HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

4 April 2018

Royal Navy Corsair ditches into St Georges Basin 1944

1944  -  Young Fleet Air Arm pilot Sub Leutenant Leonard took off in his Royal Navy Corsair from RNAS Jervis Bay on a training run,  shortly after taking off the engine caught fire and Leonard was forced to ditch the plane into St Georges Basin.  Leonard escaped injury. The Corsair laid in the shallow basin undiscovered for another 18 years.


1962 - Reports over many years of something snagging local fishermans nets led some locals to investigate the site,  this led to the discovery of the Royal Navy Corsair laying in the St Georges Basin mud. The Corsair was raised by attaching steel 44 gallon drums to the aircraft then filling the drums with air.


News of the discovery soon reached the N.A.S. (Naval Air Station) Nowra, which immediately sent POAF(O) Tiffen to the site to check the guns and unload them if necessary.  He returned with 2.200 rounds of point five ammunition which he had removed from the crashed aircraft, two of these rounds were recovered from the breaches of the guns.  The ammunition was in poor
condition but quite capable of being fired.
The guns from the Corsair were removed the following day, six guns in total which were in surprisingly good condition. It was decided to restore one of the guns.

The photograph below shows the gun after restoration, the gun was now fully operational.


The reasons why the guns remained in such good condition was though to have been because of their excellence in manufacture and the preservative effect of the St Georges Basin mud.

After removing the guns the remains of the plane were destroyed.

The guns recovered were. Point five calabre maching guns, manufactured by the Colts Patent Fire Arm Company, Hartford, Conneticut, USA. They were capable of firing between
400 and 800 rounds per minute.

The Corsair was designed as a carrier-based aircraft used mainly in World War 2, but it came to and retained prominence in its area of greatest deployment: land based use by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Continue reading about the Firefly aircraft discovered in Jervis Bay.


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