Lancaster R5539

Lancaster

A Lancaster tragedy.

Lancaster R5539
A&AEE Boscombe Down
Crashed at Malmsbury, Wiltshire
18th April 1942

 

 

 

Crew:
W/Cdr P S Salter AFC (killed)
S/Ldr J D Harris DFC (killed)
F/Lt N G Wilson (killed)
F/O E F Wakelin (killed)
Sgt K J Jones (killed)
Sgt R L Bilton (killed)
AC 1st Class A N Tracey (killed)

The Lancaster had taken off from Boscombe Down with a simulated full bomb load of concrete bombs to carry out diving trials from 13,000ft down to 5,000ft at various engine settings.
Witnesses saw the Lancaster emerge from cloud in a slight dive, then roll onto its back and right itself before diving steeply into the ground at very high speed. A subsequent investigation revealed that a panel just over 5 feet by 2 feet had come away from behind the outboard engine due to the failure of the rivets holding it in place. This panel then hit the tailplane and the aircraft had then gone out of control.
The crash site had been partially excavated in the 1970s, but it was believed that two of the engines remained buried in the field.

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