/ Typhoon salvage - River Blackwater

ID: REG_2005_TYP / Brian Jay
TitleTyphoon salvage - River Blackwater
AbstractOn 22 March 1944 Hawker Typhoon R8895, flown by Flt. Sgt. R.W. Pottinger, belonging to No. 3 Squadron based at Bradwell Bay, came down in the River Blackwater. The Squadron record states that the engine over-revved on take-off for dark night-flying practice. The pilot could not make height and was forced to ditch in the Blackwater. This was done successfully, but the pilot had difficulty in working his dinghy owing to the cold. Boats from Brightlingsea located him, with the assistance of flares dropped by an Albacore from Manston, and he was taken to the Naval Hospital at Brightlingsea where he stayed the night. He rejoined his Squadron the following day none the worse for his adventure.

Flt Sgt Pottinger was later commissioned and was released from the RAF in 1945 with the Rank of Flying Officer. His personal number was 182715.
Details from Ministry of Defence Sept 1971 - see CDC_TYP_031


Ron Pottinger and Typhoon aircraft at Manston, 1943

This night time dip in a very cold River Blackwater does not seem to have done Ron Pottinger any harm, and he wrote a detailed account of his adventure in his diary at the time. See Ron Pottinger's Diary .

The Typhoon was largely forgotten by most, except local fishermen who kept getting fast on the wreck. In 2005 Brian Jay wrote the following article for West Mersea Town Regatta Programme.

TYPHOON Salvage

During early summer of 1971, after losing a complete fishing trawl on an obstruction in our local river, Mike Lungley asked me if I would dive and identify the obstruction and hopefully recover his fishing trawl. The obstruction which had claimed many local fishermen's nets was believed to be a plane. I decided to enlist the help of two buddy divers, Trevor Hamblion from Colchester and the late Captain Bill King from Harwich. The position of the obstruction was on the south side of the Nass and had been marked with a buoy.

The SCEPTRE tows the barge into position

Mike had organised with the boatyard owner, Bert Carter, to use the workboat SCEPTRE and any other equipment needed for the operation. Sunday 1st August was a lovely calm and sunny day and after anchoring over the obstruction, the three of us kitted up and entered the water having no idea what we would find on the seabed thirty feet below. Visibility in the water was approximately ten feet, a high bonus in our local river, and as I descended down the marker line towards the seabed, a buckled blade of a propeller came into sight, quickly followed by the remainder of the propeller and a huge engine lying on the seabed just clear of a fighter plane. After a quick survey of the area we realised the plane had lost the cockpit cover and tailfin, but was otherwise complete. The cockpit was nearly full of mud, but we could see that most of the equipment was still intact. There were two cannons in each wing and the RAF roundel could just be made out in the fuselage - it was British!

After reporting our findings from the dive to Mike, it was decided to return two weeks later on the next spring tide and attempt to recover the plane and engine. On 15th August the barge that was to be used for lifting the wreckage was towed out and moored in position over the site.


Ready to dive
The late Captain King from Harwich, Brian Jay, Trevor Hamblion

It was decided to first lift the huge 24 cylinder engine and after this was successfully carried out, it was secured on the bow of the barge. Lifting strops were then fastened to the wings and fuselage, but owing to the suction of the mud on the wings, the winch was unable to lift the plane. It was decided to secure the strops and wait for the rising tide to lift the barge and, hopefully, the plane. At high water this was found to have been successful and the barge was towed to a position near the Tollesbury shore where the plane would be exposed at low water.

On inspection the next day we found the wings had broken away from the fuselage and the tail end was missing. Boxes of live ammunition were still in the wings and army disposal teams were called upon to remove the four 20mm cannons and four boxes of ammunition before dispersing the remainder with explosives. We later found out from the Defence Ministry that the aircraft was a Hawker Typhoon 1B stationed at Bradwell Airfield, now the site of the Power Station and had been piloted by Flight Sergeant Pottinger who had been rescued after ditching in the river shortly after take off.

A further four dives were needed to locate the tail section, the final dive being on 26th September when it was located and recovered along with the radio, bringing an end to a very interesting and successful project.


The engine is lifted, showing its enormous size


The 20 mm. cannon shells were in an extremely dangerous state and four boxes had to be blown up by bomb disposal.

The above article published in West Mersea Town Regatta Programme, 2005.

Read More:
Ron Pottinger's Diary 22 March 1944
Typhoon aircraft salvaged from Blackwater Colchester Diving Club

In 2009 Brian Jay talked to Paul Jasper about the Typhoon - you can listen to this online - near the beginning of Paul Jasper Part 2

2021 - there are two heritage projects running that are dedicated to the Hawker Typhoon.
Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group www.hawker-typhoon.com/ in the UK
Typhoon Legacy Co. Ltd. www.typhoonlegacy.com in Canada.

AuthorBrian Jay
Keywordsr.8895
PublishedJune 2005
SourceMersea Museum
IDREG_2005_TYP
Related Images:
 Ron Pottinger in front of a Hawker Typhoon at Manston in Kent. In March 1944 he was pilot of Typhoon R8895 which crashed in the River Blackwater.  MPO_001
ImageID:   MPO_001
Title: Ron Pottinger in front of a Hawker Typhoon at Manston in Kent. In March 1944 he was pilot of Typhoon R8895 which crashed in the River Blackwater.
Date:1943
Source:Mersea Museum / Mark Pottinger
 L-R Dink Ball, late Capt King.
 Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.  REG_2005_TYP_001
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_001
Title: L-R Dink Ball, late Capt King.
Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection
 Salvaging an engine from Typhoon R8895 which came down in the Blackwater 22 March 1944.
 The engine is lifted, showing its enormous size.  REG_2005_TYP_003
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_003
Title: Salvaging an engine from Typhoon R8895 which came down in the Blackwater 22 March 1944.
The engine is lifted, showing its enormous size.
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection
 Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
 Wing in foreground, cockpit at back. Tyre now at Point Clear Martello museum  REG_2005_TYP_005
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_005
Title: Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
Wing in foreground, cockpit at back. Tyre now at Point Clear Martello museum
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection
 Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
 Oxygen cylinder for pilot, still owned by Brian Jay.  REG_2005_TYP_007
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_007
Title: Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
Oxygen cylinder for pilot, still owned by Brian Jay.
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection
 Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.  REG_2005_TYP_009
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_009
Title: Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection
 Salvaging an engine from Typhoon R8895 which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.  REG_2005_TYP_011
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_011
Title: Salvaging an engine from Typhoon R8895 which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection
 Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.  REG_2005_TYP_013
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_013
Title: Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection
 Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
 The 20 mm. cannon shells were in an extremely dangerous state and four boxes had to be blown up by bomb disposal.  REG_2005_TYP_015
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_015
Title: Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
The 20 mm. cannon shells were in an extremely dangerous state and four boxes had to be blown up by bomb disposal.
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection
 L-R Brian Jay, Trevor Hamblion. At Brian's house, with items salvaged from the Typhoon in the Blackwater.  REG_2005_TYP_017
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_017
Title: L-R Brian Jay, Trevor Hamblion. At Brian's house, with items salvaged from the Typhoon in the Blackwater.
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection
 Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.  REG_2005_TYP_019
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_019
Title: Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection
 SCEPTRE with barge - salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.  REG_2005_TYP_021
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_021
Title: SCEPTRE with barge - salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection
 Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
 Ready to dive. Captain King from Harwich, Brian Jay, Trevor Hamblion  REG_2005_TYP_023
ImageID:   REG_2005_TYP_023
Title: Salvaging an engine from a Typhoon which came down in the Blackwater during WW2.
Ready to dive. Captain King from Harwich, Brian Jay, Trevor Hamblion
Date:1971
Source:Brian Jay Collection