Accident Morane-Saulnier N , Tuesday 24 August 1915
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Date:Tuesday 24 August 1915
Type:Morane-Saulnier N
Owner/operator:2 (Reserve) Sqn RFC
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Joyce Green Airfield, Dartford, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:Joyce Green Airfield, Dartford, Kent
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Captain Gilbert William Mapplebeck DSO (22) (Gibb Mapplebeck) 1892-1915. was posted to No 2 Reserve Air Squadron in August 1915 to carry out flight tests. On 24 August 1915, Mapplebeck (a recognized ace) after taking off in a Morane-Saulnier N “Bullet” climbed to 80 feet and then entered a sharp right-hand turn. The plane stalled and spun into the ground. Mapplebeck was killed.

The incident was debated in the House of Commons in Parliament. The debate was also reported in Flight magazine (August 17, 1916 page 859 - see link #4). According to "Hansard" the official record of all debated in Parliament:

"Hansard.—Killed in action while testing a type of machine condemned, by the French six months ago.
Supplementary statement,—Date, August 24th, 1915.
Type of machine, French Morane monoplane.
Officer, Captain Mapplebeck.
Place, Joyce Green. Not in action,.
As stated in Hansard. Safety belt of pilot fastened to three-ply wood with wooden screws, and pilot found to have fallen forward.

The monoplane was fitted with an 8o-h.p.- Gnome engine. Captain Mapplebeck was ascending. He executed, when about 80 ft. from the ground, a sharp, heavily-banked right-hand turn. The machine spun round on its own axis and then nose-dived vertically. There was very little wind.

The accident appears to have been due to the machine "spinning" on a heavily-banked turn, the pilot not having sufficient speed and height to regain control before hitting the earth. It is the fact that the French have largely, but not entirely, discarded this type of machine, as also have we. Both they and we continued to use a few as single seaters.

It was a good machine in the hands of an expert flier, as Captain Mapplebeck was. It was, in fact, the type of machine on which the famous French airman, Garros, did such good work before he was brought down.

Conclusion.—The accident was due to an unfortunate error of judgment on the pilot's part. There is no evidence as to the alleged faulty attachment of the belt. Nor in the opinion of the Committee did such faulty attachment, assuming it existed in anyway, contribute to the accident. It may be mentioned in passing that many pilots prefer not to use a safety belt. Tins type of machine was not one fit to be used by an inexpert flier, and had Captain Mapplebeck not been a pilot of experience the Committee would have considered it negligence to allow him to fly it. In view of Captain Mapplebeck's skill and experience the Committee do not think there was any negligence in supplying him with this machine."


1. Dartford in the Great War By Stephen Wynn page 39
4. Flight magazine (August 17 1916 page 859):

Revision history:

26-Aug-2018 07:57 harro Added
13-Nov-2018 01:11 Dr.John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
15-Nov-2018 10:07 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
01-Dec-2018 23:28 Dr.John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
24-Jan-2019 17:50 stehlik49 Updated [Operator]

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