BELOW: An RAF Vickers Wellington bomber.
Photo: Source unknown
BELOW: The restored Wellington shown here at Brooklands Museum is the same aircraft that crashed into Loch Ness in Scotland. (See also photos here)
Photo: 2006 'wetwebwork'
Aircraft Type and Background
RAF Vickers 290 Wellington Mk IA / N2980
RAF Squadron Code: "R" for "Robert".
Name given during recovery from Loch Ness: "The Lady of the Loch".
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 Wellington featured on this page was fitted with two Bristol Pegasus Mk. XVIII engines.
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.
The Vickers Wellington featured here was constructed in 1939 and was one of 2,515 Wellingtons built at Brooklands in Weybridge, Surrey. It is perhaps fitting that it should return for display to Brooklands Museum.
Aircraft Accident Details
Previously used as a combat aircraft, this Vickers Wellington was now being used as a training aircraft. For this purposes, it was based at RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland..
On New Year's Eve 1940, Vickers Wellington N2980 ('R' for 'Robert') had been on a navigational training exercise (NAVEX) with 20 OTU from RAF Lossiemouth. During the flight the weather deteriorated considerably, with heavy snow falling and with extensive snow cover on the ground.
While flying along the Great Glen at about 8,000ft in these blizzard-like conditions, the Wellington lost power in one of its two Pegasus engines. In the prevailing weather conditions, this made the aircraft very difficult to fly on the one remaining engine.
When the pilot realised that he was losing altitude rapidly, he sought for a safe place to force-land the Wellington. However, as the heavy snow was obscuring the nature of the surrounding countryside, the only flat area he could see clearly was the large body of water forming Loch Ness.
The pilot therefore decided to ditch the aircraft in Loch Ness. This action avoided the possibility of civilian casualties or a landing on hilly or forested terrain if the aircraft had crashed on land. Once he had made this decision, the pilot ordered the trainees to bale out.
All but one of these airmen escaped from the Wellington to land safely. Sadly, however, the rear gunner's parachute snagged initially on the aircraft's wing. As a result, the parachute failed to open.
Once the aircrew had evacuated the aircraft, the pilot and co-pilot ditched the Wellington on the surface of Loch Ness opposite Urquhart Castle. They then scrambled hurriedly onto the starboard wing with the aircraft's rubber dinghy, escaping to safety before the Wellington began to sink.
Aircraft Crew Casualty / Survivors
The rear gunner died in this accident when his parachute failed to deploy. The airman who died was:
Sgt Fensome was laid to rest in Biscot (Holy Trinity) Churchyard, Luton.
(Please click on hyperlinked name above for further details)
The remaining crew survived. These were:
Sqn Ldr Marwood-Elton (Pilot)
P/O Slater (Co-Pilot)
Sgt C. Chandler.
Sgt E. Ford.
Sgt R. Little.
Sgt W. Wright.
In 1985, Sqn Ldr Marwood-Elton was among those present when Wellington N2980 was raised from Loch Ness.
Recovery Operation (See photo below)
Discovering and Recovering the Lady of the Loch
The RAF confirmed that, in 1940, their Vickers Wellington N2980 'R' for 'Robert' had ditched in this vicinity.
In 1985, the Wellington was raised from the depths of Loch Ness by crane-barge. The actual final lift from the water was at Lochend, which is where the canal locks separate the Caledonian canal from the East end of Loch Ness.
When a new battery was attached, the Wellington's tail lights were found to be in working order!
Subsequently, this Wellington was restored and is now on display at Brooklands Museum Weybridge, Surrey.
(See under Preserved Aircraft for photos of this Wellington at Brooklands.)
Crash Date / Site
Accident Date: 31 Dec 1940
(off Urquhart Castle)
Nearest town or village:
Nearest large town or city:
Inverness (NE) or Fort Augustus (SW)
OS Grid Ref. N/A
GPS Ref: N/A
Present Condition: This aircraft was recovered from Loch Ness in 1985. Subsequently, it was restored and is now on display at Brooklands Museum.
Registration or Serial: L2980
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)
Principal airport data courtesy of John Woodside, A Catalogue of UK Airfields
Accident Specific Link
Memorial Wall and Plaque at Loch Ness (Loch Ness and Morar Project)
Accident Recovery Links
Battle Won to Breath New Life into Last Wartime Wellington (Herald Scotland)
Saved from a Watery Grave. (The Inverness Courier)
The Lady of the Loch at Flying Tigers (PDF document)
RAF and Related Links
RAF Museum (London and Cosford)
RAF Vickers Wellington (History)
Vickers Wellington at RAF Brampton Wyton Henlow (The Pathfinder Museum)
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
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Cicerone (Backpacking Guides for Walking in the UK)
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Kayak Scotland (Sea Kayaking in Scotland)
Kayaking at Active Scotland (Various venues)
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Abseiling Scotland (Various venues)
Rock Climbing at Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre (Skills Courses and Qualifications Courses)
Rock Climbing in Scotland (Rock Climbing Areas)
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Gairloch Trekking Centre (Pony Trekking in the Scottish Highlands)
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Emergency Services Link
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Vickers Wellington N2980
Loch Ness, Highland