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P-47 Thunderbolt 41-6538
Then and now composite in the lead photo by me. Old photos used courtesy of Imperial War Museum
4 July 1944 P-47 Thunderbolt 41-6538 of 495 Fighter Training Group crashed into the Shropshire Union Canal, between bridges 21 and 22.
Lieutenant Richard C Dunlap was unhurt in the crash though people who have heard a little of it still refer to this stretch of towpath being haunted by the ghost of the pilot.
Below; looking along the towpath towards the crash site
Lt Dunlap was on a non-operational flight from the American air base at RAF Atcham near Shrewsbury when the engine failed at 3,000 feet. He attempted an emergency landing at RAF Wheaton Aston, barely 20 miles east of Atcham. Struggling to control the aircraft, Lt Dunlap undershot the runway and apparently careered across a field killing two cows before the aircraft came to a halt in the canal.
41-6538 was an unfortunate aircraft, this being its 5th and final crash;
1. Captain Stanley Anderson (4th Fighter Group) was flying it on April 15th 1943 when it crashed at Langham (later that same day but in a different aircraft, Captain Anderson was shot down and killed near Cassel). 41-6538 was transferred to training school after being repaired.
2. In March 1944 it ran out of fuel causing the pilot to crash land at Wellington in Somerset.
3. A month later it crashed on take-off at Atcham and then after more repairs
4. 41-6538 was crashed into another P47 by another pilot at Atcham.
5. Finally 41-6538 was written off after being hauled out of the canal.
Below; map from bing showing crash site and the traces of RAF Wheaton Aston (now a pig farm) still visible. Crash site grid reference SJ 847 148
Below; The control tower at RAF Wheaton Aston still remains.