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A 16 foot jet-powered replica of a Vickers Valiant which cost model-maker Simon Steggall £15k, two years' graft, and one wife, crashed and burned on its fourth flight, The Sun reports.

Steggal, 45, of Manningtree, Essex, had already lost one missus to his "model planes obsession" when the second divorced him over the V Bomber project. Battling bravely on, he completed the unique model and had carried out three flights when he "he tried to show an examiner the remote-controlled plane was safe" in order to be allowed to carry out public displays.

Unfortunately, just after take-off at an airfield near Ipswich, Suffolk, the Valiant lost power to one engine and, despite Steggal's attempts to make an emergency landing, crashed into trees and exploded.

Steggal, who described himself as "devastated", recounted: "It looked like a real plane crash. I used my fire extinguisher to try and douse the flames but then we smelt fuel and I realised the kerosene in the tanks was about to blow. Both of us ran for cover and it exploded, showering hot fuel everywhere."

He continued: "It was the only model Valiant in the world and cost me an absolute fortune to build. I had it insured for more than £15,000. It feels like I've lost a member of the family. But I'm not going to let this setback get to me. Luckily my new girlfriend loves my hobby."

The Sun has pictures of the tragic accident here. ®

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