Avro Lancaster PB456

Conic Hill, Balmaha, Stirling












Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: An Avro Lancaster Mk.1 bomber.


avro lancaster mark 1 bomber - black and white photo


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





Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Avro 683 Lancaster Mk III SR-D / PB456


(Click hyperlink above 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). It 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. However, the Lancaster Mark III variant featured here was fitted with 4 American-built Packard Merlin engines.


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.





Aircraft Accident Details


This Lancaster had taken off from its base at RAF Ludford Magna in Lincolnshire. The crew from 101 Squadron RAF were on a night navigational exercise (night NAVEX) which took it over Scotland. 


Some time later, the aircraft got into difficulties while flying in the vicinity of Loch Lomond, and some miles West of its scheduled course. The actual cause of the accident is unknown. However, apparently the aircraft broke apart in mid-air, crashing to the ground in flames at Conic Hill, near Balmaha at the SE end of Loch Lomond.  





Aircraft Crew Casualties


All 7 crew members perished in this accident. These were:

The four RCAF members of the crew were buried at Dumbarton Cemetery, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland.


(Please click on hyperlinked names above for further details)


(At 18 years old, Sgt James Watt was amongst the youngest RCAF airmen in Bomber Command to be killed in action (KIA).) 


At some future date, it is hoped that a memorial to the airmen who died can be sited in the village of Balmaha.





Crash Site Photos


Lancaster PB456 Recovery Operation 


(More photos added February 2011)


BELOW: With mist partially obscuring the site, a recovery team carefully extracts Lancaster PB456's engines from the boggy ground at Conic Hill, near Balmaha, Loch Lomond.


A propeller blade, still attached to the engine, can just be seen protruding from the peaty bog.


Lancaster pb456 engine being excavated from ground at conic hill


Photo: © 2006 Alan Leishman



BELOW: A radiator panel from one of the four Lancaster engines.


a radiator panel from one of the lancaster engines


Photo: © 2006 Alan Leishman



Additional Photos


BELOW: A propeller blade attached to an engine which still lies under the ground.


propeller blade attached to engine still underground


Photo: © 2011 Steven Spink



BELOW: Another view of the propeller blade after further excavation.


prop blade following further excavation


Photo: © 2011 Steven Spink



BELOW: One of the engines being hauled out of the peaty and muddy ground by the caterpillar tracked digger. 


one engine being hauled out of ground by tracked vehicle


Photo: © 2011 Steven Spink



BELOW: One of the four engines with propeller still attached.


One of the engines after removal from the ground


Photo: © 2011 Steven Spink



BELOW: A starboard engine from the Lancaster bomber.


One of the Lancaster's starboard engines


Photo: © 2011 Steven Spink



BELOW: Engines being towed to lower ground for transport by road.


engines being towed to lower ground for transport by road


Photo: © 2011 Steven Spink



BELOW: A larger section of recovered wreckage.


a larger section of recovered wreckage


Photo: © 2011 Steven Spink




Photo Gallery


For additional, larger, photos, please select


from the drop down Album Menu in the Photo Gallery.





NOTE: Most photos in the Photo Gallery are of items on display at
Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum
Heathhall Industrial Estate, Heathhall, Dumfries.


dumfries and galloway aviation museum logo


For further information, please contact or visit this museum.

Tel. 01387 251623.

 Email: info@dumfriesaviationmuseum.com





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Crash Date / Site


Accident Date: 13 Sep 1944


Accident Site:

Conic Hill (366m / 1,200ft)


Region: Stirling


Nearest town or village:

Balmaha from Drymen

(E side of Loch Lomond)


Nearest large town or city:

Balloch (SW) or Alexandria (SW)


OS Grid Ref. N/A


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Two of the four Packard Merlin engines and much of the wreckage of this Lancaster was removed from the site by RAF recovery teams. However, some significant parts were not recovered at this time, and these had sunk below the boggy ground.


In October 2006, the remaining parts were recovered from the crash site by a team from Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum. (See recovery photos below.)


The recovered parts, which are now on display at this Museum, include the other two Packard Merlin engines, together with several smaller items. All had been well preserved while lying beneath the peaty ground at Conic Hill.


For a more detailed account of the recovery by Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum, see The Merlin newsletter for Easter 2007 (PDF document).




Aircraft Details


Registration or Serial: PB456


Operator: RAF (101 Squadron; RAF 1 Grp. Bomber Ops.)


Operating Base: RAF Ludford Magna (X4LM)


Base Location: Ludford Maga (5 miles from Market Rasen), Lincolnshire, England.


Current Airport Status: Thor missile site until 1963. Now decommissioned and restored to agricultural use. Few remnants of airfield remain.



Principal airport data courtesy of John Woodside, A Catalogue of UK Airfields




Related Links


Accident Specific Links

Avro Lancaster at Peak District Air Accident Research. (Casualty list and photos)


Museum with Connected Exhibits

Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum


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.)


RAF and Related Links

RAF Avro Lancaster (History)

RAF Bomber Command - Ludford Magna

RAF Ludford Magna (RAF Lincolnshire)

RAF Ludford Magna (current photos)


Other Links

Avro Lancaster at Warbird Alley

Avro Lancaster at Wikipedia

Balmaha at Undiscovered Scotland

Conic Hill from Balmaha at Walking Scotland

Conic Hill walk at incallander.co.uk

Conic Hill Walking at conneryscottish walks.co.uk



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