Bermuda Triangle, Flight-19, Missing Navy Aircraft, Missing Navy AirCrews

FLIGHT-19 PICS – A Tale of 2 Planes & 2 Numbers!

AVENGER PHOTOGRAPHS FOUND MISLEADING !!

Dateline – 30 January 2020

It’s a little noticed Flight-19 detail, but according to the U.S. Navy, (Image #1), there were two different models of TBM Avengers flying Navigational Hop-1 that day in 1945.  Four of the planes were shown to be TBM-1C’s , and the fifth, FT-28, was a TBM-3.  As an amateur Flight-19 historian, I had overlooked and made little note of this information until just recently when I noted what appeared to be a discrepancy in the book Discovery of Flight-19 by Jon Myhre.  Myhre a much respected Flight-19 researcher and author claimed that FT-28 was a TBM-3D not a TBM-3.

I was comforted knowing that I was not alone in my ignorance to the plane differences. For years this obtuse distinction between Flight-19 aircraft has understandably by and large gone unacknowledged by the general public. To the untrained eye, the aircraft look the same. If you weren’t aware that there were different TBM variants, you wouldn’t be looking for them.

This confusion regarding characteristic variations in aircraft over time has been further compounded by the erroneous photographs found in, books, newspapers, magazines, TV shows and movies. These images have been  unintentionally misleading the general public into believing that not only were all the aircraft the same but that there are existing photographs of the planes and crews together. 

To investigate and prove or disprove these assertions, my wife and I went to the NAS Ft. Lauderdale museum, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on a research vacation. What we didn’t expect to find in our inquiry was the lack of attributed photographic evidence and documentation found in the museums collection. Still despite the seemingly lacking material provenance we remained undaunted in our search.

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(Image#1)Accident-report-Flight-19-pilot-Taylor-1. Bureau Number (BuNu) #23037 Official Navy Document provided by the NAS Ft. Lauderdale Museum

Not long after starting our investigation however perhaps the most familiar photograph of the plane famously known as FT-28 and most commonly associated with Flight-19 (Photo# 1) was made known to us by the director of the museum John Bloom. Before we could get our hopes up, we were informed that it was not the plane leading the “Lost Patrol”.

According to Bloom the credit for this discovery should be attributed to the founder of the NAS Fort Lauderdale Historical Association – Allan F. McElhiney (now deceased). I asked John how McElhiney, (a driving force behind the museums creation), knew it wasn’t the same plane? He was unsure how to respond and unable to go into detail ‘ he was just told that (he) McElhiney knew ‘. 

So how did McElhiney figure it out? Let’s start with circumstantial evidence.

According to Bloom, ‘At the time of the Flight-19 disappearance there were approximately 180 Avengers, a few SNJ’s and other training planes assigned to NAS Fort Lauderdale ‘  From a practical perspective, because the Navy was re-consolidating and closing other naval aviation training facilities like NAS Miami in the months immediately following the war, it stands to reason that Ft. Lauderdale was a recipient of TBM, perhaps even TBF Avengers to use for training and parts. But this information doesn’t allow us to unequivocally claim that the plane is not FT-28.

Previous Model of Ft-28 NAS Ft. Lauderdale

(Photo #1) FT-28 (Circa 1943/44) Mistakenly identified as a TBM-3 this is not the plane that led Flight-19! Photo courtesy of the NAS Ft. Lauderdale Museum.

Let’s look further into the photo itself. To reach the same findings as McElhiney, one has to ignore all references to the number 28 in the photograph. After all you will see, it is the center of the mis-perception. We also need to examine a couple of generations of the TBF/TBM Avenger line to make the comparison distinguishing plane variants. 

Using TBF/TBM aircraft identification reference materials (1*,2*) (See last page.) and by closely comparing the images, we can see details important in distinguishing the models.  

1.) Though it is not visible from the front (Photo #1) the TBM-1 Avenger had a single .50 caliber machine gun built into the nose of the plane mounted up close to the cockpit. It was powered by the 1700 HP Wright R-2600-8 engine which had a single engine scoop air intake built into the upper portion of the engine cowling . 

2.) The TBM-1C Avenger kept the engine with the single scoop but added a second machine gun, moving one to each wing root and eliminating the nose mount altogether.

3.) The TBM-3 Avenger kept the machine guns in the wing root but replaced the engine with the 1900 HP Wright R-2600-20, 14 cylinder, air cooled radial engine. Designers evidently felt the added heat required an additional air intake to be added in the lower cowling.

As can be clearly seen in the photo above the second air intake is not present and the two machine gun mounts, one each, are just visible on each wing. We have therefore visually proven the theory put forth by McElhiney that the plane shown is actually a TBM-1C, assigned the tail registration number 28. 

So, what difference does that make you may ask?  First and most importantly, it proves that the Avenger aircraft numbered 28 pictured is not the plane famously associated with Flight-19 and piloted by Navy Lt. Charles C. Taylor!

In the larger scope of all things Flight-19, it also means that we cannot rely solely on the painted on plane tail registration numbers to identify plane photographs and for that matter wrecks. Though the plane number may be the most focal point in finding and identifying wreckage, an in depth analysis using official documentation, the Bureau Number in conjunction with the examination of the plane structure is the most accurate means of verification.  The second set of numbers makes the difference in proving identification.

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NAS Ft. Lauderdale: Where it all began.

All of my research thus far has led me to the conclusion that to get a true understanding of the events occurring, December 5th 1945 in Fort Lauderdale Florida, it is imperative for anyone researching Flight-19, that they visit the Naval Air Station Museum. I for one have been wanting to go for ages now, and I am finally getting my chance. Continue reading

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Beware! Flight-19 Depth Perception will blow your mind! Alright, let me qualify that statement. If you are savvy and already familiar with the disappearance of the 1945 flight of missing Navy torpedo bombers than this book will make you re-evaluate and challenge all that you perceive as fact.

Though the author relies mainly on secondary sources in her prose, she deftly, but problematically measures there conclusions against the core piece of evidence available. Using the naval review board report from 1945 she both expounds on and contradicts conventional thought, simultaneously. This juxtaposing of timelines and witness accounts really challenges the reader to keep up.

However: the lack of professional editing and additional use of tertiary online sources like Wikipedia and Google is somewhat worrisome. The online articles often referred to by embedded hyperlinks are not properly cited. And though valid points, the reader is left to wander the article with only a hint of the connection to be made. Furthermore: the author’s style of writing the narrative in conjunction with the bibliography or source page does not fit any standard research model found in a traditionally published book..ie..AP, Chicago…etc.

In summation, as a piece of non-fiction, Flight-19 Depth Perception falls short of being a scholarly piece of writing. But the contents alone make it a book for any seasoned Flight-19 investigator. Certainly, as a refreshing take on an old subject, Michelle Lemburg and her OCD writing- her words not mine; in my opinion is undervalued at double the price and well worth the trouble to read.

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Review of “Flight-19 Depth Perception” by Michelle Lemburg.

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The real story of Flight 19 by Steve MacGregor

The author Steve MacGregor sets out to outline his research into the mystery of the Flight-19 disappearance in a logical manner. He is quite successful at explaining the rudimentary timeline and his theory on the happenstance of both the TBM Avenger aircraft and one of the PBM rescue planes sent to find them.

However, in my humble opinion, the book falls short of being a true work of research for a few different reasons. Among other things, it does not contain an index of referenced materials & terms and therefore the reader cannot reference an alleged fact easily. And though there is a short bibliography it is not written in any set standard writing format such as AP or MLA…etc.

Furthermore; though it is a very succinct and simply detailed account of the event, including the subsequent paradoxes after the search and rescue there are a few elements missing from the timeline that the researcher should be aware of and a couple that I believe were overemphasized.

The reader should know that the author’s work is a short piece of approximately 110 pages and is meant as one volume in a series of writings about true-life mysteries.

To be fair, I skimmed the book in two hours looking for key elements to a well-authored piece and though I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the story, I sincerely suggest using it as a supplementary reading or as an introduction to a more in-depth analysis by most of the authors listed in the bibliography.

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Review of “The Real Story of Flight-19”

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Image result for hitchhikersTo all my followers! Yes, all 8 of you. Here’s my conundrum. I will shortly be becoming a Grand father not once but twice in the next several months. Thank you, thank you!! I am as you can imagine very excited. But that’s not the problem. I need to get to Ft. Lauderdale to research aspects of topics for my book. I need to interview, one or two people, research files in at least one if not more museums and archives, and yet, like many people I cannot afford to do so, especially with the grand children on the way.  But I need to get to Ft. Lauderdale sooner rather than later.  I have been trying to get part-time work, with no luck and I can’t legitimize applying to ‘Go fund me’. In my mind there are so many more worth while charities I can’t imagine my need to get to Florida would top many people’s lists. I need your help to figure out how I get there.  Please help! Thank you.

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Ft. Lauderdale or Bust!

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Alongside December 7th, 1942, December 5th, 1945 is also a day that will forever be remembered infamously. Why is that you ask?  Because it too was a day of great loss; another senseless tragedy for the country.

We remember on that day 72 years ago when 14; World War II veterans; naval aviators and crew, many of them combat survivors, went missing off the coast of Florida.  They weren’t lost during a daring raid on some enemy shipping or in defense of some island. No, the war had ended.  Instead they were lost during a simple and routine training exercise in a time of peace, in preparation for the next time.

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Photos Graciously provided by Minerva Bloom and the Naval Air Museum Fort Lauderdale Florida.

” THE 19th FLIGHT “
FT – 28 Flight Leader: NASFL Instructor, Lt. Charles Carroll Taylor, USNR. Aircraft: TBM-3D – BuNo 23307.
Crew: Gunner George Francis Devlin, AOM3c, USNR. Radioman: Walter Reed Parpart, Jr. ARM3c, USNR.

FT – 36 Pilot: Capt. Edward Joseph Powers, USMC. Aircraft: TBM-1C – BuNo 46094.
Crew: Gunner Sgt. Howell Orrin Thompson, USMCR. Radioman: Sgt. George Richard Paonessa, USMCR.

FT – 81 Pilot: 2nd Lt. Forrest James Gerber, USMCR. Aircraft: TBM-1C – BuNo 46325.
Crew: (Only one) Pfc. William Lightfoot, USMCR. That day, Corporal Allan Kosnar had asked to be excused from this exercise.

FT- 3 Pilot: Ensign Joseph Tipton Bossi, USNR. Aircraft: TBM-1C –  BuNo 45714.
Crew: Gunner Herman Arthur Thelander, S1c, USNR. Radioman: Burt E. Baluk, S1c, USNR.

FT- 117 Pilot: Captain George William Stivers Jr., USMC. Aircraft: TBM-1C –  BuNo 73209.
Crew: Gunner Sgt. Robert Francis Gallivan, USMCR. Radioman: Pvt. Robert Peter Gruebel, USMCR.”

Additionally we remember the 13 crew members of Training-49; a PBM-5 Mariner sea plane that was lost with all hands during the search and rescue operations that day.  In the end, though the Navy put a tremendous effort into finding the crews, the worsening weather and darkness of the great ocean proved too much that December.

In conclusion, I’d ask that you read the words written below out of respect and tradition for those who made the ultimate sacrifice both in war & continue to do so in time of peace.

* Eternal Father (The Navy Hymn) found on the U.S. Navy Home Page

Verse 1: Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Verse 2: O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Verse 3: Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Verse 4: O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

1860 by William Whiting of Winchester, England, 

Eternal Father, grant, we pray,
To all Marines, both night and day,
The courage, honor, strength, and skill
Their land to serve, thy law fulfill;
Be thou the shield forevermore
From every peril to the Corps.
J. E. Seim (1966)

 

(*http://www.navy.mil/navydata/nav_legacy.asp?id=172)

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DECEMBER 5TH, 1945 MEMORIAL | A day that lives in Infamy!

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November 26, 2017 – In his book “The Discovery of Flight-19”, Jon Myhre details the wreckage of a naval aircraft from the 1940’s or 50’s found in the woods near the everglades in Felsmere Florida sometime in the 1960’s or 70’s.

The only evidence of this wreck which I know to still exist are items removed from the scene by one of the persons who found the plane, Judge Graham Stikelether of Indian River County, FL.  A .50 Caliber Machine Gun with a bent barrel, a .50 caliber machine gun mount of some kind, and one or two other various un-identified parts, are all that is left.

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Destroyed .50- Caliber machine gun found at the Felsmers Florida wreck in the 1960/70’s.

Now, despite there being dozens if not hundreds of missing Navy and Army aircraft from the mid -twentieth century in the waters in and around parts of Florida, this particular wreck is of great interest for a few different reasons.  We’ll focus on just one here.

This specific plane crash site stands out, first and foremost because it was  found inland, and not on the ocean floor!!

Of course, the idea of some of the missing Flight-19 planes crashing over land is a relatively new one, but it holds more merit, than saying they all were sucked up into some kind of vortex over the Bermuda Triangle, and it is much easier to investigate than scanning the sea bottom for metal wrecks. Still it has its challenges.

After 72 years, records have been lost, destroyed, or worse yet redacted, metal rusts, and memories fade away.  But as Jon explains in his 2012 book by the Paragon Agency (ISBN13: 978-1-891030-58-1) if it turns out the wreckage found in Felsmere was that of a TBM-1C Avenger after all, it could very well be that of FT-36 Bul No. 73209.  The plane was piloted by Captain Edward Joseph, Powers Jr. USMC, 09789, and crewed by Staff Sergeant, Howell Orrin,Thompson,  USMCR, 499181 &  Staff Sergeant,George Richard, Paonessa , USMC, 805639.

Can you identify this machine gun mount?

So how can we determine the aircraft identity? Well, one way is through part identification via serial no. plates and records if possible.

Jon had figured out long before I had, that we might be able to pin point the type of aircraft this machine gun came from if we could track  the serial no. from production to delivery.

Unfortunately, there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Browning .30 & .50 caliber machine guns out there.  Furthermore; over time the patent to produce them has been sold to dozens of manufacturers around the world. The best I have done so far has been to pretty much duplicate Jon’s research.  The gun as indicated on the plate shown, was made in New Haven Connecticut by the High Standard Company under the Browning moniker.

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ID Serial No. Plate for .50 caliber machine gun. (All Photos courtesy of Jon Myhre.)

I’ve contacted Browning but as they don’t own the military portion of the company anymore the best they could do was forward my request to a history docent at the Browning Museum.  So far that lead hasn’t panned out either and though I haven’t given up and am working on the High Standard connections again as Jon had I don’t expect to make much headway.

However: I believe the key to the identification of the type of aircraft  could be narrowed down by identifying the machine gun mount itself.  First of all, the question is whether it’s a turret mount or a wing mount.?  If it is an AN-M2 aerial machine gun, which I can’t tell from the plate, is it likely a wing mount gun?

The Avenger had a specially mounted gun in a purposely built turret placed to the rear of the pilot. The TBM-1 like other planes of the period had two .50 calibers in the wing root for strafing. If the gun mount photo could be matched to that of an Avenger turret part we would have our answer.  If it turns out to be a wing based gun we’ve gotten no where. It wouldn’t even help determining if it was an Army or Navy plane.  So far photos I have seen of the turret have not shed any light.

My next stop in this part of the investigation is to visit the the Springfield Armory Museum right here in Springfield. Perhaps, I may be able to learn more about the gun there. If you have any information that may be helpful please feel free to contact me at fivesides2@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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PIN THE TAIL ON THE .50 CAL |Tracking a machine gun.

Can you identify this mount?

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