A.W. Whitley P5070

East Scaraben, Highland













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: An Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley bomber.


Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bomber


Photo: c.1940


This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain






Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Armstrong Whitworth AW.38 Whitley Mk.V / P5070



(Click here for RAF history of this type)


Aircraft Type Designation: Front line medium bomber.



The Whitley was an all-metal monoplane and medium-heavy bomber, fitted with two engines. Initially, these were Armstrong Siddeley Tiger IX (later reverting to VIII) engines. However, from the Whitley Mk IV, these were superseded by the more powerful Rolls Royce Merlin X piston engines.


The Whitley bomber entered service with the RAF in 1937 and was withdrawn in 1945. The aircraft carried a crew of four (six on the Mark VII).


Improvements to the Whitley Mark V (the variant featured here) included a Nash and Thomson powered tail turret with four 7.7mm (0.303in) machine guns, an extended rear fuselage to improve the tail gunner's view, and de-icing equipment.


The Whitley Mark V could carry up to 3,178kg (7,000lbs) of bombs distributed between the bomb bay and wing racks. It had a range of 2,654km (1,650 miles) and could fly at 357km/h (222mph).


Due to heavy losses and the introduction of more powerful 4-engine bombers, the Whitley was withdrawn from front-line service and allocated to Coastal Command. The Mark VII variant of the Whitley was equipped with ASV (Air to Surface Vessel) Mk II radar and proved effective in its role as a reconnaissance aircraft.


Some Whitley Mark V bombers were converted to freight-carrying aircraft operated by BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation). Flying at night, they ferried essential supplies between Gibraltar and Malta, until replaced by the more fuel-efficient Lockheed Hudsons.






Aircraft Accident Details


At the moment, background details to this crash are not available.






Aircraft Crew Casualties


Those who died in this incident were:
Sgt James Burnett McKenzie (30) RAF (AAF) A/G Aberdeen (Grove) Cemetery
Sgt Douglas John McPherson (23) RNZAF OBS Wick Cemetery
Sgt Albert Skelhorn RAFVR A/G Great Sankey (St Mary) Churchyard Extension, .
Sgt Reginald Frank Skelton Smith RAFVR A/G,  W/O Enfield, (Hertford Road), Cemetery.
Sgt Henry Matthew Williams (24) RAFVR Pilot Bristol, (Canford) Cemetery.
P/O Frederick Lyddon Arney (24) RAFVR Pilot Maidstone Cemetery, Kent..


All of the above died when the aircraft crashed on 1 May 1941, with the exception of P/O F L Arney who died in hospital the next day (2 May 1941)


Please click on the hyperlinked names above for Commonwealth War Grave Commission details.




(Crew casualty details kindly provided by Alan Leishman.)






Crash Site Photos


BELOW: Aluminium wreckage from RAF A.W. Whitley P5070.


aluminium wreckage section from aw whitley


Photo: ©  2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Possibly, part of a wing spar from the Whitley aircraft.


possibly, wing spars from whitley aircraft


Photo: ©  2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: The following three photos show some of the fragments remaining at East Scaraben.

The small metal pieces can be seen about the centre of the photo just to the right of the walking pole.


fragments of Whitley wreckage at East Scaraben


Photo:  © 2012 Douglas Gordon



BELOW: A slightly closer view.


another view of the fragments


Photo:  © 2012 Douglas Gordon



BELOW: Slightly enlarged again.


a third view of the remaining metal pieces


Photo:  © 2012 Douglas Gordon












BELOW: More small pieces piled together (between the ice axe and the walking poles)


more small pieces piled together


Photo:  © 2012 Douglas Gordon



BELOW: A metal plate from the Whitley bomber.


metal plate from whitley bomber


Photo:  © 2012 Douglas Gordon



BELOW: Another metal casting from the Whitley.


another metal casting


Photo:  © 2012 Douglas Gordon






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Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 1 May 1941


Accident Site:

East Scaraben (591m)


(Wreckage lies NE of the summit of E. Scaraben)


Nearest main road: A9.


Region: Highland (Caithness)


Nearest town or village: Helmsdale (S)


OS Grid Ref. ND 08349 27653


GPS Waypoints


Present Condition: Much of the wreckage has been removed by recovery teams or retrieved to help with museum projects. However, some small pieces of wreckage can still be found at the crash site.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: P5070


Operator: RAF (612 Squadron, Coastal Command)


Operating Station: RAF Wick


Station Location: Wick, Highland, Scotland.


Current Station Status: Military operations ceased in 1946.


Current Airport Status: Operational Civil Airport


Current Airport Name: Wick Airport (EGPC)




Related Links



Accident Specific Link


The Whitley Project by Elliott Smock (includes details of remaining wrerckage)



RAF and Related Links


612 Squadron

RAF Armstrong Whitworth Whitley (History)

RAF Wick


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(See also this variant link)





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