Aircraft lost in the vicinity of Nikumaroro

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Derived from table created by Ric Gillespie, Forum, 26 January 2001. In that same thread, Gillespie wrote:

Emily's anecdote about old aircraft wreckage on the reef dates from sometime between her arrival on Gardner in early 1940 to her departure in November 1941. There are no known losses in the region, or the whole Central Pacific for that matter, prior to that time which could account for that wreckage --- except one.
The chances of an unknown aircraft loss in that region prior to that time is so remote as to approach nil. Bottom line: if Emily saw aircraft wreckage, it was NR16020.

This list is also important for tracking possible sources of the navigator's bookcase found during TIGHAR's first Niku expedition in 1989.

Date Service Type BuNo Squadron Details
11 January 1938 Pan Am Sikorski S-42 n/a n/a The Samoan Clipper exploded in mid-air shortly after takeoff over Pago Pago harbor in American Samoa, which is 600+ NM from Nikumaroro.
16 March 1940 USN PBY-2 0487 VP-25 Hit reef on takeoff from Canton.
January 1942 USN PBY VP-23 Lost near Canton during night takeoff.
22 June 1942 USAAF Boeing B-17E 41-9208 "Short of Rwy, Canton Island, PAC. Written off (damaged beyond repair)."[1]
October 1942 USAAF B-17D Enroute Hawaii to Canton missed Canton and ditched near the Ellice Group. (Rickenbacker on board).
13 November 1942 USAAF P-39D Crashed on Canton, pilot killed.
15 December 1942 USN PBM Hit reef while taxiing at Canton.
7 February 1943 AATC C-87 41-23903 "...The C-87 rolled and dived into the water while turning on finals to Canton Island. The flight was being operated by United Airlines under contract to the Army Air Transport Command. It was deemed possible that an asymmetric flap deployment caused the accident." [2]
12 February 1943 USN PBY-5 8033 VP-71 Engine fire on takeoff at Canton. Crashed and sank.
27 March 1943 USN PBY-5A of VP-54 Destroyed in Japanese bombing attack on Canton.
13 August 1943 USN PBY-5 Beached at Canton after being shot up by Japanese Kawanishi H8K "Emily" flying boat.
18 September 1943 USAAF P-39Q Spun into sea on takeoff at Canton. Pilot killed.
5 October 1943 USN PBY-5A 33967 Forced landing at sea enroute to Canton. Sank while under tow to Canton.
20 October 1943 Consolidated PB4Y-1 32102 VB-106
Lost at sea.
  • "ex USAAF B-24D 42-40882."[3]
  • "10/20/1943 PB4Y-1 32102 VB-106 Funafuti Canton Empire Lt Samuel I. Patella"[4]
  • "Missing in flight from Canton Island to Funa Futi. 9 missing"[5]
  • "CFAW-2 JUN; VB-106 JUL-OCT; Flight Canton Island to Funafuti, crashed at sea 400 mi. SW of Canton Isl. Loss date 18 Oct 1943. Stricken 20 OCT 1943."[6]
23 October 1943 IJN Kawanishi H8K "Emily" Shot down by P-40s 70 miles south of Baker. Two other Emilies had previously been shot down by F-6-Fs from the light carrier USS Princeton CV-22 in the vicinity of Howland and Baker.
18 November 1943 PB4Y-1 32123 VB-108 Non-combat mission. "Ex-USAAF B-24D 42-40950 ... Ditched at sea "near Funa Futi."[7] Entire crew of ten rescued six days later.[8] One passenger missing. Pilot Lt. P. Hard & 9 crew survived.[9]
17 December 1943 USAAF C-47A 43-30739 Crashed at Sydney Island during sightseeing flight. Nine fatalities.[10]
30 December 1943 USN PBY-5A 3393 Missing enroute from Baker to Makin.
11 January 1944 USN PBJ (B-25) Missing enroute from Canton to Tutuilla, Samoa.
16 February 1944 USN PBY-5 Sank off Canton
10 May 1944 Canadian? C-87 Tire blew on takeoff, aircraft hit revetments, burned.
10 June 1944 USN PBM-3D 48199 Engine fire, forced landing, beached at Howland. Aircraft burned.
19 July 1944 USAAF B24J Liberator 41029 "Crashed after takeoff from Canton Island, Pacific Ocean, Jul 19, 1944 near the reef edge. 5 killed"[11]
2 August 1944 USN PV-1 33247 VMF(N)531 Gear up landing after aborted takeoff at Canton. Pilot: Marvin E. Notestine[12]
5 September 1944 USN PBM-3D 45236 VP-200 Engine failure, forced landing at sea (exact location unknown); flooded and sank in high seas.
22 October 1944 USN PBJ (B-25) Destroyed in taxiing accident on Canton.
31 October 1944 USN PBJ (B-25) Destroyed in taxiing accident on Canton.
23 April 1945 USAAF B-24M-35-CO 44-42473 Damaged in landing accident at Topham Field, Canton Island.[13] Pilot: Edward A. Dibler, Jr.[14]
26 April 1962 FAA Lockheed L-749A Constellation Crashed during touch and go landing at Canton.

To do


Date:         Wed, 19 Dec 2001 19:26:21 EST
From:         Woody
Subject:      Re: Titanic confusion

Ric, I'd like to take exception to one of this guy's statements. Baker
Island is 38 miles south of Howland Island. It was used as a staging and
refueling base in WW2 from November of 1943 to the end of the war in 1945
when it was abandoned. B24's used Baker via Canton to stage bombing raids
into the Marshall Islands. Baker was a regular route for refueling planes
that were being ferried into the Pacific Theater of Operations up to the
cessation of hostilities. There are parts of a B-24 that crashed on Baker
Island on December 6, 1943--I have the 7th AF mission report on it. I have
many of the AF mission reports for flights in that area, anyone that says
there was no military activity in the area during the war doesn't bother
with that most basic of all tools--research!


  1. "ASN Wikibase Occurrence #97341."
  2. "Accident Description, Sunday 7 February 1943."
  3. "US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos."
  4. "USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List. Patrick Gaston said that the crew consisted of Pilot Lt Samuel L. Patella A-V(N) USNR, Ens Richard H. Wood A-V(N) USNR, Ens John C. Mackey A-V(N) USNR, Amm3c John Grady Waiden, Jr. USNR, Aom3c Argus Winfield, Jr. USNR, Amm3c Donald Dean Dickey USN, Art1c Itley Dwight Winn USNR, Amm3c O. Atkinson USN, Amm3c Lloyd E. Hume USN, and Amm3c William E. Lexlon USNR (Forum, 24 September 2004). The list is confirmed by "PB4Y Personnel Losses for Feb 1943 to September 1944."
  5. ASN Wikibase Occurrence #81075.
  6. Aviation Archaeology, "PB4Y USN Aircraft Airframe History List."
  7. "US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos."
  8. Aviation Safety Net #81085.
  9. Pat Gaston, Forum, 24 September 2004.
  10. "Crash of a C-47 on Sydney Island."
  11. "1944 USAAF Serial Numbers."
  12. "USN Lockheed PV Ventura & Harpoon Accident Reports."
  13. "1944 USAAF Serial Numbers (44-40049 to 44-70254)."
  14. "April 1945 USAAF Overseas Accident Reports."