Historic Floyd Bennett Field during World War 2

Updated: April 15, 2007
FBF Ramp WW2
Navy Pilots and Aircraft at NAS New York during World War 2
(Official US Navy Photo)

Control Tower 1943
WAVE Operating Radio Equipment at the Control Tower
at NAS New York during World War 2 (Official US Navy Photo)

Floyd Bennett Field was an important US Naval Air Station during World War 2. It was an embarkation point for newly manufactured Naval aircraft. The field was also the home of many operational combat units including several long-range anti-submarine patrol squadrons. Although it was kept a secret from the American public, the Battle of the Atlantic was fought within sight of the Atlantic coastline of the United States. The airmen of NAS New York flew countless patrol flights, developed and tested new anti-submarine equipment, and some even gave their lives in the fight against Nazi U-Boats. This web site is dedicated to their memory

The following is a chronology of events at Floyd Bennett Field related to World War 2:
The American Campaign

1/31/41 -- At NAS NY, Floyd Bennett Field, twelve OS2U-3 and three J2F-5 patrol aircraft were each equipped with 2 MK-XVII depth bombs. (Source: US Navy, War Diary of the Eastern Sea Frontier)

NAS New York
6/2/1941 -- Dedication of NAS Floyd Bennett Field.

10/12/41 -- An OS2U-3 was on a ferry flight from NAS New York to NAS San Diego. The Kingfisher departed El Paso on the way to Tucson. The crash occurred at dusk in the Chiricahua Mountains. The left wing of the plane struck a tree moments before the aircraft crashed into the mountain. According to the aircraft record card, the striking of the tree may have catapulted passenger RM1C Roher out of the aircraft saving his live. Pilot Sgt. McMahon was killed. (Source: http://www.p-38.com/Navy_OS2U-3_crash_in_Chiricahua_Mountains.htm)

12/7/41 -- Rockaway Crowd Sees Army Plane Explode in Air and Fall Into Ocean; PLANE EXPLODES IN VIEW OF CROWD. A single-seater Army pursuit plane crashed into the ocean off Rockaway Park, Queens, yesterday afternoon after an explosion in mid-air. The pilot was killed and his body was recovered some time later by a Coast Guard amphibian that alighted on the water a... (NY Times)

4/11/42 -- Squadron VS1D3 at NAS NY, Floyd Bennett Field, had eighteen OS2U-3 aircraft, and the Coast Guard had nine OS2U-3 aircraft available for patrol. (Source: US Navy, War Diary of the Eastern Sea Frontier)

5/1/42 -- A Navy plane from NAS NY, Floyd Bennett Field attacked a periscope off Fire Island, Long Island. (Source: US Navy, War Diary of the Eastern Sea Frontier)

8/30/42 -- 2 NAVY FLIERS KILLED; Training Plane From Floyd Bennett Field Crashes at Oceanside (NY Times)

12/1/42 -- The USS Belleau Wood's first air group was formed December 1, 1942 at Floyd Bennett Field, N.A.S., New York. The organization was commanded by Commander Massy and operated 30 aircraft: 9 TBFs of VT-24, 9 SBDs of VC-24, and 12 FMs of VF-24. In May, 1943 Air Group 24 moved down to Philadelphia to board the USS Belleau Wood for the shake down cruise to Trinidad and the Gulf of Paria.(Source: US Navy, History of the USS Belleau Wood.)

4/1/43 -- The following aircraft were stationed at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn (NAS NY): Squadron VS34 with eighteen OS2U-3, and one J4F-2. Squadron EAD with one JRF and one J2F-5, Coast Guard with three J4F-1 and one PH. At Mitchel Field the Army had seven B-18-R and four B-24 bomber aircraft. (Source: US Navy, War Diary of the Eastern Sea Frontier)

5/3/43 -- 2 KILLED IN PLANE CRASH; Navy Officers Victims as Bomber Falls Near Floyd Bennett Field (NY Times)

8/1/43 -- The following aircraft were stationed at Floyd Bennett Field: Squadron VS34 with eighteen OS2U-3, one J4F-2, and two So3C-2, Squadron VB128 with twelve PV-1, EAD with 1 JRF-5, and the Coast Guard with one PH-3, three J4F-1, one JRF, and six S03C. (Source: US Navy, War Diary of the Eastern Sea Frontier)

8/7/43 -- A PV-1 (Aircraft P-9 Buno 29909 of Squadron VB-128) from Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn found and attacked an enemy sub. The plane was shot down by the sub within 15 miles of 37-35N; 71-20W. The crew of two was wounded and picked up by a PBM aircraft. At NAS Lakehurst, there were eleven type ZNP blimps, and at Mitchel Field in Long Island, the Army had nine B-17 and one B-34 aircraft. (Source: US Navy, War Diary of the Eastern Sea Frontier)

Maryann Pearsall Rowley of Breckenridge, CO adds:
"Your story of August 7, 1943 is incomplete. The Pilot of the downed PV-1 was Ted Cross. Cross dropped bombs on the sub but had received mortal wounds in the process and failed to arm the bombs before he successfully landed the PV-1 on the water. Two men including Cross died in the incident and two were rescued from the water. Cross himself escaped to the water but due to the severity of his wounds slipped out of his "Mae West" before the rescue. Five hours after Ted Cross and crew were shot down by a German U-Boat, another PV-1 was also shot down by the same U-Boat. More than 55 years after the incident, the son of a squadron member discovered a German document that confirmed they had indeed downed a second PV-1.The second pilot was the son of the US Senator from Georgia. His name was Lieut. Joseph Marcus George (Blackie)."

VPB-128 Floyd Bennett Field
Officers and Crew of VPB-128 at NAS Floyd Bennett Field in 1943.

3/29/44 -- 'Bombs' Fall, Frighten N.Y. Community. New York, March 28 (AP). -- Residents of Rockaway Beach, Queens, experienced much excitement but no harm today when a Navy plane from Floyd Bennett Field accidentally dropped two miniature practice bombs on the community... (Washington Post)

9/17/43 -- NAVY FLIER DIES IN CRASH; Unidentified Pilot Plunges Into Jamaica Bay Shallows (NY Times)

9/26/43 -- An OS2U aircraft from Floyd Bennett Field crashed 7 miles S of Little Egg Inlet (Near Atlantic City, NJ). Two survivors were picked up by CG 83340. (Source: US Navy, War Diary of the Eastern Sea Frontier)

12/12/43 -- A Lockheed PV-1 Ventura (BuNo 29888 of Squadron VB-147) ditched in Barnegat Inlet, NJ, and a depth charged exploded. All five crew members were killed (Source: US Navy records and http://home.att.net/~jbaugher).

Newpaper
Lockheed Ventura accident in Sheepshead Bay reported on Dec 28, 1943.

12/27/43 -- In the second fatal crash of the month, a Lockheed PV-1 Ventura (BuNo 48744 of Squadron VB-147) crashed and exploded in Rockaway Inlet near Sheepshead Bay. "...Operational anti-submarine flight. Weather: Ceiling 350-400-ft and flying conditions were undesirable for flight. Lt. Simcoke took of at 0620 on an operational flight, but immediately, returned to base due to foul weather. Operations Center (Eastern Sea Frontier) considered the mission important, and ordered the plane to take-off again. The plane tookoff the second time at 0748 and crashed at 0753. Adm Report: Opinion of the Squadron Commander, that the pilot tried to maintain contact with the ground during his turn after take-off, either until he settled on his departure course or with the intention of proceeding under the overcast, and that after he proceeded from over land to over Rockaway Inlet at low altitude, he lost contact with ground and struck the water before he could shift to instruments. It is believed that the pilots temporary faulty judgment in attempting to maintain contact under existing weather conditions, instead of flying on instruments immediately after take-off was the cause of the accident." (Source: Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net from www.vpnavy.com)
All five crew members were killed: Lt. Morris G. Simcoke of 404 B135th St in Rockaway, Ens. William R. Martings, AOM3c James K. Flannery, ARM2c Claybourne Patton, and AMM2c Joseph J. Richards (Source: Newspaper article and http://home.att.net/~jbaugher).

9/2/44 -- A Lockheed PV-1 Ventura (BuNo 34917 of Squadron VB-128) had its landing gear fold during a landing. The aircraft skidded & caught fire (Source: http://home.att.net/~jbaugher).

1/25/45 -- Navy Plane Crashes Into Jamaica Bay; Four Are Lost, Five Saved by Civilians. A twin-engined Navy patrol bomber crashed before dawn yesterday morning into Jamaica Bay. One member of the crew of nine was killed, three others were missing and presumed dead and five ... (NY Times)

6/14/45 -- Navy Fighter Plane Explodes in Air; Pilot Is Killed, 3 Homes Damaged. A single-seater Navy Grumman fighter plane exploded over Far Rockaway, Queens, yesterday, and crashed on the lawn of a bungalow at 341 Beach Thirty-second Street, setting fire to that building and causing damage to two adjoining bungalows. (NY Times)


Naval Air Ferry Command (NAFC):
Originally called Air Delivery Units (ADUs), the US Navy established the Naval Air Ferry Command (NAFC) at NAS New York on December 1, 1943. This was a wing of the Naval Air Transport Service (NATS), and three Air Ferry Squadrons were commissioned, VRF-1 at NAS New York, VRF-2 at NAF Columbus, Ohio, and VRF-3 at NAS Terminal Island, California. A fourth squadron, VRF-4, was formed at NAS New York on November 15, 1944. The ADUs and ferry squadrons used small transports like the R5O-6, to ferry pilots to the manufacturer's plant to pick up the aircraft and then the transport would fly to the station where the aircraft were delivered to bring the pilots back to either the factory for another flight or to their home station.
WAVES at Floyd Bennett Field:


Left: At the Navy War Exhibit in New York City during November 1943, WAVE Parachute Rigger 3rd Class Myra Jean Clark of NAS New York poses with a parachute, by a recruiting poster display.
Right: WAVE Parachute Rigger 3rd Class Myra Jean Clark of NAS New York holds up the pilot chute, as she demonstrates parachute packing tools and techniques.
(Official USN Photographs, now in the collections of the National Archives. Photo #s: 80-G-K-3753 and 80-G-K-13812)

Units based at NAS New York, Floyd Bennett Field During WW2

VRF-1 Ferry Squadron
Operational: ?? -
Aircraft: Various


VP-51
Operational: 4/8/41 -
Aircraft: PBYs
Special thanks to Joseph Cope, USMC, Retired for this image!

VB-126
Operational: Jun 43 - Jan 45
Aircraft: PV-1s


VB/VPB-128
Operational: 1943 -
Aircraft: PV-1s


VB/VPB-129
Operational: Nov 4-11, 1944. Came from Quonset Point for a week of ASW patrols in NY Harbor.
Aircraft:
Special thanks to Joseph Cope, USMC, Retired for this image!

VB-132
Operational: 2/1/45 - 5/25/45. Part of FAW-9.
Aircraft: PV-1s and then trained on PB4Y-2s


VB/VPB-143
Operational:
Aircraft: PB4Y-1s
Special thanks to Joseph Cope, USMC, Retired for this image!

VB/VPB-145
Operational: 4/28/45 - 6/20/45. Part of FAW-9.
Aircraft:


VB/VPB-147
Operational: 10/23/43 - 1/25/44. Under LCDR Henry C. Delong and part of FAW-9. Two crashes of PV-1s (BuNo 29888 on 12/12/43 and BuNo 48744 on 12/27/43)caused this unit to lose 10 men during their 3 months at NAS New York.
Aircraft: PV-1s


Contact us:
Can you help us with our research on the history of Floyd Bennett Field? Do you know of any other units or types of aircraft that were based at the field during World War 2? Do you have any old photos, documents, or stories about your experiences at the field? Please contact us!


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