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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 55313
Last updated: 29 November 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic VULC model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Avro Vulcan B Mk 2
Owner/operator:9 Sqn Royal Air Force (9 Sqn RAF)
Registration: XM645
Fatalities:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 7
Other fatalities:1
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Zabbar, Malta, 3 NM ENE RAF stn Luqa, LMML -   Malta
Phase: Landing
Departure airport:RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Destination airport:RAF Luqa Malta
At about 12.30PM local time (11:30 GMT), an Avro Vulcan B MK.2 XM645 of IX Squadron contacted Malta's control tower to confirm its position some 100 miles from the island, requesting permission to land on rwy 24 at RAF Luqa, at the Wied il-Knejjes end of Luqa village.

Barely 15 minutes later, the aircraft joined the landing circuit to perform its final approach to its last stage of a routine exercise flight from England, as it was based at Waddington at that time.

Just before hitting the runway, the Vulcan's port wing sank dangerously, making contact with the ground. As a result the mainwheel undercarriage on that side was torn off, and fell onto the runway. During landing the port (left) undercarriage collapsed forcing the crew to overshoot to do another circuit for an emergency landing on foamed runway.

The aircraft slid on its belly for some time, damaging the undersurfaces, although the pilot managed to put oll four Olympus engines into full throttle to force his crippled mount back into the air. Air Traffic Control warned the pilot about the damage, and that his aircraft was on fire; he replied that he would do a circuit and attempt a belly-landing on the same runway after it had been covered in foam. On the inbound track of the circuit pattern, the aircraft suddenly exploded, breaking into two main sections and a smaller third part which floated down into Zabbar, trailing a thick pall of smoke. Over Poala village, two parachutes were seen, and a few seconds later XM645 turned into a fireball. The Captain and Co-Pilot, the only two crew members provided with ejector seats, where thrown out with the force of the explosion and managed to escape by parachute; the other five members of the crew were killed. Luckily the largest part of the aircraft, including the engines and the front fuselage and wing, fell into a field a few metres away from a densley buil-up area, not so far from the Government Primary School. Part of the wing on the roof of Zabbar Primary School and another part in the main street of Zabbar village. The windows, doors and parked cars in main street all were burnt by the aircraft's fuel. Being a residential area it was fortunate that only one civilian woman and the other members of the crew died. It could have been much worse

Fire-fighters from the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy (RN) together with members of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM), Admiralty Constabulary, the police and numerous civilians rushed to the scene to fight the raging flames at the crash site. They brought wiht them a stream of crash tenders, fire engines, ambulances and mobile cranes.

Rescue squads had to demolish a wall to make way fro the crash tenders which arrived from Luqa, their progress through some of the narrow streets of Zabbar further being hampered by a number of people who rushed to the scene of the accident, some in panic, others in shock.

At one point the rescue operation was threatened by a shortage of water, and this precious commodity had to be brought to the crash site by Royal Marine Commandos from No. 41 Commando Group, RN. Others who arrived to lend a hand in the rescue operations included men from the Pioneer Corps and other paramilitary bodies and members from the St John Ambulance brigade. The AFM evacuation operation was under the command of Major A.J. Gera, Acting Commander AFM, Major W.E. Abela and RSM R.Zerafa.

RN Sea King helicopter XV711/74 from the commando carrier HMS Hermes landed in a field on the outskirts of Zabbar (on the Xaghjra side) disembarking more rescue crews and para-medics while it remained on stand-by with engines running. Two other Wessex helicopters from the same ship flewmore men to the scene while a Super Frelon operated by a Libyan crew, attached to the AFM air squadron, also arrived to provide assistance.

Fight Lieutenant G.R. Alcock (pilot) and Flying Officer E.C. Alexander (pilot) were the two members of the Vulcan crew who parachuted to safety.


Flight International, 2 May 1981
Air Britain: RAF Aircraft XA100 - XZ999, published 2001


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Revision history:

28-Dec-2008 11:04 harro Updated
30-Apr-2009 17:38 angels one five Updated
14-May-2009 23:40 Anon. Updated
22-Aug-2011 22:24 Uli Elch Updated [Operator, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
17-Jan-2012 05:49 Nepa Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Operator, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
12-Mar-2012 04:21 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
12-Apr-2012 00:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Embed code]
11-Apr-2013 14:24 Nepa Updated [Operator, Location, Departure airport, Narrative]
01-Jun-2015 20:09 djrose Updated [Aircraft type, Narrative]
30-Aug-2018 12:36 harro Updated [Narrative]

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