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Victor/Canberra collision near Marham, 1968.

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Victor/Canberra collision near Marham, 1968.

Old 6th Dec 2007, 19:41
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Victor/Canberra collision near Marham, 1968.

Hello all.
First post obviously, with a request for some help with research:

XH646 Victor B2 collided with a Canberra on the night of 19 August 1968 near the village of Holt in Norfolk. Both crews were killed outright. My uncle was the P2 of the Victor and I would like to be able to learn more about that fateful night.

I have 'Googled' and gleaned some information, as yet I haven't chased any RAF sources, although this could be the next step.

I believe the Victor was from Marham and the Canberra from Bruggen, the Victor crew were on a departure climb out from Marham during atrocious weather. A radio call from XH646 was heard, "Passing 3,500 ft", this was the last received transmission.

I would be indebted to any PPruners who can help me out by correcting the above, sharing experience, etc or just where to look next.

Thanks in advance.

Petasus
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Old 6th Dec 2007, 20:36
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North Norfolk News:

Holt Air Crash, August 19. Two RAF planes collided over Holt. Seven airmen were killed.

Holt has never forgotten it. A raging electric storm, a terrifying explosion and burning wreckage raining down on rooftops and gardens. For 14,500 feet above north Norfolk two RAF jets a Victor aircraft and a Canberra had collided and exploded sending debris crashing to earth for miles around. Thirty years after the August 19, 1968 disaster in which Holt was miraculously spared from destruction a memorial service to remember seven airmen who died was held.

"I am at 13,500 feet and climbing," were the last words from the crew of Victor XH646 before radio contact was lost as the Marham-based plane climbed away from its station on a training exercise. It collided with a Canberra from RAF Bruggen in Germany. Both crews died.

Neither plane was carrying missiles, nuclear or conventional. PC Ian Jarvis, now retired, of Thompson Avenue, had only moved to Holt that weekend and had not taken up duty. "I made the first 999 call," he said. "It was quite incredible. When I got down Kelling Road the burning front cockpit of a Victor was there."

Today there are no physical scars from the terrible night 30 years ago. But in the pine woods of Holt Country Park a deformed pine tree bears testimony to where a body crashed to earth on a young tree thirty years ago.
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Old 6th Dec 2007, 20:41
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and from here on PPRuNe

19 Aug 68
XH646
Victor
K1 A
214 Sqn
Kelling Heath Norfolk
4

Whilst flying in extremely poor weather conditions which rendered the radar cover inadequate, the Victor was in collision with a Canberra. The crews of both aircraft were killed. Squadron Leader Doyle had assumed his responsibilities as a flight commander on 214 Squadron on the morning of his death.

Squadron Leader Michael Thomas DOYLE Navigator
Flight Lieutenant William Anthony GALLIENE Captain
Flight Lieutenant Kenneth John PEACOCK Navigator
Flight Lieutenant Roger Stanley MORTON Co Pilot
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Old 6th Dec 2007, 21:28
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The Broken Wings entries say that WT325 belonged to 213 Sqn, and the collision occurred while it was leaving Wainfleet ranges.
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Old 6th Dec 2007, 22:05
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Heard a story about this accident from an ex Radar Type 82 fitter who was working at Watton at the time. Both aircraft were under the control of Eastern Radar at the time of collision. As stated controllers at Watton lost radar contact on both aircraft due to heavy rain clutter on their scopes. One result of the accident was the fitting of a circular polariser on the transmitter aerial of the Radar Type 82 to reduce the effects of rain clutter.
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Old 6th Dec 2007, 22:18
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Yes it was probably deemed "too expensive" to fit CP right up to that moment.

Seems we learn nothing over the years........
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Old 6th Dec 2007, 23:37
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Eastern Radar

The radar at Watton was not designed for Air Traffic Control when it was built, but as a Tactical Control Radar for 24 Air Defence Missile Wing's Bloodhound Mk 1 Squadrons at Marham, Watton and Rattlesden. The radar's design was started for the Army AA Command and the RAF got it as part of the transfer of SAGW (SAM) to Air Ministry control in 1952/3. The radar's performance against ECM was rubbish and its range of 150 miles made it not very useful for fighter control, which was a pity as it was the first volumetric radar in the UK and it had a state of the art data handing system. It was only used with Bloodhound from 1958 to Jan 1963, when RAF SAM command and control was passed directly to the Master Radar Staions at Pattrington and Bawdsey. After that, the three production 82's (Watton, North Luffeham and Lindholme) were sightly modified and six months later they were up and running as ATCRU's.
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Old 7th Dec 2007, 06:40
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Wt 325

WT 325 was a 213 Sqdn Canberra B(I)6.

I was on the line that night and seem to remember that it was one of (I think) 4 aircraft involved in a bombing competition (possibly Salmond Trophy). Bombs would have been 2 x 2 25 pounders on the wing pylons.

All of the above is subject to my fading memory, and correction from anyone with a better recall...is it really almost 40 years ago?
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Old 7th Dec 2007, 08:56
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I was duty operations controller at Waddo at the time. I was in bed, in the duty bunk at the mess, listening to the radio when I heard the announcement of an air crash.

I rang the duty ops officer as we had aircraft up and he checked our jets and at the same time called 1 Gp Ops who were in the dark too.

They called 3 Gp who then found out it was a Marham Victor.

I don't know about the timings at the Watton end but the BBC was the first we knew at the Ops end.

I may have some primary data. I will check Monday.
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Old 7th Dec 2007, 09:46
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I seem to remember that the AAIB indicated that point of impact was slightly forward and below the crew hatch of the Victor, the Canberra being in a climb at the time.
Trouble is time plays havoc with the memory
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Old 7th Dec 2007, 10:05
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I believe that the Victor was on frequency with Midland Radar, a T82 ATC Radar Unit sighted at North Luffenham. Amongst other taskings, Midland Radar was responsible for providing climb out and recovery services to a number of airfields including Marham. The controller at Midland, although in RT contact, was never able to identify the Victor on its climbout due to the heavy weather returns on the T82 display and thus was unable to provide any anti-collision service. I understand that the Canberra had called Eastern Radar as it departed one of the Wash weapons ranges for return to Germany. The Eastern Radar controller too could not identify his aircraft due to the heavy weather returns from the same storm. Nor was SSR much help in those days. The returns on a T82 radar were basic slashes which were frequently indecypherable.
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Old 7th Dec 2007, 16:48
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I believe that the Victor was on frequency with Midland Radar, a T82 ATC Radar Unit sighted at North Luffenham.
In the overhead no doubt....
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Old 7th Dec 2007, 17:20
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It is unlikely that the Victor was in the Midland overhead as it was climbing out NE from Marham and at a relatively low level.

IIRC there weather was 100% DS with lots of extremely load bangs near Waddo as well.
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Old 7th Dec 2007, 17:51
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Sigh..... you had to be there....... those were the days you used to be able to find "The Midland Radar Overhead Starts here" stickers in strange places all round the world.
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Old 7th Dec 2007, 18:04
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Including MPA.
But how come the Midland overhead seemed much bigger than Lindholme? It was only about 20 miles there, although did hear a Bealine Trident wingeing one day asking exactly where the radar was situated and sounding most unhappy about the 'standard' phrase 'entering my overhead... etc'
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Old 8th Dec 2007, 11:54
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Victor/Canberra Collision

I was a controller at Midland Radar at the time of this accident. The Victor was receiving a service from Midland Radar as it climbed out of Marham. The weather clutter on the radar was very severe due to very large active Cbs covering the whole of East Anglia. The Type 82 radar did not have any form of weather suppression.

The controller concerned did his best to assist the Victor by vectoring the aircraft between a very small gap between 2 large cells but due to the severity and proximity of the weather clutter was not able to offer any anti collision advice. The Canberra was climbing out of Wainfleet range under the control of Eastern Radar as it climbed on an easterly heading through the weather clutter on its return to Germany.

This accident would not have occurred with todays processed radars and the sophistication of SSR over the basic IFF then used. A very tragic accident.
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Old 8th Dec 2007, 12:00
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DD, with Cb of that nature and density it is doubtful if a modern radar at Midland would have done any better. What a modern system would do it to allow multiple feeds so that you got a composite picture.

It was one reason why the each main bomber base had a standard instrument departure and recovery lanes which pre-dated SIDS and STARS be a few decades.
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Old 8th Dec 2007, 12:31
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vectoring the aircraft between a very small gap between 2 large cells
I wonder if the Eastern controller was trying to get the Canberra to thread the same gap?
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Old 9th Dec 2007, 11:26
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Gainsey

As far as I can remember, the Canberra had 'free called' Eastern Radar on climb-out from Wainfleet and was already in the weather clutter and so was never seen on radar by the controller. The collision would have been close to 90 degree crossing as the Victor was on a northerly heading.
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Old 9th Dec 2007, 12:13
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It's that kind of 1 in a million chance that makes you think.

Tragic.
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