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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 220208
Last updated: 13 October 2021
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Type:Curtiss Mohawk Mk IV
Owner/operator:Royal Air Force
Registration: AR673
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Gulf of Guinea, half-a-mile from shore, off Takoradi -   Ghana
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:RAF Takoradi
Destination airport:
The British had built a factory at Takoradi, Gold Coast (Ghana) capable of assembling 200 planes a month. This installation was also the base from which trans-African flights to Kenya were to originate. The first four Mohawk IVs to be shipped by sea from Britain for the SAAF arrived at Takoradi on 17 December, 1940. They were taken from their crates and assembled that same day. The first Mohawk to be ready for flight was AR673, on 27th of December (1940). It made a normal take-off and gained some 500 feet (152 m) of altitude out over the water. It then went into a climbing turn until it was suddenly seen to drop and go straight into the sea, half-a-mile from shore. The incident took place within one minute of take-off and killed the pilot, Wing Cdr Arthur Wellington Sweeney RAF. The general opinion was that Sweeney had forgotten he was using a French reverse-operating throttle, the usual push forward for more power would instead cut out the motor.

The other Mohawks were immediately ordered grounded until the throttle mechanisms could be modified to the British type. Despite the availability of tools and parts to carry put the modification at Takoradi, The RAF insisted that the aircraft be returned to Britain. Trouble with the Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines was to plague all Curtiss Mohawks delivered to Takoradi.

Sweeney, from Wimbledon, Surrey, was commissioned Pilot Officer 28.12.1931; attended Flying Training School, Digby, from 9.1.1932; joined 40 Squadron, Abingdon, 19.12.1932; Flying Officer 28.7.1933; joined 600 Auxiliary Air Force Squadron, Hendon, 20.4.1934; on Staff, Cranwell from 30.3.1936 until the outbreak of war; Flight Lieutenant 28.7.1936; Squadron Leader 1.2.1939; died 27.12.1940, aged 31, while on service on the west coast of Africa, and is buried at Takoradi European Public Cemetery, Ghana.


Revision history:

27-Dec-2018 00:08 Laurent Rizzotti Added

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