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Thread: S/L Denis Sweeting query

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    Default S/L Denis Sweeting query

    In their bigraphy of test pilot John Derry (John Derry: The Story of Britain's First Supersonic Pilot, (Haynes, 2008), Brain Rivas and Annie Bullen, refer to an accident involving Sqn Ldr Denis Sweeting, who had been a colleague of Derry at the Central Fighter Establishment. They describe how, whilst on a 'routine patrol over Scotland' in a Spitfire, Sweeting found himself waking up in a screaming dive in thick cloud. His oxygen supply had not been switched on. He pulled back on the stick but blacked out again. When he came to he was still falling earthwards but without his aircraft. It transpired that the a/c had entered a bunt of such force that he had been rocketed upwards, torn out of the seat straps and smashed headlong through the canopy. He landed by parachure and survived, being found unconscious by 'two crofters', who, at first, took him for dead. The wings had broken off at the roots. There is no mention in the account of the date, his unit, or the location.

    Does anyone have any information on this crash please?

    A candidate could be Spitfire I X4680 of 123 Sqn, Turnhouse. On 15 June 1941, this a/c's wings and tailplane broke off after a steep dive and pull-out from cloud. The fuselage hit the ground near Kirknewton, but I have no info on the pilot and don't know if Sweeting served with 123 Sqn.

    Keith

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    Keith,
    Sorry, nothing on SWEETING.
    I've Sgt Douglas JONES - 948689 on X4680 (crashlocation and death registration: Kirknewton).
    Regards,
    Henk.

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    Hello,

    This is covered in Dennis' memoirs, "Wings of Chance". He actually commissioned (is this the correct word ?) a painter to create a painting of this event, and used it on the cover of his book. So, if you google for his book, you should be able to find the cover on any of the usual bookshop. ISBN 981-00-2098-8, published in 1990.

    The painting shows the Squadron code VL-G, but no serial number as the tail is missing.

    The story is covered in chapter 4 "It came to pieces in my hands". Dennis had been posted to No. 167 Squadron at Scorton (satellite to Catterick). No date is quoted in the book, but I'd say it was about June 1942.

    Sure another forumite will give the exact date and serial number, otherwise I may have a look in Air-Britain aeromilitaria series of "U.K. crashes" stored in their box.

    Regards

    Joss

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    Default Denis Sweeting DFC

    Denis was flying with 167 Sqn at the time of the accident - 10 September 1942 according to his autobography. in a quick search I could not find an exact location for the crash but he was trying to intercept a 'Bandit' over Wick and after the crash was taken to a sickbay at Lybster.

    As you might expect, there is a full description of the incident in the book - 'Wings of Chance' - published by Asian Business Press, 1990. The book is one of my favourites as he relates his wartime flying in detail and with his characteristic dry humour, well worth adding to your collection if you can find a copy. He later went on the fly Typhoons with 198 Sqn and on finishing his tour early in 1945 went to FLS as an instructor.
    CT
    I see I should have typed a bit faster!

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    Hello,

    10-9-1942
    No.167 Sqn.,Castletown
    Spitfire Vb BL732:VL-G

    Abandoned in cloud and crashed near Achengills, Caithness.

    115348 P/O Denis John Henry SWEETING RAFVR - Seriously injured.

    See:
    "It came to pieces in my hands".
    Sweeting,Denis
    Aeroplane Monthly. January, 1985. pp.31-4

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 27th November 2011 at 18:05.

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    Hi Keith,
    BL732 Vb CBAF M45 24MU 8-2-42 54S 16-3-42 167S 31-5-42 Cat E ops 10-9-42
    http://www.spitfire.ukf.net/p024.htm
    Regards
    Mojmir

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    Sorry to butt into this thread unasked, as I have nothing orignal on Sweeting, but this incident reminds me of an RNZAF pilot who suffered a somewhat similar fate in a Spitfire over Burma in the latter part of WW2. However this failure was not caused by pilot "blackout" due to oxygen problems, but came about after the pilot accidentally (?) entered cloud and blundered into violent updrafts and downdrafts which eventually tore the wings off his aircraft - he also survived by timely use of his trusty 'chute. He also wrote a vivid description of his experiences of that day.
    David D

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    Default S/L Denis Sweeting

    Thanks for the replies - I can now tie it up with a previously unidentified Spitfire on that date. The RAF Castletown ORB says an oxygen failure occured at 10,000 ft, P/O Sweeting blacked out, came to in the a/c in a semi-inverted dive, baled out and landed injured near the shore. The 167 Sqn ORB is a bit more detailed: Sweeting was scrambled with Sgt G St.Germain (in a/c 'J') at 11:10 to patrol Wick at 25,000 ft. At 20,000 ft severe icing was encountered and the two a/c became separated. Sweeting next remembered diving out of cloud over the vertical at 10,000 ft and being thrown out. He managed to pull the ripcord and landed OK other than a dislocated shoulder. The two crofters who found him could not move him, so they covered him with twigs and moss [these would have helped keep the wind off him until help arrived].

    Must get hold of that book!

    Keith

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