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09/10/1943 -Republic P-47 42-8577

Type Serial No Unit Station Duty Crew Passengers
P-47D 42-8577 87th Transport squadron Warton Ferry Flight 1 0

On the 9th October 1943, 1st Lieutenant Donald K Cameron of the 87th Transport squadron, 27th Air transport group departed from the American Air Base at Warton, in P-47D Thunderbolt 42-8577 on a routine ferry flight to Duxford.

When passing over Speke the aircraft appeared to develop trouble and in an attempt to reach the airfield, the aircraft lost flying speed and in a turn spun in from an altitude of between 200 and 500 feet.  The aircraft had been observed approaching the airfield from the South East in a glide with its undercarriage partly down. The aircraft hit with such force that it broke into two at a position some 300 yards from the airfield boundary on the foreshore at 15.15 hours. Within an hour of the accident the tide had completely covered the aircraft.

Wreckage of 42-8577 at crash site

Wreckage of 42-8577 at crash site

The ambulance and crash tender were on the scene immediately and the pilot was taken from the badly damaged aircraft in less than 10 minutes and conveyed to Broardgreen Hospital where he was found to have been killed instantly on crashing.

Alan S Croft a mechanic on the flight test line witnessed the accident as follows,

“ At approximately 15:10 hours on Saturday 9th October, 1943, I noticed a P-47 aircraft with drop tanks fitted, flying over the aerodrome, nothing appeared wrong with the machine except it was cruising at low speed, and appeared to be making a right hand circuit of the aerodrome. |When the machine. When over the river the machine went into a steep bank to the right and the nose of the machine dipped and it disappeared from my view behind the hangers loosing height quickly. I estimate the height of the aeroplane being between 300 and 500 feet, the landing gear was not whilst the aircraft was in my view”.

Sub-Lieutenant (A) A Thorpe RNVR also witnessed the crash as follows,

“When I first saw the aircraft it was at about 700 feet over No 1832 squadron dispersal area, making a right hand circuit over the dispersal area. The engine came on for a full 3 seconds, and then cut again. The aircraft continued to make a very wide circuit passing over the mud flats, and gradually losing height. It appeared to trying to get back to the aerodrome, and in doing so allowed the speed to drop too much. At about 200 feet the right wing dropped, and the aircraft spun onto the mud flats, - on its back as far as I could see. I lost sight of it for about the last 20 feet, due to the rise in the ground, but I saw the splash of water as it hit. The propeller was not feathered, and the undercarriage was up”.

The investigating officer from Warton, 1st Lieutenant Charles H Clark noted the following about the aircraft,

“Upon arriving at the scene of the accident I noted the following positions of the aeroplane controls, ignition switches both on, fuel selector on reverse, however the rod had been broken from the valve to the selector handle so it was impossible to determine which tank the engine was operating on, throttle was full on, mixture control was in auto rich, propeller control was full forward, flap controls full up, trim tab controls in neutral, supercharger controls full forward, propeller switch was in automatic position, wheels and flaps retracted, oil shutter controls full open and switch activating shutters in open position, intercooler shutters in neutral and switch in neutral. Fuel gages indicated empty, generator switch on, oil pressure zero, oil temperature 20 degrees.The aeroplane on impact moved violently to the right and the pilots seat was dislodged to the right, both wing tanks were on the aircraft at the time of impact and the jettison handle in the cockpit indicated the pilot had made no attempt to jettison the wing tanks".

After investigation by the accident committee the cause of the accident was impossible to establish due to the extensive damage to the aircraft, however it was consider that power plant failure was the most likely cause of the accident. 1st Lieutenant Cameron had 42.6 hours on this type/model.

Another view of 42-8577 look back towards the airfield

Another view of 42-8577 look back towards the airfield

The RAF was tasked with the recovery of 42-8577 and the extract from No75 MU at Wilmslow follows, written by the commanding officer,

“This aircraft crashed on low tide mark in soft black mud approx. ¾ miles from foreshore. The Area mooring Officer being in the vicinity co-operated with this unit. Only one approach was possible, through a burnt out ship-breakers factory and with the aid of snatch blocks, wire warps, totaling approx. 1 mile in length, 1 Coles 5 ton crane and a wooden sled, the aircraft was eventually salvaged in 4 days working between tides, some portions of the salvaged aircraft being recovered before the sea water had covered them. The remainder, although immersed in salt water provided valuable scrap metal”.

1st Lieutenant Donald K Cameron entered the service from Nebraska and was buried at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, plot D, row 1, grave 57.

View of the foreshore crash site in the early 70's

View of the foreshore crash site in the early 70's

P-47D Thunderbolt 42-8577 was manufactured by Republic at a cost of $75,562 and received by the USAAF on the 30th June 1943, and was shipped to the UK on the 27th August 1943.

Position Name Rank Service No Age Status
Pilot Donald K Cameron 1st Lieutenant 0-885293 - Killed

Speke Incidents