ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 160688
Last updated: 4 November 2020
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:12-SEP-1945
Time:11:50 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Supermarine Spitfire Mk XIX
Owner/operator:PRDU Royal Air Force (PRDU RAF)
Registration: PM558
C/n / msn: 6S.683469
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Dell Quay, Appledram, 2 miles SW of Chichester, West Sussex -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Benson, Oxfordshire
Destination airport:RAF Tangmere, West Sussex
Narrative:
On 12th September 1945, F/Lt. J. Weaver took off from RAF Benson at 11.00 hours in Spitfire XIX PM558 of the Photographic Reconnaissance Development Unit on a fuel consumption test. He had been briefed to take off using main wing tanks, each of which carried a measured 20 gallons of fuel, climb to 28,000 feet at +7lbs boost, and fly at that height at +4lbs boost until the main wing tanks had been exhausted. Nothing is known of the aircraft's movements between 11.00 and 11.50 when it was heard over Chichester in a high speed dive. Low cloud covered the area, and a few seconds after being heard the Spitfire dived out of the cloud at high speed, minus one wing. After the main part of PM588 had impacted at Appledram (2 miles SW of Chichester), several other pieces were seen to fall in the neighbourhood. F/Lt Weaver died in the impact.

Spitfire XIX PM558 was a new aircraft, having flown for only four hours since manufacture, and it had been inspected and certified airworthy the previous day. F/Lt weaver was a very experienced pilot, an instructor at 21 EFTS with 1955 hours logged in all types and 187 of these were on Spitfires. All of his assessments were 'above average'. It was considered that his flying experience and proficiency were such that it was extremely unlikely that he committed any breach of flying discipline or error of judgement which could have led to the accident.

The disintegration, penetration into the ground, and the subsequent fire had been so severe that it was impossible to determine with certainty how much of the main wreckage was at the impact site. Various fragments of the airframe were found scattered over a distance of two miles from the site - a helicopter was used to find these and, with the exception of the starboard aileron, all of the parts that had become detached prior to impact were found. The starboard wing was 2 miles NW of the impact crater.

The accident was attributed to failure of the starboard wing due to upload, the nature of the failure suggesting sudden and excessive acceleration. A contemporary newspaper report has further details:

"Chichester Observer - Saturday 15 September 1945
DELL QUAY AIR CRASH.
FLIGHT-LIEUTENANT KILLED.
About noon on Wednesday many people at Chichester heard the noise created by a disastrous crash which occurred at Dell Quay, where a plane believed to be a Spitfire dived down on to land forming part of a now disused fighter aerodrome.

The plane was seen flying from the west, not far inland, and it appears to have begun to disintegrate when passing over Bosham, where one of the wings and the emergency oil tank came to earth. There was an explosion when the plane struck the ground, and-parts of it were scattered over an area of some 200 square yards.

The heaviest part embedded itself deeply, carrying the ill-starred pilot with it to instantaneous death. His remains were subsequently conveyed to Tangmere aerodrome, and he has since been identified as Flight-Lieut. John Wheeler, who was stationed at an aerodrome in the Midlands.

The wreckage of the plane burst into flames, which were put out by the crew of a R.A.F. fire tender from Tangmere, which reached the scene with great promptitude. The N.F.S. also went out from Chichester."

PIlot of Spitfire PM558
Flight Lieutenant John Wheeler RAF (Pilot, Service Number 125735, aged 29) - killed in a flying accident 12/9/1945, buried at Chichester Cemetery, Chichester, West Sussex.

Sources:

1. Air-Britain Royal Air Force Aircraft PA100-RZ999
2. http://www.airhistory.org.uk/spitfire/p089.html
3. https://allspitfirepilots.org/aircraft/PM558
4. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=12209.0
5. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2723052/wheeler,-john/
6. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=1226.0
7. http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?19528-450912-Unaccounted-Airwomen-amp-Airmen-12-09-1945&p=114237#post114237


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
20-Sep-2013 03:28 JINX Added
20-Sep-2013 03:29 JINX Updated [Registration]
31-Mar-2015 18:56 R.Giggs Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
05-Nov-2019 10:41 Nepa Updated [Operator, Location, Operator]
07-Feb-2020 20:49 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
07-Feb-2020 21:24 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Source, Narrative]
21-Feb-2020 07:44 Xindel XL Updated [Operator, Destination airport, Operator]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description