F-86 Sabres XD707 and XD730

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F-86 Sabres XD707 and XD730, Kinder Scout

F-86 Sabres XD707 and XD730

22 July 1954. Four RAF Sabre jets from No 66 Squadron had taken part in “Exercise Dividend” practicing air defences against a simulated attack on Britain by Soviet nuclear bombers. It was a huge undertaking, the largest since the war and a total of 6 aircraft across the country were lost that day, two of them here on the northern flank of Kinder Scout in the Derbyshire Peak District.

Upon completion of the exercise the jet fighters were heading back to base at RAF Linton-on-Ouse. Split into pairs, Flying Officer James Desmond Horne led Flight Lieutenant Alan Green down through dense cloud at around 6pm.

The Sabres were seen tearing above the Kinder Reservoir, apparently unaware of the steeply rising plateau directly in front of them. It appears F/O Horne saw the slope at the last instant and pulled up sharp.


It is not known exactly what happened next, but at least one of the aircraft hit the corner of the plateau and then both jets tumbled out of control, down from the plateau edge and onto the moor below. Perhaps F/O Horne had clipped the ground and brought the other down, or Fl Lt Green, in suddenly having to react to his section leader’s wingtip going vertical, had just got too close in the haste? Or perhaps both aircraft simply failed to clear the hill side? No-one knows for sure. Their bodies and the wrecked aircraft were discovered 3 days later by a hill walker.


I once had the opportunity to speak with a former USAF Colonel who used to fly F-86 Sabres, he said generally they were about 10 feet apart when flying in formation – and that at a cruising speed of 500 mph.

Grid references from Pat Cunningham, “High Peak Air Crash Sites”
See here on Amazon

You can follow the trail from the point of impact on the plateau down to Black Ashop Moor, there are fragments all the way down over a distance of about 1km.

SK 06926 89664 – Impact site
SK 07268 90236 – Wings, engine, landing gear.
SK 07300 90100 – Debris, electrical components
SK 07548 90390 – Engine in boggy area

Below; The impact site.

Looking back along the line the aircraft tumbled onto Black Ashop Moor from the Kinder Scout plateau. The two Sabres struck the higher ground right above the corner having pulled up sharply from the other side in an attempt to clear it. The wreckage is spread over a good kilometre from the impact site.
The crash site was not discovered until 3 days later when a passing hill walker noticed a partially opened parachute billowing in the wind.

Tailplane section

Below; Propped up fuselage sections

F-86 Sabres XD707 and XD730

Looking towards the north-eastern corner of Kinder Scout.
F-86 Sabres XD707 and XD730

F-86 Sabres XD707 and XD730

XD 727, another F-86 Sabre from No 66 Squadron.
© Crown copyright 2010
© Crown copyright 2010

No 66 Squadron lost two pilots flying in formation over the area a few years earlier, when
Gloster Meteors WA791 and VZ518 crashed on Black Hill in 1951.


For a long time the engine in the lead photo was upended in the bog.
F-86 Sabres XD707 and XD730

40 comments on “F-86 Sabres XD707 and XD730
  1. Mike J Chapman says:

    More great stuff from your camera lens Ian. G-SABR in the Aircraft Restoration Company’s collection at Duxford is probably my favourite classic jet flying in the UK. Last year it was for sale for £600k, but it doesn’t look like anyone had a wallet big enough to cover the fuel bills…

    • Dom garrett says:

      Remember when me n my mates used to don our ruck sacks and walking boots back in the sixties and go up kinder from the hayfield side,we would be about thirteen,remember coming across a downed aircraft up on the platou with all the shiny aluminium,long long ago.

  2. mick cooke says:

    use to be my faviorite plane when i was a youg un, great story ian and photo

  3. Neal. says:

    The shine on that metal makes it look like it was just put there last week.

  4. nondesigner59 says:

    Amazing just how much remains.!

  5. **Hazel** says:

    I was also thinking it is surprising how much is left of the wreckage Ian!! An amazing story and brilliant series of photos !!!:-)

  6. Highy says:

    Great stuff Ian, Thanks for taking the time to tell this story properly and thanks again for showing me around the sites.

    Good shot of the 66Sqn Sabre and Mike – that Sabre was awesome at Duxford autumn show last year!

    • David Fothergill says:

      Gday, Thats a 92 sqn Sabre. 66 squadron had a solid white bar surrounded in blue either side of the roundel. They were neighbouring squadrons at Linton-on-Ouse. My Father flew for 66sqn 1953-1956.
      XD 707 had my Fathers name on it but was flying another sabre that day in excecise Dividend.”J” is listed in his log book for that day.

  7. Keartona says:

    The shiny metal is gleaming in the sun.
    Another of those wrecks I must have gone past so many times.

  8. P_H_I_L_L says:

    Brilliant Ian. How long does it take to walk there from the road?

  9. crusader752 says:

    Epic find and info Ian….another of my wonderful Flickr contacts used to fly F-86 Sabres!
    I will ping him a copy as I know he will be interested 🙂

  10. Mark McKie says:

    Brilliant work here again mate.

  11. rob the tog says:

    Superb work and a cracking set of photos, going out in the hills myself these next few days.

  12. cgullz says:

    great series of images, each composed wonderfully. fantastic presentation here, really appreciate the map detail and the descriptions regarding which way the pic faces. truly helps to get a picture of the situation.
    tragic day for the pilots – a loss of 6!! i wonder if they were all lost in pairs, considering the formation flying. formatting in cloud – dense cloud, where trying to stay on your lead, well incredibly dangerous really. can’t say i’d ever want to practise it ..

  13. Ian D B says:

    Many thanks indeed, glad the map helped.
    I did take a look into the other losses a while back Ang. If I recall there were two Meteors which collided near RAF Leuchars near Dundee – I think they both ejected, though may be wrong. Then there was another Sabre in Yorkshire (?) and a Canberra bomber… which may have been in Norfolk? But I could be miles out. Need to research them. Bugger, that’ll bother me now till I find out where they are and what happened to the crews!

  14. Testchamber says:

    Just been reading about this in ‘Sabre, The Canadair Sabre in RAF service’ by Duncan Curtis.

    I got this book as I love Sabres and it mentions my Dad quite a bit. He was flying Sabres during that period in the 50’s. Dividend is mentioned quite a bit. I’ll look into it.

  15. Ian D B says:

    Cheers Dave, any info / corrections welcomed.

    Just had a look at that book. My trigger finger was hovering over Buy Now With One Click…. Gets good reviews. Your Dad gets mentioned, you say?

  16. Testchamber says:

    Just reading about 66squ now….It mentions 3 lost on first day of phase2 on the 22nd July. Fg Off Glyn Owen fortunately ejected from XD758/L when it’s fire warning light illuminated north-east of Helmsley.
    My Dad was in 130 Punjab Squadron.

  17. Mustang Koji says:

    Unbelievable at the amount of loss on that day… Sometimes, some of us are in awe as to how something like this can happen… but I think back to when I was a young and fearless teenager behind the wheel of a sports car. These pilots were like me in mindset.

    Tragedies nevertheless, as would be a young person behind a steering wheel with pedal to the metal.


  18. f3liney says:

    Thanks Ian. This is an interesting and well compiled account of a tragedy which must have affected not just the families and squadron, but the whole RAF.
    I’m amazed at the good condition of the wreckage especially that turbine stage.

  19. cgullz says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/maycontaintracesofnuts] oops sorry! didn’t mean to create you more ‘work’ with my musings.

  20. stopherjones says:

    Great work as always. Hard to believe those things are still just lying there, a living sculpture dedicated to the memory of the fallen. Something very serene but also alien about the effect.

  21. Tech Owl says:

    As you have said before, this area seems to have a high attrition rate from what I can see. There looks like some large lumps left

  22. andyholmfirth says:

    Hi Ian Pleasure to meet you guys last week.Thanks for making the effort to come along.Did you get an ice cream?

  23. amyrey says:

    10 feet eh? Brave guys. Great research here as always.

  24. Ian D B says:

    Thanks David. Think I will get a copy of that book. Be interesting to read about your Dad.
    No problem Ang, it’s something I like doing!

    Re; Other aircraft lost on Exercise Dividend, 22/07/54

    As Dave points out Sabre XD758 crashed on Skiplam Moor, near Helmsley. The pilot, F/O Glyn Owen had ejected safely and parachuted down. He was married two days later but tragically he was killed on 28 August 1964 in an English Electric Lightning at RAF Leuchars.

    Two Gloster Meteors collided north of RAF Leuchars while simulating an attack on a Seahawk; Flying Officer F R Bennet safely ejected from Meteor WL114 but the pilot of Meteor WE897, F/O Hugh Johnstone Gourley was killed in the collision.

    Also that day, the 3 crew members of Canberra WJ720 were killed when their bomber crashed at North Elmham in Norfolk.

  25. Ian D B says:

    Cheers Chris, the remains do sometimes look like that. But I am glad the stuff is still there. It won’t always be.
    Hi Andy, yes lovely to meet you. We did indeed get an ice cream from Longleys (?). Good call!
    You’re not kidding Amy. Thanks. Hope all’s well.

    I had seen from other photos it had been pulled out. Worth another visit to be honest Paul. [http://www.flickr.com/photos/cachelog]
    You got that right Bryan, lots of plane crahes on Kinder Scout as you have noticed.

  26. cgullz says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/maycontaintracesofnuts] kind of stunning in a morbid way if you know what i mean .. i read of training accidents from during WWII and you kind of ‘expect’ it back then when they were still getting to grips with aircraft with alot of power, night flying and flying in sht wx with minimal navaids … but then, i guess the 50’s was all about getting used to jets and even more speed and design issues. crazy way to learn, through accidents but i guess that is one of the fascinating things about aviation. a group of pilots together discussing accidents is like a group of scientists pulling something apart and analysing the … stuffing out of it, all the while being wierdly enthused in trying to work it out.

  27. Tomitheos says:

    well composed frame, good work Ian

  28. Ian D B says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomitheos] [http://www.flickr.com/photos/angwickham]
    Cheers both.
    Yeah, Ang, a lot of crashes continued to happen into the 1950’s and beyond, though the frequency dropped off sharply at the end of the decade, presumably due to better altimeters. But as you say, they were learning. Our aviation safety today is borne of the lessons learned back then. Though Airbuses do scare the crap out of me.

  29. gastephen says:

    wonderful shot!

  30. sixty8panther says:

    Wow, amazing. No matter how mundane the flight,,
    you’re always within a millisecond of instant death
    when you’re going 500mph in an aluminum cylinder.

  31. IANLAYZELLUK says:

    As always both very interesting and beautiful.

  32. Paul Newcombe says:

    Amazing story. I was up near the crash site yesterday and didn’t know about it. The map explains what happened really well. Thanks for sharing.

  33. Guy Fothergill. says:

    Gday. My father used to fly for 66 Sqn and according to him one of the planes had his name on it though another pilot was flying it. Flt lt Ira Fothergill. Have found a few of his former planes online, from venoms and vixens to C-47s. good health

  34. David C says:

    Thanks for all the info, we visited the impact area this weekend. I can’t believe how shiny it all was. Was the rubber from the fuel tanks?

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks David, I don’t know about the rubber. Aside from the stuff from the tyres it could be from the fuel tanks, as you say. I never noticed it last time I was up there!

  35. Len Taylor says:

    I learned something today. I was part of that exercise, flying a Sabre of 20 Sqn as part of the attacking force. I never heard about there being an accident in Britain as a result of that.

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  1. […] of two planes that crashed in July 1954,” explains Don. “They’re a pair of F86 Sabre fighters belonging to the RAF’s 66 Squadron who were on training manoeuvres and returning to base at […]

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