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Last updated: 21 July 2019
Status:
Date:Sunday 11 July 1943
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC3 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas Dakota I (DC-3)
Operator:Royal Air Force - RAF
Registration: FD815
C/n / msn: 9132
First flight: 1943
Crew:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Passengers:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Total:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:5 km (3.1 mls) NW of Tunis-El Aouina Airport (TUN) (   Tunisia)
Phase: Initial climb (ICL)
Nature:Military
Departure airport:Tunis-El Aouina Airport (TUN/DTTA), Tunisia
Destination airport:Tunis-El Aouina Airport (TUN/DTTA), Tunisia
Narrative:
Four Douglas Dakota aircraft attached to the RAF No.267 Squadron were tasked to drop fifty dummy parachutists and eighty pintails (a device that lands upright and automatically fires a flare).
Dakota FD815 made a normal takeoff at 21:08 British hours but crashed on fire about three minutes later.

Probable Cause:

The Court finds that a fire occurred in the aircraft, probably at the rear end of the cabin, shortly after take-off. There is no direct evidence as to the origin of the fire. The Court, however, considers that the fire did not originate in a dummy parachutist, but could have originated by the accidental firing of a pintail.
The Court does not have any evidence as to the cause of the crash, but considers it possible that the fire inside the fuselage destroyed the elevator controls, or produced so much smoke as to blind the pilot.
The highly inflammable nature of the cargo would have made remedial action almost impossible once a dummy parachutist had caught fire, which would happen at once if ignited by a pintail. The accidental firing of a dummy on the other hand gives three minutes warning during which the dummy could have been jettisoned.
The Court considers that Major Baxter was properly instructed and capable of performing his duties. He probably commenced arming the pintails as soon as airborne. This coincides with the outbreak of the fire.

Sources:
» rafcommands.com
» The Douglas DC-1/DC-2/DC-3 - the first seventy years / J.M. Gradidge


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This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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