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Old 15th Aug 2014, 18:23
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: UK
Age: 78
Posts: 3,681
John Farley:

You have missed the epic crash of TG574 on 20 December 1950. The 53 Sqn crew led by Flt Lt Graham Tunnadine departed El Adem for Castel benito with several slip crews on board heading home for Christmas.

42 minutes after take-off, a blade came off No.2 propeller, sliced through the fuselage and severed all of the tail controls. It also struck Flt Lt Bennett who was resting on the bunk and took his right arm off. The three remaining blades on No.2 were now hopelessly out of balance so the entire engine was torn from its mounting and fell off taking the port undercarriage and a large section of the leading edge with it.

To cut a long but magnificent story short, Tunnadine managed to stabilise the aeroplane using asymmetric thrust on the remaining three engines and got the baggage and crews down the back to move forward and back to control pitch.

He diverted to Benina (Benghazi) and almost made it. At the last moment two crew members in the back had to dive into a rearward-facing seat for landing.

the aircraft hit gently rising ground just a few hundred metres short of the runway, bounced and then the starboard wing dug in and the aircraft ended up on its back.

ALL OF THE PASSENGERS survived without injury due to their rearward-facing seats. Tunnadine, his co-pilot (Sqn Ldr James) and the navigator (F/S Johns) were dead. the F/E (Sgt Bain) was seriously injured and died on 24 December.

Sadly, Flt Lt Bennett, who had been struck by the departing propeller blade, died of his injuries.

The other hero of the day was Sqn Ldr Brown. He was the Station Medical Officer at Abingdon and had moved forward to give Flt Lt Bennet medical assistance. he was told that he should go back and strap in for the landing but chose to stay with his patient. He paid for it with his life and was awarded the George Medal posthumously.

All of this happened at night.

Flt Lt Tunnadine and his crew almost achieved the impossible. As it so happened, everyone in the back survived. In fact, one of the deadheading navigators told me that he was driving an ambulance within 20 minutes of them hitting the ground!
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