1960 Munich Convair 340 crash

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Template:Use dmy dates Template:For Template:Infobox aircraft occurrence On 17 December 1960, a Convair C-131D Samaritan operated by the United States Air Force crashed on a flight from Munich, Germany to RAF Northolt, west London, UK shortly after take-off from Munich-Riem Airport, due to fuel contamination. All 20 passengers and crew on board as well as 32 people on the ground were killed.<ref name=ASN>Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network</ref><ref name=PCI>Accident description at PlaneCrashInfo.com</ref>

Accident

thumb On 17 December 1960, the Samaritan was due to fly from Munich-Riem airport in Germany to RAF Northolt in the United Kingdom with 13 passengers and 7 crew.<ref name=ASN/> Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft lost power to one of its two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engines.<ref name=PCI/> Unable to maintain altitude, it hit the 318-foot steeple of St. Paul's Church next to the Oktoberfest site (then vacant) in the downtown Ludwigsvorstadt borough. Subsequently, at 2:10 PM, it crashed into a crowded two-section Munich streetcar in Martin-Greif-Straße, close to Bayerstraße.

All 13 passengers and 7 crew members on the plane died. Thirty-two people on the ground were killed and 20 were injured.<ref name=ASN/> A section of the wing crashed through the roof of a building at Hermann-Lingg-Straße, a block away from the main accident site, without injuring anybody there.<ref name=FM>Munich History, Munich Fire & Rescue Services with a photo of the crash aftermath; English translation via Google</ref> Time Magazine later reported that all 13 passengers on the Convair were holiday-bound University of Maryland students.<ref name=time>Disasters: Death in the Air, Time, December 26, 1960</ref>

Aircraft

The Convair C-131D Samaritan is a twin piston engined military transport with seating for 44 passengers, a variant of the Convair 340. Serial number 55-0291 was the first United States Air Force C-131 to be based in Europe, it first flew in April 1955 and had been based at RAF Northolt since 13 May 1955, where it was under command of the 7500th Air Base Group, 3rd Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europe.<ref name="Northolt">RAF Northolt Convair Feature incl. background information and a pre-accident photo of C-131D (Internet Archive)</ref>

Investigation

A crash investigation revealed water in the fuel tank booster pump.<ref name=PCI/> Because water is more dense than fuel it can settle to the bottom of the tank, into the pump inlets; when it freezes it blocks inlets and deprives the engine of fuel. This deprivation of fuel caused the Munich Convair 340 to lose power and eventually shut down the engine.

Aftermath

After the accident, the Munich Fire & Rescue Services ordered new TLF 16 powder trucks to complement their fleet of traditional water tenders.<ref name=FM/>

The day before the accident, two commercial airliners collided over New York, killing 134. The accidents fueled the discussions in Munich and Hamburg for building new airports further away from the cities. Due to resistance of the citizens, the new Munich airport did not commence operation until 32 years later, in 1992. Hamburg still uses Fuhlsbüttel Airport, which was founded in 1911 and is the oldest airport operating in Germany.

File:Flugzeugunglück 1960 in München-Gedenkplatte.jpg
Memorial plaque at the accident site (translation: "In memory of the 52 victims of the airplane crash on 17 December 1960")

Coincidentally, the Munich crash occurred on the same day that the historic visitors' center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial was dedicated, on the 57th anniversary of the Wright Flyer's first flight in 1903. According to one news account, a "slim audience saddened by Friday's airliner collision over New York and Saturday's crash at Munich" attended the dedication ceremony.

See also

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  • American Airlines Flight 6780: first fatal crash of a Convair 240 on 22 January 1952
  • 1960 New York air disaster: collision of two airliners on 16 December 1960
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd 1977 CV-240 crash
  • British Airways Flight 38: suffered engine failure due to ice crystals in the fuel, clogging the fuel-oil heat exchanger just short of the runway at Heathrow Airport, London, UK on 17 January 2008
  • List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1950–1974)

References

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Other sources

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