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Frank Cronin
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P-39 Q crash, June 16,1943

May 21, 2013 · in Aviation · · 5 · 1.6K

On the above date I was almost 5 years old. At a little after 4 pm the word went out that an airplane had crashed into a house. Ignoring our parents, all of us kids ran to where the plane had crashed. When I got there the pilot was gone and the word was that he was OK. The plane had pancaked into the middle of the street and slid forward into a house. No one was at home and no other persons were injured and no other property was damaged. This incident occurred in the city of San Bruno,CA, just West of Mills Field which is now SFO.

The airplane was a P-39Q and was assigned to the 4th AF, 328th FG, 327th FS, which was a transition unit flying out of Mills Field.

A number of years later I was conversing with an older resident of SB about the crash. He said it was a P-38 and he said I was too young to have known it was a . He bet me $50.00 that I was wrong. With a copy of the original crash report, the police report, newspaper articles, photos,and witness statements, I very soon proved that it was a P-39. My wife and I had a very nice dinner, on him.

This led me to see if I could find the pilot if he were still alive. With a fair amount of investigation I did find him and we corresponded for some time. He said he had been on a training flight and his engine quit which caused the crash. I lost contact with him after a while because of my job pressures and we were raising two High School girls. I did find out that he subsequently went to the 325th FG and was flying P-51's out of Italy.

This is the ONLY airplane that has ever crashed "WITHIN" the City Limits of San Bruno to this point. This is remarkable considering the amount of traffic in and out of SFO on a daily basis.

The model is a 1/48 P-39. There is nothing spectacular about it. I built it to have on my shelf as a very memorable reminder of a time in my childhood and of a story I enjoy telling.

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5 responses

  1. A very intriguing story, Frank...too bad you couldn't have presented this model to that pilot. Nice job on the build, by the way.

  2. very nicely done and wonderful story

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    said on May 23, 2013

    Great work on the P-39 Frank. I like models that have a personal angle with a bit of a story/history to them too. Nice one.

  4. Thanks for sharing an interesting story. Wonder if you found out about the serial/markings of this aircraft, or are they just "generic" on the model?

    • Thanks for the comment. The serial number is correct. Not that I remembered it from when I saw the airplane in 1943, but I have a very poor copy of a photograph taken at the site and I also have a copy of the USAAF report of this crash.

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