Aircraft Type and Background
RAF Avro Shackleton B (Bravo) MR Mk.3 / XF702
Aircraft Type Nicknames: "The Shack"; "The Growler"; "Bear Hunter", and others.
The Avro Shackleton was intended to fulfil the role of a long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft and patrol bomber, replacing the Liberators and Catalinas that were used during WWII. The Shackleton was based to some extent on the Avro Lincoln bomber, but was equipped with four Rolls-Royce Griffon piston engines with contra-rotating propellers. Sound proofing was required as the Griffon power plants were very noisy.
Entering service in 1957, the Shackleton M.R.3 variant featured here carried extra fuel in tip-tanks at the end of the wings. Unlike earlier variants with their tail-dragging landing gear, the M.R.3 was equipped with a tricycle landing gear.
The later (Phase 2) M.R.3 Shackletons were equipped with additional Armstrong Siddeley Viper turbojet engines to be used during take-off. However, the strain of these engines on the airframe shortened the lifespan of this variant.
Aircraft Accident Details
This Shackleton had just taken off from RAF Kinloss on a routine training exercise with a crew of eleven and two passengers. However, not long into the flight, the pilot experienced low cloud and dense fog, accompanied by severe turbulence and icing of the aircraft wings.
Very soon afterward, the Shackleton ploughed into Creag Bhan, about a mile from Lochailort in Kinloch-Ailort (Inverness-shire). The aircraft struck the ground with such velocity that it disintegrated completely, leaving only small fragments of wreckage strewn over a very wide area. The largest remaining piece from the Shackleton was little more than 1.8m (6ft) long.
The impact scar is still visible, a short way off the Right of Way from Arieniskill to Meoble [map], and at a height of 213m / 700ft. (See the Moidart Local History Group website for further details.)
On being alerted to the incident at 14.35hrs. on 21 December 1967 by Officer Commanding (OC), FW, Kinloss 15/21 Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team (Kinloss MRT) left their base for the 3 hour journey to the crash site. At the scene, the were joined by 22 Leuchars MRT and Fort William police. The recovery operation continued from 21 December 1967 until 8 January 1968, hampered on frequent occasions by very bad weather.
'Andy' Anderson--one of the Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team members--recalls that instructions were given to recover the aircraft's 'black box' (in reality, the orange-cased flight-data recorder and cockpit voice recorder). This is interesting, as--unlike commercial civil aircraft--military aircraft were not usually equipped with either FDR's or CVR's.
Over the next few weeks, the wreckage fragments were recovered and taken to RAF Kinloss for further examination.
Reminiscences of 'Andy' ('Boots') Anderson
(The following information was kindly provided by Thomas 'Andy' ('Boots') Anderson, then an RAF Sergeant and member of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team.)
While at home on the 21 December 1967, I received a telephone call alerting me to the Shackleton incident. I then left home to attend the call-out of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team, of which I was a member.
Involving, as it did, a journey of about 120 miles in winter conditions, it took over 3 hours to reach the area nearest to the accident. Initially, however, I was unable to join the other Team members. Gp Capt Mason, an RAF pathologist, had arrived at the scene without the necessary winter hill-climbing gear. Thus, Capt Mason 'requisitioned' my equipment in order to begin his work at the crash site. Later, however, I was able to join other members of Kinloss and Leuchars MRT's working on the hills.
Instructions had been issued to search for the 'black box', [although it is not known whether this device, if fitted, was recovered intact].
Recovery operations continued by day. Nights were spent at the Sheil Inn. I used my moped to travel from the hillside area to the village.
Some Team members camped out on the hills at night, or slept in a railway bothy made available by British Rail.
During the recovery, great hospitality was afforded to the members of the RAF MRT's and others by Mrs L P Cameron-Head of Inverailort Castle. (During WWII, Inverailort Castle had been used as a Naval Centre for officers.)
Aircraft Crew / Passenger Casualties
All 13 crew members died in this accident. These were:
From 206 Squadron RAF:
From RAF Kinloss Flying Wing:
(Travelling as passenger)
From HQ 1 Group:
(Travelling as passenger)
Some of the crew were buried at Kinloss Abbey.
In 2007, a commemorative tablet was placed near the site of this accident (see under Crash Date/Site above-right for text of this plaque)
Crash Date / Site
Accident Date: 21 Dec 1967
Creag Bhan (510m / 1,673ft)
Region: Highland (Kinloch-Ailort / South Morar)
Nearest town or village:
Nearest large towns:
Fort William (E) or Mallaig (NW)
OS Grid Ref. NM 794 839 (impact crater)
GPS Ref: N/A
Present Condition: At the time of the accident, the aircraft disintegrated into very small fragments, scattered over a wide area. Most of these fragments were recovered and removed to RAF Kinloss, although some signs of the impact crater may still be seen.
Commemorative Plaque: A memorial plaque at the crash sites reads:
"This Cairn marks the site where Shackleton Mk3 XF702 of No 206 Squadron Royal Air Force crashed on 21 December 1967 with the loss of 13 crew."
Nihil Nos Effugit
(See Moidart Local History Group for a photo of this plaque.)
Registration or Serial: XF702
Operator: RAF (206 Squadron)
Operating Base: RAF Kinloss / RAF Forres (satellite of Kinloss)
Base Location (RAF Kinloss): Forres, Morayshire: Three miles from Forres; 12 miles from Eglin; 27 miles from Inverness.
Current Airport Status: Operational Military Airport
Current Airport Name: RAF Kinloss (FSS / EGQK)
Principal airport data courtesy of John Woodside, A Catalogue of UK Airfields
Accident Specific Links
Avro Shackleton MR.3 XF702 crash at Peak District Air Accident Research
Crash of RAF Shackleton XF702 at Moidart Local History Group (includes links to articles from The Times and the Scottish Daily Record)
Memoirs of George F Watt (NCO in charge of Crash Guard)
The Shackleton—The Mark Three (includes XF702 service history summary)
Forums, Organisations, and Societies
A Most Active Shackleton (a look at Newark Air Museum's Shackleton on its 50th anniversary)
Avro Shackleton at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford
RAF and Related Links
206 Squadron Coastal Command (John Lowe's personal website)
Hill Walking Links
(Hillwalking and Mountaineering)
Hillwalking (The Scottish Mountaineering Club)
Hillwalking.org.uk (Equipment, etc.)
Mountain Guides (Routes, maps, advice and guidance compiled by Steven Fallon)
OutdoorScotland.co.uk (Directory of Clubs, Associations, and Mountain Rescue Teams)
WalkingScotland (The official Walking site of Scotland's national tourism organisation)
Other Outdoor Activities
Backpacking and Backpackers
Cicerone (Backpacking Guides for Walking in the UK)
Kayaking and Canoeing
Kayak Scotland (Sea Kayaking in Scotland)
Kayaking at Active Scotland (Various venues)
Rock Climbing and Abseiling
Abseiling Scotland (Various venues)
Rock Climbing at Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre (Skills Courses and Qualifications Courses)
Rock Climbing in Scotland (Rock Climbing Areas)
Trekking and Hiking
Gairloch Trekking Centre (Pony Trekking in the Scottish Highlands)
Pony and Quad Treks (North Wales)
Ramblers (Worldwide Holidays)
Emergency Services Link
If you cannot make voice calls, you can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone.
Avro Shackleton XF702
Creag Bhan, Arieniskill, K'loch-Ailort