Gear-up landing Accident Bristol Brigand T Mk 5 RH831,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 154085
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Date:Thursday 8 March 1956
Type:Bristol Brigand T Mk 5
Owner/operator:238 OCU RAF
Registration: RH831
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 4
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:RAF Colerne, Wiltshire, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:RAF Colerne, Wiltshire
Destination airport:RAF Colerne, Wiltshire
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Bristol Brigand T.Mk.5 RH831, 238 OCU, RAF - Written off 8/3/1956: The pilot radioed the tower, telling them that the aircraft had experienced a complete engine failure, and in an attempt to undertake a belly landing at RAF Colerne, Wiltshire, he made a steep diving turn to port, but struck trees on approach to the runway threshold.

Sergeant Hanson had selected Fuel Isolation Cocks instead of returning Supercharger levers to "Normal" after exercising these. He had experienced a Buckmaster single engine failure the previous day whilst with a QFI. The port wing then hit the ground, and the aircraft broke up, and caught fire. There were four crew on board, two of whom were killed, and two survived.

Crew of Brigand RH831:
Sergeant David Walter Hunter HANSON RAF (QFI Instructor pilot, aged 33) - killed on active service 8/3/56
Flying Officer Ronald John CROCKER RAF (Navigator, aged 22) - killed on active service 8/6/56
Lieutenant N R Auld RN (Student Navigator under training) - survived
Lieutenant K E Varney RN (Student Navigator under training) - survived

According to the following excerpt from National Archives (PRO Kew) File File AVIA 5/34/S2810:

"The following points about the Crew Compartment (Item 39) are listed:
Port throttle: ½ open Starboard throttle: Almost full Undercarriage selector lever: Up Dive brakes: Shut (wired up), It would appear from the above that the port engine was the first to lose power. If Sergeant Hanson did not realise his error, he had probably started to trim the a/c for starboard powered flight and would be considering feathering the port propeller when his second engine cut. Two Engine Fuel Pressure Warning Lights would have shown “Red” when Fuel Isolation Cocks (FICs) were closed, but ambient light conditions and, the fact that he was turning port whereas these lights were on the starboard side of his instruments, might have caused him to miss these indications of his error.

If, on losing his second engine, he realised that he had wrongly closed the FICs, he might have followed relevant parts of Pilot’s Notes for dealing with fuel starvation. These are at “Part II Handling – Management of the fuel system (v) Fuel starvation” and in his situation would call for the following actions:- < close throttles at once - select FICs to “On” – select Superchargers to “M” Gear – as the wind-milling engines pick up, idle until they run smoothly, then open up slowly (depending on proximity to the ground these last actions might need to be expedited) >.

RH831 was well outside the circuit when power was lost and came down near the upwind end of Runway 26, just short of the airfield boundary. Presumably, on being recalled because of lack of a Balliol target, Hanson had immediately exercised superchargers with the intention of joining straight onto the downwind leg of the circuit.

Observers in the Air Traffic Control Room had variously estimated the a/c height as between 800 and 1,500 feet so, based on our estimate of rate of descent for a powerless a/c to maintain 130 knots, Sergeant Hanson had as few as 30 seconds to recover power. At the same time he would be manoeuvring to reach the airfield or a suitable crash landing area in case the engines did not pick up in time.

Sergeant Hanson might or might not have realised his error with the FICs, in either case deciding that an unpowered crash landing was his best option to save personnel, ‘plane and pride in that order of priority. Loss of power in the circuit. We now consider the hypothetical situation of a Brigand’s superchargers being exercised on joining the circuit at a height of 1000 feet as called for by pilot’s notes, but with the same erroneous closing of FICs. Superchargers would normally be exercised on the circuit upwind leg and returned to “M” during the turn onto the downwind leg, thus loss of power due to operating the wrong levers would occur at the start of this leg. The distance between west and east airfield boundaries along the centre line of the main runway is 2150 yards".


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.178 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.184
3. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/329:
4. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/34/S2810:

Revision history:

14-Mar-2013 17:11 Dr. John Smith Added
04-Dec-2018 09:20 Nepa Updated [Operator, Location, Nature, Operator]
18-Jan-2020 18:22 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
18-Jan-2020 18:41 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
18-Jan-2020 19:04 stehlik49 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Operator]
12-Jun-2020 23:57 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Total occupants, Source, Narrative]
13-Jun-2020 08:41 AlLach Updated [Operator, Location, Operator]
13-Jun-2020 18:04 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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