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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 25150
Last updated: 4 November 2020
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:24-JUL-1946
Time:16:45 LT
Type:Vickers Wellington Mk III
Owner/operator:CGS Royal Air Force (CGS RAF)
Registration: BJ895
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Wykeham Abbey, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Training
Departure airport:RAF Leconfield, East Yorkshire
Destination airport:RAF Leconfield, East Yorkshire
Narrative:
At 15:35 hours on 24 July 1946, the crew on this aircraft took off from Leconfield airfield for its crew to carry out a fighter affiliation exercise with a Spitfire TD236, of "F" Flight Central Gunnery School, RAF piloted by Squadron Leader L A Wood).

The aircraft flew in a northerly direction, met up with the Spitfire over Driffield and then, owing to low cloud, the exercises were carried out at 10,000 feet over the Scarborough area. On board the Wellington was a pilot, a gunnery instructor and three trainee air gunners.

During the exercise the Wellington was practicing taking evasive action when attacked by the fighter, it was thought that the pilot of the Wellington was made such a turn downwards, believed to have been the last of the exercise, but immediately after the last attack the Wellington went into a near vertical dive from between 6 to 7,000 feet from which the pilot did not recover.

At 16:45 hours the aircraft crashed into the grounds of Wykeham Abbey near Scarborough and while not catching fire it disintegrated on impact creating a large crater. All five on board stood no chance, they were killed instantly and the body of one of the crew was not found.

The listing below shows their trades as given by the CWGC. The resulting crash investigation reported that the aircraft had been reported as being nose-heavy in the weeks leading up to the crash, it was checked but was passed as serviceable.

The investigation listed a number of previous incidents when the aircraft had been inspected. It had been used in the prototype bouncing bomb trials and had its bomb doors removed for this. It was later converted back and on 1st December 1943 repairs were completed at Vickers factory, Weybridge.

On 17th July 1946 it was test flown and rear doors found locked up. A day later on 18th July 1946 it was test flown and the elevator trim for level flight was found incorrectly set, the cables were adjusted for correct movement. On 23rd July 1946 it was flown by F/Lt Meikle, who reported the aircraft nose heavy and the port engine was running slow. Extra ballast was added and the port engine revs were adjusted.

On 24th July 1946 it was flown by W/O Schwedoski, who reported aircraft was satisfactory. (He would be killed just two days later in the crash of Wellington BJ884 at Appleton-le-Moors - which see). The crash report concluded that the aircraft should never have been in the air on the day because of known problems with it. The crew of BJ895 were:

Warrant Officer Roland Harrison (RAFVR 1600786), Pilot, aged 25, of High Wycombe. Buried High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
Flight Lieutenant John Christopher Haldon (RAFVR 161008), Air Gunnery Instructor, aged 26, of Chideock, Dorset. Body not found/not recovered. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Warrant Officer Frederick Christopher Stiff (RAFVR 931202), Air Gunner, aged 34, of Hartest, Suffolk. Buried Hartest, Suffolk.
Flight Sergeant Peter Ingram (RAFVR 1604044), Air Gunner, aged 22, of Fulham, London. Buried Fulham, London.
Warrant Officer John Forest Armstrong (RAFVR 1867735), Wireless Operator/Mech Air aged 21, of Middlesborough. Cremated Darlington, County Durham.

It is not widely known that BJ895 was the actual aircraft used for test drops of the famous Barnes-Wallis designed "bouncing bombs" that were later used by 617 Squadron RAF during the "Dambuster Raids" ("Operation Chastise"). Test drops of the "bouncing bomb" rook place off Reculver, Kent, from 13-04-1943. The footage of the test drops was later de-classified, and released to the makers of the 1954 film "The Dam Busters".

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents. Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.47. ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/yorkshire/yorksother/bj895.html
3. https://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?100899-Wellington-And-Bouncing-Bomb
4. https://www.manstonhistory.org.uk/dambuster-bouncing-bomb-tests-at-reculver-and-manston/
5. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2706523/harrison,-roland/
6. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1799095/haldon,-john-christopher/
7. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2720470/stiff,-frederick-charles/
8. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2428482/ingram,-peter/
9. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2837936/armstrong,-john-forest/
10. https://wings-on-film.fandom.com/wiki/BJ895/G.
11. https://www.baaa-acro.com/crash/crash-vickers-417-wellington-iii-wykeham-abbey-5-killed
12. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/28/W2357: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C6578203


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
20-Feb-2012 10:29 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
09-Mar-2013 20:07 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
26-Jul-2013 13:42 Nepa Updated [Operator, Narrative]
27-Apr-2017 21:27 Dr.John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
29-Nov-2018 09:49 Nepa Updated [Operator, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Operator]
13-Nov-2019 17:08 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
17-Nov-2019 17:19 Anon. Updated [Operator, Operator]
23-Nov-2019 00:18 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

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