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The Whirlwind was withdrawn from RAF service in 1943.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.
aircraft crashed into a large field at Lanton Farm,
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!
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 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 Date / Site
Accident Date: 7 Aug 1940
Lanton Farm (fields)
Region: Falkirk / Stirling boundary
Nearest town or village:
Nearest large towns:
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.
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
Discussion Forum (Share information about this air crash on this forum)
The Aviation Forum (Historic Aviation)
Accident Related Link
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.
Lanton Farm, Stenhousemuir, Falkirk