82 - DC-3 crash-landing on a rooftop

An amazing story:

.

December 1946: A DC-3 Dakota

crash-landed on a roof in London

.

Diorama and models by Bjørn Jacobsen


This incident happened on the

19th of December 1946.


A DC-3 Dakota G-AGZA from

the Railway Air Services, with

Captain Johnson in charge, was

ready to depart from Northolt

Airport in London on a scheduled

flight to Glasgow Airport and had

a total of four crew and one

passenger on board.


The aircraft had been de-iced

since it was a cold, snowy

evening.

The de-icing had delayed the

departure, and while the Dakota

was waiting for take-off, the

temperature dropped, and snow

began falling and froze on the

wings. .


The snowstorm had closed the

airport to incoming traffic, and

outbound traffic was subject to

long delays.

After waiting more than an hour,

the aircraft was finally ready for

departure and taxied into

position for take-off.


When the aircraft lifted off, it

could not gain any height.

The ice on the wings disturbed

the air flow and prevented the

aircraft from climbing.

Her propellers were biting at the

air, hardly giving her 50 feet of

altitude.


She was just barely flying.


The Dakota flew only at a few

metres high straight down Angus

Drive from the end of the runway

until the left wing contacted some

rooftops about a kilometre

(0,6 miles) from the airport.

She hit the roof of the first house,

but her forward motion continued.

The Dakota tore into the roofs of

three more houses before coming to rest on top of 46 Angus Drive in the London suburb of Ruislip.


The speed must have dropped

considerably due to the initial

crashes, whicht was probably

why it stopped so nicely on top of no 46!


G-AGZA was severely damaged,

and radio officer Murdoch was

fortunate that he wasn't sitting in

his seat as some metalwork was

pushed through the seat and it

would probably have killed him

had he been sitting there.


Irene Zigmund and her 4-month-

old-son David were in the

neighbouring house (44 Angus

Drive) at the time the aircraft came to rest on the roof.

The crash did not even wake the

child who was asleep in his cot

upstairs!


In fact, no one was injured in the

incident.


The crew and passenger all

descended into the house's loft,

down the loft ladder onto the

landing and then downstairs out

the front door!

.

The house was damaged, but not

severely, and was later rebuilt.

In fact, the house is standing in

good order today and was named “Dakota’s Rest” after the incident.


It was quickly determined that the cause of the crash was the snow which had frozen to the aircraft's wings while G-AGZA was waiting

to take-off, resulting in the aircraft not gaining any height.

The pilot committed an error of

judgement for failing to abort

take-off after noticing it had been

snowing and his aircraft being

covered in snow.


The crash landing on the house

earned the Captain the nickname

"Rooftop Johnson".


The Dakota involved in the incident made its first flight in 1944 as

C-47A 42-92633 military transport of the United States Army Air

Force (USAAF).

It was later transferred to the

Royal Air Force (RAF) as KG420.

In March 1946, it was registered

to Railway Air Services as a

Dakota 3 with the British registration G-AGZA.


It was written off after the rooftop

crash on 19 December 1946.

Building the Dakota

The kit was the 1/72 from Airfix.

A very nice kit and easy to build, only pity that I just had to make it in bits and pieces.


I made the fuselage and the inner part of the wings with the engines and mounted it on the roof.


When I started to build the roof, I had to remove some parts of the engine nacelles. Otherwise, they would have poked out of the roof (which they did not do).

Building the house of 46 Angus Drive

46 Angus Drive is still standing and looks more or less the same as in 1946. The picture to the left is from Google Street View, and I used it as the base for building the house.

I did not have the exact measurements, but some measures are more or less standard (like a front door is usually about 2 meters high = 28mm in 1/72).

When putting all these kind of certainties/probabilities together, it was easy to draw a 1/72 scale of the house.

For building material, I used Polystyrene Sheets which was easy to cut and easy to glue together.

The painting (acrylic) was of course done by hand, and the Google-picture was used as a guideline.

The pictures below explain the process of building the house.


The drawing and the construction start

The house was initially built without a roof. The reason, of course, was that the Dakota had to be placed on the top and the broken roof had to be built on and around the aircraft.


The damages roof was made of all kinds of bits and pieces, mostly bits of small three spates, strips of Polystyrene sheets and a plastic pattern sheets with "Scalloped Edge Tile" which I used for the roof tiles.


I also had to build a part of the next-door house because the left wingtip of the Dakota cut into this roof before the wing was broken off and came to rest in front of #46.


The wings of the Dakota were placed and moulded as close as possible to what the pictures from 1946 tell.


The aileron and flaps on the left wing seem to be torn loose and can’t be seen anywhere.

It was probably ripped off when the wing til one of the first houses. The right wing was still attached to the aircraft, even if it was broken and twisted.

The wings were pretty banged up at the front edge where it had torn into the roof. To gets it as realistic as possible, I glued on some thin metal sheets which would look more like dents in the wing than the plastic.

The left wing without the aileron and flaps was standing more or less in a vertical position from the roof and down to the garden with a clearly perforated strut visible in the aft end. This was made by perforating a thin sheet of Polystyrene.

Thin metal sheet glued to the wing

The port wong with the missing ailerons and flaps

This incident happened during a snowstorm, and all elements were covered in snow.


To achieve this effect, I used a thin layer of Papier Mache on most of the surfaces.


The Mache was white, but it was also painted with white acrylic paint and coated with Johnson Future (floor polish) to give it a fresh and glossy surface.


Some places which were unpractical to use Papier Mache was painted with acrylic (part of the roof, the vehicles, etc.).


The figures are mostly from my surplus box, which mostly consists of soldiers. But removing the armament, rearranging some arms and legs and painted in dark civilian colours, they could easily be mistaken for civilian onlookers.


The vehicles I used was a fire truck, an ambulance and a civilian car.


The crash happened just a few months after the war, and I suppose there were plenty of pre-military equipment around, like the ambulance,


All building elements are Polystyrene sheets in different thicknesses

Placing the Dakota on the roof

The base: 30 x 40 cm OSB board

The dented metal sheet painted in aluminium

And here is the Diorama

Please note: It is not possible to have snow in the air on a diorama (at least I do not know how to do it). But it was snowing heavily when the incident occurred, and I felt I had to do something to show the real situation. I, therefore, made snowflakes on a couple of pictures, just to see how it really should have looked like. The white dots of “snow” in the air was made with a photo editing program.

Just not to fool anyone, I’ll show the pictures both with and without the “snow” in the air.

I hope you enjoyed this website

 

Thank you for visiting!



Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments

(bjorn@dioramas-and-models.com)



 


Bjørn Jacobsen


March 2019