France, Région Sud, Le Rayol-Canadel
Marine area adjacent to Port-Cros National Park
Natura 2000 Var coast
Port-Cros National Park manages the adjacent marine area. The marine observatory of the Golfe de St-Tropez District Community Council manages the Var coast of the Natura 2000 zone. Together, they conduct concertation between professional divers and fishermen, muncipalities, government bodies, etc., to define the actions and protective measures to carry out.
Description of the site of natural interest
The wreck lies on a sandy bed that is incessantly explored by striped red mullet (Mullus surmuletus). It is home to conger eels (Conger conger), a few swallowtail sea perch (Anthias anthias), small red scorpionfish (Scorpaena notata) and the occasional melon sea urchin (Echinus melo).
Description of the site of cultural interest
The Hellcat fighter-bomber was designed by Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp. during the Second World War to replace the Wildcat. 12,275 units were built from 1942 to 1945. It had a wingspan of 13.05 m and a length of 10.2 m. It was powered by a 2000 hp Pratt and Whitney R-2800-10, and could reach 605 kph with a ceiling of 11,450 m. It had a range of 1755 km. This unit was purchased by France in 1950 and served in Indochina before being brought to Hyères in August 1954.
On 14 May 1956, second master Jack Langin was at the controls. A young pilot freshly out of the American pilot school who had been assigned to the 54S squadron based in Hyères, he was carrying out a low-altitude manoeuvrability exercise in order to obtain his aircraft carrier landing qualification. An error of judgement caused him to brutally hit the surface twice. The engine stalled and the aircraft sank. The pilot was saved with a fracture. Today, the aircraft lies flat on a gentle slope amid rocks. The propellor is missing and the cockpit is open. One of the wings touches the sand and the other is in open water.