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WB-29 #44-61640

 
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TRANSCRIPT OF FLT "D", 11 AIR RESCUE SQUADRON MISSION REPORT
ON THE LOSS OF 54TH STRAT RECON SQUADRON'S 44-61640 ON
26 FEBRUARY 1952

FLIGHT "D", 11TH AIR RESCUE SQUADRON
AIR RESCUE SERVICE MATS APO 334
(RCS: ARS-F2)

a. Mission Number: 11-D-14-26 February 1952.

b. Type of Mission: Escoort, Search and Rescue

c. Objective or Flight Plan: AF1640/WB-29/Krueger/Anderson/IFR 18500/Andersen/210/Standard Icao/0730K/14 - 15/18 - 00/3-2/1st Lt.

d. Date of Suspension: 2 March 1952.

e. Source and Time of Initial Alert: Guam Control by telephone
to Flight "D Operations Officer 26 february 1952; 1131K

f. Time and date of Initial Action by Air rescue Service:  SB-29 AF6303 was airborne at 1144K, 26 February 1952

g. Brief Resume of Action Taken: At 1131K Guam Control advised that AF1640, WB-29, pilot Krueger, had lost propeller control on number one engine due to an oil leak and was unable to feather that engine. The WB-29 departed Andersen, Fox track, destination Andersen, departure time 0730K, 18 hours fuel, ground speed 210, position at 1130K 23.5N, 135.4E, altitude 18,500 escort was not requested (this position approximately 800 nautical miles from Guam). The Aircraft Commander was aborting his mission and returning to Guam. The SB-29 was airborne at 1144K and proceeded out on a heading of 315 degrees climbing to 11,000 feet. Additional information was relayed to the rescue aircraft that the WB-29 was descending to 10,000.

Initial HF contact between aircraft was made at 1225K and the distressed aircraft was advised to place into operation their emergency IFF, VHF to 137.88 and to tune their radio compass to 536 kcs to effect intercept. Position report at this time resulted in a recalculated ground speed of approximately 155 which appeared abnormally slow. At 1300K all communications failed with the WB-29 and the Rescue Aircraft continued on its initial heading until 1342K, fourteen minutes past original estimated time of intercept, and turned around to parallel the inbound track of 141 degrees. At 1403K VHF contact was again established and it was determined by the utilization of the ARA/8 that the distressed aircraft was still behind the rescue aircraft. The SB-29 turned 180 degrees and intercept was made head on with the distressed aircraft at 1417K at an altitude of 9,000 feet. The SB-29 flew formation escort for a period of one hour and thirty-eight minutes.

Information received for Lieutenant Krueger, Aircraft Commander of the distressed aircraft, shows that shortly after aborting his mission, due to an oil leak, he had tried to feather number one engine without success. Later the propeller obtained an excessively high RPM of 3800 and he subsequently shut it down, but the propeller continued to windmill at 2430 RPM. He reported no vibration but expressed concern about landing at Andersen due to the excessive drag and low airspeed. He eventually could maintain 9,500 feet but could only indicate 155 MPH. At 1551K the copilot notified the escorting aircraft that there was a red ring just behind the propeller of number one engine and that bits of metal were flaking off and sparks were coming out of the nacelle. At 1555K position 15.33NN 142.48E number one engine was seen to burst into flames, explode and fall off the aircraft. The aircraft went into a gradual left turn with the bank becoming steeper until it entered the top of the cloud deck in a tight spiral. An undetermined number of parachutes were sighted.

The Rescue Aircraft dove after the plunging WB-29 and after breaking out under the overcast discovered a large oil slick and saw two parachutes collapsing on the sea. A preliminary search was made of the area and a target of two men in Mae Wests was used for the A-3 lifeboat. Release was made at 1607K and the boat hit sufficiently close to one survivor that he crawled over the collapsed boat parachute to safety (estimate this survivor was in the water eleven minutes). Little debris was noted in the area and the SB-29 kept a vigilance over the area until dark.

At 1603K a second SB-29 was airborne for the scene of the disaster and identified part of the debris as survivors. Due to mechanical difficulties the second SB-29 had to feather number two engine and in an effort to effect additional dropped the second A-3 lifeboat and returned to Guam. At 1655K, SC-47 and due to the slower airspeed made a thorough low altitude search in the area. The SC-47 crew identified three survivors in the original A-3 lifeboat and one man in a one man dingy approximately a mile distant. Two life rafts were dropped to this fourth man by the SC-47 crew.

At 1746K the third SB-29 was airborne to relieve the escort aircraft and to remain for an all night vigilance. At 0142K 27 February the third SB-29 sighted a red flare and dropped an additional A-3 lifeboat. The third SB-29 reported they were unable to pick up survivors on radar and that when their flare supply was exhausted they would be unable to keep survivors in sight.

A B-29 from the 54th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron was launched to relieve the third SB-29 and with flares remained in the disaster area until daylight and vectored the surface vessel USS "TOMBIGEE" (Barge 11) to the A-3 lifeboat. At 0600K Barge 11 recovered the first A-3 lifeboat with three survivors aboard and reported all uninjured.

At approximately 0115K the following message was received from COMARIANAS "TO CO 19TH BOMB WING I AM CONTROL OF THE SAR INCIDENT IN PROGRESS COORDINATE RESCUE WITH MY RESCUE COORDINATION CENTER". The CO 19th Bomb Wing sent the following answer: "REURAD DTG 26/1329Z FEB 25 STATING COMAR IN CONTROL SAR INCIDENT IN PROGRESS AND DIRG THIS HQ TO COORDINATE EFFORTS WITH COMAR RES COORDINATION CENTER, THIS HQ IN REC OF NO DIRS CONTRARY TO PRES FEAF INSTRS MAINTG CONTROL OF SAR INCIDENT UNTIL FURTHER ADVISED BY 19TH BM WG HIGHER HQ. COMPLETE COORDINATION WITH AND ASST FR YOUR RES COORDINATION CENTER HAS BEEN IN PROGRESS SINCE START OF INCIDENT."

At 0530K 27 February seven crews assembled in the rescue control center briefing room for instructions on the days mission. The crews and aircraft were furnished by the 54th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Andersen Base Flight, the Tactical Organization attached to this base, and two Rescue aircraft. One additional aircraft, a PBM from NAS Agana participated in the search, but was briefed by RCC Guam (Navy).

The area searched was from 15oN to 16o50N between 141o00E to 143o00E; and from 15o00N to 16o10N between 143o00E to 143o30E. A total of 76 hours were flown by these aircraft and 100 percent coverage of the area was effected. Throughout the day numerous objects and debris, apparently from the disaster, were located and picked up by Barge 11, and at 1438K the barge picked up the fourth survivor in a one man dinghy; position 15029N 142042E.

An additional Rescue aircraft was airborne and orbited the area providing night coverage. At dawn 28 February seven aircraft were dispatched to the area and searched from 14045N to 16015N between 141035E and 143005E. The area of probability was determined by wind and drift vectors obtained by Weather Central. Two additional surface vessels joined in the search.

After repeated attempts to obtain information from the four survivors as to the probability of additional crew members successfully abandoning the aircraft, the following message was received at 1715K; "SURVIVORS INTERVIEWED. FIRST THREE MEN BAILED OUT OF TAIL SECTION SECOND TWO MEN BAILED OUT OF MIDSHIP SECTION RUPTURED BY THROWN PROPELLER FIRST MAN TO LEAVE PLANE STATES SUBSEQUENTLY OBSERVED ONLY THREE PARACHUTES. THIRD TO LEAVE PLANE DEFINITELY SAW SECOND LEAVE BUT IS DOUBTFUL THAT HE CLEARED SPINNING TAIL ASSY. SECOND AMN PROBABLY EQUIPPED WITH LIFE JACKET PARACHUTE AND ONE MAN LIFE RAFT. THIRD MAN STATES DOUBTFUL FOURTH MAN IN TAIL SECTION GOT CLEAR. ALL SURVIVORS AGREE EXTREMELY IMPROBABLE FOUR MEN IN FORWARD SECTION GOT CLEAR".

The aircraft returning that day had negative reports, but again an SB-29 flew night surveillance in the area. At 0430K 29 February six crews were assembled in the Flight "D" operations briefing room for instructions on the days mission. These crews again consisted of personnel of the 54th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, the Tactical Organization assigned this base and crew members of Flight "D". The area searched was from 14040N and 16000N between 142010E and 143010E. All crews briefed were airborne by 0645K.

At 0810K one SA-16 from Flight "B", 2nd ARS, which had landed at Andersen Air Force Base for refueling and had been held for possible rescue assistance, was dispatched to attempt to effect transfer of the four survivors from Barge 11 for interrogation by Mission Commander at Andersen Air Force Base. At the time of takeoff Barge 11 reported :Conditions optimum for transfer of survivors." Shortly before the SA-16 arrived at the scene of the disaster Barge 11 reported that seaplane landing was "not advisable" because of sea conditions. The plane commander concurred and the SA-16 returned to Andersen Air Force Base and landed at 1306K.

At 1615K the following was received from Barge 11; "EVALUATION PROBABILITY OF PROBABLE SURVIVORS BASED ON INTERVIEW OF SURVIVORS, SITUATION AT SCENE, EXTENT OF SERCH AND LOGIE (sic): FOUR MEN FORWARD WHEN PLANE EXPLODED AND CRASHED X SURVIVAL CONSIDERED IMPOSSIBLE X SECOND MAN TO LEAVE PLANE PARACHUTE NOT NOTED IN AIR BY FIRST MAN TO LEAVE PLANE X DID NOTE THREE OTHER PARACHUTES X TAIL ASSEMBLY SCRUTINIZED IN PASSING BY BY ONE X ONE SURVIVOR FROM FORWARD X NO BODY OR PARACHUTE ATTACHED X CONCLUSION X SECOND MAN POSSIBLY STUNNED BY SPINNING TAIL ASSEMBLY X SURVIVAL CONSIDERED IMPROBABLE ORIGINALLY X NOW CONSIDERED IMPOSSIBLE IN VIEW TIME ELEMENT X FOURTH MAN IN TAIL SECTION X PARACHUTE POPPED PREMATURELY WHILE IN PLANE X INFORMED THIRD MAN HE WOULD ATTEMPT TO OBTAIN SPARE PARACHUTE AND DIRECTED THIRD MAN TO JUMP X IMMEDIATELY THERE AFTER PLANE EXPLODED AND CRASHED X CONSIDER SURVIVAL IMPOSSIBLE X ALL SURVIVORS CONCUR IN FORE GOING EVALUATION X SIGNED ON SCENE COMMANDER."

At 2010K Barge 11 spotted a small oil slick position 15055N and 143003E with a flat brownish white object three feet by six feet in size. Object was discovered to be gelatinous in nature and a portion was recovered for analyzation. No other sightings or occurances (sic) of consequence took place this day. At 0700K 2 March one SB-29 crew and one SC-47 crew, both of Flight "D", were briefed as the searching aircraft for the day. Area to be searched was from 14045N to 15045N between 139040E and 140040E from 15000N to 15050N between 140040E and 141035E from 14010N to 15050N between 141035E to 142015E. SC-47 landed at 1547K, SB-29 landed at 1958K and both reported no sightings of any kind after 100 percent coverage of their assigned areas. At 1900K this day the rescue incident involving WB-29 AF1640 was suspended after exhaustion of all leads and thorough search of all areas of probability with continued negative results. All facilities were dealerted at this time.

h. Location of Crash: 15033'N 142048'E

i. Mission Results:

(1) Names of Survivors:

Judge, Michael AO 866 660 Captain
Erickson, Edward N. AO 2 221 699 2nd Lt
Johnson, Kenneth D. AF 14 325 859 Sgt
Deese, James L. AF 19 360 767 Pfc

(2) Names of Missing:

Krueger, Walter AO 2 066 242 1st Lt
Gendusa, Vincent P. AO 944 068 2nd Lt
Shaw, Robert J. AO 2 221 699 2nd Lt
Leach, Frank P. AF 36 112 171 M/Sgt
Toland, Francis AF 13 378 416 Cpl
Parker, Donald E. AF 14 333 737 Sgt

(3) Names of Deceased: Unknown

j. Method of Rescue: Boat drop and Surface vessel

k. Resume of Rescue: At 06ooK Barge 11 reported recovery of airborne lifeboat A-3-522 with three (3) survivors on board, position 15023N 142036E. At 1438K information was received that the fourth survivor had been picked up in a one man dinghy by Barge 11 at position 15029N 142042E. All survivors are reported to be in good physical and mental health. Barge continued search, with the four survivors aboard, until dusk, 2 March 52 at which time the mission was suspended and the Barge returned to Guam. Barge 11 dock at Apra Harbor at approximately 0815K 3 March 52.

l. Cost Analysis:

(1) Sorties and hours flown:

(a) Flight "D" 11 ARS SB-29 10 Sorties 97 hours. SC-47 6 Sorties 46 hours
(b) Assisting ARS Flight "B" 2 ARS SA-16 1 Sortie
5 hours
(c) Other Agencies 18 Sorties 197 hours

(2) Vehicle mileage: Jeep 200 miles Weapons carrier 300 miles, cletrac 20 miles

(3) Officer Man Hours: 1027

(4) Airman Man Hours: 6327

(5) TDY funds expended: None

(6) AF Forms 1034 and 15: None

(7) Telephone expenditures: None

(8) Gasoline Credit card expenditures: None

 
 
 
 

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