Incident Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk XVI SL556,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 172347
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Date:Monday 5 January 1948
Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk XVI
Owner/operator:203 AFS RAF
Registration: SL556
MSN: CBAF.5670
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:South Molton, Devon, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: Landing
Departure airport:RAF Chivenor, Barnstaple, Devon
Destination airport:
SL556: Spitfire LF. XVI, MSN CBAF.5670. Built at CBAF (Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory) with Merlin M266 engine. Delivered to 6MU RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire 19-7-45. To 61 OTU RAF Keevil, Trowbridge, Wiltshire 25-3-46. Became 203AFS at RAF Keevil 1-7-47.

Written off (damaged beyond repair) 5-1-48 when ran out of fuel and force-landed near South Molton, Devon. The pilot took off after failing to notice a discrepancy in the aircraft's 'Form 700' in respect of the amount of fuel on board the aircraft.

While flying at 8,000 feet over South Devon, the engine failed due to fuel starvation, as the fuel tanks were empty. Therefore, the pilot made an immediate forced landing near South Moulton, Devon. As far as it known, the pilot survived uninjured.

The subsequent Board of Inquiry discovered that the flight of Spitfire SL556 on 5-1-48 was the first time the aircraft had been flown since "before Christmas" (i.e. since 24-12-47 or earlier). Between that time and 5-1-48, the Spitfire had not been refuelled, nor had there been any checks on the aircraft's fuel level during the intervening period, when most ground crew were away on Christmas Leave.

This incident was the fourth (non-fatal) crash of a Spitfire LF. XVI of 203 AFS, RAF on a sortie from RAF Chivenor in the space of three days (see also TB526, SL617 and SM301 - all on 8-1-48)

South Molton is a town and civil parish in Devon, England. It is part of the North Devon local government district. The town is on the river Mole.


1. Halley, James (1999). Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents. Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Final Landings: A Summary of RAF Aircraft and Combat Losses 1946 to 1949 by Colin Cummings p.359
3. Royal Air Force Aircraft SA100-VZ999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain 1985. page 5)
4. 203 AFS ORB for the period 1-6-47 to 31-12-50: National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 29/1771:
5. "RAF Write offs 1948": Air Britain Aeromilitaria No.1 1979:

Revision history:

17-Dec-2014 15:04 Dr. John Smith Added
09-Jun-2015 08:10 Angel dick one Updated [Operator, Location]
03-May-2023 18:03 Dr. John Smith Updated [[Operator, Location]]
03-May-2023 18:30 Nepa Updated [[[Operator, Location]]]

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