June 12, 2013 - The Naval Aviation Museum Foundation Inc. is preparing to transport a World War II FM-2 Wildcat fighter recently recovered from Lake Michigan on December 7, 2012, to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013.
The FM-2 Wildcat, Bureau No. 57039, crashed into Lake Michigan in about 200 feet of water on December 28, 1944. Ensign William E. Forbes was about to make his third takeoff for his aircraft carrier qualification training off the USS Sable when the engine "quit completely." The airplane rolled off the bow of the ship and sank.
The accident was determined to be 100 percent material (engine failure). Ensign Forbes survived the crashed to continue his service in the Navy. Later in life he married and became a successful attorney.
The Wildcat will be presented at AirVenture just as it was recovered in December. Viewers will be able to see the damage from the accident, the corrosive effect of many years at the bottom of Lake Michigan, as well as the impact on the aircraft of becoming home to thousands of invasive Quagga mussels. Attendees will be able to learn of the Navy's aircraft carrier training operations that were conducted on Lake Michigan during World War II and ongoing efforts to recover and preserve the once lost aircraft for the American public.
"Through the generosity of donors, such as EAA member Chuck Greenhill, who sponsored the recovery, we are able to preserve and present to the American public these aircraft that are so important in our nation's history," said retired Capt. Ed Ellis, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy, corporate secretary of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "With the support of the Navy History and Heritage Command and the many patriotic Americans who recognize the importance of our efforts, we must continue to retrieve as many of these WWII aircraft as possible before they turn into dust at the bottom of Lake Michigan."
The recovered warbird will be featured at the Friday afternoon, August 2, Warbirds in Review presentation, "Restoring the Wildcat." Attendees will get to see a Wildcat that's been completely restored plus this recovered plane, with discussion centered on what it takes to perform a restoration like this. The program begins at 1 p.m. at the at the special aircraft display area on Warbird Alley.
Visitors to EAA AirVenture 2013 can see and learn about this recovered warbird, a General Motors / Eastern Aircraft Division FM-2 Wildcat, on Warbird Alley.