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Thread: Canberra WF891 lost 02/04/54

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    Default Canberra WF891 lost 02/04/54

    On 02/04/54, Canberra WF891 was lost in a take off accident at Binbrook with the loss of two out of the total crew of four.

    However, at least two websites, P-Prune & the ASN database refer to a total of 3 fatal casualties; namely 2 aircrew +1 non aircrew casualty who apparently was in the GCA building that the aircraft struck following engine failure

    Whilst searches on FreeBMD reveals several other deaths for the relevant time period, non of these fit the age bracket for a serviceman. A further search on the Armed Forces Memorial database reveals one further loss at Binbrook in 1954 but this is in November.

    Can anyone confirm if a there was a third loss in this accident and if so the identity of the individual - or could it be that the airman listed for November possibly died of his injuries - or can he be discounted entirely?

    Grateful for any info when convenient

    Tony

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    Tony

    The Yorkshire Post reported the inquest at Binbrook on April 6th, 1956:

    The story of a pilot's unsuccessful attempt to regain control of Canberra jet aircraft after one of its engines had cut out on take off was told at an inquest at Binbrook RAF Station last night. Verdicts of "Accidental Death" were returned on Squadron Leader John Stevenson Millington (32) and Flying Officer Gordon Keith Horn (29), Navigator, who were killed when the plane crashed on a training flight on Friday.
    Master Navigator Donald Dicken Smith, who was acting as air traffic control officer at the station, told the Coroner that the Canberra began its take off quite normally but one of the engines cut out just after it had left the ground.
    He continued: "Immediately the plane made a steep turn to the left. It seemed to wallow as efforts were made by the pilot to straighten out. But the aircraft continued sharply to the left, its wing almost touching the ground. It struck a vehicle which caused it to make what looked like a cartwheel in the air."
    The aircraft truck a building and ended up on a runway 100 yards beyond.
    Flight-Lieutenant Martin Mitchell, a member of the crew, who received leg and arm injuries, was assisted into court to give his evidence. He said the plane continued to gain height for a very short distance after one engine had cut out. Then he heard Squadron Leader Millington say " drop everything and keep her straight. " The crash occurred soon afterwards.


    No mention of any casualties or injuries on the ground at all.

    Regards

    Simon

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    Simon

    Many thanks for the prompt reply and clarification on the number of fatalities

    Regards

    Tony

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    Please can I confirm the year of this loss was 1954, not 1956.

    The two survivors were: Plt Off R J Careless and Flt Lt P M Mitchell. Mitchell was born on 17 Nov 22 and promoted Sqn Ldr on 1 Jan 55, retiring in 1961. His name appears in the Retired List for 2006 (the last year it was published) but I don't know if he is still with us. I have no information on Careless nor can I find any reference to a casualty on the ground.

    Colin Cummings

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    Colin

    Yes, sorry, my mistake with the article's date. It should of course have read April 6th, 1954, not 1956.

    Simon

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    My apologies gentlemen, but I'm a little confused as to how many aircrew there were on this Canberra. #1 states 4, #2 implies 3 while #4 implies 4 (two survivors - I assume in addition to the two fatalities).

    Other than in exceptional circumstances I thought the standard Canberra crew was 3 (2 for the PR version).

    I think Tony's version comes from the ASN website:

    Written off 2/4/1954: Engine lost power on take-off, banked & wing hit ground, swung into GCA vehicle. There were 3 fatalities - the Squadron Commander, who was on the rumble seat and doing a check ride on the pilot, one of the navigators who's seat fired, and one in the GCA caravan. The pilot was very badly injured but survived. The other navigator, when the remains of the aircraft came to rest, found himself still strapped in with nothing in front of him and, I think, suffered a broken ankle.

    I'm sure there's a simple explanation, but at the moment it is not apparent from the accounts (here and elsewhere).

    Brian

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    This does sound like an other than normal circumstance (i.e the Wg Cdr riding as check pilot in a rumble seat).

    There is a virtual canberra cockpit view at this link. https://www.haraldjoergens.com/panor...anberra/files/ it clearly shows a Pilots seat, and two Navigator ejection seats, plus one "rumbold" foldaway set next to the pilot. (right next to the door) So it does seem possible they had four crew members on occasion.

    The T.4 variant clearly could carry two pilots and two navigators in proper seats..

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    Colin

    Thanks for the clarification (which I always assumed to be the "correct" info) the comments as per the ASN website referring to a (spurious??) ground victim was the reason for the extra enquiry

    Tony

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