A20B crash in 1943

Discussion in 'Technical' started by Mr Mike, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. Mr Mike

    Mr Mike New Member

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    This is my first post. I am not an aircraft enthusiast but I became curious about the death of my uncle who was killed in night navigation training mission in an A-20 B, on May 31, 1943 at Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma. I researched accidents on that date and was able to secure a copy of the official accident report of the crash of his aircraft. My uncle was a SSG who has recently completed his training. The other crew member was a Sgt. The pilot had been certified only two months earlier Here's the details from the report. The plane took off on a night training navigational mission with the pilot and two gunners at 2330. The pilot had no instrument rating and had flow at night 27.7 hours and on instruments 4.9 hours in the last 30 days.

    The plane took off and shortly after takeoff, the pilot contacted the tower requesting an emergency landing because he had lost his port engine. The landing field was cleared and the pilot was given permission to land. The next transmission the pilot radioed that he had lost his other engine. The aircraft went into a spin and crashed on the return leg about two miles from the field. The plane was completely destroyed and none of the crew survived. Because of the extensive damage, a cause of engine failure could not be determined.

    Here's what puzzles me: (1) It seems highly unlikely that an aircraft would lose both engines within a few minutes of each other on a training mission and lightly loaded.(2) Why would a non instrument rated pilot be on a night navigation mission without a co-pilot or navigator. (3) My uncle and the other crew member were listed as gunners. (4)What would have been their roles on this flight? The recommendations section of the report suggests that training flights have the appropriate experience on the ship and that flying a combat airplane is a lot different than a training plane and pilots must be trained and confident before the are allowed to take off.

    I have no knowledge of training requirements for pilots in those days in the Army Air Corps or aircraft in general but I do know from my days in the army as a paratrooper that the training was thorough and I knew exactly what to do in any emergency and the use of checks and double checks.
    I woud appreciate any comments from those of you that are more knowledgeable of these aircraft and flying than myself.

    Thanks, Mr Mike

    I posted this ina blog but got no response, so I guess it was the wrong place...I'll try to delete. thanks!
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #2 FLYBOYJ, Feb 4, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
    Mike, just a few quick comments.

    The A-20 carried only one pilot so that would answer your co-pilot question. Loosing 2 engines although unlikely could happen (fuel contamination). During WW2 IFR flying was treated a lot different than it is today and even in todays world you don't have to be instrument rated to fly at night, unless you're a commercial pilot (a whole other subject). Even multi-engine flying wasn't taken too serious during that time until hordes of pilots started dying during training.

    My guess is they were listed as gunners because they were all NCOs an whoever wrote the report just assumed they were gunners (just my guess)

    Hope this helps
     
  3. daveT

    daveT Member

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    (1) It seems highly unlikely that an aircraft would lose both engines within a few minutes of each other on a training mission and lightly loaded.
    Happened all the time. causes could be contaminated fuel, wrong fuel transfer, poor maintenance, pilot error. The A-20 was a hand-full to fly anything could go wrong quickly.


    (2) Why would a non instrument rated pilot be on a night navigation mission without a co-pilot or navigator. Only 1 pilot in the A-20, He would need to gain experience and flight hours somehow. mission sounds like a typical training mission, What was the time of the accident? You said a night mission, but maybe it was more like twilight. The pilot did have some instrument time, he needed more.


    (3) My uncle and the other crew member were listed as gunners. I believe all non pilots on an A-20 were gunners. This was a way to cover up the fact they most likely were just on a joy ride. Sounds like the two passengers jumped at the chance to fly. Happened all the time. Many ground maint. men wanted to go up for a flight.


    (4)What would have been their roles on this flight? Observers, no formal role unless they were trained gunners and they were on a gunnery mission.
     
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