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Hellcat Crash Site #1-Yap Island

Mary 26, 2006 UPDATE: PILOT INFORMATION LOCATED: The mystery of the Hellcat crash site #1 we discovered in Yap last October has been solved thanks to the help of the internet. Timothy Schubert from Albany, Oregon located the MissingAirCrew.com web site and provided the answers we have been seeking. Timothy was stationed on Yap while in the Coast Guard. He married into a Yapese family and discovered the plane while searching his father-in-laws land. Timothy removed the BUAERO tag from the Hellcat and sent the information into the Department of the Army. He received the following letter back on May 3, 1991 stating that the aircraft was a VF-20 F6F5 Hellcat off the USS Enterprise lost over Yap on September 6, 1944. The aircraft was flown by Ensign Joseph E. Cox. Ensign Cox's remains were recovered and he is buried in a private cemetery in Idaho.

Please see the following Carrier Air Group report that provides a description of the mid-air collision between Cox's plane and the plane flown by Lt.(jg) Harry D. Brown.

November 2005 Update: We found the following Hellcat crash site on Yap Island in October 2006 while searching for my uncle’s B-24 from the 307th BG. We found the almost complete Hellcat laying upside-down with the gear fully locked in the down position and with its flaps fully extended. I was always puzzled by the gear and flaps being locked down and theorized that the pilot had tried to bleed off airspeed after getting hit by AA fire before he crashed. You can see the AA hits on the bottom of the plane. After watching a DVD titled, "Search for the Flyboys—The Ghost of Palau" I noticed some historic film showing a Hellcat with gear down and full flaps dropping a canister of napalm on a hill. This might explain why the Hellcat we found had its gear down and full flaps. The Yapese elders advised us the pilot was pulled from the wreckage and buried on a hill next to the plane.

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Hellcat Overview:

F6F HellCat Information
(pdf file 1.2 MB) The Hellcat was the main shipboard fighter of the US Navy for the last two years of the Pacific War. The F6F was ordered for the US Navy after the initial shock of Allied contact with superior Japanese fighters, particularly the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, during the first few months of the Pacific War. As a result of this experience of combat against higher-performance machines the Hellcat's specification required the most powerful engine available. A total of 2,545 Hellcats were delivered in 1943, in 1944 no fewer than 6,139, and in 1945 a further 3,578 - total production was 12,272 units. The Hellcat was eventually credited with destroying more than 6,000 Japanese aircraft - 4,947 of these by F6Fs of the USN carrier squadrons (209 of the others by land-based Marine Corps F6Fs, and the remainder by Hellcats of other Allied countries). Acknowledgments: Source for Hellcat information: www.compass.dircon.co.uk/F6F.htm

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