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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 207219
Last updated: 13 October 2021
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Time:10:34 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic VAMP model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
de Havilland DH.100 Vampire FB Mk 5
Owner/operator:OFU Royal Air Force (OFU RAF)
Registration: VG699
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Istres-Le Tubé, Bouches-du-Rhône -   France
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:RAF Manston, Ramsgate, Kent
Destination airport:Istres-Le Tubé, Bouches-du-Rhône (LFMI)
DeHavilland DH.100 Vampire FB.Mk.5 VG699, OFU, RAF (Overseas Ferry Unit, Royal Air Force). Written off (destroyed) 17/5/50 when crashed over a French air base. The aircraft broke up in flight during a slow roll over the French Air Force base at Istres-Le Tubé, Bouches-du-Rhône, France.

According to some sources, the Vampire had taken off from RAF Manston, Ramsgate, Kent on a delivery flight to the Middle East. However en route, the aircraft became unserviceable, and was forced to land at the French Air Force base at Istres. There it sat for four weeks until repairs on site could be effected.

On 17/5/50 at 10:34 hours, Vampire VG699 took off for a test flight to check that the aircraft was fit to continue its onward journey. The pilot made two low level passes over Istres Airfield, and then began his third. Flying inverted at around 1,000 feet, the pilot tried to roll the aircraft back into the upright position.

During this move, the Vampire began to side slip and then part of the wing detached. A puff of smoke appeared followed by flames as the aircraft dived into the ground just outside the Istres Airfield perimeter, with wreckage spread over a wide area. The pilot was killed

Crew of Vampire VG699:
Flight Lt William Makepiece Strathearn DFC & Bar (RAF Service Number 59269/RNZAF Service Number 42476) aged 30

William Make[iece Strathearn now lies in Rouquiers Cemetery, at Istres along with LAC Hibbert RAF who died in a separate incident on 1st November 1948. Neither are commemorated with the CWGC as they fall outside their date remit for WWII, however they are cared for by the organisation.


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents. Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd p.102. ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Last Take-off: A Record of RAF Aircraft Losses 1950 to 1953 p 57
3. Hamburger Abendblatt 19 May 1950
4. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT 233/24:
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/30/S2498:
9. (French National Archives File 19760051/65)

Revision history:

08-Mar-2018 13:51 TB Added
23-Dec-2019 00:21 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Registration, Operator, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
23-Dec-2019 00:21 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type]
23-Dec-2019 00:22 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
23-Dec-2019 22:09 stehlik49 Updated [Operator, Operator]

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