Accident Supermarine Spitfire Mk I K9838,
ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 87280
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Thursday 16 March 1939
Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Supermarine Spitfire Mk I
Owner/operator:41 Sqn RAF
Registration: K9838
MSN: 51
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:8 miles north-west of RAF Catterick, North Yorkshire, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Catterick, North Yorkshire
Destination airport:RAF Catterick
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Supermarine Spitfire K9838 (c/n 51 - the 51st production Spitfire).
06 Jan 39: First Flown at Eastleigh, Southampton, Hampshire.
11 Jan 39: Delivered to 41 Squadron at RAF Catterick, North Yorkshire.
16 Mar 39: Written off due to structural failure in dive at Eryholme, North Yorkshire. (Eryholme is a village and civil parish in the district of Richmond in North Yorkshire, situated on the south bank of the River Tees opposite Hurworth, four and a half miles south east of Darlington, Durham). K9838 was Struck Off Charge the same day with a total of 21 hrs 25 mins flying hrs.
Sgt (565774) George Verdun SERJEANT (pilot) RAF killed.

According to the Air Ministry Accidents Investigation Branch Report [TNA AVIA 5/19/W643, Crown Copyright expired], dated 17 April 1939, "The accident happened about five minutes after the pilot had taken off from Catterick to practise could flying. The aeroplane dived out of a cloud at high speed and, very shortly afterwards, the airframe structure completely collapsed. The pilot remained in his seat until the fuselage struck the ground and was killed instantly.”

Sgt Pilot Serjeant passed out from No. 6 Flying Training School in August 1938 and had been posted to 41 Sqn in October 1938. Since that time, he had flown a total of 163 solo flying hours, including 12 hours on Spitfires. He had flown K9838 on two previous occasions. His flying logbook also recorded 18 dual flying hours, including 90 minutes as pilot, plus 10 hours and 30 minutes on the Link Trainer.

Serjeant took off at 14:10 to practice cloud flying over an area north of Catterick. The accident report continues, “About five minutes later, the aeroplane emerged from a cloud about eight miles northeast of the aerodrome, diving at an angle of 30° to 35° and at high speed with engine running under power. The wing structure was then seen to collapse and the aeroplane fell to the ground.”

When the post mortem examination revealed that Serjeant’s blood contained a “considerable amount” of carbon monoxide, “in the neighbourhood on 25% saturation”, the investigators concluded that Serjeant had lost control “possibly owing to the his senses have been impaired by the effect of carbon monoxide gas” and that “on emerging below the cloud at a somewhat low altitude, overstressed the wing structure when attempting to level-up the aircraft”.

This resulted in a fracture of the lower boom of the main spar of the starboard wing, which was “followed immediately by complete failure of the spar and disruption of the plane”.

The Chief Inspector concurred, finding that the structural failure “undoubtedly occurred […] when the aeroplane was being pulled out of a dive”.


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft K1000-K9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1976 page 79)
10. The Civil Aviation Accident Reports (C, W, and S Reports) and Technical Memoranda, TNA AVIA 5/19/W643

Revision history:

05-Jan-2011 17:15 angels one five Added
25-Dec-2011 04:10 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Operator, Narrative]
10-Jan-2012 15:06 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Cn, Operator, Location]
15-Jan-2012 01:46 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
22-Jan-2012 19:04 angels one five Updated [Narrative]
05-May-2012 10:06 Dr. John Smith Updated [Registration, Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
30-May-2012 00:13 Nepa Updated [Operator]
04-Nov-2012 16:42 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Source, Narrative]
22-Aug-2013 14:59 JINX Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Departure airport, Narrative]
17-Jan-2014 05:46 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Narrative]
06-Jun-2015 20:03 Gun Updated [Operator, Departure airport]
25-Mar-2018 19:35 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
11-Oct-2019 22:05 angels one five Updated [Narrative]
06-Feb-2021 07:07 angels one five Updated [Phase, Narrative]
12-May-2022 07:33 Steve Brew Updated [Time, Location, Destination airport, Source, Narrative, Photo]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2023 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314