Facebook Pixel
Plane Crash Diaries

Episode 33 - The 1948 Gatow Air Disaster and other military blunders

Plane Crash Diaries
Plane Crash Diaries
We’re going to look at a few examples of trigger happy pilots and missile operators, starting with the 5th April 1948 Gatow Air Disaster over Berlin as the Cold War ramped up after the Second World War.
A British European Airways  Vickers VC.1B Viking airliner crashed near RAF Gatow air base, after a Soviet Air Force Yakovlev Yak-3 fighter aircraft flew into it from below.
All ten passengers and four crew on board the Viking were killed, as was the Soviet pilot. This incident is a warning to aviators in the contemporary world, witness the tension between Chinese and Taiwan, North and South Korea, near-misses above the Baltic, and less reported but as dangerous, incidents across the middle East.
First, 1948.
The Gatow Air Disaster was a mid-air collision that sparked an international incident between the USA, Britain and Russia – leading to heightened tensions and which escalated into what we know as the Berlin Blockade. That was a rather clumsy attempt by Joseph Stalin to force Europe to back down about the Marshall plan.

So let’s take a look at some other examples of the military behaving badly.
On July 27, 1955, an El Al flight from Vienna Austria to Tel Aviv Israel blundered into Bulgarian airspace and was shot down by two MiG fighters.
All 58 people on board were killed. After initially denying involvement, Bulgaria admitted to having downed the aircraft. Despite occurring during a low point in relations between the Soviet bloc and the US and its allies, international fallout was minimal.
Moving east, on July 23, 1954, mainland China's People's Liberation Army fighters shot down a Cathay Pacific Airways CA 54 Skymaster.
The plane was flying from Bangkok to Hong Kong when it was hit - 10 out of the 19 passengers and crew died. In apologizing for the attack to Britain days later, the Chinese government claimed they had thought the plane was a military aircraft from Taiwan which they presumed was on an  attack mission against Hainan Island.
Trouble spots include the Qatar and its neighbours, Turkey, North Korea, parts of East Africa, Yemen, China and Taiwan. That's quite a list.
Plane Crash Diaries
Not playing