1960 Munich Convair 340 crash
A C-131D similar to the accident aircraft
|Date||17 December 1960|
|Site||Munich, West Germany
|Injuries (non-fatal)||20 on the ground|
|Fatalities||52 including 32 on the ground|
|Aircraft type||Convair C-131D (CV-340)|
|Operator||Third Air Force, United States Air Force|
|Flight origin||Munich-Riem airport|
On 17 December 1960, a Convair C-131D Samaritan operated by the United States Air Force crashed on a flight from Munich, Germany to RAF Northolt, west London, UK shortly after take-off from Munich-Riem Airport, due to fuel contamination. All 20 passengers and crew on board as well as 32 people on the ground were killed.
On 17 December 1960, the Samaritan was due to fly from Munich-Riem airport in Germany to RAF Northolt in the United Kingdom with 13 passengers and 7 crew. Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft lost power to one of its two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engines. Unable to maintain altitude, it hit the 318-foot steeple of St. Paul's Church next to the Oktoberfest site (then vacant) in the downtown Ludwigsvorstadt borough. Subsequently, at 2:10 PM, it crashed into a crowded two-section Munich streetcar in Martin-Greif-Straße, close to Bayerstraße.
All 13 passengers and 7 crew members on the plane died. Thirty-two people on the ground were killed and 20 were injured. A section of the wing crashed through the roof of a building at Hermann-Lingg-Straße, a block away from the main accident site, without injuring anybody there. Time Magazine later reported that all 13 passengers on the Convair were holiday-bound University of Maryland students.
The Convair C-131D Samaritan is a twin piston engined military transport with seating for 44 passengers, a variant of the Convair 340. Serial number 55-0291 was the first United States Air Force C-131 to be based in Europe, it first flew in April 1955 and had been based at RAF Northolt since 13 May 1955, where it was under command of the 7500th Air Base Group, 3rd Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
A crash investigation revealed water in the fuel tank booster pump. Because water is more dense than fuel it can settle to the bottom of the tank, into the pump inlets; when it freezes it blocks inlets and deprives the engine of fuel. This deprivation of fuel caused the Munich Convair 340 to lose power and eventually shut down the engine.
The day before the accident, two commercial airliners collided over New York, killing 134. The accidents fueled the discussions in Munich and Hamburg for building new airports further away from the cities. Due to resistance of the citizens, the new Munich airport did not commence operation until 32 years later, in 1992. Hamburg still uses Fuhlsbüttel Airport, which was founded in 1911 and is the oldest airport operating in Germany.
Coincidentally, the Munich crash occurred on the same day that the historic visitors' center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial was dedicated, on the 57th anniversary of the Wright Flyer's first flight in 1903. According to one news account, a "slim audience saddened by Friday's airliner collision over New York and Saturday's crash at Munich" attended the dedication ceremony.
- American Airlines Flight 6780: first fatal crash of a Convair 240 on 22 January 1952
- 1960 New York air disaster: collision of two airliners on 16 December 1960
- Lynyrd Skynyrd 1977 CV-240 crash
- British Airways Flight 38: suffered engine failure due to ice crystals in the fuel, clogging the fuel-oil heat exchanger just short of the runway at Heathrow Airport, London, UK on 17 January 2008
- List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1950–1974)
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- Accident description at PlaneCrashInfo.com
- Accident description by DisasterManagement.net
- History of St. Paul, the Diocese of Munich & Freising, English translation via Google
- History, Munich Voluntary Fire & Rescue Services, English translation via Google
- Munich History, Munich Fire & Rescue Services with a photo of the crash aftermath; English translation via Google
- Disasters: Death in the Air, Time, December 26, 1960
- RAF Northolt Convair Feature incl. background information and a pre-accident photo of C-131D (Internet Archive)
- Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook 11-27f. FAA
- TLF 16, with photo; English translation via Google, click to see photo separately
- Brief History of German Aviation, Summary of a speech by Willi Hermsen, MD of the Munich Airport; English translation via Google
- Central Airport - Death in the afternoon, Der Spiegel, English translation by Google
- Hamburg Airport History, Hamburg Airport
- Dedication Ceremony 1960, National Park Service (Internet Archive)
- Oberbayerisches Volksblatt / Rosenheimer Anzeiger vom 19. Dezember 1960 (Nr.293 – 106. Jahrgang)
- Deutsche Wochenschau NDW, December 19 1960 Summary of a TV report (German)
- Great Disasters by Editor John Canning, ISBN 0-907407-95-1 published by Octopus in 1976