1953 Avro Lincoln shootdown incident

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1953 Avro Lincoln shootdown incident
Part of the Cold War
15 Avro Lincoln, 44 RR Merlin 85 (15812108166).jpg
Avro Lincoln aircraft similar to the one shot down over East Germany
TypeAircraft Shot-down
west of Boizenburg, East Germany

53°22′40″N 10°39′40″E / 53.37778°N 10.66111°E / 53.37778; 10.66111Coordinates: 53°22′40″N 10°39′40″E / 53.37778°N 10.66111°E / 53.37778; 10.66111
ObjectiveIntercept RAF Avro Lincoln aircraft
Date12 March 1953
Executed bySoviet Air Defense Forces
Casualties7 British airmen killed

The 1953 Avro Lincoln shootdown incident was the shooting down of a British Avro Lincoln four-engined bomber which had intruded into East German airspace during a training mission on 12 March 1953. While the aircraft was flying on the Hamburg-Berlin air corridor over East Germany it was shot down by a MiG 15 Soviet fighter.


The Avro Lincoln was operated by the Central Gunnery School at RAF Leconfield and was on a routine long-distance training flight.[1] The aircraft was intercepted by two Soviet MiG 15 fighters and after it failed to respond to challenges it was shot down by the fighters' 23 mm cannons.[1][2] The Avro Lincoln crashed east of Boizenburg, on the border of the British and Soviet zones, impacting in a wood between Vierkrug and Horst in the Soviet Zone.[1] It was initially reported that six of the seven crew had been killed and one wounded; the wounded airman was one of three that had bailed out but would later die in hospital.[1][3] German civilians on the ground reported that two British airmen bailed out from the doomed aircraft, only to be strafed and killed by one of the MiG 15s.[2]


The British government represented by the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Germany protested to the Soviet High Commissioner in Germany against the attack on a British aircraft and death of British servicemen.[1] The Soviet news agency stated that the Lincoln had been flying over the German Democratic Republic and had failed to respond to lawful commands to land at the nearest airfield and had shot at the fighters.[1] The British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden described it as a "barbaric" act.[1] The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill condemned the attack in a statement to parliament and emphasised the Avro Lincoln was not armed and within the agreed air corridor.[4] British historian Richard Aldrich claims that while the bomber was not directly involved in airborne intelligence gathering, “its progress was being carefully tracked by a British ‘sigint’ unit on the ground at RAF Charfoldendorf in the British Zone of Germany".[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "British Bomber Shot Down by Russian Fighters". The Times (52569). London. 13 March 1953. p. 8.
  2. ^ a b c "Historian clears clouds over spying and shot-down bomber". www.yorkshirepost.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  3. ^ "Airmen's Bodies Recovered". The Times (52571). London. 16 March 1953. p. 8.
  4. ^ "Wanton Attack on RAF Lincoln". The Times (52573). London. 18 March 1953. p. 8.