CRASH OF A VENGEANCE
AT BATCHELOR, NT
ON 15 MAY 1943
On 15 May 1943 at 1645 hours EST, Vengeance A27-5 of 12 Squadron RAAF crashed during take-off at Batchelor airfield in the Northern Territory. The pilot, Flying Officer D.C. Wilmot, of the Ferry Flight in Laverton was about to ferry this aircraft to 2AD at Richmond. His navigator was Sergeant Cotter of 31 Squadron, RAAF.
Doug Scott of 12 Squadron RAAF was returning to the mess with Jason Hopton as the aircraft took off and he recalls:-
|"We watched from behind as the Vultee
became airborne, then suddenly we could see flames coming from the engine and the plane
started to lose height. He didn't have enough strip left to make a landing and crashed
into the scrub."
I belted on the cabin roof of the truck and yelled to the driver to change course. We tore down the strip to where the aircraft sat amid smoke and dust and flames. We found the pilot and navigator near the aircraft; somehow they had been thrown clear. I dashed over to the pilot, whose clothes and helmet were alight, and put out the flames. I had to cut the helmet from the pilot's head; it had shrunk and tightened from the heat and flame. While we were waiting for the ambulance the pilot told us that he was in a hurry and hadn't given the Vultee the proper run-up procedure. He said that he had to get back to be at his daughter's birthday party. Thirteen hours later he died from multiple burns. The navigator survived the ordeal."
As mentioned above, the aircraft crashed during take-off and caught fire and was totally destroyed with the exception of the rudder and tail plane.
Subject: Vultee Vengeance Crash
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 2000 14:13:01 +1100
From: "Brian Coleman" <email@example.com>
Greetings Peter, and a Happy New Year,
Further to your request for information re a Vultee crash at Batchelor. I was looking through my copy of "Are You There Don R?", author Gordon Wallace, later retitled "Up In Darwin With The Dutch", and found a reference to a Vultee Vengeance which crashed on 15-5-1943 near 18 Squadron Camp site. Pilot F/O D.C. Wilmot killed in the crash, co-pilot survived although severely burned. Plane was on way to Richmond for service. Aircraft Number A27-11. Does that help. There is a photo of the crash site on page 99 of the publication.
Also, in the same book on pages 145-146 there is mention of N5-132 which crashed on 5-2-1943, NW of the airstrip at Batchelor near Lloyds Creek, with a photo.
Subject: Crash Vengeance A27/5
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 00:22:09 EST
In the late afternoon we were proceeding from the flight area at Batchelor to the camp area at which time there were several Vengeances taking off er route south. They were the original aircraft that had been issued to 12 Squadron RAAF and had been replaced by later versions.
A27-5 took off and at an altitude of a couple of hundred feet or less one could see a ring of fire through the cowl gills. The aircraft seemed to stall and crash in a level attidude and was engulfed in flames.
The navigator got out but the pilot did not. The nav survived after some time in hospital.
It was said that one of the cylinders had blown off the engine.
The date I have for the accident was a 15th May 1943.
Manuscript History of 12 Squadron RAAF
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 25 July 1999
This page last updated 31 August 2015