Los Angeles, CA military planes collide at sea, May 1952

Planes Collide At Sea

Seven B-29 Crewmen Missing and Pilot Of Fighter Dead After Ocean Crash

LOS ANGELES - (AP) - Five surviving B-29 crewmen told Wednesday of the terrific impact which knocked four of them unconscious when their big bomber and a marine fighter plane collided Tuesday nearly three miles above the Pacific ocean.

Altogether, six members of the crew parachuted in safety and seven are missing.

None of the missing is from the Pacific Northwest.

One marine, presumably the pilot of the marine Corsair fighter plane, was killed. Those resuced suffered only minor injuries.

Falls In Flames

Witnesses said the big bomber appeared to break in two, the forward section exploding into flames.

Navy and coast guard vessels continued searching southwest of Santa Catalina Island for any sign of additional survivors.

Hopes were not too high. Seven parachutes were sighted after the crash.

Find Pilot's Body

They were worn by the six surviving B-29 crewmen and the dead Marine airman, whose body was recovered.

Wreckage of the planes sank immediately. The bomber was from March Air Force Base, Calif., and the fighter from El Toro, Calif., Marine Air Base.

S-Sgl. Lawrence L. McLaughlin, 22, flight engineer, Dayton, Ohio, told newsmen "It seemed as if the big B-29 just stopped dead in the air. It shook terrifically. I jumped through a batch and pulled my parachute rip cord. The airplane was afire."

Survivor Bruised

McLaughlin, who suffered bruises and abrasions, is the only known survivor of the forward section of the B-29.

e and four fellow crewmen were rescued by the cruiser USS Toledo after bing in the rough water for about a half hour. Newsmen interviewed them aboard the Toledo later at San Diego.

The first man rescued was Airman Third Class Clarke H. Boesen, 24, a student gunner of Boelus, Nebr.

"God be my witness," he said. "I'll never say anything against the Navy again."

The Daily Chronicle, Centralia, WA 14 May 1952