The following is an excerpt from an account of Stu Nelson's time flying the F4U Corsair as a Marine carrier pilot in Korea. There is more, all interesting, and I will try to get in more in coming editions. In the "every day something—new" category, I was tail end Charlie on a flight of four directed to take out a bridge just south of Sinuiju. The weather was mostly overcast, but we spotted the bridge through a hole in the clouds, and made a dive—bombing attack. The leader missed, his wingman scored a hit but his bomb failed to detonate, the section leader missed, and my bomb hit, but also turned out to be a dud. These bombs had been stored on Okinawa since WW II. We pulled back up through the clouds, and turned west towards the coastline. The leader, the squadron executive officer, and relatively new to the war, decided that we should make a damage assessment. As the last one off the target, I advised him that the bridge was still intact, and suggested that if we go back in under the overcast the enemy anti aircraft gunners could time their shells to explode at the cloud base and somebody might be hit. His response was; " Lieutenant, we will make a damage assessment!" As we approached the bridge area he was bracketed by the AA and hit. I instructed him to take up a Zoo—degree heading and I joined on his right wing. His plane was airworthy but he was wounded in the arm and leg and losing a considerable amount of blood. I suggested that he break the ammonia capsule that was taped to the windshield to keep him from passing out. If I could just get him out over the water he could successfully ditch the plane and be rescued. About
this time, he began to fly erratically and when he banked too much, I flew under his plane and lifted his wing up with mine. I had to do this three times. This procedure and constant talking to him kept him reasonably alert. As we approached the shoreline, I asked whether he wanted to ditch or bail out; he preferred ditching. In order to lighten his plane as much as possible, I had him drop his belly tank, shoot off his rockets and fire out all his machine guns. This eliminated 2500 pounds. I told him that if he could hang on for five more minutes, he would be rescued. I had alerted a British picket ship, on guard channel, to his plight, and told them to expect a ditching 500 meters north of their ship. I literally talked him into a water landing—when to lower his flaps, cut back on the power, and flare the airplane. The plane hit, skipped once, and settled in. A whaleboat from the ship was less than loo meters away. The Brits gave me thumbs up and I shoved off for the carrier. He later told me that when he hit that 29—degree water, he really came to! When I landed back at the ship, I was anxious to look at my upper wing tips. To my amazement, there was not a scratch on them. Apparently, the wind speed at 200 knots and the wing airfoil prevented them from touching. I said that this might be a something new kind of day; it certainly was!
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Magazine of TWA Active Retired Pilots Assn.