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DaveTrojan

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 #1 
Mystery of the Jets
8, F-84 Thunderjets crashed near the Indiana Ohio Boarder within a 25 square mile area as reported in Life Magazine page 46, dated June 18 1951.
Does anyone know why they crashed?

link
http://books.google.com/books?id=eVEEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA46&lpg=PA46&dq=thunderjet+crash&source=bl&ots=rPH4TktaZO&sig=2Bd3uliaW8UE5BgXPGMsrCNWkyg&hl=en&ei=jD-PS9CrE4jwsQO72_C9CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CCMQ6AEwCTgo#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Any Indiana Wreck chasers out there?
DaveT
WaltW

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 #2 

   I remember running across a mass F-84 crash while scanning papers myself.  The one I remember mentioned a city, maybe as the origin, but it's been years since seeing that story.  A whole flight went down.  For some reason I remember seeing early P-84s with a square grid over the inlet but can't find any photos of it so maybe my memory is playing tricks.  In any case, the investigation of the mass crash I saw attributed the event to inlet icing and flameout of all planes during the climbout.  The intake was modified due to icing problems.

Fairlane66

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 #3 
I did a quick newspaper search and found out the planes came down in a 25 mile radius around the town of Richmond, Indiana, on June 7th.  Here are some excerpts from the newspapers:

Probe Mysterious Crashes

Of Eight F-84 Thunderjets

Richmond, Ind., June 8—(U.P.) Air force and FBI agents investigated today whether sabotage caused eight F-84 Thunderjet fighters to crash in the biggest multiple airplane disaster in peacetime history.  Three pilots were killed and two injured late yesterday when the planes crashed mysteriously while flying in a flight of 71 planes through an electrical storm. The three other pilots were unhurt.  At least two pilots said their engines exploded after they were safely through the storm.   Another said his engine "conked out" and that he saw at least two of the ships collide. All the planes crashed in a 25-mile radius near here.  An Air Force spokesman said it apparently was the biggest number of planes ever lost during a peacetime operation. The biggest previous, to his recollection, was when a flight of pursuit planes flew into bad weather near Raleigh, N. C., in 1939, and six were lost.

 

Sixty of the planes in yesterday's flight flew on to Selfridge Field. Mich., but three others turned back and landed at Wright-Patterson Field, near Dayton, 0., where they had taken off only 10 minutes before the crashes.

 

The planes were escort fighters assigned to the strategic bomber command of Lt Gen Curtis Lemay.  It had been reported that Lemay would be here for the investigation but later it was announced he would not come.

 

Heavily armed air police guards surrounded the wrecks here and the planes of the flight at Selfridge Field and Dayton.

 

Mechanics began making an inch-by-inch check of every part of the wrecks and the surviving planes, seeking evidence of possible sabotage.

 

G-men cooperated with the air force investigators.

 

The air force refused all comment on the trend of the investigation, but one spokesman said, “Sabotage is always considered as a possibility until the cause of the crash has been determined or the investigation completed.”

 

Another said the extreme turbulence encountered in thunderstorms buffets jet fighters more than piston-engined ships since the jets travel twice as fast.  But, he knew of no reason why turbulence might cause a jet engine to “conk out” or explode.

 

The surviving pilots of the downed ships made only brief statements to police before air force officers arrived from Dayton and clamped tight security over them and the crash scenes.

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This from the Sandusky Register-Star, June 9, 1951

 

Mrs. Fred Musser, near whose home northwest of Richmond two F-84s crashed and killed their pilots, said she thought she and her five children were caught in an enemy bombing raid. One plane crashed almost in their front yard "I heard the planes zooming" around, and then heard a noise that sounded like thunder—only a lot worse," Mrs. Musser said. "I ran outdoors and saw the first plane go down across the road from the perfect circle plant and then suddenly there was an

explosion almost right over my head—I thought sure it was an air raid and that those planes were dropping bombs."  Plane parts smashed four windows in the Musser house and tore several holes in the frame walls.

 

This would be an interesting series of crashes to investigate.  I hope someone in the area can dig into this, no pun intended, and keep us posted.

 

 


Dennis

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 #4 

That is my favorite kind of newspaper story.  "right across the street from the Perfect Circle plant".   Dennis

unimogbert

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 #5 
I don't have direct knowlege but my Dad says that the F3H Demon had engine troubles in hard rain due to casing shrinkage causing interference between rotating blades and the case.  The fix was to shave the turbine blades but this reduced power output.

Demon was the Navy's "All Weather Interceptor" but would flame out in a hard rain. Another engine failure was that it could idle in afterburner

Related? I dunno.  There was still a lot to be learned about engines in those days.

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DaveTrojan

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 #6 
Your Dad was correct about the Demon. You should listen more to your Dad!
For the  THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY about the F3H Demon see link
 http://www.bobjellison.com/f3h_demon2.htm

Now back to why did those eight F-84 Thunderjets all crash together? Anyone know the answer?

Thanks Fairlane66 for the Newspaper article

DaveT 

 




Fairlane66

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 #7 

I haven't read anything to prove it, but I would suggest inlet icing.  Pilots reported their engines either exploded or conked out.  Ice breaking off the inlet and hitting the engine would account for that description.  Turbulence would cause structural damage, but generally not engine-related failure.  Lightning can cause all sorts of problems, but not consistent engine failure.  Heavy, heavy rain might cause a flameout, but not an explosion.  My vote, icing.  I'll see if I can find anything conclusive in the papers.

Mtflyer

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 #8 

I may be mixing this story up with another one I heard awhile back about a group of jets going down because of a fuel problem, I think that story was posted on this site.


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Fairlane66

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 #9 
Did a little Internet research and found a site (http://history.nasa.gov/sp4226.pdf) with a link to this NASA report:

NASA SP-2002-4226

"We Freeze to Please, A History of NASA’s Icing research Tunnel and the Quest for Flight Safety" by William M. Leary, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of External Relations, NASA History Office, Washington, DC, 2002

I pulled the following excerpt from Page 54:

"Work also continued at Cleveland on systems to protect the engines of jet aircraft.  The hazards of this type of icing were dramatically demonstrated in 1951 when eight  U.S. Air Force F-84 fighter-bombers were lost over Richmond, Indiana, on 8 June during a brief encounter with severe icing conditions. The aircraft were part of a flight of thirty-four Thunderjets that had just taken off from Wright-Patterson Field, Ohio, for Selfridge Field, Michigan. While flying through a thunderstorm, eight of the aircraft experienced sudden engine failure. Three pilots died and two were injured in the largest mass jet disaster in aviation history. At first, the military suspected sabotage and called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But it soon became clear that icing was to blame. Ice had built up on the engine inlet screens that prevented the ingestion of debris during takeoff, choking off the airflow and causing the engines to quit."

So, it appears icing caused the mishap, although not directly.  Icing on the intake FOD screens choked off air to the engines, likely resulting in compressor stalls and flameouts.  Without airflow to the engines, an air start would have been impossible, especially in IMC.

Now for the interesting "wreckchasing" part.  Richmond, Indiana, is 45 miles due west of Wright-Patterson AFB.  The area is still largely agricultural, so it's likely a wreckchaser could investigate several of these F-84 crash sites in a single day. 

In one of my posts above, a witness references the Perfect Circle Plant.  I Googled the Perfect Circle Plant and found the following address:  Dana Corporation, Perfect Circle Division, Richmond Liner Foundry, 5153 Williamsburg Pike, Richmond, Ind, 47374.  Referencing Google Earth, the older part of the complex is clearly visible on the east side of the north-south highway.  There's a new-looking, very large parking/storage lot on the west side of the road, so it's probable the remains of the two F-84s that came down there were paved over.  However, given the rural location, it's just as likely the other 6 sites still exist.  Could be a wreckchaser's dream!

DaveTrojan

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 #10 
Great Job Fairlane66
Research worthy of recognition
I hereby reward you the metal of R.
For outstanding research
DaveT
fighterpilot

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 #11 

I am the widow of the Capt. Jackson who "dead sticked" his F-84 into the plowed up field just short of the Richmond, IN airport. It was icing on the intake screens caused by flying through a super-cooled thunder storm. The first and third squadrons went around the storm, but the second plowed through. When the engins failed every thing else failed including the radio and canopy release. Bob said he could not see anything, but a small patch of light below so he headed for that and found the airport. He was flying no.2 in the second flight. It took super effort for him to manually release his canopy and crawl out before the fire reached the cockpit. (the engine was on fire). 3 were killed, 3 not injured, and 2 injured-one being my husband who suffered some spinal problems and a cut eye. I believe the Richmond paper's archives can now be found on the internet.

fighterpilot

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 #12 

The three squardrons comprised The 12th Strategic Air Command Fighter-Bomber Escort Wing out of Bergstrom AFB, Austin, Texas on a training mission prior to their July temporary duty deployment to England with in-flight refueling over the Atlantic. I have some of the official photos given to my husband; I have identified his plane by comparing the subtitles under the pictures published in various newspapers.

DaveTrojan

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 #13 
Message received and posted from a widow of one of the pilots involved in the incident. "Today's news of grounded airlines has brought back memories of the June 8, 1951 crash in Indiana. I am the widow of the pilot who tried to make the Richmond Airport with his gear down, but hit in the plowed up field short of the runway. Bob was injured and spent 5 months in and out of Brook Army Medical before he returned to active duty. I recently received the transcript of the investigation--Maxwell AFB. It was icing on the intake screens, but, also, there were other problems. The best man at our wedding, 3 weeks prior to the mission, went down near the Perfect Piston plant. The canopy ejection system was faulty." 
 
AntiqueGal

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 #14 
I posted that I have one of the seats from one of the crashed planes a couple weeks back and I am looking for information about what I can do with it. Any guidance would be great.
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