|Pilot Lt(jg) Charles H. Mester (rescued)
Gunner ARM2c Elsworth L. Forwood (WIA, rescued)
Ditched October 17, 1942
Built by Douglas at El Segundo. Constructors Number 1193. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless bureau number 03361.
Assigned to the USS Wasp CV-7 to squadron VS-71. This aircraft had no known nickname, nose art or markings. After Wasp was sunk on September 15, 1942 all her surviving aircraft were flown to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.
On October 17, 1942 took off from Henderson Field on a search mission over Rekata Bay. Over the target, they claimed one Japanese floatplane shot down. Hit by anti-aircraft fire, this SBD ditched off Santa Isabel Island.
Both crew were picked up by Solomon Islanders and transported to Tatamba where coastwatcher Kuper radioed for their urgent pickup due to wounds suffered by Forwood. Henderson Field was unable to send any rescue aircraft because they suffered a bombarded by Japanese warships and no planes were available. Kuper performed surgery on Forwood and removed a bullet from his leg. Later, both crew were evacuated to safety.
Jim Sawruk adds:
"They may have been picked up by a USMC J2F Duck or got back by a coastal vessel. I do not think that a PBY was used this time."
An engine and pieces of wreckage on the reef off Santa Isabel Island are likely from this aircraft.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - SBD-3 Dauntless bureau number 03361
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List October 1942 - SBD-3 03361 pilot Master [sic]
Thanks to Jim Sawruk for additional information
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June 29, 2019