Avro Lancaster PD259

Balavil Estate, Kingussie, Highland













Aircraft Photo


BELOW: An Avro Lancaster B I (Mk.I) bomber.


The Mk.I was the variant that crashed at Balavil Estate near Kingussie.


avro lancaster mk.1 bomber


Photo: [pre-1957] UK Government. Formerly, Crown Copyright. Now, public domain.



BELOW: The cockpit  / flight controls of an early Avro Lancaster.


early lancaster cockpit controls


Photo: © 2008 Daily Mail






Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Avro 683 Lancaster B I (Mk.I) / PD259, coded JO-G



(Click here for RAF history of this type)


Aircraft Type Nicknames: "Lanc"; "Lankie"



The Avro Lancaster was designed initially as a heavy bomber (more details at lancaster-archive.com).


The Lancaster was developed from the Avro Manchester bomber, but the unreliable Rolls-Royce Vulture engines of the Manchester were replaced on the Lancaster with 4 Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. Some variants, however, such as Lancaster G.R.III's, were fitted with 4 American-built Packard Merlin engines.


Because of the extra long bomb bays, the Lancaster could carry very large bombs, in addition to incendiaries, etc. The aircraft was equipped with gun turret in the nose, tail, mid-upper and ventral positions.


During WWII, Lancaster bombers of 617 Squadron RAF were used to carry out the 'Dambusters Raids' (Operation Chastise) over the Mohne, Sorpe, and Eder dams using Barnes Wallis' bouncing bombs.


However, although of the same bomber type, the Lancaster featured here was not involved in Operation Chastise, which was re-enacted later in the film, The Dam Busters.






Aircraft Accident Details


(From Official Logs / Reports)


RAF Operations Record Book.


RAF Station Longman, Inverness.

Extract of operations record for the morning of 1st September, 1944.

Time 0010


Crash party under Station Medical Officer and Flight Sergeant Engineer left by road for KINGUSSIE in which area a ROC (Royal Observer Corps) post had reported a crashed Lancaster Bomber. This party was out for approximately nineteen hours in very wild hilly country.


The bomber had apparently exploded in mid-air at an estimated altitude of 10,000 feet, for the debris was spread out over some two square miles of country.


Six bodies of the crew, five Australian and one British were discovered, but due to the nature of the country it was not possible to bring these remains in at once. A seventh member of the crew was still missing when the party returned to LONGMAN.


The aircraft was traced as Lancaster aircraft J.O.G. belonging to R.A.F. Station, WADDINGTON. The "Mountaineering Section" KINLOSS relieved the LONGMAN crash party in order to bring in the bodies of the air crew the following day.



Initial accident report

Extracts from Royal Australian Air Force archive


Meteorological Officer

Weather as forecast. Fairly frequent showers in the north of Scotland at the time of the accident. Cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds probably extended to 20,000 feet locally with some reaching 25,000 feet.


Cloud base was locally below 1,000 feet in showers and would be covering the hill tops.


Visibility under cloud in this area was from 15 to 30 miles. The temperature at 20,000 feet and 25,000 feet were -30oC and -44oC. These are far too low for icing to be expected if the aircraft were flying at its briefed height of 22,000 feet.


Flying Control

No flying control aspect.


General remarks

The crew had a sound training record and since being on this unit the pilot had done ten (10) hours as a second pilot at night and a four (4) hour daylight exercise with his crew. Briefed height was 22,000 feet and the pilot understood the... [word cannot be read...] situation.


Remarks of the Station Commander

This accident is at present under investigation. I am of the opinion at present that the flight was correctly briefed and authorised and that the accident was due to the inability of the pilot to contend with the weather condition in which he found himself.


In the view of the bright moon and the fact that icing risk was negligible at the briefed height I consider that the dispatch of this training flight was justified.






Aircraft Crew Casualties


Those who died in this accident were:


All except Warrant Officer Middleton were Australians. W/O Middleton was British.



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






Crash Site Photos


NOTE: The photos shown below were taken while the wreckage was still onsite. Most of this wreckage was  recovered from the site in recent years.



BELOW: General wreckage, propeller and buried engine from the Avro Lancaster at Balavil Estate.


general wreckage of lancaster crash at balavil.


Photo: © 1990s-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Buried wing wreckage.


buried wing wreckage.


Photo: © 1990s-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Fuselage escape hatch and ammo box.


fuselage escape hatch.


Photo: © 1990s-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Alan Leishman with starboard side with old code 'Y'.


alan leishman with starboard wing.


Photo: © 1990s-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: One of the Lancaster's four propellers.


lancaster propeller.


Photo: © 1990s-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Part of the aircraft's serial number.


aircraft serial number.


Photo: © 1990s-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Rudder and rear access door.


rudder and rear access door.


Photo: © 1990s-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Rudder and tail plane.


rudder and tail plane.


Photo: © 1990s-2014 Alan Thomson














Other Pre-Recovery Photos



BELOW: The shattered wreckage of the Avro Lancaster airframe.


the shattered wreckage of the lancaster airframe


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Assorted wreckage from Lancaster PD259.


assorted wreckage from Lancaster PD259


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: One of the four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, with a propeller assembly, half buried in the peat bog


an engine and propeller hub assembly half buried in the peat bog


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: more wreckage from the Lancaster.


Two cylindrical bottles (oxygen?) lie just beyond the aluminium sections.


more wreckage from the lancaster, including two oxgen bottles


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: One of the landing gear tyres from the Avro Lancaster.


one of the landing gear tyres from the avro lancaster


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: More wreckage, including spars and other wing parts.


wreckage including spars and other wing parts


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel






NOTE: The photos shown below were taken in 1994, and were provided courtesy of Alan Leishman.



BELOW:  The wreckage field from Lancaster PD259 following the crash at Balavil Estate near Kingussie.


wreckage field for lancaster crash at balavil estate


Photo: © 1994-2013 Alan Leishman



BELOW: Part of the fuselage from the Lancaster, showing the RAF roundel and code, JO-G.


part of the fuselage from the lancaster


Photo: © 1994-2013 Alan Leishman



BELOW:  Part of the bomber's tail wheel assembly.


the tail wheel assembly from the bomber


Photo: © 1994-2013 Alan Leishman



During 2008 - 2010, almost all of the wreckage was recovered from the crash site. The following links show photos and video of the recovery operations and photos from RAF Waddington Heritage Centre.


Much of the wreckage is now stored at this Centre; although a propeller blade from the aircraft has been placed at Balavil Estate cemetery.





Kingussie WWII bomber wreckage goes on show.


Lancaster recovery.


RAF Waddington - Station Heritage Centre.




Lancaster PD259 Kingussie Wreck Recovery 12 Sep 10 (2nd retrieval).





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Crash Date / Site



Accident Date:  31 Aug 1944


Accident Site:

Balavil Estate (A9), Monadhliath Hills.


Region: Highland (Inverness-shire)


Nearest town or village: Kingussie.


Nearest large towns: Grantown on Spey (NE)


OS Grid Ref. N/A


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Almost all wreckage was recovered from the crash site between 2008 and 2010. (See recovery links below for photos and video.)


Pre-recovery photos are shown below.


Most of the recovered items have been preserved at RAF Waddington. However, part of a propeller blade was placed in the cemetery at Balavil Estate as a memorial to the crew.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: PD259, coded JO-G


Operator: RAF (467 463 Squadrons RAAF)


Operating Station: RAF Waddington


Station Location: Waddington near Lincoln, England.


Current Station Status: Operational Military Airport (RAF).


Current Station Name: RAF Waddington (EGXW)




Related Links



RAF and RAAF Related  Links

RAF Avro Lancaster (History)

RAF Waddington


RAF Waddington - Station Heritage Centre



Recovery Related Links




Kingussie WWII bomber wreckage goes on show


Lancaster recovery


RAF Waddington - Station Heritage Centre



Lancaster PD259 Kingussie Wreck Recovery 12 Sep 10 (2nd retrieval)


Lancaster Archive and Forum

Lancaster and Manchester Bomber Archive. (Extensive historical database of Lancaster and Manchester bomber aircraft and air crew.)

Lancaster Archive Forum. (Includes Lancastrian and Manchester aircraft.)

Lancaster Pages. (General information, operational data, squadrons and units, air crew details, etc.)


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