Armed Services - Undercarriage Drop Test Facility

Photographs of Armed Services personnel (Ex British POW’s) at Dowty Equipment, Arle Court – Undercarriage Drop Test Facility

We believe this photo was taken late 1942, the buildings are camoflaged and the RAF Officers are wearing “black arm bands” probably due to the recent death of Prince George, Duke of Kent, son of King George V and brother of King George VI, died when a military plane taking him to Iceland, crashed in Scotland.

On August 25, 1942, the Duke of Kent, along with 14 others, took off from Invergordon, Scotland in an RAF Short S.25 Sunderland flying boat.

The official story was that the Duke was on a morale-building visit to RAF personnel stationed in Iceland.

The crew had been carefully selected. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Frank Goyen, was considered to be one of the best Sunderland pilots in the RAF. The co-pilot was Wing Commander Thomas Lawton Mosley, one of the RAF’s most experienced pilots. He was also a navigation specialist and was a former instructor at the School of Navigation. Also on board was the Duke of Kent’s private secretary John Lowther, his equerry Michael Strutt, and his valet John Hales.

The Short S.25 Sunderland flying boat took off from Invergordon on the east coast of Scotland at 1:10 p.m.

This type of aircraft had standing orders to fly over water, only crossing land when absolutely necessary.

The flight plan was to follow the coastline to the northern most tip of Scotland and then turn northwest towards Iceland. The aircraft crashed into Eagle’s Rock near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland later that afternoon at an altitude of around 650 feet.

The aircraft was off course when the accident happened and the exact time of the crash is disputed. 2,500 gallons of fuel, carried in the wings, exploded and 14 of the 15 passengers perished.

The Duke of Kent was 39 at the time of his death and six weeks earlier the Duchess of Kent had given birth to the couple’s third child Prince Michael. The Duke’s widow was only 35 years old and his children were aged 6, 5, and 6 weeks.

There still is much mystery surrounding this plane crash.

Arle Court Drop Test Facility - Brabazon Undercarriage on test
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Dowty Equipment - Drop Test Rig
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Dowty Equipment, Arle Court - Undercarriage Drop Test Facility and Servicemen
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Dowty Equipment, Arle Court - Undercarriage Drop Test Facility and Servicemen
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Dowty Equipment, Arle Court - Undercarriage Drop Test Facility and Servicemen
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Dowty Equipment, Arle Court - Undercarriage Drop Test Facility and Servicemen
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Dowty Equipment, Arle Court - Undercarriage Drop Test Facility and Servicemen
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Dowty Equipment - Duke of Kent with Sir George Dowty
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Prince George, Duke of Kent
Prince George, Duke of Kent, Photo Credit – www.npg.org.uk
Dowty Equipment - WW2 News Clippings
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Dowty Equipment - WW2 News Clippings
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Photo of Sir George Dowty - standing next to Avro Lancaster Dowty Undercarriage
Arle Court - Undercarriage Drop Test Facility and Servicemen
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

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