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P-51D Mustang 44-72181 (formerly ‘Sunny VIII’) on Castleshaw Moor.
29 May 1945. Mustang 44-72181 (formerly “Sunny VIII”) was the lead in a formation of 23 Mustangs being delivered from the south east of England to Liverpool for eventual transport to the far east, where the war against Japan was ongoing.
Flying through low cloud and smog, the aircraft became disoriented and the individual pilots either found Liverpool by good fortune or returned to base.
However, two Mustangs crashed with the loss of both pilots while descending through the cloud in the hope of seeing the ground and getting their position fixed.
One was near Glossop, flown by FO Darnaby H Wilhoit, USAAF.
The other was here on Castleshaw Moor near Oldham, and First Lieutenant Frederick was killed in the crash but his wingman just clipped the ground as he pulled away at the last moment. He had the luck to survive and return home.
Details from Peakland Air Crashes – The North, by P Cunningham;
Revised grid ref SD 99904 11132
Update and grid reference revised February 2023
Please see the comment below in response to a 2016 query about the location of the crash site.
I had visited the year before and thought then that the debris pool had been moved south of the place it had previously been. I’d visited the original spot using the coordinates several times before so in 2015 took a photo at what I had thought was the original location where there were some flakes of metal remaining but nothing bigger. I wandered about and found the larger debris but didn’t have a GPS device on me so could not confirm the exact location.
These two photos below were taken in May 2015, showing the relocated debris and the flakes of debris at the previous location.
I had intended to revisit to check, but only got round to it in February 2023. The crash site remains are now at grid ref SD 99904 11132. It does look like there is a bit less now than there was 8 years ago. I initially went to the original spot but could not see any flakes of debris but the area was covered in long grass. A metal detector sweep would confirm it.
This image is via Grid Reference Finder and shows the old spot and the new one.
These two photos taken February 2023
Simulation of how this Mustang once looked…
From this site