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Thread: Douglas Bader Spitfire Crash March 1940 19 Sqn

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    Default Douglas Bader Spitfire Crash March 1940 19 Sqn

    A number of references I have seen quote an accident in March 1940 to a Spitfire of 19 Sqn in which Douglas Bader "failed to select fine pitch for take-off and his plane refused to become airborne and crashed through a boundary hedge and cartwheeled across a ploughed field ending up a complete write-off."

    Bader was uninjured though his tin legs were smashed beyond repair"

    Does anyone have a date and serial for this incident?

    Thanks Paul

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    Hi Paul,
    I think this is the incident that happened on June 13th 1940 whilst he was with 222 squadron.
    Unfortunately, the 541 doesn't include Bader's flight or any detail on the aircraft he was using on the 13th June.
    Regards
    gerry

    Last edited by gedburke3; 4th June 2016 at 22:33. Reason: typo

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    Gerry thanks I suspected that the date may be wrong.. That's why I asked about it now we have a correct Sqn and date we can maybe id the aircraft

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    PS looks like Wikipedia, the book "The right of the line" are all in error

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    Paul, Gerry

    Both right I think. Bader did have an accident in Spitfire K9858 on 31 March 1940 with 19 Squadron. Apparently due to pilot error when he took off from Horsham St. Faith airfield in coarse pitch, the engine failed and the aircraft hit a hedge. He was unhurt but the Spitfire was a write-off. He had landed earlier at Horsham St. Faith to refuel after a patrol. All this information came from the Form 1180 on the accident. There is no mention of it in the 19 Squadron ORB !

    Regards,

    Martin.

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    Hi Martin,
    Yes that makes sense.
    I recall that George Unwin was given the nickname 'Grumpy' by Bader.
    Apparently Unwin had moaned about the noise Bader made whilst filing his damaged prosthetic leg and Bader had nicknamed him Grumpy.
    That could only have happened when they were in 19 squadron together.
    Gerry

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    Martin thanks for clearing that up the only outstanding question then is what was the 222 Sqn serial on June 13th 1940? Looks like maybe not a right-off

    Paul

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    Hello,

    Michael G Burns in his, Bader The Man And His Men, describes the 13th June 1940 incident;

    Late on the evening of 13 June (1940), Bader was scrambled to intercept a raid seen on radar coming in from Germany. The Fighter Controller directed him to patrol the Humber Estuary at 12,000 feet. Bader found the same as every other single-seat night fighter pilot. His view from his high-mounted cockpit through the perspex of the tiny canopy was obscured downwards by the long nose and the wings, while flaring exhausts destroyed his peripheral vision - the essential component of night vision.

    He saw nothing. Below, England was black. The Fighter Controller called him up to instruct him to return as there was rain coming in. Bader turned on to a bearing for home and dropped to low level. The rain by now had become heavy and he was almost on top of the flarepath at Kirton before he saw it.

    Bader swung round the flarepath and made his approach. The conditions were appalling. As he slowed, the rain rippled in streams across his canopy, distorting his vision. Wind began to gust. He saw the first flare, and knew he was too high, too fast, he dropped and saw the second flare wave in yellow spirals past. He held the stick back, but he knew it was all too late... there was no more flares and nothing he could do. The Spitfire, still travelling fast, went off the end of the flarepath and bounced into an aircraft pen, destroying its undercarriage.

    The station fire and rescue services were on the scene in minutes, but not before Mermagen*. Bader could have made excuses, but he did not; it was pilot error. Mermagen agreed.

    * S/L "Tubby" Mermagen, OC, No.222 Sqn.

    See:
    Bader The Man And His Men.
    Burns,Michael G.
    London:Arms and Armour Press,1994 (p/b. ed.).
    pp.45-6

    For what it's worth, might I offer up Spitfire Ia K9993, as a possible candidate?

    http://www.airhistory.org.uk/spitfire/_prodn%20list.txt

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 5th June 2016 at 14:55.

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    Default Douglas Bader's crash, March 1940.

    Quote Originally Posted by paulmcmillan View Post
    A number of references I have seen quote an accident in March 1940 to a Spitfire of 19 Sqn in which Douglas Bader "failed to select fine pitch for take-off and his plane refused to become airborne and crashed through a boundary hedge and cartwheeled across a ploughed field ending up a complete write-off."

    Bader was uninjured though his tin legs were smashed beyond repair"

    Does anyone have a date and serial for this incident?

    Thanks Paul
    Hi Paul,
    Maybe I can add a little to this question.
    Douglas Bader was with 19Sqn for a short time in 1940. He crashed in K9858 on 31st March at St Faiths. K9858 was the Spitfire that until then my father, Frank, had flown most. I do remember him telling us he, Dad, was a little "peeved" at having his mount bent!! The last time Dad flew '58 was 21st March according to his log book, which I have. Up until then he had flown '58 45 times! Thus his claimed affection for '58.
    Hope this helps.

    Regards

    Paul

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    Hi brino924, could you please contact me off board?

    John Engelsted

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