Crash of the Vultee Vengeance Dive-Bomber 1944
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Its a long way from towns and is best done in the cooler months. Drive safe on gravel roads and be prepared for remote areas. Take water and mention where you are going.
WW2 Warplane Crash Site
On Sunday the 27th August 1944 one of the most dramatic events to involve members of the 15th battalion took place in the far eastern part of the unit's area. An RAAF Vultee Vengeance dive-bomber went missing on a training flight from Pearce near Perth.
The plane had apparently become lost and run out of fuel. The RAAF started searching between New Norcia and then Moora without luck. A few days later a chance conversation between a commercial pilot and Sqd/Ldr Haber, the Commanding Officer of No. 7 Communications Unit at Pearce, revealed that the former had sighted what he thought was a tent in the bush east of Narembeen. Next morning a Beaufort bomber identified a parachute, but no sign of life and a large number of soldiers from Northam were sent for a ground search.
The pilot Warrant Officer J Ingram was located at a remote farmhouse some four days after the crash and told his story. On realising that he was nearly out of fuel he had warned the navigator Flt/Sgt CL King to bale out and went through the necessary roll to allow him to do so. He then climbed for height and baled out himself. There being no sign of flt/Sgt King, he headed west and found the farmhouse, after fours days, during which he had only a goanna to eat.
A huge effort was mounted to try and locate Flt/Sgt King and the aircraft. The wreckage was finally found by a Tigermoth on the 2nd of September in extremely thick and inhospitable scrub; however this did not deter a search party which included 15th Battalion men Cpl M Holtfreter and Pte D Wilkins from setting out to find it. They drove a truck as far as possible then continued on foot. After they reached a spot five miles beyond the truck it was arranged that a plane would fly over and drop a smoke bomb on the crash site to mark it.
Cpl Holtfreter fired his rifle into a tree well ahead in line with the smoke then went forward and marked it, so that one of the others could take a compass bearing. A further thirteen miles into the scrub they found the crash site. A large area had been burnt and the plane's engine was buried ten feet in the earth and the wreckage strewn over ten acres. There was no trace of Flt/Sgt King or his parachute; it was believed that he had been hit by the large tailplane of the Vengeance as he bailed out.
After the war, his father travelled from the eastern states and enlisted the help of Holtfreter to make another search for his lost son, but to no avail. Further information is available to read at the Southern Cross Historical Museum in Antares Street, Southern Cross.
Relics of Plane Crash.
Plaque in respect of pilot and navigator.
Camel Well and Paddock.
Gatherer School Site.
Cockatoo Tank - Waterhole.
DIRECTIONS From Southern Cross pass the Palace Hotel on Marvel Loch Road, at 11.6km on the left is the remains of Concrete Well and the Camel Paddocks used by the camel teamsters during the early days. A large salmon gum marks the spot at the bottom of the crest. On both sides of the road at the top of the crest are good shows of wildflowers during season.
3km further along is Gatherer School site dated 1929 - 1944. Continue for 5.8km to junction of bitumen and gravel road, Cockatoo Road. Take the gravel road and continue for another 14.2km, road junction signposted Hyden/Moorine Rock. Directly alongside of signpost on the right is the track into Cockatoo Tank. A slight detour, but a good picnic place and waterhole.
Back on the road, take the road to Hyden for 3.4km to crossroads marked Parker Range Road Burbridge, turn right into Emu Fence Road - Hyden. It is a further 53km along to a sign post to crash site 5km.
History and notes
The Vultee V-11/V-12 single-engined light attack bomber was developed as a private venture and was sold in the middle and late 1930’s, in what were then considered large numbers to countries such as Brazil, China, Turkey and the USSR.
The plane was a fairly large mid-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, it had hydraulically operated air-brakes on the wings for control in the dive and hydraulically retracted tailwheel type landing gear, the powerplant comprised one 1,700-hp (1 268-kW) Wright GR-2600-A5 Cyclone 14 twin-row radial engine.
The plane was operated with great success in Burma during WW2, in England it was feared that it would be an easy target for high performance enemy fighters. Australia purchased a number of these planes for use with the RAAF. There are only two surviving Vengeances worldwide, both are in Australia.
Type: Two-seat dive-bomber.
Powerplant: (A-35B): one 1,700-hp (1 268-kW) Wright R-2600-13 Cyclone 14 radial piston engine.
Performance: Maximum speed 279 mph (449 km/h) at 13,000 ft (4 115 mtr); cruising speed 230 mph (370 km/h); service ceiling 22,300 ft (6 800 mtr); range 2,300 miles (3 701 km).
Weights: Empty 10,300 lb (4 672 kg); maximum takeoff 16,400 lb (7 439 kg).
Dimensions: Span 48 ft 0 in (14.63 mtr); length 39 ft 9 in (12.2 mtr); height 15 ft 4 in (4.67 mtr); wing area 332 sq ft (30.84 sq mtr)
Armament: Six 0.50-in (12.7-mm) machine guns, plus up to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs.
Operators: Brazil, RAAF, RAF, USAAF.
Thanks to the web sites we obtained the information from. Our goal is to enhance the knowledge found and to make the location more findable by those that want to know of its location.
It would be possible to camp in the area overnight.
Please note that the maps we had with us showed two different crash sites both of them were wrong. We ended up following a road sign to the location.
(No hints available.)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum