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North American P-51 44-14350 – 17/09/1944.

On the 17th September 1944 Flight Officer Craig Cooper Moore (T-223154) of the 310th Ferrying squadron was taxiing in North American P-51 No 44-14350 getting ready to take off on a ferry flight to BAD 2 at Warton.

Whilst taxiing the aircraft collided with a car that was moving along the perimeter track, Flight Officer Moore describes the incident as follows,

“On Sunday Sept 17, 1944 at 16:15 I was taxiing a P-51 aircraft number 44-14350 on the perimeter track at Speke Airdrome. It was a delivery aircraft from Lockheed Overseas Corp, en route to BAD#2.

At the above mentioned time I collided with a small civilian automobile driven by a flight Sgt. In RAF uniform and containing two officers in RAF uniform.

At the time of the accident to the best of my knowledge, the car was in motion and was beyond all doubt on the perimeter track.

Due to the large blind spot inherent in this type of aircraft I was taxiing slowly and in a zigzag course. Immediately before contact I had swung to starboard to clear my port side and was on the starboard side of the perimeter track preparing to turn to clear my starboard side.

I had seen the car once before on my previous turn to port. At that time it was about 30 yards down the perimeter track and off to one side and parked.

Before contact the car had evidently moved down the perimeter track toward me and was in such a position to be invisible to me until I could complete a another turn to port.

As far as I could see the car was a complete write off. The aircraft was damaged on the propeller, tail wheel and possibly the engine”.

However the RAF saw the matter a different way, Flight Lieutenant Smith's statement, one of the passengers in the Ford 8 motor vehicle is as  follows,

            "Shortly after 4.0 pm I was in company with P/O. W.A. Williams watching A.T.C. Glider Training at Speke. The above vehicle was brought over to pick us up by F/Sgt Hoffman. When P/O. Williams and i turned to move toward the car the perimeter appeared to be clear. The car stopped and the moved forward to meet us. The car halted facing the river and well in to the side. The engine was still running. The door was opened and the bucket seat tilted forward to permit P/O. Williams to move into the back seat. I stepped in myself and looked forward and saw the aircraft approaching. Realising that the pilot did not appear to have seen us I shouted "Look Out" to the other two members of the party and left the car and ran straight out onto the waste land hoping to catch the pilots eye by coming into his range of vision. I do not know if I was successful in this. The aircraft ran the car down and appeared to stop on impact. I ran back to the car assist the inmates who were able to leave the vehicle unassisted. The car when halted was facing the sun and it is possible that the aircraft came out of the sun. Being taller than F/Sgt Hoffman my eyes were shielded by the body work of the car".

The Accident Investigating Officer, a Major Charlie Himes from BAD No 2 at Warton rule in favour of the pilot and the blame fell on Flight Sergeant Hoffman.

Speke Incidents