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B-24 CRASH IN ICELAND

Posted 6/13/2006 Printable Fact Sheet
 
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Lt. Gen. Andrews
The crash site of General Andrews' B-24 near Kaldadarnes RAF, Iceland. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Summary of circumstances for the crash of Lt. Gen. Frank Andrews B-24
May 3, 1943, Iceland

At approximately 3:30 p.m., Greenwich Mean Time, on May 3, 1943, B-24D (41-23728) crashed at position 22° 19' 30" west - 63° 54' north in Iceland and was destroyed. The pilot of the aircraft, Capt. Robert H. Shannon, the copilot Lt. Gen. Frank M. Andrews, four additional crewmen and eight passengers were fatally injured. One crewman, the tail gunner, escaped with only minor injuries.

The B-24 was assigned to the 8th Air Force at Bovington, England. The mission was a scheduled cross-country flight from the United Kingdom to Meeks Field, Iceland, to pass over Prestwick, Scotland. The aircraft approached Iceland from the southeast and contact was made with the land seven miles east of Alvidruhamrar lighthouse at 1:49 p.m. GMT. The aircraft proceeded west along the coastline at an altitude of about 200 feet, remaining under the clouds. At 2:38 p.m. GMT, the aircraft circled the Royal Air Force airdrome at Kaldadarnes five times at about 500 feet altitude. The airdrome control signaled the aircraft to land by using a green Aldas lamp as radio contact could not be established. The B-24 flew low over the runway, but the pilot did not attempt a landing. Instead, the aircraft proceeded westward along the coastline at an altitude of 60 feet.

At Reykjanes, the aircraft turned north and followed the coast for about 10 miles, to a point directly west of Meeks Field. The time was now 2:53 hours GMT. The plot by the Air Weather Service faded at this point. No radio contact was made at any time with the aircrew, but the track was plotted by the AWS. The aircraft turned eastward and the pilot attempted to sight Meeks Field, but low visibility and rain prevented this. The survivor stated that the pilot indicated he was going to return to Kaldadarnes airdrome to land. Capt. Shannon then attempted to follow the coastline by doing steep turns in an easterly direction.

The weather was closing down with low clouds, rain and reduced visibility. As he did not have any air-to-ground communications, the pilot attempted to maintain visual contact with the land by flying under the clouds. At 22° 19' 30" west - 63° 54' north, the aircraft flew into an 1100 foot hill, 150 feet from the top, while on a northeast course at a speed of at least 160 mph. The B-24’s starboard wing dug into the 45° northwest slope of the hill. Upon impact, the aircraft disintegrated except for the tail gunner's turret which remained relatively intact.

There were statements in the report given by the weather officer at Kaldadarnes. They indicated that the weather was extremely low visibility, with a possible ceiling and visibility of zero at the point of impact. A wind of about 25 mph was blowing saturated air against the mountain and this would tend to form a cloud covering below that of the general ceiling level. The weather officer further stated that while weather observations were not taken from Kaldadarnes, he thought that continuous rain prevailed there with the clouds covering the hills in the accident vicinity during that period.







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