Monday, May 12, 2008

Soaplake P-63, #42-68962

On September 4, 1944, at 1745 hours, a P-63A fell to earth near Soap Lake, Washington. It was piloted by Captain James E. McLaughlin. The P-63A, #42-68962, had been referred to the hangar for nose vibration problems. McLaughlin took of at 1720 on a test flight to check the vibration. He did a few circuits around the field at 5000 feet doing tight turns. There were no problems, so he took it up to 10,000 feet to begin diving and climbing. he raised the speed to 300mph and pulled into a chandelle. All of a sudden there was a crack and a sudden lack of rudder tension. The airplane began whipping aound violently. When he decided that control had exhited the aircraft, the pilot did, too.

The aircraft was found 960 feet from the empennage. It was so demolished that no investigation as to the cause could be made. The pilot lived and observed the empennage falling as he was in his parachute.

The War Department made an "Unsatisfactory Report." It stated that tech order 01-110fp-31 to change the surface area from 29.75 square feet to 33.99 square feet gave the fuselage additional strain, which caused the empennage to depart the aircraft. The report recommended that the rear fuselage be strengthened. So, there you have it, Washington Aviaition had a big effect on Bell Aircraft...what do you think? ( this info came from accident report #45-09-04-44)

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