Glossop Heritage Trust

Boeing RB-29A [F13-A] Superfortress 44-61999 "Over Exposed".
16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, 91st Reconnaissance Wing, 311 Air Division, Strategic Air Command.
Crashed on Higher Shelf Stones on November 3rd 1948.



B29 Plan
BOEING B 29 SUPERFORTRESS
LONG RANGE STRATEGIC BOMBER/ RECONNAISANCE AIRCRAFT

4 Turbocharged radial piston engines
2,200HP Wright R-3350-23-23A/-41 Cyclone 18
Maximum speed 358mph at 25.000ft.
Cruising speed 230mph.
Service ceiling 31.850 ft.
Range 3250 miles.
Span 141 ft 3 in.
Length 899.
Height 29ft 7in.
B29 Side Elevation

On November 3rd 1948, during a flight from Scampton in Lincolnshire to the Burtonwood United States Air Force base near Warrington in Lancashire, the Superfortress "Over Exposed" crashed on to the high ground at Higher Shelf Stones. The pilot of the aircraft, Captain Landon P. Tanner had been given a briefing before the 20 minute flight that there would be broken cloud between 2,000 and 4,000 feet with a visibility of 4 - 6 miles.
For this flight the crew was;
Pilot: Captain Landon P. Tanner
Co-Pilot: Captain Harry Stroud
Engineer: Technical Sergeant Ralph Fields
Navigator: Sergeant Charles Wilbanks
Radio Operator: Sergeant Gene A Gartner,
Radar Operator: David T. Moore
Camera Crew: Technical Sergeant Saul R. Banks; Sergeant Donald R. Abrogast; Sergeant Robert I. Doyle; Private First Class William M. Burrows
Additional Crew: Corporal M. Franssen; Corporal George Ingram
Photographic Advisor: Captain Howard Keel of the 4201st Motion Picture Unit.
Captain Landon P. Tanner
Captain Landon P. Tanner

The flight was carrying the payroll for the American airbase at Burtonwood and sacks of mail to be sent back to the United States. It is believed that the pilot must have descended out of the overcast sky to establish his current position and impacted with the ground just below Higher Shelf Stones, about 2000 feet above sea level. When the aircraft failed to arrive at the airbase an air search was called and the burning wreckage was seen.

At the time the members of RAF Harpur Hill Mountain Rescue team were completing an exercise some two and a half miles away and picked up the messages of the search aircraft. Realising that they were in the area, in two parties, they moved towards the crash site through conditions of mist and drizzle until they could see the remains of the aircraft with its high tailfin above the fires. The first arrivals from the RAF team, Flight Sergeant George Thompson and Corporal William Duthie realised there were no survivors of the crash and as night fell firemen and other men from the RAF arrived and made a further search. Very early the following day a much larger party made their way to Higher Shelf Stones and the 200 yard long debris trail was searched until all the bodies of the crew were found, as was the £7000 pay satchel.

The crew of ‘Over Exposed’ had completed their tour of duty and in three days would have returned to their homes in the United States. Captain Landon P. Tanner, the 33 year old pilot of ‘Over Exposed’ left a wife and two daughters, Jean and Jane. He had enlisted in the US forces in 1936.

The Boeing B 29 Superfortresses used for photographic reconnaissance duties were fitted with extra fuel tanks and cameras were installed to photograph a strip of ground 3 miles wide. After this conversion the aircraft was designated as an F-13 and first entered service in November 1944. 117 were built. 44-61999 "Over Exposed" was built at Renton Washington and, fitted with cameras in five gun turrets was in service just before the Second World War ended.
On July 1st 1946, B29 Superfortress "Dave's Dream", accompanied by "Over Exposed", took off from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands to take part in Operation Crossroads - the Atomic Bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. The B29 was to drop an atomic bomb which was to explode over Bikini Atoll Lagoon and it was the job of "Over Exposed"and its 25 cameras to photograph 'Dave's Dream' and the bomb leaving the aircraft. It then dived 1000ft and was seven miles away when the bomb exploded. On July 25th "Over Exposed" was used to photograph the results of an underwater bomb test and at the end of the tests was sent back to Wright field, with the other 7 F-13s involved, where the extra cameras were removed and then sent to Roswell Field for contamination checks. They then returned to their squadrons.
"Over Exposed" at the time of the Bikini Atoll Mission.
Boeing B-29 - 40 - MO 44 - 27354 'Dave's Dream', with Major W.P. Swancutt in command, heading for Bikini Atoll on July 1st 1946. The aircraft was named after a B29 bombardier killed in action.

In 1948 the Russians cut off the Allied occupied sector of Berlin by cutting the road link and the only way to re-supply the Allied forces was by a massive air operation, bringing in food, coal and other supplies. During the period of the Berlin Airlift "Over Exposed" was used to fly in with the other transport aircraft and photograph the Russian occupied territory of Germany.
After the crash the investigating teams had the tail fin destroyed as it stood up on the hillside, visible for great distances and it was attracting too many sightseers. Over the succeeding years many walkers visited the site, as well as aircraft historians and many parts were gradually removed or scattered over the hillsides and the once shiny metal parts rusted or oxidised.
The story of "Over Exposed" was told by Ron Collier in his books on the numerous air accidents that took place in the area and subsequently in other authors' books and the many itineraries published for the thousands of walkers and hikers who used the land around the Pennine Way.
Many years later a memorial was placed on the site, and wreaths were laid in memory of the crewmen who died in the crash. Services were held on anniversaries and relatives of the lost crew attended.
Memorial

The B29 was also used by the Royal Air Force after World War II, to be used in addition to the Avro Lancaster and Lincoln bombers until the Canberra and Valiant entered service. On March 20th 1950 the first four B29s were handed over to the RAF and flown to RAF Marham in Norfolk, arriving on March 22nd. In the RAF the aircraft was known as the Washington B Mk 1, and after a conversion unit had been set up to train crews, was issued to 149 Squadron which then moved to RAF Coningsby in October. In 1953 149 Sqn began to dispose of some of its aircraft, either to other units or back to the USA. In March 1954 most of the Washingtons were handed back to America. Five were used as gunnery targets at Shoeburyness and some were used by 192 Sqn for radio countermeasures training until 1958 before also being sent to Shoeburyness.
The Heritage Trust is grateful for information on the RAF Washington which was provided by Mr J. Brown of Mottram who served in them and wrote articles on the Remote Control Gunnery System on the B29 and also on the Washington in Royal Air Force Service published in Aeroplane Monthly.

A few years ago Glossop Heritage Trust was informed of the survival of a cover dome from one of the four gun turrets of the plane. It had been moved away from the crash site not long after the event but, in common with many similar artefacts from the many crashes, its young finders had abandoned it some way from the area in a stream bed, where over the years it had become buried in the peat and gravel. 50 years later one of them had gone back to find it and found that recent floods, probably in 2002, pouring down White Clough from Higher Shelf Stones had revealed it again. Photos were taken to show what had survived and the Authorities informed of its survival, and that the Heritage Centre would like to use it in an exhibition at some appropriate point in the future, when they had space. The dome was left on the hillside but its presence was reported to the Heritage Centre again on several occasions and there was fear that it would be taken away and lost or damaged, having been cut up into bits as souvenirs, or for scrap.
Turret in place
Turret in place
Turret remains
Similar turrets in place on a B29
The remains of the turret near where it was found

In 2008, with the 60th Anniversary imminent, the organisations who usually attended the memorial services hoped that the dome could be recovered and an exhibition put on show both for visitors to the centre and those to whom the crash of "Over Exposed" was a tragic part of their family history. Captain Tanner's daughter and her husband were able to visit the exhibition.
Exhibition
Captain Tanner's daughter and her husband
Exhibition

After the exhibition the dome of the gun turret was given to Newark Air Museum under the terms of an agreement with MoD.

The Heritage Trust would like to thank the following people for help with the exhibition and the information presented here:
Sue Raftree and Deborah Morgan of RAF Innsworth, Gloucester
Mrs W Cotterill of Mossey Lea farm
The members of the Mountain Rescue Team
Mr Malcolm Baxter
Mr John Hickenson

The Trust does not have any documents relating to the above article, which was researched from the many articles written about the aircraft accidents on the hills round the town and the Ron Collier books on the Dark Peak Aircraft Wrecks. There is also excellent information to be found in the Pat Cunningham books on aircraft crashes in the Peak District. The local ones are in the North area edition.

Drone footage of the crash site can be seen on You Tube (in a new window) Here.

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Page last updated: 27 September 2017.
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