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|Pilot Lt(jg) David Loyd Mandt, 7002522 (died) Detroit, MI
Crashed March 18, 1945
Built by Grumman as model G-58. Constructors Number D-01. This aircraft was the first of two prototypes constructed. On August 31, 1944 first flight. Delivered to the U.S. Navy (USN) as XF8F-1 Bearcat Bureau Number 90460. Assigned to Naval Air Material Center (NAMC) at Mustin Field at Philadelphia, PA. On December 13, 1944 assigned to NACA Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory at Langley Field, VA for trails and flight testing. On February 5, 1945 used for wind tunnel evaluations. No known nickname, nose art or markings.
On March 18, 1945 took off from NAS Patuxent River piloted by Lt(jg) David Loyd Mandt on a gunnery test mission to test the wing machine guns to determine gun equipment function and retention of bore sight and to test the new mounting brackets installed on one of the guns. The weather was clear with unlimited ceiling and visibility with a 5 knot wind from the northeast with glassy sea with high broken overcast at 7,000'.
From the ground, the gunnery tests were observed by Armament Test Section personnel on the ground without incident. After thirty minutes of flight, this Bearcat disappeared. In fact, it crashed into the Chesapeake Bay. When this aircraft failed to return it was listed as missing. When lost, Mandt had a total of 935.6 hours.
At 3:45pm when this aircraft had not returned it was deemed to be overdue and flight operations notified and a search was requested. Afterwards, three aircraft from the Armament Test Section searched the land and water near the firing range and Chesapeake Bay area. At 4:35pm the search planes spotted a large oil slick roughly 6 miles off Point-No-Point, Maryland at roughly Lat 38° 10' N Long 70° 10' W.
By 5:02pm, a crash boat reached the oil slick and recovered a seat back cushion, an oxygen bottle and two pieces of flap assembly wreckage. Also a left glove with "MANDT" and were all linked to the lost Bearcat. The next day, Navy personnel used grappling hooks and recovered a section of wreckage deemed to be the upper left "V" of the engine mount that was separated from the wreckage.
The body of the pilot was never located nor during any subsequent searches. Also, the cause of the crash was never determined other than it impacted at high speed and likely broke apart on impact and presumably killed the pilot on impact.
During the 2010's during a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) survey of the Chesapeake Bay, a submerged object or wreck was discovered with multi-beam echo sonar imagery recorded.
On June 10, 2017 the site was SCUBA dived by underwater archaeologists from Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) plus and three volunteer divers with Institute of Maritime History (IMH). The aircraft wreckage is protected legally from unauthorized disturbance under the U.S. Navy (USN) Sunken Military Craft Act.
Amy (née Scott) Mandt (mother passed away March 4, 1946)
Patricia Mandt (sister)
Lawrence Institute of Technology 1941 page 84 (photo), 90 (C.A.A Flight Class),
Lawrence Institute of Technology 1948 pages 12-13
Navy Serial Number Search Results - XF8F-1 Bearcat 90460
"90460 first flight Aug 31, 1944. Assigned to Naval Air Material Center (NAMC), Mustin Field, Philadelphia, PA. Field arrested trials at Philadelphia Dec 1944. Assigned to NACA Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, Langley Field, VA Dec 13, 1944 to Feb 5, 1945 for wind tunnel evaluation. Assigned to NAS Patuxent River, MD for preliminary armament testing. Crashed during gunnery test NAS Patuxent River, MD 3/18/1945. Pilot killed."
USN Navy Accident Reports - F8F Bearcat 90406
Detroit Times "Detroit Flier Lost" March 23, 1945
Detroit Free Press "Plane Crash in Bay Kills Lt. David Mandt" March 24, 1945 page 7
Naval Aviation News "Lost Bearcat: Found or Still Missing?" by Donna Cipolloni August 31, 2017
FindAGrave - LTJG David Lloyd Mandt (photo)
Thanks to Katie Rasdorf, Craig Fuller / Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research (AAIR) for additional information
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December 18, 2021
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