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MishapsMISHAPs: 10 MAY 44 A/C: PBY-5A pby Location: Overwater navigation flight out of NAS San Diego, California Strike: Yes BUNO: 46538 Cause: Surviving crew members stated that plane used almost all of the 6000-ft runway before it became airborne. After gear retracted and RPM was reduced to 2550 and the manifold pressure to 48-in. The first Radioman sensing something was wrong looked into the pilot's compartment and noticed both pilot's were pulling on the yoke. Pilot told him he was going to land back at the field. At no time did the aircraft ever attain an altitude greater than 500-ft. Pilot lowered his floats and attempted a water landing. The survivor states that when the plane made contact with the water, nose dug in and plane was thrown over on it back. "Completely Demolished" Crew: Pilot Lt. Howard F. Pearson A-V(N) USNR/Killed, Ens Marvin P. Larson A-V(N) USNR/Killed, Amm1c W. J. Gebexe USNR/Killed, Rm3c R. J. Morissette USNR/Killed, Rm1c F. L. Gilmore USNR/Seriously inj, Sea1c E. J. Roberts USNR/Seriously inj, Sea2c R. H. Bland USNR/Minor inj, and Aomt1c F. M. Koenig USNR/Minor inj. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [12AUG2001]

MishapsMISHAPs: 27 JUL 45 A/C: PB2B-2 pby Location: Near Saipan Strike: Yes BUNO: 44244 Cause: Dumbo standby; Pilot made hot (fast) landing, hit large swell and plane sank in 6000'. 17-34N 144-22E

Pilot Lt. R. C. Nicholas/Killed
Ens A. K. Johnson/Killed
Lt F. R. Needle (USMC)/Killed
AMM1C J. L. McDonald/Killed
AMM2C D. D. Koenig/Killed
AMM3C W. D. Johnson/Killed
ARM1C D. L. Cox/killed
AMM2C E. F. Kummer/Seriously Injured
ARM3C H. M. Tanzmar/Seriously Injured
AOM1C H. W. Pitts/Minor Injured



For some unknown reason the plane contacted the surface of a glassy open sea in a nose down attitude at a high rate of speed; The nose buried itself in a swell and the airplane was completely destroyed.

At least two theories can be advanced as to why the plane contacted the water;

(1) That the pilot descended to investigate a raft, debris, or other object, which requires an altitude under 50ft.for accurate and definite inspection and misjudged the altitude either through concentrating on the object being investigated. the possibility of faulty depth perception due to the glassiness of the water and hazy horizon. The failure of the pilot to refer to the radio altimeter or other instruments.

(2) That the pilot was fascinated by the glassy water of the sea attempted a "Tough and Go" landing, burying the nose in a deceiving Pacific swell. the latter is not too remote, but cannot definitely be accepted due to the unusually high dependability of the pilot, his experience in the type of plane, the heavy load of gas (1300lb)and the speed with which the plane contacted the water(over 100kts).


(1) When investigating objects on open water the pilot should concentrate on flying the aircraft and cause the object to pass along the non-pilots flying side.

(2) Approach the surface of the water at all times.

(3) NEVER attempt a "Tough and Go" landing at sea.


The aircraft was definitely not in trouble and the crash resulted from some error on the part of the pilot. Lt. NICHOLAS was a most dependable pilot with a wealth of experience in PBYs. Presumably an air of over-confidence led to errors, what ever it was, that resulted in the fatal accident. PBYEnd of report & findings. My conclusion: That the pilot was attempting a "Touch and Go" due to the high speed which would have been possible if the surface was smooth like a lake and at that time the ocean had that glassy look. The pilot would have just skimmed over the surface without really landing, unfortunately while doing this he hit a large swell.

To view debris, raft over objects, a pilot would slow his plane down as to make a pass over the area so that viewing would be much better that flying fast over it. The crew would be the observers..." Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [08DEC2000]

UPDATE "...Mr. Meeker - I want to thank you for responding to my letter with information regarding VH-2 PB2B-2 BUNO: 44243, open sea crash north of Saipan on July 1945. This information has been very helpful to me...Carol Johnson CAROLSANJOSE@AOL.COM..." [09JAN2001]

UPDATE "...I was assigned to Crew 1 flying in PB2B-2 BUNO: 44244. An earlier entry into your log says that this aircraft was the one lost in an open sea crash on 27 JUL 45. My log book shows that the lost aircraft was BUNO: 44243, and my log further shows that I flew many missions after that date in BUNO: 44244. Our Commanding Officer (and my Aircraft Commander) was LCDR Harold A. Wells, Jr. First pilot was ENS George Kube who REALLY knew how to fly that airplane! "SKI" Makowski was our Plane Captain and Chief Mechanic and R. W. Fisher ACRM was my boss. Our Navigator was ENS George Wilson who was not much older than I! With regard to the lost BUNO: 44243, the scuttlebutt which came back to us was that our squadron Medical Officer (LT Needle) was actually in the port-side seat, performing the touch-and-goes, hit too far back on the step, fell off, lost flying speed, and broke open the nose and starboard wing. But, as I say, that was scuttlebutt and I certainly was not there...ARM2/C Donald Herman Meeker DMeekerope@aol.com..." [24DEC2000]

UPDATE "...Already received a message regarding the circumstances involving my Fathers crash. Thanks Carol J. Johnson CAROLSANJOSE@aol.com..." [11DEC2000]

UPDATE "...My Father, Wilber Dale Johnson, 3rd Mechanic, USNR, served in WW2 and flew in the Air and Sea Rescue Squadron VH-2. He was on a routine mission near Saipan, when his plane hit a wave and sank. To the best of my knowledge, there were only three survivors. Unfortunately, he was not one of the lucky ones. The year was July, 27th, 1945. My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone that has lost a family member or friend that gave his or her life for our country...Wilber Dale Johnson [Deceased] c/o His Daughter Carol J. Johnson CAROLSANJOSE@aol.com..." [08DEC2000]

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