SAAF Blenheim Z.7513

Wreck now positively identified

The aircraft remains (and a moslim style grave nearby) were found approximately 6-8 kilometres from the spot plotted based on the Court of Inquiry documents, on the only area in the vicinity that would readily suggest itself as a landing area. (We have searched in the plotted area as well, with negative results.) As similar errors were encountered at the initial force landing site, the location can be accepted to match the original description.

The only recognisable main parts left of the airplane are the wing box including the engine and landing gear supports on both ends (cut longitudinally in half), and the armor plating protecting the crew from the rear. The armor plating carries a date of 1940. In addition, several smaller parts were found, many bearing the crown, and spent 0.303 in cartridges also bearing the 1940 date.(Matching the caliber of the Browning machine guns installed on Blenheim IV-s).

Many components carry part numbers (recognisable on some photos), a single serial number was noted on the bolted plate joining the steel engine and landing gear supports: SERIAL NO. 7215 (on the right of the photo, partially obscured by the rightmost bolt and its shadow). Most probably this number refers to the component or assembly.

The wing box is clearly torn into two parts. We found molten aluminium globules up to an inch in diameter in a fairly large area to north of the present main wreck, clearly indicating that parts of this aircraft burned intensely. Initially this confused us, az Z.7513 clearly landed intact, and it was still in one piece when an oil exploration team found it in early 1959. (Barnes, C.H. Bristol Aircraft Since 1910,London, 1964)

Many smaller components were found in a large debris field also containing the molten bits. One was a cylindrical component made of steel, with clearly identifiable manufacturer and part number marks.

On the spot all we could determine was that the wreck was clearly a twin engined British aircraft, of WWII vintage. It is highly improbable, that more than one British aircraft was lost during WWII in the same immediate vicinity, however a number of questions remained before we could positively identify the wreck with Z.7513, the aircraft originally piloted by Major de Wet.

The following information was received from John Smith, engineer at the Conservation Department, IWM Aviation Museum, Duxford.

Sent: Sunday, December 16, 2001 12:39 PM
Subject: Saaf Blenheim

Have looked at your website and the aircraft is definitely a Blenheim-

Photo 3 - Underside of centre section shows fuel lines as per Blenheim and also the bomb bay support structure for the bomb racks - the spar construction is individual to the Blenheim.
Photo 5 - The armour plate shows manufacturers initials WD&Co and the round stamp is the inspectors stamp.
Photo 6 - Standard Blenheim undercarriage and engine bearer construction showing the ferruled sleeves and peined down ends to the bolts. Numbers are component part numbers.
Photo 12/13 - If the fitting has a bulb holder in the end it is a standard light fitting which was mounted on a gimballed mount which would have been mounted over the observors table also above the windscreen for the pilots instrument panel and in the rear for use of the WOP/AG.

Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2001 11:55 PM
Subject: SAAF Blenheim

Attached is three views of Blenheim Z7513 taken in 1959 and was then obviously complete apart for some strange reason the removal of the rudder. I have taken the photos from a booklet called PROFILE 218 Bristol Blenheim MKIV but is quite an old publication and is not available now.


You mention that you found globules of molten aluminium, is it possible that the aircraft was cut up using oxy/acetylene cutting equipment.

With a bit of luck I managed to find a copy of the Profile 218 Blenheim IV booklet on (it came all the way from Australia). Aside the photos in John's email, it contains a photo of a Blenheim in a steep bank, clearly showing it's underside. The crescent like panel just below the jacking point inscription is clearly visible between the fuselage and the starbord engine, further confirming the wreck's identity.

Based on the above information there is now little doubt that the wreck is indeed Z.7513