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Flt Sgt Copping's P-40 From The Egyptian Desert

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  • Mark12
    MEANS MOTIVE OPPORTUNITY
    • Jan 2000
    • 10863

    That appears to be the main Sutton Harness rather than the parachute.

    Image- Historicflyingclothing


    Mark
    "...the story had been forensically examined and was deeply impressive. I knew that the whole story was a load of myth and baloney"

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    • Guest's Avatar
      Guest

      I agree 100% with Mk12. Certainly the Sutton seat harness. Nothing to do with the parachute and I had not spotted this before.

      This begs an interesting question; why is the fixed seat harness out of the aeroplane? Whilst it can be removed, I am wondering if this has been cut/hacked out? If so, why?

      Just re-reading Qattara's post again...do you mean that this harness was cut?? Could you please clarify?

      If so, then why?
      Last edited by Tangmere1940; 12th November 2012, 15:04.

      Comment

      • RAFRochford
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Feb 2006
        • 911

        Hi Qattara;

        Welcome back to the forum. Very glad to have your input here again.

        Regards;
        Steve

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        • Guest's Avatar
          Guest

          The evidence as to how/if this was cut would surely have been noted by the recent recovery party.

          I think this is a hugely important piece of information that should now be disclosed for the family.

          The significance of the harness being out of the aircraft is considerable in the context of what happened to Flt Sgt Copping.

          Comment

          • pat1968
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Apr 2004
            • 260

            indeed welcome back qattara! This is a very interesting development, i believe Andy is going to post some comments on this so i will let him do that and discuss the implications afterwards.
            "Only the dead see the end of the war" Plato

            www.hawkerhind.com

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            • Guest's Avatar
              Guest

              Pat

              My post prior to yours refers!

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              • pat1968
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Apr 2004
                • 260

                sorry, i must be having a senior moment! It's been a long day. Certainly posses more questions than it answers. Maybe someone from the recovery team would like to comment?
                "Only the dead see the end of the war" Plato

                www.hawkerhind.com

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                • David Burke
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Jan 2000
                  • 10027

                  How significant is it? It could have been removed by him for whatever purpose -however it could have also been removed by anyone else in the intervening period .

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                  • Guest's Avatar
                    Guest

                    David

                    I honestly think it is pretty significant.

                    One would not have expected this to have been removed from the aircraft. The whole harness, as you know, is quite substantially anchored into the aircraft and its removal, I would suggest, is not something that I can see any earthly reason why poor old Dennis Copping would expend time and energy in removing. It is just difficult to see why? And why would some passing Bedouin randomly go to all the effort of cutting it out of the P40.....and then just leave it in the sand?

                    More significantly, I feel, is that the word from our Italian friend seems to be indicating it has been cut. If it has, again; why?

                    Whilst we are into the realms of supposition with all of this, the important fact is that the family are keenly anxious to know what happened to him and would clearly like to know about the 'status' of the removed Sutton harness. This is a piece of kit that is closely associated with Dennis, and the recovery team (who are certainly watching this!) must be able to confirm what the Italian team are saying. Currently, we have a situation where the P40 was removed from the desert (ostensibly for RAFM) but any discussion on that is forbidden. So....moving on from that we have a situation where human bones associated with a piece of parachute not too far from the P40 are dismissed as having any connection to Dennis. The result is that the MOD incorrectly tell the family they are not connected and are 400 years old....but, in fact, have now had to admit that actually they don't know at all and they have not been recovered, examined or tested!

                    So, returning to the removed Sutton harness.

                    If it has been cut, as suggested, then this surely raises the possibility that somebody chanced upon the wreck some long while afterwards and poor Dennis was still in the cockpit. Lets face it, the state of the damage to the aircraft would have ensured the occupant would have been pretty knocked about. He may have been rendered unconscious, or even died as a result of a blow to the head. He could also have had spinal injuries etc and been unable to get out. Horrible though all the scenarios for his death might be, this has to be a possibility. So, many ages later then let us suppose that a passing Bedouin(s) find the P40 and its pilot is still inside. They open the cockpit and, by this stage, the only way to get him out is to cut the harness. To me, it seems to be a perfectly logical and rational explanation as to the (apparent) cutting and removal of the harness. In this case, then one would suppose that Dennis is buried somewhere nearby. Possibly, even, he was carried to the rock outcrop in parts of his parchute and buried there?

                    Either way, it seems that if this removed/cut harness was discovered many weeks ago then I think the family deserve to know.

                    Again, it is difficult to escape the feeling that the precious P40 itself is the over-riding consideration, here. It isn't. The pilot and his family are.

                    It has now been many weeks since it was suggested that news about the P40 would follow. But all remains quiet. Maybe, something will be announced with a flourish this week to mark the 40th anniversary of RAFM Hendon? If it is, or whenever it is, then let's hope the focus of attention is the story relating to its pilot.

                    Comment

                    • l.garey
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Feb 2006
                      • 1951

                      It would not be unique if local people found a dead pilot in the cockpit of a fighter, and then buried him under rocks some distance from the wreck.
                      I think of the case of Owen Watkinson, whose Venom crashed in 1958 on the Saiq Plateau in Oman. I described the site here:
                      https://sites.google.com/site/lgarey/jebel-akhdar
                      (near the end of my article)
                      Owen was at first buried under a stone cairn some hundreds of meters from his aircraft, then reburied in a rock ledge and cemented in some time later.
                      I attach a photo I took in 2008 when I went up to the site again for the 50th anniversary of his crash. It shows the remains of the cairn. You see his new grave in the article.
                      Attached Files
                      Last edited by l.garey; 13th November 2012, 07:56.
                      Laurence

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                      • TonyT
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Oct 2006
                        • 9022

                        But then again, he could have been trying to make some sort of harness to carry the items he needed
                        Last edited by TonyT; 13th November 2012, 09:44.

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                        • David_Kavangh
                          Senior Member
                          • Jan 2000
                          • 1017

                          Agree that this information should have been made clear to the family at the outset, but it MAY mean that Dennis Copping had a decent burial 70 years and ago and that he did not suffer a lingering lonely death. This maybe the best and only out come of the story. Hope not, and hope his remains are yet found.

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                          • Guest's Avatar
                            Guest

                            Originally posted by TonyT View Post
                            But then again, he could have been trying to make some sought of harness to carry the items he needed
                            Anything is possible, of course.

                            It would be interesting to hear other theories/explanations I suppose. Unfortunately, all is speculation though - but I cannot help but keep coming back to the 'explanation' that, to me, seems likely in my #94

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                            • TonyT
                              Rank 5 Registered User
                              • Oct 2006
                              • 9022

                              And I can't help but keep coming back to the remains discovered and they need investigating first before any speculation about anything else.

                              seems strange to cut a harness off to remove a body then remove the harness from the body, and neither explains who fired the charges or removed the clock and had a go at the radio.

                              Comment

                              • l.garey
                                Rank 5 Registered User
                                • Feb 2006
                                • 1951

                                Agreed, Tony. But to identify the remains we need a sample of the bones found by the Italian team. That is what we are trying to obtain, but without success so far. They were left where they were found.
                                Laurence

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                                • ...starfire
                                  this space for rent
                                  • Jun 2004
                                  • 462

                                  I think it might be interesting to see if the cut piece can be seen on other photos taken earlier. I cannot spot it (in this or any place) on pictures taken during April when the canopy had already been vandalized. Currently I have no access to pictures taken when the canopy had not been smashed in, possibly they show the state of the harness inside the cockpit when the aircraft was originally found by the Polish team?

                                  Anyway, IIRC the was some speculation about battery and / or radio parts (?) having been removed from the wreckage. In case of #94 that wouldn't really make sense for me ...
                                  Cheers
                                  ...chris

                                  Comment

                                  • shepsair
                                    Rank 5 Registered User
                                    • Oct 2009
                                    • 284

                                    P40

                                    I am sure there is a picture showing the D ring of the parachute in the sand behind the port wing. I will have to find it.

                                    Additionally, I have heard from a couple of sources that the verey pistol was found in the cockpit during the recovery. Now if that was the case, I tend to believe he was seriously injured in the crash landing as it was extremely hard with a flash fire around the engine - hot oil/fuel after removing the sump.

                                    I am not sure if he would have been in a condition to walk far and could have suffered injuries as mentioned.

                                    The one thing I am sure you would take on walking out or staying with the would be the verey pistol. (It was found in the bottom of the cockpit).

                                    I had always hoped Dennis Copping would be found under the port wing but this was not the case.

                                    I cannot believe he would be buried by bedouins where the bones were found as this was some miles away. It would be local to the aircraft. Whether there was a cairn of rocks I don't know. Needs another look at the photos.

                                    I cannot think of a reason why the harness would be removed by the pilot. What could he rig up with it?

                                    regards

                                    MS

                                    Comment

                                    • knifeedgeturn
                                      Is c0ck-up.
                                      • Sep 2010
                                      • 534

                                      Why cut the harness to release a body when the clip is the most obvious method ?

                                      To help understand how the harness ended up in the sand it is perhaps helpful to know how it is fixed, many British fighters have the harness fixed to the seat,(frame) with the inertia reel section anchoring it to the fuselage; how is it fixed in the p40, was the seat still in the plane? I can't remember as this was nearly a year ago.
                                      " A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest"

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                                      • Guest's Avatar
                                        Guest

                                        Mark

                                        As you say, if the Verey pistol was found in the cockpit then it points to him not having left the vicinity of the a/c.

                                        That said, who knows how somebody will act when in a confused, shocked and injured state and perhaps, already, suffering from the effects of the heat and the sun? He may have just wandered off in a daze....but none of this makes sense if you factor in the apparently cut harness.

                                        Kniefedgeturn - I accept your point, but if the body (dead or alive) is slumped forward it may not have been obvious how to remove the securing pin. One also needs to consider that a slumped and decaying body may not have been something you would want to interfere with too much to get to the release! The obvious expedient of cutting the harness might have been the quickest, easiest and most obvious solution to somebody more used to camels and, perhaps, carrying a very sharp knife.

                                        Its all just a theory, though....

                                        PS - yes, the seat was still in the aircraft although I dont recall that we could see the two lower fixed harness points, or the back of the seat through to the anchor point. I suppose the other point is that if the harness was cut only at the shoulders and the person was lifted out then this would have left the cross-over chest straps still secured to the bottom straps - ergo: the whole assembly, still locked together, should still be in the cockpit? So, that would mean that somebody would have had to come along later and take it out to put it on the sand? Unless (and we don't know this, yet) somebody had also cut the bottom straps near the seat anchor point, too? The only bits in evidence are the chest straps with the brass eyelets. In fact....thinking about this some more, the bottom straps would presumably have needed to be cut, anyway. It would surely have been impossible to lift somebody (dead or alive) whose legs were secured by the lower straps....?? And only the salvors, as far as we know, have the answer to the question of the lower straps, at this stage.
                                        Last edited by Tangmere1940; 13th November 2012, 11:49.

                                        Comment

                                        • shepsair
                                          Rank 5 Registered User
                                          • Oct 2009
                                          • 284

                                          P40

                                          http://www.cairdpublications.com/scr...urvgearbit.htm

                                          First picture shows what I think is the D ring of the seat parachute (see above). I would have thought all of it (and the parachute) would be under the wing. This was where the parachute was located. The harness seemed to be in front of the starboard wing and the D ring behind the port wing.

                                          Parachute, well chewed but is this all of it?? Has it been cut? Has the cords been taken/used?

                                          The remains of the harness in the cockpit. Is that a strap end or has it been cut. Looks very straight and unfrayed to me but nothing coming out of the seat frame where U assumed it would have been fixed to?

                                          regards

                                          MAS
                                          Attached Files
                                          Last edited by shepsair; 13th November 2012, 12:20.

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