Site last updated 30 Sep 2014
Peak District Air Accident Research

Peak District Air Accident Research

Peak District Air Accident Research

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

 

Crew / Passengers Rank - if applicable Position e.g. Pilot Service number Status
Landon P. Tanner Captain Pilot AO44484 Killed
Harry A. Stroud Captain Co-pilot AO725371 Killed
Ralph W. Fields Technical Sergeant Engineer AF13015734 Killed
Charles R. Wilbanks Sergeant Navigator AF14067868 Killed
Gene A. Gartner Staff Sergeant Radio Operator AF33736380 Killed
David D. Moore Staff Sergeant Radar Operator AF34056859 Killed
Saul R. Banks Technical Sergeant Camera Crew AF14243965 Killed
Donald R. Abrogast Sergeant Camera Crew AF15090583 Killed
Robert I. Doyle Staff Sergeant Camera Crew AF6918518 Killed
William M. Burrows Private 1st Class Camera Crew AF17234997 Killed
Clarence M. Franssen Corporal Passenger AF19263748 Killed
George Ingram Jr Corporal Passenger AF20822424 Killed
Howard E. Keel Captain Acting Photographic Advisor AO737964 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.

 

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

 

Wright Cyclone engine 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.

 

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.

 

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

 

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