Fairey Barracuda PM870

Col-Bheinn, Brora, Highland












Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: A Royal Navy Fairey Barracuda II (s/n P9926) from Lee-on-Solent Fleet Air Arm Station, Hampshire (UK), with torpedo, in flight.


The wooden plane that steadied the torpedo before it struck the water and broke off can be clearly seen at the rear of the weapon. [Wikipedia]


fairey barracuda fighter-bomber


Photo: c.1944 Lt. S.J. Beadell, Royal Navy official photographer.


This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain.


HMSO has declared that the expiry of Crown Copyrights applies worldwide (ref: HMSO Email Reply.)






Aircraft Type and Background


RN Fairey Barracuda Mk.III  / PM870



Aircraft Type Designation: Anti-submarine / torpedo bomber.



The Fairey Barracuda was designed as a torpedo bomber.


A number of early Barracudas suffered from technical problems, leading to some serious accidents. Furthermore, initial variants of the aircraft were found to be underpowered. Therefore, the Mk.III variant (featured here) was equipped with the more powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin 32 engine.


The Mk.III was also equipped with ASV III radar for anti-submarine operations. This variant was used by the Royal Navy (FAA), the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Canadian Navy.






Aircraft Accident Details

Full details of this accident are unavailable. However, it is known that Barracuda PM870 from RNAS Fearn flew into Col-Bheinn when the pilot's view was obscured by mist.

All three crew members were killed in this accident.




Aircraft Crew Casualties


Those who died were:

  • Sub-Lt (A) Derek Allen (20), RNVR, H.M.S. Merganser.
    (Buried, Section B, Grave 189, Rosskeen Parish Churchyard Extensions (or Burial Ground), Ross and Cromarty.)
  • Sub-Lt (A) James Hirst (20) RNVR, H.M.S. Owl.
    (Buried, Section A, Grave 1143, Wheatley Carr (Inghamite) Churchyard, Lancashire.)

  • Petty Off. Airman William Semple (19), RN.
    (Buried, Section D, Grave 79, Paisley (Hawkhead) Cemetery, Renfrewshire.)


Please click on the hyperlinked names above for further details at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website.)






Crash Site Photos


BELOW: The main wreckage (wing) from Fairey Barracuda PM870 lying on the slopes of Col-Bheinn near Brora.


main wreckage from fairey barracuda on col-bheinn


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW (nearest camera): Left wing of the Barracuda.


another view of this part of the airframe


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Bracing and support spars with part of the airframe.


bracing and supporting spars with part of the frame


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Part of the wing assembly from the Barracuda.


  part of a wing assembly


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel











BELOW: Fragments of wreckage lying in the peat bog.


fragments of wreckage lying in the peat bog


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Close-up of aluminium (aluminum) skinning.


close-up of aluminium skinning


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Another view of the aircraft's wing wreckage.


another view of the main wreckage


Photo: Source unknown.



BELOW: Looking along the left wing of the Barracuda.


viewed from a different angle


Photo: Source unknown.






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Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 14 Jul 1945.


Accident Site:

Col-Bheinn (538m)


Nearest main road: A9.


Region: Highland


Nearest town or village:

Brora (E) [map]


Nearest large towns: Dornoch (SE) (A9 / A949) or Tain (SE) (A9)


Crash Site OS Grid Ref: NC 888 105.


Crash Site GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Some larger sections of the airframe (wing assembly) remains at the crash site.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: PM870


Operator: RN (818 NAS (Naval Air Squadron.))


Operating Station: RNAS Fearn / HMS Owl. (Also, RAF Fearn / Balintore airfield)


Station Location: Fearn [map], Tain [map]


Current Station Status:

Military operations ceased. Now, disused and derelict.




Related Links



RN / FAA and Related Links

818 Naval Air Squadron at Fleet Air Arm archive.

HMS Owl / RNAS Fearn.

Fairey Barracuda at Fleet Air  Arm archive.


Other Links


818 Naval Air Squadron at Wikipedia.


Barracuda Aircraft over the Cromarty Firth.


Defending the Barracuda at Key Aero.


Fairey Barracuda at Aviastar.org


Fairey Barracuda Wreckage and Recollections at Naval Air History.


Fearn airfield / HMS Owl at Control Towers.co.uk


HMS Owl at Tain Through Time.




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