18/05/1943 Republic P-47 42-7931
C B Wilson who was a professional test pilot and also the chief test pilot
working for the Lockheed’s Overseas Corporation at Speke Airport was testing a
P-47 aircraft No 42-7931 on the afternoon of the 18th May 1943,
however on his approach to land back at the airport at 16:00 hours all did not
go well as described in Mr Wilson’s own words.
four o’clock May 18th, I tested P-47 42-7931. The aircraft was
satisfactory in flight, and on returning to the aerodrome I did a shallow dive
from twelve thousand feet at a speed of 440mph, boost 43”, RPM 2500, at about
four thousand feet there was a loud “bang” which seemed to come from the
right side of the motor, and a flame about four feet long appeared to come from
the bottom right hand side of the engine”.
immediately my cockpit which was closed, filled with very dense smoke, so dense
that I could not see my instruments or even the emergency hood release. I
endeavored to open the hood by means of the ordinary hood latch, but was unable
to do so owing to my speed and so I climbed the machine, gently loosing speed
and at the same time pulling on the hood release, eventually the hood opened and
the smoke cleared”.
was still coming from the right hand side of the machine, but did not seem
serious enough to warrant leaving the aircraft. I, therefore started to approach
Speke with the idea of force landing, almost immediately an increase in flame,
and the cockpit became to hot so I abandoned the aircraft which appeared to go
into a dive, and went straight into the River Mersey”.
“In my opinion, the smoke in the cockpit was from some fuel more dense than petrol”.
C B Wilson was subsequently rescued from the River Mersey by boat, and the P-47
which was completely demolished in the accident was completely submerged in the
sand and mud along the channel of the River Mersey and it was considered that
the cost of salvaging the aircraft was not worth the salvage value. The official
cause of the accident was considered to be engine failure.
This event was witnessed by a Brian Walker who was playing afternoon football at school at the time, the P-47 was seen to pass overhead towards the river streaming white smoke and the a parachute was seen.
Mr C B Wilson retired from flight testing before the end of the war, perhaps at the age of 40 he was considered to old.
BACK TO SPEKE