Sea Spitfire SW826

The Drum, Glenlatterach, Moray













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: A preserved Royal Navy Supermarine Sea Spitfire (Seafire) showing the wings folded for storage on aircraft carriers.


F XVII SX336 Kennet Aviation


RN Seafire with wings folded


Photo: 2006 'Kogo': Released by the author to the public domain





Aircraft Type and Background


RN FAA Supermarine Sea Spitfire ('Seafire') XV / SW826



A military carrier-borne fighter aircraft operated by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy.

The Supermarine Seafire (official name, Sea Spitfire) was the Royal Navy's version of the Spitfire; later versions being specially adapted with folding wings and arrestor hook for use on aircraft carriers.

The first FAA Seafires were modified versions of the land-based Spitfire Marks Va and Vb, renamed as Seafire Mark II. These variants did not have folding wings. Unfortunately, the Spitfire was never really designed to be converted to a deck-landing Seafire. Modified Seafires found carrier approaches difficult and suffered often from landing gear collapses. Again, at times, the arrestor hooks failed to catch the deck wire and would recoil into the aircraft fuselage damaging the airframe.

The Seafires were equipped with two 20mm cannon and four .303in machine guns in the wings. The could also carry a 500lb bomb load. (Later post-war variants (Mk XVII) were equipped with rocket projectiles.)

In November 1943, the first Seafires with folding wings to enter service with the FAA was the Mark F III, soon to be replaced by the Mark L III. These types made possible below-deck storage. These variants were equipped with Merlin engines.

In May 1945, the first Seafires equipped with Griffon engines appeared. These were the Mark XVs--the type featured on this page. By this time, however, the war in Europe had been brought to a successful conclusion.

The Seafire continued in active service with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) until 1951, and served with the RNVR until the type was decommissioned in 1954.

Preserved versions of the Seafire can still be seen seen at air displays and in museums today.



BELOW: An RCAF Supermarine Sea Spitfire or  Seafire


An RCAF Supermarine Sea Spitfire or Seafire


Photo: Original source unknown





Aircraft Accident Details


At the time of this accident, 'Seafire' SW826 of 766 Squadron FAA was taking part in formation flying with three other Seafires over the moors SW of Elgin. While involved in a crossover manoeuvre at 1,000ft, two Seafires collided (SW904 and SW826). The collision destroyed the cockpit of Seafire SW826 and resulted in the death of Seafire SW904's pilot, F. J. Curtis, when his aircraft crashed into the ground near Easterton Farm [map].


Although his cockpit had been destroyed in the accident, the pilot of Seafire SW826 managed to bail out of the aircraft1 safely. The pilot landed in moorland near Glenlatterach Reservoir and close to a Girl Guide camp. As soon as he landed, some of the Guides ran over to help the injured pilot. One of these GuidesGeorgie Paterson (14)attended to the pilot's broken ankle. Then, together with others from the group, they carried the pilot on a stretcher back to their camp until an ambulance arrived.


More detailed account here, as told by former P.O. Raymond Walker (pilot).





1 bail out of the aircraft...: Since the  Seafire was not equipped with an ejection system, the pilot would  have needed to scramble clear of the cockpit manually.






Aircraft Pilot Casualty


The pilot who bailed out safely in this incident was:


Petty Officer Raymond Walker RN, HMS Fulmar.






Crash Site Photos


BELOW: One of the few remaining parts from the airframe of RN Supermarine Seafire SW826.


One of the few remaining parts from the airframe of RN Supermarine Seafire SW826.


Photo: © 2016 Suzanne Alexander



BELOW: Scattered fragments from the wrecked Seafire.


Scattered fragments from the wrecked Seafire.


Photo: © 2016 Suzanne Alexander



BELOW: Another view of the Seafire fragments lying in the debris field at The Drum, near Glenlatterach Resr.


Another view of the Seafire fragments lying in the debris field at The Drum, near Glenlatterach Resr.


Photo: © 2016 Suzanne Alexander









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Crash Date / Site


Page last updated: 8 April 2016.


(Wreckage photos added.)



Accident Date: 5 Jul 1948


Accident Site:

The Drum (225m)

(near Glenlatterach Reservoir)


Region: Moray


Nearest town or village:

Glenlatterach [map] 


Nearest large town:

Elgin (N) [map]


OS Grid Refs:

Seafire SW826: 28 / 18-53

Seafire SW904: 28 /  50-56


GPS Ref. N/A


Present Condition: Only a few small pieces of the wreck remain onsite.




Aircraft Details


Registration or Serial: SW826


Operator:  RN / FAA (766 Naval Air Squadron)


Operating Station: RNAS Lossiemouth / HMS Fulmar (or RAF Milltown); associated with RAF Lossiemouth.


Station Location: Lossiemouth [map], Scotland.


Current Station Status: Operational Military Air Base


Current Station Name: RAF Lossiemouth



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





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