Chesapeake AL941

Gleann Diomhan, Catacol, Isle of Arran













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: The Vought SB2U-2 Vindicator of the U.S. National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola, Florida (USA), photographed in 1999.


(In the US, the Chesapeake was known as the 'Vindicator'.)


sb2u chesapeake or vindicator.


Photo: 1999 U.S. National Museum of Naval Aviation


This file is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.



BELOW: Two members of the Women's Royal Naval Service ('WRENS') checking the cockpit equipment in a Vought Chesapeake Mk.I aircraft at Royal Naval Air Station Stretton (HMS Blackcap) in Cheshire, 4 March 1943. The Chesapeake was a British version of the Vought SB2U-3 Vindicator.


women checking chesapeake cockpit equipment.


Photo: 1943 Lt. H.W. Tomlin, Royal Navy official photographer.


This is a photograph from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.






Aircraft Type and Background


RN (FAA / NAS) Vought-Sikorsky V-156B-1 Chesapeake / AL941



(Torpedo bomber)


Initially, the Vindicator—as it was known in the USA—operated with the US Navy and Marine Corps. However, in 1938, France ordered a large number of these torpedo bombers. Most of these were captured or destroyed when France fell to the German invaders.


However, fifty Vindicators had not yet been delivered to France. These were diverted to the UK and served with the Royal Navy as the Chesapeake I. They were numbered AL908 to AL957. The Chesapeake featured on this page (AL941) belonged to this consignment.


Due to its long take-off run, it was not possible to use the Chesapeake on the small British escort carriers—as had been planned originally. They were therefore used only for training and other shore-based duties.


The Vought Vindicator / Chesapeake was equipped with two Pratt and Whitney R-1535-SB4-G engines. The aircraft had a maximum speed of 386km/h (240mph) at 2,900m (9,500ft), and a range of 1,800km (1,120 miles).




[Above information based on data provided in the book, "Fly Navy", The History of Maritime Aviation, by Brian Johnson. Published 1981 by David and Charles, Newton Abbot, London.]






Aircraft Accident Details


Vought-Sikorsky Chesapeake AL941 was based at HMS Landrail, Machrihanish, Campbeltown in Argyll.


At the time of the accident, the Chesapeake was exercising with ships off Arran. However, during these exercises, the aircraft went missing.


The wreckage was found several days later on a hillside in Gleann Diomhan—a continuation of Glen Catacol, not far from the village of Catacol. It had crashed during a period of heavy mist.






Aircraft Crew Casualties


The two crew members who died in this incident were:


  • Sub-Lt (A) Alexander James Andrew Buchanan (21), Pilot, RNVR.
    (Commemorated, Column 1, Glasgow Crematorium, Western Necropolis, Maryhill.)


  • Sub-Lt (A) Henry William Smith (21), Observer, RNVR.
    (Buried, Square 69, Grave 8646, Camberwell New Cemetery, London.)



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




From Hillhead High School War Memorial




Hamish Buchanan belonged to a very fine class, and it is some measure of his worth that he inherently belonged to it and continued in it from the time he joined the school in September, 1932, until he left in June, 1939. On the academic side he did well, and left with a good Leaving Certificate to open the gate to a career in Civil Engineering. On the other side he was equally strong, gained honours in Swimming, and was Junior Athletic Champion in 1934.


When war broke out he, like so many of the others of that class, chose the air as the element of his service, and in the course of events he was sent to Miami, where he successfully completed, in November, 1942, his training as a fighter-pilot.


In April, 1943, he was commissioned and posted to H.M.S. Landrail. Three months later his 'plane, in thick fog, crashed on a hill and he was killed.






Crash Site Photos


BELOW: Remains of Chesapeake AL941's Pratt and Whitney radial engine.


remains of chesapeake's engine.


Photo: © 1982-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Engine mount and cockpit parts.


engine mount and cockpit parts.


Photo: © 1982-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Jane Galbraith and undercarriage legs.


jane galbraith and undercarriage legs.


Photo: © 1982-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Jane Galbraith and wing.


jane galbraith and wing.


Photo: © 1982-2014 Alan Thomson






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Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 22 July 1943


Accident Site:

Gleann Diomhan [map]


Nearest road: A841 to Lochranza, and by unclassified road to Catacol.


Region: North Ayrshire (Isle of Arran)


Nearest towns or villages:

Catacol or Lochranza.


Nearest larger town:

Brodick (E)


OS Grid Ref. N/A


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Photos taken in 1982. Present wreckage status unknown.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: AL941


Operator: Royal Navy ((Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) / Fleet Air Arm (FAA / 772 Squadron 1 ))


Operating Base: RNAS Campbeltown. Base also for RAF Machrihanish; HMS Landrail, and Disembarked Squadrons.


Base Location: Machrihanish, Campbeltown, Argyll.


Current Airport Status: Military Airport closed 1997. Operational Civil Airport.


Current Airport Name: Campbeltown (Machrihanish) Airport (IATA: CAL / ICAO: EGEC)



Footnote 1: 772 Squadron later became a helicopter squadron.





Related Links



RAF / RN / FAA and Related Links

RAF / MoD Machrihanish at Secret Scotland


Other Links

Recollections of the Fleet Air Arm, Machrihanish, at BBC WW2 People's War


Isle of Arran Link

Isle of Arran Heritage Museum, Brodick (Museum holds details of all aircraft crashes on Arran. Also, has on display propeller from Flying Fortress crash on Beinn Nuis)



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