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Handley Page Victor

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Date Air Force A'cft Unit / Serial


crashed crew photo seat
24th April 1953


EVENTS leading up to the first flight of the Victor, as seen by

the makers' chief test pilot, are related in a noteworthy

article in the Handley Page Bulletin. It was as long ago as 1947

that S/L. H. G. Hazelden, D.F.C., first learned of the project, and

through the succeeding years he was able to watch a motley array

of objects on the factory floor gradually grow into more or less

recognizable shapes. Much of the cockpit layout was done with

the aid of a mock-up, and the fuel system was tested by means of

an ingenious mechanical rig set up at Radlett. S/L. Hazelden

describes Sapphire-familiarization flights in a Hastings equipped

with two of these units in the outboard position, and remarks that

the aircraft would cruise quite happily on one Sapphire only.

He tells of the sadly brief career of the H.P.88 crescent-wing

research aircraft, resulting in the death of F/L. D. J. Broomfield;

of the transportation to Boscombe Down of the Victor fuselage,

camouflaged as a boat-shaped affair prominently labelled "Gelepandhy,

Southampton"; of the impossibility of readying the Victor

for the 1952 Farnborough display; and of a fire in the hydraulic

system which caused another death, that of electrician Eddie


Finally, all difficulties were surmounted, and at long last, on

Christmas Eve, the weather cleared and the great moment had

arrived for Hazelden and his flight observer, I. K. Bennett. Cockpit

checks were completed, the four Sapphires started, and the

Victor taxied out to the runway.

"I locked my radio on to transmit," writes S/L. Hazelden, "so

that all that was said could be heard on the ground. In a matter

of seconds now we would know if the Victor would fly. I opened

the engines to fairly low power and released the brakes. The aircraft

rolled up the runway, rapidly gaining speed. I pulled the

control column back and the nosewheel left the ground. So far,

so good. I held the Victor like that for a few seconds; the rumbling

of the wheels ceased and I knew we were off.

"I kept close to the runway, still gaining speed, for a few more

vital seconds, and then I knew it was all right. An imperceptible

movement of the control column, and the ground started to fall

away as we climbed.

"Smoothly, effortlessly, the Victor had slid into its natural

element. By so doing it had become an aeroplane instead of just

the expression in metal of so many drawings and hieroglyphics on

paper. Whatever happened now, we all knew it could fly.

"After a few minutes in the air, my thoughts turned to landing.

I had got the Victor up there; now, could I get it back again?

I tried reducing speed to see how it would behave at a suitable

speed for the approach. Once more it was all right and, coming in

on a long, straight approach, I headed for the runway. Lower and

lower we came, until the beginning of the runway was only a few

feet below the wheels. I throttled right back, and in a few seconds

the wheels started rumbling again and we were down. The Victor

had come back to earth as smoothly as it had left. We had had a

comfortable flight, with no anxieties."


2nd October 1953 THE DOCILE VICTOR

ALTHOUGH the secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Harold

E. Talbott, chose strange terminology when he likened the

Handley Page Victor to a baby carriage, it was quite clear what

he implied. After flying in the first prototype, both as passenger

and pilot, he was impressed with the viceless flying qualities of the

machine and with its consummate ease of handling.

Even more noteworthy than the all-round ease of handling is

the claimed capacity of the Victor to "land itself," once placed

in a correct approach configuration. Sir Frederick recently had

this quality demonstrated to many of the American delegates to

the R.Ae.S.-I.A.S. conference. The date was the Monday

following the S.B.A.C. show, and the weather was fine but

exceptionally gusty. The firm's chief test pilot, S/L. H. G. Hazelden,

brought the Victor back from Farnborough to Radlett,

where he put on a flying demonstration which was brief but

noticeably not subject to the restrictions of the previous week.

He then brought the Victor in and took on board Lt. Cdr.

D. P. Davies, chief test pilot of the Air Registration Board, who

settled himself into the Victor's right-hand seat. He had been

wisely invited to act as an impartial observer so that the -demonstration

could not be termed "bull" (we quote Sir Frederick).

The Victor was absent while Hazelden carried out handling

tests and steep turns and briefed his passenger on the intricacies

of the Victor's cockpit. Hazelden then—according to Davies—

turned on to final at 1,100ft and held the aircraft in a steady

approach. At 800ft there was slight re-trimming, and the power

levers for the four Sapphires were then locked. At 600ft, and

some 130 knots, Hazelden ceased all elevator movement and

merely applied slight aileron and rudder deflections to counteract

the violent gusty wind, which was blowing directly across the

runway. From then on the Victor was left to its own devices and,

having settled on to its bogies, was rapidly brought to rest.

To us the landing appeared quite normal, and it could not

derisively have been called an "arrival." There was some transfer

of weight from one bogie to the other, with consequent load on

the Electro-Hydraulics anti-pitch dampers, but the brakes were

on after -some 500yd and the Victor pulled up with about onethird

of the runway remaining. Later S/L. Hazelden came

across and said how pleased he was with the aircraft. The

"self-landing" characteristic, he said, resulted from the aircraft

having a strong tendency to trim nose-up as ground effect became

noticeable. The characteristic was valuable in that, in rain or bad

visibility, he could bring the Victor in gently with power on and

all the flaps and air brakes open. All mat was required then

was to correct for local air disturbances affecting lateral trim until

eventually the bogies could be heard rumbling on the concrete.

Then the nosewheels would be brought on to the runway and the

wheel brakes applied.

For his part, Lt. Cdr. Davies said that the A.R.B. were at

present particularly interested in powered controls, and those of

the Victor appeared excellent, with progressive feel simulation.

His impression of the Victor Ind been most favourable and—

obviously speaking "off the cuff"—he did not expect that Sir

Frederick would have much difficulty when the H.P.97 transport

came to his department for certification.

American engineers are here being shown the cockpit of the Victor by

S/L Hazelden (right). Although the big roof hatches are open, the

normal method of entry is via a large door on the port side of the nose.



31 DECEMBER 1953       

VICTOR 1(P)                    



Sqn Ldr H.G.Hazelden DFC (Graduate No.l Course; (Chief Test

Pilot) Handley Page, Radlett. Sapphire engine development,

systems test. High frequency vibration from the engines, now

operating at their 8,3001b thrust ratings, caused the starboard inner

flap to detach unknown to the crew. The aircraft completed an

undemanded roll to port when the flaps were lowered during the

landing approach. Flaps deselected and a flapless recovery

successfully made. (ref 75). Nil casualties. Cat 3.


14th July 1953
Victor Prototype
14th July 1953
Victor Prototype
   Tail broke off. Crashed at Cranfield during low level position error runs      

Please note the date difference given for WB771

Collier-Webb gives 1953 whereas Cummings gives 1954

(I think DCW is correct – Any confirmation – Derek was a stickler for accuracy and a good friend. He was editor of PROFILE – the Boscombe Down Safety Magazine Editor for a several years in the 1990s and actually got me to write several articles for him on Assisted Aircrew escape Systems History.  I was never on time, always too wordy – he was a brilliant individual – ever patient with this “civilian writer” – he is sadly missed)


14 JULY 1954                 

VICTOR B.1(P)                


Sqn Ldr R. N. Ecclestone DFC AFC (Graduate No.8 Course; Test

Pilot), Mr E. N. K. Bennett (Flight Test Observer), Mr B.Heithersay

(Flight Test Observer) and Mr A. B. Cook (Flight Test Observer),

Handley Page, Radlett. Position error calibration flight involving level runs at 100ft over Cranfield airfield at increasing speeds. After numerous runs over the airfield, induced tail flutter caused cracking of the bolt holes in the fin. These allowed the three bolts securing the tailplane to loosen and shear in quick succession, the complete tailplane and elevators broke away from the aircraft. The remainder of the aircraft dived into the ground at full power, striking exactly at the intersection of the two Cranfield runways. (refs 6, 14, 20, 62, 74, 75, 93 & 207). 4 killed. Cat 5.



Just spotted your website and would like to confirm that Colin Cummings date is correct. My brother Ron Taffy Ecclestone was killed on 14th July 1954 when the tail of HP Victor WB771 fell off as described. I must add that our family have always been proud of the fact that unlike his fellow crew members Ron had an ejector seat and could have chosen to save himself.

Best wishes

G K Eccleston [ex radar erk]



Loss of the Victor

ON Wednesday, July 14th, the first prototype Handley Page

Victor, WB 771, was completely destroyed at Cranfield,

Beds. The aircraft was carrying out position-error trials, and had

made numerous runs at about 100ft altitude (the "sea-level" case)

each at a higher airspeed than the one previous. At about 1 p.m.

the bomber was approaching the airfield at |tf s height when it

was seen to be behaving erratically. Eye-wisSesses stated it made

a sudden dive and then levelled out agajtiff and that at this stage

the whole horizontal tail assembly wCs fluttering badly. The

complete tailplane and elevators thejrbroke away and rose above

the flight-path, while the remainder of the aircraft went straight

into the ground at full powerwrffriking exactly at the intersection

of two runways.

Disintegration was cqifiplete, and appears to have been

accompanied by fire, although the spread of the wreckage obviated

any conflagration in jtie. normal sense of the word. The horizontal

tail surfacey 'came to rest on the airfield; they were

substantially intact^and may therefore yield valuable evidence.

None of the Jtrew of four escaped. The aircraft was being

flown by the,.company's deputy chief test pilot, F/L. R. V.

Ecclestone, Ef.F.C, A.F.C. Thirty-one years of age, he flew

Stirlings and Lancasters in Bomber Command, and also Hurricanes

and Spitfires in the Bomber Defence Tactical Unit. Later

he was engaged in development flying, successively at Marham,

Boscombe Down and Farnborough; he had completed the Empire

22 July 1954 99

Test Pilots School course and had served for a year in the Directorate

of Operational Requirements at the Air Ministry. He had

joined Handley Page, Ltd., less than three months before the

accident. .. -

Also on board were Mr. E. N. Kenneth Bennett, 29, the company's

chief flight observer (he joined them in 1946); and two

other H.P. observers, Mr. Bruce Heithersay, 28 (ex-R.A.A.F.),

and Mr. A. B. Cook, 24 (formerly wMi Aero Research, Ltd., and

Glosters). ,•"

On learning of the accidenj/'Mr. Duncan Sandys, Minister of

Supply, sent telegrams of ytfhdolence to Sir Frederick Handley

page and to the next-of7irin of the crew. Mr. Sandys also made

a brief statement on (be crash in reply to a Commons Question

on Monday last, y"'

_ljhe Victor firs^flew on Christmas Eve 1952. During the early

part of this yearit was returned to Radlett for extensive modification.

The s^fcond prototype is now virtually complete, and is

having functional tests.


FLIGHT page 506 issue 1954

Victor Inquest

A VERDICT of accidental death was returned at the Bedford

**• inquest, on September 24th, on die four aircrew—test-pilot

R. V. Ecclestone and his flight observers—who lost their lives

when the first prototype Victor crashed at Cranfield on July 14th.

A witness described how he had serai the horizontal tail surfaces

break away from the aircraft. A senior investigating officer of the

M.T.C.A. Accident Investigation Branch said that the crash had

necessitated certain remedial alterations in the design. They had

now been made and the subsequent prototype of this type had

been flown. He added: "This complex failure could not have

been reasonably anticipated."



Victor Development aircraft
  Damaged in flying accident, landed but written off.      
18th July 1960
Victor XH613    4 engine flameout on approach to Cottesmore      
19th July 1960


Victor B1A XH617 57 Sqn 3 miles south east of Diss, Norfolk Flt. Lt. J. Mudford (Captain)   Martin-Baker
19th July 1960
Victor       Flt. Lt. J. J. Mudford ejected   Martin-Baker
19th July 1960
Victor XH617   Alternator drive shaft failure. Crashed over Norfolk      
23rd March 1962
Victor XL159   Stable stall, crashed near Newark      
23rd March 1962
Victor B.Mk2 XL159 M.O.A loss of control the aircraft went into a flat spin pilot ejected 200-300 knots I.A.S. at 500ft

FIJLT J.W.Watenon -AM P.Murphy


  Martin-Baker 3LS
co-pilot ejected 200-300 knots I.A.S. at 500 - 1,000ft suffered back injuries   Martin-Baker 3LS
23rd March 1962


Victor B2 XL159 A&AEE Stubton Notts


Mr. P. Murphy   Martin-Baker
Flt. Lt. J. W. Waterton   Martin-Baker

23 MARCH 1962            

VICTOR B.2                     


Mr P.Murphy (Test Pilot, Handley Page Aircraft), Flt Lt J Waterton (Graduate No. 19 Course), Mr M.P.Evans (Navigator) and Mr P Elwood (Flight Test Observer, Handley Page). `B' Sqn, A&AEE, flown from Radlett. Flight trial into the low speed handling characteristics with recently fitted production fixed droop leading edges that replaced the conventional nose flaps. During an approach to the stall at 16,OOOft in the landing configuration the aircraft was mishandled and entered a stable stall followed by a flat spin from which the crew were unable to recover, the aircraft sinking at a rate of about 6,OOOft/min. Both pilots ejected safely, the co‑pilot at 1,OOOft and the captain at 400­500ft. One rear crew (Mr J.Tank AEO) abandoned the aircraft successfully, the other two‑rear crew remained with the aircraft. The aircraft, descending almost vertically, crashed onto a farmhouse at Stubton (Lincolnshire), near Newark‑on‑Trent, killing two residents and injuring two more (Mr and Mrs D.Burtt). (refs 2, 20, 28, 77 & 207). Pilots injured. 2 crew killed (Evans and Ellwood). 2 non‑occupant civilians killed (Mrs A.Gibson and Miss C.P.Gibson). Cat 5.


4th June 1962
Victor B.1A XH613 15 Sqdn,
all four engines failed at 2,000ft Pilot ejected OK   Martin-Baker
Co-Pilot ejected OK   Martin-Baker
all 3 rear crew "bailed out"    


I refer to the reason for the loss of Victor B1A XH613 on the 4th of June 1962.

The  reason that all four engines lost power was because an electrical socket, part of the fuel control system, became detached from the back of the central  sliding fuel panel. I think it was called the AT Panel.

 It was a great surprise to all, that all four engine fuel controls were routed through the one socket. Even Radlett couldn't believe it. The socket of course should have been wire locked. I cannot remember now whether it had been, and the wire had broken, or if indeed it had been removed at some point and the wire not replaced and locked.

 I refer too to Victor XA 929 lost on the 16th of the same month. It was said at the time that the air was insufficiently dense for the aircraft to get enough lift .The temperature at the time being very hot. Bearing in mind it was a lone ranger on a full fuel load. The pilot realised he wasn't going to make it, and abandoned take off. The rest is history. I remember the great weight of sadness that hung over Cottesmore at the time.

 Hope the above helps to keep the info as accurate as possible.

At that time I was an aircraft electrician on 10 Squadron

 David M T Ketley
in email 31st January 2008

16th June 1962
Victor XA929   Crashed on take off at Akrotiri      
2nd October 1962
Victor XA934          
2nd October 1962


Victor B1 XA934 232 OCU
RAF Gaydon
Engine failure 3 miles south west of RAF Gaydon Pilot Captain Flight Lieutenant Noel Edward COOKE
Flt. Lt. B. C. Gwinnell (co-pilot)   Martin-Baker
Pilot Officer John Anthony COTTRIDGE
Flying Officer Douglas Frank HAYNES

Hi , I did the pre-flight checks on XA 934 on the morning shift at R.A.F. Gaydon on October the 2nd 1962.During the night shift it crashed. Flt Lt. Gwinnel had ejected [his seat had been serviced by Junior Technician Philip [Sam] Weller. The aircraft was in a tail down attitude while entering a small copse. Gwinnel ejected and hit the ground still in the seat. He was badly injured but eventually returned to flying. The first pilot , Flt Lt. Noel Edward Cooke [Captain Cooke to us "erks"] fired his seat , but during the time delay for the canopy to be jettisoned , the aircraft exploded.

All the best .ex Leading Aircraftman "Shingles" McVey
[in email 5th November 2007]

20th March 1963
Victor XM714   Stalled after take off from Wittering      
20th March 1963


Victor B2 XM714 100 Sqn 3.5 miles east-north-east of RAF Wittering Flt. Lt. B. J. Jackson (co-pilot)   Martin-Baker
20th March 1963
Victor 2 XM714   aircraft in spin 2nd
pilot Major B. Jackson ejected at 2,00ft, 180 kts Suffered compression
  Martin-Baker Mk.3LS.2
29th June 1966
Victor XM716   Crashed near Wyton      
19th August 1968
Victor XH646   Collided with a Canberra over Norfolk      
10th May 1973
Victor XL230   Lost control after touch and go at Wyton      
24th March 1975
XH618:   collided with Buccaneer over North Sea      
24th March 1975
Victor XH618   Mid-air collision Flt. Lt. K.L.Handscomb ejected using seat pan handle probably below 7000'.   Martin-Baker Mk3L1 Mk2
Major compression fracture of vertebrae and incomplete fracture of left ankle.
Co-pilot: Martin-Baker 3L2 Mk2. Unable to reach handles. Rear crew unable to escape from cabin
due to high negative "G" forces. Beyond vertical nose down attitude.  resulting in
loss of control.

XH 618 Mid-air collision 24th March 1975

I was a Crew Chief on 543 Sqd delivering Victor B2SR XH674 to RAF Marham on that fateful day. Having previously spent four years an 55 Sqd as a Crew Chief I have some idea about flight refuelling procedures. It was sop when, having missed the refuelling probe for the receiver to throttle back and 'reverse' down the line of flight of the approach. It would appear that the young, and relatively inexperienced, pilot of the Buccaneer continued up the approach line to the probe and got well ahead of the tanker. On throttling back his aircraft, by this time in front of and above the tanker, descended into the path of the tanker and damaged the tail plane, which broke off. It was a very tense and sad day to be at Marham on that day.

To improve the comfort of pilots, who often sit for up to nine hours firmly strapped into their ejection seats, I believe that sheep skin pads had been fitted as covers to their dinghies, a justified modification. This mod. made the dinghy a couple of inches thicker, I understand that the Co. Pilot, who was quite short, had previously brought to the attention of the safety equipers that he was having some difficulty reaching the ejection seat pan handle. This paragraph is hearsay and should not be considered as fact, but, it fits in with the scenario.

John White
[Ex Crew Chief, RAF's Wittering, Marham and Wyton]
in email 25th June 2008 


24th March 1975


Victor K1A XH618 57 Sqn Simulated refueling Buccaneer hit XH618's tailplane - off Sunderland Flt. Lt. Keith L. Handscomb   Martin-Baker
B2 prototype
XH668   lost over Irish Sea after pitot probe detached and leading edge slats auto deployed      
28th September 1976
Victor XL513   Take off abort, Marham      
15th October 1982
Victor XL232   Turbine disc failure leading to uncontrolled fire on take off roll, Marham      
19th June 1986
Victor XL191   Stalled on approach at Hamilton, Ontario, Canada      
Victor K2 XH671 55 Sqn RAF Marham        

 The main cabin door and the surrounds were damaged beyond repair in a pressure test. The aircraft was not repaired because the type was approaching the end of its service life






19 JUNE 1957                 

VICTOR B.1                     


Flt Lt G.H.Moreau (Graduate No.l3 Course) and Flt Lt VMcNabney GM, `B' Sqn, A&AEE. Due to a technical defect the aircraft landed at Wittering with the starboard wheel brakes locked on. The front four tyres of the bogie were torn away, the rear four tyres burst and the wheels were damaged. Debris from the tyres damaged the starboard flaps, severed the electrical earth point in the undercarriage bay and pierced the fuselage and the bomb bay. The aircraft was recovered successfully to Boscombe Down with numerous electrical faults. Modifications subsequently introduced. (refs 62 & 180). Nil casualties. Cat 4.


20 AUGUST 1959           

VICTOR B.2 (P)               


Sqn Ldr R.J.Morgan (Graduate No. 16 Course) and Sqn Ldr G.B.Stockman (Graduate No. 15 Course), `B' Sqn, A&AEE. Trials flight ‑ high speed manoeuvrability. A fatigue fracture induced the loss of the starboard wingtip pitot head tube, which led to a low speed input to the auto Mach trim actuator and the stall detector thus lowering the elevators and extending the leading edge flaps. The aircraft progressed into a high‑speed dive from 54,OOOft. Partial structural failure preceded impact with the sea at Mach 0.855, off St Brides Bay, Wales. Unsuccessful ejection by the captain just prior to impact. The analysis of the accident was only achieved after a 14­month sea search, which ended on 19 November 1960, during which time 46 ships were involved, 11,069 deep‑sea trawls were made and 592,610 pieces of wreckage recovered, amounting to 70 per cent of the aircraft. (refs 2, 16, 17, 28, 33 & 207). 5 missing, presumed killed (crew plus Flt Lt L.N.Williams, Flt Lt R.J.Hannaford and Mr R.Williams (Handley Page)). Cat 5.



2 MARCH 1961               

VICTOR B.1                     


Mr W.R.Burton (1st pilot), Mr H Rayner (2nd pilot), Mr D John

(Navigator), Mr A.J.Vincent (AEO), and Mr D Cook (Observer,

RAE Farnborough), Handley Page, Radlett. X‑band radar trials.

The aircraft landed in the undershoot and damaged the nose­

wheels, the aircraft then ran on to the runway and proceeded more

or less normally until the brake parachute was streamed. With a

strong crosswind, and without nose‑wheel steering, the aircraft ran

off the side of the runway onto grass where the nose dug in and the

undercarriage collapsed causing extensive damage to the fuselage.

(refs 1 & 207). Nil casualties. Cat 5.





5 DECEMBER 1960         

VICTOR B.2                     


MC .1.W.Allan 1 (Test Pilot), Sqn Ldr R.L.Bates, Mr R.A.Funnell, Mr

J.P.Quinn and Mr J.Rudeforth, Handley Page, Radlett. High weight

functional tests. Hydraulic failure. The aircraft landed wheels‑up, tail

first, at Waddington, on foam. (refs 2, & 93). Nil casualties. Cat 4.





17 AUGUST 1962           

VICTOR B.2                     


Mr J.Baker and Mr Longhurst (Flight Test Observer), Avro. Blue

Steel carriage and release testing trials by No.4 JSTU, Woomera,

Australia. At 47,OOOft in the climb to 50,OOOft, a leak in the

second pilot's pitot static system caused the auto Mach trimmer to

run fully out and apply a rearward force to the control column and

the second pilot's Mach meter to read Mach 1.03 (above the

permissible limit). The first pilot's Mach meter correctly

indicated Mach 0.76. Thinking that he had excessive speed, the

first pilot reacted to the second pilot's instrument by throttling

back and extending the air brakes thus reducing speed. The

aircraft stalled and pitched up, the pilot lost control and the

aircraft spun. Recovery was not achieved until the landing brake

parachute was streamed and used as an anti‑spin device. A return

to level flight was accomplished at 17,OOOft. (refs 1 & 207). Nil

casualties. Cat 3.




Victor                    XA929           16‑Jun‑62

Victor                    XA934           02‑Oct‑62

Victor                    XH613           14‑Jun‑62

Victor                    XH617           19‑Jul‑60

Victor                    XH618           24‑Mar‑75

Victor                    XH646           19‑Aug‑68

Victor                    XH668           20‑Aug‑59

Victor                    XH671           15‑Mar‑93

Victor                    XL159           23‑Mar‑62

Victor                    XL191           19‑Jun‑86

Victor                    XL230           10‑May‑73

Victor                    XL232           15‑Oct‑82

Victor                    XL513           28‑Sep‑76

Victor                    XM714          20‑Mar‑63

Victor                    XM716          29‑Jun‑66







Victor Prototype H Page                                                             

Cranfield airfield, Bedfordshire                                                 



The aircraft broke up whilst making calibration runs over the airfield. The cause of the loss was failure of the tailplane. 'Taffy' Ecclestone was a graduate of the Empire Test Pilots' School No 8 Course in 1949 and had recently joined Handley Page. He accepted the task to fly the Victor on this sortie so that the senior test pilot; Squadron Leader Hedley George Hazelden DFC & Bar, could carry out a rescheduled demonstration of another aircraft to a foreign sales delegation. Ecclestone had been awarded the Distnguished Flying Cross following a tour with 218 Sqn. Ian Bennett had been one of the two man crew (the other was Squadron Leader Hazelden) who made the first flight in a Victor on 24 December 1952.


Squadron Leader Ronald Vivian Ecclestone DFC Handley Page Test Pilot ‑ Captain Mr Ian K BENNETT Handley Page Flight Test Observer Mr B HEITHERSAY Handley Page Flight Test Observer Mr A B COOK Handley Page Flight Test Observer






Victor B2                                                          


off Milford Haven                                           



The aircraft was on a test flight when it lost the starboard pressure head. This gave incorrect airspeed readings and the aircraft was then allowed to dive and became out of control before breaking up. A massive search was conducted to recover the wreckage of this aircraft from the sea and to identify the cause of the loss.


Squadron Leader Raymond James MORGAN 34 Pilot Captain

Squadron Leader George Breakspear STOCKMAN 29 Co‑Pilot

                         Flight Lieutenant Lewis Nicholas WILLIAMS Navigator

                         Flight Lieutenant Ronald John HANNAFORD Air Electronics Officer

                         Mr Robert H WILLIAMS Handley Page Flight Test Observer






Victor KlA                                                         

57 Sqn                                                              

3 Miles South East of Diss Norfolk             



Abandoned on fire after alternator drive failed and penetrated fuel tank. The Captain, Flight Lieutenant J Mudford and the Air Electronics Operator, Flying Officer G C Stewart, survived the accident


Flying Officer Michael John WILKES Co‑Pilot

Flight Lieutenant John Bernard Paul WILDING Navigator (Radar)

Flight Lieutenant Rodney Syd BRISTOW Navigator (Plotter)





 XL159 Victor B2


Stubton Notts                                                 



Stalled and dived into house killing 2 on ground


                         Mr M EVANS 25 Navigator Handley Page Flight Test Crew

                         Mr P ELWOOD 26 Flight Test Observer Handley Page Flight Test Crew

Mr P Murphy (Captain), Mr J Tank and Flight Lieutenant J Waterton all survived the accident)





XH613 Victor


15 Sqn                                                              

5 miles North East of RAF Cottesmore     



Whilst approaching RAF Cottesmore at the end of the sortie, all four engines ran down because the electrical connectors became disconnected on the throttle box. The aircraft was being flown by the squadron commander; Wg Cdr Matthews with Flying Officer Lowther as his co‑pilot. On the order to abandon the aircraft, it is believed that the rear crew left the aircraft in less than half a minute and,

although one man left the rubber of his flying boots along the fuselage, the entire crew survived. It was particularly tragic, therefore, that a few days later another Victor from the Cottesmore sister squadron should crash with the loss of all on board. (Crew: Captain ‑ Wg Cdr J G Matthews, Co‑Pilot ‑ Fg Off W B Lowther, Navigator Plotter ‑ Flt Lt G B Spencer, Navigator Radar ‑ Flt Lt B H Stubbs, Air Electronics Operator ‑ Flt Lt E W Anstead). In June 1983, the author joined Bill Lowther for a drink to celebrate his second 21st birthday!







Victor B1                                                                 

10 Sqn                                                                     

RAF Akrotiri Cyprus                                             



Incorrect flap reading led to wrong selection on take off. By the time the pilot had realised the possible T reason for the aircraft not becoming airborne it was too late to avoid the crash. The co‑pilot ejected T shortly before the crash but his ejection was outside the design limits of the seat and he did not survive.


Flight Lieutenant George Alfred GOATHAM 27 Pilot Captain

Flight Lieutenant David Cairns BROWN 28

Flight Lieutenant John GRAY 36

Flying Officer Anthony William MITCHELL 21 Co‑Pilot

Flying Officer Albert Peter PACE 24

Master Technician Donald Arthur SMITH 40 Crew Chief







Victor B1                                                          


3m South‑west RAF Gaydon                      




Engine failed on take off and the aircraft was abandoned after two others failed

                         Flight Lieutenant Noel Edward COOKE 39 Pilot Captain

                         Pilot Officer John Anthony COTTRIDGE

                         Flying Officer Douglas Frank HAYNES

(the co‑pilot; Flight Lieutenant E B C Gwinnel, a former Canberra pilot with 45 Squadron was saved)








Victor B2                                                           

100 Sqn                                                            

3 1 / 2 M East‑north‑east RAF Wittering



The aircraft, with a crew of five and a Bomber Command 'umpire' took off in the early evening to fly a bomber night exercise. The weather was good and the aircraft had only recently been delivered new from the factory. After a normal take‑off and after passing 800 feet, the co‑pilot noticed the No 2 engine fire warning light illuminated. He told the captain that No 1 engine was on fire but the captain


contradicted him with the correct engine details and instructed the co‑pilot to tell Air Traffic Control and then told the rear crew members to check their parachutes. The co‑pilot noticed that the undercarriage warning flag, which is activated if speed drops below 160 knots and the undercarriage has not been lowered, was flashing and he warned the captain to watch his speed. The captain replied that he was climbing for height and despite the severe juddering believed that the aircraft had sufficient speed because, it is thought, he believed he was at 100 knots higher speed than was the case. At around 5000 feet the aircraft flicked over to port and fell away partly inverted. The captain ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft and the rear crew members were unable to do so because of the increasing 'G' forces as the aircraft spun down. The co‑pilot ejected and was unharmed. It seems the only possible explanation for an experienced captain losing control in this way was for him to have assumed he had the right speed and that the juddering was not a stall but structural failure caused by the engine fire.


                         Flight Lieutenant Alexander Douglas GALBRAITH 29 Pilot

                         Flight Lieutenant Edward Joseph VERNON 32 Navigator Radar

                         Flight Lieutenant James CHURCHILL 31 Navigator Plotter

                         Flying Officer Terence Ian SANDFORD 23 Air Electronics Officer

                         Master Navigator Albert STRINGER 39 (Exercise Umpire, on loan from 139 Squadron)

(co pilot Flight Lieutenant B J Jackson escaped)








Victor SR2                                                       

543 Sqn                                                            

Near Warboys Airfield                                  



Broke up in high speed low level turn. The aircraft, the first SR2 to enter service with the squadron, was being demonstrated to the Press. The evidence suggests that it was overstressed in the turn and broke up over the old airfield at Warboys.


Squadron Leader John Anthony HOLLAND Captain

Flying Officer Harry WALSH Co‑Pilot

Flight Lieutenant Royston Arthur NORMAN Navigator

Flight Lieutenant Kenneth SMITH Air Electronics Officer









K1 A                                                                  

214 Sqn                                                            

Kelling Heath Norfolk                                    



Whilst flying in extremely poor weather conditions which rendered the radar cover inadequate, the Victor was in collision with a Canberra. The crews of both aircraft were killed. Squadron Leader Doyle had assumed his responsibilities as a flight commander on 214 Squadron on the morning of his death.


Squadron Leader Michael Thomas DOYLE Navigator

Flight Lieutenant William Anthony GALLIENE Captain


Flight Lieutenant Kenneth John PEACOCK Navigator

Flight Lieutenant Roger Stanley MORTON Co‑Pilot







Victor SRZ                                                       

543 Sqn                                                            

RAF Wyton                                                      



Loss of control during unauthorised asymetric night approach and rolled over. It appears that the pilot may have allowed the speed to decay too much and that he lost control authority and was unable to prevent the aircraft rolling onto its back. As a co‑pilot, Stevenson had been amongst a crew taking part in a transatlantic race held in 1969 to mark the anniversary of the Alcock and Browne crossing.


Flight Lieutenant Stuart Hawthorne STEVENSON Captain

Flight Lieutenant John Weir PHILIPS 27 Co‑Pilot

Flight Lieutenant Keith Robert QUINNEY 29 Navigator

Squadron Leader John Philip MUSSON 38 Navigator (Flight Commander)

Flight Lieutenant Richard John SWAIN 33 Navigator

Flight Lieutenant John Henry GIBBS 42 Air Electronics Officer








57 Sqn                                                              

off Sunderland                                                



Mid air collision with Buccaneer XV156. The Victor was taking part in simulated refuelling when the Buccaneer struck the tailplane rendering the Victor immediately uncontrollable. It bunted over and the 'g' forces made it impossible for the crew to escape; the captain, Flight Lieutenant Keith Handscomb managed to reach the ejection handle with the fingers of one hand and although injured was subsequently rescued by a merchant ship. The aircraft exploded as it reached the cloud tops. The Buccaneer was undamaged and returned to base.


Flight Lieutenant David Hallam CROWTHER

Flight Lieutenant Peter Joseph Leo SLATTER

Flying Officer Terence Patrick EVANS

Flying Officer John Arthur PRICE







Victor K2                                                                 

55 Sqn                                                                     

RAF Marham                                                         


Crashed into the overshoot following birdstrike whilst taking off






Victor K2                                                          

55 Sqn                                                              

RAF Marham                                                   



Engine explosion and major fire when taking off. The aircraft was brought to a stop and quickly evacuated by its crew and despite prompt attention from the fire crew, the aircraft was engulfed by flames from its heavy fuel load and completely destroyed







Victor K2                                                          

55 Sqn                                                              

Hamilton Canada                                           




Crashed into the undershoot during approach to land. The detailed circumstances of this accident are taught within the RAF flight safety training environment as an example of how not to do things. In essence there was a breakdown in crew cooperation which, when taken with other factors led to the loss of the aircraft









UK Flight Testing Accidents 1940-1971 – Derek Collier Web – Air Britain – isbn 0-85120-331-1


To Fly No More Service – Colin Cummings – isbn 0-9526619-2-6

Lost to Service – Colin Cummings - isbn 09526619-0-X

Please note the date difference given for WB771

Collier-Webb gives 1953 whereas Cummings gives 1954

(I think DCW is correct – Any confirmation – Derek was a stickler for accuracy and a good friend. He was editor of PROFILE – the Boscombe Down Safety Magazine Editor for a several years in the 1990s and actually got me to write several articles for him on Assisted Aircrew escape Systems History.  I was never on time, always too wordy – he was a brilliant individual – ever patient with this “civilian writer” – he is sadly missed)

All info from Andrew Brooke's excellent book 'Handley Page Victor'  ISBN 0-7110-1803-0