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  F4U-1A Corsair Bureau Number 50166  
"Hell’s Angels"

Pilot  1st Lt. Richard S. Marsh, USMCR (survived)
Ditched  January 23, 1944 at 9:30am

Aircraft History
Built by Vought. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4U-1A Corsair bureau number 50166. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the United States Marine Corps (USMC), Marine Air Wing 2 (MAW-2), Marine Air Group 12 (MAG-12), Marine Fighting Squadron 321 "Hell’s Angels" VMF-321. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On January 23, 1944 at 7:05am took off from Piva South Airfield (Piva Yoke) on Bougainville piloted by 1st Lt. Richard S. Marsh as one of four Corsairs from VMF-321 led by Captain Nange on a mission to escort SBD Dauntless over Rabaul. Also escorting were twelve P-38 Lightnings, twelve other Corsairs and eight F6F Hellcats. The weather was hazy with a few thunderheads at 7,000 - 8,000' with some at 25,000'.

The formation rendezvoused with SBD Dauntless over Taiof Island at 8:05am at 6,000' then climbed to 12,000' and crossed over New Ireland. This Corsair experienced mechanical trouble and was forced to abort the mission and turned back towards base before the engine began to sputter forcing Marsh to ditch into the sea ° roughly 20-30 miles off the tip of Cape Saint George on the southeast tip of New Ireland.

Spotted in the sea, Captain Nange dropped his dye marker and circled with his emergency IFF on as of 9:40am, until he was forced to return to base and landed at Torokina Airfield to report this plane as missing to fighter command.

Later that same day, PBY Catalina piloted by Lieutenant B. Smith from VP-14 rescued Smith in his life raft at Lat 05° 20' South, Long 154° 25' East. Aboard was his squadron mate, 1st Lt. Eugene Victor Smith pilot FG Corsair 14212 that ditch January 22, 1944 that was rescued prior to Marsh.

Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4U-1A Corsair 50166
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List January 1944 - F4U-1A Corsair 50166
NARA "Marine Fighter Squadron 321 (VMF-321) War Diary January 1944" pages 2, 31-32
(Page 2) "Roster of Flight Echelon - Marsh, Richard T. S. 1st Lt. USMCR"
(Page 31-32) 23 January 1944
NARA "VMF-321 Aircraft Action Report - January 23, 1944 (morning sortie)" pages 96-99
(Page 97) "1st Lt. R. S. Marsh, cause: water landing, condition or status: picked up by Dumbo"
NARA "USS Coose Bay (AVP-25) War Diary January 1944" page 2
(Page 2) "23 January 1944. PBY5, Patrol Plane Commander Lieutenant B. Smith, USNR from Patrol Squadron 14, effected rescue of First Lieutenant Eugene Victor Smith USMCR VMF-321, from a life raft at 05° 20' South, 154° 25' East, after his plane had been forced down 22 January 1944 because of engine trouble. Same plane effected rescued of First Lieutenant Richard Marsh from a life raft at 04° 33' South, 153° 15' East, after his plane forced down earlier in the day."

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Last Updated
July 9, 2019


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