Whirlwind P6966

Lanton Farm, Stenhousemuir, Falkirk

 
     
 
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Aircraft Type Photo

 

BELOW: A Westland Whirlwind (fixed wing) aircraft.

 

(Confusingly, but perhaps more appropriately, Westland also made a rotary wing aircraft called a 'Whirlwind'!)

 

A Westland Whirlwind aircraft

 

Photo: Crown Copyright (expired)

 [Source, Wikimedia Commons]

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Type and Background

 

RAF Westland Whirlwind / P6966

 

The Westland Whirlwind was the RAF's first twin engine fighter. It was designed as a long-range escort night fighter.

 

The Whirlwind was equipped with two Rolls-Royce Peregrine piston engines. Teething problems with these engines resulted in delivery delays, however. Consequently, the initial order was reduced, and only a relatively small number of Whirlwinds were built for service with the RAF.

 

The Westland Whirlwind fighter was fitted with four 20mm cannon in the nose and it was probably the most heavily armed aircraft of its time.

 

In 1940, the Whirlwind entered service with No. 263 Squadron RAF. However, the aircraft proved unpopular with the RAF. Fighter Command considered the aircraft underpowered. Understandably, they also disliked the fact that its Peregrine engines tended to be temperamental and required frequent servicing.

 

The Whirlwind was withdrawn from RAF service in 1943.

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Accident Details

 

[Details, courtesy Steven Spink]

 

The accident occurred on August 7th 1940. While P6966, piloted by P/O I F McDermott, was taking off, the aircraft suffered a burst tyre. However, McDermott managed to prevent the wing touching the ground and was able to get the aircraft airborne.

 

Once in the air, the watch office informed McDermott that his undercarriage was visibly damaged and they advised him to climb to a safe height and then bale out, rather than attempt a landing with the damaged landing gear. McDermott accordingly baled out, parting company with P6966 just north of Stirling.

 

The aircraft crashed into a large field at Lanton Farm, Stenhousemuir, then owned by a Mr Adam. During his descent by parachute McDermott was circled by a Spitfire and on landing, he sprained his ankle and was captured by a local Home Guard who mistook him for a German!

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Pilot

 

The pilot who bailed out was:

 

P/O  Irving Francis McDermott (24)

 

 

Sadly, P/O McDermott died in France a few years later.

 

Record of Commemoration

 

 

 

 

Engine Recovery Details

 

[Details, courtesy Steven Spink]

 

At the time of the accident, the RAF spent 2 or 3 days trying to recover P6966 but without much success.

 

There the matter rested, until Steve Vizard, aided by Alan Brown searched for a suitable Whirlwind for excavation. After considerable effort and many phone calls to the present landowner, Mr Watson (who had taken over the farm from Mr Adam) was traced.

 

Permission to dig was then obtained from the Ministry of Defence and Mr Watson, and the local hire of a Hymac digger was also arranged.

 

On October 12 1979, Steve Vizard, Terry Parsons, Tony Graves, Andy Saunders, Bill Hamblin, John Ellis, and Peter Foote motored to Scotland. Although the party arrived late in the evening, an immediate search of the field was made by torchlight for a stake the farmer had promised he would place at the impact point. When it was found, it turned out to be 15cm (6 inches) high!


The next morning everyone assembled at the site at 8am. Digging commenced. At the depth of 2.5m (8 feet), some engine parts, wing panels and cowlings were discovered and soon after, one of the two Rolls-Royce 885hp Peregrine engines was found together with propeller blades.

 

The tanks, an oil cooler, a fire extinguisher were uncovered and a complete undercarriage leg and tyre. The other engine was found soon afterward in superb condition.

 

The final excavation was 9m square by 7.6m deep (30 feet square by 25 feet deep). Apart from the fact the digger continually broke down, the dig was highly successful and the party retired weary but triumphant.


(The Peregrine engines were transferred subsequently to Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust for future restoration and display.)

 

 

 

 

 

Crash Site Photos

 

At the moment, there no photos of the Whirlwind crash site at Lanton Farm.

 


 

 

Forward to Page 2

Record of Commemoration

 (P/O I F McDermott)

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crash Date / Site

 

Accident Date: 7 Aug 1940

 

Accident Site:

Lanton Farm (fields)

 

Region: Falkirk / Stirling boundary

 

Nearest town or village:

Stenhousemuir

 

Nearest large towns:

Falkirk (S) or Grangemouth (SE)

 

OS Grid Ref. N/A

 

GPS Ref: N/A

 

Present Condition: Engines were recovered from crash site for restoration and display by Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust.

 

 

 

Aircraft Details

 

Registration or Serial: P6966

 

Operator: RAF (263 Squadron; (aircraft transferred from 25 Squadron))

 

Operating Station: RAF Grangemouth.

 

StationLocation: Grangemouth, Falkirk, Scotland

 

Current Station Status: Station and airfield closed. Later overbuilt by Grangemouth petro-chemical plant.

 


 

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

 

 

 

Related Links

 

 

Discussion Forum (Share information about this air crash on this forum)

 

The Aviation Forum (Historic Aviation)

 


 

Accident Related Link

 

Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust

 

 

RAF Link

 

263 Squadron RAF at Wikipedia

 

 

Westland Whirlwind

 

The Westland Whirlwind

 

Westland Whirlwind at History in Illustration

 

Westland 'Whirlwind at History of War

 

 

 

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