|Pilot Robert "Bob" Wilson (survived)
Crashed December 15, 1943
Built by Vought. Assigned to the United States Marine Corps (USMC). Fuselage number 884. Assigned to VMF-214 operating from Barakoma Airfield.
On December 4, 1943 this Corsair took off piloted by Lt. Bartl on an afternoon Cherry Blossom Patrol" [CAP over Empress Augusta Bay]. This appears to be the only mission it flew with VMF-214.
When VMF-214 departed for R&R, this aircraft were assigned to VMF-222 "Flying Deuces" that moved up to operate from Barakoma Airfield.
On December 15, 1943 while taxing to take off from Barakoma Airfield on Vella Lavella, the left brake failed, but pilot Wilson pumped up the break mechanically and decided to continued the flight. and sucessfully took off on a "Cherry Blossom Patrol" [CAP over Empress Augusta Bay] for 1.8 hours.
Afterwards, he landed at Torokina Airfield on Bougainville Island which was surfaced with marston matting (PSP) the Corsair's left brake failed, causing it to turn to the right and went off the runway into volcanic ash, and nosed over. Instinctively, pilot Wilson pulled back on the stick and inadvertently triggered the machine guns, causing them to fire into the ground. The Corsair landed upside down in a drainage ditch in 2-3' of rain water. Inside the cockpit, Wilson was submerged underwater and tried to hold his breath before loosing consciousness.
American personnel at the airfield raced to the aircraft and attempted to lift it by the tail to free the pilot. Someone managed to open the canopy and free Wilson, who survived unhurt aside from sinus filled with water and ash.
Damaged, this aircraft was flipped right-side up and later dragged to the bone yard area at Torokina Airfield. During January 1944, the wreckage was near to P-39 "Sweet Talk" 351 and another F4U Corsair. While abandoned, this Corsair was photographed. Later, the cowls were removed. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
USMC Aviators page 71-73, 78-79 (artwork, photos), 84 (log book December 1943)
Robert Wilson log book - December 15, 1943 "cherry blossom patrol, pancake torokina, ground looped into canal [drainage ditch]"
Bruce Gamble for December 4, 1943 mission details
Thanks to USMC Aviators / Greg Pons for December 15, 1943 information
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February 4, 2018