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  TBM-1C Avenger Bureau Number 73438  
USN
USS Hancock CV-19
VT-7

Pilot  Lt(jg) Richard C. Scobell (MIA / KIA, BR)
Gunner
 AOM1c John F. Gelnaw, Jr. (MIA / KIA, BR)
Radio  ARM3c William P Walton
(MIA / KIA, BR)
Crashed  January 16, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by General Motors, Eastern Aircraft Division. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN). Assigned to the USS Hancock (CV-19) to Torpedo Bombing Squadron Seven (VT-7). No known nickname or nose art. Squadron Number 124.

Mission History
On January 16, 1945 took off from USS Hancock (CV-19) piloted by Lt(jg) Richard Lee Hunt, Jr. armed with a single 2,000 pound bomb on a strike mission to bomb enemy vessels anchored in Victoria Harbor (Kowloon Docks) off Hong Kong.

Flying to the target at 13,000', this Avenger was leading the second section as the formation began their attack over Mount Parker and experienced heavy anti-aircraft fire. Trying to evade the fire, the Avenger collided with TBM Avenger 73438 piloted by Lt(jg) Richard C. Scobell.

Damaged, this Avenger crash into the hillside of Mount Parker in Tai Tam.

Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the remains of the crew were recovered and transported to the United States for permanent burial.

Wreckage
The crash site was discovered in Tai Tam Country Park by Craig Mitchell. He founded "Project Avenger" to further investigate the crash site, including Dr Mick Atha, adjunct professor at Chinese University.

Memorials
The entire crew were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Scobell, Gahran and Barrow plus Gahran and Barrow (crew members of TBM Avenger 73343) were buried on January 7, 1950 in a group burial at Keokuk National Cemetery at plot D, grave 20. Scobell also has a memorial marker at Riverside Cemetery in Rochester, NY.

References
George Gerrard diary, January 16, 1945:
"We saw 8 planes in one formation and 5 in another just behind. They appeared like silver bullets in the sky when suddenly we saw the left hand plane in the first formation swing over to the right and strike his companion. A terrific sheet of flame shot out and the first plane came lurching down, but the pilot bailed out and then the second plane made a big effort to get under control but to no avail, the fellow jumped but was caught in his incline and eventually crashed in the region of Mount Parker, also a wing came slowly to the ground."
Navy Serial Number Search Results - TBM-1C Avenger 73438
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List January 1945 TBM Avenger 73438 (incorrectly lists TBM Avenger 46458)
FindAGrave - Lieut Richard C Scobell (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - LTJG Richard Cassebeer Scobell (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - William P Walton (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - John Franklin Gelnaw (group burial photo)
South China Morning Post "Sifting through the remnants of war / Discovery of US plane wreck sheds light on one of Hong Kong's darkest days" by John Carney May 19, 2013, updated 2015
South China Morning Post "Remains of US airmen killed in 1945 crash 'could still be on Hong Kong hillside'" by Stuart Heaver January 10, 2015

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Info
Avenger

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