Sunday, September 5, 2010

Whenuapai wartime crashes, revisited

Whenuapai airbase from the air. From Wiki Commons.

In my earlier post from March 2009, I referred to two Liberator crashes at Whenuapai. A comment received today brought me back to the subject:
Hi
I was in the RNZAF many years after this happened. While at Whenuapai (from 1967-72 approx) there was old aircraft wreckage visible just off Herald Island. I was told this was a wartime bomber that had crashed. However, I was told there was another WW2 bomber that crashed in farmland at the other end of the Whenuapai runway, and this one reputedly had a large load of weapons on board as there was an enormous explosion. Further, my father was in the RNZAF at Whenuapai during WW2 as an air traffic controller, then was posted to Gualdalcanal; the day prior to his departure a Lockheed Ventura crashed through the curved roof of the southern concrete hangar. For many years the repair of the roof was visible both form inside and outside. I have tried to find info on these events, never had any luck.
omanu@live.com
I wondered if Archives New Zealand's Archway database had extended enough by now to help out with memories like this involving the Whenuapai wartime air accidents. The answer is: yes.

I looked up "Whenuapai" and "accident". The following entries are from file references under AIR Agency, in the Wellington branch of Archives New Zealand. Just reading through these file headings, I realise that if a book hasn't already been written on wartime Whenuapai airport, it really does need to be done.

1940

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Baffin - NZ 162 - Whenuapai - Fire on ground - 12 July

1941

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82A - NZ 787 - Whenuapai - Wind, gusty - 13 January

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 782 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 27 January

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 676 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 10 February

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Vildebeeste - NZ 125 - Whenuapai - Overshot landing - 25 February

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 794 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 8 March

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 675 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 18 March

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 669 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 28 March

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 787 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 16 April

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 789 - Whenuapai - Ground loop wind - 14 April

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 667 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 16 April

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 792 and NZ 664 - Whenuapai - Collision on ground - 18 April

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 662 - Whenuapai - Overshot land - 17 April

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 665 - Whenuapai - Overshot land - 18 April

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 672 - Whenuapai - Engine failure - 8 May

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 686 - Whenuapai - Forced landing - 10 May

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Vildebeeste - NZ 113 - Whenuapai - Hit power lines - 24 May

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Vildebeeste - NZ 124 - Whenuapai - take off drift - 6 June

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2003 - Whenuapai - Overshot land - 28 June

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 663 - Whenuapai - Control jammed - 19 July

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 788 - Whenuapai - Injury to Mech starting up - 26 July

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 668 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 23 July

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 675 - Whenuapai - Crash landing - 29 July

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 810 - Whenuapai - Engine failure - 1 August

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 792 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 11 August

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 666 - Whenuapai - Stalled landing - 3 September

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 788 and NZ 789 - Whenuapai - Collision on ground - 5 September

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2003 - Whenuapai - Tail lock failed - 1 October

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 665 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 20 October

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - [?] - NZ 779 - Whenuapai - Engine failure - 5 November

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 1404 - Whenuapai - Take off swing - 11 December

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 843 - Whenuapai - Forced landing - 15 December

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 768 - Whenuapai - Precautionary landing - 31 December

1942

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 808 - Whenuapai - Stalled landing - 17 January

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 1402 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 10 January

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 836 - Whenuapai - Collision on ground - 20 January

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Vildebeeste - NZ 120 - Whenuapai - Stalled landing - 29 January

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 664 - Whenuapai - Struck flare, night - 13 February

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 838 - Whenuapai - Stalled landing - 16 February

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - DH 82 - NZ 686 - Whenuapai - Fuel shortage - 21 February

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - B 17 Fortress - Usaac 41.2667 - Whenuapai - Crashed, 11 dead - 8 June

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2071 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 3 September

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2079 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 9 September

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Kittyhawk - NZ 3037 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 29 October

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2051 - Whenuapai - Swung on landing - 22 November

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2077 - Whenuapai - Crashed, 4 dead - 17 December

1943

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2078 - Whenuapai - Ground loop on landing - 20 January

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2062 - Whenuapai - Collided with tractor - 4 February

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2038 - Whenuapai - Ground loop - 23 March

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2062 - Whenuapai - Failed to take off, fog - 20 May

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2079 - Whenuapai - Structural damage air - 19 June

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Kittyhawk - NZ 3019 - Whenuapai - Engine failure - 24 July

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4507 - Whenuapai - Taxy accident - 23 July

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - C 87 - USAAC JD4 - Whenuapai - Crash take off - 2 August

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4503 - Whenuapai - Undercarriage failure - 29 August

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Kittyhawk - NZ 3125 - Whenuapai - Fuel system failed - 18 August

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4586 - Whenuapai - Damaged hangar - 25 October

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4584 - Whenuapai - Low level bombing - 1 December

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4548 - Whenuapai - Blister window failed - 11 December

1944

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Oxford - NZ 1315 - Whenuapai - Damage turbulence - 8 January

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4598 - Whenuapai - Taxy accident - 31 January

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4599 - Whenuapai - Tail wheel broken - 27 January

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4551 - Whenuapai - Damage by bird - 14 February

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4578 - Whenuapai - Engine failure - 12 April

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Kittyhawk - NZ 3275 - Whenuapai - Heavy braking - 10 May

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4601 - Whenuapai - Damage fire starting - 22 May

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Kittyhawk - NZ 3082 - Whenuapai - Fuel shortage - 1 June

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4552 and NZ 4581 - Whenuapai - Collided on ground - 24 July

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Corsair - NZ 5524 - Whenuapai - Engine failure - 4 August

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Lodestar - NZ 3514 - Whenuapai - Engine failure - 21 September

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4519 - Whenuapai - Engine failure, crash 4 dead - 26 October

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2053 - Whenuapai - Engine failure - 20 October

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4518 - Whenuapai - Heavy landing - 23 November

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Lodestar - NZ 3514 - Whenuapai - Collision in air - 2 December

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4523 - Whenuapai - Engine failure - 30 November

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4590 - Whenuapai - Lost hydraulics - 30 November

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Hudson - NZ 2053 - Whenuapai - Engine failed - 31 December

1945

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Liberator - EW 620 - Whenuapai – Taxy [sic] accident - 14 January

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4588 - Whenuapai - Engine failure - 21 February

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4518 and Dakota - NZ 3501 - Whenuapai - Collided in air, 1 dead - 21 March

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Corsair - NZ 5570 - Whenuapai - Stalled landing - 22 March

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Corsair - NZ 5562 - Whenuapai - Fuel shortage - 9 April

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Ventura - NZ 4588 - Whenuapai - Tyre blowout - 24 April

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Dakota - NZ 3534 - Whenuapai - Damaged while parked - 23 April

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Corsair - NZ 5540 - Whenuapai - Fire in air - 23 May

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Liberator - RAF T979 - Whenuapai - Swung off runway - 1 September

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Dakota - NZ 3550 - Whenuapai - Hit by truck - 30 November

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Dakota - NZ 3518 - Whenuapai - Nosed over run up - 17 December

RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Accident Reports - Dakota - NZ 3545 - Whenuapai - Nosed over run up - 18 December

2 comments:

  1. The aircraft that went through the hangar roof - as per your 1942 listings - was Lockheed Hudson Mark 3A NZ2077 of 1 General Reconnaissance Squadron. The aircraft stalled and spun-in from low altitude and all four occupants died. A Miles Hawk Trainer 3, NZ585, parked in the hangar was crushed but no-one on the ground was hurt. The crew comprised Flight Lieutenant Graham Hamlin, Pilot Officer Ian McGregor, Corporal John Barraclough and AC1 James Mitchell. The official report noted, "The accident was the result of the pilot being guilty of negligence and direct breach of discipline in carrying out aerobatic evolutions at a height below the prescribed minimum."
    The repair was still very visible when I used to visit Whenuapai as a member of the Air Training Corps in the early 1960s.
    As your excellent list of accident shows, 1942 was a bad year for Whenuapai, the Hudson crash happening only months after the appalling USAAF B-17 crash at about 12:30am on 9 June. It was the first B-17E Flying Fortress to visit New Zealand, and bore the name 'Texas Tornado'. Bound for Laverton, near Melbourne, it went in shortly after takeoff, killing all eleven occupants. It crashed into the uphill slopes on the farm of George Sinton. Two of the four 500lb bombs on-board exploded, blowing the Sinton house off its foundations, injuring George Sinton. Apparently the noise was huge and many thought that the Japanese had invaded. (Due to wartime censorship surrounding all things military, the crash was not officially acknowledged until 21 December 1945.)
    Apparently, the main purpose of the visit was connected to the imminent arrival of American forces to New Zealand, although why it was carrying 2000lb worth of bombs remains unclear.
    The dead were buried at the Waikumete Cemetery, their caskets borne by six RNZAF trucks from the Khyber Pass funeral home. Later, a special American cemetery was established at Waikumete and the bodies were re-interred there. At the end of the war the bodies were taken back to the US and buried with full military honours.

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  2. Thanks for your detailed comment, Phil. Just shows the amount of information in the subject of the wartime use of Whenuapai. Cheers!

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