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#4643153 - 02/27/24 06:46 PM Fighter ace causes of death  
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I've spent a good part of today and yesterday reading short biographies of famous fighter aces from WWI and WWII and what surprised me was how many of them died from non-combat causes. There are probably more examples but these are the aces I read about so far:


Werner Molders - Died when the HE-111 he was on crashed while attempting to land.

James McCudden - Died while hot-dogging in his SE5 shortly after take off.

Hans-Joachim Marseille - Engine malfunction and died while trying to bail out.

Dick Bong - Died during takeoff while test flying the P-80 in California.


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#4643154 - 02/27/24 07:42 PM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Gerhard Barkhorn, the number 2 ace, was killed in an auto accident in the 1980s


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#4643155 - 02/27/24 09:35 PM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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I would remove Marseille. He was on a combat mission.


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#4643156 - 02/27/24 09:39 PM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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There was also a Japanese ace with 60+ kills who died when the transport aircraft he was traveling in was shot down.


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#4643158 - 02/27/24 10:00 PM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Top Canadian, George Beurling. Very interesting man and pilot. In 1948, Beurling was recruited to fly P-51 Mustangs for the Israeli Air Force. After a test flight, Beurling fatally crashed his Noorduyn Norseman transport aircraft while landing at Aeroporto dell'Urbe in Rome on 20 May 1948.


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#4643161 - 02/28/24 12:57 AM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Joseph C. McConnell was killed test flying the F-86H.


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#4643162 - 02/28/24 01:23 AM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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I wasn’t aware of the connection of his death and Chuck Yeager.


“ In 1954, he was temporarily assigned to the service test program for the new F-86H Sabre. This was the last and most powerful version of the Sabre, and was intended to be a nuclear-capable fighter-bomber. On 25 August 1954, while testing the fifth production F-86H-1-NA (serial number 52-1981) at Edwards Air Force Base, McConnell was killed in a crash near the base following a control malfunction.[7] The cause of the accident was attributed to an incorrectly installed bolt. Then-Major Chuck Yeager was assigned to investigate the crash and replicated the malfunction at a much higher altitude. This height advantage allowed him to safely regain control of the aircraft before it hit the desert floor.”


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#4643163 - 02/28/24 01:45 AM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: oldgrognard]  
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Originally Posted by oldgrognard
I wasn’t aware of the connection of his death and Chuck Yeager.


“ In 1954, he was temporarily assigned to the service test program for the new F-86H Sabre. This was the last and most powerful version of the Sabre, and was intended to be a nuclear-capable fighter-bomber. On 25 August 1954, while testing the fifth production F-86H-1-NA (serial number 52-1981) at Edwards Air Force Base, McConnell was killed in a crash near the base following a control malfunction.[7] The cause of the accident was attributed to an incorrectly installed bolt. Then-Major Chuck Yeager was assigned to investigate the crash and replicated the malfunction at a much higher altitude. This height advantage allowed him to safely regain control of the aircraft before it hit the desert floor.”



I believe it was either this accident or a similar one involving the F-104 that was traced back to the factory where an assembly line worker had decided to insert a bolt in the opposite direction called for by the specs because doing so was easier.


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#4643168 - 02/28/24 07:08 AM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: oldgrognard]  
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Originally Posted by oldgrognard
Then-Major Chuck Yeager was assigned to investigate the crash and replicated the malfunction at a much higher altitude. This height advantage allowed him to safely regain control of the aircraft before it hit the desert floor.”

And that's just how things were done; find out and fix it -- no endless theoretical studies and examination

Also goes to show the balls on men like Yeager. He was going to duplicate a known-deadly manoeuvre with the only hope that additional altitude might help him survive.


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#4643180 - 02/28/24 11:16 AM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: oldgrognard]  
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Originally Posted by oldgrognard
I would remove Marseille. He was on a combat mission.



I included Marseille because his death was not due to any enemy action. It was due to a faulty engine design of the BF109 variant that he was flying at the time and also his mis-judgement on when to bail out of the plane which caused his body to slam into the rear tail.


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#4643200 - 02/28/24 05:36 PM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: Herman]  
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Originally Posted by Herman
Originally Posted by oldgrognard
Then-Major Chuck Yeager was assigned to investigate the crash and replicated the malfunction at a much higher altitude. This height advantage allowed him to safely regain control of the aircraft before it hit the desert floor.”

And that's just how things were done; find out and fix it -- no endless theoretical studies and examination

Also goes to show the balls on men like Yeager. He was going to duplicate a known-deadly manoeuvre with the only hope that additional altitude might help him survive.


They don't make men like him anymore.

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#4643214 - 02/28/24 09:30 PM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Many WWI pilots also died in crashes or mid-airs.


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#4643251 - 02/29/24 03:57 PM Re: Fighter ace causes of death [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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