B-24H Liberator 42-95095

Sidhean Mor, Gairloch, Wester Ross

 
     
 
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Aircraft Type Photo

 

BELOW: A  USAAF Consolidated B-24H Liberator bomber restored and on display. Note the nose gun turret. This modified version of a tail turret was one of several improvements made to the 'H' variant B-24.

 

a b-24h liberator restored and on display

 

Photo: [no date] Midway Sailor.com

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Type and Background

 

USAAF Consolidated B-24H Liberator / 42-95095

 


 

Type Nickname: "Lib"; "Lumbering Lib"; "Flying Boxcar", and others.

 

 

The Consolidated B-24 heavy bomber first flew in 1939. The prototypes were equipped with four Pratt & Whitney 1200hp R-1830-33 Twin Wasp engines. Early production versions were fitted with P&W 1200hp R-1830-41 engines with GE turbo superchargers. Later production versions (B-24Ds) were fitted with P&W R-1830-43 engines. Later variants followed. Their maximum speed was about 487km/h (303mph).

The B-24 was fitted with 11 machine guns and had a bomb carrying capacity of about 3,629kgs (8,000lbs); and, with modifications, had a range of about 4600km (2,858 miles).

Although overshadowed by the B-17 (Flying Fortresses), the B-24 was produced in greater numbers than any other aircraft in history (in excess of 18,000 aircraft).

 


 

BELOW: A USAAF B-24H Liberator in flight.

 

a us b-24h liberator in flight

 

Photo: Courtesy of the National Museum of the US Air Force

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Accident Details

 

At the time of the accident, this B-24 was on its way home after the war (in Europe) to the United States via Keflavík (Meeks Field) in Iceland. The aircraft had left Prestwick and its route should have taken it over Stornoway in the Western Isles, enroute to Iceland. It is not known why it was overflying the Scottish mainland.

On board was a nine-man 'Ketchum' crew from 66th Bomb Squadron together with six other crewmen from Air Transport Command.

For some reason—perhaps a technical problem—the aircraft began to lose height while over Wester Ross in NW Scotland. At one point, the B-24 glanced the summit of Slioch, a 980m peak overlooking Loch Maree and not far from Kinlochewe. (Incidentally, facing Slioch on the opposite shore of the Loch is Beinn Eighe—the site of an Avro Lancaster crash)

In the process of striking the top of Slioch, the B-24 may have lost some parts of its bomb bay doors. However, the aircraft continued in flight for some considerable distance to Gairloch. At this point, it seems, the pilot was attempting to make a forced landing. Unfortunately, however, his aircraft appears to have struck the rocky outcrops around the Fairy Lochs. Almost immediately, the B-24 crashed, scattering wreckage over a wide area.

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Crew / Passenger Casualties

 

 

Fifteen airmen died in this accident (nine crew and six service personnel travelling as passengers).

 

 

Casualties (USAAF Flight Crew)

 

 

(Burial or cremation locations shown in italics.)

 

  • 1st/Lt Jack B Ketchum (22), Pilot.     (Memorial Park, Kansas.)

  •  

  • 1st/Lt J H Spencer (22), Co-Pilot.    (Highland Park, Michigan).

  •  

  • 2nd/Lt R J Robak (20), Navigator.    (St Adalberts, Wisconsin)

  •  

  • Technical Sgt H L Cheek (21), Flight Engineer.    (Cambridge American)

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  • Technical Sgt J C Stammer (23), Wireless Op.    (Oakwood, Casey, Iowa.)

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  • Staff Sgt E J Gilles (24), Air Gunner.    (Cambridge American)

  •  

  • Staff Sgt A L Natkin (20), Air Gunner.    (Cambridge American)

  •  

  • Staff Sgt R E Davis (26), Air Gunner.    (Oak Grove, Indiana)

  •  

  • Staff Sgt H Riefen (25), Air Gunner.    (Cambridge American)

 

 

Casualties (USAAF Air Transport Command / Passengers)

 

  • Staff Sgt J B Ellis Jr. (24), 314th T.C.G.    (Cambridge American)

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  • Staff Sgt J D Harvey (30), 314th T.C.G.    (New York)

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  • Staff Sgt A W Hastings (23), 314th T.C.G.    (Cypress Hills, NY)

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  • Staff Sgt E Einarsen (48), 314th T.C.G.    (Cambridge American)

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  • Staff Sgt J H Hallissey (27), 93rd B.G. (H).    (St Stephens, Mass.)

  •  

  • Staff Sgt R J Francis (20), 323rd B.G. (H).    (Cambridge American)

 

 

For a detailed account of this incident and of its crew and passengers, see 44th Bomb Group Roll of Honor and Casualties under Scottish Highlands (Non-Operational), Gairloch, Scotland (pp. 28-31)

 

 


 

 

BELOW: The plaque commemorating the tragic loss of the 15 US airmen who died at this spot near Sìdhean Mor (near Gairloch), where their B-24 crashed on 13 June 1945.

 

memorial plaque at sidhean mor near gairloch

 

Photo: © 2007 Steve White

 


 

BELOW: The memorial plaque affixed to the granite rock face, with commemorative bunting strung below. Note also the memorial ribbon attached to the propeller blade.

 

memorial plaque affixed to rock with prop blade in front

 

Photo: © 2007 Steve White

 


 

BELOW: The inscription reads:

 

"This site is their resting place. Please treat with respect and take only memories. Thank you."

 

NOTE: Contrary to the information inscribed on this stone, the crew and passenger's bodies were recovered from the crash site and were buried at the locations shown above under Aircraft Crew / Passenger Casualties.

 

(Many thanks to Alan Leishman of Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum for kindly providing this information.)

 

memorial stone with inscription

 

Photo: © 2007 Steve White

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crash Site Photos

 

 

Earlier Photos

 

 

BELOW: A section of fuselage from Consolidated B-24H Liberator 42-95095. This part has since been recovered from the crash site.

 

 

Photo: © 1770s-2015 John Martindale

 


 

BELOW: The same section after recovery. The two white triangles on the left of the section were part of the USAAF star.

 

After recovery, this section was held in storage at Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum. Later, however, it was transferred to the USA via a 93rd Bomb Group historian.

 

The same section after recovery.

 

Photo: © 2015 Dougie Martindale

 

 


 

 

Later Photos

 

 

BELOW: Wreckage from the Liberator lies scattered around an within the lochan

 

wreckage scattered around and within the lochan.

 

Photo: © 2014 Alex Baker

 


 

BELOW: Propeller blade, bevel gears and other wreckage from USAAF Liberator 42-95095

 

propeller blade, bevel gears and other wreckage.

 

Photo: © 2014 Alex Baker

 

 

For more (larger) images from this photographer, see alexbakerphotography.com

 

 



 

 

BELOW: Shattered wreckage from the Liberator at Fairy Lochs near Sidhean Mor, by Gairloch.

 

shattered wreckage from the liberator at fairy lochs

 

Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel

 


 

BELOW: One of the Liberator's four radial engines lying at the edge of the lochan.

 

one of the liberator's engines at the side of the lochan

 

Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel

 


 

BELOW: More wreckage lying beside the lochan.

 

The wreckage was widely scattered and more can be found elsewhere and within the lochan itself.

 

more wreckage scattered around the lochan

 

Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel

 



 

BELOW: Some sections from the landing gear of the B-24H.

 

section of landing gear from B-24

 

Photo: © 2007 Steve White

 


 

BELOW: One of the B-24 engines appears just above the surface of a nearby lochan.

 

engine lying at edge of lochan

 

Photo: © 2007 Steve White

 

 

MORE PHOTOS BELOW

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


 

BELOW: A propeller blade protrudes from beneath the waters of the lochan. At the water's edge, another engine can be seen.

 

propellor blade protruding from lochan

 

Photo: © 2007 Steve White

 


 

BELOW: Wreckage from the Liberator B-24H lies strewn among the rocks in this remote location.

 

strewn wreckage from Liberator B-24

 

Photo: © 2007 Steve White

 


 

BELOW: Other fragmented sections of this aircraft.

 

larger wreckage sections

 

Photo: © 2007 Steve White

 

 

See also Pete Fullarton's crash site video at YouTube

 

 


 

 

Memorial to PC Alan Spittles

 

BELOW: At the same site, and resting nearby in the shallows of the lochan, this plaque commemorates another (unrelated) sad loss—that of PC Alan Spittles. Alan Spittles died on 4th January 2006 after a long illness. He was a well-respected community police officer with Warwickshire Police. One of his special interests was hill walking in Scotland.

 

memorial to pc alan spittles of warwickshire police

 

LastingTribute.co.uk

 

Warwickshire Police

 

 

Photo: © 2007 Steve White

 

 


 

BELOW: Route map to Liberator memorial, B-24H crash site, and PC Alan Spittles' memorial at the same location.

 

route map to liberator memorial and crash site

 

Photo: 2007 Steve White

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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Crash Date / Site

 

 

Accident Date: 13 Jun 1945

 

Accident Site:

Sidhean Mor (or Sithean Mor) (225m) / Fairy Lochs

 

Region: Highland (Wester Ross)

 

Nearest town or village:

Badachro (W) or Gairloch (NW)

 

Nearest large town:

None in this general area. Nearest available: Dingwall (>50 miles E)

 

OS Grid Ref. NG 80824 71169

 

(OSGR sourced from High Ground Wrecks and Relics by David J Smith)

 

GPS Ref: N/A

 

Wreckage Status: Engines, propeller blades and other more fragmented parts remain, scattered over a wide area. Some parts can be found on the land while other parts lie submerged or partly submerged in the nearby lochans.

 

 

 

Aircraft Details

 

 

Registration or Serial: 42-95095

 

Operator: USAAF (66th Bomber Squadron; 44th Bomb Group (H); 9th USAAF)

 

Operating Base: Warton Aerodrome (582 Station / 44BG)

 

Base Location: Preston, Lancashire, England.

 

Current Airport Status: Operational Private Aerodrome: BAE Systems (Assembly and Testing Facility). See also BAE Systems in Lancashire.

 

Current Airport Name: Warton Aerodrome (EGNO)

 

 

 

 

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