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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 58323
Last updated: 16 November 2020
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Time:20:55 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic HUNT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Hawker Hunter F Mk 2
Owner/operator:257 (Burma) Squadron Royal Air Force (257 (Burma) Sqn RAF)
Registration: WN909
C/n / msn: S4/U/2917
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Colne Engaine, near Halstead, Essex -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Wattisham, Suffolk
Destination airport:
Hawker Hunter F.2 WN909, 257 (Burma) Squadron, RAF: Written off (destroyed) 17/4/56 - Crashed at Colne Engaine, near Halstead, Essex after the pilot ejected due to engine failure. He separated from his harness and was killed.

Hawker Hunter WN909 took off from RAF Wattisham at 20:53 hours on 17th April 1956, on a night cross country exercise. Take off was normal and just after 20.54 the pilot was in R/T communication with GCI Sandwich "... passing through Angels 10". About 11 seconds later the monitor recording unit picked up a transmission from the aircraft "... I am baling out". At about 20:55 hours witnesses on the ground in the vicinity of Colne Engaine heard the noise of an aircraft, and saw what was taken to be a flare descending. Abnormal engine noises were heard and the aircraft was then seen to strike the ground. The body of the pilot was found 100 yards away from the ejected seat, some 2 miles north east of the aircraft wreckage. The parachute and harness were about half a mile north west of the main wreckage.

Hawker Hunter Mk.2 WN909 was built in September 1954 and had flown 280 hours, its Sapphire engine had had run for 152 hours. The aircraft was serviceable at take off and there was no record of any defect which could have had a bearing on this accident. WN909 had crashed at high speed and shallow angle whilst banked vertically to starboard, and flaps, undercarriage and air brakes were all retracted. A small crater was formed and wreckage flung forward over a fan shaped area of about 150 yards - fire broke out and there was severe splash burning on the scattered wreckage.

Fragments of the compressor were recovered which bore evidence of severely distressed running, so the engine was sent to the manufacturer for stripping and examination. They concluded that the engine failed in flight due to an axial foul of the first stator blades on the first rotor blades. On the rest of the wreckage evidence of fire in the air was found on the bottom of the rear fuselage structure. It was decided that the blades ejected during the break up of the compressor penetrated the front fuel tank, resulting in free fuel in the bottom of the fuselage which ignited from the heat of the engine.

It was established that the hood of the aircraft was in position on impact, showing that the pilot had ejected through the canopy. The ejection seat itself was examined by the makers, Martin Baker, and no faults were found. The parachute harness release box was, however, set to 'unlock' - this caused the pilot to drop free of his parachute and plunge to his death. Whether this was due to a mistake on the part of the pilot, or if the box had unlocked during ejection, was never established

Crew of Hunter F.2 WN909:
Flying Officer Edgar John MUSSETT, RAF (pilot, Service Number 3514838, aged 23)


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.171 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 65)
3. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.191
4. 257 Squadron ORB (OPerations Record Book)(Air Ministry Form AM/F.540) for the period 1/1/56 to 31/12/63: File AIR 27/2852/3 at
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/336:
6. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/34/S2817:

Revision history:

10-Jan-2009 11:55 ASN archive Added
04-Dec-2011 16:30 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
24-Jan-2012 13:00 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
31-Mar-2012 17:40 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Source, Narrative]
26-Jun-2012 14:23 Nepa Updated [Operator]
30-May-2013 13:31 Nepa Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Narrative]
21-Jan-2020 21:38 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Location, Source, Narrative]
22-Jan-2020 15:56 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
15-Jun-2020 00:28 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Source, Narrative]

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