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  F4U-1A Corsair Bureau Number 49668  
"Fighting Corsairs"

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Captain Bruce Diving 2004
Pilot  2nd Lt. William H. Holden (survived)
Ditched  April 17, 1945 at 4:15pm

Aircraft History
Built by Vought. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4U-1 Corsair bureau number 49668. Disassembled and shipped to Oahu.

Wartime History
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC), Marine Air Wing 1 (MAW-1), Marine Air Group 12 (MAG-12), Marine Fighting Squadron 215 "Fighting Corsairs" VMF-215. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On April 17, 1945 took off from Molokai Field on Oahu piloted by 2nd Lt. William H. Holden a ferry flight bound for Ewa Field. Twenty minutes during the flight, this Corsair was at a bearing of 85° ten miles off Diamond Head, when he noticed his engine rpm fluctuating. Soon afterwards his oil began to spray on his windshield and his engine lost all power. His engine was wind milling when he stalled into the water in a three point attitude at approximated at 90 knots at 4:15pm, weather was ceiling and visibility unlimited (CAVU) with a 13 knot wind.  Location at time of ditching was 85° roughly four miles off Makapu'u Point on the southeastern corner of Oahu.

During the ditching, Holden was cut slightly over the right eye climbing from the floating plane and was later rescued. Afterwards, Holden reported all engine instruments registered correctly, except the cylinder head temperature which was broken before takeoff. The cause of the accident was deemed to be 100% caused by the engine.

This Corsair has been known since at least the middle 1980s and is a popular SCUBA dive site. The aircraft is upright at a depth of at a depth of 105'-110' on a flat sandy bottom with the wings partially covered by sand. The upper propeller blade is bent backwards slightly from the ditching and the cockpit canopy is open. During the middle 1980s, the radio aerial on the nose was still intact.

During 1985, Belisarius Productions / Glen A. Larson Productions shot underwater dive footage of this Corsair with actor Tom Selleck that appeared in the U. S. television show Magnum, P.I. "Rapture" (Season 6, Episode 10) that first aired in the US on December 12, 1985. In the episode Thomas S. Magnum (Tom Selleck) appears to be SCUBA diving to a depth greater than 200'. In fact, this aircraft is at a depth of 105'-110'. He then swims up to the Corsair, swimming up to the cockpit, looking inside then touching the propeller blade and ascending. In this footage, the Corsair radio aerial is still attached and soft coral growth is on the tip of the upper propeller blade.

Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4U Corsair 49668
"49668 (VMF-215) ditched Apr 17, 1945 on ferry mission due to engine failure off Makapu'u point on east side of Oahu, Hawaii. Pilot rescued. Wreck rediscovered around 1995."
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List April 1945 - F4U Corsair 49668
Amazon - Magnum, P.I. "Rapture" Episode 117 (Season 6, Episode 10) that first aired in the US on December 12, 1985 (38:30–39:14) includes footage of the right side and front view of this Corsair with SCUBA diver Thomas S. Magnum (Tom Selleck).
IMDB Magnum, P.I. "Rapture" director Russ Mayberry starring Tom Selleck
Thanks to Captain Bruce Diving for additional information

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Last Updated
April 24, 2020

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