Boeing RB-29A 44-61999 of the 16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, 91st Reconnaissance Group, 311th Air Division, Strategic Air Command, USAF, Crashed at Higher Shelf Stones near Glossop 3rd November 1948

Boeing B-29 Superfortress at the American Air Museum, Duxford

 

Landon P. Tanner Captain Pilot Killed
Harry A. Stroud Captain Co-pilot Killed
Ralph W. Fields Technical Sergeant Engineer Killed
Charles R. Wilbanks Sergeant Navigator Killed
Gene A. Gartner Staff Sergeant Radio Operator Killed
David D. Moore Staff Sergeant Radar Operator Killed
Saul R. Banks Technical Sergeant Camera Crew Killed
Donald R. Abrogast Sergeant Camera Crew Killed
Robert I. Doyle Staff Sergeant Camera Crew Killed
William M. Burrows Private 1st Class Camera Crew Killed
Clarence M. Franssen Corporal Passenger Killed
George Ingram Jr Corporal Passenger Killed
Howard E. Keel Captain Acting Photographic Advisor Killed

 

On the 3rd November 1948 RB-29A 44-61999 was being used for a flight from Scampton near Lincoln to Burtonwood near Warrington, a flight of less than a hour.  Low cloud hung over much of England that day and as such the flight was to be conducted on instruments.  After having flown for the time the crew believed it should have taken them to cross the hill they descended.  However the aircraft was not quite passed the hills and struck the ground near Higher Shelf Stones and was destroyed by fire.

The aircraft was soon reported missing and the local authorities and nearby RAF Mountain Rescue Service team were alerted. At the time the MRT were on a training exercise in the Kinder Scout area, they made their way as quickly as possible to the southern side of Bleaklow to begin a search for the crash site. They arrived at the crash site at the around 16:30 finding that there had been no survivors and with light fading left the recovery of the crew until the following morning.

The aircraft had, for at least part of its existance, carried the name ‘Over Exposed‘, it got the name while being used by the 509th Composite Group to photograph atomic weapon tests as part of Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll during 1946. The aircraft may have still had this name at the time of the crash, however it was being flown by a completely different crew and was with a different unit.

Wreckage at the crash site of RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow, Derbyshire
This photograph shows some of the wreckage at the crash site, including the mounting for the rear gun turret (left of centre).
Undercarriage and other wreckage at the crash site of RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow, Glossop
One of the massive undercarriage legs with poppies and wreaths tied to it. In the background can be seen two of the four Cyclone engines.
Remains of a wing at the crash site of Boeing RB-29A 44-61999 Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow, Derbyshire
As is clearly evident this photograph shows the remains of the outer section of a wing.
Aircraft wreckage scattered about the crash site of Boeing RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow
This photograph (also on the homepage) was taken towards the eastern end of the site looking towards the memorial.

Since the photographs shown above were taken in 1999 the site has changed considerably, it was noticeably different in 2003 but the difference now is even more marked.

Crash site of Boeing RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow, Derbyshire
This view shows most of the area in the 2nd & 4th of the 1999 images, and shows that one bank of peat has been partially removed connecting the two engines in the background and the memorial
Aircraft wreckage scattered about the crash site of Boeing RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow
Looking from the memorial towards the east
Aircraft wreckage scattered about the crash site of Boeing RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow
The large collection of wreckage at the eastern end of the site which contains the remains of the rear turret mounting and base of the tail fin has now gained the section of crawl tunnel that previously lay some distance to the east.
Aircraft wreckage scattered about the crash site of Boeing RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow
This large section of wing near the memorial as it appeared in the summer of 2009, the part just in front of the right hand end had previously been elsewhere on the site
See the 4th of the 1999 images, the wing is just visible on the right hand edge of that image.
Wright Cyclone engines at the crash site of Boeing RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow
The four engines are still where they lay in 1999 though the effects of corrosion on the the aluminium and magnesium alloy parts are more pronounced now.

Wright Cyclone engines at the crash site of Boeing RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow

Wright Cyclone engines at the crash site of Boeing RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow

 

Undercarriage at the crash site of RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow
The second main undercarriage oleo and mounting had previously been virtually buried but is now uncovered.

 

Below are a few photos from the USAF accident report for the accident.

Photograph from the aircraft accident report of the tail of Boeing RB-29A 44-61999, Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow
The section of the aircraft that was most complete after the crash was the aircraft’s tail unit.
Thanks Mike Stowe
Photograph from the aircraft accident report of Boeing RB-29A 44-61999, Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow
A general shot showing the tail and scattered debris.
Thanks Mike Stowe
Remains of an oil cooler at the crash site of Boeing RB-29A Superfortress 44-61999 at Higher Shelf Stones, Bleaklow
On one edge of the site are the remains of one of the oil cooling radiators.