Someone had a really bad day

The scene of destruction after two F-51 Mustangs collided during a mock attack on Misawa Air Force Base (Japan) in 1949. In all, seven aircraft were destroyed and 16 damaged.

On 13 June 1949, a flight of fighters closed in on their target: Misawa Air Force Base. Misawa scrambled fighters to intercept the incoming aircraft, and soon, nearly two dozen aircraft are downed or on fire. Sadly, this was a drill and all of the aircraft were American.

Leading the attacking formation was 1st Lt. James Patrick Hurley (b. 18 January 1925), a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy (Class of ’46), from the 40th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group out of Johnson Air Force Base. Hurley’s F-51 Mustang collided with another Mustang flown by Lt. Stewart Abbott Young, Jr. (b. 22 March 1934) of the 8th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group, who had scrambled to intercept. Young was killed when his crippled fighter smashed into the flight line. The Mustang impacted among several dozen fully fueled F-80 Shooting Star jets, which were prepared for an operational readiness test the following day.

Hurley managed to avoid the flight line and occupied areas, but his parachute snagged on his Mustang when he bailed out and he was also killed.

Three Mustangs took damage, and one had to make a wheels-up landing at Misawa. Five Shooting Stars were destroyed and another 13 damaged. Fortunately, all non-essential personnel had been sent home early to prepare for the drill the next day, so only a few airmen were injured on the ground. A veteran of World War II, Young was buried in Maplelawn Park Cemetery, Paducah, Ky.. Hurley is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Author: Chris Carter

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