The Vanishing
B-17 44-6504 on Braydon Crag.
(Distance covered = 9.8 mile/Ascent =+731m) 
Vickers Wellington Z1078 on West Hill.
(Distance covered = 9.6 mile/Ascent =+831m)

 Two crashsites I first visited way back in the 1980's/90's.

The B-17 Flying Fortress which crashed on Braydon Crag on the Cheviot is the most well known crashsite in these Hills, I have visited it on numerous occasions, the first time being in 1981. I remember the first thing I spotted while approaching the crashsite was one of the quite intact engines glistening in the sun, It was sad seeing it gradually disappear between my first visit in 1981 and a visit which I think was in 2006 when what was left of it had been removed by a Helicopter along with another two of the four engines, to a museum at Bamburgh Castle.


Taken in 1981 this is Kim sitting beside one of four engines that used to be on site, compare this photo with the two photos below of the same engine taken on later visits, the second one being about 10 years later.


As well as the engines being stripped by souvenier hunters I would hazard a guess that about 50% of the rest of the wreckage had dissapeared between my first and last visit. The fourth engine was still there as it was buried in a muddy water filled hole and could not be extracted for recovery along with the other three, but in 2016 I could see no sign of this engine either, it may have been recovered at a later date or had simply sunk farther into the mud?

In the photo above is Kim my Alsation at the B-17 crashsite in 1981, the photo below is the same crater in 2016. Although the photo below is taken from the other end of the crater it is still painfully obvious to see how much stuff has been stolen/recovered.



This tyre disappeared piece by piece until some idiot decided to set what was left on fire.

As well as Souvenier Hunters a lot of parts have been removed by Museum groups , I remember visiting one such museum where a member told me how he had removed a propeller reduction gear then abandoned it further down the hill when it became to heavy to carry. Several years later I received communication from a member of another recovery group who described how he had found a propeller reduction gear along with a battered rucksack full of pieces of geodetic structure from the nearby Wellington crashsite. Both were lying near the head of a burn that runs into the Bizzle downhill from Braydon Crag. I went and had a look for these in 2016 but could find no sign of them*.


Kim sitting in the tail Gunners position of the B17, this piece was only there on my first visit, it was removed by a Museum, probably never to be seen again.

Another large piece which has suffered over the years was one of the engine nacelles which used to have a supercharger still attached.


Above is a photo of me sitting inside the engine nacelle on one of my earlier visits, the round object is the supercharger. Below is the same engine nacelle in 2016, now lying in a gully quite a way from its original location and stripped bare!



Above is a photo of Kim sitting in one of the craters full of wreckage, I think this was taken in the late eighties. Below is a photo taken in 2016 of the same part Kim is sitting beside in the above photo, even from this photo the amount of stuff that has dissapeared is evident.



There were a few of these sections lying in a gully, it is a bulkhead attached to tailplane spars, the piece I'm holding being the bottom of the tailfin.



There were several gullies around the site full of wreckage.



Another one of the engines, this one has also now been removed.



Another view of the mainwheel, this was quite a distance from the rest of the wreckage, notice how someone had fetched over a spar to try and lever it out of the mud.



A view of the crashsite from the top of Braydon Crag.



Above and next two photos:-There are two craters containing wreckage, created when the bombs still on the B17 were exploded.







On a later visit in the 1990's I approached the crashsite from the other direction, climbing up from the College Valley side, so I could visit the crashsite of a Wellington that is quite a way below Braydon Crag on the way. During the climb up to Braydon Crag I came across a large lump of the tailplane, this must have been carried down here as well and dumped, as it was way to big and heavy to have been blown there by the wind. When I went back this way in 2016 this piece was no longer there.



The lump of tailplane I found below Braydon Crag, on this visit I was accompanied by Sharni our Golden Retriever.

Way down below Braydon Crag on West Hill, is the crashsite of Wellington Z1078, there's not much left at this one just a few pieces of wing, a very corroded oil tank and some tiny pieces scattered in the peat.

Above is Sharni at the Wellington site in the 1990's, the two photos below is much the same scene in 2016.



Above and below:-Two photos taken from above the crashsite, in the 1990's above and below in 2016.

 

Above and below:-In 1990 this oil tank was a distance downhill from the crashsite, in 2016 it had made its way uphill and now lies with the rest of the pieces.

As there was not much left to start with at this crashsite and as its not so well known about and well off the beaten track, there didn't appear to be anything missing in 2016 from when I first visited back in the 1990's, but of course I don't have a good enough memory to account for all the small pieces lying around in the scars.

above and next two photos:-Lots of small pieces lying in the peat.


Some form of geared pump.


A piece of the Wellington's battery.

above and below:-The largest piece remaining is a section of the wing leading edge.

I managed to get back and revisit 4 of the 7 crashsites that are on the Cheviot  Massif in 2015 and in 2016 I eventually found the Spitfire on nearby Bellyside Hill* and paid another visit to the Wellington and B-17 on West Hill.

 

*-2016 Visit