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1960 Munich Convair 340 crash
A C-131D similar to the accident aircraft
Accident summary
Date 17 December 1960
Summary Take-off failure
Site Munich, West Germany
48°8′20″N 11°32′59″E / 48.13889°N 11.54972°E / 48.13889; 11.54972Coordinates: 48°8′20″N 11°32′59″E / 48.13889°N 11.54972°E / 48.13889; 11.54972
Passengers 13
Crew 7
Injuries (non-fatal) 20 (on the ground)
Fatalities 52 (including 32 on the ground)
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Convair C-131D (CV-340)
Operator Third Air Force, United States Air Force
Registration 55-0291
Flight origin Munich-Riem airport
Destination RAF Northolt

On 17 December 1960, a Convair C-131D Samaritan operated by the United States Air Force on a flight from Munich to RAF Northolt crashed 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.[1][2]


St. Paul's Church, Munich

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.[1] Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft lost power to one of its two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engines.[2] 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 tramway car in Martin-Greif-Straße, close to Bayerstraße.

All 13 passengers and 7 crew members on the plane died. 32 people on the ground were killed and 20 were injured.[1] 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 accident aircraft, Convair C-131D-CO Samaritan, (c/n 212, company designation: Model 340-79), was a twin piston engined military transport with seating for 44 passengers. Given the military serial number 55-0291, the aircraft was the first United States Air Force C-131 to be based in Europe, at RAF Northolt, where it was under command of the 7500th Air Base Group, 3rd Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE).[3]


A crash investigation revealed water in the fuel tank booster pump.[2] 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 C-131 to lose power and eventually shut down the engine.


After the accident, the Munich Fire & Rescue Services ordered new TLF 16 powder trucks to complement their fleet of traditional water tenders.

The day before the accident, two commercial airliners collided over New York, killing 134. The accidents fueled the discussions in Munich[4] 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.[5]

Memorial plaque at the accident site (translation: "In memory of the 52 victims of the airplane crash on 17 December 1960")

See also[]

  • 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)


Other sources[]

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