Squadron Scrapbook
Aircraft Accidents

Page Six

The photos on this page show the wreckage of TBM 122, which crashed at Capodichinno in late 1953. The exact date of the crash is not currently available, but at the time, TBM 12 was assigned to FASRON 77. The TBM 122 accident is included here because all VR-24 Det aircraft and personnel were, as a result of unit designation changes, also assigned to VR-25 Det Naples, then FASRON 77, before some were reassigned to VR-24 Det Naples. The evolution of unit designation changes at Naples between July 1952 and April 1954 is explained in the History pages of this website.

First hand accounts of the accident are included at the bottom of this page.

Anyone who has photos, stories, and material they wish to share is encouraged to send them to
Dick Prather, Webmaster/Editor of the VR-24 website.


The wreckage of TBM 122 lies adjacent to the ramp at Capodichinno.


Rear section of TBM 122. BUNO 53122 and FASRON 77 tail letters 'BL' are visible on the side of the fuselage and on the tail structure.


This view of the wreckage shows the right wing and front section of fuselage minus engine. The F4U Corsairs in background belong to Carrier Air Group One.


View of the TBM 122 center section. The presence of CVG-1 aircraft in the background narrows the timeframe of the accident to between August and November 1953, during which time CVG-1 was deployed to the Med aboard the USS Franklin D Roosevelt.

From the Control Tower

The following is an excerpt from Vern Christensen's write up on his experience as an Air Controlman assigned duty in the tower at Capodichinno.

I was on duty in the tower when that accident (ed: TBM 122 crash) happened. The pilot had flown to Rome to pick up mail for the Sixth Fleet. On his return, he called in for a ‘straight-in’ approach. He was maybe ten to fifteen miles out from the field when he first called. An Italian LIA C-47 that we had cleared for takeoff. That pilot took longer than usual to line up and go.

TBM 122 called again at about five miles out for permission to land. He was cleared ‘to continue’ and was advised of traffic taking off. There would have been enough space between aircraft for him to land. However, the TBM pilot decided to go around. He was cleared to turn base leg for landing.

While turning base at a very low altitude, the TBM stalled and crashed into the second floor of a residence just off the field. The rear section of the aircraft broke away and fell into the street below. The pilot (an enlisted Navy pilot) and an Army passenger were killed. A third person in the rear section of the aircraft survived.

Editor's note: According to Gene Guidotte, another member of VR-24 Det Naples, the third person onboard the aircraft was AD2 Stambaugh. Though he received a severe head injury, AD2 Stambaugh was reported to have returned to normal duty with his unit at Capodichinno after treatment.

Excerpt from write up on the TBM 122 crash by Ralph DeLange

Ralph was assigned to FASRON 77 then NAF Naples from 1953 to 1953. He was at the field on the day of the accident and provided the following information.

When I was at Capodichinno in 53-55 we .....lost one TBM in 1954, to the best of my recollection. (ed: The TBM)...lost power on the downwind leg of final approach and hit a building several blocks to the North side of the field. The pilot was APC Norman, a roommate of mine, and one of two enlisted chief (ed: Aviation Pilots (APs)) in the squadron.

I was with a group who were at the base on a Saturday practicing emergency fire procedures and we were on the fire truck at the time and went directly out the gate and followed the plume of smoke to the wreckage.

The narrow streets were filled with people and slow getting to the scene. The plane had hit nose-first into the upper story of a 3 story building nearly at the streetside wall and the engine had gone in and the plane flipped on to the street upside down minus everything from the pilot's seat forward.

Norman was crushed underneath and behind him in the second cockpit was a soldier from Germany who had hitchhiked a ride from Rome where the plane had gone to pick up a load of mail. Also in the bilge was an AD2, plane captain. He was the only survivor.

We quickly covered the smoldering plane with foam which luckily had not taken fire. Some Italians had already got the AD2 out and he was lying injured in the street. An Italian Ambulance made it to the scene and took him away.

We managed to crawl under the plane and cut the bodies of Chief Norman and the soldier out and they likewise were taken by an Italian fire crew which showed up. I believe a woman and child were also killed in the apartment where the engine landed.

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