Airspeed Oxford PH404

Beinn a' Bhuird, Cairngorms

 
     
 
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Aircraft Type Photo

 

BELOW: An Airspeed AS.10 Oxford. This aircraft belonged to the Belgian Air Force (now, Belgian Air Component or COMOPSAIR)

 

Airspeed AS10 Oxford on display

 

Photo: 2006. Released by the author under GNU Free Documentation License

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Type and Background

 

RAF Airspeed AS.10 Oxford Mk II / PH404

 


 

Aircraft Type Nickname: "The Ox-Box"

 

 

The Airspeed Oxford was developed from the Airspeed AS.6 Envoy commercial aircraft as an RAF trainer. The Oxford was equipped with two 355hp - 375hp seven cylinder air-cooled Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah IX or X radial engines.

 

Essentially, this was a 3-seater aircraft, but provision was made for up to 6 crew. The Oxford was equipped with dual controls for pilot training purposes, but these could be removed for bombardier training.

 

Several other crew training roles were also covered by the Airspeed Oxford, preparing aircrew for entry into RAF Bomber Command.

 

At least 8 variants of the Airspeed Oxford were produced. In addition to those manufactured by Airspeed Ltd., some of these aircraft were built by sub-contractors such as de-Havilland, Percival, and Standard Motors. The Mark I Oxford was equipped with an Armstrong-Whitworth dorsal turret, but all subsequent variants lacked this feature.

 

In addition to their role as advanced trainers, Oxfords were used as communications, anti-aircraft, and anti-submarine aircraft; and also as air ambulances.

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Accident Details

 

On 10th January 1945, this Mark II Airspeed Oxford took off from RAF Tain in north-east Scotland. On board were a Czech crew, including three pilots. These, and some other airmen, had completed their tour of duty and were flying south to RAF Hornchurch for a break in London. Also on board was a fourth pilot who had been assigned to fly the aircraft back to RAF Tain from Hornchurch.

 

The Oxford trainer left Tain in good weather and cloudless conditions. However, before long, communications with the aircraft were lost. Eventually, when the aircraft failed to arrive at Hornchurch and had not been reported at any other airfield, a search began. No trace of the Oxford could be found, however, and initially it was believed that it had crashed into the sea.

 

Over 7 months lateron 19th August 1945two hill walkers came across the wreckage of the Airspeed Oxford almost on the summit of Stob an t-Sluichd while climbing the Beinn a' Bhuird range in the Cairngorms. Only then was the fate of the aircraft realised and the recovery of the missing airmen's bodies commenced.

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Crew Casualties

 

Sadly, all five RAFVR Czech aircrew perished in this accident. These were:

The airmen's bodies were laid to rest in Brookwood Military Cemetery (Czech Section) in Woking, Surrey. The individual locations can be determined by clicking on the hyperlinks under the names above.

 

A memorial was placed at the crash site on Stob an t-Sluichd (Beinn a' Bhuird) on 18th September 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

Crash Site Photos

 

BELOW: Part of a wing section from Airspeed Oxford PH404 at Stob an t-Sluichd near Beinn a' Bhuird.

 

one of the larger wreckage sections from the airspeed oxford

 

Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel

 


 

BELOW: One of the Airspeed Oxford's two Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah radial engines.

 

 This type of engine was used also in the Avro Anson aircraft.

 

one of the airspeed oxford's two radial engines

 

Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel

 


 

BELOW: Another view of one of the engines, showing the radial cylinder arrangement and the exhaust collector ring.

 

another view of the radial engine

 

Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel

 


 

BELOW: Both engines from the Airspeed Oxford (midground and background).

 

The two engines from the airspeed oxford

 

Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel

 


 

BELOW: Debris field, including spars and fragmented parts from the Oxford.

 

debris field, including spars and fragmented parts

 

Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel

 


 

BELOW: Another view of the debris field close to the summit of Stob an t-Sluichd, and NE of Beinn a' Bhuird.

 

another view of the debris field

 

Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel

 

 

MORE PHOTOS BELOW

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

BELOW: The two Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah engines from Airspeed Oxford PH404.

 

The memorial can just be seen at the upper right of this picture.

 

The two Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah engines from Airspeed Oxford PH404

 

Photo: © 2009 Alan Leishman

 


 

BELOW: The impact point and debris field.

 

The aircraft just missed clearing the summit by around 3m / 10ft [A.L.]

 

The impact point and debris field.

 

Photo: © 2009 Alan Leishman


 


 

 

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Crash Date / Site

 

 

Accident Date: 10 Jan 1945

 

Accident Site:

Stob an t-Sluichd (1,107m)

 

(NE of Beinn a' Bhuird in  Caingorms National Park)

 

Region: Aberdeenshire

 

Nearest town or village:

Allanaquoich or Braemar

 

Nearest large town or city:

Aberdeen (E) or Dundee (S)

 

OS Grid Ref. N/A

 

GPS Ref: N/A

 

Present Condition: Due to its inaccessibility for recovery vehicles, the aircraft remains were burnt onsite by recovery teams from RAF Dyce (Aberdeen). However, significant wreckage remains at the location, including both engines and a wing section.

 

 

 

Aircraft Details

 

 

Registration or Serial: PH404

 

Operator: RAF (311 (Czech) Squadron; RAF 18 Grp Coastal Ops)

 

Operating Base: RAF Tain (X6TA)

 

Base Location: Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland

 

Current Airport Status: Airfield closed 1946 and returned to agricultural use. Some derelict buildings remain. For photos, click here.

 

Current Airport Name: RAF Tain. Air Weapons Range (AWR); (A large bombing range, which covers a part of the former airfield and the Moray Firth.)

 

 

 

 

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