Navy Warplane Lost for 62 Years Found in Lake Washington

On August 17, 1942 a Grumman TBF-1 Avenger and a Grumman F4F Wildcat experienced a mid-air collision over Lake Washington during a training exercise out of the Sand Point Naval Air Station in Seattle . Sand Point was a major aviation crew training facility and was located on the west shore of the lake where Magnusun Park is now located.  The Avenger is the same type of aircraft that former President George Bush Sr. was shot down in 1944.

John Sharps and Crayton Fenn of Innerspace Exploration Team discovered the Avenger on October 31, 2004 with the use of high resolution sidescan sonar. Dives made by the team confirmed that it is in fact a heavily damaged Avenger aircraft. The aircraft rests in about 200 feet of water and is in several pieces.

The Avenger was a sophisticated torpedo bomber crewed by a pilot, radioman and gunner and was used to attack enemy ships by launching torpedoes. With a wingspan of over fifty feet and able to carry 2,000lbs of bombs or a single torpedo it was a large plane. The Avenger received its name in response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor . The first aircraft were ordered from Grumman just two weeks after that attack.

The Wildcat was a Navy fighter plane armed with a pilot and six 50cal machine guns. It was used to protect and defend ships and slower aircraft from aerial attack. Both Avengers and Wildcats were carrier based aircraft and were heavily utilized during WWII. Many of the crews that flew these aircraft came out of Sand Point.

In the training exercise, the Avengers were attacking Meydenbauer Bay on Lake Washington while the Wildcats were defending the bay. The planes were unarmed during the training. One Wildcat and one Avenger collided mid-air. The pilot of the Wildcat lowered the landing gear to slow his plane and bailed out. He was rescued shortly after. The Avenger however, was badly damaged. It severely crashed into the lake. The two crewmen were rescued, but the Ventral Gunner and plane were lost.

Aug 17 1942
Grumman TBF-1 Avenger torpedo-bomber # 00539
Bomber Pilot: F.W. Janney of Philadelphia
Gunner: Charles W. Price of Houston , TX
Ventral Gunner/Radioman (deceased): Bernard J. Viscovich of Shamokin , PA

Of the nine aircraft known to be in Lake Washington , Innerspace Exploration Team personnel were the first to discover six of them: F4F Wildcat, CB Republic, F6F Hellcat, SNV-2 Valiant, F4U Corsair, and this TBF-1 Avenger.

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