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Fleet Air Arm
|Pilot S/Lt Vaughan Reginald Gill, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (MIA / KIA)
Crashed May 16, 1944
Built by Vought. This aircraft was number 722 in the sequence of production. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4U-1 Corsair bureau number 18154. Other sources state Corsair JT132 never had a USN bureau number assigned. This Corsair was delivered to the United Kingdom as part of defense aid.
Assigned to the Royal Navy (RN) to the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) as Corsair serial number JT132. Painted with sea gray upper surfaces and sky gray lower surfaces Assigned to assigned to HMS Saker operating from NAS Brunswick in Brunswick, Maine.
On May 16, 1944 this Corsair took off from NAS Brunswick in Brunswick, Maine piloted by S/Lt Vaughan R. Gill on a training mission. During the flight, collided with Corsair JT160 over Sebago Lake in Maine and both aircraft crashed into the lake. When they failed to return both were officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
After the crash, a search of Sebago Lake failed to locate either pilot or the wreckage of their Corsairs.
Both SubLieutenants Gill and Ray Knott were officially declared dead the day of the mission and assigned as personnel to HMS Sakar. Both are listed as missing in action. Both are memorialized at the Lee-On-Solent Memorial on bay 5, panel 7.
After the discovery and potential salvage of Corsair JT160 was announced, the State of Maine issued two emergency site declarations to make it illegal to salvage the submerged aircraft without a permit from the state and an emergency protection zone around the site. Maine believed the aircraft were "eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places". Also, the United Kingdom also voiced objections over the potential salvage, citing the fact that both aircraft are the military graves of the two British pilots who died aboard them.
In the final court ruling, U. S. District Court District of Maine in Admiralty - Historic Aircraft Recovery Corp. plaintiff v. State of Maine and the United Kingdom November 24, 2003 the salvage was overruled, ruling that US Admiralty Law (and arrest claims) did not apply to the aircraft in Sebago Lake and dismissed the case, blocking the potential salvage, ruling in favor of the wishes of Maine and the United Kingdom. The ruling was also a moral victory because the proposed salvage involved two war graves and was a commercial venture.
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