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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 208497
Last updated: 10 September 2020
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Date:21-JUL-1939
Time:day
Type:Vickers Wellington Mk 1c
Owner/operator:148 Squadron Royal Air Force (148 Sqn RAF)
Registration: L4290
C/n / msn: 35550
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Milborne Port, near Yeovil, Somerset -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Stradishall, Newmarket, Suffolk
Destination airport:RAF Stradishall, Newmarket, Suffolk
Narrative:
Vickers Wellington I L4290, 148 Squadron, RAF Stradishall, Newmarket, Suffolk: Written off (destroyed) 21/7/39 when dived into the ground out of cloud at Milborne Port, near Yeovil, Somerset. All three crew killedL

Flying Officer York Plant Wilson (aged 25) killed
Pilot Officer Ivor Russell Barton (aged 26) killed
AC1 James Alexander Lowery (aged 19) killed

The crew was taking part in a cross-country navigation exercise from Stradishall to Plymouth and back. Wilson had already flown 80 hours in Wellingtons at night and was considered an experienced pilot. Barton had just 2 ˝ hours blind flying experience in Wellingtons.

Villagers in picturesque Milbourne Port first heard an aircraft making ‘a loud whining noise’, before they saw an aircraft then came out of cloud and dived straight into the ground a few hundred yards east of the cemetery. An explosion shook the ground and the glow of a fire lit up the surrounding hills. L4290 had crashed, taking it three man crew to their deaths.

The initial conclusion of the court of enquiry was that the inexperienced Barton was at the controls at the time of the crash and that he had lost control when trying to turn out of a cloud. Significantly the court also recorded that the Wellington had a tendency to become nose-heavy in a turn, that would develop quickly into a dive from which it could take considerable height to recover. These were early days for the Wellington and later it was discovered that it suffered from ‘rudder overbalance’ that caused the rudder to lock to one side and the aircraft to enter an unrecoverable spiral dive.

In 2011, aviation archeologists excavated the crash site, and recovered some substantial items including engines and propellers (see link #4 for photos)

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-N9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1983)
2. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1939.htm
3. http://www.aviationarchaeology.co.uk/AA/ex10_Wellington_Dorset.html
4. https://www.flickr.com/photos/67251416@N08/sets/72157632555399528/
5. http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=23023
6. https://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?103381-First-loss-Wellington-dig
7. http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C6576874
8. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/152132445/ivor-russell-barton
9. https://www.stcuthberts-durham.org.uk/archives/3745
10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milborne_Port


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
30-Mar-2018 18:50 Dr. John Smith Added

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