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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 21051
Last updated: 5 February 2020
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Date:06-OCT-1961
Time:
Type:Silhouette image of generic CNBR model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
English Electric Canberra U.14 Drone
Owner/operator:728 (B) Sqn RN FAA
Registration: WH921
C/n / msn: SH1664
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Mediterranean Sea off HMS Girdle Ness, off Malta -   Malta
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RNAS Hal Far, Malta
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Awaiting collections 31/5/1954, delivered to the RAF 9/6/1954. Served with with CFE and the RAF West Raynham Communications Flight. Struck off charge 30/3/1960 upon transfer to Short Brothers & Harland at Belfast for conversion to a Canberra U.14 as part of the drone conversion programme.

The Fleet Air Arm's association with the English Electric Canberra began in quiet fashion in May 1961. Six surplus Canberra B.2 air frames from the Royal Air Force were moved to Short Brothers' airfield at Belfast in 1960 for conversion to U.14 specification. This would allow them to be operated by radio control on the ground without the need for a pilot in the cockpit. The first aeroplane delivered to the Fleet Air Arm was Canberra was WH921, when it arrived at RNAS Hal Far in Malta ready for service with 728B NAS (Navy Air Squadron) on 25th May 1961. The fleet code '590' was applied, and gradually the remaining five aeroplanes arrived from Belfast to join the Squadron and were coded in-sequence; WD941/591, WH720/592, WJ638/593, WH704/594 and WH876/595. All were painted overall white, with wide black bands on the outer wings.

During August 1961, WH720/593 completed the first U.14 pilot-less flight in Fleet Air Arm service, and 728 NAS began an intensive period of flying on guided missile trials involving the Armstrong Whitworth Seaslug weapon, the Canberras being operating alongside the Unit's existing fleet of Gloster Meteor U.15 and U.16s and Fairey Firefly U.9s.

On 6th October 1961, ERROR was shot down by a missile fired from the Royal Navy warship HMS Girdle Ness, and the trials continued until the end of the test programme on 5th December 1961. WH921 was thus the first Canberra to see FAA service, the first to be delivered to 728B Squadron, and also the first and last to be shot down by a Seaslug missile.

Sources:

Air Britain RAF Aircraft WA100 - WZ999
http://www.fradu-canberras.co.uk/history.html
http://www.ukserials.com/losses_drones.htm
https://www.pprune.org/aviation-history-nostalgia/101153-raf-canberra-losses-malta.html
http://www.aviationinmalta.com/MilitaryAviation/AccidentsMilitary/19601969/tabid/652/language/en-US/Default.aspx
https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1961/1961
https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060020524


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
13-Jun-2008 10:25 JINX Added
21-Jan-2012 05:15 Nepa Updated [Operator, Source]
17-Feb-2012 07:13 harro Updated [Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Source]
08-Apr-2013 00:20 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative, Plane category, ]
11-Apr-2013 14:11 Nepa Updated [Operator, Departure airport]
13-Aug-2014 18:29 navyhistory Updated [Narrative]

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