Naval History and Heritage Command

National Naval Aviation Museum

Museum's Restored SB2U

Photo of the museum's SB2U Vindicator after being restored
Title: Museum's Restored SB2U Vindicator
Caption: Overhead view of the museum's SB2U-2 Vindicator following the completion of restoration work. The airplane spent nearly a half century beneath the waters of Lake Michigan.
Description: This airplane is the last SB2U-2 Vindicator delivered to the Navy, joining the fleet in 1939. It flew from the decks of the carriers Ranger (CV 4) and Wasp (CV 7), including flights in support of the Neutrality Patrol tracking hostile vessels approaching the shores of the United States. Before its assignment to the Carrier Qualification Training Unit (CQTU) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Glenview, Illinois, in 1943, the museum’s aircraft flew with Bombing Squadron (VB) 9, the last front-line squadron equipped with the Vindicator as it awaited delivery of the SBD-5 Dauntless. On June 21, 1943, Marine Second Lieutenant A.W. Lemmons ditched the airplane in Lake Michigan during carrier qualification on board the training aircraft carrier Wolverine (IX-64).
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This airplane is the last SB2U-2 Vindicator delivered to the Navy, joining the fleet in 1939.  It flew from the decks of the carriers Ranger (CV 4) and Wasp (CV 7), including flights in support of the Neutrality Patrol tracking hostile vessels approaching the shores of the United States.  Before its assignment to the Carrier Qualification Training Unit (CQTU) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Glenview, Illinois, in 1943, the museum’s aircraft flew with Bombing Squadron (VB) 9, the last front-line squadron equipped with the Vindicator as it awaited delivery of the SBD-5 Dauntless.  On June 21, 1943, Marine Second Lieutenant A.W. Lemmons settled into the groove astern of the training aircraft carrier Wolverine (IX-64) steaming through the waters of Lake Michigan.  However, as can easily happen in the dangerous business of landing an aircraft on a ship, events quickly turned for the worse.  The landing signal officer (LSO) stationed on the aft part of the flight deck whipped his arm across his chest, the signal to cut engine power and land.  Lemmons for some reason did not fully respond to the LSO.  The SB2U-2 continued up the deck, heading towards the barrier designed to stop aircraft that missed the arresting wires.  The pilot attempted to pull his nose up to clear this obstacle, but his extended tailhook caught the top of it, breaking off.  With nothing to stop it, the scout-bomber hit the deck and rolled off the starboard bow.  Lemmons survived, the aircraft did not, sinking to the lake bottom.

Topic
  • nhhc-topics:aviation
Document Type
  • nhhc-document-types:photograph
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
  • nhhc-file-format:image
Location of Archival Materials