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MishapVP-52 MishapMishap

1940's

MishapsMISHAPs: 23 AUG 41 A/C: PBY-5 pby Location: NAS Norfolk, Virginia Area Strike: Yes BUNO: 2375 Cause: Taxi accident during beaching. Damage: Starboard wing-tip float and leading edge outer wing panel crushed and tear in hull bottom between stations 6-7. Dent in starboard side of hill bottom. Crew Ok. Pilot Ens Mark M. Bolin USN, Ens William J. Lahodney (2nd pilot) USNR, AMM1 Frank E. Blachard NAP, AMM1 Charles W. Hill (FO), AMM3 Henry L. Graves (FO), ARM2 Glenn Mundy (FO), AMM3 Francis N. Johnston (FO), AOM3 James F. Ure (FO), and AMM3 Curtis E. Little (FO). Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [18NOV2002]


MishapsMISHAPs: 09 JAN 42 A/C: PBY-5 pby Location: 600 mi. from Galopagoes Islands Strike: Yes BUNO: 2368 Cause: Force landed at sea due to fuel exhaustion, crew rescued;Crewless plane taken under tow 8 days later and sank in bad weather. Crew ok. Pilot Lt(jg) W. T. Sutherland, ENS W. J. Lahodney, RM1 L. L. Weiss (NAP), RM2 J. P. Carlson, SEA1 H. C. Martin, AMM2 J. W. Miller, and RM3 W. B. Valyou Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [21DEC99]


MishapsMISHAPs: 14 DEC 42 A/C: PBY-5 pby Location: Casco Bay, Maine Strike: No BUNO: 2379 Cause: Pilot was making approach close and parallel to rocky shore. before turning into the wind, he ordered a man out onto the starboard wing, but due to freezing temperatures and ice on the wing, two attempts failed, but this was not reported to the pilot. Consequently the port wing tip float hit rocks, swinging plane around so that it hit ramp, a 3-ft slit being made in the navigators compartment, plane took on water rapidly. Plane floated free and throttle was applied to head out from ramp and nearby dock. Difficulty was experienced in turning plane around due to heavy nose, bow struck rocks and was stove in. Plane swung around and further damage resulted. Major damage. Entire bow from turret forward, damaged beyond repair. Keel from bow station #4 bent. Bottom skin on port side torn and buckled. port wing tip float damaged, panel beyond repair, struts also bent. Trailing edge of port wing panel buckled. Crew Ok. Pilot Lt(jg) Rance A. Thompson, AV-N USNR, Lt(jg) John R. Crongey, AV-N USNR, Lt(jg) Thomas P. Anderson, AV-N USNR, AMM2c L. P. Test, USN, ARM2c W. H. Clement, USN, ARM2c R. B. Ehrhart, USN, ARM3c J. S. Boyce, USNR, and PHOM3c P. A. Hughes, USN. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [04DEC2002]


MishapsMISHAPs: 10 JAN 43 A/C: PBY-5 pby Location: Near Gibbs Hill Light, Bermuda Strike: Yes BUNO: 2367 Cause: Dove-in during gunnery from 400' Crew Killed: Pilot Lt. Ralph Robert Stevenson...Ens. J. H. Gibson...Arm2c F. J. Bendars...Amm2c L. H. Schmit...Amm3c D. G. Straub...Amm3c J. J. Sweeny...Amm3c H. W. Scott...Arm3c A. Thayer, Jr. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [21DEC99]

UPDATE "...My cousin who served in VP-52 NOB Bermuda (PBY's) in 1943. He was killed in a crash near Grace Island. Following is an article I wrote regarding the plane crash and death of my cousin, LaVerne Schmit..." Contributed by SCHMIT, Ken kgsmes@verizon.net [01AUG2002]

In 1943, LaVerne was an Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class (AMM2/C) in the U. S. Navy, a member of Patrol Squadron 52 (VP 52) stationed at the Naval Operation Base, King's Point, Bermuda. This unit was an anti-submarine patrol squadron flying twin engine PBY-5 Catalina seaplanes. During an early morning gunnery exercise on January 10, 1943, while attempting a pass over the target area on the water of Great Sound, the plane unexpectedly dove into the water at a high rate of speed near Grace Island, causing the plane to crash. There were no survivors. LaVerne was temporarily buried in a military cemetery at the Army Base (later Kindley AFB & still later NAS-Bermuda) near St. George, Bermuda. On November 27, 1947, his remains were sent home to Bellwood, Nebraska for reburial at the Presentation Catholic Cemetery in the Platte Valley.

By a strange coincidence, 11 years later his cousin, Ken Schmit (AT3), author of this article, also originally from Bellwood, Nebraska, was assigned to a P5M Martin Marlin seaplane squadron (VP49) at the same Naval Operating Base, Bermuda in January 1954 for a 21 month tour of duty. While stationed there and on numerous subsequent trips back to the island, Ken made repeated attempts to discover information relating to the accident, but found none in the local Bermuda newspapers or in files at the Navy Base. He was told by a local historian that censorship was so tight during WWII that even such a significant event as a military plane crash in the immediate area would go unreported to the local populace. Relevant information was ultimately found at an internet website on 2 Dec 2000.

UPDATE "...Mishap Report Weather: Excellent Adm Report: Plane crashed while on routine free gunnery flight. Only one witness saw the complete maneuver leading up to the crash. He states that the aircraft was in level flight about one thousand feet, when it suddenly nosed down in a steep dive and crashed into the water with no apparent effort to recover. Three other witnesses first saw the airplane after it was in a dive at an estimated altitude of 400'. They agreed that the aircraft was in a 60deg dive with the left wing down approximately. 45deg until the crash. There was no anti-aircraft fire or free machine gun firing conducted at Bermuda on the forenoon of the crash...." Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [16JAN2001]


MishapsMISHAPs: 22 NOV 43 A/C: PBY-5 pby Location: Unknown Strike: No BUNO: O8428 Cause: HIT BY AA Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [17MAR98]

UPDATE "...Combat mission, last seen burning at 03-55S 152-31E/missing..." Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [22DEC2000]

UPDATE "...VP-52 PBY-5 lost November 22, 1943…are there any photos of her crew? I am looking for a photograph of a Cat crew which was lost on November 22, 1943. Perhaps someone reading this posting can help! This PBY, Bu. No. 8428, was commanded by Lieutenant John M. Arbuckle, who would be the crew's only survivor. The story of what befell this Catalina's crew can be found in Richard Knott's “Black Cat Raiders of WW II” (VP Books), and is presented below: “On November 20 [1943], VPB-52 arrived at Namoia Bay to begin night operations against the Japanese. Action came quickly. On the night of the 22nd, Bill Lahodney and his crew located a destroyer escort off New Ireland and attacked it in a dive-bombing run. All four bombs missed the ship. A short time later, however, they picked up a barge in the St. George's Channel between Duke of York Island and New Ireland. Diving on the hapless victim, the Cats sent tracers from their quad fifties slamming into the enemy craft, leaving it broken and burning. At least they would not go home empty-handed. Perhaps next time out, they would do better. The squadron Executive Officer, Lieutenant J. M. “Buck” Arbuckle, had an even more stimulating adventure that night. At about 2300 he found a small coastal vessel and decided to attack with strafing runs. There was no return gunfire and the enemy ship seemed an easy victim. Suddenly from nowhere they were taken under fire, perhaps from an unseen escort. One of the rounds hit the parachute flares piled in the after station and within seconds the fuselage all the way forward to the navigator's table was a flaming inferno. Arbuckle knew that there were fragmentation bombs back there which could tear the aircraft apart. With the entire crew crowded forward to escape the searing heat, Arbuckle set the Cat down in the water as quickly as he could. The life rafts had already been consumed by the fire and all hands simply jumped into the water. The bombs were still slung under the wings and Arbuckle was afraid they would detonate when the fire reached them. He ordered everyone to swim quickly away from the burning Cat but to keep together. When they had reached what seemed to be a safe distance away from the Cat in her funeral pyre, Arbuckle began to concern himself with the enemy ship or ships they had engaged. At this point all eleven crewmen had managed to stay together. All were uninjured, all had life vests and were in no danger of drowning. And they were only 12 to 15 miles from New Ireland. The danger was that the Japanese would find them in the water and take them prisoner. But the Japanese never came. Arbuckle speculated that they were chased away by the activities of Bill Lahodney, who was also operating in that general area. The little group struck out for New Ireland. It was slow going, and by morning they were still a considerable distance from shore. With daylight came a new threat. A school of large fish with high dorsal fins were swimming about, in ever-closing patterns. As they moved in and began brushing against the men in the water, it was observed with relief that the antagonists were only porpoises. At this point, several members of the crew wanted to stop, float, and rest for an indefinite period. Others insisted on going on. They decided at this point to split up. Arbuckle, his copilot, and one other crewman made the beach at about 1100 that morning. Then as their strength began to return, they staggered into the cover of the jungle. Arbuckle decided that their best course of action was to try to make contact with the Australian coast-watchers, who operated in the hills and kept a few steps ahead of the Japanese patrols. They struck off through the undergrowth, avoiding paths which might be used by the Japanese. That night they slept in the jungle, nursing their sores and sharing their blood with mosquitoes. In the morning they tried eating some unrecognizable fruit but found it bitter and unpalatable. They had now had enough of working their way through the jungle and elected to try a little-used path. They soon came upon an elderly native and found they could converse with him in Pidgin English. Yes, he knew the Australians. Yes, he knew where they could be found. They were to follow him and he would lead them to safety. They followed along behind the old man for 15 to 20 minutes. It was a stroke of luck that they had found him. Perhaps they would make it yet. As they rounded a bend in the trail, a dozen or more Japanese soldiers with rifles surrounded them. It was all over. The group was taken to Kavieng and later to Rabaul where they were reunited with other crew members who had also made it to shore and been captured. At this point eight out of the original crew of eleven had survived. Later, seven members of the Cat crew were put aboard ship to be taken to another prisoner-of-war camp. They were never heard from again. Arbuckle, Pappy Boyington (who had been shot down in action off Rabaul on January 3, 1944) and other prisoners who had been gathered together at Rabaul from various sources were taken in a Betty aircraft to the Japanese base at Truk and later transported to Japan, where they sat out the rest of the war. Of the VPB-52 Cat crew that went out that night in November, only Arbuckle survived to tell the story.” Besides Lieutenant John M. Arbuckle (from State College, Pa.), this Catalina's crew consisted of: Lieutenant Raymond B. Thompson, from Seattle, Wa.; Ensign John F. Ryder, from Keene, N.H.; Ensign Phillip K. Phillis, from Pointsville, Ky.; ARM 2/c George E. Furman, from Florence, S.C.; ARM 1/c William S. Hamilton, Jr., from Conneautville, Pa.; AOM 1/c James J. Kirk, from Philadelphia, Pa.; AMM 2/c Arthur R. Bradbury, Jr, home town unknown; AMM 2/c Paul M. Mannon, from Oakland Ca.; AMM 2/c Carl L. Morgan, from Annapolis, Md.;…and, AMM 1/c Richard Blanchard, from East Providence, R.I. By consulting “Combat Connected Naval Casualties, World War II” and the “Arbuckle Report”…a postwar report written by Lieutenant Arbuckle about his crew…this author was able to determine the identities the crewmen who were taken prisoner. (This information is definite.) Besides Arbuckle, the seven survivors were: Thompson, Hamilton, Kirk, Mannon, Ryder, Phillis, and Morgan. Evidently, the three men last seen in the St. George's Channel were: Blanchard, Bradbury, and Furman. As written by Richard Knott, Lieutenant Arbuckle was transported to mainland Japan with several other POWs, via a “stop-off” at Truk. This occurred on Feb. 17, 1944. Besides Major Boyington of VMF-214, Lieutenant Arbuckle's (accidental) POW travelling companions were Major Donald W. Boyle (VMF-212, shot down Jan. 23, 1944), F/O Allen M. Brown (RAAF No. 8 Squadron,, shot down Oct. 21, 1943), F/Lt. Brian P. Stacey (RAAF), and Capt. Charles K. Taylor, Jr. (8th PRS, 6th PRG, 5th AF, shot down Oct. 23, 1943). All these men survived the war as POWs. Based on what befell other Allied aviator POWs held captive at Rabaul by the Japanese 81st Naval Guard Unit, in all probability the seven survivors were not transported away from there, by ship. Most likely they remained on New Britain, as prisoners. In all likelihood, they were “executed” by that unit some time in 1944 or 1945. As was mentioned in the excerpt from “Black Cat Raiders”, and as can be seen in “CCNC-WW II”, none survived the war. Well, does anyone “out there” remember this Cat crew? Does any photograph of this crew exist? References for this posting are: “Black Cat Raiders of WW II”, by Richard C. Knott, Zebra Books, New York, N.Y., 1981, pp. 177-180; the “Arbuckle Report”, a postwar letter from Lieutenant Commander John M. Arbuckle to Commander Walter W. Finke, Director of the Dependents Welfare Division, USN, concerning the fate of Arbuckle's crew (found in RAAF Casualty File A 705/15 (Item 166/42/42), for Flight Officer Geoffrey H. Vincent of No. 8 Squadron RAAF, obtained from the Australian Archives); “The Siege of Rabaul”, by Henry Sakaida, Phalanx Publishing Company, St. Paul, Mn., 1996, p. 21. The crew roster, the PBY's Bureau Number, and the date of the crew's loss were provided by Ted Darcy, of the WFI Research Group, Inc. (At P.O. Box 231, Fall River, Mass. 92724-0231 On the Internet at: http://www.cntn.net/wfirg.) A reference to the loss of this cat was also posted at this Web Site on Mar. 17, 1998, by Terry, at ...Michael G. Moskow steelydanman@verizon.net..." [05NOV98]


MishapsMISHAPs: 06 FEB 44 A/C: PBY-5A pby Location: Port Morseby, New Guinea Strike: Yes BUNO: Unknown Cause: Not in flight. Mechanical failure. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [04AUG2001]


MishapsMISHAPs: 30 APR 44 A/C: PBY-5 pby Location: Unknown Strike: No BUNO: O8431 Cause: Won Gardenia Flight in plane #08431 when it intercepted a distress call from a PB4Y-1 Photo plane. The PB4Y-1 of VD-1, Sqd-7 was intercepted and see to make a crash landing at 03-28N 143-05E The PBY landing approach was in cross swells with wind about twenty-five degrees off starboard bow at eight knots. A full stall landing was made. At the instant the tail hit there was a backwash directly in front of the plane leaving a hole which the nose fell in. The bow was enveloped and the plane went over on its back. The bow of the plane including the pilot's compartment had carried away. The plane sank in about twenty minutes and no equipment was salvaged. "Total Loss" Crew: Pilot Lt(jg) Victor H. Weaver USN/Seriously inj, Lt(jg) George E. Hill USNR/Missing, Ens Thomas G. Schwaim USNR/Minor inj, Amm1c Clifford M. Satterfield USN/Missing, Rm1c Walter E. Epple USNR/Seriously inj, Rm2c George L. Boston,Jr. USNR/Missing, Amm1c Franklin E. Stewart,Jr. USNR/Ok, Amm2c Bernard Keenan USN/Ok, and Lt Robert E. Stutsman USMC/Seriously inj. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [Updated 23MAR2002 | Updated 22DEC2000 | Updated 08AUG2001 | 17MAR98]


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