An historic Hawker Sea Fury plane has crashed in a field near a naval base in Somerset.

The plane made a “precautionary forced landing” next to RNAS Yeovilton on Wednesday afternoon.

Navy Wings, which operates the Sea Fury T.20, said the pilots had been taken to hospital as a precaution.

The crash happened following a problem with the engine during a routine training flight, the Navy Wings spokesperson added.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Both the Civil Aviation Authority and Air Accident Investigation Branch have been informed.

Matt Bullock, who saw the wreckage, said: “I only heard it take off. Then there was a lot of sirens about 10 minutes later in the village followed by the Sea King from Portland circling overhead for about 20 minutes.”

Both pilots were said to be safe and well but had been taken to Yeovil District Hospital to be checked over.

Lewis Gaylard, a military aviation journalist and former Sea Vixen team member, said: “It’s a terrible shame what has happened to Sea Fury, VX281 this afternoon.

“The best news is that both aircrew are safe, which is the most important. After all the hard work, time and money spent on getting the Fury back into the air, and with an appearance at Shuttleworth scheduled for this coming Sunday, it is a great shame to all involved.

“Hopefully there might be a way to repair the damage to the aircraft, but no doubt this will take a considerable amount of money for Navy Wings, which they have very little of.”

In July 2014 the Sea Fury crashed at RNAS Culdrose Air Day.

The Sea Fury was taking part in the aerobatic display in Cornwall when the plane lost power and crashed on to the runway.

The pilot walked away uninjured but the 1944 fighter – one of only three or four in the UK – was badly damaged.

It took three years and £350,000 to restore the plane and get it back in the air.