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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 17606
Last updated: 13 November 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Supermarine Spitfire F Mk 21
Owner/operator:1 Sqn Royal Air Force (1 Sqn RAF)
Registration: LA303
C/n / msn: SMAF4422
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:1/4 mile NE of RAF Hawkinge, Folkestone, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:RAF Hawkinge, Folkestone, Kent
Destination airport:RAF Hawkinge, Folkestone, Kent
LA303: Spitfire F.21 (c/no. SMAF4422). Built by Vickers-Armstrongs (Supermarine) at South Marston. Griffon G.61 engine. Test flown by Flight Lt Loweth (Vickers Armstrongs South Marston) for 10 minutes 4-7-45. Delivered to the RAF at 39 MU by Flying Officer Ayres, ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) 12-7-45. To 1 (Fighter) Squadron, RAF Tangmere 12-9-45 (as "JX-K"). FACE (Flying Accident Category E): destroyed by fire 27-9-45. Struck Off Charge 25-10-45.

Spitfire XXI (LA303) of No.1 Squadron crashed at RAF Hawkinge on the afternoon of 27th September 1945, killing the pilot, Flying Officer Thomas Glaser. The aircraft had taken off from Hawkinge on a bombing exercise at 15.53, part of a Flight of three Spitfires, each of which was carrying four inert GGS practice bombs. Four minutes after becoming airborne, Glaser called up over channel 'A' and said he was returning to base as his engine was giving him trouble. The two other Spitfires continued on the exercise and LA303 headed back toward the airfield. The pilot called Flying Control on channel 'B' and repeated his message - within a few seconds his Spitfire was seen on the northeast side of the airfield, flying south in a right hand circuit.

In an attempt to make the runway the Spitfire banked steeply to starboard, stalled in the turn, and flipped over onto its back before crashing to earth. The wreckage, just a quarter of a mile from the airfield, was all concentrated in a small area with little forward scatter, showing a complete stall had occurred.

Flying Officer Glaser had been assessed as a 'proficient' fighter pilot, and had trained at No.16 EFTS at Burnaston, Derby. He had flown DH82's, Harvards and Spitfires - logging a total of 483 flying hours, 93 of these had been on Spitfires. LA303 was constructed in July 1945, and the Rolls Royce Griffon 61 engine had been built at Crewe on 26th October 1944.

Examination of the engine revealed that the failure had been caused by fracture of the inlet outer exhaust springs on A2 and A4, causing burning of the flame traps opposite A2 and loss of power due to backfiring. Rolls Royce examined the failed springs at their laboratory, baffled because this was the first ever instance of spring failure in a Griffon engine whilst in service.

The results of their analysis showed that the fracture of the rear inlet outer valve A2 was caused by an intermittent seam in the wire, and A4 rear inlet outer valve spring failure was from a fatigue crack developing from a corrosion pit on the surface of the wire. Following this accident, Rolls Royce investigated the possibility of enamelling the springs to prevent corrosion. A contributory factor to the accident was given as the apparent reluctance of the pilot to make an immediate forced landing which resulted in his attempting to turn to starboard in order to make a runway approach, during which turn the aircraft stalled. According to some sources, this incident was the first time there had been a fatal accident involving a Spitfire F.21.

Flying Officer Thomas GLASER RAFVR 188989 - killed on active service 27 September 1945; commemorated at Golders Green Crematorium, Golders Green, London NW11


1. Halley, James (1999). Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents. Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.9. ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. The Supermarine Spitfire F.21 By Phil H. Listemann
4. CWCG:,-thomas/

Related books:

Revision history:

27-Apr-2008 09:41 Nepa Added
13-Sep-2011 04:50 angels one five Updated [Cn, Operator, Narrative]
27-Dec-2011 03:09 Nepa Updated [Operator, Source, Narrative]
07-Jun-2014 02:32 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Cn, Operator, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
05-Apr-2015 09:34 James JUMP Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
11-Jan-2018 08:19 angels one five Updated [Location, Narrative]
23-Oct-2019 18:19 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
23-Oct-2019 18:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Source]
27-Oct-2019 22:18 Anon. Updated [Operator, Operator]
13-Nov-2020 20:10 angels one five Updated [Phase, Narrative]

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