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Topic: BIG E airborne SBD losses< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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David Aiken Search for posts by this member.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 17 2008,10:33  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In the USS Willis DE-395 "DANFS" Entry:

Launched: September 14, 1943
Commissioned: December 10, 1943
Decommissioned: June 14, 1946
Named for ENS Walter M. Willis, a Scouting Six pilot. The plane manned by Willis and his gunner, Fred J. Ducolon, COX, disappeared the morning of 7 December 1941 near Pearl Harbor, and was probably shot down by enemy planes attacking the base. Neither Willis, Ducolon nor their SBD Dauntless were ever found.

HURL...University of Hawaii: Undersea Research Laboratory locates the empennage of an SBD lost from the "Pearl Harbor Attack" from USS Enterprise. Now to locate the forward portion with two MIA aircrew.

The discovery of the SBD empennage piloted by missing Ensign Walter Willis has finally been made public! Honolulu Advertiiser

Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2008 17:16:31 -1000
Subject: Dauntless

Greetings from paradise!

I'm currently working on a little side project of trying to identify the tail section of a SBD Dauntles that we found a couple years ago. It's been on the back burner since it was found an hour or so before the Submarine S-19 and two days prior to finding the IJN I-401. Anyway I've finally come back to look it over a little more closely in hopes of at least narrowing it down to perhaps which type of SBD, which may in turn reduce the candidates of that type lost in this area.

Here's what I've deduced so far. This tail section is likely a crash. There are no other scuttled artifacts in this area (other than the S-19). In fact the area is pretty much barren of debris. It is outside of the Defensive Sea Area. I have found several different paint schemes for the SBD's. This plane appears to be most similar to the type with the star only on the side, without the bars on each side like the SBD-5 we found off Kokohead. I couldn't see any sign of squadron numbers if they exist. I found a picture of the SBD-2 BuNo 2106 that was restored. It seems to look most similar to that scheme. The overview of the vertical tail stabilizer, which now lays on it's side seems to have the same stripe too. 2106 was also at Pearl Harbor, but I read somewhere that it's paint scheme changed 5 times. So I'm not sure if this was it's paint scheme when they recovered it from Lake Michigan or an earlier one.

So.....I'm wondering if you know what era (or type) this paint scheme might be from (that is, if you agree with my assesment) and if it might possibly be the tail of a Dec 7 Dauntless from the Enterprise. If it is an SBD-2 then could it possibly be from the Dauntless flown by Ens. Willis? I believe he went down at sea off Ewa. I also read somewhere about a collision, which would certainly be credible with a tail torn off. If it is an SBD-2 or 3 it certainly reduces the number of candidates. I've only come up with a handful of possiblities with that type of Dauntless in this area and some of them are pretty unlikely as I think they may have ended up actually crashing on land.

Any help would be appreciated.

Steve (Price)

Subject: FW: "HURL has located the Willis' SBD"
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2008 19:32:40 +0000

Aloha Steve,
The air-to-air crash story was an invention by a US Army officer upon viewing the crash sites of Ens Vogt (USS Enterprise) SBD and Japanese D3A BII-233 (shot down by Ken Taylor) as the two sites were right next to each other on land east of Ewa. Vogt crashed in the first wave, BII-233 crashed in the second wave.

Dickinson/Miller crashed on land east of Ewa. The Hawaiian Aviation Preservation folk have that site confirmed. McCarthy/Cohn also crashed on land...and I feel confident that the "pilot" recovered from that crash and buried as an unknown at Schofield (now buried at Punchbowl) is the MIA radioman Mitchell Cohn. Gonzales/Kozelek were northwest of Oahu and over water when shot down...

As to Ens Walter M Willis, serial 841 40, and Coxswain/Cox'n/Cox Fred John Ducolon, serial 392 74 55, in SBD 6-S-15 BuNo 2159, the files are VERY thin, yet includes their "Body Non Recoverable" (BNR) documents: tooth fillings, etc

Joe DeLuca responded in Nov 1989. Willis was flying off the right wing of Patriarca (pilot) and DeLuca (radioman) west of Ewa on initial approach path. According to the letter and raw sketch, DeLuca saw the Zero come from the east then bank left to reverse course to come onto Willis from six o'clock. They were west of Ewa Field, and Willis banked to the right toward the ocean, with the Zero still on his tail. That is the sole US witness of the action found thus far...

As you have cited the same area, and the same paint scheme...and it is barren of other such wreckage...the only item NEXT is to sort thru the "US Navy Expended Aircraft" report for any such similar aircraft in the same area... doubtful as that course may get us!

The review of my files seems to agree with the initial read of your letter: "HURL has located the Willis' SBD". Yea! Let us dig deeper to assure the findings.
David Aiken, a Director: Pearl Harbor History Associates, Inc.


David Aiken, a Director
Pearl Harbor History Associates, Inc.

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Tracy White Search for posts by this member.



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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 17 2008,11:50 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Pure speculation here, of course, but its possible that the forward section, with the heavy engine and structure, broke away and sank quickly while the tail might have had an air pocket that caused it to sink later or more slowly. I do hope it's close enough to be located soon though.

Let's see what this does...

Tracy White
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PPP Search for posts by this member.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 14 2010,7:36 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Received this email from Aiken :cool:

Edited by PPP on Apr. 14 2010,7:40
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