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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 105355
Last updated: 9 September 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic B26 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas A-26B Invader
Owner/operator:669th BSqn /416th BWg USAAF
Registration: 41-39333
MSN: 7046
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:2 miles north of A-55 Melun/Villaroche airfield -   France
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:A.55 Melun/Villaroche airfield
Destination airport:
On 14 January 1945 the weather cleared over A-55 airfield at Melun/Villaroche and 416th BG launched at 10:16 hrs Mission 185 against against the communication center of Schleiden, six miles east of the Monschau Forest. 18 A-26s and 6 A-20s took off from the snow-capped runways. It will be recalled that the formation of the day before landed at another field, and didnít return till late this afternoon.

As in the 2nd of the month tragedy struck during the take-off. The first Invader to take off, the Douglas A-26B-25-DL 41-39333 2A-Q of 669th BS, mushed in just a short distance from the north end of the runway. It went into a slow turn to the left and crashed 2 miles north of the airfield, possibly resulting from engine failure of undertermined reason or icing. Before the crew was able to get out of the burning wreckage, the bombs exploded. The crew from the 669th Squadron, Lt George C Van Meter Jr. (pilot) and Sgt Charles Milton Kiker, was killed instantly.

The 23 other aircraft then formed three boxes. The mission was originally scheduled as a PFF, and they followed PFF Pathfinder B-26s. But upon reaching the target area the visibility was very good, and the Group leader took over the lead. All ships bombed at 13,000 feet in one pattern at 1200 hrs, with 85% of the bombs within the 1000 foot radius. The bombing might have been superior had not one flight been out of position when the bombs were released. The bombs hit roads and buildings in the center of the town and severed the rail line in four places. All north-south road traffic was blocked by the bombing. Fla was nil except on the turn off the target when weak, heavy Flak was experienced. The group received an excellent on the bombing results. Two A-20s dropped Window, two A-26s that had not been able to keep up with the formation had joined the 409th BG and bombed Bitburg instead.

Many of the planes had to land at alternate airfields since the A-55 airfield was closed in due to weather. Three planes experienced problems with landing gears which collapsed on landing. All three aircraft were damaged but repairable.
F/O Harold J Wilson from the 671st BS on his first flight, showed the results of his good training, when he found his engines cutting in and out due to icing. He lost his position in the flight, but kept going in the direction of the formation. The engines began purring correctly, so he tagged on to the end of another group (409th) on their bomb run. Heavy Flak greeted the flight. Returning, Wilson left the flight as it neared A-55 but he lost sight of it. He headed toward Paris and went in to land on Le Bourget airfield. He checked indicators and saw all wheels were down and locked. As he landed, the wheels collapsed, causing his A-26B 41-39284 to skid off the runway into a snowbank. He suffered a broken leg and was hospitalized in Paris for a few days, but returned to the Squadron on the 19th. His gunner, Cpl. Stypenski, was uninjured and returned the day after the accident.
Lt. Lovick E Cannon of 668th BS crashed at B-87 Rosiere, having trouble with his landing gear. Lt. Blevins made a crash landing at A-69 Laon, with the same trouble as Lt. Cannon experienced. The rest of the formation landed at A-58, and returned to the base at dusk in the evening. Ltís Cannon & Blevins returned to the base with their gunners, after being picked up by the C-64.

- JF Baugher

Revision history:

20-Jun-2014 19:25 Uli Elch Updated [Cn, Operator, Location, Source, Narrative]
20-Jan-2017 07:16 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Time, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
28-Jan-2020 18:09 Uli Elch Updated [Operator, Source, Narrative]
12-Feb-2020 12:30 Anon. Updated [Operator, Location, Departure airport, Narrative, Operator]
30-Jan-2021 21:32 Anon. Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Operator]

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