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F-5A Lightening 42-13312, 14th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron,
7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, US 8th Air Force


11th December 1943

At just after 11:00am on the morning of 11th December 1943 1st Lt. Harlan F Fricke took off from RAF Mount Farm in Oxfordshire on a mission over enemy occupied Europe. About one hour later Fricke called base and asked for directions. A series of vectors were given and acknowledged by the pilot. At 12:28pm Fricke called again and said that he was at 2,000 feet, could see the ground and asked for final directions for home. At this point communication was lost. Twenty minutes later the Royal Observer Corps reported a Lightening flying at 5,000 feet 20 miles south-west of RAF Mount Farm, and five minutes later reported another sighting 5 miles south-west of the base. Attempts were made to contact the pilot but no reply was heard.

Later that same afternoon word was received that the wreckage of Fricke's plane had been found near the village of Eastbury and that the crash had occurred sometime between 12:30 and 13:00 hours. The only witness was a civilian who was out hunting (possibly a gamekeeper) but due to the low ceiling and the fact that a snow storm was in progress he did not actually see the aircraft hit the ground. However, he could see a red glow caused by the burning aircraft.

Sadly, Lt. Fricke died in the accident and the crash investigation committee could find no plausible reason to explain what had happened.

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© Copyright 2007 Roger Day