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  F6F-3 Hellcat Bureau Number 26088  
USN
USS Bunker Hill (CV-17)
VF-18

Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
Stan Gajda 1983

Click For Enlargement

Peter Flahavin 1995

Pilot  Ensign Alfred F. Smith (MIA / KIA) NJ
Crashed  December 8, 1943


Aircraft History
Built by Grumman as a Model G-50. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F6F-3 Hellcat bureau number 26088.

Wartime History
Assigned to USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) to squadron VF-18. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On December 8, 1943 took off from USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) on a mission against Nauru Island. Over the target, shot down by anti-aircraft fire and crashed vertically between two anti-aircraft positions.

Stan Gajda adds:
"The Japanese managed to shoot down two American planes on Nauru. [This aircraft and TBF Avenger 47589]"

Wreckage
The crash site of this Hellcat remains on Nauru Island.

Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the remains of Smith were recovered and transported to Hawaii for burial.

Memorials
Smith was officially declared dead on December 9, 1943. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. Smith's remains were located after the war and are buried at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) at Plot P Row 0 Grave 802.

References
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F6F-3 Hellcat 26088

US Navy Loss Microfilm lists pilot as 'A. F. Smith'
FindAGrave - Ens Alfred Francis Smith (grave photo)
Thanks to Stan Gajda and Peter Flahavin for additional information.

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Last Updated
August 12, 2018

 

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F6F

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