Martlet / Wildcat AL251

Beinn Bheula, Lochgoilhead, Argyll













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: A US Navy Grumman Wildcat (Martlet) F4F-3


An F4F-3 Grumman Wildcat of US Navy


Photo : [no date] US Federal Government photo released to the public domain.






Aircraft Type and Background


RN (FAA/NAS) Grumman F4F Martlet (Wildcat) / AL251



The Grumman Martlet was a single-seat carrier based fighter aircraft. Essentially, the Martlet was a modified version of the F4F ('Wildcat') used by the US Navy.


The Martlett Mk. I aircraft series entered service with the Royal Navy (Fleet Air Arm) in 1940. These aircraft had been ordered originally by France, but were transferred to Britain in June 1940. This Mk. I version was equipped with Wright R-1820 "Cyclone 9" radial engines, and with four 0.5 inch machine guns. Most of these Martlets were designed with folding wings for storage on aircraft carriers.


From 1940 until 1944, the aircraft continued to be known as the Martlet. However, during 1944, it reverted to its original US name of Wildcat.


In the early days of RN use, the Grumman Martlet was associated with 804 Naval Air Squadron (NAS). The Squadron embarked initially on HMS Glorious, but were transferred later to HMS Furious at Campbeltown.



BELOW: A Grumman Martlet / Wildcat on display at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.


grumman martlet or wildcat at imperial war museum duxford


Photo: 2007 Robert Stevens / 2008 Ian Dunster. Released by the author(s) to the public domain under the terms of the Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0 licensing arrangment.






Aircraft Accident Details


Martlet AL251 of 802 Naval Air Squadron took off from Abbotsinch (HMS Sanderling), Glasgow, on a delivery flight to Donibristle (HMS Merlin), Fife. It crashed at Beinn Bheula on 13/12/40 killing the pilot.






Aircraft Pilot Casualty


The pilot who died in this accident was:

  • Lt. Godfrey F Russell

Lt. Russell was buried in Douglas Bank Cemetery, Dunfermline 



[The information in the above two sections was kindly provided by Alan Leishman]






Crash Site Photos (Page 1-A)


BELOW: A waymarker post on the route to Beinn Bheula.


at the waymarker heading for bheinn bheula


Photo: © 2013 Gary Nelson



BELOW: A wing section from the Grumman Martlet aircraft.


A faded Royal Navy roundel can still be seen on the wing.


a wing section from the grumman martlet aircraft


Photo: ©  2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: The radial engine from the Martlet fighter.


the radial engine from the Martlet fighter


Photo: ©  2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Wing section and spars.


wing section and spars


Photo: ©  2013 Neil Daniel













BELOW: A wing end from the RN / FAA Grumman Martlett on the slopes of Beinn Bheula.


a wing end from the grumman martlett


Photo: © 2013 Gary Nelson



BELOW: More of the aircraft's wing.


more of the aircraft wing


Photo: © 2013 Gary Nelson



BELOW: A detached section from the cockpit showing armoured plating.


piece from cockpit with armoured plating


Photo: © 2013 Gary Nelson



BELOW: Ben Nelson holding a section of landing gear.


Even after over 70 years on the hills (since 1940), some of the chrome is still visible on this oleo leg.


landing gear section


Photo: © 2013 Gary Nelson



More (larger) photos from this collection shown on

Page 1-B


And also on Pages

 1-C and 1-D





Earlier Photos



(The next six photos shown below were taken by Bill Davies on 31 August 2010).


BELOW: The remains of the Grumman Martlet / Wildcat radial engine still lying on Beinn Bheula.


ramains of martlet engine at beinn bheula


Photo: © 2010 Bill Davies



BELOW: Part of cockpit (rear) with armoured plating.


part of cockpit (rear)


Photo: © 2010 Bill Davies



BELOW: Wing section with faded Royal Navy roundel.


wing section with roundel


Photo: © 2010 Bill Davies



BELOW: Main wing remains.


main wing remains


Photo: © 2010 Bill Davies



BELOW: Wing showing remains of landing gear.


wing with landing gear


Photo: © 2010 Bill Davies



BELOW: Remains of tail fin from Martlet AL251.


remains of tail fin


Photo: © 2010 Bill Davies




(The two photos shown below were taken by Alan Leishman in 1996)


BELOW: Alan Thomson supporting one of the larger remaining sections of Grumman Martlet AL251.


larger remaining section from martlet al256. photo taken in 1996


Photo: 1996-2009 Alan Leishman



BELOW: Alan T. with a part of the tail wreckage from the Martlet.


part of tail wreckage from martlet


Photo: 1996-2009 Alan Leishman





Forward to Page 1-B

(Other wreckage / Wings, etc.

from Gary Nelson's collection.)

















Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 13 Dec 1940


Accident Site:

Beinn Bheula (Range)  (700m)


Region: Argyll and Bute (Argyll)


Nearest town or village:

Invernoaden, Lochgoilhead or Lettermay


Nearest large town:

Dunoon (S)

(To Gourock by ferry)


OS Grid Ref: 63 / 155 973


Other Grid Refs:

N56 08.004 W004 57.973 (wing with roundel still visible)


N56 07.966 W004 58.038 (radial engine)


N56 08.042 W004 57.770 (tail fin)


Present Condition: A large wing section and parts of the engine are the most substantial wreckage remains onsite.


 The wreckage, in five main bits, is scattered over about a 300m area. This includes rear of cockpit with armoured plating still attached, and wing section with landing gear. [B. Davies] (See grid refs. above.)




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: AL251


Operator: Royal Navy / Fleet Air Arm; 802 NAS; (FAA later renamed Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS))


Operating Base: RN HMS Landrail / RNAS Machrihanish; HMS Furious (Carrier-Borne, Mobile).


Base Location: Machrihanish near Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland.


Current Airport Status: Operational Civil Airport; RAF Enhanced Care and Maintenance airport


Current Airport Name: Campbeltown / Machrihanish Airport (EGEC)






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