Aircraft Type Photo
BELOW: An RAF Vickers Wellington bomber.
Photo: Source unknown
Aircraft Type and Background
RAF Vickers 416 Wellington Mk IC / L7867 coded JM-J
Aircraft Type Nickname: Wimpy (or Wimpey).
The Wellington was a medium bomber, of which there were 16 variants, the first Wellington bombers were powered by two 1,050 hp Bristol Pegasus Mk. I radial engines. It had a maximum speed of 235 mph (410 km/h).
The variant featured on this page was the Wellington Mk. IC. The Mk. IC was similar to the Mk. IA, but with added waist guns. The Mk. IC carried a crew of six: a pilot, a radio operator, a navigator / bomb aimer, an observer / nose gunner, a tail gunner and a waist gunner.
Like the Vickers Wellesley, the Wellington was constructed using a geodetic (lattice) framework to provide additional strength and durability for the fuselage. As a result of this design by Barnes Wallis, Wellington bombers were able to survive and return safely to base even after sustaining considerable damage.
The first Wellingtons entered service with No. 99 Squadron RAF. Later, an improved version entered service with RAF Bomber Command. The aircraft carried a crew of six.
BELOW: A Vickers Wellington Mk IV. This aircraft had just returned from a raid on Bremen. The geodetic structure which strengthened this aircraft enabled it to return safely to base after sustaining heavy damage.
Photo: Original source unknown
Aircraft Accident Details
On 10 December 1942, RAF Vickers Wellington L7867 of 20 OTU took off from RAF Lossiemouth on a navigation exercise (Navex). The plan was to fly to the east coast of Scotland and then turn and fly back to Lossiemouth.
During the flight, however, the Wellington strayed from the pre-planned route. In the midst of a blizzard, the aircraft crashed into Leacann na Brathan on the SE flank of Geal-chàrn.
Only one member of the crew survived the crash. He was Sgt Philip Underwood (Air Gunner). The seriously injured sergeant struggled down the mountain until he reached Corrour Lodge near Fort William where he managed to summon help.
The RAF recovery teams used mules to bring down sections of the wreckage from the mountain. This may explain why wreckage debris can still be seen at several different points down the slope of Leacann na Brathan. The lowest debris field is on the main path leading over the Bealach Dubh, and lies between Ben Alder and Geal-chàrn. (See under Crash Site Photos below.)
Aircraft Crew Casualties / Survivor
The crew who died were:
(Please click on the hyperlinked names above for further details at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission's website.)
The one crew member who survived (with serious injuries) was:
Sgt Philip Edward Underwood, Air Gunner, RAF.
Crash Site Photos
BELOW: A section of wreckage from Vickers Wellington L7867 at Leacann na Brathan.
Wreckage can be found on Geal-Chàrn, and then at various points downward on the slopes of Leacann na Brathan, in the vicinity of Ben Alder.
Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel
BELOW: More shattered wreckage, including a landing gear strut, lies on the hillside.
Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel
BELOW: Examining another section of wreckage from the Wellington.
Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel
MORE PHOTOS BELOW
Bealach Dubh is situated below Leacann na Brathan. This section of wreckage lies close to the footpath / track in the area.
Photo: 2006 John Lucas
Photo: 2011 John Lucas
BELOW: Another view of the Wellington wreckage.
Crash Date / Site
Accident Date: 10 Dec 1942
(Vicinity of Ben Alder.)
Nearest town or village:
Nearest large towns:
OS Grid Refs: N/A
GPS Ref: Available here.
Present Condition: Some wreckage remains at the crash site, but it is scattered from below the summit of Geal-Chàrn to various areas downward on the slope of Leacann na Brathan. (See GPS refs above, and Crash Site Photos below.)
Registration or Serial: L7867, JM-J
Operator: RAF (20 Operational Training Unit (OTU); (later transferred to No. 91 Group))
Operating Station: RAF Lossiemouth; (RAF No. 91 Group Bomber OTU. Operating base also for No. 46 Maintenance Unit (MU), and RN HMS Fulmar.)
Current Station Status: Operational Military Airport.
Current Station Name: RAF Lossiemouth (EGQS)
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Vickers Wellington L7867
Geal Chàrn, Dalwhinnie, Highland