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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 1593
Last updated: 12 September 2021
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Type:Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I
Owner/operator:60 Operational Training Unit Royal Air Force (60 OTU RAF)
Registration: N3495
MSN: 424
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:0.25 mile NE of East Linton, East Lothian, Scotland -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:RAF East Fortune, East Lothian
Destination airport:RAF East Fortune, East Lothian
During the night of 3-4 January 1942, Plt Off Donald Hamilton Smith, duty instructor of "A" Flight, 60 OTU RAF, authorized one of his pupils, Sgt William Thomas McMillan RAAF, to carry out a "stalking" excercice in Defiant I N3495. McMillan took off from East Fortune airfield at 0515 hrs with Sgt Trevor Hartley Jones RAF (gunner). At the time the weather was suitable and Smith had no warning of a possible deterioration. Actually at 0020 hrs a meteoroligal repart had been issued to his commander, Flt Lt Herbert Keith Laycock, that a cold frost was approaching and would cover the area a few hours before dawn. A gale was north of the line Ross-of-Mull to Rattray Head but was definitely judged to not affect the area. Orders were given to all pupils to remain local.

But after 0530 hrs the weather suddenly deteriorated. At 0540 hrs Flt Lt Laycock ordered all aircraft to stand by to land. All take-off were cancelled and the pupils airborne were ordred to remain close to base and keep the beacon in view. Heavy rain began to fall and a squall completely covered the aerodrome. Visibility was very bad in the aerodrome area.

At about 0600 hrs, another pupil of 60 OTU, Flg Off Leslie Howard Talbot Cliff saw another Defiant passing below him as though making a circuit prior to landing. He dusappeared from view in the rain, at approximately 1000 feet. Almost immediately, Cliff saw a flash and flames on the ground.

He has seen the Defiant flown by McMillan and Jones. McMillan was ordered to land first. The defiant I N3495 flew into ground a quarter mile northeast of East Linton, East Lothian, at about 0600 hrs.

At this time the rain increased in intensity very suddenly and the wind also rose to gale force without warning and veered from west to north. Still, according to Flt Lt Laycock "it was by no means impossible to fly, as is proved by the fact that the three remaining aircraft were successfully landed." In his opinion, "Sgt McMillan was definitely a below average pilot and it is probable that he lost his head under difficult circumstances. He was a slow thinker but managed to avoid concrete grounds for a recommendation that he be taken off flying."

The Defiant has been inspected at 1800 hrs on the 3rd and was fully serviceable. A young lady living in East Linton saw the aircraft just before it struck the ground and it was definitely not on fire.

Casualty file of William Thomas McMillan (available online on the Australian Archives website:

Revision history:

04-Feb-2008 16:04 JINX Added
19-Jan-2012 14:34 Nepa Updated [Operator, Destination airport]
20-Jun-2013 09:06 Nepa Updated [Source]
14-Aug-2013 20:37 JINX Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Source]
11-Nov-2014 20:21 Tu160 Blackjack Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Destination airport, Narrative]
06-Jan-2017 14:29 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

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