You are here: Home | 2008 Search Trip | VB-2 USS Hornet Helldiver

SB2C-1C Helldiver found from VB-2 from the USS Hornet that crashed on July 27, 1944

During our 2005 and 2006 search trips I asked the Yapese for information about the VB-2 SB2C-1C Helldiver from the USS Hornet that crashed on July 27, 1944 when attacking the Japanese lighthouse on Yap. The plane dove into the ground and killed two crew members after experiencing aileron failure or getting hit by AA fire. The Japanese had AA guns near the lighthouse therefore it's likely the plane was hit before crashing into the jungle while on a dive bombing glide.

The Yapese had told me stories a few years back (multiple sources from different villages) that the two crew members were pulled from the wreckage by the Japanese and their bodies were beaten with sticks. This story is so wide spread that it seems to have merit. We'll never know the exact story but the Yapese have provided accurate information to us in the past that always seemed to have a line of truth even after 65 years of passing the oral history.

We were led to the crash site by Tom from the Yap Visitors Bureau. He was able to make contact with a Yapese landowner after reviewing my research and maps located at the national archives last winter. The land owner had never previously admitted that he knew about the crash site and its location. When we arrived at his home we found one of the propellers of the plane in his yard. It is common on Yap to find Japanese and American props as yard decorations. The problem is trying to track them back to individual crash sites. The Yapese landowner led us deep into the jungle through taro fields and clear deep jungle streams that we had to jump. When we located the crash site it was clear that the site had been untouched for years (perhaps since the years after the war when the grave registration team visited the site in 1948).

Upon reviewing the site we were able to right away identify it has an American Helldiver aircraft from the US Navy. The red dive brakes and many of the markings on the plane were still visible after 65 years. The rounded wing tips and 20 mm cannon ports provided overwhelming evidence that we had located the SB2C-1C Helldiver from the USS Hornet that crashed on July 27, 1944. The crash took the lives of Ens. George M. Armbruster Jr. and Arm3c. Harold Billings.

We came in contact with the Yapese poison tree at this crash site. Cherie and I received a real bad case of poison tree (like poison ivy in the states) after returning from Yap on October 15, 2008. The day after we returned from Yap the poison tree hit hard on my legs and one arm and on both of Cherie's ankles. We held out from going to a doctor until the rash and itching was driving us absolutely nuts. We tried every solution we could find on the internet to find relieve. The following pictures from the Helldiver crash site we discover on the last day of our 2008 trip was the cause of our poison tree troubles. Feel free to look through the pictures and try and find the poison tree that has made our legs a mess! More information about this loss including the mission reports, crew information and pictures can be located at the following link:

Please feel free to submit comments about the airstrip to Pat at: pat@missingaircrew.com

Click on a thumbnail image below to view the full sized image.


helldiver_01

helldiver_02

helldiver_03

helldiver_04

helldiver_05

helldiver_06

helldiver_07

helldiver_08

helldiver_09

helldiver_10

helldiver_11

helldiver_12

helldiver_13

helldiver_14

helldiver_15

helldiver_16

helldiver_17

helldiver_18

helldiver_19

helldiver_20

helldiver_21

helldiver_22

helldiver_23

helldiver_24

helldiver_25

helldiver_26

helldiver_27

helldiver_28

helldiver_29

helldiver_30

helldiver_31

helldiver_32

helldiver_33

helldiver_34

helldiver_35

helldiver_36

helldiver_37

helldiver_38

helldiver_39

helldiver_40

helldiver_41

helldiver_42

helldiver_43

helldiver_44

helldiver_45

helldiver_46

helldiver_47

helldiver_48

helldiver_49

helldiver_50

helldiver_51

helldiver_52

helldiver_53

helldiver_54

helldiver_55

helldiver_56

helldiver_57

helldiver_58

helldiver_59

helldiver_60

helldiver_61

helldiver_62

helldiver_63

helldiver_64

helldiver_65

helldiver_66

helldiver_67

helldiver_68

helldiver_69

helldiver_70

helldiver_71

helldiver_72

helldiver_73

helldiver_74

helldiver_75

helldiver_76

helldiver_77

helldiver_78

helldiver_79

helldiver_80

helldiver_81

helldiver_82

helldiver_83

helldiver_84

helldiver_85

helldiver_86

helldiver_87

helldiver_88

helldiver_89

helldiver_90

Submit comments about this site

Follow the Missing Air Crew Project On:   Follow Us on Facebook  Follow Via YouTube
PIN IT   

Web Site Terms of Use: This web site authorizes you to view materials solely for your personal, non-commercial use. You may not sell or modify the material or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the material in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the written permission of the web site owner. pat@missingaircrew.com



This site is owned & developed by Patrick Ranfranz of Cameron, Wisconsin, USA
Email: pat@missingaircrew.com | 1473 21 1/2 Street, Cameron, WI 54822 | Phone: 715-458-0020

Copyright Notice: All images and text on this website are protected by U.S. and International Copyright Law.
No images or text should be copied, downloaded, transferred, or reproduced without the written consent
of Patrick Ranfranz/MissingAirCrew.com Images. If you wish to use any materials
(images or text), please contact: pat@missingaircrew.com

® Copyright, MissingAirCrew.com®, All rights reserved.

Help support this site, order your www.Amazon.com materials through this link.

Site Map