3 TEU Typhoon Ib MN127 W/O. Leonard H. Johnson
Date: 05th July 1944 (Wednesday)
Unit: No. 3 TEU (Tactical Exercise Unit). 9 Group
Type: Typhoon Ib
Base: RAF Honiley, Warwickshire
Location: West of Stoneleigh, Warwickshire
Pilot: W/O. Leonard Horace Johnson NZ/42408 RNZAF Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
After just 20 minutes into the flight he was seen in company with another aircraft 'beating up' an American hospital near Kenilworth. After one dive the Typhoon rolled on to its back on the top of the climb. It remained inverted for a couple of seconds, righted itself then immediately spun out of control and crashed west of Stoneleigh.
The enquiry stated that the aircraft was fit for the flight and the pilot was capable in carrying out the orders.
The primary cause of the accident was the 'unauthorised 'beating up' the hospital. It is thought the aircraft stalled whilst on its back or during the attempt to right it. It would be expected that the engine would cut out after a short period inverted, one witness stated the he saw smoke at that point.
It was decided that the pilot was to blame for the accident, but noted that the pilot was inexperienced on the Typhoon and was not under a proper degree of supervision. F/O. Schwartz, who authorised the flight had only been with the unit a few weeks. His authorisation of low flying and aerobatics to be done on the same flight was foolish, although no orders prohibiting such a practice.
Burial and personal details:
W/O. Leonard Horace Johnson. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot 1/2. Grave 242. Born on the 04th July 1922 at Palmerston North. Worked as an exchange clerk for the Post and Telecommunications Department prior to service. Enlisted in the RNZAF at Levin on the 11th January 1942. Awarded his pilots badge and promoted to sergeant on the 17th October 1942. Son of Horace William and Florence Eveline Johnson (née Cottrell), of Palmerston North, Wellington, New Zealand. 713 hours logged with the majority on the Hurricane.
Researched for relatives of the pilot with thanks to Mike Howes for bringing this loss to our attention. Mike is hoping to make contact with relatives when he visits New Zealand in 2016. Also with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: