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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 142144
Last updated: 27 November 2021
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Time:12:20 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic CNBR model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
English Electric Canberra B(I).8
Owner/operator:A&AEE Boscombe Down (Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment Boscombe Down)
Registration: WT328
MSN: 71428
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:English Channel, 3 miles South of Shoreham, West Sussex -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:Boscombe Down, Wiltshire (EGDM)
Destination airport:
EE Canberra B(I).8 WT328, A&AEE Boscombe Down: Written off 7/5/56 - The aircraft was being flown at various altitudes of between 50 and 400 feet along a course between St. Albans Head and Beachy Head, just off the Sussex coast. The port wing hit the water when the aircraft banked at very low level whilst turning, and the aircraft cartwheeled the sea three miles south of Shoreham, Sussex, during low altitude radio altimeter trials after the tail plane actuator failed.

Both crew killed
Squadron Leader Michael R. Alston, Service number 108949 - pilot
Flight Lieutenant Victor D. Hall, Service number 203516 - navigator

There are no reports that the bodies or the two crew members were ever found or recovered. The findings of the Court of Inquiry were:

"Whilst flying Canberra WT328 on a low level flight over the sea in order to test the radio altimeter, the pilot probably allowed the port wing to strike the sea, through an error of judgement, probably during a turn. This caused the aircraft to cartwheel and disintegrate. The Court find the pilot, S/Ldr. Aston responsible for the accident through an error of judgement"

According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Hampshire Telegraph" - Friday 18 May 1956):

"Pieces of the wreckage of the Canberra jet bomber which crashed off Shoreham last week were landed from the naval salvage vessel, Barfoss, at Portsmouth on Wednesday. They were taken by R.A.F. trailer to the Ministry of Supply establishment at Boscombe Down for inspection.

The wreckage was 'located by a civilian-manned trawler on Sunday. The trawler had been operating with the naval vessels which had been searching for the wreckage for nearly a week.

The Canberra crashed into the sea about three miles south-east of Shoreham West Pier on Monday of last week. There were no survivors."

Although Canberra WT328 was notified to the Air Ministry as "awaiting collection" on 31 October 1955, it never saw any operational service, being transferred to the charge of the Controller (Aircraft) Ministry of Supply (C(A) MoS) and delivered to the A&AEE at Boscombe Down in January 1956. It was probably allocated as a replacement for the prototype Canberra B(I)8 WT326, which had been involved in a fatal crash at Boscombe Down on 27/11/55 (which see)


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.180 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 94)
3. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.194
4. Hampshire Telegraph - Friday 18 May 1956
5. The English Electric Canberra B (I).8 By Phil H. Listemann p 10
6. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/341:

Revision history:

29-Jan-2012 14:51 Dr. John Smith Added
22-Jan-2020 16:46 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
22-Jan-2020 16:54 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
15-Jun-2020 21:32 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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