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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 58362
Last updated: 15 July 2020
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Date:25-JAN-1955
Time:12:19 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic HUNT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Hawker Hunter F4
Owner/operator:Hawker Aircraft Ltd.
Registration: WT707
C/n / msn: 41H-670674.
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:3
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:RNAS Ford, (HMS Peregrine) Yapton, West Sussex -   United Kingdom
Phase: Landing
Nature:Test
Departure airport:Dunsfold Aerodrome, Godalming, Surrey (EGTD)
Destination airport:RNAS Ford, (HMS Peregrine) Yapton, West Sussex
Narrative:
Hawker Hunter F.4 WT707, Hawker Aircraft Ltd: Written off on pre-delivery test flight. Crashed at RNAS Ford, West Sussex after engine failed to relight following booster pump checks at 45,000 feet over the south coast, near Chichester. After a very heavy landing, without flaps, undercarriage or engine at 230 mph , the aircraft bounced 15 times before impacting some caravans on the edge of the airfield, killing 3 people.

Pilot; Hawker Test Pilot, Frank Murphy was severely injured. Making a statement from the Station sick bay, he ended his report with the laconic "I landed at 12:19 hrs."

A contemporary newspaper report has more details (Littlehampton Gazette - Friday 28 January 1955)

"THREE IN CARAVANS KILLED BY JET.
*Plane ploughs through married quarters after emergency landing.
*Mother and child have miracle escape.

Next Thursday is the day provisionally fixed for the opening of the inquest on the victims of Tuesday's air crash at Ford. The inquest will be held at Chichester. Three people, including a husband and wife, were killed when a single seater Hawker Hunter jet aircraft, similar to the one in which Neville Duke broke the world air speed record along the Littlehampton - Rustington sea front in 1953, ploughed through the centre of a block of married quarters caravans at Ford Naval Air Station. Other people were injured. The plane broke up on the Ford-Clymping roadway, the pilot escaping with shock and minor injuries.

The Hunter, a swept wing fighter, had taken off from Dunsfold, where the Hawker firm has its experimental airfield, during the morning and was making a routine flight. The pilot, Frank Murphy, a Hawker test pilot, was over Littlehampton when he radioed to the Ford Air Station that he had to make an emergency landing on the airfield there.

As the Hunter came into land the station fire engine and rescue ambulances raced for the main field. The airplane touched down without mishap with its wheels up, but then seemed to suddenly swerve away at the end of the runway not far from Bilsham Corner.

The Hunter swung over the grass-land near the trim caravan site used as married quarters by personnel at Ford station. It sliced through two of the caravans in the centre of the block, which were reduced to matchwood and, after ploughing through a wooden fence, it broke up across the roadway. Within a stones throw of the tragic scene were a number of brick built houses where other station personnel and their wives and children were having their mid-day lunch.

Mother and child escape.
The dead are: Chief Petty Officer Jock Ewing (26), his wife Mrs. Gladys Ewing (21) and Petty Officer Scorer who were in their caravans when the plane crashed.

Fire engines and ambulances from Littlehampton and Arundel raced to the scene. Within minutes rescue workers had been organised by the Naval Air Station officers, and the dead and injured had been removed from the wreckage of the caravans and taken to the sick bay.

Mrs. Grace Scorer, whose husband was amongst those killed, and her two year old daughter Linda had miraculous escapes. Mrs. Scorer had rushed from the caravan clutching Linda in her arms only a moment or so before the plane crashed on their home. She and her little daughter were taken by ambulance to Littlehampton Hospital. The mother was suffering from shock and cuts and the child from head injuries and cuts on the leg.

Mrs. Scorer told ambulance attendant, Mr. George Aucock, of Littlehampton, that she and her husband were preparing lunch when she heard a roaring sound. Looking through the window she saw the Hunter plane making straight for their caravan. Instinctively she grabbed up her small daughter and rushed outside, the next moment she heard "a terrible crash".

The Hunter pilot was dragged from the wreckage of his plane by Lieutenant Commander R.A. Lockhart Smith and Lieutenant Commander L.T. Summerfield and was taken to the sick bay in the latter's car.

Back broken.
Mr. A. Bowley, a St. John Ambulance driver, said: "When I reached the scene the wrecked plane was lying across the roadway about ten yards from the crumpled up caravans. Its back was broken apparently, and the tail unit was lying a short distance away. The station medical officer directed me to take Mrs. Scorer and her child to the sick bay for attention, and afterwards I returned for a civilian worker, Anthony Jackson, aged 18, who had received hand injuries. I then took Mrs. Scorer and her little girl to hospital, where they were detained. There was wreckage everywhere, but the station personnel were hard at work clearing it away".

The next-door neighbours of the Scorers, C.P.O. Ewing and his wife were also inside their caravan when the plane smashed into the site.

Radio Artificer Raymond Huntingford and his wife Constance, whose caravan stood on the other side of the Scorers, were silting down to lunch at the time. Mr. Huntingford, hearing a rumbling noise an approaching plane, shouted lo his wife "Duck quickly!" "I saw the plane coming almost straight for us" he said, "and had the Hunter been making straight for our caravan we would have stood no chance whatever we did. When we got outside the two caravans which the plane struck were nothing more than matchwood".

This was the Huntingford's second narrow escape in a plane crash. They were at the Farnborough Air Show at the time that the DH 110 crashed and one of its engines bounced only a few yards away from where they were standing.

It was stated at the Ford station later that the Hunter had a "flame-out" , the technical term applied for a form of engine failure in flight. All traces of the tragedy had been cleared away within two hours of the crash. The mass of wreckage that had been two caravans had been moved away by many naval ratings: the pieces of the crashed plane had been hauled off the roadway and deposited in one of the station buildings, and the high wooden fencing had been patched with tarpaulin.

Here and there, though, were reminders of the families that had lived on the cleared spot - a woman's shoe which had been flattened, the pages of a book, a pencil, some pieces of wood. These had been trodden into the muddy ground.

Peace of mind.
While aircraft based at the Ford air station were on routing flights in the vicinity, the remaining caravans on the airfield site were moved 200 yards away. The are now near the 12th century parish church of Clymping. An officer told a reporter "The caravan occupants were advised to move them, not because they are taught to be in a dangerous position, but for the peace of mind of the people living in them".

The Hunter was classified as "a private plane" ; it had not been handed over by the makers to the R.A.F. Hawker Hunters are in squadron service at some fighter stations. Test Pilot Murphy is a friend of Lieutenant Lockhart Smith (one of the officers who pulled him from the plane) and Neville Duke who is chief test pilot for Hawkers.

P.O. Scorer is to be buried at the Ford Air Station cemetery in Clymping churchyard today. He was circuit steward at Barnham Methodist Church and the Rev. Ivor Eaton, of Littlehampton (Free Church minister at the Air Station) will conduct the service, with the Rev. G. Knight (station chaplain) participating.

The funeral of C.P.O. Ewing and his wife will be at Scarborough, their home town, tomorrow."

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.168 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 97)
3. Littlehampton Gazette - Friday 28 January 1955
4. Evening Express - Tuesday 25 January 1955
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/256: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C424377
6. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/33/S2737: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C6578517
7. http://www.ukserials.com/results.php?serial=WT
8. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=234.0


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
10-Jan-2009 11:55 ASN archive Added
02-Jan-2010 03:19 RAFOHunter Updated [Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Phase, Source, Narrative]
03-Dec-2011 22:32 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
15-Jan-2020 03:00 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]
12-Feb-2020 00:48 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source]
18-Feb-2020 17:05 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

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