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Research from the archives - Hardstand #6

Volunteers Linda and Brian Barden have been looking through some of the photographs in our archives.

The photograph below was taken by the pilot of an unknown B-17 which had just taken off from the south east to north west short runway. In this photograph, we can see the course of Hang the Expense during its attempted take off across the airfield and it’s subsequent crash in Lodge farm yard on 26 November 1943. The pilot, Lieutenant Frank Valesh, probably didn’t endear himself to the Group Commander as it was a new aircraft, in fact, the third B-17G off the Boeing production line.

In the top right of the photograph, we can see some asbestos buildings being erected to replace buildings destroyed in the crash. When the farm yard was converted into dwellings in the 1990s, these particular buildings were demolished. The roofs were dismantled and used on other farm buildings in the area.

In the top left of the picture, just behind the propeller blade, you can see a tent which was a squadron maintenance tent. During the crash, the right wing caught the tent. The airman who was working in the tent, was suddenly outside!

At the rear of the B17 on the hard stand, you can see a pathway out onto Common Road, which is the lane that runs along the northern edge of the airfield to the museum. Although a hedge has grown up along the side of the road, there is still a pathway visible, used mainly by the herd of red deer that live on the airfield. Unfortunately, we cannot make out the serial number of the B-17, but the aircraft letter is N, so it could be either ‘Humpty Dumpty 1 or 2’.


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