392nd Bomb Group

Aircraft Accident - 7 December 1943

Although no mission was flown this date, aircraft maintenance still had to be performed and accidents still happened.
Per his statement, 2/Lt Mervyn T. Johns took #42-7524, The Hell Cat, up for a test flight and to slow time #2 engine.

"We flew locally for one hour and as visibility was poor, returned to the field on Q.D.M. Upon sighting the field, I lowered my landing gear, following the usual before-landing procedure, including a check of brake pressure. I came in for a normal landing, starting my final approach at approximately 500 feet. I touched down about a quarter of the way down the runway at 115 M.P.H. About half-way down the landing strip, I applied a slight pressure on the brakes as a test and got no reaction. I then pumped both brakes and applied them again. The left brake took slight effect and swerved the ship. I straightened it out again and again pumped both brakes and applied them with no effect whatsoever. Approximately twenty yards from the end of the runway a slight effect of brakes was felt but not enough to effectively slow the ship down. We ran off the end of the runway, seriously damaging the ship. Workmen at the end of the runway prevented me from attempting a ground loop at that point. No one was injured."

2/Lt Jack W. Swift, 392nd Assistant Flying Control Officer, stated:

1.  On 7 December 1943, aircraft B-24H 42-7524-E of the 576th Sq. was airborne at 1531 for local flying.

a. The pilot was warned to return by 1600 because visibility was liable to decrease.

2.  At 1600 the aircraft was contacted on HF/DF and instructed to return to base immediately. Aircraft acknowledged this message and arrived over field at 1610.

a. The weather had deteriorated rapidly and visibility was 1000 yards.

3.  The pilot attempted to land twice but was hampered by bad visibility.

a. The money flares on the runway were lit at this time to assist pilot in landing.

4.  Major Gilbert, Group Operations Officer, arrived in the Control Tower and gave pilot landing instructions over the radio command set.

5.  Aircraft touched down at 1628, approximately 800 yards down the runway, which left approximately 1200 yards of runway in which to stop.

a. Aircraft failed to stop at end of the runway and ran a distance of approximately 50 yards across a field and then struck a drainage ditch.

b. Crash crew and ambulance were immediately dispatched.

In his Description of Accident, 392nd Assistant Operations Officer Capt James N. McFadden, wrote:

1.  Pilot landed aircraft in normal manner. Upon attempting to use his brakes to stop his roll, he found that they were inoperative. Plane went across a ditch at the end of the runway tearing off the right landing gear with a major overhaul required on the aircraft.

2.  Responsibility for the accident is due to failure of the aircraft structure, in that the brakes did not work sufficiently to stop the airplane after a normal landing had been made.

3.  Brakes should be checked more thoroughly before takeoff."

Aboard The Hell Cat were:
P Johns, M.T. 2nd Lt.
CP Henderson, M.A. 2nd Lt.
N Silvasy, F.A. 2nd Lt.
R Gressler, E.J. T/Sgt.
BT Kenyon, C.L. S/Sgt.
E Indahl, J.M. T/Sgt.
TG Sanchez, I.V. S/Sgt.