Seafire PR432

Hill of Stake, N. Ayrshire













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: A preserved Royal Navy Supermarine Sea Spitfire (Seafire) showing the wings folded for storage on aircraft carriers.


F XVII SX336 Kennet Aviation


RN Seafire with wings folded


Photo: 2006 'Kogo': Released by the author to the public domain






Aircraft Type and Background


RN FAA Supermarine Sea Spitfire ('Seafire') / PR432



A military carrier-borne fighter aircraft operated by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy.

The Supermarine Seafire (official name, Sea Spitfire) was the Royal Navy's version of the Spitfire; later versions being specially adapted with folding wings and arrestor hook for use on aircraft carriers.

The first FAA Seafires were modified versions of the land-based Spitfire Marks Va and Vb, renamed as Seafire Mark II. These variants did not have folding wings. Unfortunately, the Spitfire was never really designed to be converted to a deck-landing Seafire. Modified Seafires found carrier approaches difficult and suffered often from landing gear collapses. Again, at times, the arrestor hooks failed to catch the deck wire and would recoil into the aircraft fuselage damaging the airframe.

The Seafires were equipped with two 20mm cannon and four .303in machine guns in the wings. The could also carry a 500lb bomb load. (Later post-war variants (Mk XVII) were equipped with rocket projectiles.)

In November 1943, the first Seafires with folding wings to enter service with the FAA was the Mark F III, soon to be replaced by the Mark L III. These types made possible below-deck storage. These variants were equipped with Merlin engines.

In May 1945, the first Seafires equipped with Griffon engines appeared. These were the Mark XVs--the type featured on this page. By this time, however, the war in Europe had been brought to a successful conclusion.

The Seafire continued in active service with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) until 1951, and served with the RNVR until the type was decommissioned in 1954.

Preserved versions of the Seafire can still be seen seen at air displays and in museums today.



BELOW: An RCAF Supermarine Sea Spitfire or  Seafire


An RCAF Supermarine Sea Spitfire or Seafire


Photo: Original source unknown






Aircraft Accident Details


This particular aircraft was attached to the re-formed 804 Squadron. At the time of the accident, it was on a ferry flight from RNAS Donibristle (HMS Merlin) in Fife back to its home base at RNAS Maydown (HMS Shrike), a satellite station of RNAS Eglinton (HMS Gannet) in Northern Ireland. (In 1971, HMS Gannet transferred to its present operational base: Prestwick Airport in Scotland.)


From the 804 Squadron record book, this Seafire was one of six that took off. The Royal Navy pilots flying these aircraft were all Sub-Lieutenants (S/Lts): Bain, Brewer, Hartland, Higgs, Knight, and Ashworth. Three of the pilots turned back due to unserviceable aircraft. S/Lt Brewer was in cloud ahead of the others, endeavouring to get a homing signal back. Higgs got through to RNAS Maydown. [Info in this last paragraph was kindly provided by S. Hayton from FAA Records]


Squadron [HQ] signalled all night for S/Lt Knight . However, while enroute to Maydown, the Seafire had crashed into Hill of Stake in North Ayrshire.


It was not until a week later that the wreckage and body of the pilot were discovered at Hill of Stake by a shepherd working out of Tourgill Farm in Brisbane Glen, Largs.






Aircraft Pilot Casualty


The pilot who died in this incident was:

S/Lt Knight was laid to rest in Row N, Grave 6, of Whyteleafe (St. Luke) Churchyard in Surrey, England.






Crash Site Photos


Researcher's Notes (1970s) [From John Martindale's log].


    Wreckage Description and Aircraft History -


  • 274628


  • Scattered and broken but mostly present.


  • Visible on rear fuselage is “Royal Navy” PR 432


  • Serial numbers visible on under wing panels.


  • Flying from Donibristle to Eglington, Northern Ireland, 03/02/47


  • Pilot killed.


  • Found by shepherd Mr John McGeoch of Tourgill, Brisbane Glen.


  • One of a flight of six, four returned, one succeeded.



NOTE: Since these Notes were written in the 1970s, virtually all of the wreckage has been recovered from the crash site.




Earlier Photos



BELOW: One of the hydraulic landing gear legs (oleo struts) from Seafire PR432.


One of the hydraulic landing gear legs (oleo struts) from Seafire PR432.


Photo: © 1970s-2015 John Martindale



BELOW: Fragmented wreckage from the Seafire crash on Hill of Stake near Largs.


Fragmented wreckage from the Seafire crash on Hill of Stake .


Photo: © 1970s-2015 John Martindale



BELOW: The Seafire's Rolls Royce Griffon engine can be seen at the centre of this photo.


The Seafire's Rolls Royce Griffon engine can be seen near the centre of this photo.


Photo: © 1970s-2015 John Martindale



BELOW: The wreckage here includes aluminium skinning and an undercarriage leg (in the distance).


The wreckage here includes aluminium skinning and an undercarriage leg (in the distance).


Photo: © 1970s-2015 John Martindale





Later Photos



Note 1: The following photos contributed by Gary Nelson show a more recent state of this crash site (2014). Only fragments now remain at the location. For photos taken before the recovery of the remaining wreckage, see further down this page.



BELOW: Base of Hill of Stake on the North Ayrshire / Renfrewshire boundary. This is the location where the Seafire's engine wreckage could be found some years ago. Now, only a few fragments remain.


former location of seafire engine.


Photo: © 2013-2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: This washer, found at the crash site, may have come from the Seafire. However, there is some doubt about this since it is in very good condition.


possibly, washer from seafire engine.


Photo: © 2013-2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: The washer was found beside this eroded peat mound near Hill of Stake.


washer found near eroded mound.


Photo: © 2013-2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: Small scraps lying where it is believed the engine once lay (see engine photos further down this page).


scraps from location of engine.


Photo: © 2013-2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: Rusting fragments from the Seafire.


rusting fragments from the seafire.


Photo: © 2013-2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: More fragments.


more fragments.


Photo: © 2013-2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: A tiny piece of Perspex / Plexiglass perched on the stone.


piece of perspex.


Photo: © 2013-2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: All the scraps were found in this area.


all scraps found in this area.


Photo: © 2013-2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: A small collection of scraps with Hill of Stake as the backdrop.


scraps with hill of stake as backdrop.


Photo: © 2013-2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: Hill of Stake ( on Right). The Seafire crashed in the depression in the centre of the horizon.


hill of stake showing depression where seafire crashed.


Photo: © 2013-2014 Gary Nelson





Note 2: The Seafire wreckage shown below was recovered from the site on 21 September 2000 by an RAF helicopter and transferred to the Fleet Air Arm (Preserved Aircraft) branch. Unfortunately, the links on this FAA website are no longer active.




(Following photos taken before 2000.)



BELOW: Part of the fuselage from the Supermarine Sea Spitfire (Seafire) which crashed at Hill of Stake in 1947.


section of fuselage from seafire wreckage


Photo: © 2008 Stephen Hayton



BELOW: The cockpit section of the Seafire—without the canopy.


view of cockpit remains from seafire


Photo: © 2008 Stephen Hayton



BELOW: Part of the hydraulic landing gear from the Seafire.


hydraulic landing gear from seafire


Photo: © 2008 Stephen Hayton



BELOW: The Rolls-Royce Griffon engine from the Seafire. This type was used in later versions of the Seafire, in place of the earlier Merlin engines.


Remains of rolls royce griffon engine


Photo: © 2008 Stephen Hayton



BELOW: Excavations of the site are still evident, but all parts of the wreckage, including the engine, have been recovered. The size of this fragment can be gauged from the dimensions of the walking pole handgrip, which measures about 5-6" or 13-15cm.


fragment of wreckage from seafire


Photo: © 2006 Steve White


Update April 2007: Steve White advises that this fragment can no longer be found. Perhaps it has sunk into the boggy ground or has been removed as a souvenir.



Older Photos


BELOW: The Supermarine Seafire engine, with other fragmented wreckage lying nearby.


At the time this photo was taken, this was the only known part of the wreckage remaining onsite. The engine has since been recovered.


seafire engine lying amidst debris field


Photo: 1990 Gordon Lyons



BELOW: Another view of the Griffon power plant.


another view of the griffon powerplant


Photo: 1990 Gordon Lyons














 Search Website

Air Crash Sites-Scotland

Custom Search


Search here for: aircraft types | crash sites | crew names | hills or mountains

Please enter desired aircraft type, crew name, or location in search box.
























Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 3 Feb 1947


Accident Site:

Hill of Stake (522m)


Region: North Ayrshire / Renfrewshire boundary


Nearest towns or villages:

Greenock, Largs or Lochwinnoch


Nearest large towns:

Greenock (N) or Largs (SW)


OS Grid Ref. 63 / NS 273629


GPS Ref. N/A


Present Condition: Although crashing near the summit of Hill of Stake in the North Ayrshire / Renfrewshire hills, c.4.5 miles NE of Largs, all of the wreckage has now been recovered.


Recovery took place on 21 September 2000, when the wreckage was transferred to the Fleet Air Air Arm (Preserved Aircraft) branch.




Air crashes in this vicinity:



South side of A760:


1) RN Fairey Firefly DT977, Blaeloch Hill.

(Now within the grounds of a publicly-accessible wind farm at Kelburn Estate.)
Some parts, including engine, remain at the crash site, and are described on information boards by the wind farm operators (RES). RES have created a visitor's car park off the A760, and walking routes for the area. [Map and route details here.]



North side of A760:


2) RAF de Havilland Devon VP969, Slaty Law / Box Law.

Wings, engines and under-carriage, etc., remain at the site.


3) RAF Vickers Wellington R1164, Box Law.

Fragmented wreckage only remains at the crash site.


4) BEA Vickers Viking G-AIVE, Irish Law.

Wings, engines and under-carriage, etc., remain at the site.


5) RN Supermarine Sea Spitfire ('Seafire'). Hill of Stake.

(The aircraft on this page.)

All remaining wreckage now removed from the site.


6) Northern Scottish Airways Spartan Cruiser, Hill of Stake.

Remaining fuselage shell was recovered from the site in 1973. Now at the National Museum of Flight, East Fortune.


7) RAF Bristol Beaufort L9817, Knockside Hills, S of Irish Law.
Wreckage removed by RAF recovery team. Fragments only remain at the crash site.


8) Starways Douglas C-47B Dakota G-AMRB, Greenside Hill, SE of Irish Law.

Fragments only remain at the crash site.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: PR432


Operator:  RN / FAA


Operating Base: RNAS Maydown (HMS Shrike)


Base Location: Co. Londonderry, N. Ireland


Current Airport Status: Disused




Related Links



RN / FAA and Related Links

Spitfire Society

Supermarine Seafire F17 (SX137) at Fleet Air Arm Museum


Other Links

Spitfire and Seafire at Wikipedia

Supermarine Seafire at History of War (Development and Service Record)

Supermarine Seafires on Escort Carriers (1943-44 photos at Ivy and Martin's web page.)



Public Debut of Seafire Mk XVII SX336 at the Spitfire Site. (Video with sound: 3:30 minutes)

Supermarine Seafire Display at Shuttleworth Collection D-Day Air Display, 6th June 2010 (YouTube video with sound: 5:29 minutes)



Hill Walking Links



(Hillwalking and Mountaineering)

WalkingScotland (The official Walking site of Scotland's national tourism organisation)

Walking Scotland's Mountains




Emergency Services Link

Register for Text 999 Emergency Service

If you cannot make voice calls, you can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone.





Essential Gear



Beacon GPS Guide Maps


Essential Equipment - Three Seasons.


Trespass - Outdoor Clothing and Equipment


Walking Boots Advice