416th Bombardment Group (L)
Aircraft Accident Report 44-9-4-8
September 4, 1943, Saturday
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Aircraft Serial Number (Type): 42-54044 (Douglas A-20G-10-DO Havoc)
3rd AF; 416th Bomb Gp; 671st Bomb Sq
Reason: Killed, Mid Air Collision (KMAC)
Damage: Completely destroyed (5)
Point Of Departure: Lake Charles AAFld, Louisiana
Location: Eight and one-half miles south of Vinton, Louisiana
Nature of Accident: Mid-air collision resulting in complete destruction of two airplanes and death of both pilots.
Cause of Accident: Wing man cut tail off leader's airplane on re-assembling in formation.
About 1030 on the morning of September 4, on a local training mission, two planes collided in mid-air when they flew into a cloud. The pilots were 2nd Lt Walter J. Burke and 2nd Lt Robert W. Morton, with the 671st Bomb Squadron. They were the sole occupants of the A-20's.
(416th BG History 1943)
9-4-43C. Vinton, Louisiana. At 0830, two Douglas A-20G airplanes collided in mid-air eight an one-half miles south of Vinton, Louisiana, killing both pilots. 2Lt. Walter J. Burke, Jr. (42-53785) was killed in an unsuccessful parachute jump and 2Lt. Robert W. Morton crashed to the ground in his airplane (4254044). The airplanes were part of a three-ship formation training flight. 2Lt. Horace F. Pair witnessed the accident and later stated to investigators, "I was in number-two position. The lead ship [Lt. Burke] signaled for an echelon to the left. I peeled off to approximately 1,000 feet and went into a Lufbery circle. The lead ship started a long gradual climb and disappeared into a cloudbank. The second ship [Lt. Morton] followed, and I was the last to enter the cloud. While in the cloudbank I couldn't locate either of the other two ships. I pulled out of the cloudbank and started climbing. At approximately 4,000 feet, I located one of the ships [Lt. Burke] and he gave the signal to join the formation. [Lt. Burke] went into a gradual turn to the left. I was cutting inside to overtake him. When approximately 300 feet to the rear, slightly above and behind the lead ship, [Lt Morgan] came in from the left and passed between the lead ship and myself, the left wing striking the lead ship's tail, cutting it off. The lead ship fell to the left; the other ship disappeared to my right. I followed the lead ship down. The pilot had left the airplane. I made several low passes over the parachute and could see no signs of life."
(Mireles, Vol. 2, Pgs. 502-503)