416th Bombardment Group (L)
Reports AAR 44-6-30-524 / MACR 15923
June 30, 1944, Friday
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Aircraft Serial Number (Type): 43-10194 (Douglas A-20G-35-DO Havoc)
9th AF; 416th Bomb Gp; 668th Bomb Sq
Reason: Killed Crash On Take Off Eng Failure (KCRTEF)
Damage: Completely destroyed (5)
Point Of Departure: AAF-170 Wethersfield RAF Station, England
Location: 7/8 miles N. of Cottesmore Field
Pilot's mission: Returning to home base after participating in practice chemical mission.
Nature of accident: Plane went into a very steep left turn and crashed, bursting into flames.
Cause of accident: Engine failure immediately after take-off.
Narrative: At 1323, 30 June 1944, Lt. Ritchie took off in A-20G035 ACSN 43-10194 to return to his home station after having participated in a practice smoke mission. He took off on runway to the southwest and had completed a left turn approximately half way around the field when the airplane was observerd to go into a very steep left turn and crash. It burst into flames upon impact with the ground.
The aircraft was scattered over a distance of approximately 350 yards. The wreckage was examined to determine the cause of the accident. All control surfaces that were not destroyed were examined and found to be properly attached and safetied. The engine and propellors were examined but it was impossible to determine whether an engine had failed. There was no indication of either propellor having been feathered.
All evidence indicates that the left engine failed while the airplane was in a turn at an altitude of approximately 500 feet. From the statements of the witnesses, and attitude of aircraft upon contact with the ground, the pilot had enough control to keep the airplane from rolling over when the engine failed but was unable to regain a level position. As the airplane slowed down the bank increased due to the fact that as speed decreased aileron control decreased. The left wing and engine struck the ground first with sufficient forward speed to scatter parts of the aircraft over a wide area.
Also on that last day of the month, in an unfortunate training accident, 1st Lt. Scott B. Ritchie, Jr., was killed. Killed with him were his two gunners, S/Sgt. Edwin A. Anderson and Sgt. Howard W. Smith. He was taking off at a nearby field, with chemical tanks on the wings, when one engine cut out. The plane pancaked in and cracked up. Their remains have been placed interred in the American Military Cemetery in Cambridge, England.
(416th BG History 1944)
On 30 June, First Lieutenant Scott B. Ritchie Jr., 0 26 239, Staff Sergeant Edwin A. Anderson, 31 324 736, and Staff Sergeant Harold W. Smith, 33 568 884, were killed when their ship unaccountably crashed shortly after take-off on a training smoke-mission. Lieutenant Ritchie was a graduate of the West Point class of 1943, and had been with the Squadron since September of that year. He was an excellent and courageous flyer who on more than one occasion distinguished himself by successfully landing badly damaged aircraft. Lieutenant Ritchie had flown 36 combat missions. Staff Sergeant Anderson, who came overseas with the unit, was a veteran of 42 missions. Staff Sergeant Smith had flown 20 combat sorties.
See also Missing Air Crew Report MACR 15923 - Request for information regarding death of Staff Sergeant Harold W. Smith.
("668th Bombardment Squadron (L) History")