Aircraft close to "Horsa Bridge"... ?

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by horsapilot, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    M kenny, I'm sorry you were slighted by my choice of words. You went to the trouble of bringing up the Lysander, with a scan, in a discussion about this mystery aircraft, so I hope you can forgive me for thinking that you leaned toward the Lysander in your analysis.

    My information was meant to further the quest for the answer by eliminating the Lysander as a choice.

    We're all kindred spirits in this discussion.

    Many thanks for your further contributions. Same to you, Cee. I know this mystery can be solved via photographic evidence, eventually. Someone might find this discussion in a google search in a month or a year and jump in with a hi res scan of the perfect oblique aerial image.

    Cheers, friends,

  2. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    M kenny, I'm sorry you were slighted by my choice of words.

    I wasn't-thats why I put the word 'stung' in inverted commas.
    A poor attempt at humour.
  3. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    I think the best bet is the RAF Museum which will have more aerial photos of the area. They are very helpful in the archives at Hendon. I am sure they will have aerial photos and might be able to find more detail about the 'aircraft'.

  4. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Another great find brithm! There's some nice detail there. It could possibly be an engine and is it safe to say the markings are allied? I'm still trying to figure out how to grab the original ... :lol:

    Interesting story though on how they were saved by the professor from an institution whose purpose it is to preserve history. Unfortunately it's not getting any better. The current government is in the process of drastically cutting back the Canadian Archives to the point of shipping off bits and pieces to other private and public institutions.

    Here's the link to the original:

    Pegasus Bridge - Large
  6. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Nice link, Brithm! I knew there had to be better imagery around. It would be a revelation to study frame 3163 and its adjacent overlapping image (I can see a sliver of it in the right margin) under a stereo viewer. Then detail would pop out to reveal even further visual evidence.

    I was able to do a screen copy of an enlargement of the aircraft in question and eventually save it as a jpeg. The result is posted here. I have added the plan view of a Dakota again for reference.

    Because the brain sometimes has problem with diagonal angles, I rotated the image and the plan view so that the aircraft nose points up. Some viewers might find this alignment easier for doing a visual comparison.

    I have yet to do image measurements, compare them to measurements taken from modern Google Earth satellite imagery, and then compare results to the known Dakota wingspan. However, even short of this, I feel very confident that the twin-engined pranged aircraft is, indeed, a Dakota with invasion stripes.

    I don't see any forced-landing gouging of the field in any film source yet. The best image, 5 July, is nearly a month after the prang, and vegetation scars in the field would have begun quickly healing due to rain and summer growth.

    Thanks, Cee, for your link to the original.



    Attached Files:

  7. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    That's a great comparison line up - well done! It looks pretty darn close to my untrained eye. I'll go out on a limb here and say I think you may have nailed it ... :)
  8. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Thanks, Cee.

    On my monitor I did a rough (that's all it can be) measurement between a pair of telltale landmark points on the 5 July '44 imagery, and then I measured the aircraft wingspan off of the same imagery using the same unit of measure. Next, in Google Earth, I set the unit of measure to feet and measured between the same two landmark points (intersections of drainage ditches and roads). As a simple ratio, I calculated the aircraft's wingspan at 93 feet. A Dakota's wingspan is about 95.5 feet. Convincing enough for me, using my rough measurements and the shape evidence!

    The Dakota identity, to me, is the ongoing mystery now.


  9. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    All the more convincing to me Matt. You really turned it into an interesting project for yourself. That image is only 1.4 mbs in size which means they probably reduced the quality to put it online. So there may be a little more detail in the original, that is of course, if they were smart enough to scan at 300 dpi or higher. What would be really sweet though is an eagle-eyed stereoscopic view of the landscape.

  10. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    Though Without Anger - Colin Cummings - Nimbus Publishing

    06-Jun-44 KG426 Dakota 48 Sqn Normandy

    The aircraft had taken off with a Horsa glider on tow at 1850 hours and the glider was released successfully at 2107 hours. Two minutes later the aircraft was hit by AA fire in the starboard engine and it began to lose height. Two of the crew baled out but one fell into a canal and drowned before he could be rescued.
    Sergeant Raymond Carr, Wireless Operator, age 21
    The pilot, Flying Officer J Le Huray, crash landed the aircraft and together with Flying Officer J M Woodcock and Flying Officer H A Farrell, eventually returned to the UK.

    Essential reading for the afficinado
    Further to the possibility of the Dakota in question being the one from 48 Squadron I came across this June 6 1944 account from Squadron Leader Daniell of 48 Squadron:
    Turning away we caught a glimpse of the great battle going on at the outskirts of Caen. Odd bursts of enemy anti-aircraft fire were now finding their mark. One of our flight just behind was set on fire. Two figures left by parachute and landed in the River Orne while the burning machine with the pilot still at the controls turned and eventually belly landed near the gliders
    CHAPTER 13 — Transport and Special Duties | NZETC see page 378

    The part that caught my eye is the mention of the Dakota belly landing near the gliders.
    Unless another Dakota crash image close to the gliders in the pictures posted at the start can be found, I think this aircraft is a very good candidate to be the one in the photo.
    KG426 was the only loss from 48 squadron in this time period.

  11. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Nice contribution, Mark!

    Yes, Cee, there is more clarity possible, through a better scan and stereo viewing of overlapping prints. How nice it would be to see even more clarity. And I do seem to be on a slight obsessive-compulsive streak with this...but I need food so will soon bale out with fork in hand. But first, more analysis to share.

    The photo evidence from the ground, seen in the book "Red Devils in Normandy" by Georges Bernage (posted by brithm in message #8 of this thread), shows a burned-out KG426, but note that the photos were "taken shortly after the war", per the caption. IF this is the Dakota we are so curious about, then the fire occurred long after the prang, at least after the 5 July '44 image. Certainly possible.

    Below, I have reattached brithm's scan from Bernage's "Red Devils in Normandy" so that nobody has to go back to message 8 to view the images. And I've added some notes.

    I have studied both KG426 book photos in an attempt to compare them to the 5 July '44 air photo. I do see the distinct possibility that, indeed, KG426 is the identity of "our" Dakota in the field.

    Let's start with the bottom photo from the book, showing a front view of the burned-out KG426. There are trees behind it -- and these may certainly be the row of trees seen in the air photo. I also see the possibility of a visible building, further through the trees, which would perfectly match up to the unique and substantial structure seen in the air photo.

    And note that only the port engine is visible on the ground. The starboard engine should have been visible in the space behind and to the right of the cockpit section, not hidden by it. The fact that there is only the port engine seems significant because the 5 July '44 aerial image (see my earlier postings for close-up photos) also only shows the port engine attached to the wing. (I didn't comment on this earlier...I just noticed it.) The lack of a shadow for the starboard engine in this air photo, to me, supports my conclusion that the starboard engine fell off before the prang.

    Attached is a piece of the air photo cropped and rotated to make it more logical to compare with the photo taken in front of the Dakota.

    So there are huge positive pieces of evidence linking the known KG426 frontal ground photo to the 5 July 1944 air photo. To me, all the angles of visible features match up between the frontal-view photo and the air photo.

    The top book photo, showing the port-side view of the hulk (with the KG426 serial number visible), is slightly less convincing -- only because of the trees seen in the background. Attached below is a cropped and rotated piece of the 5 July '44 image upon which I have marked the direction of viewing from the camera's perspective, more or less. Behind the Dakota there is only the one row of trees, angling away from the viewer. Do these correspond to the trees in the background of the port-side Dakota image taken on the ground? Very possibly. In this shot taken from the ground, to the right of the Dakota, in the background, I think the trees are farther away than to the left of the Dakota. So I am open to the possibility that this is the row of trees angling away from the Dakota, as seen in the air photo. A better quality version of the book photo could provide more detail for analyzing these trees.

    I think it is quite reasonable to conclude that the two book photos are consistent with the air photo. If that's the case, then this is, indeed, the one-engined KG426, and it would have been torched at some point after 5 July 1944.

    The locals might know if there was a fire well after the plane pranged! Anyone want to knock on doors in the nearby community??



    Attached Files:

    Orwell1984 likes this.
  12. George Patton

    George Patton Junior Member

    EDIT: Whoops. I somehow missed the last three pages of this thread and wrote this message based on the first page. Looking at the other photo, I think its a C-47. Feel free to read the below message anyway.


    To me, it looks like the front is dug into the ground and the entire plane is tilted strongly to the left, with the right wing completely off the ground. Here is an enhanced, rotated picture:


    A few thoughts:

    • The "clipped" appearance of the left wing is there because it looks like the tip dug into the ground. If you look at the left two-thirds of the wing, you can see the shadow from what appears to be a dirt berm.
    • The right wing's leading edge looks very fuzzy. This would be a photographic error (ie: focus slightly off, exposure too long, too much sunlight reflecting off the edge, etc), not a structural trait. If the wing was as clipped as it appears, the edge would not be fuzzy like that. If you trace out the wing along the edge of the fuzzy zone, it appears much straighter.
    • There are no engine nacelles. You *might* see the footing of one just to the right of the cockpit. The other side does not have the and identical protrusion. Note how the left wing's edge is flat near the cockpit -- if the nacelle somehow fell off, it would likely not leave a clear, straight cut.
    • Considering the angle of the photograph, the back of the wings are fairly flat. Keep in mind that if the wings were damaged in the landing, they would likely "droop" outward. This would explain any "clipped" effect that you might see.
    • It hard to make out the tail assembly, but it looks like the horizontal stabilizers are strait on the edge. A C-47's have a pronounced curve.
    • Another thing: look above the aircraft near the top right corner of the picture: does anyone else see a "cut" mark in the trees? It could just be me, but if the plane came in low, a part of it would have hit the trees in that location.
  13. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Quite interesting Matt!

    A couple of more "possible" positives for you. I noticed there appears to be a ridge running on either side of that angular barn. That could explain what appears to be high ground in the background of the front view book shot. Also I was initially bothered by the fact that the tree line continued beyond the tail end in the side view, but noticed also how it appears to be more mist enshrouded. Those could actually be the taller trees which line the River Orne in the next field over.

    One thing that struck me as odd is how the upper front part of the fuselage has been cleanly removed on both sides at the same height. Notice too how there seems to be less damage to the right wing (front view book) compared to the side view as if it was taken at two different times.

    Of course if that is the plane you would have to explain, like you say, what the heck happened to it in that year or more after the crash. Interesting analysis though and nice explanatory graphics, but hopefully it's not more of a case of wish fulfillment rather than actual reality.

    As far as being obsessive you come to the right place as we all tend towards that on here ... :lol:

  14. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Cee, I found a bit of a French topo map here:

    It does show the ridge you mentioned; see the cropped piece of the map, with north "up". Good eyes! Zoom in, and you'll see the brown contour lines and brown escarpment symbols snaking around the farm (named Férme de l’Écarde on the map), indicating the limit of the Orne floodplain.

    I, too, am puzzled by the clean removal of the upper fuselage section. Was it the handiwork of local scavengers making use of a removable section of the wreckage? Merchants beginning the process of breaking up the wreck for scrap? And although I mentioned the wreckage as "burned", this doesn't explain everything. Maybe there was a torching, or a well-placed explosive, but there was also disassembly/removal of some structure.

    Wishful thinking/making evidence fit the theory can get one into trouble, though I must say I remain confident in this case. The truth is all that matters to me.

    George, the Dakota would not have come through the tree line, but thanks for your observation (which you admitted was written before you'd read much of the recent discussion). Too many obstacles, like the topography (see the map excerpt), trees, and the farm complex would have mauled the aircraft. I think it just ground looped upon being set down in the open fields of the floodplain.

    The horizontal stabilizer has shown up on the improved air photo source to be angled where it joins the fuselage, as on a Dakota, but your observation fits that fuzzier image. Thank goodness for the improved image.

    Snooping around the Internet, I found another message board with a little more info, and different versions of the ground photos. I hope it isn't a sin to post the link to that "rival" message thread. Here goes:

    On 10 Jan 2012 contributor Pat Curran posted links to his source for the two ground photos: a website called Archives Normandie 1939-1945. Here are these links:

    Side view of the wrecked KG426 Dakota:


    Front view of the same Dakota:


    This website's info says the location of the wreck was Ranville, and this is the large village only 0.6 miles away from "our" wreck, and just south of the attached excerpt of the topo map. It's additional positive evidence supporting our wreck being KG426.

    The French language info on each photo, however, gives the year as 1944, not soon after the war, as noted in the "Red Devils in Normandy" book caption. No big deal -- we know from the air photo that the Dakota came down intact, more or less. Whether the substantial fuselage damage occurred later in '44 or soon after the war isn't my main concern.

    That's about all my brain can spit out on the subject...for now.

    Cheers to all,


    Attached Files:

  15. patelie

    patelie Junior Member


    I want to tell you about informations I collected on my forum since December 2011 when I launched the research to know which kind of plane it might be and now that it's more evident.. which dakota is she?
    Unfortunately I don't have the frames of mission 234 flown by 168 squadron on 7 june. I have only those in red in the picture below. With the one over the plane the type of aircraft would have been resolved since a long time


    With the picture taken on 5 july it's more evident that she is a Dakota.
    I made some research about dakotas shot down on 6 and 7 june 1944 and I have the following answer:

    6 -> 7 June 1944
    48 Sqn : KG426
    233 Sqn : KG329, KG356, KG424 and KG429
    271 Sqn : FZ667
    512 Sqn : FZ690, KG347, KG480
    575 Sqn : KG434

    Rob Roy

    KG356 : crash Bassenville
    KG429 : crash Colombelles
    KG424 : crash Giberville
    KG329 : crash Merville- Franceville
    KG426 : crash landing ????
    FZ667, KG347, KG480 : supposed crashed in the Channel
    KG434 : crash at take off
    FZ690 : forced landing in the chanel on the way back

    Now if you know other Dakotas shot down on these two days I would be interested to know which they are and where they crashed (crash-landed)?
    It seems that KG426 is the only candidate.

    Now the book "red devils in normandy". The pictures of KG426 are the same than on the Normandie archives website. These are two pictures which come from glass plate negative salvaged by a friend. He found them in a waste and fortunately saved them. Of course there was no date on the plate and the caption "taken shortly after the war" is a supposition! One thing is sure.. the plane was here on the aerial photograph taken on 15 june and no remains were there on an aerial photograph taken in 1947! I think that the ground photographs were taken after some wreckers came to began to dismantle the plane.

    Now the second part of the caption : "had in fact crashed near Merville". I suspect also this to be wrong.. If you don't find another candidate in the dakotas shot down by this period, which dakota is it in the list before, except KG426?

    I went last saturday to the farm which is close to the plane. The actual owner is the nephew of the man who was there in 1944. Unfortunately the former owner is no longer alive and the nephew has never heard about story of a plane in their fields. I went also to Pegasus memorial and I must go back again next saturday to speak about that.
    I will take also my camera to go in the fields and take a picture. You will see that the landscape look like the same than on the ground picture of KG426

    That's all for the moment :)

    PS : for those who speak french you can find also a thread here on my forum
    D-Day : Etat des Lieux :: Voir le sujet - Recherche photo HD
  16. klambie

    klambie Senior Member

    The Canadian collection described in post #24 is catalogued here:

    Air Photo Collection (Second World War)

    I've done a quick scan through the France items and see no sign of 400/512 (even though it is used as an example from the collection), or of 108(168?)/234 mentioned on the other thread in 'The War in the Air'. The majority of their photos appear to be from 4 and 400 Sqns if I'm understanding the labeling correctly. Might be worth following up with them if any of you are inclined.
  17. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Good to see you over here and I look forward to your photos from the field, though I imagine there have been a few changes after 68 years, especially with the trees. The fact that glass plate negatives were used to record the scene took me by surprise. What size were these glass plates and what kind of camera would have been used - a view camera? The side view from Archives Normandie shows the complete plane which puts the photographer farther back than I first thought.

    I have been trying to get a sense of the field of vision encompassed in that side view by drawing lines on the aerial photo to see how they would spread from a selected focal point. The photographer is positioned towards the rear of the plane, but not behind it. The long grass in the foreground suggest he is on the very verge of the field.

    Anyway I hope this works out in our collective favour, and especially for yourself and Matt who have done so much in the way of investigation.

    Regards ... :)
  18. patelie

    patelie Junior Member

    I went to Memorial Pegasus this afternoon and they have no idea about this plane..
    I went then to the field and took pictures from the place circled in red in the first aerial.
    Here they are

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  19. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    That looks promising to me and a very nice overlay you created of the old and new landscape. The double hedgerow has been cleaned up considerably since that time. All the taller trees have since been removed. You can tell by the length of shadow in the original aerial that they weren't as tall as the trees that lined the River Orne for example. If you look at the front book shot the trees appear to have been topped by the farmer to reduce the shade affecting the field crops.

    Your photos appear to have been taken a little farther back and perhaps at a slightly different angle than the original and no doubt with a different lense type. The house and barn are more clearly visible because of lack of obstruction by foreground trees and vegetation. The ridge is quite evident in the background.

    I am not sure you could say we have solved this 100%, but there just too many factors for me to think otherwise at this time. Don't be surprised, however, if someone comes along with a dissenting view and proves otherwise.

    Well done Patrick ... :)
  20. patelie

    patelie Junior Member

    Yes I was farther back because there are crops in the field and I stayed in the path in the red circle. I was also higher than the ground level in the field (around 1,5 meters) which may affect the view of the farm. I should have taken the picture more on the left but it was raining and not evident to open the book to see the right angle :D
    One thing is sure also.. the hedgerow in the foreground is new

    And there is no problem is someone tell me that KG426 crash landed at Merville like it's written in the book.. But it will be better if he show me an aerial with the plane and / or the exact location where she crashed.. There is no problem for me to go and take pictures of the landscape. I live at 5 kilometers from there ! But be sure that I already looked at the landscape in the Merville area!

Share This Page