Military Aircraft Crash Site Scoping Project (G2180b)

Summary report April 2011 – March 2012

The engine of Blackburn Botha L6202 at Llwytmor. Copyright Graham A Stephen

There has long been an interest in aircraft crash sites among aviation enthusiasts. In recent years there has also been an increase in the professional interest in these sites, particularly with regard to their management. This project was developed with the aims of compiling an accurate record of the available resources, highlighting the relative importance of each site, and facilitating site management

This project arose from discussions at the Twentieth-Century Military Sites Working Group for Wales in 2009. Concerns had been raised by members of the group as to the dwindling resource and the need to compile coherent, accurate information to a) assist Welsh heritage managers in providing advice; b) to provide the MoD with a full database of crash sites in Wales to aid decision-making with regard to licensing recovery operations and c) to alert Cadw to crash sites that could be scheduled to afford an extra level of protection. It was hoped that by compiling such a dataset there would also be an opportunity to monitor and protect the identified sites, that can be at risk from a number of factors, including unlicensed recovery operations.

The basis for the work undertaken in this project was a database compiled by the RCAHMW. This was examined and augmented with new information, including additional data developed for site classification and management purposes. The additional fields will be incorporated into the Regional HERs in due course and will facilitate site management and will allow the dynamic management of the dataset through the updating of, and addition of new, records. This information will be shared with the MoD and will provide a useful pilot exercise to see how provision of a unified dataset for Wales impacts on their ability to advise on the sites and grant licences to recover crashed military aircraft.

The methodology was developed and expanded through the course of the project and will hopefully be taken forward across Wales to provide a definitive source of information, dynamically managed through the Regional HERs and the RCAHMW.

A total of 175 crash sites were identified in Gwynedd. Each was assigned a category of importance. Ranging from A (national) to D (a minor or damaged site) with an additional category U, indicating a site requiring further investigation.

Key factors, derived from the scheduling criteria, considered by this process were:

• The rarity of aircraft in an international context

• The rarity of aircraft in a Welsh context

• The condition of the crash site as a whole

• The level of preservation of aircraft remains

• The significance of the aircraft from a Welsh perspective, and whether it is tied into activities that typify the Welsh experience of war

• The amount of disturbance to, and removals from, the site by a) initial rescue teams, b) aviation groups, c) other individuals

• The presence (or potential presence) of human remains

• Connections to significant personnel/sites/battles

• Topography of the crash site landscape (to determine the potential for buried elements and

landscape evidence)

• Circumstances of the crash (i.e. angle, speed, impact, aircraft type, construction materials


• Whether the site now forms the focus for a memorial

Twelve sites were found to be of particular significance, however 99 were allocated to the U category: this is an indication of the number of sites that would directly benefit from further desk-based and site-based research.

The report contains extensive recommendations for a) future work, b) management and protection of military aircraft crash sites, c) productive working practice and d) principles for military aircraft crash site management.

Report: Nina Steele



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