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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 244415
Last updated: 17 January 2022
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Date:25-JUL-1939
Time:18:45 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic bttl model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Fairey Battle Mk I
Owner/operator:Austin Motor Co Ltd
Registration: L5446?
MSN:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:East Works Airfield, Longbridge, Birmingham -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Nature:Test
Departure airport:East Works Airfield, Longbridge, Birmingham
Destination airport:East Works Airfield, Longbridge, Birmingham
Narrative:
Fairey Battle Mk.1 L5446?: Written off (damaged beyond repair) 25 July 1939 when crashed at the Austin Motor Co Ltd East Works Airfield at Longbridge, Birmingham. According to one published source:

"On the 25th July 1939 a Fairey Battle produced in the East Works had taken off from the works airfield with the Chief test pilot Capt. Neville Stack (aged 42) who lived in Kings Norton and a mechanic Harold Crawford (aged 35) from Lickey End.

The plane which was coming into land from the railway side of the airfield. According to eyewitnesses the aeroplane had been put through various vigorous tests, including power diving and looping. As he was preparing to land, one wheel of the retractable under carriage failed to drop into position. The pilot gained height and circled round trying to shake the wheel free, but with no success. So Capt. Stack decided to try and land on one wheel. As he made his approach over the railway embankment a sudden loss of altitude put the plane in jeopardy, so as to avoid a head on crash he swung it round so that the wing took most of the impact and it crashed into the embankment just feet away from the airfield, the time off the crash was put at 6.45 pm.

The plane had its back broken and the engine and cockpit was damaged. The plane slipped a few feet down the bank and came to rest with its nose facing towards Barnt Green. The works fire tender and ambulance rushed to the scene, and Captain Stack and his mechanic were pulled out. Capt. Stack waved to the rescue party as they approached, although he must have been in great agony with both his legs broken. Crawford, however was unconscious suffering from fractures of an arm and leg and severe scalp wounds. They were taken by ambulance to Selly Oak Hospital, and relatives were speedily informed.

Hoses were played on the damaged plane to check any outbreak of fire, ropes were fastened to the wreckage to prevent it from sliding down the embankment on to the railway. Later cables were substituted for the ropes and the plane was removed on Thursday morning.

The Pilot involved not only survived this crash, but survived WWII, only to die in a road accident in 1949. The following is his obituary:

"23 February 1949
Obituary. Capt. Neville Stack

Captain T Neville Stack, AFC., who in the period between the wars was one of the leading British pioneers in long distance aviation, was, killed yesterday, in a, road accident near Karachi, according to Reuter. He was 52.

Thomas Neville Stack was born on April 1, 1896, and was educated at St. Edmund's; College. He joined the Army in 1914 and three Years later transferred to the RFC. and served with 212 Squadron. After demobilization he worked as an instructor at the London and Provincial Aviation Company until 1921 when he rejoined the RAF. and served in Iraq and elsewhere until 1925, when he returned to civilian life and joined the Lancashire Aero Club as chief instructor. In company with Mr. D. S. Leete he made the first light aircraft flight from England to India from. November 15, 1926, to January 8, 1927, and afterwards made a number of flights between European capitals.

A little later be became air superintendent and chief pilot of National Flying Services and in 1938 chief test pilot at the Austin Aircraft Works at Longbridge near Birmingham. For some time during the 1939-45 war he was air adviser at the War Office and later in the war was commissioned in the Fleet Air Arm. After Commanding squadrons, he was appointed Staff. Air Transport Officer to the Flag Officer (Air), East Indies. After the war he was general manager of Hunting Air Travel Limited and last May was appointed manager of the new Pakistan Airways.

NOTE: Serial of aircraft involved not confirmed. However, of the 863 Fairey Battle Mk.1s built by Austin Motors Ltd., at Longbridge, Birmingham between October 1938 and August 1940 (with serials between L4935 to L5797) the only airframe with no known fate (and no record card) is L5446. The only record of this airframe is "Struck Off Charge 19 November 1939 by 27 MU RAF Shawbury". The batch of seven Fairey Battle Mk.1s L5443 to L5449 were all taken on charge by 27 MU RAF Shawbury on 19 November 1939. Therefore it is presumed (but not confirmed) that L5446 was struck off charge on 19 November 1939 due to non-delivery, as it had been written off in the above accident.

Sources:

1. The Battle File (Sidney Shail, Air Britain, 1997 p.515)
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-L9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1979 p.35)
3. http://www.austinmemories.com/styled-20/index.html
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._Neville_Stack#Second_World_War


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
26-Oct-2020 22:47 Dr. John Smith Added
27-Oct-2020 20:34 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Registration, Source, Narrative]

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