Aviation Safety / Air Crashes

Alleged British F-35B Crash Video Leaked Online

Provided it is genuine, the clip shows the British F-35B crashing in the sea during a failed take off from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

A video, supposedly showing the moment a British F-35B Lightning crashed off UK’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has just emerged and doing the rounds. Although we can’t be 100 percent sure, the clip (probably filmed with a smartphone as the actual video possibly recorded by the aircraft’s camera system is displayed on a computer’s screen) appears to be genuine and shows the incident, that occurred on Nov. 17, 2021, as it has been described so far.

You can clearly see an F-35B, configured for short take off (with open LIFT fan door and rear nozzle pivoted downward), rolling on the ski jump at very low speed (much lower than normal), then literally falling off the carrier for lack of enough thrust/lift. The pilot manages to launch as the aircraft reaches the final part of the ski jump.

Here’s the video:


The UK MOD has not denied the authenticity of the video (although it hasn’t confirmed it either).

As already reported, the one that crashed crashed in the Mediterranean Sea launching from the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is one of the eight British F-35Bs and ten U.S. Marine Corps F-35s embarked HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden operational cruise (dubbed CSG-21).

In an exclusive story published by The Sun on Nov. 23, the root cause of the crash was identified as a plastic, red rain cover, supposed to be removed before flight, but left on for the take off. While which “cheap plastic cover” was not removed before flight has not been explained, someone suggested it could be the one that is used to protect the dorsal air intake exposed when the LIFT fan door (the so called “toilet cover”) is opened.

Anyway, the fact that the flying activity was not halted after the incident, and that all the F-35Bs embarked aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, including those of the U.S. Marine Corps, could take part in a cross deck exercise off Italy with the Italian Air Force and Navy’s F-35Bs was a clear sign that the root cause of the crash was immediately known and, importantly, not technical.

“If [the root cause being the rain cover left on is] confirmed, the crash of the F-35B would have been caused by a catastrophic chain of failures (by more than one person) in following the standard taxi and take off procedures, that will certainly include multiple visual checks of the actual removal of the air intake covers and safety pins (which are in red color and have the usual “Remove Before Flight” sign to attract the attention and prevent this kind of incidents),” this Author commented in a previous article on the incident.

Interestingly, the new video, provided is genuine, seems to show another interesting detail: as the aircraft is rolling, it seems like the pilot attempted to change the nozzle position and tilt it rearward, possibly in a final attempt to increase the thrust.

H/T Alex Snow for the heads-up.

About David Cenciotti 4470 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.
David Cenciotti

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

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    • F-35s can take off with zero forward speed, only very lightly loaded. 

      To the dude who got the screen capture, seriously you have access to that video and that's the best screen capture you can do?

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