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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 98475
Last updated: 22 July 2017
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Date:15-FEB-1945
Time:
Type:Silhouette image of generic B29 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Owner/operator:243rd AAF Base Unit, USAAF
Registration: 42-24617
C/n / msn: 4278
Fatalities:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 11
Other fatalities:0
Airplane damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Flushing Bay, Borough of Queens, New York -   United States of America
Phase: Landing
Nature:Military
Departure airport:Michell Field AAF, New York
Destination airport:Florida
Narrative:
Boeing B-29-40-BW Superfortress 42-24617: Delivered to the USAAF 31 July 1944. Assigned to 243rd Army Air Force Base Unit, Great Bend AAF, Kansas, and became part of the "Gypsy Task Force".

Written off (damaged beyond repair) when crashed at Jackson Heights*, New York while making an emergency landing due to engine failure at La Guardia Airport, New York, on February 15, 1945. Six of the eleven crew were killed. One of those killed was the famous Baseball player Billy Southworth Jr., who had enlisted in the USAAF, and risen to the rank of Major. According to the following published source (see link #6), the accident that killed him was as follows:

"Major Southworth was training pilots to fly the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the same airplane that would drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On February 15, 1945, he was piloting a B-29 that left Mitchel Field in New York, bound for Florida. Major W. L. Anken, an observer aboard the B-29 noticed that one of the engines was throwing a heavy stream of smoke. He reported this to Southworth over the intercom. "Keep an eye on it," Southworth replied. At 3:50 P.M., the four-engine bomber appeared over LaGuardia Field with the left outboard engine stopped. Southworth radioed the control tower to prepare for an emergency landing. Struggling at the controls of the crippled plane, he overshot the runway, and attempted to climb above Flushing Bay, but a wing clipped the water and the 37-ton bomber somersaulted and burst into flames.

Heavy acrid smoke quickly blanketed the whole area, as police launches rushed to the scene and battled to rescue five crew members. But another five, including Major Billy Southworth, Jr., were missing in the front section of the plane which sank in 30 feet of water. Every effort was made to recover the bodies of the missing airmen but strong currents and a high tide hindered the work of grapplers and divers.

The following day, Southworth's grief-stricken father-who was said to be prouder of his son's military achievements than of the pennants he had won with the Cardinals -flew to New York. Comforted by his wife, Mabel - Billy, Jr.'s stepmother - he looked out at Flushing Bay and asked reporters to point out the spot where the crash had happened.

Rescue efforts continued for weeks and Billy Jr.'s father remained in New York during that time. "It has been my privilege to go aboard the ship from which the search is being made for the missing crew members of the plane," he said. "The close personal contacts that I have had with the officers and men of the various units, conducting the search was most gratifying. The divers are hampered by strong currents and freezing air lines, but every officer and man is doing a heroic job and their loyalty to lost comrades is present in their every act."

There were five survivors: four crew members (including Major Anken) and one civilian, a technical expert from the Bendix Corporation of South Bend, Indiana. All were seated in the back of the plane and saved by rescuers who fought through fire to reach them.

On August 4, 1945, 24 weeks after the crash, an unrecognizable body washed ashore at the confluence of the East River and Long Island Sound in New York. Dental records identified the body as that of Southworth. He was buried on August 7, 1945, at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio"

Another of the five crew that was killed was later named as 1st Lt Martin J. Licursi (see link #7)

*NOTE: Although 42-24617 crashed into Flushing Bay, Queens, New York, the official location of where the crew members were killed was recorded as "Jackson Heights", which is a different part of the Borough of Queens, New York. This location is presumed to be the location of the morgue that the bodies were eventually recovered to, some weeks later.

Sources:

1. http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1942_1.html
2. http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/AARmonthly/Feb1945S.htm
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Southworth,_Jr.
4. The Sporting News, February 22, 1945
5. Dunkirk Evening Observer, February 23,1945 .
6. http://www.baseballsgreatestsacrifice.com/biographies/southworth_billy_jr.html
7. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=110919992
8. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/19/sports/baseball/fatherson-bond-remains-alive-in-wartime-diary.html
9. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, Friday, February 23, 1945 Page 18 at https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/53704356/
10. https://retrosimba.com/2015/02/13/why-billy-southworth-managed-cardinals-with-heavy-heart/
11. The Daily Banner,Greencastle, Putnam County, 19 February 1945 at https://newspapers.library.in.gov/cgi-bin/indiana?a=d&d=TDB19450219-01.1.1
12. Hutchinson News Herald February 16, 1945 - Page 15 at https://newspaperarchive.com/hutchinson-news-herald-feb-16-1945-p-15/


Related books

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
02-Jul-2017 22:31 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Operator, Total occupants, Total fatalities, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
02-Jul-2017 22:33 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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