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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 20659
Last updated: 17 May 2020
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Date:26-JAN-1954
Time:12:27 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic B29 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing B-29A-65-BN Washington B.1
Owner/operator:35 Squadron Royal Air Force (35 Sqn RAF)
Registration: WF495
C/n / msn: 11605
Fatalities:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Morecambe Bay, 16 miles W of Lancaster, Lancashire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Ferry/positioning
Departure airport:RAF Prestwick, Ayrshire (PIK/EGPK)
Destination airport:Lajes AB, Terciera Island, Azores (LPLA)
Narrative:
Boeing B-29A-65-BN Superfortress 44-62128: Delivered to the USAAF 11 August 1945. To the Bechtel-McCone Modification Center, Birmingham, Alabama, August 1945. Assigned to 4136th Army Air Force Base Unit, Tinker AAF, Oklahoma. Re-Assigned to 4196th Army Air Force Base Unit (Air Material Command), Victorville AAF, California.

Modified to RB-29 for weather reconnaissance, named "Warm Front" and assigned to 59th Reconnaissance Squadron (VLR) Weather, January 1946 at Merced AAF, California (later renamed Castle AFB). Detached to Task Force 1 at Kwajalein, Marshall Islands for "Operation Crossroads" 1946.

Modified to WB-29A: Assigned to 4117th Army Air Force Base Unit, Robins AAF, Georgia. To Warner Robins Air Materiel Area, Robins AFB, Georgia for refit prior to being loaned to the RAF. To RAF as Washington B.1 WF495 December 6, 1950.

RAF service with 149, 115 and 35 Squadrons. Returning to USA on January 26, 1954 as part of "Operation Home Run" she experienced uncontrollable icing and crashed into the Morecambe Bay, 16 miles west of Lancaster, Lancashire. Despite an extensive search by six lifeboats none of the crewmen were found.

The 35 Squadron Operations Record Book (see link #5) shows "At 23:42 hours on Monday 25th January 1954 Flt. Lt. Williams took off from Prestwick en-route for the Azores. At approximately 00:24 hours an R/T message was received from Flt. Lt. Williams stating that he was experiencing “fuselage vibration and severe icing” and that he was turning on to an easterly heading. At 00:27 hours a further garbled message was received which sounded like “baling out” which was the last message received from WF495. Flt. Lt. Williams and crew are believed to have either baled out or ditched in the Morecambe Bay area. Aircraft from this station took off the following morning and assisted in the search until 28.01.1954 but with no success. The search has been called off and Flt. Lt. Williams and crew are posted as missing”

The Aircraft Record Card (Air Ministry Form AM 1180) shows "The aircraft proceeding from Prestwick to the Azores climbed to 12,000ft and pilot reported he was in IFR conditions over Isle of Man. A further call was received stating that severe vibrations were being experienced and icing was suspected. A few minutes later the pilot stated he was changing course and reducing height to 8,000ft owing to heavy icing. This was followed by a “bale out” message and no further contact was made with the aircraft. Parts of the wreckage found established that aircraft crashed into the sea" All crew were lost.

The following article was published in the RNLI’s magazine ‘Lifeboat’ shortly after:

"At twenty-five minutes past midnight on the 26th of January, a Washington aircraft of RAF Bomber Command, bound for the Azores, wirelessed that she was in difficulties through icing and that her crew of seven were baling out. The position of the aircraft when this message was sent was about five miles south of Barrow.

The sea was rough; there was a fresh south-easterly breeze blowing; and there were squalls of snow. The search for the aircraft was carried out by six lifeboats and continued in bitter weather until nine o’clock the next evening. It was unsuccessful and no trace of the aircraft was found, although later an airman’s body was found by a trawler and wreckage was washed ashore.

An extensive air search and rescue operation lasting several days was carried out but no trace of the aircraft was found".

Crew of WF495:
F/Lt R. N. Williams, pilot,
A. K. Passmore, copilot,
R.A. Kirkland, navigator,
M.J. Kennell, navigator,
G.W. Clamp, signaller,
B. Noble, flight engineer,
G. Johnston, gunner.

Cause: The exact cause of the accident could not be determined with certainty. However, the assumption that the loss of control was caused by an excessive accumulation of ice on all critical surfaces and engines was not ruled out.

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.154 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p.38)
3. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.30
4. Howlett, Chris, "Capital Bomber", FlyPast, Stamford, Lincs., UK, Number 335, June 2009, pages 66, 73
5. 35 Squadron ORB (Operational Record Book) (Air Ministry Form AM/F.540) for January 1954: National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 27/2609/57 at https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8424120
6. https://35squadron.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/boeing-b-29-washington-wf495-26011954/
7. http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?15979-Washington-WF495-(35-Squadron)
8. http://www.ukserials.com/results.php?serial=WF
9. http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1944_4.html
10. https://www.baaa-acro.com/crash/crash-boeing-b-29a-65-bn-washington-b1off-barrow-furness-7-killed


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
06-Jun-2008 14:57 JINX Added
11-Sep-2008 23:23 angels one five Updated
14-Apr-2013 20:19 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
02-Jun-2013 18:49 Nepa Updated [Operator, Departure airport]
20-May-2015 07:14 angels one five Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Nature]
20-May-2015 07:26 angels one five Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Nature]
31-May-2017 22:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]
25-Jun-2017 19:11 TB Updated [Operator, Location, Destination airport, Narrative]
25-Jun-2017 19:20 TB Updated [Narrative]
28-Jun-2017 20:05 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
28-Jun-2017 20:06 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
23-Dec-2017 19:27 Nepa Updated [Operator]
04-Oct-2019 16:45 A.J.Scholten Updated [Cn]
04-Apr-2020 21:46 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]
04-Apr-2020 22:00 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
04-Apr-2020 22:08 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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