On this day in 1940..Spitfire crash

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by OliverShotter, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. OliverShotter

    OliverShotter New Member

    Hi all, this is my first post!

    This morning I was looking at a map of WW2 bomb locations in my town Bexhill-On-Sea and noticed that on this very day on 27th December 1940, a Spitfire crashed less than a mile from my house!

    Image of the reported incident >


    I then looked up RAF pilots, and can only see the 1 entry for "MILLS" and "SERGEANT" >


    I assume this is the same man who crashed? but would love to read 249 Squadron's diaries to find out what was going on on this day in 1940.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  2. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Wrong Mills - rather a lot of Sgt Mills in the RAF - some have left traces on the internet - some have not.


    In this case it was Spitfire P9550 of the No.1 PRU that nosed over after running through a hedge when force landing in bad visibility.

    The photo recce aircraft was on an operational flight.

    Ross 01701928.JPG 01701927.JPG
    Buteman, Tricky Dicky, CL1 and 2 others like this.
  3. OliverShotter

    OliverShotter New Member

    Wow, thanks for the information, fascinating.

    Are there war diaries for No. 1 PRU?
  4. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Hi and welcome, near neighbour :)
    Ross modestly didn't tell you that his website also contains further details of P9550, which obviously must have been repaired after the forced landing near Bexhill. Spitfire 7/11/41 Eastbourne - Page 3
    ".F/O Frank Clive George Wilson (44670). I've just received the service record of the pilot of Spitfire P9550 which crashed in the English Channel on 7 November 1941. Because the aircraft was engaged on a PAMPA sortie and flew from Bircham Newton I'd (reasonably) assumed that the pilot was with 1401 Met Flight. It may be the assumption was in error. (P9550 joined 1401 Met Flight on 1 Sept 1941.)
    Wilson started his service career as a Gunner with 264 Battery, 58th (Kent) A.A. Regiment in December 1938; the following March he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant (RA).
    In September 1940 he commenced flying training with 8EFTS, as a Temporary P/O, moving to 9 SFTS in November and No 1 School of Air Gunnery in March 1941. On completing his training he joined 241 Squadron (Army Co-operation) flying Lysanders and Tomahawks at the end of April. Apart from a month acting as PA to AOC 71 Group, he remained with 241 Sqn until joining 1 PRU on 15 September 1941. Wilson was promoted to F/O on 28 September.
    According to his service record he was still with 1 PRU at the time of his death.
    On the basis of the above it seems unlikely he had accumulated much experience in flying/navigating long distances as he had been a qualified pilot for just six months when he was killed.
    Does anyone have the 1 PRU ORB covering September to November 1941, as I'm thinking this might provide an indication of the extent of his flying experience as a PRU pilot, or even a reference to the sortie from which he failed to return?
    On 3 December, about four weeks after the crash, Wilson's body was recovered from the foreshore, about a kilometre southwest of Eastbourne.

    So, just 10 months later the same Spitfire crashed into the sea almost within sight of where it had previously forced landed - quite unusual!
    On pages earlier: "Can anyone identify pilot & a/c -said to be a Spitfire- that crashed into the sea 3500 yds off Eastbourne at 1530 hrs Nov 7 1941.? Info from 552 Coast Regt RA war diaries............ The crash was only about 3,500 yds off Beachy Head. The Range and bearing given is from the Observation Post which was on The Wish Tower on the middle of Eastbourne Prom."

    I'm inclined to believe that as it was issued to a Metereology Flight and then Photo Reconnaissance, it may have been stripped of its guns in order to accept the weight of the cameras and perhaps had more fuel tanks. Some of those flights required very high altitude and perhaps the oxygen tank ran out causing the pilot to lose consciousness, near to the end of his flight. It was commented that he had just 6 months experience with Spitfires and may have taken longer over the target than his oxygen allowed.

    EDIT: Paul MacMillan in his extensive research provides a plausible reason for this Spitfire NOT being operated by a fighter Squadron - it was converted for export to Turkey...
    Turkish Spitfire MK1a Order 1940 - Serial Number Crunching | Key.Aero
    "In September 1939 Spitfire F.1a (L1066) arrived in Turkey (this was diverted from a Polish order) and was serialled 2901. Turkey ordered 15 Mk1a Spitfires (as Type 341) in 1940 under Contract C1060/40 for £12,000

    However of this 15, only 2 were delivered (2902) (ex P9566 B-Class Serial N-22 which returned to RAF as HK854 in April 1942)
    and 2903 (ex P9567 B-Class Serial N-23 which returned to RAF as HK856 in April 1942))

    Of the other 13, 8 are known to have flown with B-Class Serials N-24 to N-31
    Supermarine aircraft since 1914 - Page 382 list these as
    N-22 Spitfire P9566 Turkey f/f 27.4.40
    N-23 Spitfire P9567 Turkey f/f 29.4.40
    N-24 Spitfire "P9547" Turkey f/f 1.5.40 "P9557"
    N-25 Spitfire P9561 Turkey f/f 8.5.40
    N-26 Spitfire P9558 Turkey f/f 3.5.40
    N-27 Spitfire P9559 Turkey f/f 14.5.40
    N-28 Spitfire P9560 Turkey f/f 14.4.40
    N-29 Spitfire P9565 Turkey f/f 14.4.40
    N-30 Spitfire P9556 Turkey f/f 15.4.40

    However, I have a problem with at least of these and also what of the other 5 serials what are they (no B-Class Serial's applied), If you tally this with the info on http://www.airhistory.org.uk/spitfire/p009.html

    Some of the info on this says 'Turkish conversion' so if we take P9558 as an example FF 14-5-40 Turkish conversion then FF 21-6-40. So this 'Turkish conversion' took around 3 weeks

    Explicit 'Turkish conversion' serials from airhistory.org.uk
    P9558 Ia 693 EA MIII FF 14-5-40 Turkish conversion then FF 21-6-40 9MU 25-6-40 54S 1-9-40 engine failed aircraft abandoned nr Catterick 25-10-40

    P9559 Ia 694 EA MIII FF 14-5-40 Turkish conversion then FF 20-6-40 9MU 20-6-40 54S 1-9-40 5OTU 3-2-41 FAAC 27-4-41 air collision with N3066 crashed Kimmel Park Bodelwydd An Flint dbf 2-11-41 SOC 15-11-41

    P9560 Ia 701 EA MIII FF 15-5-40 Turkish conversion then FF 21-6-40 9MU 25-6-40 54S 1-9-40 dived into ground nr Bolton on Swale Kent P/O Sanders killed C3 7-9-40

    P9561 Ia 684 EA MIII FF 8-5-40 Turkish conversion then FF 26-6-40 8MU 26-6-40 PRU 19-8-40 Cv PRIII Type C PRU Benson Missing from PR sortie to Ostend 16-2-41 FH101.20

    P9562 Ia 675 EA MIII FF 3-5-40 Turkish conversion then FF 28-6-40 8MU 29-6-40 65S 18-8-40 FACB 13-1-41 AST CGS 13-3-41 DeH 16-4-42 new eng 52OTU 15-7-42 air collision with P7834 SOC 6-3-45

    Of the above ONLY P9562 is missing from the B-Serials list in Supermarine aircraft since 1914
    Additionally you will note 2 F/F (First Flight Dates) - So we are looking for another 3 Serials at least with some F/F which don't look 'timeline correct' for instance:

    P9556 Ia 776 EA MIII FF 12-6-40 6MU 13-6-40 64S 16-8-40 force-landed Rotherfield Sussex into ditch 21-12-40 53OTU 30-8-41 ASTH 17-10-41 Cv Va M45 RNDA 4-9-42 Yeovilton store 10-9-42 880S Stretton 9-42 to 10-42 748S St.Merryn 2-43 to 5-43 RN 7-1-44 (after repair?) 761S Henstridge 3-44 to 4-45 Swung after landing u/c collapsed Cat X1 24-6-44 (S/L DC Drew) Taxied into Seafire NX927 at dispersal 2-8-44 Cat X1 (S/L R Taylor)

    P9557 Ia 780 EA MIII FF 13-6-40 6MU 14-6-40 64S 16-8-40 FAAC 18-8-40 Scottish Aviation 57OTU 9-8-41 222MU 9-11-42 Algarab 11-3-43 Port Sudan 12-3-43 Middle East 31-3-43 SOC 27-7-44

    The FF Date is 12th and 13th June 1940, but in you look at this "sandwich" P9555 was FF 31-5-40 and P9558 was FF 14-5-40

    I would therefore suggest P9557 is more likely to be a Turkish conversion as well (most probably a typo for "P9547") above. The earliest "Turkish" Spitfire from airhistory.org.uk was P9550
    I would also suggest P9547 is wrong as it is too 'early", the 15 Turkish Spitfires are beginning to look like
    P9550 (1 aircraft)
    P9553 to P9567 (14 aircraft)
    P9551 and P9552 in between were PRIII Prototypes
    Of which only the last 2 of the order P9566 and P9567 ever made it to Turkey

    So what were the 10 B-Class Serials ?
    I would suggest they are contained within P9556 to P9567 (12 aircraft)
    Best guesses are the 4 known Turkish conversion's and the 2 known Deliveries (7 in total)
    P9558 Turkish conversion also on Supermarine aircraft since 1914 list
    P9559 Turkish conversion also on Supermarine aircraft since 1914 list
    P9560 Turkish conversion also on Supermarine aircraft since 1914 list
    P9561 Turkish conversion also on Supermarine aircraft since 1914 list
    P9566 Known Delivery also on Supermarine aircraft since 1914 list
    P9567 Known Delivery also on Supermarine aircraft since 1914 list
    Plus P9557 (for "P9547") on Supermarine aircraft since 1914 list
    and P9565 and P9556 from Supermarine List
    leaving out P9563 and P9564 - which may have been awaiting conversion (or actually converted and flown but not under B Class condition) as there is quite a gap between FF date and delivery to 8 MU

    P9563 Ia 671 EA MIII FF 2-5-40 8MU 4-7-40 64S 'SH-R' 19-8-40 crashed Hartington Sgt Lloyd safe C3 5-9-40 Scottish Aviation 53OTU 15-7-41 Cv Va M45 2-8-41 332S 'AH-O' 27-1-42 164S 10-5-42 Stalled off turn and dived into ground Skeabrae FACE 23-8-42 SOC 31-8-42

    P9564 Ia 669 EA MIII FF 1-5-40 8MU 5-7-40 64S 19-8-40 FA crashed 4m N Leconfield C3 Sgt Laws safe 30-9-40 SOC 7-10-40 (originally for Turkey)"

    The Turkish order may have specified different equipment to the "normal" RAF requirements and these differences may have caught out relatively inexperienced pilots, especially if fatigued after long stressful flights over enemy territory.

    .... and Wiki clarifies how the PR versions differed from fighters...
    The Mk I PR Type C carried a total of 144 gal (655 l) of fuel and was the first photo reconnaissance aircraft to reach as far as Kiel. The extra fuel was carried in the tank behind the pilot and in a 30 gal (136 l) blister tank under the port wing, which was counterbalanced by a camera installation in a fairing under the starboard wing. A larger oil tank was installed, necessitating the reshaping of the nose to the distinctive PR Spitfire "chin". This version was also known as the Long Range or LR Spitfire.
    The Mk I PR Type D (also called the Extra Super Long Range Spitfire) was the first PR variant that was not a conversion of existing fighter airframes. The Type D carried so much fuel that it was nicknamed "the bowser". The D shaped wing leading edges, ahead of the main spar, proved to be an ideal location for an integral tank. Accordingly, in early 1940, work started on converting the leading edges, from rib four to rib 21, by sealing off the spar, outer ribs and all skin joins allowing 57 gal (259 l) of fuel to be carried in each wing. Because the work was of low priority and with the urgent need for fighters the first two, hand-built prototypes of the PR Type Ds were not available until October. These prototypes also had a 29 gal (132 l) tank in the rear fuselage. An additional 14 gal (63 l) oil tank was fitted in the port wing. The cameras, two vertically mounted F24s with 8 inch (20.3 cm) or 20 inch (50.8 cm) lens or two vertically mounted F8s with 20-inch (510 mm) lens, were located in the rear fuselage. With the full fuel load the center of gravity was so far back the aircraft was difficult to fly until the rear fuselage tank had been emptied. Despite these difficulties the type quickly proved its worth, photographing such long distance targets as Stettin, Marseilles, Trondheim and Toulon.
    Once the first two Type Ds, P9551 and P9552 had proven the concept the production aircraft, which were soon renamed PR Mk IV, were modified to increase the leading edge tank capacity to 66.5 gal (302 l) and by omitting the rear fuselage tank. These aircraft were better balanced and had the more powerful Merlin 45 engine as used by the Mk V, along with heated cabins, which were a great comfort to pilots on such long flights. A total of 229 Type Ds were built.
    In 1941, a new system of mark numbers was introduced, independent of those used for the fighter versions. Also, several PR conversions were re-converted to later PR types.
    The Type C became the PR Mk III.
    The Type D became the PR Mk IV.

    Spitfires were "Cottonised" by stripping out the armament and radio-transmitter, then, after filling the empty gun ports and all panel lines, the airframe was rubbed down to remove any imperfections. Coats of a special very pale blue-green called Camoutint were applied and polished. Two F24 cameras with five-inch (127 mm) focal length lenses, which could photograph a rectangular area below the aircraft, were installed in the wing space vacated by the inboard guns and their ammunition containers as a stop-gap measure. Heating equipment was installed on all PR Spitfires to stop the cameras from freezing and the lenses from frosting over at altitude. These Spitfires, which later officially became the Spitfire Mk I PR Type A, had a maximum speed of 390 mph. Several of the sub-types which followed were conversions of existing fighter airframes, carried out by the Heston Aircraft Company. The Type D, which was the first specialised ultra long-range version, was the first to require that the work be carried out by Supermarine.

    PS: The Form 1180 location is NOT Freeland, but FreeZEland Lane. That's now blocked by the new Hastings to Bexhill Link Road, Coombe Valley Way.

    So I suppose TOMORROW you'll ask about this? :)
    B-24 Liberator Friday, 31 December 1943
    50.85071°N 0.52007°E
    Recreation ground, Bulverhythe.
    B-24 crashed on return from mission. Crew believed safe, no other details.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
    JimHerriot likes this.
  5. flakdodger

    flakdodger Member

    Hello OliverShotter, you have discovered our interactive Bexhill WW2 map. Well done. Here is the link for those interested.
    Bexhill OpenStreetMap
    I'd had a look for Sergeant Mills but drew no conclusions as to him nor his unit.
    KevinBattle, you mention the Bulverhithe B-24...
    I'm new to the forum but I will do a new post with all the details I have.
    KevinBattle likes this.
  6. flakdodger

    flakdodger Member

    Ross' Form 1180 is conclusive and the Open Street Map entry has been revised.

Share This Page