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RAF Canberra losses in Malta

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RAF Canberra losses in Malta

Old 2nd Sep 2003, 21:07
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Pronto
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RAF Canberra losses in Malta

During the late 60's I lived in Malta, leaving the island in mid 1970. (I was there from May 67 to July 70).

While I was there, the RAF lost three Canberra aircraft. (There were two Squadrons of Canberras based at RAF Luqa). In each case, there were no survivors from the crew. The only casualty on the ground was - if my memory serves me - a cow (still in its byre) which was struck by falling wreckage.

The losses happened in quick succession, I think that there was one a month, and I think that they were early in the year. Due to "other factors" I think that the accidents would have been in 1969 or 1970.

I haven't been able to find anything at all on the internet which mentions these losses which, again if my memory is accurate, led to a brief grounding of the Canberra fleet.

Does anyone know anything about these accidents, or is my memory playing tricks?
 
Old 2nd Sep 2003, 23:11
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Hi Pronto

Your "crashes" would probably have been 13Sqn's PR.9s. The list below gives all the Canberras (nine) that crashed at or near Malta.

1 WF926, PR.3 (39Sqn) - 21/Jan/1960. Crashed in sea 19 miles ENE of Luqa - 2K.

2 WH921, B.2/U.14 - 6/Oct/1961. Shot down by Sea Slug from HMA Girdleness, Malta.

3 WJ758, B.6 (12Sqn) - 12/Dec/1957. Wheels up landing at Ta Kali, Malta.

4 WJ761, B.6 (9 Sqn) - no date. Hit parked Canberra WH973 at Luqa.

5 WT364, B.6/B.16 (249Sqn) - 26/Aug/1968. Port u/c collapsed on landing at Luqa.

6 WT481, T.4 (39Sqn) - 2/Jun/1965. Into sea 35 miles SW of Luqa.

7 WT530, PR.7 (13Sqn) - 7/Dec/1978. Engine failure on t/o, Luqa.

8 XH130, PR.9 (13Sqn) - 25/Mar/1969. Crashed at Hal Far on approach to Luqa, 2K

9 XH164, PR.9 (13Sqn) - 7/Jan/1969. Crashed on appraoch to Luqa, 2K.

That's the basic list of all terminal (Cat 5) Cans at/near Malta, can see no overt "trend" though, will check some other books. Maybe JohnF has an accident record for one or more of the above, especially the PR.9s.

Hope this helps.

(Thinks . . .maybe I should put a list of all Canberra crashes on my web-site. Would it be worth it do you think?)
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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 02:14
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Sorry I cannot help. My records only cover test flying accidents.
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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 06:09
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7 WT530, PR.7 (13Sqn) - 7/Dec/1978. Engine failure on t/o, Luqa.

A couple of years before my time. Could that have been the story I heard about the passenger left behind on the rumbold seat?
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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 06:28
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AoT wrote . . .

A couple of years before my time. Could that have been the story I heard about the passenger left behind on the rumbold seat?

Don't know, it was four years after my time.
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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 07:17
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WT530, PR.7 (13Sqn) - 7/Dec/1978. Engine failure on t/o, Luqa
I believe this was the one that crashed in the cemetery - it may be apocryphal, but the pilot's last transmission was saud to be "...cancel two late lunches..."
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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 16:21
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Malta wrecks

The sea around Malta is of course littered with wrecks.

Trouble is - the sea very quickly becomes too deep for conventional scuba diving. The 'diveable' areas have been picked clean long ago.

The museum in Valetta is well worth a visit. The corroded but unmistakeable JU87 wing spar at the entrance was a poignant reminder of the huge numbers of aircraft that met a watery grave there in WW2.

HP
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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 18:22
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Additional (1)
The two 13 Sqn PR.9s (XH130 and XH164) both went in after rolling to port and diving inverted into the ground, ("Canberra Operational Record" - R. Jackson). With one in the January and the other in the March of 1969, it could be that these two crashes may have had some relationship. Any ex-13 Sqn blokes out there who can shed light on this?

Additional (2).
4 WJ761, B.6 (9 Sqn) . . .
Date of 18/Mar/1959. Destroyed when it missed the runway and hit parked aircraft. (Missed the runway? )

And. . .

One I missed earlier in my "quick look" (but before your time Pronto):

10 WH951, B.6 12Sqn - 7/Mar/1957. Brakes failed on landing, overshot and hit a wall at Luqa.
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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 18:46
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I was at the Malta Airshow last year and spoke to several locals who were groundcrew at the time and saw the PR9 go into the cemetary.
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Old 8th Sep 2003, 20:22
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Slightly off topic, but I was on detachment to Luqa with Strike Wing from Akrotiri in (about) 1967, when a Lightning came to grief (no fatality) on the runway (or off the runway for purists!).

I was on a pan at the time, waiting for a returning Canberra B16, which had just landed (at night). A slap on my shoulder by a colleague, alerted me to a Lightning which was also landing at the same time behind the B16. His tail chute was fully deployed and he was rapidly catching the oblivious B16. When the Lightning was no more than two hundred yards from the B16 and still motoring, he suddenly applied full reheat and took off again with tattered tail chute streaming behind. On his next landing, minus chute, he continued rapidly off the end of the runway into the scenery. Cat 5 one Lightning. Seem to remember a write up in Air Clues, but donít remember the conclusion.

249sqn did lose a Canberra around that time, when a B15 flew into a mountian in sardinia (?). Three crew were lost.

Last edited by Lukeafb1; 8th Sep 2003 at 20:38.
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Old 10th Sep 2003, 19:56
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Thanks to all who replied.

The losses which prompted the question were numbers 8 and 9 in Beeayeate's list, they were in exactly the right time frame. I'm quite sure that there was another at about the same time though, possibly in February? 30 something year old memories say there was one a month for three months.

Does anyone know why there were 2 (possibly 3) identical accidents to 13 Sqn aircraft though, was the cause ever found?
 
Old 11th Sep 2003, 07:32
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Luke
249sqn did lose a Canberra around that time, when a B15 flew into a mountian in sardinia (?).
Could have been WJ770. This was a B.16 which crashed into hills in fog at Sinopoli, Calibria, Italy on 11 March 1968 (3K). This is the only Canberra I can find that crashed on or anywhere near Italy or Sardinia.

WJ770 was on 249 but must have been transferred as it was with 6 Sqd at time of crash. Both these sqds were contemporary at Akritori of course.

Pronto
Glad to have been of some help. The current users of PR.9s - 39Sqd, Marham - took over some of 13Sqd's kites, way back. They may still have engineering records or accounts of incidents in the 9's past, especially if it was a major technical fault. May be worth giving the squadron a call mentioning the a/c numbers, unless any 39ers read this forum and want to contribute.
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Old 11th Sep 2003, 18:54
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Hi Beeayeate,

You're right about WJ770.

Strike Wing consisted of three squadrons, 6, 249 and 73. Their Canberras were pretty much interchangable when required. The merger of the three squadrons was very unpopular with ground crews, who lost their squadron identities.
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Old 11th Sep 2003, 19:59
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Hi Luke

But they were still all Pink Flamingos!
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Old 11th Sep 2003, 20:15
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The WJ773 crash occurred when a two ship formation was carrying out a training sortie. The lead Canberra was crewed by an experienced trio, whilst the second ship had a new(ish) squadron pilot at the controls.

Apparently, the leader turned to port to follow the slope of the mountain, but the trail crew waited another 30 seconds before turning. The 30 second time lag took them directly into the mountain. I do remember the names of the pilot and navigator who perished, but not the name of the third member of the crew.
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Old 13th Sep 2003, 05:20
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With reference to the two 13 Sqdn. PR9s that crashed in Malta. I was on 39 Sqdn. in 1970 and we were well aware that something 'odd' had happened and had been checking flying controls and autopilot systems on the whole fleet. The finger was pointed at the hydraulic powered flying control system on the ailerons and the tailplane trim actuator. The powered ailerons were only fitted to the PR9 to my knowledge and although nothing could be found, it was thought that a fault in this system could have caused the accidents as the aircraft were reported to have rolled and crashed inverted. The autopilot system was ruled out as it was unlikely to have been selected when the accidents occured. The aircrew were warned to be cautious if the aircraft 'twitched' in the roll axis and I can remember at least one aircraft returning, having declared an emergency, with the navigators escape hatch missing! In the PR9, the navigator was in a closed compartment in the nose and although he could eject through a frangible hatch it was considered preferable to jettison it first. That crew reported that they had experienced an aileron twitch and gave serious thought to ejecting. We never found anything conclusive and eventually everything went quiet and flying returned to normal, but it took about a year for the aircrew to settle down. Quite understandably they would, like the rest of us,like to have known what the cause of the accidents was. If the cause was ever identified, I never got to hear about it.

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