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Post Info TOPIC: Hastings TG577


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Hastings TG577


This is still the RAF's worst peacetime accident involving British service personnel, I have had much communication with the bereaved families and have met some of them, if anyone wishes to contact me or others on this subject you can always send me a Private Message

 



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There is some detailed information on the crash of TG577 here http://www.aaahs.org.uk/crash1965.html



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The crash of Hastings TG577 at Little Baldon, Oxfordshire

Information kindly supplied by David Rayner on October 20th 2003 (June 2005 David Rayner has recently started his own website page on TG577 so if anyone can help click here http://www.aaahs.org.uk/crash1965.html )

RAF Handley Page Hastings C1 TG577 crashed at Little Baldon, Oxfordshire at 1600hrs GMT Tuesday 6th July 1965. All 41 passengers and crew on board died. The aircraft was based at RAF Colerne Wiltshire.

An RAF Board of Inquiry was opened at RAF Abingdon to establish the cause of the crash into a barley field of 100 acres at Little Baldon.

Many eye witnesses saw the aircraft in difficulties,which was full of parachutists heading for a drop over Weston-on-the-Green, the pilot radioed that he was in some sort of troubleand apparently avoided missing the nearby village of Berinsfield. The first ambulance arrived from Didcot but the plane was an inferno.There were no survivors, an all night guard was placed around the scene of the crash with many sightseers jamming the local roads.

One lady eyewitness thought the Hastings was performing stuntswhilst a male farm worker who had arrived on the scene thought he saw that some soldiers had deployed their parachutes.Apparently Hastings TG577 had landed upside down in the field.

Salvage experts were concentrating on checking the elevator tail bolts connected to the tail plane, the BoI had later determined that the cause of the accident was due to metal fatigue of two of the elevator bolts, this put stress on two more bolts that failed. The Hastings climbed steeply out of control, stalled and crashed into the field. It was trying to return to Abingdon and I understand that a Beverley aircraft was already at the end of the runway preparing to take off, but TG577 couldnt make it back to Abingdon.

This in effect grounded all Hastings aircraft and only a few Hastings carried on in service being replaced by the C130 Hercules. The elevator bolt fatigue was an ongoing problem with this type of aircraft and several Hastings crashed due to this design fault since it first flew in 1946.

An Inquest was held at The Guildhall in Abingdon with a verdict of accidental death, all victims died from multiple injuries, the aircraft was reported as recently being serviced.

At this point in time this was the worst peacetime accident involving any passenger aircraft of the Royal Air Force.

Received from David Barrott on July 3rd 2004:

Reference the crash of TG577. As I recollect, (being in close contact with several RAF and Parachute Regiment personnel at the time) .

Shortly after takeoff the pilot requested a priority landing at RAF Abingdon as he was experiencing some stiffness in the elevator controls. He was asked if he was declaring an emergency and requesting emergency clearance but
declined. Shortly after the aircraft assumed a nose down attitude. The pilot corrected this, but the elevators went hard up and locked there. The aircraft went to near vertical before stalling and dropping to land inverted. The altitude at the commencement of the manoeuvre was approximately
5000'. The First vehicles on site were the ambulance and fire tender from UKAEA Culham Laboratory, who's drivers were subsequently reprimanded for leaving their base without permission although their CO was in Reading at the time. They had reached the crash site cross-country by breaching the
fence of the Culham Naval Stores depot and a bill for replacement of the fence was received within a month.

Added on 4th November 2004 by Ch/Tech Ray Bunce ex RAF Benson via Doug Adams

One specific that I have been provided with some additional comments for are your article

about the Hastings TG577 tragedy in July 1965. Most of the comments serve to complement

or supplement the fuller details already printed.My cousin is Ray Bunce who, as Chief Technician R.A. Bunce, was NCO in charge ofthe RAF Benson Duty Crew on that fateful evening, and took the call to attend the scene.

The crew travelled to the crash site, a barley field it is reported, travelling in the standard

3 ton Bedfords provided. The crew arrived after about an hour, presumably after the

chaps from Culham mentioned in your main article. The severity of the crash was

already known or generally anticipated as they travelled expecting only to assist in the

recovery of bodies.On arrival at the scene the only recognisable piece of aircraft was the (upside down)tail unit.

 

Already at the scene, presumably called from his local base or home, was the Inspector

from the CAA who straightforwardly advised that he had no doubt of the cause, fatigue in the

elevator attachment bolts and was looking for these bolts to satisfy himself this was the

case. On finding the two broken parts of one of these bolts, he reassembled it for the crew to

look at, to show how difficult this fatigue was to detect visually. (My own comment but, given all that had been said and documented about these boltsfailing in other situations, why had an effective correction not been made before more crashesand fatalities?)



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With kind permission from Eddy Queen Air Load Master on 36 Squadron

Good Morning John,
 
Firstly I have no idea whether this will reach you but here goes.  My name is Eddy Queen and as I advance into my reclining years I have been revisiting some of the events in my life which continue to engage my thoughts to this day.  One of those events was the TG 577 crash.
 
 
I was an ALM on No 36 Sqn at RAF Colerne.  On the morning of 5 Jul 1965, a Monday morning as I recall, I arrived on the squadron and was informed that our crew, with Fg Off Jeff Wiles as our captain were required to go over to Abingdon to carry out trainee para dropping sorties.  We were "crewed-up" in those days with a regular crew complement, an arrangement which I always welcomed.  The case against it was that familiarity bred contempt and led to dangerous familiarity; the example quoted was the Thorney Island Hastings which had a permanent crew on board with a stand-in air engineer.  They were doing "circuits and bumps", on touch down Captain called "cut 3" engineer cut 3 engines instead of No. 3 - aircraft careered off the runway into a radio shack killing a ground crew airman!  Anyway the duty Bomber Command Standby crew normally positioned for the week at Abingdon for the trainee para support drops.  They had been called out over the week end and we were slotted in.  So we took-off at 09 25 in TG 577, a 36 Sqn aircraft that I had flown in many times before. The time at Abingdon Parachute Training School was always chaotic: load trainees, 20 mins to the drop zone, get them out, 20 mins back preparing back end for next sortie.  We only did two drops,  the last being at 16 30 because the wind was out of limits after that.  As it was the final drop of the day the jump instructors jumped out after their trainees.  I had left the dispatching to the guys at the back, their trainees were comfortable with them in control.  Actually I recall going down into the nose position under the crew compartment floor and looking up at the flying control cables and realising that they were bicycle chains connected from the upper column, via a spigot onto the lateral cables running to the rear.  As we left the DZ, Jeff Wiles suggested to our signaller that he call up Colerne Tower and see if we could go back and get our night-stopping kit.  We assumed we were there for the week and didn't fancy scrounging stuff in our respective Messes.  We thought we were  on a hiding-to-nothing as no one valued such considerations.  However, the Tower came back, the BC Standby crew had just landed, bring TG 577 back and they would take the aircraft off us.  We happily did as we were told, I handed my bits over to Pete Timms, who also happened to be our ALM leader on the Squadron.  We spent the next day in the Squadron and late in the afternoon we were told not to leave.  Finally we were allowed to go home at 17 45 having been told that TG 577 had crashed with no survivors and that we were to say nothing as the families had yet to be informed.  I lived in Married Quarters and my wife knew I had been at Abingdon the previous day and would have assumed that as I was late home I was till over there.  My immediate concern was that the crash would be announced on the radio on the 6 o'clock news and she would fear the worst.  As I walked through the door the announcement was made. 
The next few days were awful, we would go to work, have a session on getting our wills in order and sent home.  I felt angry, angry that we were adept at handing aircraft emergencies in the air with a chance of survival but no-one prepared us for elevator bolts shearing off, plunging the aircraft into the ground.  The information filtered through, after taking the aircraft from us, the crew had bedded down for the night at Abingdon and on the next lift with trainees John Akin, the captain had radioed that he had control problems, requesting an immediate landing on the next runway (which was refused because there was a Beverly transport on a compass swing) but in any event he lost control.  The crew were affectionately known as the "casevac" crew (casualty evacuation) because the captain was John Akin, co-pilot was Chris Payne and the Engineer was Jonny Boyles (Aching, pain and boils).  The next thing was the funeral, I was coffin-bearer for my colleague Pete Timms.  There were other casualties from RAF Colerne who had volunteered to undergo para training and it was a large scale formal military funeral with muffled drums and gun carriages up to the village grave yard.  Being 5 foot 9 inches tall I was standard coffin-bearer height and had been engaged in several of these sad events.  It was the union jack with the individual's service hat on the coffin that used to upset me.  These days with the military various conflicts in progress we are all too familiar with the spectacle but at that time they were thankfully rare events.
As it happened the elevator bolts were replaced and the Hastings (rhapsody in rivets) lived on for a few more years, my final flight was on 11 Aug 1972 at AA&EE Boscombe Down but I along with the rest of Jeff Wile's crew have the last log book entry for TG 577.
 
I am currently involved as a volunteer with the Pathfinder museum at Wyton so memories linger on.
 
Kind regards,
 
Eddy Queen


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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-33401230



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