Question about crashes and collisions

Ian F
Ian F

November 9th, 2004, 12:26 am #11

Lots of activity here.. Good stuff folks :-)

Now then, just to add a little more mud...

Assuming you had found a set of dog tags, they were useless without at least 9lbs of body parts to go with them (Gruesome I know!) and even then, assuming you CAN gather 9lbs, there's bo certaintity that all the parts belong to one airman... Remember, we are dealing with about 17 tons of sharp and heavy parts suddenly stopping from a 300 mph dive (worst case scenario).

Best regards
Ian
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Matt L
Matt L

November 9th, 2004, 1:06 am #12

Matt,

Unfortunately the authorities have no reason to contact next of kin for the simple reason that they simply don't know, and if they knew they are not interested because of the huge costs of such a recovery operation. If a wreck is located by accident because of construction work then the Dutch Recovery Team is called in, but their first priority is: bombs or ammunition.

They can identify the wreckage but don't have the information regarding which aircraft crashed there. In these cases (if it's an RAF-aircraft) the British MOD is contacted. These past few years fortunately have seen a change in attitude of the Dutch Recovery Team as opposed to private organisation who pursue this kind of work as a "hobby". We have since worked closely together during a few investigations where we had identified the wreck, listed the possible missing aircrew as well as locating next of kin (as far as Poland) taking a lot of work out of their hands.

we can identify any aircraft wreck regardless of nationality, type or how badly the wreck is destroyed. This is truly on the job training, personally I have been involved with this for about fifteen years and you learn all the time. Some of our members have been doing this for over thirty years. This was something the Recovery Team was puzzeled about. For instance during a Lancaster recovery in the IJsselmeer one of the Navy divers held a piece of wreckage above the water, while it wasn't even on deck we shouted: that's an elevator hinge!

The guys of the Recovery team were still busy looking in their (commercially available) textbooks while we brought the AP's of that particular aircraft type as well as a file 4 inches thick.

Any aircraft can be identified in 95% of the cases. Just by recovering the serialnumber plate of by checking engine and machinegun numbers, but sometimes this can be tricky.

Hope this helps

Cheers

Cees
Cees,

That's incredible work that you and your colleagues are performing. I wish I could help somehow but being in Canada there isn't much in the way of Aviation Archeology that I'm aware of.

Thanks for the info.

Matt
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Matt L.
Matt L.

November 9th, 2004, 1:15 am #13

Lots of activity here.. Good stuff folks :-)

Now then, just to add a little more mud...

Assuming you had found a set of dog tags, they were useless without at least 9lbs of body parts to go with them (Gruesome I know!) and even then, assuming you CAN gather 9lbs, there's bo certaintity that all the parts belong to one airman... Remember, we are dealing with about 17 tons of sharp and heavy parts suddenly stopping from a 300 mph dive (worst case scenario).

Best regards
Ian
Ian,

This is a good thread, I'd like to see the rumoured new hali board top this one. :-)

Your points make alot of sense, I guess perhaps the key to all of it is the requirement that some bodily remains be found. Still I have to wonder why if one of 7 airmen can be indentified with wreckage that after time the other crewmembers couldn't be listed as killed in a crash at X. My family did not recieve word that my cousin's grave site could not be found until 1952, although in his case none of his crew were ever found. But if one were then after a period of 6 years it would seem that the authorities could cite that the the other crewmembers were killed with the individual. It doesn't change the fact that they do not have a grave but it at least gives the families some answers as to their son's death.

Hypothetically speaking, I have another question regarding what the state of a wreck would be. Let's say that a Hali MkBIII makes a controlled ditching in the sea 30 km northwest of Heligoland. Assuming the a/c stayed intact and sank, 60 years later, would the wreck still be recognizable or would it be long gone to the elements?
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Ian F
Ian F

November 9th, 2004, 7:13 pm #14

I know that wrecks of British Coastal waters generally do not fare too well, due mostly to the currents & sea state, however, I would rather hand Cees this one as he deals with Dutch wrecks a lot & has more experience here than I do.... Cees!!!
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Cees Broere
Cees Broere

November 10th, 2004, 5:24 pm #15

You rang mylord!?

Well, the fact that an aircraft wreck is lying in salt water doesn't necessarily mean that it is doomed. It's just a matter of circumstances such as depth (less oxygen and salt), is it buried fully or partly under sand or shingle you name it. If a wreck is covered then the aluminium is generally well preserved as is proven by the various French beach recoveries of a Spitfire, Hurricane and some Mustangs.

In general aluminium doesn't stand much of a chance against saltwater corrosion but some aircraft have been recovered from the (salt) sea and restored for museum display (such as the Canadian Hampden).

After the war a lot of lend-lease aircraft such as Hellcats, Avengers, Corsairs but also Seafires, Barracudas etc. were dumped from carriers. The past decade interest in these airframes have become very high with major structures being netted by fishermen. Due to the great depth (and some luck as well) these sections turned out te be generally well preserved and useful for restoration (albeit static).

If Karl K succeeds in finding LW170 at over 1 km depth the chances are that the corrosion could be less than you would expect, and hopefully suited for a static restoration.

Hope this helps

Cheers

Cees


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Jennifer Cameron
Jennifer Cameron

December 30th, 2004, 2:56 am #16

I imagine that if a Hally was a mid air explosion, then individual crew members would be difficult to impossible to identify, and then, without any identifiable human remains, you would expect the crew members to appear on Runnymede.
If the kite hit the ground with a full bomb load, or even one bomb, then the combination of bomb & petrol, would also make identification of individual crew members nearly impossible, and again, they would probably appear on Runnymede.
If several aircraft are lost during a return from ops in close proximity, such as the overlap between 4 & 6 Groups and the close proximity of individual group airfields, then again, and, if the aircraft hits the ground with speed, and the resultant fire / explosion completely destroys both aircraft and crew.... can you see how, even over land, close to base, it could realistically be almost impossible to identify one aircraft from another let alone individual crew members.
And finally - the total loss of an aircraft... Well, not far from my geographical location in Central Scotland, there is still a Spitfire "missing" on nearby hills!! If an aircraft flew into some remote part of the British Isles, it could potentially lie undisturbed for years before it's discovery.
Well, there's my thoughts on the sad matter of "Missing Airmen".
Hope it helps?
Best wishes
Ian

(Do we need 'another' Halifax Forum?)
I'm new to all this. Trying to find info on my uncle-Sgt William Bruce of 428 (RCAF) Squadron. He was a navigator on Halifax11 JN-966 coded NA-V which collided over Middleton St George with a Lancaster from 103 Squadron after returning from a raid on Stuttgart,shortly after midnight on 27/11/1943. Will there be some sort of accident report on this, and if so will I be able to read it?
My father always believed there was nothing in the coffin which is buried in the family grave--do I understand that there must have been "something", after reading this section?
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Joined: November 25th, 2004, 4:46 pm

December 30th, 2004, 6:07 am #17

Jennifer,

I have an Accident Report on this incident. Please email me at: -

gregATgreg-harrison.co.uk (replacing the "AT" with an "@")

and i'll get a copy of it sorted out for you.

Regards,

Greg

"You can take the boy out of Wales,
But you cannot takes Wales out of the boy"
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Howard Newbould
Howard Newbould

January 11th, 2005, 9:26 am #18

Greg

I have not seen any accident records for commonwealth crashes (other than F1180s) but I have always assumed that more detailed technical reports must exist or have existed. Do you know if this is the case and if so where one might find them? My main area of research is aircraft crashes in the NE, especially 6 Group RCAF, so I am quite interested in the crash at Middleton St George.

Regards

Howard
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Joined: November 25th, 2004, 4:46 pm

January 11th, 2005, 11:05 am #19

Howard,

Tye Form 1180 is the standard form for detailing crashes that happened in the UK, or "within sight" of the UK.

If technical failure was suspected as a reason for the demise of an aircraft that crashed in the UK then the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) would also issue a report. These make very interesting reading (they are available for iewing at the PRO in Kew, London), but unfortunately their are a number of reports missing from the files, and **non** of the reports for 1944 are present in the files. I cannot stress enough (as there seems to be a lot of confusion in the research world about these reports) that the AAIB would **ONLY** issue a report if technical failure was suspected as the cause of the crash, and for at least 9 crashes out of every 10, pilot error or the weather or some other external factor was blamed, and all there is to go on for us modern day researchers is the Form 1180. At the time there were Courts of Enquiry into every crash, and the findings of these Courts of Enquiry were published (and indeed they are often mentioned, with a report reference, on the 1180s), but few if any appear to have survived into the 21st Century.

I have copies of all the Manchester and Lancaster AAIB Crash Investigation Reports that still exist, including at least 1 or 2 that involve aircraft from Middleton (being Lancs these are obviously from the final period of the war). If any of these Lancaster ones are of interest, let me know. I do not have copies of the reports appertaining to the Halifax as they are outside the scope of my research (I'm a 1 Group researcher), but i know my way around the files at the PRO pretty well, so let me know if there is a particular AAIB report you are looking for, and i'll get a copy for you on my next trip to the PRO.

Hope that helps,

Greg

"You can take the boy out of Wales,
But you cannot takes Wales out of the boy"
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Joined: September 4th, 2003, 11:37 pm

January 11th, 2005, 4:45 pm #20

As an addition to Greg's comments, it may also be worthwhile scanning through the Air/27 archives held at the PRO in Kew. Often, 'incidents' from that particular Squadron or airfield are mentioned here.
(Air/27 = O.R.B's)
Ian
57 R
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