Accident Bristol Bulldog IIIA Prototype R-5,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 199319
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Date:Wednesday 4 January 1933
Type:Bristol Bulldog IIIA Prototype
Owner/operator:A&AEE RAF
Registration: R-5
MSN: 7745
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Blackmoor, Norton Heath, 2 miles E of Chipping Ongar, Essex, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk
Destination airport:RAF Hornchurch, Essex
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Bristol Bulldog Mk.IIIA R-5, A&AEE, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk: Written off (destroyed) 4/1/33 when broke up in flight during aerobatics, Blackmoor, Norton Heath, two miles east of Chipping Norton, Essex, Pilot - Flying Officer John Laurance Armstrong (New Zealander, aged 26) killed.

From 'For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915 (Volume One: Fates 1915-1942)':

"Wed 4 Jan 1933
Test flight Service trials
111 Squadron, RAF (Hornchurch, Essex - Fighting Area, Air Defence of Great Britain)
Bristol Bulldog IIIA ‘R5’ - three of the Squadron’s pilots arrived at the RAF Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment, Martlesham Heath, Suffolk, to collect prototype Bristol, Gloster, and Vickers fighters for trials at Hornchurch. Flying back to base they dived and pulled up into a 'Prince of Wales feather' manœuvre, during which the Bulldog disintegrated and crashed at Norton Heath, near Chipping Ongar, killing the pilot. R5 was a manufacturer’s designation, a "Class B" civil registration, no RAF serial having been allocated. Pilot: Flying Officer John Laurence ARMSTRONG, RAF - Age 26."

At an inquest into the fatal crash held on Thursday January 5, Flt Lt D L Thompson and Squadron leader O'Neil stated that the Bulldog had only been delivered to Hornchurch from Northolt the day before and was under test with the squadron. Under test the new Bulldog had been found to be a pleasant machine and in a sound condition.

Charles Robert Weedon, a motor mechanic at Waller's Garage and a resident at Ongar Police Station (and therefore presumably a policeman's son), was a witness to the fatal crash. He said that he had seen the machine loop and that as it came out of cloud three 'bits' appeared to detach themselves from the area of the tail prior to the crash. Sidney Epps, another witness, stated that the machine appeared to be struck by an flash somewhere in the middle, followed by a cloud of thick black smoke. He had not seen any parts detach, but it was in an upside down position as it crashed.

Part of the mystery of the detaching parts appears to have been cleared up by the evidence given by PC Tupman, this witness stated that a part of the wing was found a quarter of a mile from the main wreckage. Death had been instantaneous, the aircraft having buried itself and the unfortunate pilot something like 3-4 feet upon impact.

Based upon the non-technical aspects of the accident the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of "Death by misadventure"

The pilot was initially Buried at Hornchurch, but in 1934 exhumed and removed to New Zealand for burial at Mangatera, Dannevirke. The Bulldog IIIA was formally struck off charge on 30.3.33.

The Bulldog Mk. IIIA was a development of the Mk.IIA, powered by a Bristol Mercury IV enclosed within a Townend ring with a revised wings and stronger fuselage. Only two built, one of which crashed, as per the above, and the other was converted to become the prototype Bulldog Mk. IVA.



Revision history:

01-Sep-2017 17:11 Dr. John Smith Added
14-May-2018 16:44 Dr. John Smith Updated [Registration, Cn, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Jan-2019 19:42 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]

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