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31st December 1940

On this day in aviation history, a Vickers Wellington mk1A bomber, N2980 R for Robert took off from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland for a navigation exercise flight.

A Vickers Wellington Bomber (Source

Onboard of the aircraft 8 Airforce staff;

  • Sqn. Ldr. David Marwood-Elton, Pilot in Command

  • Plt. Off. J.F. Slater, Co-Pilot

  • Sgt. W. Wright, Radio Operator / Gunner

  • Plt. Off. Lucton, Navigator

  • Sgt. C. Chandler, Navigator

  • Sgt. Ford, Navigator

  • Sgt. R.E. Little, Navigator

  • Sgt. Fensome, Rear Gunner

The weather was far from ideal, but good enough for the flight to continue. After climbing to 8000 feet (2400 meters) the aircraft was well above the highest mountain peaks but still in clouds and snow showers. With the weather deteriorating the right hand Bristol Pegasus XVIII engine failed. With mountain peaks in the area and unable to maintain altitude Marwood-Elton order his crew to bail out, only the Co-Pilot remained on board with Marwood-Elton. 5 of the crew safely landed by parachute, the rear gunner, Sgt. Fensome died when he opened his parachute too early, tearing it on the tail of the aircraft. Slowly descending the remaining pilots saw a black patch appearing through the clouds, not a mountain but a long stretch of water, what later turned out to be Loch Ness. Marwood-Elton decided to ditch the aircraft as returning to Lossiemouth seemed impossible. The ditching, next to the A82 road along the Loch was successful and Marwood-Elton and Slater climbed out of the aircraft on the bombers wing, deployed their safety raft and rowed to shore. Once ashore the hitched a right on a passing truck to Inverness and returned to Lossiemouth. Apparently, they were back on time to join the new years eve celebrations at the base. The aircraft sank to the bottom of Loch Ness, 230 feet (70 meters) deep. All serving crew members continued to fly in the war, with only W. wright and D. Marwood-Elton confirmed as survives of the war.

With the aircraft lost at the beginning of the war the memories of the aircraft faded until it was found during a search for the Loch Ness monster in 1976 by the American Marty Klein.

On the 21st of September 1985, R-Robert was raised from the depths of Loch Ness. Partly restored the aircraft is now on display in the Brooklands Museum, England. Click here for a link to the museum. The aircraft being recovered


Vickers Wellington mk1A bomber N2980 R for Robert on display at the Brooklands Museum. (source

The Wellington Mark IA is one of the over 40 versions of the Wellington bombers developed for a wide range of rolls, with provision for either Pegasus or Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, although only the 1,000 hp (750 kW) Pegasus XVIII engines were used in practice. The main landing gear moved forward 3 in (8 cm). Fitted with Nash & Thompson gun turrets. 187 of these Wellingtons were built at Weybridge and Chester. For more information on the Vickers Wellington click here.

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