erickson became the first pilot in the world to fly a helicopter under such conditions as well as making the first "lifesaving flight" ever performed by a "chopper". Without the plasma, many of the severely injured survivors of the Turner would have died.
1st Lt. Andrew Biancur, a test pilot of the Medium Bombardment Section of the 1st Proving Ground Group, is killed in crash of Northrop YP-61-NO Black Widow, 41-18883, c/n 711, at Eglin Field this date. Eglin Auxiliary Field 6 is later named in his honor.
Squadron Leader, B. B. Howe, 28, and Squadron Leader, R. S. Harmon, 25, of the British Royal Air Force bailed out of their disabled plane over the Ohio River about nine miles above St. Marys, WV. The two were flying from Dayton, OH to Bolling Field, Washington, DC. Harmon parachuted to safety on the West Virginia side of the river while Howe, the pilot, plunged into the river and drowned. The plane crashed against a hillside on the Ohio side of the river and burned. Harmon managed to land against a hillside, but Howe apparently unable to direct his parachute plunged into the ice-filled river. He managed to break loose from his parachute harness just before he went in. He was about midway of the river and remained afloat for about 15 minutes. He was seen struggling to climb onto the ice, which was so thin it broke at his every attempt. Probably exhausted and benumbed with cold he sank and drifted under the ice while witnesses were making hasty efforts to rescue him. His body was recovered two days later about 200 feet from where he went into the river. Both men had engaged in many flights of the RAF, Harmon being credited with twenty-seven bombing raids over Germany. They had been sent to the U. S. to serve as trainers in the field. Basil B.W. Howe was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 15.
Focke-Wulf Ta 152 V19, Werke Nummer 110019, prototype for the Ta 152B-5/R11 (Ta 152C-3/R11) with 1,750 hp (1,300 kW) Jumo 213A engine, is written off this date in a crash during test flight out of Langenhagen. Airframe had been damaged in 1943 wheels-up landing during testing but was repaired.
Curtiss C-46A-10-CU Commando, 41-12339, c/n 26466, of the 3d OTU, Henry F. Harvey piloting, departs McClellan Field, California, at 0045 hrs. on a flight to homebase at Reno Army Air Base, Nevada. Some 15 minutes after takeoff arcing wiring ignites hydraulic fluid. The fire burns though oxygen lines and de-icer lines, airframe impacting in American River Canyon, California. Five crew members bailed out, ~0100 hrs., but two died when exiting the plane.
Consolidated B-24J-25-CO Liberator, 42-73228, of the 3330th Combat Crew Training Squadron, on training mission out of Biggs Field, Texas, crashes into the eastern slope of Franklin Mountain near El Paso, Texas, at 2240 hrs. during routine training flight. Seven crewmen are killed in the crash: 1st Lt. Lyle R. Jensen, Big Springs, Nebraska, whose wife was in El Paso; 2nd Lt. Benjamin C. Fricke, Indianapolis, Indiana; 2nd Lt. Robert Spears, Indianapolis; 2nd Lt. Donald B. Harris, Deming, New Mexico; Staff Sgt. Richard I. Stoney, Stoneham, Massachusetts; Sgt. William T. Hinson, Norwood, North Carolina; and Sgt. John H. House, Black River, New York.
Fifth Fisher XP-75-GC Eagle, 44-32163, out of the Fisher Plant No.2, Cleveland, Ohio, crashes at Cleveland after pilot engaged in low-level aerobatics that reportedly exceeded the placarded limitations. Pilot Hamilton J. Wagner  killed.
Southeast door of blimp hangar at Naval Air Station Houma, Louisiana, goes inoperable, is chained open. A gust of wind carries three Goodyear ZNP-K airships, all of ZP-22, out into the night; K-56, BuNo 30178, travels 4.5 miles (7.2 km), crashes into trees, K-57, BuNo 30179, explodes and burns 4 miles (6.4 km) from the air station, K-62, BuNo 30184, fetches up against high-tension powerlines a quarter mile away, burns. K-56 is salvaged, sent to Goodyear at Akron, Ohio, repaired and returned to service.
Ex-RAFde Havilland Mosquito B.IV, DK296, formerly flown by 105 Squadron as 'GB-G', delivered to the Soviet Union for testing on 19 April 1944 by Soviet flight crew, is written off this date in landing accident at Sverdlovsk when pilot A. I. Kabanov loses control with engines at low power setting, turns to port, runs off runway, shears off landing gear and skids to a stop on its belly. Pilot and navigator P. I. Perevalov unhurt. This was the ninth flight of DK296 (which never received a Soviet serial) since it arrived in Russia and was the only Mosquito delivered to Russia. Kabanov was the Deputy Director of the Scientific Research Institute of the Air Force at this time, and had much experience flying foreign types.
LuftwaffeMesserschmitt Bf 109G-6, 'Red 3', formerly carrying RQ+DR, werke nummer 163306, crashes into Lake Trzebun in Pomerania, northwest Poland in 0831 hrs. takeoff accident from airfield at Gebbert (now Jaworze), killing pilot Feldwebel Ernst Pleines of 2 Staffel, Jagdgruppe West. (Luftwaffe Verlustmeldung 174 – Casualty Report 174.) He was buried 15 June at Gebbert. Wreck discovered June 1999 in 56 feet (17 m) of water, subsequently recovered by Gdańsk-based Klub Pletwonurków Rekin (Shark Divers' Club) for the Polish Eagles Aviation Foundation for restoration and display.
Lt. Donald A. Innis, U.S. Navy, out of the Naval Ordnance Test Station at Inyokern, California, flying over the Salton Sea in Southern California on a rocket firing flight, launches weapon but the rocket body explodes prematurely on his starboard wing. His F6F-3 Hellcat, BuNo 40860, which was in a 15-degree dive at the time went into a slow spin and crashed into the sea.
A U.S. Army Air Force Boeing B-17G-75-BO Flying Fortress, 44-38023, en route from Kearney Army Airfield, Nebraska, to Dow Field, Maine, for overseas deployment, crashes into Deer Mountain in Parkertown Township in North Oxford, Maine, during a thunderstorm, killing all ten crew: Sgt. James A. Benson, Sgt. Gerald V. Biddle, 2nd Lt. John T. Cast, 2nd Lt. John W. Drake, 2nd Lt. William Hudgens, Cpl. John H. Jones, Staff Sgt. Wayne D. McGavran, Sgt. Cecil L. Murphy, 2nd Lt. Robert S. Talley, and Sgt. Clarence M. Waln. Locals saw the plane circling before it struck terrain 500 feet below the summit. It apparently descended below the clouds, struck treetops, and cartwheeled across the mountainside. Two days later, after a search by more than 100 spotters from the Civil Air Patrol, the Army Air Force, the Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Boeing B-17’s wreckage was found on the side of the mountain. Ironically, this is the second worst military crash in Maine history, and it occurred the same day as an A-26 Invader crash at Portland that killed 21.
Royal Air ForceDouglas Dakota III, KG472, c/n 12584, built as C-47A-15-DK, USAAF 42-92749, to RAF in March 1944, with No. 267 Squadron RAF, departs Bari Airport, Italy, on a special infiltration and evacuation mission to Yugoslavia. At Tičevo landing ground (the partisan airfield Cemerica at Bosanska Dubica), the pilot attempted a go around after overshooting. The aircraft gained height rapidly for a short distance then rapidly lost height as the pilot retracted the flaps and crashed at 2315 hrs. about 500 yards beyond the end of the flare path. striking the ground on an even keel with both motors under power. A Court of Inquiry found that, "the accident was caused by the retraction of the flaps when the aircraft was at low speed near the ground." Four crew and 17 passengers were on board of which 11 were killed, one died of injuries later and nine injured. Other passengers were Yugoslavians. The dead are now buried in the Belgrade War Cemetery, with exception of Air CommodoreGuy Lloyd CarterDSOAFC of HQ Balkan AF who subsequently died at Bari Hospital on 18 July 1944 and who is buried at Bari War Cemetery. Among the injured passengers were Winston Churchill’s SOE agent son, Randolph Spencer-Churchill, Capt. Evelyn Waugh and Mr P Jordan all of the British Mission. Spencer-Churchill sustains back and knee injuries, while Waugh is severely burned.
HauptmanWerner Thierfelder, unit commander of Erprobungskommando 262, out of Lechfeld, is lost in crash of Me 262A-1a under unclear circumstances. Luftwaffe records indicate that he was shot down but U.S. and British records show no comparable engagement. A possible cause is that Thierfelder exceeded the airframe's limiting Mach number in a dive, perhaps while pursuing an Allied reconnaissance aircraft, leading to an irrecoverable dive.
Three US Army Air ForceDouglas C-47s (42-100712, 42-92115, and 43-30664) disappear while flying at 500 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. The three aircraft lost radio contact with the squadron leader and flew into a storm. Lost aboard 42-100712 were: 1Lt. William E. Bechelm, Jr., of Illinois, 2Lt. Oakes M. Colwell of New Jersey, 2Lt. Donald W. Copeland of Iowa, Sergeant Leo C. Fair of Louisiana, and Sergeant Edward G. Hillman of Pennsylvania. Lost aboard 42-92115 were: 1Lt. Chris C. Nicorvo of New Jersey, 2Lt. Junior R. Davidson of Oklahoma, Flight Officer James M. Crew of Alabama, Staff Sergeant Fred J. Carini of Pennsylvania, and Sergeant Frank E. Sherwood of New York. Lost aboard 43-30664 were: Captain Robert J. Miskell of Ohio, 2Lt. Milton J. Verberg of Michigan, 2Lt. Walter H. Zuidema (origin unknown), Corporal Roger O. Weston of Massachusetts, and Sergeant Ben L. Dean of Texas
Two Curtiss RA-25A Shrikes, of the 4134th Base Unit, Spokane Army Air Field, collide in flight while participating in a flypast for an air show near Spokane, Washington. Part of a three-plane formation, the left-hand aircraft collided with the middle plane during a turn, both crashing into a valley. Pilot 2nd Lt. George E. Chrep and engineer-rated passenger Sgt. Joseph M. Revinskas were killed in the crash of 42-79804, while pilot 2nd Lt. William R. Scott and passenger Captain Ford K. Sayre, a noted snow skier on the east coast, were killed in the crash of 42-79826. A Paramount Pictures newsreel crew caught the accident on film, which was examined by the crash investigation board for clues to the accident. This footage was later incorporated into the 1956 film Earth vs. the Flying Saucers.
Focke-Wulf Fw 190C V33 prototype, Werke Nummer 0058, modified to Fw 190 V33/U1 as prototype for Ta 152H-0 with 1,750 hp (1,300 kW) Junkers Jumo 213E-1 engine and new wing fuel tanks of the definitive Ta 152H-1, comprising three tanks in each inner portion, located just aft of the truncated mainspar, first flown 12 July 1944, crashes this date out of Langenhagen, setting back the flight test programme.
Noted aviation pioneer and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry vanishes without a trace while flying a Free French ForcesLockheed F-5B-1-LO, 42-68223, c/n 2734, of II/33 Squadron, out of Borgo-Porreta, Bastia, Corsica, a reconnaissance variant of the P-38 Lightning, over the Mediterranean; his fate remains a mystery until 2004 when the wreckage of his plane is discovered. While the cause of the crash is unknown, analysis of the wreckage and enemy wartime records suggests that the crash was an accident unrelated to enemy action. A former Luftwaffe pilot has published a volume in which he claims to have shot down a French-marked Lightning, but his claim is largely discounted.
Test program of Lavochkin La-7TK, fitted with turbo-supercharged M-82FN engine in July–August 1944 comes to sudden end when one TK-3 supercharger explodes and airframe is destroyed.
During test flight out of the Fisher plant at Cleveland, Ohio, third Fisher XP-75 Eagle, 44-32161, crashes at Fairfield Village, Ohio, three miles (5 km) N of Cleveland, after an explosion and fire at 23,000 feet (7,000 m) – pilot Russell Stuart Weeks bailed out at 4,000 feet (1,200 m).
Focke-Wulf Fw 190C V30 prototype, Werke Nummer 0055, modified to Fw 190 V30/U1 as prototype for Ta 152H-0, rebuilt with Fw 190D 1,750 hp (1,300 kW) Jumo 213A-1 power egg, but without new wingtanks, crashes this date on flight out of Langenhagen after only one week of testing. First flown in new guise on 6 August.
Lieutenant John M. Armitage, USNR, is killed while conducting air firing tests of a Tiny Tim rocket at the Naval Ordnance Test Station at Inyokern, California. He flew into the ground from 1,500 ft (460 m). in an Curtiss SB2C-1C Helldiver, BuNo 018248, and was killed after the launching the rocket. Accident investigators discovered that the shock wave from the rocket's blast caused a jam in the SB2C's flight controls. Airfield dedicated 30 May 1945 in his honor as Armitage Field, now part of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California.
Maj. Carlo Emanuele Buscaglia, one of Italy's most noted aviators, crashes this date in a Martin Baltimore light bomber. After the armistice of 8 September 1943, Buscaglia was asked to fight alongside the Allies, as a member of the newly formed Aeronautica Cobelligerante del Sud. In the meantime, in the northern part of Italy still occupied by Germany, a wing of the Aeronautica Nazionale Reppublicana (the Air Force of the puppet Italian Social Republic) had also been named after him. On 15 July 1944 Buscaglia assumed command of the 28th Bomber Wing, equipped with Baltimores, based on Campo Vesuvio airport, near Naples. On 23 August, while attempting to fly one of the new planes during the early transition training phase, without an instructor, Buscaglia crashes on take-off, dying in hospital in Naples the following day.
First prototype (and only one completed) McDonnell XP-67 Moonbat, 42-11677, suffers fire in starboard engine during functional test flight at 10,000 feet (3,000 m). Pilot E.E. Elliot manages to bring stricken airframe into Lambert Field, St. Louis, Missouri, flames gut the fuselage, engine nacelle and wheelwell before firefighters halt blaze. As jet engined project that will become the FD-1 Phantom is already on the horizon, project is cancelled.
The first Supermarine Spiteful prototype, NN660, a converted Spitfire XIV, first flown 30 June 1944, returning from flight from the A&AEE, Boscombe Down, crashes this date while in unplanned mock combat with a Spitfire at low altitude, killing test pilot Frank Furlong. No reason for the loss is officially established, although after an incident that happened to him, Jeffrey Quill suggests it may have been due to the Spiteful's aileron control rods sticking – previous Sptifires had used cables. Control rods are checked for binding in all future Spitefuls and the problem does not re-occur. Quill had chosen Furlong for his test team after they had flown together during the Battle of Britain.
Douglas SBD-4 Dauntless, BuNo 10575, 'B-16', crashes off bow of USS Sable during flight operations on Lake Michigan at 1001 hrs. Pilot Ensign Albert Grey O'Dell, A-V(N), USNR, recovered by U.S. Coast Guard 83-foot Wooden Patrol Boat WPB-83476 at 1003, brought back aboard Sable at 1013. Pilot suffers minor contusion of right shoulder, "numerous jagged lacerations of the face, chin and forehead." Airframe rediscovered on 11 April 1989 by A&T Recovery of Chicago, Illinois, and recovered 26 August 1991 on behalf of the National Museum of Naval Aviation and brought initially to Crowley's Yacht Yard for disassembly and shipment for restoration. After restoration it is displayed for a time at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio, marked as a USAAF A-24 Banshee. It is now on display in Concourse C at Chicago Midway International Airport, marked as the SBD, 'B-3', flown by Ensign Frederick Thomas Weber (4 February 1916 – 4 June 1942) of VB-6, USS Enterprise, at the Battle of Midway. Credited with a bomb hit on the Japanese carrier Hiryū, he was killed in action, and awarded the Navy Cross.
Second Folland Fo.108, P1775, 'P', one of only twelve built by newly founded Folland company, as dedicated engine-testbed type, specification 43/37, crashes this date. Of the twelve, five were lost in accidents, including three in a 21 day period in August and September 1944, giving rise to the nickname, the Folland "Frightener".
RAFDouglas Dakota Mk. III, KG374, c/n 12383, (ex-USAAF C-47A-DK, 42-92568), 'YS-DM', of 271 Squadron, RAF Down Ampney, Gloucester, piloted by F/Lt. David S. Lord, is hit by AAA in starboard engine while on resupply mission for beleaguered troops at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden. Despite fire spreading to whole of starboard wing, pilot spends ten minutes making two passes over very small dropzone (which, unbeknownst to the crew, had been overrun by German forces) to drop eight ammunition panniers. Just after last one has been dropped, fuel tank explodes, tearing off wing, only navigator F/O Harry A. King escaping from stricken aircraft and descending by parachute to be captured as a POW the following morning, spending the rest of the war in Stalag Luft I at Barth. KWF are pilot Lord, second pilot P/O R. E. H. "Dickie" Medhurst (son of Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Medhurst), wireless operator F/O Alec F. Ballantyne, and four air despatchers of 223 Company RASC, Cpl. P. Nixon, Dvr. A. Rowbotham, Dvr. J. Ricketts and Dvr. L. Harper. Following release of King from prison camp, full details of the action become known and pilot Lord receives posthumous Victoria Cross on 13 November 1945, the only VC awarded to any member of Transport Command during the Second World War. In May 1949 the Dutch Government awards Harry King the Netherlands Bronze Cross.
Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat, BuNo. 42782, lost 125 miles (201 km) SE of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts during carrier qualifications. Pilot's name/fate unknown. Located by submarine DSV Alvin, 24 September 1968.
The Lavochkin La-7, which entered combat testing in September, suffers from a batch of flawed wings and causes six accidents, four of them fatal, which causes the fighter to be grounded until the cause is determined to be a defect in the wing spar.
First prototype of two Lavochkin La-7R (Raketny – 'Rocket') conversions from standard production La-7 with rear fuselage and lower rudder cut-away to accommodate RD-1 kHz auxiliary rocket motor designed by S. P. Korolev and V. P. Glushko, to counter threat of high-altitude Luftwaffe attacks against the Soviet capital, attempts first test flight after protracted ground trials. During the take-off run, however, a fuel pipe fails, the rocket motor explodes, and the airframe catches fire, test pilot Georgi M. Shiyanov bailing out. Shiyanov continues test programme with second prototype, and experiences close call on another flight when the nitric acid and kerosene-fuelled rocket explodes during a relight, destroying almost all the elevator surface, and 75 percent of the rudder, but he skillfully lands the damaged airframe, and it is repaired.
A B-25D Mitchell bomber, 41-30114, crashes in the Mojave Desert while on a pilot training mission. The plane stalls, spins and crashes into the ground, killing pilot 1st Lt George D. Rosado, copilot WASP Marie Michell Robinson, and crew chief S/Sgt Gordon L. Walker.
Junkers Ju 90, G6+AY, blows two tires and crashes on landing at Tatoi Airport, Greece, after flight from Iraklion, Crete. Repairs prove impossible and the aircraft is set on fire by the crew to prevent capture by the British, who were about to occupy Greece.
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 V18/U1, Werke Nummer 0040, originally Fw 190A-0, (utilized by Daimler-Benz for engine tests with Hirth exhaust turbine), is rebuilt a second time to Fw 190C standard as Fw 190 V18/U2 with 1,750 hp (1,300 kW) Daimler-Benz DB 603A engine replaced by 1,750 hp (1,300 kW) Jumo 213E. Aircraft, prototype for Ta 152H-1, crashes this date on test flight out of Langenhagen after just a few days in its new configuration.
First Fisher P-75A-GC Eagle, 44-44549, crashes on flight test out of Eglin Field, Florida, when propellers apparently run out of oil, pilot Maj. Harold Bolster attempts dead-stick landing but crashes short on approach, dies.
Second XP-77 prototype, 43-34916, which was lost during Air Proving Ground tests on 22 October 1944, at Eglin Field, Florida.
Second of only two Bell XP-77-BE lightweight fighters completed out of a contract for six, 43-34916, crashes when pilot attempts an Immelmann turn resulting in an inverted spin during testing at the Air Proving Ground, Eglin Field, Florida. Pilot Barney E. Turner bails out.
WASP pilot Gertrude Tompkins Silver of the 601st Ferrying Squadron, 5th Ferrying Group, Love Field, Dallas, Texas, departs Mines Field, Los Angeles, California, in North American P-51D-15-NA Mustang, 44-15669, at 1600 hrs PWT, headed for the East Coast. She took off into the wind, into an offshore fog bank, and was expected that night at Palm Springs. She never arrived. Due to a paperwork foul-up, a search did not get under way for several days, and while the eventual search of land and sea was massive, it failed to find a trace of Silver or her plane. She is the only missing WASP pilot. She had married Sgt. Henry Silver one month before her disappearance.
Sole Platt-LePage XR-1A helicopter, 42-6581, is damaged in an accident at Wright Field, Ohio, due to the failure of a pinion bearing support in the starboard rotor hub and is shipped back to the manufacturer. It will be declared surplus following the end of World War II.
Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer, BuNo 59544, on pre-delivery test flight by company crew out of Lindbergh Field, San Diego, California, takes off at 1223 hrs., loses port outer wing on climb-out, crashes one quarter mile further on in ravine in undeveloped area of Loma Portal near the Navy Training Center, less than two miles (3 km) from point of lift-off. All crew killed, including pilot Marvin R. Weller, co-pilot Conrad C. Cappe, flight engineers Frank D. Sands and Clifford P. Bengston, radio operator Robert B. Skala, and Consolidated Vultee field operations employee Ray Estes. Wing panel comes down on home at 3121 Kingsley Street in Loma Portal. Cause is found to be 98 missing bolts, wing only attached with four spar bolts. Four employees who either were responsible for installation, or who had been inspectors who signed off on the undone work, are fired two days later. San Diego coroner's jury finds Consolidated Vultee guilty of "gross negligence" by vote of 11–1 on 5 January 1945, Bureau of Aeronautics reduces contract by one at a cost to firm of $155,000. Consolidated Vultee pays out $130,484 to families of six dead crew.
Douglas A-26 Invader, A-26B-10-DT 43-22298 and A-26B-15-DT 43-22336 both of 641st Squadron USAF collided during formation after take-off from Warton Aerodrome Lancashire. All crew were killed. Both aircraft remained on Freckleton Marsh and were partially recovered as part of a UK Channel 4 Time Team Programme in 2005.
The Dakota was piloted by three RAF pilots. In total twenty-three airmen were on board, including twenty members of the Glider Pilot Regiment. Only six airmen survived the incident; sixteen died in the crash, another died within hours from his injuries. In spite of serious wounds, two of the survivors managed to reach the village of Mijanès to get help for the other survivors.
The bodies of eleven men were recovered from the crash site between 10 and 19 December, and buried in Mijanès. The search was suspended due to adverse weather conditions, but in the spring of 1945 a further six bodies were brought down from the crash site after the snow had melted. All of the airmen who died in the crash were later reburied in the Mazargues War Cemetery, Marseilles. Remains of Dakota FL588 have been preserved and today are on display at the Château d'Usson, a ruined medieval Castle noted for its association with the Cathars.
First prototype Heinkel He 162 V1 Spatz (sparrow, Heinkel factory name for design), or "Volksjager" ("Peoples' Fighter"), loses wheel-well doors on first flight at Schwechat, by company test pilot Flugkapitän Gotthard Peter, due to improper bonding. Nonetheless, flight testing is not delayed for a thorough inspection, and on another flight in front of German high brass by Peter on 10 December, V1 starboard wing comes apart in high-speed, low-level pass, killing pilot. The wing appeared to split and "the upper skinning began to roll back like a carpet." Starboard aileron breaks away, taking part of wingtip with it, followed by failure of wing's leading edge. Aircraft corkscrews down and crashes on the perimeter of the airfield. Cause was defective wing bonding. Adhesive used, Dynamit, was substitute for Tego film glue used previously, but factory producing it was destroyed in RAF attack on Wuppertal. Substitute glue problem causing structural failure also affected Focke-Wulf Ta 154 and other late-war German aviation projects depending on bonded wooden components.
The sole Northrop JB-1A Bat, unofficially known as the "Thunderbug" due to the improvised General Electric B-1 turbojets' "peculiar squeal", a jet-propelled flying wing spanning 28 feet 4 inches (8.64 m) to carry 2,000 lb (910 kg). bombs in pods close to the engines, makes its first powered, but unmanned, flight from Santa Rosa Island, Eglin Field, Florida, launching from a pair of rails laid across the sand dunes. It climbs rapidly, stalls, and crashes 400 yards from the launch point.
Noorduyn UC-64A Norseman, 44-70285, c/n 550, disappears over the English Channel with Maj. Glenn Miller, pilot John Morgan and Lt. Col. Norman Baessell on board after departing RAF Twinwood Farm, Clapham, Bedfordshire, England. Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 10770. It is believed that the plane was lost by straying into a forbidden zone in mid-channel which was designated for the jettisoning of surplus ordnance. On that day, a squadron of RAFLancasters had aborted a mission and were salvoing their bombloads in this zone. One crewman, a navigator, claims to have looked down and seen a Norseman flying low over the water. Before he could draw any attention to this, the Norseman was apparently overwhelmed by bomb splashes and disappeared. Other conspiracy theories about the disappearance have also been advanced.
At 1151 hours, FM-2 Wildcat, BuNo. 57039, out of NAS Glenview, Illinois, crashes into Lake Michigan in about 200 feet of water. The pilot was Ensign William E. Forbes. Ensign Forbes was in the process of making his third take-off of his aircraft carrier qualification off the USS Sable. Apparently the engine checked out okay. However, on the take-off roll the engine began to "pop" and then "quit completely." The fighter rolled off the bow of the ship and sank. The accident was determined to be 100 percent material (engine failure). The National Museum of Naval Aviation at NAS Pensacola plans to recover the airframe in December 2012.
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