Aeroplane Monthly 2014-06

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More than a Century of History in the Air



x 1:24 scale An Airfi Airfix super-detailed Hawker Typhoon Ib kit

D-Day 70th Anniversary

SUMMER 2014 £4.99

e u s s i r i n e v So u

Died on Active Service


50 pages

off D-Day y related material!

• The invasion letter sent out by General Dwight D. Eisenhower • As reported in The Aeroplane in June 1944 rst action of D-Day • The fifirst • Lancaster Battle Honour – Normandy 1944 • Flying P-51s from Fowlmere

Captain C i Sir Si J John h W. Alcock 95th anniversary special

Supermarine Spitfire Mk V & IX





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The second chance pilot

Page 18

Battle Honours Normandy 1944 Page 34

D-Day from Fowlmere

Regulars MAIN PICTURE: Timothy O’Brien’s painting entitled Coup de Main, which depicts the three Airspeed Horsa gliders landing at Pegasus Bridge just after midnight on June 6, 1944 – see pages 42-43 for the story.



All the latest preservation news, compiled by Tony Harmsworth


Steve Slater’s “insider” comment on the historic aviation world


James Kightly looks at the nocturnal operations of those flying this German night-fighter. Illustration by Ian Bott



An Airfix “Super Detail” 1:24 scale Typhoon Ib kit!

See page 96 for a great subscription offer to


We turn the clock back 70 years to examine exactly how the aerial operations in support of D-Day were reported in The Aeroplane of June 16, 1944


Your questions asked, and answered, with Mike Hooks

Page 44


Flt Lt Dave Kirby, the 2014 Shorts Tucano display pilot for the Royal Air Force, recently spoke to Gareth Stringer about his aviation career


A selection of readers’ letters, plus Air Test and Aeronautical Amusement






UK and overseas event listings for May 2014

Our regular spot for your historic aviation close calls


Douglas C-47 Skytrain 43-15211/ J-8 (N1944A), which on D-Day flew with the 92nd Troop Carrier Sqn, 439th Troop Carrier Group, from RAF Upottery in Devon, was photographed by RICHARD PAVER in 2010.


In News

Summer 2014 Vol 42 No 6 Issue No 494 (on sale April 29, 2014)



Not many people got to serve their country in two separate uniformed services during the war. Ninety-nineyear-old Metropolitan Police and RAF veteran Len Trevallion talks to Tony Harmsworth about his varied career

A pictorial presentation showing USAAF aerial operations to deliver Airborne forces to Normandy

Norman Franks describes how, following the Armistice, luck just ran out for another experienced and decorated British airman. This month we mark the 95th anniversary of Alcock and Brown’s first transatlantic crossing by air by telling the story of the epic flight’s pilot

Martyn Chorlton examines No 115 Sqn’s operations in June 1944 with the Lancaster Mk I/III which earned the unit the Battle Honour Normandy 1944



Conciair is once again offering flights over the D-Day invasion beaches and a subsequent ground tour of some key sites, as Jarrod Cotter describes


Gliderborne soldiers of the British 6th Airborne Division were the first in action at 00.16hrs on D-Day, when

No 19 Sqn Spitfire flies

Page 9




Page 8

Stephen C. Ananian, a former 339th Fighter Group P-51 pilot, compiles a selection of personal memories and diary entries describing missions flown from Fowlmere by some of his colleagues on June 6, 1944

This month’s Airliner Archive reveals the story of a very little-known 1930s type, of which there were only ten examples


Assault gliders to Cosford

44 THE 339TH’S D-DAY



they performed a coup de main assault on Pegasus Bridge


Suspended from the ceiling in the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford is a combat veteran which took part in Operation Overlord


Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence “Larry” Casey was an American P-47 Thunderbolt fighter pilot who flew from Duxford in 1944

B.E.2c takes centre stage

Page 10

Corsair to fly

Page 11

Flugwerk’s US trainers

Page 12


The black and white identification stripes applied to Allied aircraft on the eve of D-Day and the Normandy landings should not be confused with the four white and three black stripes applied earlier to Typhoons to differentiate them from the Fw 190. This month Mike Hooks provides a selection of preserved aircraft wearing these colours


Folland Gnat T.1 XP504/G-TIMM. Kept airworthy by the Heritage Aircraft Trust. Richard Paver tells its story

DATABASE established 1911





Representing over 12,000 of the 20,000-plus Spitfi fires produced, od ed th the Mk V and nd Mk IX were the most significant variants of this great fighter to see service from early 1941 through to the end of the Second World War. To coincide with our D-Day 70th anniversary theme, Martyn Chorlton describes both marks in detail and their operational service

Aeroplane traces its lineage back to the weekly The Aeroplane, e, founded by the legendary C.G. Grey in 1911 and published until 1968. It was relaunched as a monthly magazine in 1973 by Richard T. Riding (Editor for 25 years until 1998)

EDITOR’S COMMENT Kelsey Media, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berrys Hill Cudham, Kent, TN16 3AG

Editorial Editor Jarrod Cotter e-mail [email protected]

Assistant Editor Tony Harmsworth e-mail [email protected]

Editorial assistance Mike Hooks, John Donaldson, Martyn Chorlton e-mail [email protected]

Sub-editor Sarah Robinson Website Mark Hyde, e-mail [email protected] Design Sean Phillips, A.T. Graphics Ltd, Peterborough

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ABOVE: Madame Arlette Gondrée and Goodwood’s Aviation General Manager Rob Wildeboer outside of the Pegasus Bridge Café Gondrée, which became the first building to be liberated on D-Day. Madame Gondrée was only four when this happened, and she still runs the family café which has since become a very popular place to visit for D-Day veterans and their families. JARROD COTTER


uring the production of this special D-Day 70th anniversary issue, I could have had no better inspiration than to fly over the invasion beaches on the coast of Normandy and visit the site of the first action of June 6, 1944, at Pegasus Bridge. That came courtesy of an invite from Rob Wildeboer, the Aviation General Manager at Goodwood, and Conciair Flight Charter Ltd. This was on one of Conciair’s Normandy Remembrance Tours, which fly from Goodwood and back in a day and offer a choice of itineraries. It was a special pleasure to meet Madame Arlette Gondrée, who was just four when troops from the British 6th Airborne Division landed by Horsa assault gliders just after midnight on D-Day and captured Pegasus Bridge as it is now known. Next to the bridge was a café run by Madame Gondrée’s parents, and they became the first French family to be liberated. The Pegasus Bridge Café Gondrée has been hugely popular with veterans ever since, and as it is remarkable that it is still owned by a member of the family who were liberated on that day 70 years ago. That made it a very thought-provoking place where our group enjoyed some lovely home cooking for lunch. I hope that you enjoy the selection of articles we have put together to mark this important anniversary, and should anyone be interested in going on one of the Conciair tours please see page 41 for more about them. You will also see in this issue that Aeroplane has secured the first air-to-airs of Midair Sqn’s English Electric Canberra PR.9 XH134. This aircraft is set to be one of the major stars at UK air shows this year, beginning with the Abingdon Air & Country Show on May 4. Now painted in Midair’s all-over silver “house colours”, the jet is a real classic which will no o doubt turn heads and get the cameras ameras clicking during the 2014 season! n! We will bring you a full report on XH134 illustrated with Richard Paver’s’s air-toair photography in next month’s nth’s issue. Finally, please note that this Summer issue replaces the June issue. So don’t worry, you have not missed a copy of Aeroplane, ane, it has just been renamed for promotional purposes.

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William Gibbons & Sons Ltd, Willenhall, West Midlands Kelsey Media 2014 © all rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden except with permission in writing from the publishers. Note to contributors: articles submitted for consideration by the editor must be the original must be the original work of the author and not previously published. Where photographs are included, which are not the property of the contributor, permission to reproduce them must have been obtained from the owner of the copyright. The editor cannot guarantee a personal response to all letters and emails received. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the Editor or the Publisher. Kelsey Media accepts no liability for products and services offered by third parties. Kelsey Media uses a multi-layered privacy notice, giving you brief details about how we would like to use your personal information. For full details, visit, or call 01959 543524. If you have any questions, please ask as submitting your details indicates your consent, until you choose otherwise, that we and our partners may contact you about products and services that will be of relevance to you via direct mail, phone, email or SMS. You can opt out at ANY time via email: [email protected] or 01959 543524. Aeroplane is available for licensing worldwide. For more information, contact [email protected]

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Assault gliders move to Cosford

ABOVE: The forward fuselage of the Airspeed Horsa Mk I leaving Shawbury on April 3, heading for Cosford. RIGHT: On March 31, the Waco fuselage and Horsa tail were despatched to Cosford. undertaken at various other recently formed Dakotair RAF Shropshire airfields, including Transport Command Memorial, Sleap, Peplow and Tilstock. arriving at North Weald by road Construction of the Waco in late March for a rebuild to began at Shawbury in 2004, flying condition. To represent following the acquisition of the glider pilot training, during 2007 remains of a CG4-A from the the AGT acquired a de Havilland Silent Wings Museum in Texas. D.H.82 Tiger Moth, That same year, a Douglas C-47, EM840/G-ANBY. This will now go KG651/G-AMHJ, was donated to to the Army Air Corps Historic the AGT by Air Atlantique. This Flight at Middle Wallop for aircraft has now gone to the restoration to fly. It is hoped it will


The Assault Glider Trust’s Airspeed AS.51 Horsa and Waco CG4-A Hadrian were moved from RAF Shawbury to RAF Cosford, Shropshire, in early April. The two gliders are now stored, dismantled in No 5 Hangar at Cosford, but it is hoped that both aircraft will eventually go on display at the RAF Museum site at Cosford. The Horsa is a reproduction, built with the use of original drawings and components over the past 13 years at Shawbury by Assault Glider Trust (AGT) volunteers. AGT trustee, Martin Locke, says: “It is surprising that, although some 3,500 Horsas were built between 1942 and 1945, not one complete example survived anywhere in the world. In early 2001 veterans of the Midlands Branch of the Glider Pilot Regiment Association decided to build a complete Horsa to serve as an appropriate memorial in the Midlands to the airborne forces involved in assault glider operations in the Second World War, and to the civilians involved in manufacturing the aircraft. This was to evolve into the AGT, whose purpose was to provide an authentic example of this iconic aircraft to fill a black hole in military aviation history.” Many Horsas were assembled and tested at RAF Cosford, and glider-tug training was

operated alongside the Flight’s de Havilland Chipmunk, de Havilland Beaver, Auster AOP.9 and various historic helicopters, which all went onto the British Civil Register in November 2013.

HFL grant for WWI at RAFM two public sites – at Hendon and Cosford – and also online. Central to the project is the complete reconfiguring of displays in the Grahame-White Factory building at Hendon. In addition to the installation of the museum’s Sopwith Camel and Fokker D.VII – which are currently suspended in the adjacent Milestones of Flight


The award of a £898,558 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant for RAF Museum’s new exhibition “The First World War In The Air” was announced on April 9. The four-year project to mark the Centenary of the First World War will explore the development of air power as an integral part of modern warfare, and be delivered across the museum’s

An impression of how the Grahame-White Factory building will look, with the Fokker D.VII and Sopwith Camel prominently hung from the ceiling.


building – the new permanent exhibition will permit the museum to develop unused spaces in the factory building. A first floor “drawing office” – fitted out and equipped with sketching tools and open drawers, filled with facsimiles of original technical drawings – will give visitors a balcony view of the aircraft and hangar. From April 2015, a new temporary exhibition gallery will enable local schools to stage a series of First World War related displays. Two Grahame-White residents, the replica Vickers Vimy and Sopwith Tabloid, were dismantled in early April for a move to the RAFM store at Stafford. The Sopwith 1½ Strutter, Sopwith Pup and Bristol M.1C are heading north-west for display to Cosford, where the national story of the First World War in the air will be enhanced by individual stories of local personalities, including Lt Kevin

Furniss, born and bought up in Trysull, a village on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. He was posted to France in April 1917, shot down on his second mission, and died as a Prisoner of War on April 29, 1917, aged 19. Peter Dye, Director General of the Royal Air Force Museum, commented: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us the support needed to tell the important story of air power in the First World War. It is of particular significance to us because of the related heritage of our London site, an active airfield and aircraft factory throughout the war. As well as being a national story, the project will help the local community to understand how much their neighbourhood changed as a result of aviation and the long-term impact on their lives.” The Grade II Grahame-White Factory building will reopen during December 2014.


No 19 Sqn Spitfire I flies at Duxford! TONY CLARKE

May 26, 1940, the day after 19 Sqn moved from Duxford to Hornchurch, Sqn Ldr Geoffrey Stephenson, CO of 19 Sqn, flew N3200 – which was bereft of an individual code – on a mission over the French coast. After sustaining damage in a dogfight, he made a forced-landing on a beach near Sangatte. Stephenson spent the rest of the war in captivity, eventually ending up in Colditz. The Spitfire sank under the sand, and during 1985 the action of unusually strong currents exposed the aeroplane. It was salvaged the following spring. Acquired by MOP in


John Romain took Spitfire Mk I N3200 up for its first postrestoration flight on March 26, at Duxford, the very airfield at which it had been based with 19 Sqn in May 1940. Owned by Mark One Partners (MOP), the Merlin III-powered fighter is the second MOP-owned Mk I to fly from the historic Cambridgeshire airfield, P9374/G-MKIA having made its maiden flight from the hallowed turf back in September 2011. The latest addition to the airworthy fleet wears the 19 Sqn QV- code, but, to maintain complete historical accuracy, no individual code letter: on


ABOVE: A scene straight out of 1940, as John Romain brings the former 19 Sqn Spitire Mk I N3200 in to land at Duxford at the end of its first post restoration flight on March 26.

ABOVE LEFT: An atmospheric shot of N3200/G-CFGJ over Duxford on March 26. ABOVE RIGHT: An image that would strike fear into Luftwaffe pilots during the spring/summer of 1940. John Romain brings N3200 in low over Duxford during a test flight on April 9.

November 2000, the project was registered G-CFGJ in August 2008. A new fuselage was built by Airframe Assemblies at Sandown on the Isle of Wight, and Retro Track and Air at Kemble overhauled a Merlin III, and constructed the correct, two-position, de Havilland bracket-type propeller unit. Historic Flying Ltd at Duxford performed the restoration work,

which is correct down to the smallest detail, with manual, hand pump undercarriage and fabric-covered ailerons. On April 9, after making another test flight in N3200, John Romain stepped into P9374 to give it an air test, probably becoming the first pilot to step out of one airworthy Spitfire Mk I and into another one since 1940.

A Beast goes on show at NASM: Flak Bait to follow Although BuNo 83479 reached the Pacific Theatre just before the war ended, it did not see combat. The dive-bomber has been finished in the markings it wore while serving with VB-92 aboard the carrier USS Lexington in the Pacific immediately after the war. Known in US Navy circles as The Beast, this rare survivor joined NASM in 1960. It endured a prolonged period of storage in the open, deteriorating badly before going out on loan to the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola, Florida, in 1975. After being given a cosmetic restoration


The National Air and Space Museum’s newly-completed Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver was unveiled at the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport, Washington, on April 1, following a 15 month restoration, reports Richard Mallory Allnutt. The former US Navy dive-bomber, BuNo 83479, is the first aircraft to emerge from the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at Udvar-Hazy, and is now the only restored example of the type on permanent display in a museum in the USA.

Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver BuNo 83479, on show, sans main undercarriage doors, at the Udvar-Hazey Center, Dulles Airport, on April 1.


by Navy staff, it was displayed indoors at Pensacola until 2004, when it returned to NASM. The restoration team had to remove many pounds of fine sand from the airframe’s myriad of recesses, a result of the many years spent outdoors. However, the aircraft was in overall good shape except for a nasty gash in an outer wing panel sustained during shipment from Pensacola. The rudder needed a complete rebuild, and the corroded engine required months of work. Frustratingly, the exterior paint contained a lot of granular contamination. Rather than use stripper, NASM elected to gently sand the paint smooth in preparation for fresh applications. The restoration team faced many delays due to an unusually harsh winter, and raced to conclude their project in the final weeks to get it completed in time for the scheduled unveiling. There are still several small unfinished details remaining, such as the application of instruction labels to the outer skin. BuNo 83479 is also missing the main wheel undercarriage doors, but the museum has a battered set available in its stores, which came from the

wreck of an SB2C-5 at Naval Air Station Dahlgren, Virginia, in 1993. There is just one airworthy Helldiver: the Commemorative Air Force at Midland, Texas, flies Curtiss SB2C-5 BuNo 83589, which is often to be seen away from base attending air shows across the USA. At the Yanks Air Museum at Chino, California, BuNo 19075 is under restoration, and at Pensacola BuNo 19866, recovered from a lake in San Diego in August 2010 (see News, November 2010 Aeroplane), is being restored at the National Museum of Naval Aviation. The next project at NASM will be the long awaited conservation of Martin B-26B Marauder 41-31773 Flak Bait. The forward fuselage of this legendary, 207 combat mission veteran, has been on display at NASM’s headquarters on the National Mall in Washington, since that facility opened during July 1976. The remainder of the historic machine is in storage at NASM’s storage site at Silver Hill, Maryland, and is due to arrive at the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar during the summer. 9


Tel: 01959 543596 E-mail: [email protected] Write: Aeroplane, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry's Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG, UK


Combat veteran FM-2 unveiled

Grumman FM-2 Wildcat BuNo 74512, on show in the Personal Courage Wing at the Museum of Flight, Seattle, on April 3. The FM-2 variant of the Wildcat was built by General Motors/Eastern Aircraft after Grumman switched production to the F6F Hellcat in early 1943. The FM-2 had a 1,350 h.p. Wright R-1820-56 engine, more powerful than those fitted to earlier Wildcats, and was fitted with a taller tail to cope with the extra torque.

The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, unveiled a freshly completed Grumman (Eastern) FM-2 Wildcat in the Personal Courage Wing on April 3, reports Richard Mallory Allnutt. Restoration of the portly fighter, BuNo 74512, took 11 years. A rare combat veteran, this FM-2 flew anti-Kamikaze combat air patrols with VC-93 from the escort carrier USS Petrof Bay during the Okinawa Campaign in 1945. Post-war, the Wildcat went to the USMC Reserve Center in Tacoma, Washington, and by the late 1950s, was to be found in Astro Land, a children’s playground in White Center, a suburb of Seattle. The nascent Pacific Northwest Aviation History Museum – now the Museum of Flight (MoF) – rescued it from an ignominious fate in 1965. But the aeroplane was destined to endure several abortive restoration attempts during the following decades at various locations, first

at Sand Point NAS in Seattle, then Fairchild AFB near Spokane, followed by the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island in New York. Finally the MoF decided to take it back, and ’74512 went into the museum’s Restoration Center and Reserve Collection building at Everett Paine Field during 1994. Making way for the Wildcat in the Personal Courage Wing was Chance Vought F2G-1 Super Corsair BuNo 88454. The F2G, one of only two survivors, has moved across town to the Paine Field facility, where it is likely to receive a repaint into a more accurate scheme. Another Corsair, Goodyearbuilt FG1-D BuNo 88382 – which was recovered from Lake Washington in 1983 – remains on show in the Personal Courage Wing. Immaculately restored, it is on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola, Florida.

“Biggles” B.E.2 to take lead in centenary

The Sywell-based Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c replica, G-AWYI, owned by Matthew Boddington and Aeroplane columnist Stephen Slater, is set to take the lead this August in the official commemorations to mark the centenary of the first Royal Flying Corps deployment to France at the start of the First World War. Originally built for a proposed Biggles film in 1969 by Matthew’s father, Charles Boddington, and known as the “Biggles Biplane”, the B.E.2 will overfly Swingate Down near Dover, from where the 12 B.E. 2s of No 2 Sqn departed on August 13, 1914. The aeroplane will be accompanied

by up to 20 aircraft from the de Havilland Moth Club, and will land at Amiens Glisy Aerodrome, 100 years to the day after the squadron’s arrival at the city. The B.E. will then form the centrepiece of the Western Front Association and RAF commemorations at Amiens. It will then fly over the trenches, and make a flypast over a memorial service at the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery and Flying Services Memorial on the evening of August 13. Among the guests at the commemorations will be relatives of Lt H.D. Harvey-Kelly, whose B.E.2 was the first to arrive in France.


Pembroke revived

Percival Pembroke C.1 WV740/G-BNPH visited Duxford from St Athan on March 28, captained by Andrew Dixon, with new owner Mark Stott in the right hand seat.


The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c replica G-AWYI will fly to Amiens on August 13 to commemorate the centenary of the arrival of the first Royal Flying Corps aircraft in France during the First World War.

Percival Pembroke C.1 WV740/ G-BNPH is now flying again after two years on the ground at St Athan, in south Wales, following a major overhaul with John Sparks and his team at Horizon Aircraft Services. The light transport/communications machine is now owned by Dr Mark Stott, who has been checked out on the aircraft by former-owner, Andrew Dixon, a Training Captain who is regularly to be seen displaying the Duxford-based Boeing B-17 Sally B during the summer months. The Pembroke will be based at St Athan, and is available for air shows this season. Mark Stott says: “My

father was in the RAF, and in 1963-66, between the ages of six and nine, I spent time at RAF Tengah, which is where I acquired an interest in 1950-60s RAF aircraft.” Mark’s interest doesn’t stop at RAF aircraft of that era, as he also owns Fairey Gannet AEW.3 XL500 which is currently being restored to fly at St Athan. Mark adds: “In due course, WV740 will be available with the Gannet and a Percival Sea Prince as a threesome.” To book WV740 for a show, go to: Andrew@Percivalair


Corsair to fly at Olympic show


The Olympic Flight Museum’s Goodyear FG-1D Corsair is close to flying again for the first time in more than a decade, reports Richard Mallory Allnutt. The fighter, BuNo 92436, has successfully completed engine runs, and in mid-April was due to start taxying trials at Jerome, Idaho. The “bent-winged bird” sports a spectacular new colour scheme: the museum’s project chief on the Corsair, Brad Pilgrim, selected the markings of VMF-213 when stationed aboard the USS Saidor, an escort carrier which sailed the Pacific immediately after the Second World War. According to the US Navy history card, ’92436 Now painted in the very attractive markings of VMF-213, the Olympic Flight Museum’s Goodyear FG-1D served with VMF-213 in roughly Corsair is due to fly soon following restoration at Airpower Unlimited in Jerome, Idaho. the same time period, although there is no firm proof it ever wore Granley flew it to John Lane’s highly with its “air-stair” entrance behind The aircraft is now in concours the chosen scheme. Pilgrim also regarded Airpower Unlimited the cockpit, and returning the condition, and considering John picked the side number “115” as a restoration shop in Jerome, Idaho. structure to stock condition. The Lane’s previous two airworthy nod to the aircraft’s history with One of the bigger problems they aircraft had flown for 40 years Corsair restorations have both the Canadian Warplane Heritage have encountered has been the without tail undercarriage doors, won the Grand Champion Warbird Museum at Hamilton, Ontario, application of a fabric covering to enabling engine exhaust fumes to Trophy at the Experimental which flew this Corsair for 20 years the outer wing panels, as originally flow easily into the horizontal Aircraft Association’s AirVenture with the HMS Formidable fuselage seen on the FG-1D. During a stabilizers, causing internal show at Oshkosh, there is a pretty codes “115/X” as a tribute to Lt previous restoration, the fitting of corrosion which consequently good chance this project will Robert Hampton Gray VC. non-standard, sheet-metal skinning required a complete rebuild of the win prizes too. The primary aim The Corsair had flown for had damaged many of the wing ribs, tail surfaces. The Corsair has now for the moment is to make sure decades without a complete necessitating lengthy repairs. John acquired scratch-built tail gear that the Corsair is ready for the overhaul, and was a tired Lane’s team has also torn the main doors. Olympic Flight Museum’s air aeroplane by the time the Olympic spar apart, replacing the extrusions. With the exception of the nose show on June 14/15 at its Flight Museum bought it during Another difficult task involved bowl, all of the engine cowling and home-base in Olympia, the 1998. In October 2002, Bud removing the hidden second seat accessory panels are also brand new. capital of Washington State.

Supporters Club for BHHH

The Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar will be launching its own supporters club during May. With an ever-growing stable of Spitfires and various other warbirds now housed in the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar (BHHH) at the world’s most famous former Battle of Britain airfield, the time was thought to be right to give enthusiasts the opportunity to get involved and become “part of the family”. For a subscription of £25 per year, BHHH supporters will receive a

quarterly digital newsletter, full of behind the scenes, in-depth restoration coverage and detailed accounts of the latest activities of the fleet. In addition to this, members will receive a free copy of the new “Remembrance” DVD, which contains 25min of aerial footage from the 2013 Remembrance Day flypast, when BHHH put three Spitfires and its Hurricane into the air over Biggin Hill (see News, January 2014 Aeroplane).

On March 13, Polish A320 Airbus pilot Jacek Mainka brought Spitfire XVI TE184 back to Biggin Hill from Bremgarten, south-west Germany, for maintenance, probably becoming the first Pole to land a Spitfire at Biggin since the 1940s. Jacek’s late grandfather, Ryszard Kwiatkowski, was a fitter in the RAF/Polish Air Force from 1940-47, serving with 303 and 308 Sqns. As Jacek was just about to join for landing, the pilot of a Polish Air Force Casa C-295 transport he

BELOW: The airworthy fleet at the BHHH, comprising (left to right) Spitfires Mk IX MK912, Mk XVI RW382, Mk IX TA805 Spirit of Kent and Hawker Hurricane AE997/”P3886”. In the foreground is another BHHH resident, Britain’s oldest North American Harvard, FE788, which was originally delivered to No 9 Service Flying Training School, at Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Eastern Canada, in August 1941.

had been talking to on the radio was departing from Biggin. Jacek described the exchange as “Polish chit-chat,” quoting a well-known line from the Battle of Britain film, inimitably uttered in the 1969 epic by the late Barry Foster. From May 6 onwards, the opportunity to sit in a Spitfire at BHHH will be now available on weekdays – in addition to the monthly special weekend events – with dedicated staff on hand to guide visitors round the cockpit. To take advantage of this, call Paul Campbell on 01959 576767 to check availability on the day. The charge is £50 per person. Those interested in supporters club membership should email: paul@


ABOVE: ABOV AB OVE: OV E: Polish sh A320 Airbus pilot Jacek Mainka in Spitfire XVI TE184 at Biggin Hill on March 13, having just indulged in some “Polish chit-chat” with a departing Casa C-295.



Tel: 01959 543596 E-mail: [email protected] Write: Aeroplane, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry's Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG, UK

Britain’s oldest Bell 47 goes on show Sixty-seven years after it was built, Britain’s oldest surviving example of the Bell 47 recently arrived at the Armourgeddon

Military Museum, Husbands Bosworth, in Leicestershire. The historic machine had previously been stored at Cranfield,

Bedfordshire, having last flown nearly 25 years ago. Built at the Bell Aircraft plant in Buffalo, New York State, in May

Although it may look to be a relatively modest exhibit, Bell 47 G-ARXH has a fascinating history, dating back to the spring of 1947. It is now on show at the Armourgeddon Military Museum at Husbands Bosworth.

1947 as Bell 47B c/n 40, it was fitted with the original, metal covered tailboom, a “car” type cabin, and a 178 h.p. Franklin engine. Registered NC120B, the first operator was Alaska Airlines at Merrill Field, Anchorage. During 1951, the machine was converted to 47D-1 configuration, with the nowfamiliar open tail boom, “goldfish-bowl” bubble canopy and an uprated 200 h.p. Franklin engine. Strangely, Lawrence “Larry” Bell, founder of the Bell Aircraft Corporation, didn’t like the look of this redesign, preferring his helicopter to look more like a car. After being sold by Alaska Airlines, NC120B saw use as a crop sprayer with AG Helicopters at Pasadena, California, before being exported to Britain in 1962 and registered G-ARXH. Initially operated by Air Couriers (Transport) at Biggin Hill, it later flew with Helicopter Services, Autair, Alan Mann Helicopters and a number of other owners. The helicopter still retains the original wooden rotor blades, and is now on show alongside 40 military vehicles, including a Sherman Tank that has seen use in several big-budget war films.

Flugwerk-Mannheim add US trainers


number of students and active members of the association. The group was formed in 2009,

and the training school was added the following year. A club house and classrooms have been built

adjacent to the FlugwerkMannheim hangar, which dates from 1936.


At Mannheim Airport in southwestern Germany, the FlugwerkMannheim Association has taken delivery from the USA of a North American SNJ-5 and a Boeing A-75 Stearman Kaydet. During the summer, the two trainers, N3972E and N68296, will join the training fleet operated by FlugwerkMannheim. Flugwerk-Mannheim has about 200 members, and operates several historic machines, including several Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann, a de Havilland Tiger Moth, a Stampe SV-4 and a Max-Holste Broussard. Over the past few years more than 60 students have trained in the Flugwerk-Mannheim flight school’s Stampe SV-4 D-EFEM, and the acquisition of the SNJ-5 and A-75 will move the training opportunities up another level for the growing

Boeing A-75 Stearman Kaydet N68296 and North American SNJ-5 N3972E, seen outside the FlugwerkMannheim hangar at Mannheim Airport in February. The SNJ-5 was built in 1944 and was operated by the US Navy as BuNo 43972.


Photo courtesy of Paul Rowland


Tel: 01959 543596 E-mail: [email protected] Write: Aeroplane, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry's Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG, UK

Wallis’s “Stratosphere” opened at Brooklands


At the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey, the unique high-altitude research Stratosphere Chamber, built in 1947 for the inventor Sir Barnes Wallis, was re-opened on March 14 by his daughter, Mary Stopes-Roe. The research facility, which was used to investigate high-speed flight at very high altitudes, has been restored over the past 16 months with the aid of a £120,000 grant from the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) Biffa Award Scheme. Completion of the work means that the huge building which houses the chamber is now fully open to the public as an exhibition space for the first time. For many years only limited viewing of the Stratosphere Chamber was possible, and much of its operating machinery was disposed of or moved to make way for other developments. Now, all the areas surrounding the chamber, including the elevated Control Room and the refrigeration/vacuum plant room, have been made accessible, giving a “backstage” view of this extraordinary area of industrial heritage. Also on display in the building is the museum’s collection of aeroengines ranging from the simplest early piston engines up to a Rolls-Royce Olympus powerplant.

The Stratosphere Chamber, pictured just prior to the opening ceremony on March 14. The nose of Vickers Vanguard G-APEJ was restored over a three week period by a team led by Robin Voice, and wears the duck egg blue colours of a Vanguard nose section that was tested in the Stratosphere Chamber between November 1958 and March 1959. The Chamber is 25ft in diameter sea-level air pressure. It was and his team who created and and 50ft long, and was able to operated up until 1980. utilised this extraordinary accommodate complete aircraft Director of Brooklands Chamber. up to the size of the de Havilland Museum, Allan Winn, says: “Until Displayed in the Chamber Sea Vixen, the fuselage and cockpit now the museum has not had the itself is the forward fuselage of sections from Vickers airliners and resources to restore and properly former BEA Vickers Vanguard/ guided weapons. It was also used interpret this unique research Merchantman G-APEJ, which has for cold-weather testing of objects facility, so we were delighted to been restored in record time by as diverse as North Sea fishing receive this grant from AIM. This a small group of Brooklands trawlers, diesel engines and Arctic restoration has seen a fantastic volunteers, led by the museum’s clothing. Snow, ice and blizzard level of co-operation between Engineering Curator, Robin conditions could also be created, our contractors, volunteers and Voice. The world’s only complete and it was capable of generating staff, and the finished exhibition is Vanguard, G-APEP, is displayed temperatures between -65°C and a wonderful tribute not only to outside, just a few yards from the +60°C, and also to create 1/20th them, but also to Barnes Wallis Stratosphere Chamber building.

Harvard cockpit for SAM


Harvards having passed through the Brooklands Aviation works at Sywell during the post-war years. The cockpit became surplus to requirements at NAM following the acquisition of a complete T-6 airframe, 42-12417, during 2010. Harvard KF532 was part of an order for 657 aircraft completed by Noorduyn in Montreal, Canada, being completed in September 1944 and delivered in May 1945. Post-war it was one of 39 examples allocated to the Royal Navy and saw service with 758, 799, 727 and 781 Sqns before being struck off charge in April 1954.


The derelict cockpit section from North American Harvard IIB KF532 arrived at Bruntingthorpe Airfield in Leicestershire on April 2, where it will be restored by well-known Harvard specialists Beech Restorations before going on display at the Sywell Aviation Museum (SAM). The cockpit was recently exchanged with the Newark Air Museum (NAM) for a Martel missile, which will now fill a gap in Newark’s ordnance collection at Winthorpe, Notts. The team at SAM had been searching for a major Harvard relic for many years, hundreds of

The cockpit section of ex-Royal Navy Harvard IIB KF532, following arrival at the Beech Restorations hangar at Bruntingthorpe on April 2.







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22/12/2011 15:40



Hangar Talk

Steve Slater’s “insider” comment on the historic aviation world


THERE COULD BE stormy skies ahead for those who wish to fly vintage and classic aircraft in the southern half of the UK. Bids by two private airport owners to “grab” significant chunks of airspace to further their business interests could effectively deny the skies both east and west of London to a significant number of flyers.

TAG’s aviation division was originally formed by Saudi Arabian businessman Mansour Ojjeh and McLaren boss Ron Dennis, to fly members of the McLaren Formula One motor racing team around the world, but has expanded into a global executive jet business. Following its acquisition of the former Royal Aircraft Establishment airfield, TAG invested in an executive terminal and high-end hotel, aimed at exclusive VVIP guests. All very commendable, but now Farnborough is attempting to have a very large area of airspace in southern England reclassified as controlled airspace for its business benefit. The proposed zone is way bigger than when Farnborough hosted fast-jet military test flying, and could restrict uncontrolled aircraft movements south-west of Heathrow as far as Goodwood, which sees the proposal as a serious threat to arrivals to its popular Festival of Speed and Revival events, as well as other operators based at the Sussex airfield. Another airfield which would effectively be rendered unviable is Lasham in Hampshire. The former D-Day departure point for Typhoons and Mosquitos is today home to the national gliding museum and is the world’s busiest gliding site. The imposition of controlled airspace overhead the airfield would impose restrictions with which glider pilots simply cannot comply. The British Gliding Association is therefore taking the lead in formulating the case against TAG’s proposals, however everyone in the aviation community is being asked to assist. More information can be found at

As well as being a private pilot and enthusiast, Steve Slater is a commentator on the vintage aviation scene and chairman of the Vintage Aircraft Club.

The great airspace carve-up

Southend Airport in Essex, owned by the Eddie Stobart transport group, has recently renamed itself “London Southend Airport” and is touting itself as being both more convenient and cheaper than the traditional London airports. Part of the reason for this is that airlines using the airport don’t have to pay the National Air Traffic Service fees associated with Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. However, to sustain this business model, Stobart’s has applied to reclassify a wide tract of hitherto unrestricted airspace as controlled airspace, only allowing access under direct air traffic control. That of course would require radio communication, in an area where many vintage aircraft owners have cheerfully and safely operated from farm strips and other airfields for decades without the need for such equipment. In addition, experience indicates that even if a radio is fitted, controllers are notoriously loathed to allow smaller aircraft to transit through their airspace, particularly if the aircraft isn’t fitted with a transponder. This equipment, basically a modern version of the wartime IFF, identification friend or foe technology, delivers a numeric code and, in some forms, altitude and identity information on to a controller’s radar screen. It is of course a useful device, but as it has to transmit continuously it requires much more power than a radio. Many vintage aircraft simply don’t have an electrical system capable of handling such equipment and in many cases the cost too, makes their fitment unviable.

“The imposition of controlled airspace overhead the airfield would impose restrictions with which glider pilots simply cannot comply”

Farnborough folly

However, Southend’s airspace “grab” pales into insignificance compared with plans unveiled by TAG Farnborough, the operator of Farnborough Airport.

Greasy but grinning

After all of that, it was a relief to spend a day in the hangar working with Matthew Boddington on final winter maintenance on the “Biggles Biplane” B.E.2c replica (set to take a lead in First World War centennial commemorations this year – see News). After a day clambering around with a grease gun, lubricating everything from wheel bearings to engine rockers and receiving a liberal coating myself into the bargain, it was time to swing the propeller for the first post-hibernation engine run. Bless her, the old girl fired on the very first compression. The old ’uns are the best!

BELOW: Vintage and modern mix during the Vintage Glider Club rally at Lasham in August 2014. The historic site is world’s busiest gliding centre, but for how much longer?



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LEFT: Leonard Trevallion, at his home in Crieff, central Scotland, in early March.


second chance Not many people N l got to serve their country in two separate uniformed services during the war. Ninety-nine-year-old Metropolitan Police and RAF veteran Len Trevallion talks to TONY HARMSWORTH about his varied career


eporting for duty at Putney Police Station on a cold, foggy spring morning in March 1941, the first thing Metropolitan Police radio-car driver PC Leonard Trevallion noticed was the headline on that day’s Metropolitan Police orders, hanging behind the front desk. The announcement, in bold type, read: “The Commissioner is now prepared to consider applications from members of the Metropolitan Police Force, Regular and Auxiliary, for enlistment in the RAF or Fleet Air



Arm as Pilots or Observers. Applicants for the RAF as Pilots must be under 31 years of age.” The 26-year-old PC had originally contemplated joining the RAF back in 1934, and was now appreciably older than most of the pilots seeing action. It was of considerable relief to Len that he still came in under the age-limit. Seventy-three years later, at his home in Crieff, Perthshire, Len remembers: “The Commissioner’s announcement didn’t come as a complete surprise. After losing so many pilots during the Battle of Britain,

the government was looking at the reserved occupations and tapping into that manpower to fill vacancies. Police numbers had also been swelled by the addition of special constables and war reservists, so there was room for manoeuvre.” London was now into the seventh month of the Blitz – the previous Saturday night, 159 people had been killed and 338 seriously injured in the capital, 35 of the fatalities being within a seven-mile radius of Len’s station. That was also the night when 34 people died at the Café de Paris in the west end. The North Lodge at Buckingham Palace


“Our first instructor was a civilian named Red Davies, who had been a crop-dusting pilot and wore a black flying jacket. He got me to go solo after 2¾hr” was destroyed, d, Police olic ol ic Constable bl Stephen he Robertson being mortally injured by flying debris. Len recalls the reaction in Putney station to the Police Bulletin: “About ten percent of the chaps expressed interest in joining up, most of them young and unmarried. Although I was a married man, this was an opportunity that I thought I should take. It was a job that had to be done and I could now get involved with something constructive and fight back, instead of just being on the receiving end down on street level.” At home that evening, Len’s wife, Evelyn, immediately supported his plan to join up. “It solved two problems,” recalls Len. “If I was posted away from London, Evelyn and our little daughter could get away from the bombing, and stay with an aunt in Staffordshire. I could also get out of town; I had survived several close calls with German ordnance, and had long thought it would be safer to be ‘up there’. I didn’t know what it would entail, but just wanted to jump at the chance to hit back at the enemy.” Several of Len’s old friends and acquaintances were already doing just that, including James Edgar “Johnnie” Johnson. The Leicestershire-born pilot who was to become the highest scoring British fighter ace of the war had been best man at Len’s wedding on September 2, 1939, the day before war was declared. “Johnnie had been a lodger at my parents’ house in Loughton, Essex, and was working as a civil engineer with the local council,” explained Len. “I got to know him on visits

home. During ho ri August 1939 Johnnie oh ie h had ad been b accepted by the RAF Volunteer Reserve and resigned from the council. The wedding was on his last day in civvies; the very next morning he was off to Cambridge to begin his illustrious flying career.”

Selection day

A couple of months after responding to the Commissioner’s announcement, Len finally received notice to report for interview at the Air Ministry building, Adastral House, No 1, Kingsway. It was an interview that, under very different circumstances, could well have occurred back in 1934. In the autumn of that year, following a period working in his father’s Walthamstow-based builders’ merchants, Len had decided that his future lay either with the RAF or the Police Force, and planned a fact-finding trip to Scotland Yard and the Air Ministry building at Adastral House. Although he already had a driving licence, Len wasn’t confident enough to drive in central London, so his father, Leonard Snr, gave him a lift into town. Len recalled: “The intention was to go to Adastral House first, pick up the application forms and proceed to Scotland Yard to repeat the process. Purely by chance, the route took us past Scotland Yard first, so dad parked the family Bullnose Morris, and I ascended the broad steps into this marble entrance hall, looking for leaflets that I could take away and study. With some apprehension I asked the sergeant at the reception desk about joining the force, and he thrust a form under my nose and told me to fill it in. I was then despatched downstairs

to the which, he gym, wh whic ich, ic h, to my surprise, is was a hive of activity. I thought that I must have interrupted an important function, until discovering that all these other young blokes buzzing around had applied to join the force over the past few months. I had stumbled in on selection day! Having only intended to inquire about how to join, I now found myself going through the initial selection procedure, and, to my amazement was soon told that I had passed, and ordered to report to Police Training School at Peel House in Regency Street in January. So that put paid to the fact-finding trip to Adastral!” Following Police training, Len was posted to Putney, where sporting pursuits were encouraged. “I soon learned to row,” he remembers with a chuckle. “I also joined the Met Police Athletic Club, where I was in the crosscountry running team. The team was invited to the 1936 Berlin Olympics for a friendly match against the Berlin Police, but when we got there, they were too heavily involved with security to honour the fixture. So we watched the track events from the Berlin Police enclosure in the Olympic Stadium, close to the dais where Hitler was sitting. It was quite a thrill to see Jesse Owens win all those gold medals.” Although Len greatly enjoyed his first trip overseas, this first-hand glimpse of what was happening in Germany began to cause him concern. He remembered: “Many people seemed determined to ignore the looming dangers. But the deteriorating situation was acutely apparent to us in the Police, as we attended civil defence lectures, practised ð

ABOVE MAIN PICTURE: A line of PT-17s at Lakeland in December 1941, awaiting the neophyte British pupils. RIGHT: Len with his foot on the running board of the Putney Police Station radio car during the hectic autumn of 1940. The radio operator in the car is prepared for the worst, wearing a tin helmet.

AEROPLANE SUMMER 2014 www. ww w. aero ae ropl ro plan pl anem an emon em onth on thly th ly.c ly .com .c om 19

wa was told to report to the Aircrew Receiving Ce Centre at Lords Cricket Ground, in St John’s Wo Wood, for basic instruction, medical checks, an and “square bashing”. Len remembered: “We were housed in so some large flats in Prince Albert Road, an and had our meals at the restaurant in the Lo London Zoological Gardens in Regents Pa Park. This entailed several long marches ea each day. For those who weren’t used to we wearing boots, it was initially a pretty painful ex experience. The ex-police officers had a di distinct advantage over the other recruits in th that department. During the first week of December 1941, fo following an Atlantic crossing in a 32,000 ton co converted cruise liner, the SS Pasteur, Cadet Fl Flight Commander L.J.F. Trevallion arrived at La Lakeland School of Aeronautics, in Florida. Le Len was never officially told why he had be been selected as a Flight Commander, but it wa was obvious that his greater maturity – he wa was nearly ten years older than some of th the other cadets – and the calm demeanour de developed during his police career were th the two main factors. The 800 cadets who tr travelled on the Pasteur were part of the Arno Ar nold no ld Scheme Sch S chem ch eme em e – named name na med me d after afte af terr its te its chief chie ch ieff ie Arnold

ABOVE Len wi ABOVE: with th the St Stearman in wh which ich he ha has just made his first solo flight in January 1942, at Lakeland Aeronautical School Florida. LEFT: The Lakeland School of Aeronautics identity card for Class SE-42-F, the sixth intake of British trainees on the Arnold Training scheme.

decontamination procedures and generally began to prepare for the worst.” Len had originally gained his driving licence back in 1930, and fancied a shot at driving professionally with the Police. After completing the course at the Police Driving School at Hendon, he began driving a police van, and then moved on to the area wireless car. “Driving duties added extra interest to the job,” enthuses Len. “The station driver was usually first on the scene when an incident was reported.” Len’s wartime driving duties included being the designated driver for one of Putney’s most senior officers, Station Inspector Phillip Kirby-Greene. Len said: “Kirby-Greene was in charge of locating and reporting all the bombs that had been dropped in the area covered by our station. We had a fair number of close calls, travelling round in our little Wolseley 14. On one occasion, we had located and plotted several bombs that had fallen in Wandsworth. In a small cottage we found three soldiers digging out an unexploded 250lb bomb that had lodged under the floorboards. One of them was brewing a pot of tea, and he asked if we would like to join them. Kirby-Greene politely declined, saying that we had several other bombs to locate. We had only just got back into the car when the bomb went off, totally demolishing the cottage and killing the three soldiers.”

On S Sep September epte ep temb te mber mb er 9 9-1 9-10, -10, -1 0, 1 194 1940, 940, 94 0, P Put Putney utne ut neyy Po ne Poli Police lice li ce station house had the tragic misfortune to be bombed on two successive nights. The room in which Len had been living before he got married was hit on September 10. Two police officers were killed. Len said: “A wireless operator that I sometimes worked with in the Wolseley, Constable Hugh Duncan, suffered severe head injuries on that second raid. He survived, and post-war, when I was back on the force, we were in a shoot-out together. Poor chap was injured that night as well.”

Flying training

During the war years, a total of 208 police officers died in air raids on London. The result of Len’s “delayed” 1941 interview at Adastral House was to see him recommended for flying training. The PC

instigator, General Henry “Hap” Arnold – which had been running since the early summer of 1941. The aim was to train up to 4,000 British pilots per year alongside USAAF recruits at airfields in the Southeast Air Corps Training Centre, one of three large geographical training centres to be established in the USA. The cadets had barely unpacked at Lakeland when the excitement started. “During the Sunday of our first weekend at Lakeland, before we had even started flying, panic suddenly broke out,” recalled Len. “Instructors began hurriedly dispersing aircraft to distant parts of the airfield. Word soon went round that the Japanese had made an attack of Pearl Harbor and nobody knew what would happen next. Us British trainees had to conceal our relief at this

“The lightly armed, and inadequately armoured Blenheim IVs, had suffered terrible losses, and we were instructed to deliver this replacement aeroplane to Blida, in Algeria” 20


at this news, which we knew would bring the USA into the war. When it became clear that there was no threat of invasion, things soon returned to normality, but there was now more of a sense that we were ‘all in it together’.” When Len had left the UK, Britain was fighting on alone and things looked bleak. “Although we were a long way from home, this was a big boost to our morale,” he said. Another boost came from the improved travel possibilities. Len recalled: “When off base we used to hitch-hike to get around. One small but not insignificant benefit of the Pearl Harbor attack for us was that many more drivers would now stop to pick us up when they recognised the RAF blue of our uniforms.”

Going solo

Primary training was undertaken on Boeing PT-17 Kaydets. “Our first instructor was a civilian named Red Davies, who had been a crop-dusting pilot and wore a black flying jacket. He got me to go solo after 2¾hr. I think the training and experience I had as a police driver in the Met carried over into my flying. Back then most young people in Britain didn’t drive, so my time spent behind the wheel of police cars had helped with my situational awareness, mechanical sympathy, and all that sort of thing. I loved it from the word go. “A few weeks into our training, two VIP visitors arrived at the school in a Douglas C-47 to check how things were going. They were none other than General Henry ‘Hap’ Arnold, the Commanding General of the US Army Air Forces, after whom the scheme was named, and the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Charles Portal. We later found out that ‘Hap’ Arnold had been trained to fly by Orville Wright. That link back to the origins of flying instruction felt like a pretty good omen to us novice pilots.” After completing five weeks of primary training, Len went on to Macon, Georgia, for five weeks of basic training in Vultee BT-13s, followed by advanced training on North

ABOVE Air Ch ABOVE: Chief ief Ma Marsh Marshal rshal rsh al Cha Charle Charles rless Port rle P Portal ortal ort al (ce (centr (centre), ntre), ntr e), ta talki talking lki to Gen Generall “Hap ““Hap” Hap”” A Hap Arnold ld (se (second d left lleft, eft,, back eft back to camera) during their visit to the Lakeland School of Aeronautics in January 1942.

American AT-6 Texans at Dothan, Alabama. Len recalled with a shudder: “On one nightflying exercise in an AT-6, I got a bit of a shock when the engine suddenly coughed a couple of times, and then stopped altogether. As we began to lose height, I thought it would be best to find an orange grove in which to make the forced-landing, to position myself between two trees and tear the wings off to bring the thing to a halt. As I was running though my checks before putting it down, I realised that I had forgotten to switch fuel tanks, and got it started again just in time. That was a mistake I wasn’t going to make again. “But there was one other potential problem causing me concern daily. Once qualified, there was a trend for the older trainees to be kept on to become instructors in the USA. I was certainly up there in that age range, but was desperate to go back to

Europe and get in the thick of it.”

On to Blenheims

On July 3, 1942, Len was presented with his “wings” and given a commission, before being shipped back to the UK for three months of twin-engined training on Airspeed Oxfords at Acaster Malbis, just south of York. “I was then posted to Leconfield, Yorkshire, where I spent a couple of weeks flying the short-nose Bristol Blenheim Mk I, before moving on to the Blenheim IV with 42 Operational Training Unit. It was here that I met the two lads who were to become my crew all the way to the end of my second tour, in 1944. They were navigator Leonard Rivett, and gunner Freddy Chapman. We did a lot of night flying, which resulted in plenty of speculation as to what sort of operations we were destined to end up on. Then, on April 12, 1943, we were signed off from the ð

BELOW: Arousing great interest among the British trainees when it dropped into Lakeland one afternoon was a Republic AT-12 Guardsman advanced trainer. The potent, 1,050 h.p. Pratt and Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp-powered machine, was developed from the Seversky P-35 fighter. Sweden ordered 50 examples for use as fighter-bombers, but the export was blocked after only two had been delivered. The remainder were used by the USAAF as advanced trainers.


ABOVE: A Vultee BT-13 in a hangar at Lakeland. Len didn’t idn get his hi hands on one of these until il class SE-42-F arrived at Macon, Georgia.

OTU to be available for ‘ops’. “One of our colleagues, Ron Thain, took a Blenheim down to Salisbury Plain where he was to drop a smoke bomb during an exercise. Unfortunately, upon release the bomb didn’t drop, but it did start discharging smoke up through the bomb-bay. The smoke soon filled the cockpit, and Ron died in the subsequent crash.

in Cornwall, where we joined 11 other replacement Blenheims that were to take-off at intervals and be ferried out, singly, to Blida. The plan was to fly out over the Scilly Isles, then over the Bay of Biscay, round Cape Finisterre, along the Portuguese Coast as far as Cape St Vincent, and then along to Gibraltar, where we would refuel before continuing to Blida.

wind had changed, which would make it impossible to reach our destination. We were dead keen to get on with it and Navigator Len Rivett worked out that if we flew direct to the North coast of Spain, east of Cape Finisterre, and then down south towards the Gulf of Cadiz, we would just about make it. Two of my best pals from the OTU, Alistair Campbell and Guy Simonds, were among the ferry pilots for the trip. Campbell had got airborne well before the change in weather, but Simonds was still on the ground. He was a very conscientious chap, and seemed to be waiting for more favourable conditions. “Because we would now be flying directly over Portugal and Spain – two neutral countries – we were forbidden by international convention from carrying any maps. Rivett, Chapman and I weighed up the options and elected to go for it. The met forecast now had predicted a light cloud layer at 8,000ft, with a denser layer at 15,000, so I decided to fly between the two. “Everything was going well as we were crossing the Bay of Biscay at 9,000ft, until I spotted a Junkers Ju 88 on the port side, coming out from the French coast towards my line of flight. The Ju 88s were well known in the area, and our Blenheim, which was slow and wallowed around with all the extra weight on board, wouldn’t have had a chance if he attacked. I decided to seek cover in the dense cloud layer above us. We couldn’t afford to make any kind of change of track, which would use up precious fuel.

“Just a few yards down the runway, both engines cut out, and we coasted to a halt... I opened the canopy and asked if we could have a tow” “On May 16, we received orders to go to the Bristol Factory at Filton to pick up a brand new Blenheim V. The aeroplane was much heavier than the Blenheim IV we had become accustomed to, with extra armour plating around the cockpit, and a large cannon in a pod under the fuselage. The lightly armed, and inadequately armoured Blenheim IVs, had suffered terrible losses, and we were instructed to deliver this replacement aeroplane to Blida, in Algeria. A large overload fuel tank, about 2ft square, was installed in the front fuselage. We took the aeroplane, EH395, down to Portreath,

Ferry flight

“After take-off I climbed to 8,000ft, but then found the propellers could not be switched from fine to coarse pitch. We had no option but to turn back and jettison fuel from the wing tanks over the Bristol Channel. That felt terrible. I would have been glad of just a couple of pints of that for my little Austin Seven Ruby! The mechanics found that the glands in the variable pitch unit had not been lubricated properly and were sticking, which didn’t take long to put right but we had now lost a couple of hours. “Flying control was reporting that the

The Junkers crew still hadn’t spotted us, and seemed to be heading off towards a distant spec of an aeroplane, way ahead of us. I didn’t know if it was one of the other Blenheims. “We broke out of the cloud cover just over the northern coast of Spain, which was all very pleasant, but we felt a bit exposed as we pushed on, flying along above the border between Spain and Portugal. With no maps, we were reliant on memories of schoolboy geography lessons. After pressing on for a couple of hours, we still had little idea of the sort of progress we were making, so I

BELOW: North American AT-6 Texans at Dothan, Alabama, where Len Trevallion undertook his advanced flying course.



ABOVE: During the five week basic training course at Macon, pupils were split into groups of six. This line up, in front of a Vultee BT-13, includes Service Pilot Instructor Lt Collister, in the centre, and Len Trevallion, second from left.

suggested to the others that we should take a bearing from a civil radio station at Oporto or Lisbon, followed by another one in about 10min to work out our speed. “They agreed, but to call a civil station would require Fred to change the radio crystals, which were in a container just beyond his gun turret. After about 15min nothing had happened, so I called Fred, who was a small chap, with short arms, to see how he was getting on. He was most apologetic, frantically explaining that he was wearing one uniform on top of another to save space in his luggage. Being so bulkedup, he couldn’t reach the crystals. I told


him to stop mucking about, get out of the turret and take one of the uniforms off. After another 10min of silence, I called him again, my frustration now more apparent. Fred replied, breathlessly, that he was completely jammed in his seat, and couldn’t squeeze out of the turret however hard he tried. After all the training we had done, we were finally heading towards a combat zone, and now had this farce on our hands!” The crew now had to dig deeper into their schoolboy geography. Len continued: “I remembered that there was a very broad river, the Guadalquivir, with many little tributaries, which entered the Atlantic south

of Portugal. All we had to do was find that, turn to starboard, follow it out to the sea and then fly along the coast to Gibraltar.” But the headwind appeared to have increased, the Blenheim wasn’t making good speed and the news from the petrol gauges wasn’t looking great. “We spotted the river and made the turn to the west. I asked Len Rivett if there was any more fuel that he could transfer from the overload tank. The answer was, as I expected, negative. ‘Every last drop has gone, we only have what is registering on the gauges,’ came the reply from down the fuselage. I eased back as much as I dared on the throttles.” ð 23

ABOVE Len ABOVE: Len’s ’s Ble Blenhe Blenheim nheim nhe im crew members, emb with ith th the navigator, avigat avi gat Sg Sgtt LLen Riv Rivett Rivett, ett on n the the lef left, t, and gunner Sgt Freddy Chapman on the right. In the middle is Don Bebbington, who flew as a gunner with Len on Martin Baltimores during 1944. After the war, Len Rivett trained for the priesthood, and for many years was Rector of Elvington, Yorkshire, and the Chaplain of the Yorkshire Air Museum.

Arrival at “The Rock”

Although the RAF construction workers now were working on the extension to the runway at Gibraltar out into Algeciras Bay, Len and his crew were stuck with the old, short runway. Len continued: “I followed the drill, flying in from the sea towards the face of the rock, while transmitting the designated signal of the day to get permission to land. But we got no response, so I quickly asked Len Rivett to check that the signal was correct. The fuel gauges were now down to the stops, and, as Len confirmed the signal was right, I dropped

the wheels and turned into the landing pattern. Now that our intentions were clear, Very pistols and rockets were sent up, but I had no fuel for an overshoot, and put EH395 down right on the runway threshold. “Just a few yards down the runway, both engines cut out, and we coasted to a halt. A little truck from flying control sped out towards us, the driver shouting dire threats of disciplinary action and ordering us off the runway. Feeling great relief that we had got down in one piece, I opened the canopy and asked if we could have a tow. That

di didn’t do much for his mood either. “The flying control chap pointed angrily to towards the end of the runway where a Vi Vickers Wellington was standing on its nose, ha having overshot and ended up in the rubble wh where the runway extension was being built. No wonder there had been such a panic. It then dawned on me that the Wellington pi pilot’s misfortune could well have cost us ou our lives. “Word of our incident was soon passed ar around the base, and shortly after the Bl Blenheim had been safely parked up, a Jeep ar arrived with a familiar occupant on board. It was my old Chief Inspector, Phillip-Kirby Gr Green, who I had last seen dodging bombs in west London during the Blitz! He was no now in charge of the border control between Gi Gibraltar and Spain, and working with the Se Secret Service. We headed off to the mess wh where I was royally entertained, and he in invited me to stay and take a trip to Tangier th the following day. I had to decline the offer, an and amid much back slapping, departed for Bl Blida the next morning.” A couple of days after safely getting the replacement Blenheim to Blida, Len received some unwelcome news: “I was told that Guy Simonds and his crew, who we had last seen waiting for better weather on the grass at Portreath, had been shot down over the Bay of Biscay. But Alistair Campbell, who departed from Cornwall before us, had picked up some strong tail winds and made it in good time. We now had a couple of days to forget all the bad experiences the war had thrown at us so far. But we had absolutely no idea what was going to come next.” This article continues next month, when we learn of Len and his crew starting to fly operations and of their transition to the Martin Baltimore.

BELOW: One of the 12 Blehneim Vs that were ferried to Blida, Algeria, in May 1943 by Len and his colleagues. It is seen here covered in personnel from 13 Sqn, with whom the aeroplane was operated.




Robin J. Brooks

RAF Fighter Command was established in July 1936 to provide the airborne element in the defence of Britain against air attack. The aerodromes under the Command described in this book came under the control of several Groups: No. 9 in the west, No. 10 covering the south-west, No. 11 in the south-east, No. 12 on the eastern side of the country, and Nos. 13 and 14 protecting the extreme north. In this volume the activities of over 90 airfields are described and illustrated in our ‘then and now’ theme, both on the ground and from above. Many, having served their purpose, have returned to farmland leaving only odd vestiges to recall their former role as front-line fighter stations. Others have succumbed to the encroachment of housing or industry or even been totally expunged from the map through mining activities. On the other hand, a number have continued to be used as airfields, either for sport or business flying, and some continue as major airports with modern facilities. Sadly the post-war years have witnessed the slow decline of the RAF presence at so many of their former bases, two having closed during our research for this book. And some have found a new lease of life with the Army . . . or even the Ministry of Justice! All came into their own during the six years of war and the scars from that battle are still evident if one cares to look. Mouldering buildings from the former era remain as poignant reminders of the airmen and women who once habited them . . . now standing almost as memorials to the thousands who never came through. This is their story.

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Three ejections

The He 219’s ejection seats were used successfully, notably by Feldwebel Alfred Staffa ejecting on no-less than three occasions!

JAMES KIGHTLY looks at the nocturnal operations of those flying this German night-fighter

Heinkel He 219 ABOVE: Bristling with heavy armament and equipped with a sophisticated radar system, plus a slew of other innovative features, a Heinkel He 219 slices through an RAF bomber stream with deadly effect during the later stages of the Allied bombing campaign in 1945. ILLUSTRATION BY IAN BOTT, WWW.IANBOTTILLUSTRATION.CO.UK

The office... ABOVE: Looking aft to the Bordfunker’s instruments. LEFT: The view forward from the pilot’s seat.

The two crew sat back-to-back in a pressurised cockpit, each on single-lever operated compressed-air actuated ejection seats. The minimally framed canopy had armoured-glass for the pilot, and the controls and instruments were conventional, though equipped with ultraviolet light for the key instruments. The A-2 version had an unpressurised compartment for a third crewman able to fine-tune the radar or train operators.



he Heinkel He 219 was developed as a dedicated, fast, night-fighter, one of the few to enter service during the Second World War designed for that role. A two-seater, it had a pilot and a radar operator (Bordfunker) sitting back-to-back in the aircraft’s nose. By the time the He 219 had entered service in 1943, the role of the night-fighter had changed radically from the pre-war expectation that day fighters could undertake the task. Additionally, a whole suite of technical developments were being brought into operation in the night war. In the He 219’s first operational mission, on June 11/12, 1943, a pre-production example flown by Maj Werner Streib downed five British bombers, but crashed on landing. While the technology used to locate the enemy bombers was mutating, the core task did not change. After take-off, usually in reaction to a British Bomber Command night raid’s approach, each night-fighter crew would be vectored onto the bomber stream or location by ground control,

based on the ground radar network. From there the Bordfunker (radio operator) using the latest equipment would aim to pick up the Allied bomber (known as a “Viermot” or “four-engine”) and bring his pilot in on an attacking course. The main weapon used at night was fi xed forward-firing guns which were effective, but the development of Schräge Musik (the German name for jazz, literally “slated music”) of fi xed upwardfiring guns delivered a completely unexpected and devastating blow. Though rarely spotted by the bomber’s crew, the He 219 could have the bomber collapse or shed parts onto the Heinkel, as happened to Hauptmann Manfred Meurer, Gruppenkommandeur of I./NJG 1 and his Bordfunker Oberfeldwebel Gerhard Schiebe, killed in a collision with an Avro Lancaster. The He 219 was equipped with a sophisticated VHF-band intercept radar (Streib’s He 219 was fitted with the combat-tested Telefunken FuG-212 “Lichenstein” C-1 intercept radar) fitted to the rear wall of the cockpit, and with three displays. The leftmost one (as seen by the Bordfunker) showed aircraft


Built from spares

Six He 219s were built from “spare parts” in the field by night-fighter units.

ABOVE: Feldwebel Fritz “Pitt” Habicht, a Bordfunker, was lucky to survive his He 219 being shot down, being unconscious for several days. ABOVE RIGHT: “Nachtjagd experten” Wolfgang Falk (left) and Werner Streib. RIGHT: Earlier in the war, the Lufwaffe had been unusual in recruiting for the Bordfunker (radio operator) role.

I was there...

Crew Aircrew ahead as peaks on the reading line, the centre the range and relative altitude, and the right whether the target was to the port or starboard. While simple to operate in theory on a target moving on a constant course and speed, the reality was very different. On top of the challenge of making the initial intercept, the crew had to deal with Allied jamming, not only of the radar, but their radio transmissions to and from their ground controller. They would also be spoofed with German-speaking Allied operators

broadcasting erroneous directions when they had managed to intercede in genuine conversations. The He 219 crew were themselves targets for Allied night-fighters, which homed-in on the radar transmissions of the He 219. Nevertheless, operating with the best equipment and in a target rich environment, the German Luftwaffe night-fighter crews achieved the most effective results and shot down greater numbers of enemy aircraft of any nocturnal fighter force before or since.

ABOVE: He 219A-2 werknr 290202 was taken to the USA after the war, and after painting with US markings, was repainted back with German markings.


Feldwebel Fritz “Pitt” Habicht, Bordfunker

“At the same instant when our six cannons blaze away, the return fire from the tail turret of our adversary flashes up. It rattles violently in our machine, only seconds ago I heard the victory cry of my comrade and I saw the burning bomber plunging down, and now our 219 is also burning over the whole right wing, including the engine.”

Uffizier Walter Schneider, Bordfunker

“Hager preferred the Me 110 over the He 219, which he had flown in June 1944. I also preferred to fly in the Me 110. I feared that in the event of a He 219 crashing on a cratered runway, it would easily stand on its nose or even somersault once the nosewheel had collapsed. Besides, there were rumours of the ejection seats dislodging easily.”

Feldwebel Fritz “Pitt” Habicht, Bordfunker

“My headphone is deaf, all my radio equipment is smashed to pieces. The cockpit is full of a stinging thick smoke and tongues of flames. We must get out as quickly as we can, must jettison the canopy, I pull the lever and the next moment raging whirlwinds of fresh air tear at us.”


One complete He 219 survives, with the fuselage and engines on show at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy annex in Washington DC. As well as much published and on the web, there is a PDF document on a captured Lichtenstein radar at: The book Nachtjagd by Theo Boiten (Crowood Press, 1997) covers the German night-fighter’s war in detail.

Heinkel He 219 290202 became the sole survivor (until a wreck was recently discovered at sea) and has major, restored parts on display at the Smithsonian’s annex. MARK PELLEGRINI 27

Westland Wesse Wess This month’s Airliner Archive reveals the story of a very little-known 1930s type, of which there were only ten examples


n 1928, Westland began construction of a small, three-engined airliner with seats for four passengers – the Westland IV G-EBXK, which flew

in February 1929 with three 95 h.p. Cirrus III engines. A second example, G-AAGW, soon followed with 105 h.p. Hermes I engines, and this served with Imperial Airways’ private hire

ABOVE: Wessex G-ABEG was a demonstrator and was used by HRH Prince of Wales for the opening of Plymouth’s Roborough Aerodrome in July 1931. It ended its days in 1936 while on a charter to the Iraq Petroleum Transport Company in a forced-landing in Northern Rhodesia.

ABOVE: One of four Wessex operated by SABENA, OO-AGE later became G-ADEW with Cobham, suffering engine failure and alighting in the English Channel off the Isle of Wight in July 1935.


department at Croydon. Work began on a further two, G-AULF for Shell, Australia, and G-AAJI for Wilson Airways, Nairobi, intended to become VP-KAD. However, both orders were cancelled ca and ’AJI was completed as the th prototype Wessex G-ABAJ with 105 h.p. h. Armstrong Siddeley Genet Major engines, en flying in May 1930. Belgium’s SABENA ordered four Wessex and an G-ABAJ became the first as OO-AGC, the others ot being OO-AGD from the cancelled Shell order or while OO-AGE and ’AGF were supplied new ne in 1930. Three served until March 1935 when wh they returned to the UK, ’AGC being restored re as G-ABAJ while ’AGE and ’AGF became be G-ADEW and ’DFZ respectively. The other ot Sabena Wessex, OO-AGD, was destroyed in a fire in December 1934. Meanwhile, Westland IVs G-EBXK and G-AAGW Gwere brought up to Wessex standard, the first going to National Aviation Displays at Ford while ’AGW went to Air Pilots Training (later (l becoming Air Service Training [AST]) at Hamble. Further examples for Imperial Airways Ai were G-ABEG, damaged beyond repair re in Northern Rhodesia in 1936, and G-ACHI, Glater also to AST until withdrawn from fr use at Hamble in April 1940. Westland sold G-ACIJ to the Egyptian Air Force Fo as W202 in May 1934. The two exSabena Sa aircraft, G-ADEW and ’DFZ, were registered re to Sir Alan Cobham at Ford and used us by Cobham Air Routes, a small airline operating op between Croydon, Portsmouth, Bournemouth Bo and Guernsey, but after only three th months with the loss of ’DEW in the English En Channel the airline was sold to Olley Air Ai Service. The most famous Wessex was G-ABVB,


r e n i l r i AArchive

LEFT: Modified Wessex G-ABVB, seen before acquiring its Portsmouth, Southsea and Isle of Wight livery. The fuselage was pale blue with buff panels and dark blue trim and the wings were silver. The fin was larger and there was a tailwheel. It was damaged beyond repair at Ryde in May 1936. BELOW: First flown with ADC Cirrus engines, Westland IV G-EBXK was later fitted with Armstrong Siddeley Genet Majors as shown here. Brought up to Wessex standard, it joined National Aviation Displays for pleasure flying, but was withdrawn from use in May 1936.

sex ssex used by Portsmouth, Southsea and Isle of Wight Airlines. It was a special version with strengthened wings using duralumin tubes in place of the normal Wessex’s wooden structure with a modified fin and a raised cockpit. It held eight passengers, with reduced baggage space, and served the route until being damaged beyond repair in a takeoff crash near Ryde Airport on May 30, 1936. The last Wessex survivors were G-ACHI and ’AGW, retired from use as radio and navigation trainers at Hamble in 1940. Total production therefore, including the two conversions, reached ten.


ABOVE: caption

ABOVE: Wessex G-AAGW was a conversion from the second Westland IV and sported a tailwheel – most Wessex had a tailskid. Here it is visiting Croydon. Air Service Training titles can just be seen below the windows. It served for several months with No 11 Air Observer Navigator School at Watchfield, before being withdrawn from use in August 1940. BELOW: Seen outside the Imperial Airways hangar at Croydon is Wessex G-ACHI of Air Pilots Training, with its titling just visible beneath the windows. It was withdrawn from use at Hamble in May 1940.

ABOVE: The interior of Wessex G-ABVB, with a rather lonely passenger! 29


Sir John W. Alcock KBE, DSC

NORMAN FRANKS d describes ib h how, ffollowing ll i th the Armistice, luck just ran out for another experienced and decorated British airman. This month we mark the 95th anniversary of Alcock and Brown’s first transatlantic crossing by air by telling the story of the epic flight’s pilot


n the the annals anna an nals na ls of of flying, ying yi ng the name of John Alcock is well-known for his famous flight across the Atlantic, along with Arthur Whitten Brown in 1919, becoming the first men to successfully make this perilous journey. Less well-known is Alcock’s service career with the Royal Naval Air Service in the First World War. John William Alcock (known also as Jack) was born in Seymour Grove, Old Trafford, Stretford, Manchester, on November 5, 1892, to John and Mary Alcock. He grew up with one sister and three brothers, and began his education St Thomas’s Primary School in Stockport. On leaving school he was employed at the Empress Motor Works in Manchester and in 1910 was made assistant to Mr Charles Fletcher, the Works’ Manager. Fletcher galvanised Alcock’s interest in aviation and another worker, Norman Crossland, was the founder of the Manchester Aero Club. Another powerful influence was the French aviator Maurice Ducrocq, a pilot and the UK sales representative for aero-engines.

Ducrocq hired Alcock as a mechanic at Brooklands, where he learnt to fly at the Frenchman’s flying school, gaining Aero Certificate No 368 on November 26, 1912. Jack then became a racing pilot for the Sunbeam Car Company and in the summer of 1914 competed in a HendonBirmingham-Manchester-Hendon air race in a Farman biplane. When war came he immediately joined the RNAS as an instructor, being commissioned in December 1915. In 1916 he was posted to Mudros, on the Greek island of Lemnos, to fly with No 2 Wing RNAS. He flew a variety of sorties and aircraft types but then, in early 1917, Sopwith Triplane N5431 arrived and for a while Alcock flew it extensively until March 26. On this date Alcock unfortunately ran it into a ditch at Mikra Bay Airfield, Salonika. He was unhurt, but the fighter was badly damaged. After being repaired, Alcock added a Lewis gun above the cockpit, set to fire over the propeller, while still retaining the type’s single Vickers gun. He also made several other modifications with bits taken from other aircraft, and called it the “Sopwith Mouse”, or the “Alcock A.1”.

Continuing operations, Alcock also began to fly a Sopwith Camel and was not averse to flying bombing raids in a large Handley Page O/100 bomber (3124). On August 7, he attacked Panderma and its harbour and on September 1 attacked Adrianople. On the way he spotted a submarine, dropping two bombs in its direction, and then dropped two more on an AA battery at Kuleli Bargas, finally reaching Adrianople to drop more bombs on the main railway station and buildings. On September 30, he took off in a Camel in company with Lieutenant H.T. Mellings in the Triplane, with another pilot in a Sopwith Pup. They found and engaged two enemy seaplanes that were escorting a reconnaissance machine. In the fight Mellings went for the two-seaters, but was attacked by a seaplane. Alcock attacked one of the fighters which began to stream smoke, and Mellings fought the other one which eventually crashed into the sea. Alcock finished off the other fighter before having to break off with engine trouble. Mellings and the Pup pilot chased the two-seater leaving it low over the water and in trouble. However, the day was not yet over and BELOW: Vickers Viking G-EAOV, which John Alcock was flying to Paris on December 18, 1919, when he suffered a fatal crash.



ABOVE: Alcock’s Sopwith Triplane after its repair. Note the Lewis gun mounted on the forward fuselage added to the machine’s normal single Vickers gun. BELOW RIGHT: Captain J.W. Alcock KBE, DSC.

that afternoon he flew the Handley Page on a raid against Constantinople, with 112lb bombs and some Thermite incendiaries. As he overflew the lines near Gallipoli anti-aircraft fire opened up and although it didn’t appear to have caused damage, the bomber ’s port propeller later flew off and petrol began to leak away. Alcock headed for home on one engine, gradually losing height and eventually deciding to ditch five miles north of Suvla Bay. All three men survived and came under rifle fire from the shore, but they successfully swam to a beach area and remained under cover till noon the next day, where they were found and taken prisoner. They remained guests of the Turks until war ’s end. However, for his efforts, Alcock was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the citation reading: “For the great skill, judgement and dash displayed by him off Mudros on September 30, 1917, in a successful attack on three enemy seaplanes, two of which were brought down in the sea.” (London Gazette, December 19, 1917.) After the war, and his release, Jack Alcock remained in the RAF until March 1919, then became a test pilot for Vickers Ltd. The Daily Mail had offered £10,000 for the first successful crossing of the Atlantic by air, so Alcock teamed up with Lt Arthur Brown. Brown, a Glaswegian, was six years older than Alcock and as a RFC observer, had been shot down over France in November 1915 and taken prisoner, until eventually being repatriated to neutral Switzerland in January 1917. Brown was a proficient navigator whose skill would be

essential for the Atlantic attempt. They would fly from Canada in a Vickers Vimy. Despite last-minute delays and the threat of another crew in a Handley Page O/1500 about to make the attempt too, Alcock and Brown took off from St John’s, Newfoundland, on June 14. After 16hr 12min, the Vimy crunched down in Ireland, having flown 1,890 miles to take the prize. Both men found their place in aviation history and both were Knighted for their achievement. They became Knight Commanders of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, announced in the London Gazette on June 27: “In recognition of distinguished services to aviation, in connection with the successful flight from St John’s, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Co Galway, on June 14/15, 1919.” Sadly, Jack Alcock’s new-found fame did not last out the year. On December 18, he was taking the prototype Vickers Viking amphibian G-EAOV to the Paris Air Show, but near Rouen, encountered foggy conditions. One wing hit a tree causing the machine to crash. Alcock was badly injured and although taken to No 6 General Hospital in Rouen, he was pronounced dead. His body was taken back to England where he was buried in the Southern Cemetery, Charlton-cum-Hardy, Greater Manchester. He was 27 years old. Arthur Brown died in October 1948, aged 62. Oddly, Alcock’s fame does not seem to have reached RAF records, for on his RAF Casualty Card, he is listed as just “Captain John Wm. Alcock DSC, RNAS (RAF)” and his unit is still shown as 2 Wing.

ABOVE: John Alcock’s decorations included the KBE and DSC.

“They became Knight Commanders of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, announced in the London Gazette on June 27: ‘In recognition of distinguished services to aviation, in connection with the successful flight from St John’s, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Co Galway, on June 14/15, 1919.’” AEROPLANE SUMMER 2014 31


hundering through the treacherous night skies high above enemy territory, the battle-ready Lancaster Bombers of 617 Squadron prepared for one of the most daring raids of WWII... Led by the fearless Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the skilled crews of 617 Squadron prepared to breach the Ruhr dams with Barnes Wallis' innovative bouncing bombs, soaring into the annals of military history as the valiant Dambuster heroes credited with the success of Operation Chastise. Proudly symbolising the hopes of the Allied nations, each member of Bomber Command stood determinedly in oppression’s formidable path – their Lancaster Bombers forever hailed as icons of the skies. Proudly commemorate the landmark 70th anniversary of Operation Chastise with a market-first timepiece. The 70th Anniversary Dambusters Chronograph is a true first-of-a-kind collectable edition, exclusive to The Bradford Exchange.


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Reverse engraved with a tribute to the men and machines of the raid

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This outstanding chronograph is limited to just 4,999 editions worldwide, accompanied by a fascinating FREE Collector’s Heritage Card and is engraved on the reverse with the individual issue number! Payable in 5 instalments of ONLY £27.99, this timepiece is an exceptional value at just £139.95 (including S&H)*. To order yours, backed by our 120-day money-back guarantee, there is nothing to pay now – simply complete and return the Reservation Application today.

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D-Day 70th Anniversary

Special Section Section

The Alli Allied d iinvasion i off occupied i d FFrance under d the th codename Operation Overlord was the greatest feat of combined arms – land, sea and air – in history. Crucial to the success of the Normandy landings was the application of air power in all itss forms. Here we present a selection of articles to mark this important anniversary

ABOVE LEFT LEFT: Ge General al Dwi Dwight ght D. Ei Eisenhower how whi while le serving vin ass the the Sup Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force. He later became the 34th President of the United States. US ARMY ABOVE RIGHT: Supreme Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower talks with men of Company E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, at the 101st Airborne Division’s base at Greenham Common June 5, 1944. US ARMY RIGHT: A copy of the original letter sent out to forces involved with D-Day by General Dwight D. Eisenhower. COURTESY ERNEST HARRISON BARTRAM

AEROPLANE SUMMER 2014 www. ww w. aero ae ropl ro plan pl anem an emon em onth on thly th ly.c ly .com .c om 33

D-Day to Villers-Bocag

MARTYN CHORLTON examines No 115 Sqn’s operations in June 1944 with the Lancaster Mk I/III which earned the unit the Battle Honour Normandy 1944


o 115 Sqn was a latecomer to the First World War when it was formed on December 1, 1917, at Catterick, but as part of the RAF’s Independent Air Force and equipped with the excellent Handley Page O/400 the unit soon made quite an impression. After moving to France in August 1918, the unit flew its first operation on September 16/17, 1918, when six O/400s accurately bombed railway communications at Metz-Sablon. One aircraft was hit by flak and forcedlanded in neutral Luxembourg while two others returned with engine trouble.


Despite this, the unit was congratulated by Maj Gen Sir Hugh Trenchard, then Officer Commanding 83rd Wing, describing 115 Sqn’s actions that day as: “the finest piece of work which has ever been done by a new squadron.” The unit followed this operation with its most successful of the First World War, when five O/400s attacked the airfield at Morhange twice in one day, delivering an unprecedented six and half tons of bombs. The unit flew its last operation on November 10/11, when one O/400 attacked Morhange and another set out for Frescaty Airfield but aborted. In less than two months 115 Sqn had dropped 26 tons (over 58,000lb) in just 15 raids.

Disbanded at Ford on March 4, 1919, the unit was reformed as a bomber unit at Marham, under 3 Group control on June 15, 1937, becoming one of only two units to be equipped with the Fairey Hendon. The intended aircraft, the Handley Page Harrow, soon replaced the Hendon, but it was not until May 1939 that 115 Sqn received a real bomber in the shape of the Vickers Wellington. The unit flew its first operation of the Second World War with the “Wimpie” on October 6, 1939, when six aircraft flew an armed reconnaissance on the hunt for German warships off the Norwegian coast. The unit’s first operational raid was another armed reconnaissance which


ABOVE: A tranquil scene at Witchford in the early summer of 1944 with Lancaster I ME692 in the distance taken from the wing of what is believed to be Lancaster III ND790. The latter was one of six bombers which were lost on June 7/8, 1944, Plt Off S.F. Francis and his crew destined never to see this view again. ME692 also later succumbed to the enemy when it failed to return from Wilhelmshaven on October 15/16, 1944. LEFT: A typical war load of one 4,000lb HC “Cookie” and a trail of 500lb MC bombs about to be loaded aboard a 115 Sqn at Witchford in July 1944. ALL VIA AUTHOR


resulted in an attack on German warships at Heligoland, 115 Sqn despatching seven of the 14 Wellingtons involved. The formation suffered a determined attack by Messerschmitt Bf 109s, but all survived and one enemy fighter was claimed as hit and possibly shot down. One of the 115 Sqn machines had a single bomb “hang up” which was accidentally dropped on Heligoland, and by chance making the unit the first to bomb German soil in the Second World War. The squadron moved to Mildenhall in September 1942, by then equipped with the Wellington III and then on to East Wretham in November, where in March 1943 the unit became the first of only six units to re-equip with the Hercules-powered Avro Lancaster II. The unit moved again to Little Snoring in August 1943 and then to Witchford near Ely on November 26, 1943. While happy with their Lancasters, the squadron’s crews were all too well aware that other units flying the Merlinpowered Mk I and Mk III were clearly flying faster, higher and could carry a larger bomb load. This deficit was rectified in March 1944 when the Mk II was phased out and replaced by the Mk I/III and 115 Sqn could now operate on a par with other units within its group and Bomber Command as a whole.

Prelude to Overlord

Bomber Command had been softening up Northern France since April 1944 in preparation for the world’s largest airborne and amphibious assault. Coastal batteries in particular had been taking a beating for many

weeks, but as part of many invasion deception plans not all focus was placed on those guns positioned along the Normandy coast. Enemy defences along the Pas-de-Calais received the most attention, bolstering the German belief that the forthcoming Allied invasion would take place along the Pas-de-Calais coast. No 115 Sqn’s first raid of June 1944 took place on the 2nd/3rd when 15 of its bombers joined a force of 271 aircraft, made up of 136 Lancasters, 119 Handley Page Halifaxes and 16 de Havilland Mosquitos, the latter providing the marking for this operation. Four coastal guns were selected, 115 Sqn’s target was located at Wissant less than ten miles south-west of Calais. The target was covered in cloud, but those aircraft that did bomb (many jettisoned their lethal cargos into the Channel) came down to as low as 5,000ft where the Pathfinders’ flares could be seen. The raid was not a success from a collateral damage point of view, but it was in keeping up the deception. The following night on June 3/4, coastal batteries were the focus again in the Pas-deCalais, this time at Calais and Wimereux. Ten aircraft from 115 Sqn took part along with 117 other Lancasters and eight Mosquitos all from 1, 3 and 8 Groups. Unlike the previous night’s effort the target was free of cloud and coupled with good marking, all of 115 Sqn dropped their bombs between 8,500ft and 10,000ft. Virtually all of the crews described good concentrations of bombs followed by several large explosions; the raid being declared successful. Like the night before, all of the crews returned safely to Witchford. ð

BELOW: Lancaster I HK790/KO-Y of B Flight 115 Sqn rests between sorties at Witchford in early 1945. Delivered to the squadron in February 1945 the bomber was struck off charge at 20 MU, Aston Down, in May 1947.


Unleash hell

No 3 Group enjoyed a night off on June 4/5, while 1, 4, 5, 6 and 8 Groups continued to pound the coastal defences in the Pas-de-Calais and in a brief moment of intent a battery at Maisy, in Normandy, soon to become the battleground of Omaha and Utah beach, was unsuccessfully attacked. No 115 Sqn was back in the fray during the early hours of June 6, 1944, when the first of a “maximum effort” 24-strong force took off from Witchford at 03.25hrs. The last of 115 Sqn’s aircraft, LM533/ KO-T flown by Fg Off J.M. Wesley, lifted off the runway at 03.51hrs to join a total force of 1,012 aircraft made up of 551 Lancasters, 412 Halifaxes and 49 Mosquitos. Coastal batteries along the Normandy coast were the targets, this raid being vital in silencing as many enemy guns as possible, which within hours, would be trained at Allied ships and soldiers coming ashore. However, of the ten batteries being targeted only La Pernelle and Ouisterham were free of cloud, the latter being allocated to 115 Sqn. This relative freedom from cloud and good Pathfinder marking resulted in some very accurate bombing from between 9,000ft and 11,500ft and once again crews reported many bombs bursting in the target area close to the flares. By the end of this huge raid, 5,000 tons of bombs had been dropped, the biggest tonnage by Bomber Command of the war to date. As thousands of Allied soldiers fought their way inch by inch into France, the next focus of attention for Bomber Command was enemy communications behind the Normandy battle area. Another force of 1,065 aircraft, including another 24 contributed by 115 Sqn, was allocated nine targets all very close to French towns making civilian casualties virtually

unavoidable. All of 115 Sqn’s aircraft took off between 00.01hrs and 00.40hrs on June 7 with the intention of bombing a railway junction at Lisieux. No 115 Sqn’s contribution was led, for the first time this month, by Wg Cdr R.H. Annan DSO in ME692/A4-G, who had been commanding officer of the unit since December 21, 1943. On arrival the target was quickly identified, thanks to an accurate green indicator and under the instructions of the Master Bomber, and the railway was bombed from just 6,000ft, although some aircraft bombed from as low as 4,000ft, making them particularly vulnerable to flak. As a result the squadron’s luck ran out for the first time this

Some 337 aircraft, comprising 195 Halifaxes, 122 Lancasters and 20 Mosquitos, took part in the raid, 115 Sqn’s part being to attack the large railway sidings at Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse, 17 miles south-west of Paris. Conditions were good for bombing, but the combination of flying slightly further inland and the clear night made the formation rich pickings for German night-fighters. Those aircraft that did bomb all reported good solid Pathfinder marking and virtually all bombs falling in the target area which would have dramatically reduced the likelihood of civilian casualties. However, the night-fighters were in a bloodthirsty mood this night and by the end of the raid 17 Lancasters and 11 Halifaxes lay burning across the French countryside with few survivors to tell the tale. It was 115 Sqn that suffered the most of all, losing six Lancasters including LL864, ND760, ND761 and ND790, whose crews were all killed. Of the remaining two Lancasters, only navigator Plt Off A.R. Tarlton escaped from HK552 which came down at Montchauvet and five crew, including the captain Plt Off E.A. Law RAAF, baled out safely from Lancaster I HK548 which

“Bomber Command had been softening up Northern France since April 1944 in preparation for the world’s largest airborne and amphibious assault” month when Fg Off J.M. Wesley and his crew of six were “lost without trace” in Lancaster III LM533/KO-T. Their loss is a mystery to this day as there were no reports of light or even heavy flak in the area and night-fighters were not in attendance. At Lisieux a great deal of damage had been done to the railway, although the town had suffered a great deal as well thanks to a large number of bombs overshooting the main target.

Scourge of the Nachtjager

No 115 Squadron contributed 18 Lancasters as part of a routine attack against various communications targets beyond the Normandy battle to the west of Paris.

ABOVE: Squadron Leader W.G. Shadworth DFC and crew climb aboard ABO ard their La Lancaster ster I HK545/ KO-E, bound for a target in northern France in early June 1944. Only days after this photo was taken the aircraft along with its seven crew failed to return from Gelsenkirchen on June 12/13. tak Also pictured are Sgt A.J. Veale DFM, Sgt R. Parkyn, Fg Off G.C. Townend RAAF, Sgt R.W.T. Weir Als DFM, Fg Off I.W. Entwistle RNZAF and Flt Sgt A.F.W. Farley. LEFT: The armourers await orders as to whether the 4,000lb HC “Cookie” in the background will be needed for the next operation, while whe this 115 Sqn crew prepare for a change of plan. Bomber Command was at the Allied ground forces thi beck and call during June and July 1944 as tactical, rather than strategic targets became priority.



plunged to earth at Massy (Essone). Law, Sgt W. Russell, Sgt J.E. Parkinson, Flt Sgt J.R. Nurse RAAF and Sgt P. Murphy managed to evade capture and eventually returned to Witchford. A total of 38 empty beds and seats in the mess would have been quite sobering for even the most experienced aircrew back at Witchford. The squadron was back in the fray on June 10/11, once again the target was marshalling yards, this time at Dreux. Contributing 22 aircraft to a total force of 432 aircraft, 115 Sqn was over the target at approximately 01.00hrs and as with the last trip over Northern France the carnage continued as the night-fighters picked their targets and the flak found its mark. Several crews later reported the sickening sight of bombers under attack in a raid that saw another 15 Lancasters and three Halifaxes brought down, although on this occasion 115 Sqn was unscathed. The following night it was railways again when 17 Lancasters joined a 329-strong force to attack Nantes. The raid turned out to be successful, but hairy for many crews who bombed railway yards from as low as 2,000ft. As a result, the flak struck several aircraft including ME718 flown by Fg Off E. Chatterton RCAF which had its port outer engine knocked out. ND758, with Flt Lt D.S. McKechnie RCAF at the controls, was also struck by flak ð

ABOVE: A survivor was Lancaster I NN754, which later served with 195 Sqn, also based at Witchford and was subsequently struck off charge in February 1946. BELOW: Lancaster III LM533/KO-T which failed to return from Lisieux on June 6/7, 1944. The entire crew, Fg Off J.M. Wesley, Flt Sgt P.J. Edmonds and Sgts B.J. Lee, R.E. Dodson, C.I.D. Campbell, R. Langan and F.J. Franklin, are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. ANDY HAY/FLYINGART©2014

BELOW: Flt Lt Jim Robson (third from right) and his crew pose for the camera in front of Lancaster I HK698/IL-A of C Flight, 115 Sqn, after completing their final operation in April 1945. The relief on these airmen’s faces is clear for all to see. J.T. ROBSON


ABOVE: The front turret tu t of LLancaster ast III ND758/A4-A, named The Bad Penny by its pilot Flt Lt D.S. McKechnie RCAF, receives some precarious attention from a 115 Sqn armourer.

A daylight raid on a V-1 flying-bomb site on June 21 was also abandoned because of cloud, while a night raid on construction works at L’Hey was more successful on June 23/24. All 20 bombers that took part returned safely to Witchford as did the 24 aircraft that attacked the Biennais supply dump on June 27/28.


ABOVE: The tension in the watch office at Witchford begins to rise as airmen and airwomen anxiously begin to scan the Cambridgeshire sky in preparation for their charges’ returns.

shrapnel which put holes in the bomb bay and the mid-upper turret; luckily the air gunner, Sgt J. Lyne was uninjured.

New targets, new dangers

The very first raid of Bomber Command’s oil campaign began with a 303-strong raid on Nordstern synthetic oil-plant (aka Gelsenberg AG), west of Gelsenkirchen. The odds of 115 Sqn losing a bomber on this operation was dramatically reduced because only eight aircraft were taking part, each loaded with a single 4,000lb HC and 16 500lb GP bombs. The raid on the oil plant was exceptionally accurate and the majority of the 1,000 tons dropped fell within the confines of the target. Both flak and night-fighters were prevalent resulting in 17 Lancasters failing to return home including the experienced crew of Sqn Ldr W.G. Shadworth DFC in 115 Sqn Lancaster I HK545. Hit by flak during the run-in to the target, the bomber crashed into the HQ building of the oil plant, killing all seven on board. Bomber Command’s first daylight operation since 2 Group’s departure in May 1943 was flown against Le Havre harbour on June 14, where enemy E-boats operated from there were posing a serious threat to Allied shipping supporting the invasion. No 115 Sqn put up 22 Lancasters, for what Sir Arthur Harris described as an experimental raid as he was

very uncomfortable committing such force in daylight, but a large Supermarine Spitfire escort helped to ease the tension. Railway yards were back on the agenda at Valenciennes on June 15/16 with 115 Sqn contributing another 21 bombers to the raid. One aircraft, HK550 flown by Fg Off P. Anaka RCAF, failed to return to Witchford having crashed at Oisy-le-Verger. Anaka and his bomb aimer Fg Off A.G. Morder managed to bale out and despite landing in the Pas-de-Calais, which was still firmly in enemy hands, the duo evaded capture. The railway yards at Montidier would claim the last casualties for 115 Sqn during June 1944 and it was a particularly unlucky one because it was only aircraft lost from a force of 317 aircraft. Fourteen bombers departed

The unit ended the month on a high by contributing 27 Lancasters to a crucial raid designed to stop a pair of Panzer divisions which were heading for the Normandy battlefront. For 115 Sqn, which began at 17.50hrs on June 30, the designated target was a road junction at Villers-Bocage, 15 miles south-west of Caen. Solid intelligence had been received that the 2nd and 9th Panzer Divisions were planning on attacking both British and US army units in the area and by bombing the junction, the enemy would literally be stopped in its tracks. Being so close to the battlefront, the whole raid, which involved 266 aircraft, was carefully orchestrated by a Master Bomber who ordered bombers to attack from as low as 4,500ft so that they could see the Pathfinder flares through the smoke and dust being created. By the end of the raid, 1,100 tons of bombs were dropped with clinical accuracy and the German tanks were prevented from attacking. The navigator of Lancaster III ND758, being flown by Flt Lt D.S. McKechnie RCAF that day, was Fg Off F.R. Leatherdale, who described his experience of Villers-Bocage: “Never before had the sequence of events been altered, as soon as we were all gathered, the Station Commander announced the amazing news. Rommel was moving a Panzer division to repel the sorely pressed Allied armies trying to break out from their beachhead in Normandy. The battle had reached a critical stage, for the bad weather had prevented us from landing all the supplies and troops that had been planned. An attack by the veteran Panzer division could

“We were not optimistic about our chances of returning to base, but nor were we frightened, for we realised that, if we were shot down, we would be able to get back behind British lines”


Witchford on June 17/18 carrying 18 500lb GP bombs each. The target was obscured by cloud on arrival and after only a dozen aircraft had dropped their bombs (two of them from115 Sqn) the Master Bomber abandoned the raid and the force turned for home. No flak or fighters were reported, so the loss of Plt Off J.A. Traill RAAF in Lancaster I HK559 was a mystery. The bomber was last seen diving at speed, before exploding “with great force” near Gannes, eight miles south-west of the target.


NO 1155 SQUADRON OPERATIONS JUNE 11-30, 30 19444 Jun 2/3 Jun 3/4 Jun 5/6 Jun 6/7 Jun 7/8 Jun 10/11 Jun 11/12 Jun 12/13 Jun 14 Jun 15/16 Jun 17/18 Jun 21 Jun 23/24 Jun 27/28 Jun 30

Wissant Calais Ouisterham Lisieux Chevreusse Dreux Nantes Gelsenkirchen Le Havre Valenciennes Montdidier Domleger L’Hey Biennais Villers-Bocage

15 a/c 10 a/c 24 a/c 24 a/c 18 a/c 22 a/c 17 a/c 8 a/c 22 a/c 21 a/c 14 a/c 19 a/c 20 a/c 24 a/c 27 a/c

6 x 1,000lb MC & 10 x 500lb MC bombs 1 x 4,000lb HC & 16 x 500lb GP bombs 10 x 1,000lb MC & 4 x 500lb GP bombs 18 x 500lb GP bombs 18 x 500lb GP bombs 18 x 500lb GP bombs 18 x 500lb GP bombs 1 x 4,000lb HC & 16 x 500lb GP bombs 11 x 1,000lb GP & 4 x 500lb GP bombs 10 x 500lb GP & 2 x 500lb MC bombs 18 x 1500lb GP bombs 18 x 500lb GP bombs 11 x 1,000lb GP & 4 x 500lb GP bombs 18 x 500lb GP bombs 11 x 1,000lb GP & 4 x 500lb GP bombs

NO 115 SQUADRON LOSSES – JUNE 1-30, 1944 Jun 6/7 Jun 7/8 Jun 7/8 Jun 7/8 Jun 7/8 Jun 7/8 Jun 7/8 Jun 12/13 Jun 15/16 Jun 18/19

Liseux Chevreusse Chevreusse Chevreusse Chevreusse Chevreusse Chevreusse Gelsenkirchen Valenciennes Montdidier

Lancaster III LM533/KO-T Lancaster I HK548/KO-W Lancaster I HK552/KO-J Lancaster I LL864/A4-H Lancaster III ND760/A4-K Lancaster III ND761/A4-C Lancaster III ND790/KO-H Lancaster I HK545/KO-E Lancaster I HK550/KO-Y Lancaster I HK559/A4-H

7+ 2+, 5 evaded 6+, 1 PoW 7+ 7+ 7+ 7+ 7+ 5+, 2 evaded 7+


Lancaster III


ABOVE: Opened on June 7, 1943, RAF Witchford, like so many wartime airfields, remained in Air Ministry hands until the early 1950s. This view, taken in 1945, shows at least 20 Lancasters at their dispersals.

well tip the scales against us. Field Marshal Montgomery remembered that the bombing of Casino had so torn up the streets of the town that his tanks could not pass through it. Between the front and the German Panzers was the small town of Villers-Bocage. If that could be torn apart by our bombs, the Panzers would be stopped long enough for British armour and field guns to be brought up to join the battle. Accordingly, he had sent a signal to HQ Bomber Command, asking for every available bomber to be thrown into the battle. “At 17.55hrs, our Lancaster lifted 11 1,000lb and four 500lb bombs into the Cambridgeshire air. There was no sign of cloud, and the Luftwaffe was still a force to be reckoned with. We were not optimistic about our chances of returning to base, but nor were we frightened, for we realised that, if we were shot down, we would be able to get back behind British lines. “We got into position beneath a nice little gaggle of Halifaxes, keeping clear of their bombs, but taking some comfort from their superior fire power. Now we were passing over the green

Bombs Medals & Awards

174 operational night sorties – 447.53hr flying 29 operational day sorties – 90.45hr flying 5 non-operational night sorties – 28.56hr flying 70 non-operational day sorties – 86.42hr flying 82 operational night sorties – 191.46hr flying 16 operational day sorties – 45.54hr flying 3 non-operational night sorties – 13.55hr flying 34 non-operational day sorties – 38.11hr flying 256 operational night sorties – 639.39hr flying 45 operational day sorties – 136.39hr flying Total weight of bombs dropped in June 1944 – 1,223.4 tons One DFC and seven Mentioned in Despatches

French fields, and anxiously I checked my wind finding, to pass the most recent and reliable wind to Ken (Flt Sgt K. Denly), our bomb-aimer. “Had I found the right target? Anxiously I stood behind the flight engineer (Sgt G. France), checking our path from my map. Below we caught an occasional glimpse of a Spitfire sweeping round in an arc and on the ground, some signs of a battle raging. I think we were about 12,000 or 14,000ft, a good height for accuracy, and too high for the light flak to really worry us. Then, in the evening sunlight, we spotted Villers-Bocage. It looked a very neat town. It did not sprawl out into the patchwork of the fields around it; its edge was abrupt, as if it was a walled town, perhaps a relic of medieval France. As I began to wonder about it, the bombs from the leading wave of aircraft erupted across the town in long sticks. Huge spouts of reddish smoke shot upward. I wondered why the smoke was red. I scanned the sky for enemy fighters but saw none, only a few puffs of black smoke as two or three 88mm flak guns opened up. As we began the run up,

I looked at the target once more. Then the reason for the red smoke struck me; it was brick dust. Villers-Bocage was being pulverised. Such is the price of war, a neat, pleasant town whose only crime was that it lay in the path of Rommel’s Panzers. The Lancaster dropped its bombs and arced off to the west and to home. The crew looked below to the two lines of vehicles, fire, smoke and dust, one facing north, the other south, which appeared thin and far away. They thought of their fellows down there who would not be going home tonight, and of those who would never go home. “Our bomb aimer said how much he wished we had even one bomb left to aim at the German position. The desire to help our soldiers was great in us all. Three hours and ten minutes after take-off, we landed back at Witchford to discuss excitedly and at length what had been, for us all, the most moving experience we had ever had. Had Villers-Bocage suffered in vain? We were told that it had not, and that the frustrated Panzers could not join the battle at the critical stage.”

BELOW: From June 14, 1944, Bomber Command as a whole began to fly more daylight operations especially in support of Operation Overlord. This scene of the squadron taxying back to their dispersals in daylight at Witchford would have been quite a novelty. J.T. ROBSON


Normandy D-Day s r u o T e c n a r b m e Rem 70 th

Conciair C onciair is is once once again again offering flights over the D-Day invasion beaches and a subsequent ground tour of some key sites, as JARROD COTTER describes TOP LEFT: Madame Arlette Gondrée, who was one of the first French people to be liberated after soldiers from the British 6th Airborne Division had landed by Horsa glider and captured Pegasus Bridge in the early hours of June 6, 1944. LEFT: The view from the Chieftain as it turns inland and flies over Sword beach, where units of the British 2nd Army landed on D-Day. ALL AUTHOR ABOVE: The Pegasus Bridge Café Gondrée, the first building to be liberated in France on D-Day and which was then used as a field hospital.


light charter company Conciair formerly offered day flights from Goodwood to Normandy and return using a D.H. Devon, however due to CAA requirements this historic aircraft is no longer available to fly fare-paying passengers. Hence the company is now using a Piper Chieftain to take passengers on the same tour itinerary, which it is hoped will run twice a week in this 70th anniversary of D-Day year. The flights take-off from Goodwood, itself a wartime RAF airfield, and fly a similar route that fighters would have flown to the invasion beachheads, before a west-to-east transit along the shores of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. The first two beaches listed were assaulted by US troops and the latter three by British and Canadian forces. The aircraft then lands at Carpiquet Airport near Caen, Normandy, from where the passengers are transported to various locations relevant to the D-Day landings. These vary depending on whether guests are Commonwealth or US citizens, and can even be tailored for a group with specific requests.


One particular favourite is a visit to the Pegasus Bridge Café Gondrée, still owned and run by Madame Arlette Gondrée who lived there with her family during the war and was just four when they became the first French people to be liberated on June 6, 1944 (see overleaf). The café has since become a pilgrimage for veterans and their families. Other locations include some of the beaches themselves, defensive battery sites and cemeteries, and as mentioned vary according to the guests’ particular interests. The trips are scheduled to depart from Goodwood at 09.00hrs, and arrive in France at 09.30hrs. After a full day in the region, the aircraft departs from Caen at 17.30hrs for a return to Goodwood at around 18.00hrs. The flights are expected to cost in the region of £530 per person this year, and have proved particularly popular in the past as it is a day trip, and so avoids the need to be in the area for several days. A knowledgeable tour guide accompanies each group to provide the information about all that they are visiting. With thanks to Barrie Prescott, Col Mike Bradley and Rob Wildeboer. For more information contact Conciair on 01243 779399 or go online at

ABOVE Just over ABOVE: o the th other side of Caen Canal from the café are three memorial stones marking the landing places of the three Horsa gliders which carried the troops who captured Pegasus Bridge and liberated the Gondrée family. RIGHT: D-Day battlefield tour guide Col Mike Bradley OBE, seen standing by the grave of Pvt R.E. Johns of the Parachute Regiment who wh was killed on July 23, 1944, aged just 16, as he had lied about his age to join up. BELOW: Part of Omaha beach, where the US 1st Army landed on D-Day. Omaha was some six miles long and overlooked by cliffs, so consequently was the site of the most intensive fighting of D-Day as depicted at the beginning of the film Saving Private Ryan. 41

LEFT: The Horsas carrying the soldiers of the British 6th Airborne Division who liberated Pegasus Bridge were towed by Handley Page Halifaxes of 298 Sqn, which released their charges over the Channel so that there was a completely silent approach to the landing zone.


k c i t s d a De

Gliderborne rne sol soldiers ldiers of the British 6th Airborne Division were the first in action at 00.16hrs on D-Day, when they performed a coup de main assault on Pegasus Bridge

FAR LEFT: Staff Sergeant Jim Wallwork. LEFT: Major John Howard.


ABOVE: Two of th ABO ABOVE the e thre tthree hree hre eH Horsas tha thatt land llanded anded and ed clo close to Pegasus Bridge, with Jim Wallwork’s glider seen furthest away from the camera. Beyond see that is the bridge, and the Café Gondrée is the tha building seen to the left of this picture.


Horsa gliders to achieve a silent approach. The first Horsa, flown by S/Sgt Jim Wallwork and S/Sgt John Ainsworth (using a stopwatch to ensure they turned at the correct marks) and with Maj Howard on board, touched down at 00.16hrs local time on June 6, 1944. The landing zone was relatively narrow, with trees to the left and a pond to the right. Jim Wallwork skilfully flew his glider alongside the canal, aiming to land and finish up as close to its far extremity as possible, which would put it in the barbed wire protecting the Caen Canal bridge. He landed and bounced, then on his second alightment deployed the stream ’chute which helped bring the glider to a stop in a perfect position, and with complete surprise. Air Chief Marshal Leigh-Mallory, commanding the Allied air forces on D-Day, called it one of the greatest feats of flying of the war. As Maj Howard and the platoon on board

ABOVE: A view of Pegasus Bridge after it had been captured by the British. The Horsas are visible on the other side of the Caen Canal.



ABOVE: Staff Sergeant Jim Wallwork’s skilful landing of his Horsa meant that Maj Howard and the first of his troops from D Company of the 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry to attack Pegasus Bridge were right on the threshold of their objective.

ABOVE: An aerial ABOVE ial vi view showing h how clo close the three Horsas landed at Pegasus Bridge, which can be seen at top left.

rior to the arrival of the main Allied invasion force on the five Normandy beaches from around 06.30hrs, three Airborne Divisions were deployed to secure the flanks of the area. To the west two US Airborne Divisions were dropped behind Utah beach and to the east the British 6th Airborne Division was dropped into an area inland of Sword beach. One of the primary tasks of the British troops was to seize intact two strategically vital bridges over the Caen Canal and River Orne, near Bénouville. Called Operation Deadstick, the successful outcome of the attack was considered to be vital to the success of the invasion, as it would allow the area to be reinforced. To make the operation a success complete surprise was needed, and it was D Company of the 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry commanded by Maj John Howard which was to make the coup de main assault (an offensive operation that depends on surprise, speed and dash for success) from Airspeed


exited their Horsa, another landed behind it and a third slightly further back. Meanwhile other gliders were planned to land on the other side of the road, and the platoons carried on board those would take the River Orne bridge. The assault was made successfully, with one of the first objectives being to throw grenades into a pill box in which the Germans had a controller to blow up the bridge, hence the need for total surprise. On the western side of the bridge was a café, and the Gondrée family who lived there became the first French family to be liberated. The café was then used as a field hospital. The canal bridge was renamed Pegasus Bridge after the emblem of the British Airborne forces, and the café is open to this day, still familyrun but renamed the Pegasus Bridge Café Gondrée (see page 41). With many thanks to Conciair D-Day tour guide Col Mike Bradley OBE, whose knowledge of this operation told on the very site itself was used to form the basis of this story.

ABOVE: In the film The Longest Day Maj Howard was played by Richard Todd (centre), who himself parachuted into the Pegasus Bridge drop zone from a Short Stirling on D-Day. 20TH CENTURY FOX/EVERETT/REX 43


LEFT: Colonel John B. Henry Jr, Commanding Officer of the 339th FG.



y a D D

STEPHEN C. ANANIAN, ANIAN a former 339th Fighter Group P-51 pilot, compiles a selection of personal memories and diary entries describing missions flown from Fowlmere by some of his colleagues on June 6, 1944


n June 6, 1944 Allied forces mounted Operation Overlord, the invasion of enemyoccupied Europe. More familiarly known as D-Day, it involved air attacks and cover, amphibious landings and airborne assaults. Its success would be a major factor in deciding the outcome of the war, as establishing a second front in Western Europe was crucial if the enemy was to be defeated. I joined the 339th a few months after that historic event and my knowledge of the missions came from the participants themselves. No account of D-Day would be complete if we did not mention the outstanding performance of our ground personnel though. They kept aircraft “combat ready” for three missions a day, working around the clock, foregoing food and barely sleeping – what a team! Included here is our Commanding Officer’s account as he remembers it. In addition, our former 339th Fighter Group Association president, Enoch Stephenson, who led the group into battle that day, tells us his recollections. Modest Hervey Stockman gives us his fascinating story, but it takes “Dutch” Eisenhart to tell you of Hervey’s quick thinking that probably saved his squadron CO’s life and may have saved the day as well. Major Gravette’s radio transmitter was working, but unknown to him his receiver was not. This meant he could not hear the warning when Hervey Stockman called that they were being attacked by German Messerschmitt Bf 109s. Hervey thinking quickly “fired a shot across the bow” to attract his squadron commander’s attention, thus saving him and the squadron from the consequences of a tragic attack by the enemy. The numbers of aircraft destroyed are extremely accurate since every pilot signed


combat reports with confirming statements by fellow pilots as well as combat films. No such records were kept of the tremendous number of locomotives, rolling stock, troops, tanks, trucks or buildings that were destroyed and that is unfortunate. These accounts provide the setting for the invasion and help tell the story. During the three-day period of D-Day, we destroyed 21 enemy aircraft (17 air, 4 ground), plus many trucks, trains, tanks and enemy convoys. Jim Starnes reminded me that it was the “luck of the draw”; it was the area you were assigned to in those three days that determined your ability to find and destroy enemy aircraft. Having said that, one also must remember that the 339th had been in combat just one month! Our RAF advisors had barely left us and our ground personnel were still overcoming the elements in a strange environment and putting us in the air without a pause. We were still “wet behind the ears” as they say. In spite of that the group was up there in second place, scoring with the leaders in knocking the Luftwaffe out of the sky. Second Lieutenant Peter J. McMahon (505th FS) scored the highest, being credited with destroying 3½ enemy aircraft in the air during the three-day D-Day period. He claimed two Junkers Ju 87 Stukas on June 6 and 1½ FockeWulf Fw 190s on June 8. (Peter McMahon was reported killed in action on July 11, 1944 while strafing a rail yard in France.) Bill Bryan (503rd FS), Gerald Graham

(505th) and Richard Olander (505th) had excessive flying time before D-Day and were ordered by their flight surgeons to take a leave and go to London. Bill says: “When I objected because D-Day was imminent I was threatened that I would be grounded.” The three were in London when they heard the news that the invasion had taken place they rushed back to Fowlmere. Bill says, “I got back too late to fly on D-Day! The following day I flew three missions.”


D-Day minus One

Group called for series of softening-up missio missions as the stage is set for D-Day. England, June 5, 1944 – today’s sweep was the fi fth in a row of missions that failed to produce fifth anything but poor weather and trips to France. Since May 30 when the group bagged six enemy aircraft in heavy fi ghting, nothing has happened to change the scoreboard. Colonel Henry, fighting, Capt Larson and Maj Gravette have swapped leads, and on at least one occasion the group has been split into three sections for a patrol job.


Invasion opens on coast co of France between Cherbourg and Le Havre. Group flies early mission; some pilots log 15hr on D-Day. Eisenhower breaks monotony with the biggest military move in history. England, June 6, 1944 – just when everybody was about to go to sleep and fall out of their airplanes, the invasion started. Nobody will ever remember all the details of the event from the 339th’s viewpoint, but it is doubted that anybody will ever forget the excitement the day produced. In the air as early as 01.30hrs, the fi rst mission was a 6½hr run, mostly in the middle of first things like C-47s. Everybody flew flew without lights and in radio silence, which contributed to the tension. Weather was lousy. The Group fl ew three missions, mostly to an area marked off for the 339th below the invasion flew coast. One pilot logged over 15hr and several fl ew 15 even! Men on the line worked without a flew break and were forced to go to chow. Two victories were registered when 2nd Lt William F. Mudge Jr and 2nd Lt Peter J. McMahon caught a couple of Stukas west of Orleans. “It was like shooting fi sh in a bathtub,” they said. fish Lost were 2nd Lt Elton J. Brownshadel, who spun in near this station, and Maj Michael G.H. McPharlin, who had been fl ying with the 4th Fighter Group at Debden. Details were lacking on flying McPharlin, who was initially reported MIA. The invasion opened a new era for the Allies, and members of the Group were looking forward to plenty of action against the Luftwaffe, the pilots hoped. Early reports indicated that the German air force would at last be compelled to come out and fi ght. Enlisted men refused fight. to stop working at high speed. They were called upon last night to paint black and white stripes on the airplanes, and many line members guessed correctly about the coming invasion. They weren’t let in on the secret, however, and most of them had to wait until the next radio broadcast, heard early this morning, to get the straight dope. 2nd Lt Elton J. Brownshadel, Austin, Texas, killed in action on D-Day. (From our history book The 339th FG.) FG.)




Major General John B. Henry Jr, Commanding Officer 339th FG

“On the morning of June 5, 1944, the day before D-Day, the weather was good and things on the base at Fowlmere were progressing routinely until about 09.30hrs when my phone rang. The caller was Brigadier General Woodbury, commanding the 66th Fighter Wing. He told me that there was a commander’s meeting scheduled at Fighter Command Headquarters later that day. He suggested that I come to his headquarters without delay and ride down to Fighter Command with him in his staff car. “I complied and within 45min we were on our way. We arrived at Fighter Command at about 11.30hrs. Some commanders were still arriving. At 12.30hrs the commander’s meeting was convened. At the beginning of the briefings we were admonished that the information we were about to receive was of the highest security classification that existed in our government and that we were not to discuss the information with anyone except the immediate members of our intelligence and operations staff who ð

BELOW: A formation of four 339th Fighter Group Mustangs from the 503rd Fighter Sqn wearing D-Day invasion stripes. ALL 339TH FIGHTER GROUP ASSOCIATION UNLESS NOTED

“Gunfire both from adjacent islands, from the fleet and eventually from the beachhead reminded one of an intensive Fourth of July y celebration!” AEROPLANE SUMMER 2014 45

Enoch B. Stephenson, pilot 503rd

Enoch B. Stephenson

Major Enoch Maj Enoch B. Stephenson Stephe Ste phenso phe nson Jr off the t 503rd 503 Fighter Sqn.

Major General John B. Henry Jr

Colonel Colone Col onell H one Henr Henry enry enr y was w from from S San an Ant Antoni Antonio, onio, oni o, Texas, and is seen here with his appropriately-named P-51B 42-106676/6N-A San Antone Rose complete with D-Day stripes visible on the flap.

would have to prepare the mission briefing for the pilots. “In the briefing at Fighter Command we were told that D-Day would be launched beginning in the early hours of June 6. We were given a general overview of the invasion force that would be landing on several beachheads along the coast of France. We were informed about Fighter Command’s task, which was to prevent enemy interference with the operation both before the invasion troops got on French soil and after. We were also informed that our missions would be designed to accomplish maximum protection to the landings. Also that fighter aircraft would be marked with black and white paint stripes to distinguish them as “friendlies”. “We were told that each group would fly several missions on D-Day and that we should insure a maximum number of flyable aircraft. As the meeting was closing we were given maps and charts to be used in preparing mission briefings and told to go directly to our respective bases without talking to anyone en route. We were instructed to restrict all persons to the base and tell all pilots to go to their quarters and get to sleep early. I doubt that under the circumstances they slept very much – if at all. “General Woodbury and I arrived back at Fowlmere at about 15:30hrs. We looked into the ‘striping of aircraft’ operation and found it to be progressing satisfactorily. At that point I met with my senior intelligence and operations officers, briefed them, gave them the maps and charts that I brought back with me and told them to be ready for an operations order which should be forthcoming soon.

“Our first operations order called for the group to provide one squadron to patrol an area between Land’s End in south-west England and the Jersey and Guernsey islands off the French coast to prevent German air attacks on the landing barges. The squadron selected for the mission was the 503rd. The pilots reported to the briefing room at 23.00hrs and at 00.30hrs 20 aircraft led by the then Major Enoch Stephenson became airborne. These pilots were to be applauded for their raw courage and skill taking off into an ink black sky with a 500ft ceiling. “The 503rd flew patrol until 03.30hrs when they were relieved by the 504th and 505th Sqns. The 503rd then flew east into France searching for ‘targets of opportunity’. They met with success! They found and destroyed a truck convoy carrying troops toward the invasion landing areas. The 503rd returned to base at 06:00hrs. “All three squadrons flew three missions each that day. A few of our pilots flew all three missions and most flew two. The follow-on missions of the day were retardation in nature. They were to ‘counter’ any enemy forces attempting to move up and engage the invasion force. These missions were designed to destroy any troop convoys, artillery, tanks and of course trains. The destruction of trains was large on the list of targets. The 339th attacked several trains and racked up a huge tally of destroyed and damaged rolling stock. “By the end of the day P-51s of the 339th had flown between 15 and 20hr of combat flying and had reported three Junkers Ju 87s destroyed. After ‘D-Day plus Two’ we went back to routine escort missions and seeking ‘targets of opportunity’. By this time the 9th Air Force was getting on the ground in France to give close support to the advance of the invasion forces across France and Germany. The 339th Fighter Group acquitted itself with both honor and glory on D-Day and made a substantial contribution to the success of the invasion forces.”

June 6, 1944

No 33 (First Mission) F/O#371/FULLHOUSE F/O#371/FU (00.06-05.48hrs)

D-Day started shortly after midnight (00.06hrs). The Group’s first first part was an area patrol and support from south of St Albans Head almost to the Channel Islands. A dense overcast forced some early returns and probably caused a 504 pilot to spin out of formation and crash. All others returned safely. Although no ammunition was expended or needed, it still was a very gruelling patrol. Losses/damaged: Lt Elton J. Brownshadel (504), crashed, killed.

June 6, 1944

No 3 34 (Second Mission) F/O#371 F/O#371/STUD (13.54-18.15hrs)

The Group flew flew dive-bombing and strafi ng attacks against targets behind the beachhead. Half strafing the aircraft carried two 250lb bombs each and half acted as escort. A marshalling yard at Sable was hit with very good results. East of St Brieuc, a railway bridge was hit with good to excellent results. A truck convoy south-east of Fourgeres was also attacked. All returned safely. (From our history book The 339th FG.) FG.)


“The day before D-Day, June 5, the weather was fairly decent with John Aitken leading our wa squadron. We returned to Fowlmere late and some of us headed for the Officer’s Club, only to be told that the club was closed and that we were to go to our barracks and get some sleep. “As we departed for our quarters, I remember seeing Col Henry in the company of Gen Woodbury and Gen Doolittle in deep conversation. General Doolittle had a roll of maps under his arm. It didn’t take a genius to realize that we were on the eve of D-Day. “We had returned from the mission to find that the mess hall was closed, as was the case frequently upon returning from late missions. We did our usual amount of complaining, to no avail. I got to bed since I was scheduled to lead the squadron the next day. “At 23.00hrs my phone rang with the usual message, ‘Briefing in 30min’. I made the rounds of the flight leaders to get them up to rouse their pilots and we made our way on the waiting trucks to the briefing room. There we were greeted with the news that today, June 6, was D-Day. “The Group was divided into two missions and the 503rd was assigned to fly the first mission with take-off at 00:30hrs. Take-off was rather hairy! Weather conditions were marginal. The only runway lights were six smudge pots! Two were placed at the beginning of the runway, two at the halfway point and two at the far end. The ceiling was about 500ft and everything was blacked out, which meant you had to fly on instruments once you were airborne. After a couple of circuits of the field (to get in formation), we set course for Land’s End. Despite the fact that many of our young pilots had very little experience in instrument flying, there were no mishaps and everything went smoothly. “Our assigned mission was to patrol the area from Land’s End on the south-west tip of Britain to the islands of Jersey and Guernsey off the French coast. We were to remain under the overcast and patrol back and forth for 3hr until the other two squadrons of the 339th relieved us. Flying the patrol was very boring because we saw no enemy activity. In addition we were too far from the invasion beaches to see any of the activity of the invasion itself. “After 3hr of patrolling, the rest of the group relieved us, and as per instructions, we proceeded to the south of the invasion area to look for targets of opportunity. Our squadron spotted a highway running east-west and we flew eastward along it. After about 1hr we spotted a German convoy of six vehicles carrying six enemy soldiers each toward the beachhead. We attacked them destroying all of the vehicles and killing an uncounted number of enemy soldiers. By this time, I decided that we should return to Fowlmere for refueling and rearming. “I was extremely proud of our pilots, especially the young and inexperienced boys. The manner in which they executed the mission under rather trying conditions; the take-off in the dark without runway lights to guide them and to fly on instruments the moment they were airborne. I believe that June 6 will live as the most memorable of my missions during my tour of duty.”

Lee “Dutch” Eisenhart, pilot 504th

“I recall we’d been advised the day before to attempt to get a good night’s rest – not too unusual during these early days. We were awakened at midnight! Then Craigo coming into


June 6, 1944

No 35 (3rd mission) F/O#372B (18.10-22.30hrs)

flown The Group’s third mission fl own produced the only air to-air claims for D-Day. Two pilots of the 505th became separated from the rest of the squadron while climbing through the overcast. They flew found and joined several 355th Fighter Group P-51s and fl ew patrol with them. They then strafed several trains near Orleans. At about 20.45hrs near Janville, France, they saw P-51s of the 357th Fighter Sqn, 355th Fighter Group, attacking a squadron of Ju 87s near the deck. They joined in and shot down three. Claims: 3/0/0 air – 2 Ju 87s shot down, Lt McMahon (505); 1 Ju 87 shot down, Lt Mudge (505). [Claims: confirmed/probable/damaged] confirmed/probable/damaged] our ‘C’ Flight hutch to awaken us, McClure was in the first bunk inside the door – his query, “I just fell asleep! What time is it?” And so began a long day. “Our mission was to fly patrol along the western side of the invasion fleet. The briefing exuded a heightened sense of urgency; this was it! “At the end of briefing, I recall Col Henry’s concluding remark: ‘Well men, it looks like it’s home for Christmas!’ We took off around 03:00hrs; the weather was marginal. I recall Bill Routt calling back over the radio straight away; ‘Better go on instruments right after take-off.’ Bill was a good instrument pilot. “For this mission there were designated geographical points for crossing out and coming back in. Our crossing out point was west of the Isle of Wight, probably in the vicinity of Weymouth. If we attempted crossing out – or in – at any place other than the designated points we would be fired on by anti-aircraft fire. “One of our pilots got separated during climbout and ended up over the North Sea. Every time he attempted to cross back in he was fired at by anti-aircraft fire. He ended up hovering over the water until daybreak when he could pick out the designated landmark to cross back in. “Our Squadron Commander wasn’t sure of our whereabouts in the cross out area, but was understandingly so; the weather was stinko and we were in and out of ‘scud’ as we circled attempting to get our bearings. It was while we were in this phase, circling, that one of our men spun out, Lt Elton J. Brownshadel. Elton was a good pilot and a very likeable chap. This could have happened to any of us. Once we got our bearings and crossed out, the view below was indeed a sight to behold! “Gunfire both from adjacent islands, from the fleet and eventually from the beachhead reminded one of an intensive Fourth of July celebration! Once it became daylight, the number of ships involved staggered the imagination. It extended the full length from England to the beachhead. It was indeed a sight to behold, one I am grateful that I was privileged to observe from a ringside vantage point. I flew three missions that day for a total of 13¾hr. The second mission was a bombing mission – to intercept any surface transport from moving supplies and equipment up to the front. We hit two trains, one carrying ammo. The last mission was a fighter sweep south of the beachhead. En route home, at dusk, we were flying in battle formation, line abreast, beneath b an overcast. Squadron Sq leader lead le ader er Gravette’s Gra G rave ra vette’s radio ve radi dio di o receiver rece re ceiv ce iver er was was inoperative. inop in oper erative. e. We W could coul co uld ul d hear hear him, him h im,, but im but he

could not hear us! “Suddenly Hervey Stockman called, ‘Bogies at 6 o’clock high!’ (Bf 109s were jumping us out of the overcast. No doubt radar vectored.) Stockman alertly fired a burst across Gravette’s nose to attract his attention! Gravette’s response, ‘Stockman, what the hell are you doing?’ By this time we’d all ‘broken’ into the Germans. Gravette got the message! Score zerozero for both sides. “For the next few days we literally lived in our respective squadron dispersal areas. Cots were installed in the lounge so that between missions we ‘conked out’. When we were scheduled to go again we received a whack on the soles of our flying boots to awaken us. Each squadron had their own kitchen on the flight line so that took care of the food angle. “The crew chiefs weren’t informed until the last minute they had to paint ‘invasion stripes’ on each aircraft. In desperation, they resorted to any kind of brush available, including, I am told, shoe brushes and even scrub brushes. “I was informed my aircraft wouldn’t be ready in time so I was assigned a different one on BELOW: Captain James R. Starnes of the 505th Fighter Sqn in P-51B 42-106936. BELOW BOTTOM: Captain Lee “Dutch” Eisenhart of the 504th Fighter Sqn with his P-51B 5Q-G Bonny Bea. US NATIONAL ARCHIVES

Jim Starnes

Lee “Dutch” Eisenhart




D-Day. Imagine my surprise and chagrin, once it became daylight, to find my aircraft was in the formation! Apparently it was called in commission at the last minute and instead of switching aircraft, they gave mine to a newcomer pilot. “A sad sequel to the Brownshadel loss came just a few days afterwards, when his brother also in the military and unaware of Elton’s loss, came to visit him at Fowlmere to learn he had been killed on D-Day. Unhappily such are the vicissitudes of war.”

Jim Starnes, pilot 505th

“We were awakened shortly after midnight and told to report to the flight line. There we discovered that the ground personnel had been up much of the night painting large black and white stripes on the wings and fuselages of our P-51s. At the briefing we were informed of what was going on. The 339th’s mission was to secure the northern flank of the English Channel against air attack on the thousands of ships involved in the invasion. We were restricted as to a narrow envelope of air space between 2,000 and 3,500ft. C-47s with paratroopers would be going in below 2,000ft and fighter-bombers and bombers above 3,500ft. We were restricted from crossing into France, since various sectors of French airspace had been assigned to other fighter groups. “Major Don Larson led our squadron as we took-off at night around 03.00hrs using headlights of jeeps to line up with the runway. There was a broken layer of clouds at about 600ft, which we climbed through, breaking out at about 1,200ft. Our squadron formed up successfully in one circle and we headed south towards our assigned patrol area. It was rather scary to do anything except stay in formation during darkness, and I doubt that we could have prevented an air attack on the invasion fleet before daylight. At least we were a mass of aircraft on German radar patrolling back and forth over the English Channel. After it was light we were treated to the spectacle of thousands of small ships streaming from the British shore to the French shore with some returning empty for a second load. We did not see anything hostile or shoot at anything on that first mission. “After the first mission on D-Day, the 339th was given a rectangular area of France about 75 miles east of the beachhead for our operations, attacking ground targets and anything flying in our area. I did not fly the second mission on D-Day but did fly the third, giving me 9½hr in the air on that day. The only aerial kills on D-Day for the 339th occurred when Peter McMahon and Bill Bill M Mud Mudge udge became separated sepa se para rate ted from om tthe he squadron squa sq uadr dron on w whi while hile le climbing ccli limb li mbin mb ingg through in thro th roug ugh ug h th thee ð

“Once it became daylight, the number of ships involved staggered the imagination. It extended the full length from England to the beachhead” AEROPLANE SUMMER 2014 47



Gerald E. Graham

Jim Starnes Ground crew with P-51D Tar Heel. Line personnel were given orders on short notice to paint the aircraft with black and white invasion stripes.

overcast and joined up with the 355th, where that outfit found some Ju 87s in the air. Peter and Bill joined in and downed three of the Ju 87s.”

Hervey S. Stockman, pilot 504th

“On June 6 I flew three missions. My form 5 shows my first mission lasted 4hr 55min with two landings! Not a clue as to where we went or why the two landings. I do recall that we were advised to bed early because we’d be up early on the coming day. They weren’t kidding! “I was bounced out of bed not long after midnight and trucked up to the group briefing room for a real eye-opener. The route ribbons on the large mission map had us heading south towards the southern coast of England and a circular pattern between Sussex and

Hervey S. Stockman

Lieutenant Hervey S. Stockman of the 504th Fighter Sqn.

the Normandy coast of France. ‘This is it!’ was the thrilling announcement of the briefer. The invasion of Hitler-held Europe was under way. “The ride around the perimeter track to the squadron was in silence. I wondered if my good buddy, Ed Thistlethwaite – who was sitting in some Stalag Luft – had an inkling of what was underway? “With my chute and my Mae West I headed out to the PSP [pierced steel planks] hardstand where my crew chief, Sgt Rudolph C. Josefczyk, was preflighting 5Q-X Fuxum. An APU [auxiliary power unit] was running providing power to the lights for the armourers. Rudy gave me a quiet greeting,


took my dinghy and backpack and set them in the cockpit. I made a cursory walk-around, stepped up on the left main gear, pushed up on the left wing leading edge and then grasped the cockpit sill and stepped in. My fingers felt sticky. What the hell was that? Under my flashlight I could see I had black paint on my palms. The invasion stripes applied earlier were still drying. “Rudy strapped me in, and around the perimeter track Packard-Merlins began to snarl to life! Forty-eight Mustangs started the noseweaving trundle to marshalling for take-off. Flagmen signaled brake release and we launched in elements turning to cut-off the leaders. The weather was broken layers and clear at ‘level off ’. “Glancing below I could see nothing but darkness. The invasion below was hidden. When dawn broke the magnitude of the invasion fleet was stunning. Unforgettable! The control of the water traffic was rigid and so were the ai air movements. Corridors feeding ships and ai aircraft to beaches, barrage balloons floated over th the landing areas and over the English ports. De Deviations from controlled corridors would im immediately draw anti-aircraft fire. My second mi mission was an escort mission and lasted 4hr 25 25min. The third was an interdiction for 2hr 55 55min. My form 5 says I flew a total of 11hr 35 35min on D-Day. Yes, it was unforgettable!”

Ge Gerald E. Graham, pi pilot 505th FS

“D “D-Day was anxiously awaited by all of the military personnel in England in the spring of 1944. After more than a year of training in the US, I was sent to England, arriving at Goxhill where I flew P-51 Mustangs at that operational training base. Upon completion of my training I was sent to Fowlmere, where I joined the 339th Fighter Group, 505th Fighter Sqn. I was assigned to C Flight which was led by Richard Olander. Richard and I became close friends and spent many of our days off in London. “The military build-up in England was gigantic, with airfields and military bases everywhere. We all knew that the invasion of Europe was to take place at any time, but the exact date was a well kept secret that only the highest level officers knew.

Lieutenant Gerald E. Graham of the 505th Fighter Sqn in P-51D 44-14433/6N-I Mary Lee.

“Richard Olander and I had completed eight continuous days of combat duty and looked forward to two days off as was our regular schedule at that time. We took the train from Royston to London on June 5, 1944. After spending the night in a London hotel we planned on having breakfast and do some sightseeing before returning to Fowlmere. As we were on our way to breakfast we were passing an office building staffed by military officers of SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters of Allied Expeditionary Forces). “Parked at the curb in front of the building was an open command car with a woman in the driver’s seat reading a newspaper with an exceptionally large headline covering its entire width. We walked over to the car and Dick took the newspaper from the driver and saw the headline ‘Invasion’ in large bold letters. We read a few of the details, handed the paper back to the driver, and ran back to our hotel for our bags. We then hailed a taxi to the train station, and arrived at our base at Fowlmere just in time to fly the next mission wearing our dress uniforms. “D-Day as the invasion was called will remain in our memory always. I recall the view of the beachhead as we flew over, with hundreds of empty ships and landing craft spread for miles along the shore. Our mission for the day was to patrol a section inland from the beachhead. On the map, the beachhead area was laid out in grids. We were divided into two sections with the first taking off before sunrise and remaining until relieved by the rest of the group shuttling back and forth all day long. “Each section would return after being relieved, then refuel, re-arm and be ready to return so that our assigned rectangle was defended continuously from daybreak to sunset. Our mission was to destroy anything that moved in our area in order to deny the enemy any material or reinforcements and to defend our troops against any attack by German aircraft. “June 6, 1944, is a memorable day in the lives of all who were involved in any way with the invasion of Europe. I am proud to have been a part of a great day in our history and happy that I did not miss it.”

“I could see I had black paint on my palms. The invasion stripes applied earlier were still drying” 48


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ABOVE: Paratroops of the US 101st Airborne – the “Screaming Eagles” – seen on their way to Normandy in a C-47 on the eve of D-Day. From the drop on D-Day, the 101st fought through Europe and finished its war in Germany at Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest”. US NATIONAL ARCHIVES LEFT: US Army Air Forces Douglas C-47 Skytrains turn for England on the evening of June 6, 1944, after the Waco CG-4 gliders they were towing have cut loose from their lines. The photo was taken either during Mission Elmira (the reinforcement of the US 82nd Airborne Division) or Mission Keokuck (the reinforcement of the US 101st Airborne Division). Note the Airspeed Horsa gliders on the ground. US AIR FORCE

US Airborne oper A pictorial presentation showing USAAF aerial operations to deliver Airborne f

LEFT: Horsa gliders towed by C-47s fly over Utah Beach bringing reinforcements on June 7, 1944. US NATIONAL ARCHIVES

RIGHT: C-47 Skytrains with Waco CG-4 gliders of the 316th Troop Carrier Group, 37th Troop Carrier Sqn, seen just before D-Day in June 1944. US NATIONAL ARCHIVES



BELOW: One of the main roles of the C-47 was dropping paratroopers, for which it was used on D-Day on June 6, 1944, at Arnhem on September 17, 1944, and later for the Rhine crossing in March 1945.






orne forces to Normandy

ABOVE: USAAF C-47 Skytrains return over the Normandy beaches at low-level on their return to England on June 6, 1944, their mission accomplished. US NATIONAL ARCHIVES BELOW: C-47 Skytrains and Horsa gliders from the 438th Troop Carrier Group lined up at Greenham Common, Berkshire, prior to D-Day. US NATIONAL ARCHIVES



WIN! “Super Detail” An Airfix

1:24 scale Typhoon

Ib kit

Our prize this month is sure to attract the interest of all our readers who are keen modellers! New in Airfix’s 2014 range of plastic model kits is a super detailed 1:24 scale model of the Hawker Typhoon Mk Ib (A19002, soon-to-be released), an ideal subject in this the 70th anniversary year of D-Day, and we have one of these kits worth £99.99 as this month’s competition prize. This fantastic model has been created using Airfix’s advanced CAD design, and we think that the results are stunning! The kit comprises some 509 parts, and when completed has a length of just under 16in and a wingspan of approximately 20¾in. It has four finish options: MN666/C-G, June 1944; DN252/ZY-N, 247 Sqn; MP197/MR-U, 245 Sqn, AIRFIX TYPHOON BAFO summer 1945; and RB389/I8-P COMPETITION ENTRY FORM Pulveriser IV, 440 Sqn RCAF.

A: 495? B: 509? C: 515? ANSWER: Q: Which aircraft would you like to read more about in Aeroplane?


HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this superb kit, just answer the question, fill in the coupon (photocopies are acceptable, or use a postcard or sealed down envelope) and post to: Aeroplane Airfix Typhoon Competition, Kelsey Publishing Group, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry’s Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG.

How many parts does Airfix’s new 1:24 scale Typhoon Ib kit include?


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Two Douglas C-47 Skytrain D-Day veterans in the air together! Nearest the camera is C-47A 42-100882/3-X (N473DC) Drag-em-oot, which was delivered to the USAAF in December 1943. Assigned to the Ninth Air Force Troop Carrier Command, it flew to England in February 1944. This Skytrain went on the strength of the 87th Tro Tro Troop Carrier Sqn, 438th Troop Carrier Group at Greenham Common, Berkshire. This Group provided the four lea lead squadrons on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower was there to send the aircraft off to Fra France. On that day 42-100882 towed an assault glider carrying soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division and the then flew resupply missions after the landings. It was later used to recover WACO assault gliders from the lan landing zones in July and August 1944. Flying with Drag-em-oot is 43-15211/J-8 (N1944A), which was built in February 1944 and initially used for training purposes in the US, but was later flown to the UK. On D-Day it Feb fle ew with the 92nd Troop Carrier Sqn, 439th Troop Carrier Group, from RAF Upottery in Devon. RICHARD PAVER

From the


We turn the clock back 70 years to examine exactly how the aerial operations in support of D-Day were reported in The Aeroplane of June 16, 1944


”-Day has come and gone. We are well established on the French coast. The great air battles which had been expected did not occur, and our airborne invasion was carried out on a scale which passes imagination. We have at our disposal now a United Nations Air Force of such immense strength that Germany can only fight a losing battle in the air for the rest of this war. Air fighting will undoubtedly be tough in the near future, but up to last weekend Luftwaffe chiefs did not appear to have decided where best to employ the bulk of their air defence. The Allies have at last a supreme opportunity of developing and using the irresistible military power which has been slowly and surely built up during the past four years. During the first three days of our onslaught on the coast of Normandy some 31,000 individual sorties were flown by aircraft of the Allied Nations. The mind boggles at this figure, but still we had massive reserves of aircraft available, with first-rate operationally trained crews. Moreover, even while the landings themselves were in progress and troops establishing their positions on French soil, all normal air activity on our part over the Continent proceeded as usual. Apart from our vast and prolonged bombing effort without which the invasion of Hitler’s Europe would certainly not have been

possible, the landing of airborne divisions in carefully selected areas at exactly the right moment represented one of the most important air contributions to the success of this first step in the Grand Assault. Parachute and glider troops arrived at each end of the wide coastal sector on which our landings from the sea were about to be made. The United States force went to the Cherbourg peninsula, and the British to points a little to the north-east of Caen, where tactical objectives of great importance had to be seized and held. Paratroops were dropped in the dark, a little ahead of the gliders, which came down shortly after dawn when the light was sufficient to give a greater chance of safe landings. The whole scheme was carried through with clockwork precision and losses were much smaller than had been expected and budgeted for. In the case of the British landings, an officer who returned to England later said the speed with which troops assembled immediately after grounding was better than on numerous practice manoeuvres before the attack. Rapid assembly on landing is, obviously, of paramount importance when thousands of men are dropped inside enemy territory. The US forces skirted the Western side of the Cherbourg peninsula and came in from that direction to seize the little town of Saint Mère Eglise, while the British made a straight run for their objectives in the Caen area, where they took two bridges ð

STOP PRESS! As The Aeroplane was a weekly journal, by June 6, 1944 – D-Day – production would have been almost complete in preparation for the edition due to be published on June 9, 1944. However, this “stop press” report was obviously included at a very late stage of production of that issue: n the early hours of Tuesday June 6, the day after the fourth anniversary of Dunkirk, Forces of the Allied Armies landed on the coast of France, near Le Havre and elsewhere, and took a step further the invasion of the Continent started several years ago by the Royal Air Force. Under the command of General Eisenhower, supreme Commander of all Allied Forces, Allied Naval Forces, with extremely strong air support, began landing Allied armies. Following up the ceaseless attacks by night bombers of the RAF and day bombers of the US Army Air Forces, Lancasters and Halifaxes of Bomber Command in very great strength, with strong fighter escort, attacked the enemy in broad daylight on the morning of June 6. “Very large forces of fighters, fighter-bombers, medium and heavy bombers are at the disposal of General Eisenhower. Taking into account production figures during the whole war, given by Sir Stafford Cripps concerning British aircraft, and from United States sources concerning US aircraft, and the published figures of British aircraft exported to the USSR, and aircraft received in Great Britain from the United States, although no official figures have been published as yet, it can be estimated that 4,000 Allied fighters and 6,000 Allied bombers are at the disposal of General Eisenhower for the invasion.”


AEROPLANE SUMMER 2014 pl thly th ly 57

vital to the enemy, and held them against strong counter attacks which developed later. These airborne attacks undoubtedly took the Germans by surprise, for the first American parachute men encountered very slight resistance, although following groups came in for heavy flak, which burst amongst the parachutes as they filled the sky in hundreds. Casualties were by no means heavy, notwithstanding. After the troops, the supply gliders went down with equipment of every kind, including anti-tank guns, jeeps and even light tanks with their crews. British paratroops in the Caen district had a rough reception, for the Germans were strong there and the battle for bridges was grim and casualties were suffered by both sides, but our men held on until strongly reinforced by more airborne arrivals. Later on Stirlings began dropping great quantities of supplies by parachute. By Friday night, June 9, the British Sixth Airborne Division, northeast of Caen, had worked round to the rear of German Panzer groups which were leading the enemy counter attack in this region. Some of the little airborne tanks smashed up German transport lorries supplying the armoured groups, while one of our anti-tank guns, landed from a glider, was credited with hitting five German tanks in six shots. The most immediate and urgent task of paratroop men on getting down was to clear the ground of obstructions placed by the enemy to prevent glider landings. This part of Normandy is not particularly easy ground for such landings in any case. There are few of those great hedgeless fields, characteristic of the Pas-de-Calais. The countryside is far more like that of the English home counties. Dairy

farming is the chief industry and relatively small fields with thick hedges are usual. These fields had been lavishly strewn with obstacles, but removal of such objects in the shortest possible time represents part of a paratrooper’s normal training. The US gliders in the peninsula had a rougher time in the matter of landing crashes, but with far fewer casualties to the glider occupants than might have been expected. At Saint Mère Eglise, one glider bumped the side of a hill, hit a house and split wide open, releasing its occupants instantaneously. They were unhurt, and in less than no time killed or captured the entire German garrison of this little town as the enemy emerged from billets in a rather dazed condition. By the end of last week, air strips had been established in France by the Allied Air Forces, and seriously wounded men were already being evacuated by air to England. Advanced headquarters of an RAF group had, moreover, been moved to the Normandy coast. To grasp the magnitude of our immense airborne military operation is difficult. After the initial invasion of the Cherbourg peninsula by parachute and glider troops in the early hours of “D”-Day morning, June 6, strong reinforcements of airborne infantry and supplies were taken over on the evening of June 6 and on the following morning. Three waves of US Ninth AAF gliders, towed by Douglas C-47 Skytrains, were followed at an interval of 3hr by two more waves. The first three waves alone made a 50-mile train of aircraft when crossing the Channel. That a slow-flying procession like that should travel across to Normandy entirely unmolested by an enemy already aware of our invasion is an object-lesson in air superiority. Altogether, it is probable that considerably more than 11,000 Allied aircraft gave direct or indirect support to sea and land operations on invasion day. The role of the Royal Air Force was by no means confined to providing that formidable air umbrella which proved so vital a factor in the success of this first assault. While squadrons of the Second Tactical Air Force were flying over the Channel and the beaches, smaller, but no less important, RAF form fo formations rmat atio at ions io ns w wer were eree la er land landing ndin nd ing in g on tthe he b bea beaches each ea ches ch es tthe themselves. hems he msel ms elve el ves. ve s. O On n “D “D”“D”-Day, ”-Da ”Day, Da y, thee firs th rstt RA RAF F Be Beac Beach ach ac h Sq Sqn n la land landed nded nd ed iin n Fr Fran France, ance an ce,, co ce comp composed mpos mp osed os ed o off of offi fice cers rs and an d me men n sp spec specially ecia ec iall ia llyy tr ll trai trained aine ai ned ne d fo forr th thee jo job, b, w who whose hose ho se ttas task ask as k wa wass to p pav pave avee th av thee LEFT: Par Paratroopers Paratr atroop atr oopers oop ers on bo board ard an Ai Airspeed Airsp rspeed rsp eed Ho Horsa rsa gl glider glide iderr en ide en route rout rout oute e to to France France on Ju June ne 6, 1944. 1944. BELOW: Han Handley Handle dley dle y Page Page Halifax Halif Ha lifax lif ax bom bomber bombers berss ber prepare prepar pre pare e to to tow tow Air Airspeed Airspe speed ed Horsa Horsa gliders glider gli derss to to Fran FFrance rance ce jus justt before before befo re D-Day D-Day in June 1944. Jun



ABOVE: A Hamilcar glider under tow during the build up to D-Day.

way for a steady flow of RAF personnel to operate on the other side of the water. Within a few hours of our first troop landings from the sea, Beach Sqn men were busy at their three main tasks: to supervise, in cooperation with the Army, the landing and moving forward of RAF personnel, vehicles and stores; to give the Army technical advice on all matters affecting the RAF; and to see that balloon squadrons attached to them put up a balloon barrage over the beaches as


quickly as possible, to hinder low-flying enemy aircraft. These first elements of the RAF in France have had to bring a great quantity of supplies up the beaches. RAF Servicing gr Commandos establish forward airstrips, but it is up to the Beach Co Sq Sqns to get supplies through and keep these airstrips going – no small undertaking when taking into account that 12 Spitfires alone sm ne need 24 tons of petrol and oil per day if they are making four or five so sorties a day as a complete unit. Add to that all the other junk, for a figh ghter squadron liveth not by petrol alone, and it will be realized th that these first RAF groundlings on the beach have a fairly good 24 24-hour working day. The Servicing units will move forward as our advance proceeds, re refuelling, rearming and repairing. More forward airstrips will be es established and we hope, and believe, complete German ae aerodromes will be captured. The Luftwaffe had 15 good ae aerodromes within an 85 to 90 mile radius of Caen. Bomber Command had a tough time of it in the abominable flying we weather which prevailed during the early stages of our invasion, bu but the same weather helped to fox the Germans, who did not re regard an attack as likely in such conditions, either by sea or air. On the night of June 6-7, over 1,000 Lancasters and Halifaxes we went for targets just beyond the invasion area, and aircrews pa participating had orders that if they found cloud over their ob objectives they were to bomb from below it. The cloud was there all righ ri right, gh at less than 2,000ft. Railways were the chief targets, and the bi big night bombers, diving below it, wrought heavy damage. Over so some of the areas attacked there was no fighter opposition at all, bu but enemy fighters appeared in some strength elsewhere, although Lu Luftwaffe reaction did not seem to be more than normal anywhere. Meanwhile, as might be expected, RAF Coastal Command had an extremely busy time. Among their many exploits, rocket-firing Be Beaufighters attacked three German destroyers sighted off Belle Is Isle on “D”-Day, scoring many hits. The destroyers were again at attacked in the early hours of June 7. When the Beaufighters sigh si sighted gh the ships in bright moonlight, shortly after midnight, one wa was still smoking from the attack of the previous evening. Rocket pr projectiles were again used and the leading destroyer, hit by a full sa salvo of eight, blew up and sank. German E-boats also had to be at attacked, and many of which attempted to reach the invasion area we were driven off with rockets or gunfire and suffered casualties. Two EE-boats were destroyed for certain on June 7, a third almost ce certainly and three others damaged. While all eyes were concentrated upon the first of our great ð 59

attacks in Northern Europe, General Alexander was busy clearing the Germans out of Italy, and his troops advanced along the Ligurian coast roads at a speed reminiscent of the triumphant progress of German armies through France in 1940.

Air Mastery

Landings of Allied ground forces in north-west France began at 06.00hrs on June 6. The locality of the landings suggests no departure from logical strategy. Tactical surprise was achieved by attacking at low tide in weather far from ideal, across a choppy sea, by inadequate intelligence and air reconnaissance on the part of the enemy and by the destruction of vital enemy radio stations. The terrific poundings of the chosen landing beaches by heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force and by the United States Army Air Forces prepared the way through the vaunted “West Wall” and enabled initial landings to be made with surprising success and a minimum loss in lives and equipment. Previous air attacks on enemy supply bases, on concentrations of men and material, on railway junctions on tracks and on roads impeded movements of reinforcements behind the enemy lines, weakened communications and increased the difficulties of holding any coastline defences. Time was the great strategic and tactical factor, the Allied command had to land forces in sufficient strength to withstand immediate counter-attacks and build up reinforcements adequate enough to advance against reserves brought form other parts of Germany’s defensive line. Initial strategic advantage is always with the attacking force. Offensive action can be concentrated: defensive action must always


DAY: USA AF Fortresses and Liberators, escorted by Mustangs and Thunderbolts, attacked targets in the Pas de Calais and Boulogne areas. Six bombers and two fighters were lost. USA AF Marauders, Mustangs and Thunderbolts attacked targets in N. France and Belgium. Five Typhoons and two Thunderblts were lost. NIGHT: RAF heavy bombers, RDNAS Mitchells, RAF Dominion and Allied Mosquitos and ADGB Mosquito intruders attacked targets over large areas of N. France. RAF and USA AF aircraft were employed in dropping paratroops and transporting airborne troops and supplies to N. France.

be elastic. The only answer to the initial surprise of offensive actions has, in the past, been intelligent anticipation and reliable espionage; the advent of the aeroplane as a military weapon has added air reconnaissance. In the present invasion of north-western Europe by land forces great Allied concentration was possible, whereas the defence of the enemy was compelled to be stretched to the extreme to cover the length of coastline open to attack. German air reconnaissance has proved inadequate and intelligent anticipation at a discount on account of political differences and a Supreme Commander who gives greater credence to the intuition of his military experts. Up to the present the essence of war strategy has been based on a “battle line” with strongly protected flanks. During the whole of the North African campaign the flanks of Allied and enemy lines rested on the sea and on the soft sand dunes and empty wastes of the desert. In the war of 1914 to 1918, the Allied battle line stretched from the English Channel to Switzerland. The battle line of our Russian ally has its flanks protected by the sea in the north and by mountains in the south. The first object, then, of any land operations on the Continent undertaken from Great Britain is the formation of a battle line with protected flanks, such as provided by Norway, Denmark, the Cherbourg and Brest peninsulas, and the South of France with flanks protected by the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean. At the time of writing it appears that the Cherbourg peninsula has been judged to provide the best strategic advantages for the initial line of battle, though other landings, possibly on as large a scale, may have been made by the time this appears in print. That the accepted strategy of a battlefront with protected flanks can be revised by modern weapons of war was proved by the Germans after their break through at Sedan, where tactical liaison between aircraft and ground armoured vehicles provide the flank protection usually assigned to geographical features. Thus, with the Allied aptitude to adopt and improve upon German strategy, our invasion forces may strike direct into the heart of Germany with one flank resting on the English Channel or North Sea and the other protected by heavy armour and aircraft. The strength of the Allied invasion undoubtedly lies in air superiority. Both the enemy air force and aircraft reinforcements have been seriously weakened: the latter by a long-term policy of day and night bombings and the former by Allied day operations. German aircraft production has been so crippled that any thought of building up a bomber force adequate enough in size to mount an offensive against Great Britain had to be abandoned and effort concentrated on production of fighter aircraft. How best to use its limited fighter resources is the present and


DAY: RAF and USA AF heavy, medium, light and fighteroperations on the French coast. USA AF losses were nine bombers, eight fighter-bombers, seven fighters and 15 troop transports. During the day over 11,000 sorties were f lown. NIGHT: RAF heavy bombers attacked targets in support of the Invasion. Ludwigshaven was bombed and mines were laid. Intruders destroyed 12 enemy aircraft.


DAY: USA AF and RAF aircraft f lew several thousand sorties in support of the operations on the French coast. At least 55 enemy aircraft were destroyed. At least 52 Allied aircraft were lost. NIGHT: Bomber Command aircraft attacked Cologne and targets in France and laid mines in enemy waters. Twenty-nine aircraft were lost. Five enemy night-fighters were destroyed. Three enemy aircraft were destroyed in slight activity over England.


DAY: From dawn on June 6 to midday on June 8, 27,000 sorties have been f lown. In that period 176 enemy aircraft have been destroyed for the Allied loss of 289, excluding gliders. During the day the USA AF and RAF continued the support of the AEF. 60


ABOVE: A light tank exits a Hamilcar glider.

pressing problem of a fast-decaying Luftwaffe, Germany’s land strategy will be in North Europe, as it has been in Italy, one of fierce delaying actions to preserve the final effort for the defence of Germany itself. The strategy of the air will conform to that of the land; the Luftwaffe will fight delaying actions in the air but harbour its final resources for the defence of the air over the Reich. The immediate tactical effort of the Allied air forces will be concentrated on destroying bridges over the Seine, Loire and SeineLoire canal, thus isolating from reinforcements, so far as possible, the corner of France bounded by those waterways and the sea.

The country in which the invasion forces will operate is ideal for air co-operation and support. Camouflage of armour and supply vehicles will be difficult, if not impossible. Railways have mostly been disrupted already and the roads of France run straight and clear, easy to detect and open to concentrated bombing or attack from rocket and cannon-firing aircraft. The weight of Allied air superiority will so load the scales against our enemy that victory is assured, and possibly within a shorter time than predicted by many.

RIGHT: The cover of the June 16, 1944, issue of The Aeroplane, lanee, lan which contained detailed reports of the aerial operations ons in support of the D-Day landings. The cover marked the 25th 25th anniversary of Alcock and Brown’s first direct Atlantic crossing g in in a Vickers Vimy on June 14/15, 1919. BELOW: The view form a Sh Short ort Stirling which is about to tow a Horsa glider on D-Day. Day.. Day


Duxford’s r e t e v y a D-D


ouglas C-47A Skytrain 43-15509, which is displayed skyward in IWM Duxford’s American Air Museum, is depicted in the colour scheme the aircraft wore when it participated in Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944. The code W7 painted onto the C-47’s fuselage identifies it as being part of the 37th Troop Carrier Sqn, 316th Troop Carrier Group. The squadron identifying codes were painted onto the fuselages of C-47s in the final stages of preparation for the D-Day landings. Allied aircraft participating in Operation Overlord were painted with five alternating stripes – three white and two black – on each wing, and on the fuselage between the door and tail section. This was done to ensure that ground and naval forces could distinguish friendly aircraft from those of the enemy. This identification scheme was adopted to prevent incidents such as those which occurred during Operation Husky, the Allied landings on Sicily in June 1943.


This C-47 was manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California, and was delivered to the United States Army Air Forces on April 4, 1944. It was assigned to the 37th Troop Carrier Sqn which was based at RAF Cottesmore. On the night of June 5/6, 1944, the 37th Troop Carrier Sqn participated in Operation Overlord, and paratroops from the 3rd Battalion of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment jumped from 43-15509. On D-day the Skytrain carried the number 51 applied to the tail in white chalk, applied to enable the paratroopers to identify their designated aircraft from the many on the airfield. In the popular imagination the Normandy invasion is symbolised by the landings which took place on the five beaches deemed most propitious for amphibious operations. However, an equally crucial aspect of D-Day, which began during the hours of darkness, before the coast hove into view for the troops aboard the landing craft, was the descent by parachute of Allied troops into areas beyond the coast. This airborne assault was to secure objectives such

as bridges and key road or rail junctions, which would be vital for the progress of the Allied offensive beyond the beachheads.


At airfields across England, 821 C-47s had been assembled to convey paratroops across the English Channel. At RAF Cottesmore, Skytrains of the 316th Troop Carrier Group began lifting off at 23.00hrs. The standard procedure was for the Group leader to climb at a rate of 500ft per minute, then level off at 1,500ft. The leader formed into a three-aircraft “v” formation, with a “v” to his left and another to his right. The remaining aircraft followed the same pattern so that four pyramids of nine aircraft were formed. The pilots of the wing aircraft in the first “v” flew so that their wingtips cleared the lead aircraft by 25ft and the noses were 25 feet behind the tail of the leader. This rigorous formation flying was essential to ensure that the paratroopers were dropped accurately into their designated zones. Upon reaching the dropzone, the pilots levelled off to 700ft, slowed to 110 m.p.h. and positioned the aircraft tail-high,


Suspended from the ceiling in the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford is a combat veteran which took part in Operation Overlord


LEFT: Douglas C-47A Skytrain 43-15509, which is presently suspended from the ceiling of the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford. This “museum within a museum” is soon to be treated to a major redevelopment, courtesy of a £980,000 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund. IWM

“I made 105 jumps. I made four combat jumps. We led the invasion of Sicily, Italy, Normandy and Holland. My unit was the only unit that made four jumps. We were called upon to do a special job. As a result, we lost a lot of people. “We took off and it took an hour and a half for all the aircraft to circle and get in position to come to France. We were determined that we were going to do the job and to us courage meant being afraid, but being able to control it and still do your job and we really were eager to get started. We had been training for years. “Our mission was to take the town of SaintMere-Eglise and to control the bridges and the highway that led to the beach. Our job was to stop any more enemy from getting to the beach and driving our troops off the beach. We jumped into France at one o’clock in the morning. The troops did not hit the beach until 06.30. We had been fighting all that time to hold these bridges to keep reinforcements from getting there. At 04.30 in the morning, my battalion commander raised the American flag over the town hall. “It’s amazing that when you jump, a large group of paratroopers, when you hit the ground, you’re all alone. There is no one right beside you, the wind scatters people out. “We, the 505th, were the only unit that landed where we were supposed to. The wind and clouds threw some of the pilots off and they missed their drop-zone, some by a few miles, some by as much as 20 miles. Some of them took two, three or four days to get back to their unit and of course they had to fight their way back to find us. We fought for 33




ABOVE: US paratroopers fix their static lines before a jump over Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. US ARMY

days continuously. We lost about 50 percent, one half, of our men in Normandy.” First Lt Homer David Anderson, a pilot with the 316th Troop Carrier Group, commented: “After completing training I was sent to England and assigned to the 316th Troop Carrier Group, where we flew many hours, day and night, preparing for the invasion of Normandy. My aircraft was one of the first to follow the Pathfinders, who dropped flares to mark the drop- zone at Saint-Mere-Eglise. The sky was lit from the flares and we could see everything on the ground, while dropping the troops the battery under my seat was hit with a 0.50 calibre bullet, filling the cockpit with battery fumes.”

THE AMERICAN AIR MUSEUM REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT The personal stories included here, and many more, will be told as part of the American Air Museum Redevelopment Project, with a new archive website, a refreshed exhibition and detailed aircraft conservation work. For further information go to:

which allowed the jumping paratroopers to clear the tail wheel of the aircraft as their static line deployed the parachute. Skytrain 43-15509 and the other 35 aircraft in the serial were allocated drop zone “O”. This was an area slightly north-west of SaintMere-Eglise. Over the drop-zone the aircraft encountered small arms fire and light flak. The assessment made by the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, is that the troops were provided an accurate drop by the 316th Troop Carrier Group. Around 75 percent landed within two miles of the designated drop-zone.

Airplanes everywhere

Major Henry “Duke” Boswell was one of those paratroopers jumping with the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He said: “I could look out the window of the C-47 that I was in and as far as I could see there were airplanes and looking down on the channel there were thousands and thousands of ships. I really thought when I looked down, we must win this war.


An external view of the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford – which is “a museum within a museum”. 63

LIEUTENANT COLONEL LAWRENCE “LARRY” CASEY was an American P-47 Thunderbolt fighter pilot who flew from Duxford in 1944 1 944 9

10 miles north of Evreux, France.” Casey suffered minor injuries on baling out of his aircraft. Despite being unable to speak any foreign language, he was helped by the French Resistance and was able to avoid capture and eventually make it back to Britain. In his evasion report, he recalled: “On June 11, 1944, I baled out and landed in the Foret de Louvier. I walked all day north-west by compass. In the evening, on the road to Brion, near Tourville (Eure), I met a young girl who was going after milk. Her name was Ferdy Pierre-Rose. She took me to her house where she lived with her mother Mme F. Pierre-Rose (who was separated from her husband as he was a Resistance chief in the Valogne area) and her sisters, Yvette and Janette (Janette spoke English). “The Pierre-Rose family had a maid, but they dismissed her on n my arrival. arr a rriv rr ival iv al.. There al Ther Th eree er was also another wa daughter (aged 23) da in the family, but she was married to sh a viscount and lived away. The friends of aw the family who th helped me while

Duxford t o l i p y a D-D L

awrence Casey Case sey was a drama student at college before he joined the United States Army Air Force in January 1943. Shortly after D-Day, on June 11, 1944, he was shot down over France. Captain Robert E. Ealey of the 83rd Fighter Sqn reported: “I was leading Cargo Sqn with

Lt Casey flying g on my wing wing. After we had gotten to about 15,000ft, he called and told me his prop had gone out. I left the squadron to give him cover and then his engine quit completely. I gave him cover, staying about 3,000ft above him, down to approximately 2,000ft where he baled out. I saw his chute open. His position was about

I was there were: Docteur Daniel Hochart (aged 35 and who had an British DSO rece received ceived in 1940); M M. Magnus (a Resistance man in charge of the district and who claimed to be with British Intelligence); Maximilian Brabec (aged 35, and who was a Czech who had moved from Czechlosovakia to Elbeuf during the war); the Chief of Resistance at Bourgtherould (aged 50, and who was tall, and looked like a gentleman farmer); a grocer

ABOVE TOP ABOVE TOP:: A port p portrait ortrai ort raitt of rai of 78th 78th Fi Fight Fighter ghter ght er Gro Group up pilot pilot Law Lawren Lawrence rence ren ce Cas Casey, ey, wh while ile he wa wass a Li Lieut Lieutenant eutena eut enant ena nt and se servi serving rving rvi ng at Dux Duxfor Duxford ford for d in in 1944 1 1944. 944 IWM BELOW: Republic P-47 Thunderbolts of the 78th Fighter Group lined up at Duxford wearing D-Day Invasion stripes await their next operation. US NATIONAL ARCHIVES



from Brionne (he was brought by Magnus, and was the Chief ’s interpreter, who ran a wholesale grocer’s shop and claimed to work for British Intelligence. He told me I would fly back to England); M. Marcel (this is his last name, and he was a head of a Maquis); and Comte Pierre Griffon (the owner of the chalet, a friend of Janette, who lived in Paris and came to see us). “While I was at the Pierre-Rose’s I was joined by other airmen: Plt Off Alen Monaghan RAAF and Sgt Charles Swinley (who were both brought to us by Docteur Hochart on July 8/9); 2nd Lt Georges Holland (9th AF, P-38), shot down on July 18 – he was badly burned and brought to us by Marcel and Magnus; 1st Lt Charles Hochadel (who was shot down on June 30 and was brought to the house on August 1 by the grocer from Brionne). On August 25 the 66th Tank Regiment came into the town and I left the Pierre-Rose family’s hospitality with the Australians for Divisional HQ. From there we went to the 9th Tactical Air Force and from there I travelled to Laval where I got on board a Douglas C-47 Skytrain destined for the UK.”

Pacific War

Casey later flew missions in the Pacific, and stayed in the USAF after the war. Charles W. DeWitt, who was assigned to the 86th Fighter Group alongside Larry Casey from 1947 to 1949, said: “He was a very popular young officer; handsome and friendly.” He was awarded many decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross: “For exceptionally meritorious service in aerial flight over enemy-occupied Continental Europe. The skilful and zealous manner in which these officers have sought out the enemy and engaged him, their devotion to duty and ccourage ourage und under all conditions ns serve as an inspir inspiration iration to their fello fellow low

flyers. Their actions on all these occasions reflect the highest credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States.”


Laurence Casey’s A2 flying jacket can be seen in IWM Duxford’s Historic Duxford exhibition. Introduced in 1931, A2 jackets were very popular with American airmen. On the back of the jacket is a painting of Lt Casey’s Republic P-47 Thunderbolt O’de II. Underneath are three swastikas, representing the enemy aircraft he shot down. The “Winged Boot” sewn on the jacket is an RAF badge also used unofficially by




American airmen. ir It was worn b by pilots who were shot down and managed to evade capture and make it home.

IWM DUXFORD COMMEMORATES THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY IWM Duxford commemorates the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings with a range of events, family activities, exhibitions and digital resources which explore the preparations for the invasion of Normandy and the final decisive D-Day mission. For further information go to

THE D-DAY ANNIVERSARY AIR SHOW, SATURDAY MAY 24 AND SUNDAY MAY 25 The D-Day Anniversary Air Show commemorates the 70th anniversary of this decisive military campaign, demonstrating the vital role that aerial warfare played in the invasion of Normandy. The air show will feature fighter, bomber and transport aircraft types that would have been seen over the beaches of France, together with thrilling ground content. This special D-Day Anniversary Air Show is not to be missed. Air show tickets and hospitality passes can be purchased online at Purchase your tickets in advance and receive one free child ticket with every adult ticket purchased. You’ll also enjoy 10% off “on the day” prices when you book in advance.

HISTORIC DUXFORD The Historic Duxford exhibition and heritage trail tells Duxford’s own story alongside the personal stories of th the men and women who worked and served at this busy RAF and USAAF fighter base. Find out about the huge range of jobs that had to be done at an RAF station. Get hands on with objects and interactive activities. Get to know some of the characters who served at RA RAF Duxford through their personal objects, and see a recreation of the 193 1930s Duty Pilot’s office. Historic Duxford is included incl in general admission to IWM Duxford.

ABOVE: ABOVE ABO VE On the back of Lt Casey’s A2 jacket is a painting aintin off his P-47 Thunderbolt O’de II. Underneath are three swastikas, P-4 representing the enemy aircraft he shot down. IWM rep LEFT: LEF Laurence Casey’s A2 flying jacket can be seen in IWM Duxford’s Historic Duxford exhibition. The “Winged Boot” Boo sewn on the jacket’s pocket is an RAF badge also used use unofficially by American airmen. It was worn by pilots pil who were shot down and managed to evade capture cap and make it home. IWM




Unseen Archives

At a time when frontline RAF personnel were experiencing the frantic aerial operations just after D-Day, here we show a course of RAF Halton Apprentices undergoing instruction while working on the engines of obsolete Hawker Harts on June 10, 1944 – “D-Day Plus 4”. Of course, the training of RAF personnel had to continue throughout the Second World War, although we thought it would be an interesting and unusual aspect of our D-Day 70th anniversary coverage to show this “homefront” scene, which is from one of a number of glass plates covering this subject held in our vast archives of original photographs taken for The Aeroplane. Beginning in 1920 Apprentice Scheme courses were usually three years in duration, though for a brief time in the Second World War some had their training reduced to two years out of necessity. The 45th Entry began training at Halton in August 1942, the 46th in February 1943 and the 47th in August 1943. It is thought that the Apprentices shown here could be from any one of those Entries, as by June 1944 their training would have been advanced enough to see them working on actual aircraft rather than just on components in a workshop.


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DATABASE Supermarine Spitfire Mk V & IX


Mass-produced “interim” Detail of the “workhorse” Spitfire Into combat Temporary becomes permanent Taking on the “Butcher Bird”


P70 P73 P77 P81 P83




D li with Dealing ith the th S l th Scale three-view i Luftwaffe – at altitude drawings and profiles illes

In response to the Fw 190

MAIN PICTURE: A 243 Sqn Spitfire Mk Vb in its natural environment, during a sortie ortie ie from Ouston, Oust uston, on, No Northumberland, North rthumb umberl umb erland erl and,, in in the the summer summer of 1942. AEROPLANE LINE DRAWINGS AND PROFILE ARTWORK BY CHRIS SANDHAM-BAILEY/INKWORM © 2014

examines the...

Supermarine Spitfire Mk V & IX

Mass - produced “interim”

ABOVE: Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb BL479 wearing the codes of 316 Sqn, which operated the mark between October 1941 and July 1943 and again, as the LF.Vb from September 1943 to April 1944. CHARLES E. BROWN VIA AUTHOR

Representing over 12,000 of the 20,000-plus Spitfires produced, the Mk V and Mk IX were the most significant variants of this great fighter to see service from early 1941 through to the end of the Second World War. To coincide with our D-Day 70th anniversary theme, MARTYN CHORLTON describes both marks in detail and their operational service


rguably the most prolific and extensively used mark of the Spitfire during the Second World War was the Mk V, which was produced in colossal numbers, spread across three sub-variants. Despite the fact that the Mk V gave the impression “that it was meant to be”, the mark was not a development of its immediate predecessor, the Mk II, and was more a combination of the Mk III with a modified version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine. The concept of the Mk V was actually born during the closing stages of the Battle of Britain when the Luftwaffe suddenly changed its tactics; prior to this the Mk III would have become the natural successor


to the hard-fighting Mk I and II. From July through to October 1940, the RAF had fought against the daily raids until the Luftwaffe’s momentum began to falter. From November 1940 onwards, small formations of Messerschmitt Bf 109Fs began to appear over south-east England, a variant that could fly much higher and faster than the machines encountered during the height of the Battle. Above 20,000ft the Bf 109F was out of reach of the trusty Hawker Hurricane, while the Spitfire Mk I and II could not boast the same advantage they had enjoyed over the early variants of the Messerschmitt fighter. Discussions about the problem of fighting at high altitude took place at

Fighter Command HQ in midNovember, with the focus being aimed at the general performance improvements of both fighters and bombers. A comparison of performance above 30,000ft was discussed in detail with one senior officer suggesting that an extension of the Spitfire’s wing would be needed, while it was generally agreed that the secret was to improve the engine performance, in particular the supercharging. The German direct fuel injection system was also acknowledged as a major advantage over British powerplant. Early combat reports following encounters with the Bf 109F recorded the enemy fighter to be flying at 38,000ft with ease, while the Spitfire struggled to 36,500ft.

Modifying the Merlin

Rolls-Royce had already been experimenting with a new Merlin engine fitted with a two-stage supercharger. A small batch of these engines, designated as the Mk XX, had been produced for installation in the Spitfire Mk III. On December 24, 1940, a further meeting with the RAE, Supermarine and several senior pilots from Fighter Command met at Boscombe Down to discuss the ongoing problem of high-altitude performance. The same conclusion as the earlier meeting confirmed that the Spitfire was being outmanoeuvred above 25,000ft and its intended replacement, the Mk III, was far from ready. The Merlin XX was an engine which would have raised the Spitfire


DATAPOINT Such was the high-rate of production

of the Mk V, thanks to the bulk of the early machines being conversions, 44 RAF squadrons were equipped with the mark by December 1941.



Supermarine Spitfire Mk V & IX

Spitfire Vb

Spitfire IXc (three-view)

Chris Sandham-Bailey/Inkworm © 2014



up to equal terms with the Bf 109F, however the powerplant’s complexity meant that it was difficult to build and production would be slow. The main reason for the slow production rate was the engine’s low-altitude blower, but if this was deleted, Rolls-Royce could build a unit quicker and with better high-altitude performance. As a result the Merlin RM 5S was born which was destined to raise the ceiling of the Spitfire by 2,000ft. The general works manager of Rolls-Royce, Ernest Hives (later head of Rolls-Royce Aero Engine Division and later Chairman of Rolls-Royce Ltd), guaranteed that the company could build 300 Merlin 45s by March 1, 1941, and a further 200 by April 1. The work could be completed swiftly by converting the production Merlin III, and without hesitation, the Air Ministry placed an order for 500 Merlin 45s. In the meantime, before full Merlin 45 production began and a suitably modified Spitfire airframe was designed, several Mk Is were converted


The number of operational RAF squadrons that were equipped with the Mk V.

ABOVE: The anticipated Spitfire Mk III powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin XX (RM 2SM), which was meant to be the next main production variant while the Mk V was the “interim”. Only two examples of the Mk III were ever built. VIA AUTHOR

with new engines and later used for high-altitude trials. One aircraft, Mk Ia N3053, originally fitted with a Merlin III, was installed with a Merlin XX. On February 13, 1941, this aircraft made its maiden flight and after being transferred to Boscombe Down for performance and handling trials, was joined by ex-PR Mk III X4334. A third trials aircraft, ex-Mk Ia K9788, was fitted with a Merlin RM 5S engine at Boscombe on December 21, 1940, and along with the other two aircraft began trials proper in the new year.

Improved performance

As the trials progressed one re-occurring problem took place in the shape of over-revving, which was caused by the oil freezing in the de Havilland constant speed propeller unit. All three prototypes had the pitch of their propellers coarsened by four degrees to stop the problem, especially in a dive. All

three aircraft were recording improved performance figures over the Mk I and II, including a maximum speed of 369 m.p.h. at 19,600ft, a climb rate of 3,469ft/ min at 14,000ft and a potential service ceiling of 38,000ft, which until then, was the domain of the Bf 109F. By April 1941, K9788 had been declared Category B and was removed from trials which prompted the Air Ministry to order more conversions of Mk Is, 46 to be exact, with Merlin XX engines. Rolls-Royce did not have enough spare engines for the task, so a modified version of the Merlin III was installed instead and re-designated as the Merlin 45. These aircraft were described as “a temporary expedient” until the production version of the Spitfire Mk III was ready. N3053 was re-installed with the second version of the Merlin XX, later renamed the Merlin 46,

driving a three-bladed, constant speed de Havilland propeller. With a weight of 6,170lb, N3053 recorded a wide range of climb to height figures ranging from 15,000ft to 37,000ft with a maximum climb rate of 2,930ft/ min which was improved to 3,190ft/min after a four-bladed Rotol propeller was fitted. Time to 20,000ft was performed in 6.6min and the ceiling was raised to 40,500ft. X4922 joined the Boscombe test fleet in March 1941 and was more representative of an operational machine because it carried armament, which raised the weight to 6,450lb. It was clear from an early stage that preliminary trial reports showed that a converted Spitfire Mk I married to the modified Merlin was a complete success. This was all well and good to the Air Ministry which simply wanted a production aircraft in RAF service, in quantity, as quickly as possible. However, focus was still on the projected Spitfire Mk III which Supermarine could not produce quickly enough. It was now decision time, and it was obvious that a compromise had to be made. A Merlin 45 engine would be fitted to a strengthened Mk I airframe complete with an enlarged radiator and be designated as the Mk V. A contract already in place to produce 1,500 Mk IIIs was cancelled and all of the serials re-allocated to the Mk V. It was Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal who made the decision during a meeting on March 6 to build the Mk V instead of the Mk III, and it was at this same meeting that he profoundly said: “If the type is a success the Air Staff will want as many as can be produced.”

BELOW: The first of 2,467 production Spitfire Mk Vcs built was AA878 Manchester Merchant Trader which first flew in October 1941, but was held back for armament trials until June 1943, when it was transferred to 411 (Grizzly Bear) Sqn RCAF. VIA AUTHOR



DATAPOINT The fitment of the “Shilling” orifice, a


basic fuel flow restrictor which cured the problem of the Merlin cutting out under negative g, was like the SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE MK V & IX aircraft itself, an “interim” device.

Produced in six different versions, in both high and low altitude roles, with nine different engines, the secret of the Mk V’s success was clearly its adaptability


he first batch of aircraft which were modified to Merlin 45-power was simply designated as the Mk V and by the autumn of 1941, 154 Spitfire Mk Is and IIs had been converted. The bulk of these conversions were actually modified to Mk Ibs, an unsuccessful variant that was fitted with a pair of 20mm Hispano cannon, but only saw limited service. These early production Mk Vs were given the manufacturer’s designation Type 331, but as the complexity of the Spitfire range began to take hold, all Mk Vs were retrospectively re-designated as the Mk Va. As mentioned, the first Merlin to power the Mk V was the 1,440 h.p. Merlin 45 (RM 5S), which could be run with maximum boost of 16lb/in2 and featured a single-speed, single-stage supercharger. As the Mk Va, the


ABOVE: Some of the 2,995 Spitfire Mk Vbs built at the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory (CBAF). A total of 3,911 Mk Vbs were built, the remainder by Supermarine (776) and Westland (140). AEROPLANE

already in-use Type A wing was fitted to the fighter complete with eight 0.303in Browning machine-guns. Not long after this wing entered production a new heating system was incorporated to prevent the machine-guns from freezing up at high altitude. All open structures that surrounded the gun bays were closed off and ducting was installed, which drew off hot air from the rear of the radiators. The hot air was expelled through underwing vents, which were concealed behind triangular-shaped blisters located inboard of the wingtips. The main production version was the Mk Vb, of which 3,911 were built. Also designated as the Type 331 by Supermarine, the key feature of the aircraft was the Type B wing which contained two 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon with 60 rounds per gun and four 0.303in machine-guns

with 350 rounds per gun. The original retractable underwing landing light was re-positioned and the inner machine-gun bays were replaced with a single cannon, complete with a separate compartment for the drum magazine of the Hispano. Both upper and lower skins of the wing had blisters to give clearance for the drum magazine. The Mk Vb also featured a wide range of engines which included the original Merlin 45, the Merlin 46 (RM 6S) with an increased diameter supercharger impeller, the Merlin 50 (RM 5S) which introduced a diaphragm controlled fuel feed (later deleted in favour of an RAE anti-g system) and the Merlin 50A (RM 6S). The Merlin 55A (RM 5S) with twin cylinder blocks was also fitted to the Mk Vb and the next variant the Mk Vc. Other modifications which the Mk Vb introduced was a re-designed engine exhaust that differed from the

original round section pipes to a “fishtail” type, fractionally increasing the amount of useable thrust. Early aircraft had trouble with their oil coolers resulting in temperatures reaching over 150˚C and when at high altitude the oil pressure fell to as low as 45lb/in2. A larger oil cooler was installed under the port wing distinguishable by a deep housing and round intake. Early machines were also fitted with the original fabric-covered ailerons, their alloy-covered replacements not being introduced until late 1941. Early development to improve the pilot’s visibility was begun with the Mk Vb by fitting a Malcolm “blown” canopy which also gave more headroom; two versions of this new canopy were installed in the mark. Mid-production Mk Vbs and Vcs were also fitted with a better windscreen that featured an integral bulletproof 73


Detail of the “workhorse” Spitfire


panel. The correct choice of propeller had plagued the Mk V from the outset, but eventually it was decided to use both the Rotol constant speed unit and the original de Havilland unit. Those aircraft built by Supermarine and Westland were fitted with a three-bladed de Havilland 5/39 unit of 10ft 9in diameter with thin metal blades, while Castle Bromwich-built machines were installed with a Rotol R.X.5/10 unit of 10ft 9in diameter with metal blades. Later production aircraft were also fitted with broader compressed wooden blades produced by Manchester-based company Jablo Propellers; this unit was 10ft 3in in diameter. Another feature of these new propeller units was a more pointed spinner that raised the length of the fighter by 3.5in.

The Type 349 ‘Universal’

As early as March 3, 1941, the Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) had declared in a letter to Supermarine that a “Universal Wing” with the reliable Chatellerault ammunition feed system and a modified undercarriage should be introduced into the Spitfire production line no later than the 520th airframe. The Universal Wing, or “C Type” wing, could be installed with the same armament configurations as the A and B wings plus had the ability to be fitted with four 20mm cannon with 120


Only 94 Spitfire Mk Vas were built before all eyes turned to the most prolifically built of the Mk V series, the Mk Vb.

ABOVE: Considering how common the Mk V was, only 94 of the early Mk Va variant with eight 0.303in machine-guns were built/ converted making them quite a rare machine. This is R7339, which served with 64 and 603 Sqns until July 4, 1941, when it went missing whilst escorting Bristol Blenheims to Abbeville. VIA AUTHOR

ABOVE: The first Spitfire to be fitted with a Type B wing was Mk Ib X4257 which was fully re-designated to a Mk Vb following the installation of a Merlin 45 in February 1941. The aircraft was one of the first to enter service with 92 Sqn for service trials a few weeks later. VIA AUTHOR

rounds per gun each (later increased to 150 rounds per gun). Structurally, the wing was modified to reduce manufacturing time. The wing was first trialled on Mk Vb W3227 and the first deliveries of this latest variant, the Mk Vc, was planned for October 1941. Power was to be provided by a Merlin 45 or 46 and following comparative trials by the A&AEE, the former was found to be the slightly better performer but both were marginally inferior to the earlier X4922 and N3053, both of which were converted Mk Is. The deficit in performance was attributed to the C wing, the drag caused by the twin cannon and blisters reduced the maximum speed by 5 m.p.h. in level flight. Not that

significant perhaps, but in combat with the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 every m.p.h. counted. However, the most common and popular armament arrangement in service for the Mk Vc was four 20mm cannon, so pilots were happy to trade some performance for increased firepower. However, operational experience would see many Mk Vcs converted to a twin-cannon four machine-gun arrangement. The Mk Vc was fitted with the same high-altitude heating system for its guns as the Mk Vb. The Mk Vc fuselage was re-stressed and made stronger and this mark also made full use of a “Slipper” drop tank of varying capacities which were installed below the centre-section of the wing, its front end neatly

wrapping around the extended carburettor intake. The tank was neatly jettisoned away from the underside of the fighter thanks to small hooks located at the rear between the inboard set of split-trailing edge flaps. As the tank swung away, the hooks held on to the tank until it was past the vertical and the discarded container would fall away clear. The Mk Vc also featured a slightly deeper radiator under the starboard wing, a bigger oil cooler and a new windscreen which was first trialled on the Mk III and later retro-fitted to a large number of Mk Vbs. Bigger elevator horn balances were introduced into the Mk Vc production line, increasing the area of the elevators and their effectiveness. The undercarriage modification was a complete re-design of the main mountings and a re-positioning of the forward angle of the legs by 2in. This resulted in the double effect of making the aircraft more stable on the ground and reduced the chances of the aircraft nosing over, although the latter problem in any tail-dragger was never fully eliminated.

Tropical – the Type 352 & 352/6

As the ground war began to develop in North Africa into a two and fro-ing affair, the need to command the sky above the two opposing armies became a priority. The increased presence of the Bf 109 in the theatre resulted in a need for a worthy opponent which from late 1941 was only the Spitfire. The Mk V was the obvious choice, but in its European configuration the fighter was just too delicate for the dusty desert and the Merlin engine would suffer considerably, shortening the amount of running hours between major services. The problem of operating the Spitfire in the desert had already been planned for and the same large Vokes dust filter already installed to the Hurricane in theatre was the obvious, initial solution. The first Spitfire to be fitted with the bulky filter was X4922

BELOW: Merlin 46-powered Mk Vc EE627 was first delivered to 38 MU in September 1942 and went on to enjoy a long and troublefree career until it was struck off charge on June 5, 1945. VIA AUTHOR




DATAPOINT The last time a Mk Vb fired its guns

in anger was March 12, 1945, when BL379 of 276 Sqn attacked and sank a Biber-Class submarine off Domburg.


which had been undergoing extensive trials from Boscombe Down. The cumbersome filter certainly did not add to the pleasing lines of the Spitfire and it reduced the maximum speed by 8 m.p.h. and the climb rate by 600ft/min, but these figures were declared as a reasonable trade-off. The vast majority of Mk Vc(T for Tropical) produced were fitted with the Vokes filter in the factory, while the Mk Vb became the Mk Vb(T) in the field, virtually all of the retroconversions being performed by 103 Maintenance Unit at Aboukir, Egypt. Supermarine designated the Mk VB(T) as the Type 352 and the Mk VC(T), the Type 352/6. Conversion of a standard Mk V to a tropical configuration involved 26 major modifications. These included the removal of the two lower engine cowling panels, the replacement of the standard oil tank with a much larger one, the air intake fairing was replaced, the installation of fixed fittings for three types of overload tanks, fitting of a desert survival kit behind the cockpit and a complete repaint into desert camouflage. The big Vokes filter proved quite unpopular once in service and it did not take long before “field” alternatives were being experimented with. The most successful Vokes alternative was designed and fitted by the engineers of 103 MU and was simply known as the “Aboukir filter”. This design was much smaller than the Vokes, more efficient and produced a great deal less drag. Supermarine recognised how good the design was and after testing the filter on a pair of Mk Vcs and a Spitfire Mk II concluded that the “Aboukir” was the only design which improved performance and, with its filter removed, could be used as a standard temperate intake.

series of Merlins with cropped superchargers were introduced for the LF (Low-level Fighter) Mk Vb. These were the specialist lowaltitude Merlin 45M, 50M and 55M (all RM 5S) all capable of delivering, with combat boost, 1,585 h.p. Capable of reaching 355 m.p.h. at 5,900ft, the LF Mk Vb was more than match for the Fw 190 and was faster than the Bf 109G. A large number, though not all, LF Mk Vbs had their wings clipped to a span of 32ft 2in which markedly improved the role rate below 10,000ft. The first Mk Vb to trial the clipped wing was W3248 in April 1942.

Seaplane – Type 355

Back in 1940 a single Spitfire Mk I was installed with a pair of Blackburn Roc floats to operate as a fighter seaplane during the Norwegian campaign which ended before trials, which were already unsatisfactory, had ended. The project was revived in 1942 for operations in the Middle East. The first of three Merlin 45-powered Mk Vs used for the trial was Mk Vb W3760, which was fitted with a pair of Supermarine floats, mounted on cantilever struts bolted to the mainplane spars. Following the fitting of a ventral fin and new rudder, trials progressed satisfactorily enough for

ABOVE: Spitfire LF Mk Vb AA937 during performance comparison trials with both clipped (32ft 2in) and standard wings (36ft 10in). Reducing the span increased the roll rate and maximum speed at lower altitudes, temporarily closing the performance gap between the Mk V and the Fw 190. VIA AUTHOR BELOW: One of three Mk Vs converted with floats was EP754, the work being performed by Folland Aircraft at Hamble. The concept was for the aircraft to operate in the Eastern Mediterranean, flying from the many sheltered inlets and coves in the region. AEROPLANE

two more aircraft, Mk Vb(T) EP751 and Mk Vb EP754 to be added to the trials. These two aircraft were converted by Folland Aircraft at Hamble, but following the rapid advance by German forces in the region where the seaplanes would have been operated, the trial was cancelled. All three Mk Vb conversions still gave good service in the Mediterranean until 1944.

The PR Mk V (PR IE or Type E)

Before the PR Mk IV entered service, a single aircraft, N3117, was converted to PR Mk IE standard to carry a pair of F.24 cameras under each wing. What was most unique about the modification is that the cameras were fitted below each wing in an oblique position, 90 degrees to the line of flight. The cameras were faired over with a blister and the lenses were angled at 15 degrees below the horizon so photography could be taken at very low level. Wg Cdr Tuttle took N3117 out on its first operation on July 3, 1940, but had to return early because the target was cloud covered. Fg Off A.L. Taylor had more success on July 6 when he photographed Boulogne at just 300ft, managing to fly two runs over the target before running for home at high speed. Only N3117 was ever built in this configuration and, although the concept worked, to send aircraft at this height over enemy targets without armament would put both a valuable pilot and aircraft at great risk.

“Fighter” – high and low

By late 1942 the prefix F for Fighter was given to all Mk Vs powered by medium-altitude powerplants which were the Merlin 45, 46, 50, 50A, 55 and 56. For low altitude operations a



ABOVE: Originally built as a Mk Va, AB320 became the prototype Mk Vb(T) complete with a 90-gallon overload fuel tank which gained the aircraft the designation LR (Long Range) Mk Vb(T). The aircraft performed trials throughout its career which ended when the Spitfire was abandoned over the Gulf of Hamamet following engine failure on April 27, 1943. VIA AUTHOR


Supermarine Spitfire Mk Va


The average pilot would fire 2-3 second bursts of his 20mm Hispano in combat, giving 30 seconds of firepower.




DATAPOINT One Mk Vb, EN830 of 131 Sqn,

was captured intact by the Germans and reengined with a DB605A and used for comparative trials with the Bf 109G.


Into combat

The very first Mk Vs joined the experienced 92 Squadron at Biggin Hill in February 1941, and the latest machine from the Supermarine stable impressed all who flew it COMBAT


ABOVE: Originally built as a Mk I, R6923 first served with 19 Sqn and was one of several which were experimentally fitted with a cannon-armed wing. Fully converted to a Mk Vb, the aircraft joined 92 Sqn in April 1941 but had a short career which ended on June 21, 1941, when Sgt G.W. Aston was forced to bale out during Circus No 16. The aircraft is pictured with the 92 Sqn CO, Sqn Ldr Rankin, at the controls. VIA AUTHOR

nly weeks before the Spitfire Mk V entered squadron service, the first of many Circus operations had been flown on January 10, 1941. This type of operation would be the opening proving ground for the Mk V in combat, protecting small groups of bombers with several squadrons of fighters providing both top and forward cover. A station that featured prominently during the Battle of Britain, and still had the scars to prove it, was Biggin Hill. It was here that 92 (East India) Sqn, under the command of Sqn Ldr J. Rankin, was the first squadron to receive the Mk V in February 1941. These early machines were more “interim” examples than the Mk V itself and were effectively pre-production Mk Is installed with a Merlin 45. Their original aircraft, the Mk Ib was flown side-by-side with the new machines until April, by which time, all of the unit’s Spitfires had passed through Hucknall in their new guise. No 92 Sqn’s pilots were impressed with their new aircraft, the Spitfire’s increased climb rate and better performance at altitude was noted. The unit wasted no time in finding out exactly what the Mk V could do including an 11-strong patrol over Hastings at 36,000ft on March 19 with Sqn Ldr Rankin in the lead. However, all was not well with Rankin’s aircraft, X4257, and once at altitude he found he could not control the speed of his engine because of a failing constant speed unit (CSU). The CSU was designed to


automatically regulate the rpm of the engine by changing the propeller blades’ angle of attack. He then suffered a problem with his oxygen supply and did not come round again until he was at 12,000ft. The over-revving engine was terminally damaged and Rankin had no choice but to put the fighter down in a field near Maidstone without causing too much further damage. During the same sortie, Sgt J. Le Cheminant in R6897 and Sgt de Montbron in R6776, both suffered a similar problem and both had to force-land in a similar fashion. The problem with the CSU had already been experienced during trials with the A&AEE; the oil in the de Havilland-made unit would freeze in the cold air at high altitude. Those first on scene of the downed 92 Sqn aircraft reported seeing ice on the propeller blades and boss which would indicate that the unit was suffering the same problem. The

problem would take time to cure fully and in the short term, pilots were advised to work the throttle more than usual at altitude, so as to keep the fluid moving in the CSU. Another interim solution was to install a batch of Mk Vs with Rotol propeller units.

Big wings over France

While 92 Sqn continued to build experience on the Mk V, decisions at a higher level had been made that all future offensive operations over enemy territory would be flown at wing, rather than squadron strength. To lead this force of 36 fighters into battle, an experienced leader would be needed who held good tactical awareness. This new position would be officially known as Wing Commander Flying, but was generally, more casually referred to as Wing Leaders. The first two selected for this responsible role were Douglas Bader, who looked

BELOW: Pilots and machines of 72 Sqn on parade at Gravesend in July 1941. Visible are AA945 which survived the war and AB283 which served with 411 Sqn until late 1942. VIA AUTHOR

after Tangmere Wing, and “Sailor Malan” who was promoted from his position as CO of 74 Sqn, to the leader of the Biggin Hill Wing. Poor weather throughout March and April 1942 had restricted 92 Sqn to an abundance of defensive patrols, none of which bore fruit. However, the lull was broken on April 11, 1941, when reports came through that a German seaplane had been spotted under tow, heading for the French coast. Four Spitfire Mk Vs, led by Sqn Ldr Rankin, rendezvoused with a 91 Sqn Spitfire over Hawkinge, then headed out over the Channel, where a Heinkel He 59 was spotted two miles west of Gris Nez being towed by a trawler. Five Bf 109s were spotted in the target area, but once these had climbed out of sight, the attack began and in no time the He 59 was sunk and the trawler was damaged. Then between 15 and 20 Bf 109s of III/JG51 appeared on the scene and Rankin ordered his aircraft to leave the area independently, although not before the CO fired a few cannon shells into one enemy 77



machine which was credited as damaged. Unfortunately Sgt T.R. Gaskell in X4062 never made it back to Biggin Hill and is believed to have been brought down by Bf 109s off Dungeness. Gaskell’s loss was avenged a few days later on April 24 when Sqn Ldr Rankin in R7161 achieved the first confirmed Mk V aerial kill, when a Bf 109 of 2/JG52 was brought down off Dungeness. R7161 was in action again two days later, this time in the hands of Plt Off R. Fokes on an offensive patrol along the French coast. This time the victim was a Bf 109F of 4/JG53. On May 16, 1941, 74 Sqn, under the command of Sqn Ldr J.C. Mungo-Park DFC since Malan’s departure, received its first Spitfire Mk Vb. The unit had been part of the Biggin Hill Wing since October 1940 and was currently operating from Gravesend. Poor weather had prevented Fighter Command from beginning its long-awaited offensive against the Luftwaffe units operating in the Pas de Calais and with the exception of the odd Circus, most operations were defensive. However, it was no coincidence that

The maximum range, in miles, of a Mk Vc with a 170-gallon ferry tank, enabling Spitfires to fly direct from Gibraltar to Malta, a distance of 1,200 miles.

ABOVE: Mark Vb AA766 while serving with 609 (West Riding) Sqn at a muddy Biggin Hill in the spring of 1941.

Circus operations began to increase following the launch of Operation Barbarossa on June 22, the Russians being caught by surprise even though British intelligence had been supplying them with information as to when the German offensive would take place. There was not a great deal the British could do to help the Russians; Bomber Command was still not particularly effective and Fighter Command was limited by the fighters’ range, but

regardless, Circus operations grew in intensity especially during a period of good weather during late June and July 1941.

Fighting over France

During this period the Biggin Hill Wing flew at least one operation per day, sometimes two. Real success began from June 16 when the wing flew a fighter sweep along the enemy coast between Le Touquet and Boulogne. Rendezvousing with

74 Sqn at 15.50hrs, 7,000ft over Biggin Hill, 92 Sqn set course for France as their colleagues climbed to 25,000ft. Just as the French coast was reached, four Bf 109Fs closed in behind 92 Sqn Sq unaware that 74 Sqn Sq had spotted them and had already began to descend at speed to

BELOW: US Navy Spitfire Vb 4X of VCS-7, which along with two other RAF Spitfire units, Nos 26 and 63 Sqns, flew gunfire support operations over the Normandy beachheads during June and July 1944. CHRIS SANDHAM-BAILEY/INKWORM © 2014

BELOW: Spitfire Mk Vbs of 72 Sqn at Biggin Hill in August 1941 with B Flight’s W3316 and W3437 in the foreground and a machine from A Flight taxying for take-off behind.




DATAPOINT All five Spitfire floatplanes (one Mk I,

three Mk Vs and one Mk IX) had their floats designed by the same man who designed the floats for the Schneider Trophy machines, Arthur Sirvall.


attack. During the descent another 16 Bf 109Fs joined the fray which quickly descended into a typical dogfight. Squadron Leader Mungo-Park claimed first blood when his cannon shells removed the entire tail assembly of a Bf 109F, only to come under attack himself, taking hits in the fuselage and at least one cannon shell in his engine. Mungo-Park turned his crippled

Hill Wing had claimed five Bf 109s confirmed and four probables, for the loss of Mungo-Park’s aircraft and Flt Lt B. Kingcome’s Spitfire, which was badly damaged during the encounter. No 74 Sqn was withdrawn to Acklington in July

were shot down for the loss of two pilots. Other operations mounted by Fighter Command that day re resulted in 16 fighters lost and five pi pilots killed, with little to show for th the day’s effort. Under the orders of 11 Group’s C-in-C, Air Vice Marshal Si Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, the Circus ty type operations were taking their to toll on man and machine and by the en end of 1941, more than 500 pilots ha had been lost, resulting in a de demoralising average of four RAF figh ghters lost for every German one.

Ch Channel Dash

Spitfire for home, but while over the Channel he was caught up by a determined group of enemy fighters, who misjudged his slow speed, giving the 74 Sqn CO the opportunity to down another German machine with the remainder of his ammunition. After gi tto evade ad th inde managing the remainder, Mungo-Park’s engine seized two miles off Folkestone forcing him to crash land successfully in a field near Hawkinge. Meanwhile, back over France the mêlée continued, Plt Off W.J. Sandman of 74 Sqn gave another Bf 109F a short burst which resulted in a large glycol leak and an immobile pilot. Sergeant Yorke delivered a two-second burst, which struck a Bf 109F’s engine, leaving the propeller windmilling and the fighter banking steeply before entering a dive from which there was little chance of recovery. No crash was witnessed, but results from Stewart’s gun camera was sufficient to credit the “kill”. By the end of the day’s action the Biggin


1941 and re-equipped with the Spitfire Mk IIa, to be replaced by 72 Sqn on July 26, which re-equipped with the Mk Vb. By August the wing comprised 72, 92 and 609 (West Riding) Sqns by which time Spitfires had already flown approximately 80 Circus operations. The Biggin Hill Wi ’s ttasking ki ffor Cir Wing’s Circus 81 on August 19 involved an unusual “humanitarian” task. Named Operation Leg, the Wing was ordered to drop a new artificial leg for Wg Cdr Bader who had left one of his behind after baling out from 616 (South Yorkshire) Sqn Mk Vb W3185 over France on August 9. The operation went well, but once delivered by a Blenheim of 18 Sqn, the Luftwaffe showed Circus 81 no mercy and one aircraft, Mk Vb W3241 flown by Plt Off V.M. Ortmans of 609 Sqn, was forced to take to his ’chute and have a dip in the Channel. In an example of the mounting losses being suffered by Fighter Command during Circus operations, four other Spitfires, three of them from 452 (RAAF) Sqn,

Th The Spitfire Mk V played its part du during the infamous “Channel Dash” wh when the enemy battle-cruisers Sc Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eu Eugen slipped out of Brest late on Fe February 11, 1942. The British re response to the movement of these da dangerous warships was Operation Fu Fuller, which unlike the German plan, fa failed in many ways. The Spitfire Mk Vbs of 91 Sqn, operating out of Ha Hawkinge, were the first over the Ch Channel on the morning of February 12 flying Jim Crows, which were co coastal patrols designed to intercept ai aircraft crossing the British coast. The first sorties of the day flown by Sgt Brown and Sgt Omdahl spotted an increased number of E-boats off Berck and minesweepers off Zeebrugge, one of which was attacked by Omdahl, who claimed it as destroyed. The next patrol was flown by 91 Sqn’s CO, Sqn Ldr R.W. “Bobby” Oxspring, in company with Sgt Beaumont, who spotted the enemy fleet by accident, initially thinking it was the Royal Navy, until flak quickly convinced them otherwise. Oxspring broke the rules of radio silence and reported the sight to Biggin Hill Operations, but on landing back Hawkinge at 10.50hrs, it appeared that his urgent message had not been acted upon, although doubts to this day suggest

the message was never received. Finally the gravity of situation began to reach senior officers, but the response to stop these powerful warships resulted in the dispatching of just six 825 Sqn Fairey Swordfish led by Lt Cdr E. Esmonde DSO. After taking off from Manston the Swordfish were supposed to rendezvous with the entire Biggin Hill Wing, but instead only 72 Sqn appeared to escort the torpedoarmed biplanes to oblivion. It was not long before the first warship appeared out of the gloom with large numbers of Fw 190s in attendance; the first of these was tackled by Plt Off E. Bocock in Mk Vb AA914. At least one cannon shell struck the cowling of one Fw 190 before Bocock was forced to break. His wingman, Sgt J. Garden in Mk Vb W3430, managed a three-second burst at one of the enemy resulting in several flashes along the underside of the aircraft. Another Fw 190 then tried to bounce Sgt Garden who managed to break and get a bead on the enemy fighter, using up his remaining cannon ammunition with a six-second burst of fire, producing a rain of debris and a trail of black smoke. Shuddering as control was quickly lost, the Fw 190 plunged vertically towards the sea, leaving nothing more than oildrenched patch of foamy water behind it. Pilot Officer J. Rutherford and Plt Off F. de Naeyer claimed one Fw 190 damaged and another shot down and so did Plt Off B. Ingham in Mk Vb AB848, who destroyed an enemy fighter only seconds after it had brought down one of the Swordfish. Despite the very best efforts of 72 Sqn, all six Swordfish were brought down either by enemy fighters or a withering wall of impenetrable flak.


The brainchild of Vice-Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, the raid on Dieppe was to be a straightforward 79


ABOVE: Mark Vbs of 1 (Nigeria) Sqn at Hawkinge in May 1942 with the CO, Sqn Ldr R.W. Oxspring, in the foreground with his personal aircraft AB216. The fighter went on to have an interesting second career as part of the “Hasty-Hitch” trials, where a Spitfire was used to tow a single Hotspur glider.



Six USAAF units (4, 31, 52 & 350th FGs, 67th TRG & 499th FTG) and one USN unit, VCS-7, operated the Mk V and IX between July 1942 and 1944.

ABOVE: Mark Vb(T) AB326 of 145 Sqn, the first of many units to operate the Spitfire overseas. This aircraft failed to return from operations on June 23, 1942. VIA AUTHOR

temporary invasion and capture of key facilities in the French port. The raid was purely designed to test the ability of amphibious forces to capture a port and regardless of the outcome, all forces would be withdrawn before the day was over. Leigh-Mallory relished the idea of committing his fighters to the operation, the backbone being provided by the Spitfire Mk Vs of 10, 11 and 12 Groups. Leigh-Mallory was convinced the odds would be firmly in the RAF’s favour, 42 squadrons of Spitfires alone being committed and victory was apparently assured over the locally based JG2 and JG26. However, it was not to be, and as with the Luftwaffe operating at the limits of their range over southern England, the odds were always against the RAF. Almost 100 enemy aircraft were claimed by RAF pilots at the close of play, but in reality the true Axis losses were 48 aircraft – only 23 of this number were fighters. With regard to RAF casualties, Fighter Command lost 110 fighters, 59 of them were Spitfire Mk Vbs, many falling to the guns of Fw 190s. Leigh-Mallory’s over-confidence did not produce the crushing victory he had hoped for and it was only because of Fighter Command’s greater numbers over the Luftwaffe at the time, that no serious long-term harm was done.

The first Spitfires to serve overseas

It was 145 Sqn, under the command of Sqn Ldr D.J.L. Lovel DFC, which became the first unit to become operational on the Spitfire Mk Vb in the Western Desert from June 1942. Priority for the squadron was to seek out and destroy the Bf 109 during offensive patrols and provide close escort of Douglas Boston day bombers. By late 1942, 145 Sqn provided air superiority patrols during the break out from El Alamein, coupled with further escort duties of fighter-bombers which were pushing the Germans back to Tunisia. After six


No 457 Sqn (RAAF), which had formed with Spitfires at Baginton in June 1941 and had taken its Mk Vbs into action from March 1942, joined 1 Wing at Livingstone in February 1943. Like the previous units, it was not long before the first victories were achieved, beginning with a Ki-46 destroyed by Flt Lt Maclean and Flt Sgt McDowell on March 13. The wing and all subsequent Spitfire units in the theatre were later re-equipped with the Mk VIII. ABOVE: Destined to join 452 Sqn as part of the RAAF’s 1 Wing defending the north Australian coast, BS231 was re-serialled A58-92. The aircraft became the mount of the squadron’s CO, Sqn Ldr Thorold-Smith, who was killed in this machine during the unit’s first combat with the Japanese on March 15, 1943. VIA AUTHOR

months of fighting the unit moved to Malta in June 1943, continuing to provide fighter cover for the bombers and fighter-bombers flying over Sicily. Since June, the unit had also been flying the Mk IX but in September, along with the Mk Vb, both fighters were superseded by the Mk VIII. No 92 Sqn became operational on both the Mk Vb(T) and Vc(T) at LG 173 in August 1942 after initially “making do” with Hurricanes. Four Bf 109s were shot down on August 12 and it was not long before the squadron was in the thick of it again during Rommel’s advance towards the Nile Delta, fighting against German and Italian fighters. Of the latter, the Macchi MC.202 was a particularly tough opponent which had commanded superiority over the Hurricane and Curtiss P-40. During Montgomery’s counterattack, 92 Sqn provided air support for the troops on the ground and the pilots were never shy of going in low to strafe the enemy. The subsequent Allied advance westwards saw 92 Sqn move rapidly from airfield to airfield until in June 1943 the unit moved to Malta. Just like 145 Sqn, the unit re-equipped with the Spitfire Mk VIII, which it retained

for the remainder of the war.


When the Japanese began to close in on Australia in late 1942, No 1 Wing RAAF was formed in response, made up of the RAF’s 54 Sqn and the RAAF’s 452 and 457 Sqns, all equipped with the Mk Vb and Vc. The wing, under the command of Wg Cdr C. Caldwell was operational at Darwin from February 1943. No 54 Sqn flew convoy patrols and was regularly scrambled, the first of the latter bearing fruit on February 12 when Flt Lt Foster in BS181 shot down a Ki-46 Dinah into the sea. The action was regular for 54 Sqn which in March alone had added six more enemy aircraft to its tally, one probable and one damaged for the loss of two aircraft and their pilots. No 452 Sqn (RAAF) arrived at Strauss, 20 miles south-east of Darwin, in January 1943, becoming operational the following month. The unit’s first enemy “kills” in Australia was chalked up on March 15, 1943, when a G4M Betty and an A6M Hap was shot down. Unfortunately these victories came at a price; the squadron’s commanding officer, Sqn Ldr R.E. Thorold-Smith DFC, was killed.

South East Asia

The Spitfire Mk Vc first made its presence felt in South East Asia from October 1943, following the re-equipping from Hurricanes of 136 Sqn at Baigachi, and 607 (County of Durham) and 615 (County of Surrey) Sqns at Alipore. The tide was now turning against the Japanese on the India/Burma front, and the Spitfire would make the difference in regard to air superiority. No 136 Sqn immediately began to raise its tally against the Japanese while 607 Sqn, which was rather reluctant to part with its Hurricane Mk IIbs, only ever received a limited number of Mk Vcs before the arrival of the Mk VIII in March 1944. No 615 Sqn on the other hand, after moving to Chittagong on November 1, 1943, took on the Mk Vc with great enthusiasm and one week later scored its first “kill”, a Ki-49 Helen while escorting a Vultee Vengeance squadron. The squadron’s tally rose rapidly during later 1943, especially on December 26 when one Ki-21 Sally and one Ki-43 Oscar was shot down by Fg Off G.W. Andrews and two more Ki-21s were also brought down by Flt Sgt H.B. Chatfield. From early 1944 the Mk Vc was superseded by the Mk VIII, which joined 136 Sqn in February, 607 Sqn in March and 615 Sqn in July. Complete air superiority would eventually be gained, but it was the Mk Vcs that laid the foundation stones for this task.



DATAPOINT Trialled on a Mk VIII, the cutback

rear fuselage and bubble/teardrop sliding canopy was introduced very late into Mk IX production aircraft.


Temporary becomes permanent

It seems remarkable that the second most produced mark of Spitfire – the Mk IX – was also a stopgap measure in response to the arrival in combat of the Fw 190A



y June 1941, RollsRoyce had made great progress with regard to the development of its latest powerplant, the Merlin 61. The Hucknall-based company made claims that the engine had the same performance as the Merlin 45 at lower altitudes and at higher altitudes the powerplant was on a par with the Merlin 60. Senior Air Staff were initially sceptical that the Merlin 61 was up to the job and were reluctant to disrupt the already successful Spitfire Mk V production, because the fighter was holding its own against the current mark of Bf 109. However, attitudes soon changed when, in September 1941, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190A appeared in combat, the Mk V being no match for the German machine. The Fw 190 posed one of the biggest threats to the RAF since the beginning of the war. So serious was the problem that from November 13, 1941, all RAF operations were stopped over Northern Europe while the situation was consolidated and pilots were re-trained to take on this new menace. The fighting recommenced in February 1942


ABOVE: Incorrectly serialled “BF274”, rather than BS274 throughout its entire service life, this Mk IX performed a wide range of trials from mid-1942 until July 1944, when it was allocated to 58 Operational Training Unit. The fighter was converted to a T Mk IX in late 1947 and sold to the Royal Netherlands Air Force in March 1948. VIA AUTHOR

with the Mkk V concentrating conc ncen entr trat tr atin at ing in g on ground targets, but losses were unsustainable and in June 1942 all operations over the Continent were stopped. The situation seemed untenable, but unbeknown to the RAF, an event that took place in April 1941 was to set in motion the solution to the Fw 190 problem. When the Spitfire Mk III project was abandoned, the sole prototype N3297 was sent to Hucknall to be used as a testbed. The Merlin 60

was was under unde un derr development de deve de velo lopm lo pmen entt at the the time ttim imee im for high-altitude use in the Vickers Wellington. Ernest Hives made the important suggestive remark: “What would be the result if a Merlin 60 was installed in a Spitfire?” Hives’ question was soon answered and on September 27, 1941, N3297 complete with a Merlin 60 made its maiden flight from Hucknall on September 27, 1941, only a week after the first Fw 190 was encountered in combat. The Air Ministry was immediately

BELOW: The ever-useful F Mk III prototype, N3297, following the installation of a Merlin 61 and Rotol four-bladed propeller at Boscombe Down in October 1941. VIA AUTHOR

informed info in form fo rmed ed and and a second ssec econ ond d Spitfi Spit Sp itfi it fire, re Mk I R6700, was delivered to Hucknall for conversion with a Merlin 61 and was first flown on January 6, 1942. Several Mk Vs were also converted to Merlin 61-power in order to speed up the trials, including the first production Mk Vc which arrived at Hucknall on February 14, 1942. This flurry of activity saw the birth of the Spitfire Mk IX, the Mks VI, VII and VIII were already under development. Several senior members of the Air Staff still had their doubts about the Mk IX, with worries concentrating on a potential dip in production during the transition 81

SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE MK V & IX from the Mk V and claims that the aircraft was not as good as the Mk V between 17,000 and 23,000ft. Wisely all these concerns were either dismissed or overruled by the AOC of Fighter Command, Sir Sholto Douglas. Following further intensive trials at Boscombe Down, a batch of 100 F Mk Vcs were ordered to be fitted with Merlin 61 engines on April 18, 1942, with delivery to Fighter Command no later than June 1942. This first batch was a joint venture with Supermarine converting 52 airframes and Rolls-Royce 48, all to be designated F Mk IX. The order was originally a Mk I contract, which was changed to Mk Vs in October 1940; the RAF would be back on a level footing much sooner than they had planned.

Five main variants – Type 361

The F Mk IX was powered by the Merlin 61 with SU float-type carburettors and armed with a pair of 20mm Hispano cannon and four 0.303in Browning machine-guns. Very similar in appearance to the Mk V, especially the early production machines, the Mk IX featured an intercooler radiator which resulted in symmetrical positioning of the ducting under the wings for the first time. A new “universal” intake system was installed within the air filter with a shut-off control which discarded the need for the cumbersome and performance-draining tropical filter. Another very subtle difference was an identification light located on the upper fuselage directly behind the aerial. The gun-camera was also re-positioned to the starboard wing root to make way for a fuel cooler, as early Mk IXs suffered from vapour lock problems. By 1943 the standard F Mk IX was


fitted with the Merlin 63 and 63A; the former was similar to the Merlin 61 but minus a cabin blower, while the 63A featured a 64 crankcase, again without a cabin blower. During late 1943, the F Mk IX made way for the Merlin 66-powered LF Mk IX, which was produced in great numbers. Armed the same as the F Mk IX, the LF’s Merlin 66 was similar in design to the Merlin 63, but was fitted with a Bendix Stromberg injection carburettor with interconnected controls. The gear change of the supercharger of these Merlin engines was made automatically by barometric pressure as the fighter climbed or descended. By 1944 one of the few armament changes the Spitfire experienced during its wartime career was the introduction of the 0.5in Browning machine-gun in 1944. This fitment was known as the E wing and as such all aircraft with the 0.5in guns fitted were suffixed as LF Mk IX(e). The 0.5in machineguns were fitted in the inner gun position and the 20mm cannon were moved to the outer. This


The amount of firepower in pounds, delivered by a three-second burst of 20mm cannon fire; a three-second burst of 0.303in weighed in at 8lb.

re-positioning allowed more room for the larger machine-gun ammunition and it was also a cure for an earlier issue where there had been problems when bombs were carried in combination with cannon; the former being positioned directly below the location of the inner cannon. The cannon barrels of the LF Mk IX(e) had a straight taper, while many of the later production aircraft curved off towards the barrel in a cigar shape. The first aircraft to have the new armament installed was LF Mk IX(e) MK197, which was delivered from Castle Bromwich to Boscombe Down for armament trials on February 11, 1944. With regard to bombs, the Mk IX could have racks fitted under the cannon bay as mentioned earlier, plus a centreline rack; the latter capable of carrying a single 500lb and the former a pair of 250lb bombs.

The high-flying Mk IX

The high-altitude version of the Mk IX was presented in two different marks which only differed by their

ABOVE: A HF Mk IX with two 20mm cannon and four 0.303in machine-guns powered by a Merlin 70 driving a Rotol four-bladed propeller. Note the Slipper tank neatly installed around the carburettor intake. AEROPLANE BELOW: A 126 (Persian Gulf) Sqn aircraft is turned around at Bradwell Bay on December 7, 1944. This Mk IX is fitted with a pair of 20mm cannon and four 0.303in machine-guns. AEROPLANE

armament. The HF Mk IX was fitted with two 20mm cannon and four 0.303in machine-guns, while the HF Mk IX(e) had two 20mm cannon and two 0.5in Browning machineguns. Both were fitted with the Merlin 70 (RM 11SM) engine with a two-speed, two-stage supercharger, injection carburettor and higher supercharger drive gear ratios, producing a maximum of 1,750 h.p. at 11,000ft. The HFs were a relatively rare version of the Spitfire with a maximum speed of 405 m.p.h. at 25,400ft.

Still born PR Mk VIII (Type H) and the PR & FR IX

In early 1942, a batch of Spitfire Mk Is was earmarked for fitment of the 1,645 h.p. Merlin 32 and designated PR Mk VIII. This latest designation was causing consternation among the Air Ministry. On December 12, 1941, an order was issued to remove the type from the PR range in order to bring some semblance and continuity to the marks being produced. The “PR Types C to H” became officially known as the PR Mk III to PR Mk VIII. The latest PR mark clashed with the LF Mk VIII which was already in production and, despite several being built, the initial order of 70 aircraft was transferred to the fighter variant. The next mark in the series was the PR Mk IX based upon the Mk IX. Although only 18 aircraft were ever converted to PR configuration, this mark obtained some very valuable and famous aerial photography, including the vertical images of the breached Möhne Dam in May 1943. Modifications included a pair of vertical cameras in the rear fuselage, all armament removed, a larger oil tank under the nose and a wrapround windscreen similar to those fitted on the earlier PR marks. Lacking the Type D wing to improve the PR Mk IX’s range, a jettisonable Slipper tank was mounted directly under the fuselage, making operations into Germany feasible. The first aircraft was delivered to 541 Sqn on November 20, 1942, with others later serving with 680 and 683 Sqns. The FR Mk IX (Fighter Reconnaissance) was a standard fully armed Mk IX fitted with single port-facing oblique F.24 camera. Of the handful converted virtually, all served with 16 Sqn under 2nd TAF control, flying Dicing operations before and during the Normandy landings and during Operation Market Garden. Like the PR Mk VII, the majority were painted in the pale pink scheme (more “off-white”).


DATAPOINT The final operational sorties

flown by a Mk Vb were with 276 Sqn on May 8, 1945; the unit was disbanded one month later.


Supermarine was already developing the Mk VIII to take on the Fw 190 “Butcher Bird”, but this would take time and the RAF needed a new fighter capable of taking on the German machine at altitude, and quickly


he first of 109 RAF squadrons destined to be re-equipped with the Mk IX was 64 Sqn at Hornchurch, under the command of Sqn Ldr W.G.G.D. Smith DFC* in June 1942. Several pre-production aircraft arrived on station during the month for trials work and it was not until July 6 that the first pure production aircraft began to arrive. No 64 Sqn took the Mk IX into action for the first time on July 28 in company with 81, 122 and 154 Sqns, all equipped with the Mk Vb. This would be a regular tactic during the early stages of the Mk IX’s career as, to the untrained eye at least, the


ABOVE: One of several Mk IX-equipped units to fight their way from Malta, through Sicily and northwards through Italy, was 111 Sqn. The squadron was equipped the Mk IX(e) from June 1943 until May 1947. VIA AUTHOR

latest mark was virtually indistinguishable from the Mk V and when approached by the enemy they presumed that their RAF opponents would be easily dealt with. The sweep over France yielded no opponents on July 28, but two days later 64 Sqn went hunting alone. Once over the enemy coast nine Fw 190s rose to the challenge, and on this occasion Flt Lt D. Kingaby shot down one of their number to claim the first of many Luftwaffe fighters that would fall to the guns of the Mk IX. The same day, 64 Sqn was despatched on a bomber escort operation, shooting down three more Fw 190s over the target and a 83


Taking on the “Butcher Bird”

ABOVE: Pilots of 611 (West Lancashire) Sqn at Redhill not long after receiving the Mk IX in place of the Mk Vb in July 1942. AEROPLANE

SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE MK V & IX fourth on the flight home back to Hornchurch. The “Butcher Bird” had met its match. The squadron lost its first Mk IX through mechanical failure during Circus No 202 to Flushing on August 1. While changing fuel tanks, the engine of BR605 flown by Sgt E.L. Dickinson cut-out, forcing him to successfully ditch into the sea. No 401 (Ram) Sqn RCAF was the next unit to re-equip with the Mk IX at Martlesham Heath in late July, settling at Biggin Hill to continue operations from August 3. Another RCAF unit to re-equip with Mk IX was 402 (Winnipeg Bears) Sqn, which was ready for operations from August 9 out of Redhill. It was these two RCAF squadrons which would suffer the Mk IX’s first operational losses during a Circus on August 17, when two 401 Sqn and one 402 Sqn aircraft failed to return. Pilot Officer J.K. Ferguson was killed in BS159 when he was shot down into the Channel, while Flt Sgt W.E. Rowthorn died of his injuries after crash-landing BR985 near Lympne. Flight Lieutenant N.H. Trask in BR634 of 402 Sqn, who was tasked with a Circus to Rouen, became a PoW. Two days later, all three Mk IX squadrons took part in Operation Jubilee, the Allies’ “exploratory” invasion of Dieppe as part of an RAF force of 60 fighter squadrons. By the end of the operation 64 Sqn had lost three aircraft, including the CO’s BR581 which was struck by return fire from a Dornier Do 217, but after baling out he was rescued none the worse for wear by the Royal Navy. No 401 Sqn lost four Mk IXs during the operation resulting in one dead pilot, one wounded, one PoW and one safe. All three Mk IX squadrons continued to fly Ramrod, Ranger and Rhubarb operations, but by early 1943, all had re-converted back to Mk V only to re-equip again prior to the Normandy landings.

Operation Windgap

Since the first sighting, albeit at a


distance, of the first high-flying Junkers Ju 86R, there had been a growing fear that hundreds of these bombers would attack Britain at will, at an altitude unreachable by any RAF fighter in service. With the arrival of the Merlin 61-powered Mk IX, the odds of reaching 40,000ft plus to attack the Junkers began to reduce and one particular aircraft, BS273, was selected for trials in August 1942. On arrival at the Special Flight, Northolt, the fighter had its armament reduced to two 20mm cannon, its armour removed and was finished in a lightweight paint; the work being performed under the codename Windgap. After several trial flights, an


The average weekly production rate of the Mk IX at Castle Bromwich by May 1944.

mber opportunity arose on September ne 12, 1942, when Fg Off E. Galitzine was vectored towards a Ju 86R cruising over Southampton at ly 41,000ft. Galitzine successfully ch intercepted the bomber which tried to escape by climbing he even higher and at one point the combat ensued at a recordces breaking 43,000ft (some sources put the actual altitude as up to 2,000ft higher). Unfortunately for Galitzine, the freezing cold air non jammed the port 20mm cannon and the Ju 86R escaped with just one hit to its wing. However, this nvince ce encounter was enough to convince de the Luftwaffe that high-altitude attacks were no longer viable.

ABOVE: While images of the Spitfire “Modification XXX” with a pair of beer barrels under each wing are commonplace, the use of a 44-gallon long-range fuel tank is less so. AEROPLANE LEFT: A French Mk IX pilot of 340 “Ile de France” Sqn, one of the French fighter squadrons which joined 145 Wing, 2nd TAF, to help cover the ground troops during the D-Day landings. AEROPLANE

BELOW: No 64 Sqn was the first unit to receive the Mk IX in June 1942, retaining the fighter until March 1943 when it reverted to the Mk Vb. VIA AUTHOR

Mediterranean and the Middle East

The Mk IX quickly made a name for itself, no more so than in North Africa and the Mediterranean theatres where the LF Mk IX was the principal machine. The demand for the fighter in such numbers can be credited to Air Marshal Conningham, the C-in-C Air Forces in the Western Desert, who initially asked for “massive” numbers of LF Mk Vb and Vc fighters because of the low altitude nature of operations throughout the region. From April 1943 he also requested that all Spitfires delivered to North Africa should be supplied without the Vokes filter as the “Aboukir” type was already being adapted in production style by 103 MU. However, by this time the Mk IX had already replaced the Mk V on the production line. One of the first Allied fighters to land in Sicily, the Mk IX proved crucial in supporting the 8th Army in its quest to push Rommel out of North Africa northwards through Italy. After crossing the Straits of Messina, the Mk IX squadrons kept the pressure on as the German forces were ground down and pushed through the Italian mainland. One of several units in theatre was 43 Sqn, which received its first Mk IX in August 1943, flying them effectively alongside the Mk Vc, which remained on strength until January 1944. The unit had already gained a foothold in Sicily after moving from Hal Far to Comiso on July 14, 1943, but it was at Pachino where the first Mk IXs arrived. The first major operation in the theatre supported by 43 Sqn was Operation Baytown, which saw the 8th Army cross from Messina to Calabria, against General Montgomery’s wishes who wanted to be part of the Salerno landings 300 miles north. No 43 Sqn moved north with the 8th Army, changing airfields continuously to keep pace with the ground forces. The main occupation for the unit was flying bomber escort and patrols south of the Naples area as the southern quarter of Italy was quickly consolidated. Patrols were



DATAPOINT Seven Seven LF LF M Mkk IX IXs Xs were we e used used to

tria trial i l the he G h Griffon iff fff n 61 under unde d r normal norm mal service er vice cond conditions; diti t ons; the th eengine ng gine would would d later later power power the th he Spitfire Spitfire Spitfi re Mk 2 21 and and Mk Mk 24 24 in service se vi e service.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk V & IX


Vickers-Supermarine, Weybridge



Single-seat fighter


(Mk V) One 1,440 h.p. Merlin 45; (Va, b & c) one Merlin 45, 45N, 46, 46N, 50 & 50A; (LF Mk Va, b & c) one 1,585 h.p. Merlin 45M, 50M & 55M; (Vc) one Merlin 55 & 56C; (IX) one 1,565 h.p. Merlin 61, 1,650hp Merlin 63 or 1,650 h.p. Merlin 63A; (LF IX & IXe) one 1,580 h.p. Merlin 66; (HF IX & IXe) one 1,475 h.p. Merlin 70


Span: Length: Height: Wing Area:

(Vb & F.IX) 36ft 10in; (V & LF.IX clipped) 32ft 2in (Vb) 29ft 11in; (LF.IXe) 31ft 1in (Vb) 11ft 5in; (LF.IXe) 12ft 8in (F.IX) 242ft2; (LF.IX clipped) 231ft2


(Va) 4,981lb; (Vb) 5,065lb; (Vc) 5,081lb; (F.IX) 5,800lb; (F.IXe) 5,816lb (Va) 6,416lb; (Vb) 6,622lb; (Vc) 7,016lb; (F.IX) 7,295lb; (F.IXe) 7,181lb

WEIGHTS Max take-off:


(V) 370 m.p.h. at 19,500ft; (Va) 375 m.p.h. at 20,800ft; (F.IX) 408 m.p.h at 25,000ft; (LF.IXe) 404 m.p.h at 21,000ft Initial climb rate: (Va) 20,000ft in 7.1min Maximum climb rate: (LF.Vb) 4,720ft/min; (LF.IXe) 4,745ft/min Service ceiling: (V) 36,500ft; (LF.IXe) 42,500ft Range: (V) 1,135 miles with overload tank; (LF.IXe) 434-mile combat range, up to 980 miles depending on fuel load


(Va) A wing with Browning Mk II Star 350rpg; (Vb) B wing 60rpg & 350rpg; (Vc) universal wing plus four 20mm Hispano Mk II or Mk II cannon 120rpg plus normal A & B wing. Plus provision for two 250lb or one 500lb bomb. (IX) B wing F & LF.IX; E wing LF.IXe; C wing two 20mm cannon and four 0.303in Brownings. Provision for two 250lb or one 500lb bomb or a mixture plus 120lb smoke bombs

EQUIPMENT Gunsight: Radio:

Armour: Cine Camera:

(V) GM2 reflector; (IX) Gyroscopic Mk IID (V) TR 1133, TR 1143, ARI 5000 & TR 9D; (IX) TR 1143, R3067 & A1271. TR 1196A, ARI 15025 & ARI 5131 all available for special order (V) 73lb; (IX) 200lb (V) G.42B or G.45 in port wing; (IX) G.45 in starboard wing


(V) Total production of 6,479 aircraft made up of 94 Mk Va at Supermarine; 3,911 Mk Vb (2,995 at Castle Bromwich, 776 at Supermarine and 140 by Westland); 2,467 Mk Vc (1,494 at Castle Bromwich, 495 by Westland and 478 at Supermarine) and 15 PR Type F at Castle Bromwich between June 1941 and 1943 (IX) Total production of 5,656 aircraft made up of 5,095 at Castle Bromwich and 561 at Supermarine between June 1942 and April 1945.

LF Mk IX, MJ339 of 602 (City of Glasgow) Sqn operating out of Ford, became the first of its mark to land in France when it suffered an engine failure, forcing it to land in the middle of the fighting on one of the beaches. The 23 Mk IXs of 441 (Silver Fox), 442 (Caribou) and 443 (Hornet) Sqns RCAF flew a daring attack on the Normandy Wurzburg radar installation at Cap D’ When D-Day arrived on June 6, 1944, Antifer with 500lb bombs. Nine nine squadrons equipped with direct hits were scored on the radar, Spitfire Mk IXs were involved in which helped to continue the providing the first waves of beach deception that a further landing was cover as the troops came ashore. One imminent in this region, bolstered by


ABOVE: Spitfire Mk IXc ML214 was flown by the CO of 126 Sqn, Sqn Ldr J.A. Plagis, while based at Culmhead in June 1944. Southern Rhodesianborn “Johnny” Plagis ended the war with 16 air-to-air victories.

the Operation Glimmer deception flown by the Short Stirlings of 218 (Gold Coast) Sqn. The first major foothold in Normandy for the Mk IX, once again involved the three RCAF units, 441, 442 and 443 Sqns. As part of 144 Wing was under the overall command of Wg Cdr J.E. “Johnnie” Johnson, who was particularly fond of the Mk IX, on June 15, the wing moved to Ste-Croix-sur-Mer (B3) allowing the unit’s aircraft to range much deeper into enemy territory and increase the opportunities to

down Johnson shoot the enemy down. would add five more victories to his personal tally during June 1944 which would reach 34 in total by the end of September 1944.

Dealing with the V-1

Following operations over Normandy, several Spitfire squadrons were retained in England to deal with the V-1 flying-bomb threat, which were referred to as “Divers” by the RAF. It was quite a steep learning curve for all fighter pilots at the time to know how best to deal with V-1; the Merlin-powered Mk IXs also being at a slight disadvantage to the Griffonpowered Mk XIV and the Hawker Tempest. “Anti-Diver” patrols began for 1 Sqn on June 24, but like many units they were finding themselves “baulked” by the Griffon Spitfires and Tempests as they hauled in the V-1s. First success came on June 27 when Fg Off B. Bridgeman chased a V-1 for miles which, flying at 375 m.p.h. at 2,000ft, was shot down by him near Wadhurst. Flying Officer W.J. Batchelor scored the squadron’s second success the same day when he brought a V-1 down near Rye. The following day, 1 Sqn got into its stride, shooting down five more “Divers”. One of the day’s victories, scored by Fg Off McIntosh, is possibly one of the shortest fighter sorties in RAF history. Taking off from Lympne at 17.35hrs, McIntosh spotted a V-1 approaching the coast at low-level just as he was raising his undercarriage. With his Spitfire gaining speed, McIntosh turned into his target and with a large deflection gave the V-1 a single short burst of fire. The “Diver” erupted in flames; McIntosh continued his turn, lowered his undercarriage and was back on the ground at 17.36hrs! By early August the V-1 campaign was over for 1 Sqn, which was moved to Detling to continue a more offensive role. The squadron had claimed 461/6 85


flown during the battles of Anzio and Cassino and as Rome was approached, pilots were ordered to fly more armed reconnaissance operations with the freedom to attack any ground targets of their choosing. On July 20, 1944, 43 Sqn was moved out of theatre to the Calvi on the island of Corsica in preparation for the Allied invasion of Southern France. It was here that the squadron also received the Spitfire Mk VIII, but the Mk IX was still held as the main equipment. When the Allied landing took place on August 15, under the codename Operation Dragoon, 43 Sqn flew patrols but encountered no, or very little, aerial opposition. As a result 43 Sqn decided to find some targets of its own and by the time the enemy surrendered on September 14, 51 vehicles, three locomotives, three wagons and a Howitzer had been destroyed by ground strafing. This number would have been much higher if the Allies had not advanced so quickly, effectively pushing potential targets out of range. By November 1944, 43 Sqn was back in Italy, by which time it was part of 324 Wing, Desert Air Force, still supporting the 8th Army and was back to being solely equipped with the Mk IX. On November 21, operating from Rimini, the squadron flew its first bombing mission when it destroyed several enemy held houses and a bridge near Faenza. This type of close-support bombing operation was the bread and butter duty of the squadron until the end of the war and, even as the end approached, there was no let-up as 642 sorties were flown in April 1945 alone. With the cessation of hostilities, 43 Sqn enjoyed a well-earned spell as part of the occupation forces, moving to Austria in May 1945, only to return to Italy where it was disbanded in May 1947.




The amount of modifications incorporated over the Mk V in the first production Mk IX, JK365. which did not hit anything. No 401 Sqn skilfully performed its attack leaving the enemy aircraft in flames, to crash behind Allied lines. Squadron Leader Smith, Flt Lt Davenport, Flt Lt Everard, Fg Off Mackay and Fg Off Sinclair all shared this historic victory, which was the first time a jet had been shot down by aerial gunfire.

To the bitter end

V-1s destroyed, six of these going to Fg Off D. Davy, three of his successes being claimed on July 23.

Taking on the jets

By late 1944, the Mk IX was still a potent fighter, despite the fact it had been superseded by more powerful variants of the Spitfire. No 401 (Ram) Sqn had been equipped with the Mk IXb since October 1943 and 12 months later found itself in The Netherlands moving apace with the Allied advance. Operating from B 84/ Rips, 15 miles north-east of Eindhoven, the commanding officer, Sqn Ldr R.I.A. Smith DFC, was leading 12 aircraft on a patrol in the Arnhem/ Nijmegen area when at 14.45hrs a lone jet-propelled aircraft rapidly approached. The pilot of the lone aircraft, which was Messerschmitt Me 262 Werknr 170093, was Hptm

ABOVE: Several Mk IX-equipped RAF units retained the type into the immediate post-war period including 43 Sqn at Klagenfurt, Austria, in August 1945. The squadron retained the Mk IX until it was disbanded at Treviso, Italy, on May 16, 1947.

ABOVE: Having served with the RAF during the war, 322 (Dutch) Sqn became part of the Royal Netherlands Air Force in September 1946 equipped with the Spitfire Mk IX. Still a useful fighter, the type was retained by y the Dutch until 1954. VIA AUTHOR

H.C. Buttmann of 3./KG 51. His approach to the flight of RCAF Spitfires can only be described as a little over-confident and regardless

of his aircraft’s potential capability, the experience of the Allied pilots quickly shone through. Several rounds were fired by the Me 262,

While the Mk V was still in RAF service by the end of the Second World War, it was predominantly serving in the second line with a variety of training establishments ranging from the A&AEE to OTUs and the many training schools. With regard to the Mk IX, nine squadrons were still equipped with the variant in May 1945 on home defence duties; five were serving the 2nd TAF and 15 (including five with the SAAF) with both the Desert and Balkan Air Forces. Many overseas operators used the Mk IX during the immediate post-war period, including the Irish Air Corps which ordered six (of only 20 conversions) two-seat T Mk IXs which remained in service until the early 1960s. These two “interim” fighters advanced the capability of the RAF during the Second World War in two bounds, the first following victory in the Battle of Britain and the second when the Fw 190 threatened to run rings around Fighter Command. Better fighters would be made available to the RAF, but the Mk V and Mk IX were there when it counted and in considerable numbers.

BELOW: A trio of Irish Air Corps Spitfire Tr.IXs pictured in the late 1950s. Because of their service into the 1960s all three survive today. No 159 (ex-MJ772) is registered D-FMKN in Germany, 162 (ex-ML407) is registered as G-LFIX flown by Carolyn Grace and based at Bentwaters, and 163 (ex-TE308) is registered N308WK at Fort Collins, Texas. VIA AUTHOR

Next Month

Database Examines... 86

North American A-5 Vigilante

The Vigilante was designed and built to serve as a carrier-based nuclear bomber which was capable of flying at Mach 2. This role was destined to be short and the Vigilante would instead make a name for itself in the reconnaissance role in the hostile skies of Vietnam. TONY BUTTLER describes both marks in detail and their operational service in next month’s Database. Includes scale drawings and profiles. (Contents may be subject to change)


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Q&A Mosquito survival?


A question in April asked if anyone had ever jumped from a Mosquito and survived. David Fletcher’s wife’s late uncle, Sqn Ldr John Comar DFC & Bar, reminisced over the baling out of a Mosquito IV of No 105 Sqn over Marham. After a bouncy take-off, the aircraft pitched and became uncontrollable. A nose high partial power descent was established at 1,800ft per minute and the aircraft was turned back to base on the rudder alone. Overhead of the field he ordered the navigator to jump but he became stuck in the hatch until assisted by a firm boot on the top of his head. Comar then jumped, noting the altimeter at 1,200ft and recalled nothing further until waking in hospital. The CO visited him in hospital and said: “I believe these are yours,” tossing some elevator counterweights on the bed, which had been found on the airfield shortly after Comar took off. I have managed to trace the aircraft and date, DZ408 coded H on January 20, 1944, from the book Mosquito Thunder: No 105 Squadron at War 1942-1945 by Stuart R. Scott (Sutton Publishing, 1999), but this spells the name as Comer. Mike Levy adds that pilot Ray Cocks and navigator Nobby Bolton successfully baled out of Mosquito B.35 TJ143 of No 14 Sqn, Wahn, when the cockpit burst into flames on April 2, 1949. Mr Levy points out that there were different hatches on various versions of Mosquito, the bomber and PR versions had a hatch in the floor in front of the navigator’s seat, but fighter and trainer marks had a hatch in the starboard side of the cockpit. J.P. Cretaud writes from France about another escape. During an attack on a train carrying high explosives at Chalon-sur-Saone by two Mosquito FB.6s from No 107 Sqn on August 25, 1944, the train blew up and destroyed the railway station. In Mosquito NS952/OM-S the pilot, A.J. Rippon, was still at the controls when it crashed after flak damage, but navigator Terence Ridout managed to bale out with some difficulties and landed some 800m from the Mosquito crash. We have a slight difficulty here, as NS952 is recorded as belly-landing at Ford after an engine cut on August 24, 1944, the day before this incident. M. Cretaud asks if anyone has names of the crew of the second Mosquito, and says that Anthony Rippon is buried in the village of Ouroux where a monument has been erected.


BAT Bantam


Malcolm Barratt referring to Arthur Ord-Hume’s letter in the April issue says that the BAT F.K.23 Bantam K.123 is now in the


Compiled by MIKE HOOKS

Are you seeking the answer to a thorny aviation question? Or trying to trace an old aviation friend? Our questions-and-answers page might help E-mail: [email protected] Write: Q&A, Aeroplane, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry’s Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG

Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in its 2013 20th century collection. It appeared in the background during an interview with the curator as part of a documentary celebrating the re-opening of the museum after some ten years of renovation.

This month’s

Questions Spitfire wing

Stoddart is puzzled by the QPaul change in angle from dihedral

to horizontal at the undercarriage pivot point giving the effect of a short centre section when the wings were on the aircraft. Adding to the already complex spar structure, if this was aerodynamically necessary, wouldn’t a short centre section built into the fuselage with the undercarriage at its outer edges have been easier? Wingless aircraft could then be moved easily like the Bf 109 and the wing constructed without angled structure and skins. Does anyone have an answer?

No 3 Group, Bomber Command

A.J. Hewitt requests help QTony in contacting former RAF

Bomber Command crews who served in No 3 Group during 1962 at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. There were several Victor squadrons operational in the early 1960s and there are various aspects of their capability which are not clear even today, and any contemporary photographs would be extremely useful.

Ian Fleming

Dobson noted in a QGeoffrey recent TV programme about


Bf 108/Nord 1000 series


Recent research into production of the Messerschmitt Bf 108 and Nord 1000 series has raised a number of issues. Production of the twoseat ’108 began at Augsburg in 1934, but only seven were built there before the line was moved to Regensburg in July 1938 when work began on the Bf 108B four-seater and a considerable number of civilian and overseas military orders were received, but the main production went to the Luftwaffe which is known to have operated at least 550. As work on the Bf 109 fighter built up at Regensburg, ’108 production was transferred in 1942 to occupied France, the SNCAN factory at Les Mureaux building 170 before production ceased in 1944 as the Germans retreated. The first question – were all ’108 jigs transferred to France from Regensburg or did SNCAN make new ones? It does not appear that Argus engines were built in France, so these must have come from Germany. When France was liberated, the French realised the potential market for such an advanced type as the ’108, and SNCAN received an order for 285 to be built for the Air Force and Navy under the designation Nord 1000. When these eventually became surplus, more than 100 appeared on the French civil register for flying clubs and individuals – oddly c/n 286 is quoted for F-BGSG! They were built in three versions, the Nord 1000 with Argus engines (as used on the Bf 108) while the N.1001 and ’1002 had Renaults. It is said that the first 67 had Argus engines, presumably left over from ’108 production and this seems to have been confirmed with several traceable c/ns up to 65 being N.1000s. No doubt some of these were later converted to Renaults. But to have that many Argus engines left over seems odd – was the German intention to order a further batch of ’108s, frustrated by the events in 1944? It is not clear whether the Nords had folding wings as on the ’108 – Jane’s of 1945 to 1947 barely mentions them. Finally, can anyone give an authoritative answer on the number of ’108s built? I have seen a figure of 885 but does this include French production?

the wartime life of writer Ian Fleming that a brief glimpse was given of French Admiral Darlan fleeing the Germans in a multiengined twin fin and rudder flying-boat and asks if this depiction was true? Where was it going, what was its fate and could it have been a Latécoère 631?

Darwin Spitfires

Krebs, referring to the QPatrick Darwin Spitfires feature in the

February issue, has sent a cutting from The Vancouver Daily Province dated February 1, 1946, which reported that Gp Capt Oliver “Killer” Caldwell, an Australian ace, was reduced three ranks to Flight Lieutenant for having sold liquor improperly at Morotai. Mr Krebs asks if anything further transpired from this.

ABOVE: Bf 108 D-IMXA in German pre-war colours and Nord 1002 G-ATBG masquerading as a Bf 109, with little to distinguish between the types.



Frank Wootton OBE PPGAvA (1911-1998) Operation Robinson: 17th October 1942 The attack on the Schneider engineering factory at Le Creusot, France gouache on card, 33 x 35 cm, signed The original artwork for an advertisement for AVRO published in Flight, 20th January 1944

44 Old Bond Street, London. W1S 4GB. Tel: 020 7493 7567 E: [email protected]




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been promoted to take command. The Squadron’s proceed largely unmolested for most of this day, the last who had were a mix of veterans and newcomers, one of that it lay within range of Sicilian-based air attack. A few aircrew designed the unit badge consisting of a Maltese night torpedo strikes were attempted by the Italians but whom superimposed by a winged griffin and bearing the these were warded off by intense anti-aircraft fire and the Cross (in Maltese) Ara fejn hu which, translated, means convoy reached Alexandria on 12th May having success- motto where it is.’ Most of the ground crew on the other fully battled its way through the Mediterranean. Although ‘Look from the recently disbanded 1430 (Army Coone had been lost, the remaining four merchantmen deliv- hand came Flight which had previously been based at ered their crucial loads intact including 43 crated Operation) in the Sudan flying Gloster Gauntlet and Hurricanes, thousands of troops for the Western Desert, Khartoum Vincent biplanes during the East African cam238 tanks and 180 other vehicles with which to refit the 7th Vickers were joined by the nucleus of what was origiThey paign. during tanks its of most lost had that Armoured Division to have become 251 Squadron, but when the Operation Compass the previous February. The tanks were nally intended of this Squadron stalled in Palestine, those perurgently required for Operation Battleaxe which was to formation already in situ were redeployed to join the ex-1430 commence in June 1941 and which was intended to retake sonnel men aboard the fleet transport Breconshire bound eastern Cyrenaica and relieve Tobruk, thus forcing the Flight where they docked on 9th May. Germans onto the defensive for the first time since the war for Malta By the time 185 Squadron reformed, just one airworthy had begun. was left in Malta and although it had been Once the Tiger convoy had been shepherded beyond the Sea Gladiator charge of the Hal Far Station Flight since the deparrange of Sicilian airpower, the Beaufighters continued to on the 806 NAS, the biplane now became the property of operate from Malta for some time and regularly flew escort ture of which also assumed responsibility for the in Squadron 185 joined was 26 strikes, 7/JG time of anti-shipping period their short a For during left: and Blenheims Above to Malta’s early morning meteorological flights. The Sea Sicily by Bf 109E-equipped III/JG 27, one of whose Bf 109E-3s, often employing their heavy armament of four 20mm can- daily concerned was N5520 which, according to Sgt ‘Yellow 10’, is seen here being fitted with a 500kg bomb at Gela non and six .303in machine guns in the flak suppression Gladiator in May 1941. Of interest is the early-style canopy used by this RAAF of 185 Squadron, was by now doped role. Such an operation occurred on 7th May when three FG Sheppard variant, the starting handle on the right-hand side of the nose similar to the Hurricanes but with ‘Royal Beaufighters, flown by S/Ldr Yaxley, F/Lt Riley and naval in a scheme cowling which is thought to be painted white, and, scarcely titles above its serial numbers. As most Hurricanes apparent, the plated-over mg ports inboard of each cannon. pilot S/Lt Fraser escorted five 21 Squadron Blenheims Navy’ using Dark Green and Dark Earth the Frederick Galea against a convoy off Lampedusa. En route, the were camouflaged were probably applied to N5520 following Beaufighters shot down an Italian trimotor transport same colours work to fix serious damage inflicted upon it followwhich they came upon, then, having located the convoy, a repair loop, which occurred soon after it reverted to Blenheim flown by P/O Dennis scored direct hits on a ing a ground During its meteorological flights N5520 control. RAF another, while foundered later which transport 5,000 ton y encountered enemy aircraftt and, in an earlier a later occasionally flown by Sgt Osborne, bombed a destroyer which also t shoot it down. at least three Bf 109Es tried to sank. Both Blenheim pilots went on to score direct hits in incident, ntrols managed to con r the unknown pilot at the controls r, the course of two further strikes in as many days and were However, manoeue unscathed by using the biplane’s excellent recommended for decorations as a result – receiving the survive to coolly turn inside each attack until they finally DFC and DFM respectively. Having proved the concept of vrability ng of 261 up and left, although Sgt Jim Pickering conducting Blenheim operations from Malta – by mount- gave Below: Chalked in German on this bomb located under the dio on the been monitoring the radio had who for the loss of only a single aircraft – 21 Squadron S N E R sorties centre section of a III/JG 27, Bf 109E is the legend (which transG I N six N O P L A C E F O R B Eing 154 m cool and commented that the pilot was far from lated reads)‘Malta, Malta, you vanished and took with you my Squadron’s detachment returned to Britain in early May ground transmissions ‘graphically described his distress at happiness’ taken from Act III of the Opera ‘Martha’ replacing and preparations were put in hand to mount a continuous that his FEBRUARY 1941 the name Martha with Malta. Frederick Galea their attentions.’ MUNCHEBERG, strength. SICILY, JOACHIM squadron up toBYfull 7/JG 26. FLOWN 12’, detachments of future series ‘WHITE MESSERSCHMITT Bf 109E-7N The first operational sortie by the new squadron In the event, Squadron Leader Atkinson’s detachment ovided top on 13th May when four Hurricanes provided proved to be the only one to return to the UK with its air- occurred d’ by a pair cover for 261 Squadron, but they were ‘bounced’ craft however. of Bf 109s from III/JG 27 and although they managed to cocksemi-e h semi-enclosed Above: Improved Macchi MC.200s with o break away before receiving the full brunt of the attack, o at Trapani, r rm Stormo ‘MALTESE GRIFFONS’ pits from 91a Squadriglia, 10 Gruppo,, 4 Storm macott was Hurricane IIa Z2837, flown by F/Lt Innes Westmacott featur the famous -6, features Sicily in 1941. This example, coded 91-6, A NEW HURRICANE UNIT IS FORMED which he e the despite while elbow, b band the in theatre pilot white the the on wounding – insignia hit ‘prancing horse’ Unlike w s on the wingtip. 1 Squadron pilot’s cumbersome parachute pack sits to bail out. Hurricane I, V7115, of 261 By early May 1941, 261 Squadron had over 50 Hurricanes managed pilot had to wear ghter pilots British seat-type parachutes, Italian fighter shot down and unfortunately its pilot, P/O u on charge spread between Hal Far, Takali and Luqa, so it was also ved very uncomfortable their parachutes on their back and proved was killed. Over the next few days repeat perintricately sprayed was decided that a new unit would be formed using C Thompson, and impractical. The camouflage is an intric viding top followed with 185 Squadron providing 4, Bruno ime Mim allllo Mimetico three-coloured mottle scheme of Giallo Flight as its nucleus. The new unit, 185 Squadron, was formances as lost each applied to aircraft for 261 Squadron in which a Hurricane was Mimetico and Verde Mimetico 2 (as often app reformed on 12th May 1941 (having previously been dis- cover contract), with Grigio n by P/O built by the Breda company under contract including Hurricane IIb, Z2901, flown banded in 1940) at Hal Far under S/Ldr ‘Boy’ Mould DFC, time age Mimetico undersides. Italian official image

This aircraft, a -7N sub-type with no filter over the air intake, was flown by the unit’s CO, Oberleutnant Joachim Muncheberg, one of Germany’s leading aces in 1941. On arrival in Sicily in February 1941 he had already amassed 23 kills over Poland, France and England and scored 19 more over Malta. Muncheberg continued to score (both in the West and for a time in the East) until killed on 23rd March 1943 over Tunisia when his 135th victim, a USAAF Spitfire, exploded directly in front of him bringing his own aircraft down too and although Muncheberg managed to bail out, he soon died of his injuries. His final tally was 135 kills: 102 against the Western allies and 33 against the Soviets. During operations over Malta, Muncheberg usually flew ‘White 12’, his personal aircraft, which, like the other aircraft in the Staffeln had a yellow nose containing his personal red love heart, while the Jagdegeschwader motif, a stylised ‘S’ inside a white shield, appeared under the windscreen. Deciding what constituted the precise colour scheme for Bf 109Es of this period can prove a contentious issue as

they were then undergoing changes and the correct colour combination may never be known. Some reputable sources state that 7/JG 26’s aircraft still wore a Battle of Britain era scheme of RLM 02 Grau and 71 Dunkelgrun on upper surfaces with RLM 65 Hellblau on the sides and undersides. Others, equally reputable, state they were finished in RLM 74 Dunkelgrau, 75 Mittelgrau and 76 Lichtblau, even though this scheme was only officially introduced later in 1941. Another theory is that field-mixed greys were applied to these aircraft on top of the first scheme in an approximation of the second, before the latter became official. Without positive proof to the contrary, any one of the three options may be considered viable. A division of opinion also exists as to whether ‘White 12’ wore a vertical white bar marking behind the fuselage cross or a white theatre band instead; perhaps both explanations are correct inasmuch that the theatre marking applied at a later date may have concealed the bar, who knows? This Bf 109E also had a triangular metal pennant attached to the radio mast.


112pp £19.95

144pp £24.95

Other titles…

176pp £24.95


120pp £21.95



FLYING SAILORS AT WAR Vol.1: September 1939-June 1940 | Brian Cull | 192pp £15.95 SCIMITAR Supermarine’s Last Fighter | Richard A Franks | 120pp £19.95 SEA FURY In British, Australian, Canadian & Dutch service | Tony Buttler | 144pp £24.95 HASTINGS Handley Page’s Post-war Transport Aircraft | Tim Senior | 112pp £19.95 THE NIMROD Mighty Hunter | Andy Evans | 80pp £15.95 FLEET AIR ARM Camouflage & Markings – Atlantic & Mediterranean 1937-41 | S Lloyd | 152pp £24.95 BRITISH MILITARY AVIATION 1960s in Colour No.1 | Martin Derry | 48pp £9.95 ATTACKER The Royal Navy’s First Operational Jet Fighter | Richard A Franks | 80pp £14.95 GLOSTER JAVELIN The RAFs First Delta Wing Fighter | Richard A Franks | 112pp £16.95 SHACKLETON Guardian of the Sea Lanes | Richard A Franks | 112pp £16.95 LIGHTNING FORCE RAF Units 1960-1988 | Fred Martin | 112pp £19.95

e-mail: [email protected] | tel: 0845 838 1940 89


Book of the Month The Grumman Amphibians – Goose, Widgeon and Mallard (by Fred J. Knight & Colin R. Smith; ISBN 978-0-85130-440-3; Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd, 41 Penshurst Road, Leigh, Tonbridge, Kent TN11 8HL; 8½in x 12in hardback; 448 pages, illustrated; £49.95 [or £34.95 to Air-Britain members])

AIR-BRITAIN’S LATEST blockbuster covers types which have not had much publicity and is therefore a useful reference source. The introduction explains that Leroy Grumman and the company Board began production of the G-21 Grey Goose in 1937, which eventually led to four twin-engined amphibians with total production reaching almost 1,200. The predecessor of this family was the single-engined biplane Duck with a single large float and outriggers, production reaching 315 by Grumman and 330 by Columbia, a successful design. The first G-21 Goose flew in May 1937 and while orders were coming in the company was having cash problems until 100,000 shares were underwritten by Wall Street. Production then speeded up of civil versions, some with luxury interiors (one purchaser was Lord Beaverbrook who bought two, G-AFKJ and ’FCH), others were operated as small civil airliners and the military were also early buyers. Later in Goose history came a number of conversions, mainly with different engines in place of the usual 450 h.p. Pratt & Whitney Wasp Juniors, one opting for 350 h.p. Lycomings, while turboprop conversions used either the PT-6A, General Electric T.58 or Garrett AiResearch TPE 331. Experimental flying was undertaken by a Goose fitted with various types of hydro skis. Requests for a small amphibian led to the G-44 Widgeon, flown in June 1940, but the first production batches went to military operators, a total of 199. The G-44A, first flown in August 1944, was designed for the civil market and 76 were built. French interest in the Widgeon, when American production was slowing down, led to a licence being granted to SCAN to build it as the SCAN 30 with several different engines offered plus a number of airframe modifications and the first SCAN 30, F-WFDM, flew early in 1949. While 41 airframes were laid down not all were completed, and 33, some minus engines, were auctioned, 20 of which reached North America, a number being completed as Super Widgeons, a complex story here! Finally, at least as far as this book is concerned, concerned ned,, came came th thee G-73 G-73 Ma Malla Mallard, llard, rd, first

flown in April 1946, the largest of these amphibians and intended for the civil market, but only 59 were built, the last flying in May 1951. Several were later converted to turbine power but nothing further came of this, although since the book went to press there are rumours that a turbine Mallard may begin production again. Production lists of all these amphibians are included giving registrations, c/n, cross-references, aircraft names, engines, Grumman design numbers, abbreviations etc while a chapter lists all civilian operators alphabetically. Another chapter covers the Gweduck, a redesign with composites, Lycoming-powered, and by March 2013 Composite Creations Inc had intended to market it as a kit at £350,000 – rather a lot for homebuilders! An extensive book which surely covers everything you need to know on its subject. It would have been useful to have had scales on the three-view drawings and all that is now wanted, as many will agree, is a companion volume on the Albatross.


“Air-Britain’s latest blockbuster covers types which have not had much publicity and is therefore a useful reference source” 90

Lockheed A-12 The CIA’s Blackbird and other variants Reviews

(by Paul F Crickmore; ISBN 978-1-47280113-5; Osprey, Midland House, West Way, Botley, Oxford OX2 0PH; 7 ¼in x 9 ¾ in softback; 64 pages, illustrated; £11.99)

NUMBER 12 IN the publisher’s “Air Vanguard” series, this volume charts the development and operational history of the first Blackbird, the Lockheed A-12. It was a technologically astonishing aircraft which, more 50 years after its first flight, remains the fastest, highest-flying jet-powered aircraft ever built. During the early-to-mid Cold War years, western leaders had to rely primarily upon reconnaissance aircraft to gather intelligence data on the Soviet Union, its allies in the Warsaw Pact and Communist China. While Lockheed’s U-2 was providing sensational information, it was becoming increasingly vulnerable to hostile air defences and a replacement was urgently sought. US President Eisenhower was insistent that its successor should be “invisible to radar”. In describing the work by Lockheed and Convair to satisfy the often conflicting requirements of stealth and performance, Paul Crickmore recalls the political infighting between the USAF, the CIA and the government. The studies culminated with the A-12, which not only spawned the later SR-71, but two other Blackbird programmes – the YF-12 interceptor and the M-21/D-21, built to launch Mach 3 reconnaissance drones. Featuring declassified A-12 aerial photography, this book also contains expert technical analysis of the aircraft, its systems, developments and operational history. The latter chapter reveals that “although no aircraft were lost to hostile fire, an A-12 in the vicinity of Hanoi was hit by a piece of shrapnel during an attack by six SA-2 Guideline SAMs”. As an honorary member of several A-12 and SR-71 veterans’ associations, Paul Crickmore is eminently qualified to write on the subject. The text, written in an entertaining style, is supported by comprehensively captioned photographs, line drawings, colour artwork, colour profiles and a cutaway drawing.


Dragon’s Wings (by Andreas Rupprecht; ISBN 9781-90653-736-4; Ian Allan Ltd, Riverdene Business Park, Molesey Road, Hersham, Surrey KT12 4RH; 8½in x 11¼in hardback; 224 pages, illustrated; £30)


Outstanding Excellent Good Flawed Mediocre Enough said

“The text, written in an entertaining style, is supported by comprehensively captioned photographs, line drawings, colour artwork, colour profiles and a cutaway drawing”

CHINESE MILITARY AVIATION has been something of a mystery for many years, most published information and photographs referring to Russian types either sold to China or being licence-built (or copied?). This new book breaks down these


Write: Aeroplane, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry’s Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG, UK E-mail: [email protected] barriers and a historical background reveals that American aircraft equipped China’s first operational combat units, P-51s, P-47s and B-25s, plus C-46 and C-47 transports. Some Canadian-built Mosquitos featured briefly before being replaced by Russian types. Early jet equipment featured MiG-9s, 15s and 17s, each receiving Chinese names and designations, the Hongdu JJ-5 jet trainer used MiG-15 parts, but one of the most produced fighters was the Chengdu J-7 (MiG-21). China’s first indigenous fighter was the Shenyang J-8, a big delta with a tailplane and the industry continued to develop more fighters such as the J-10, perhaps equivalent to the Eurofighter. Somee quite handsome designs here and nice, clear illustrations, many in colour, while the Chengdu FC-1 Fierce Dragon was ordered by Pakistan as the JF-17. Ground-attack and strike aircraft include the Nanchang Q-5 series based on the MiG-19, bombers and anti-submarine aircraft include the Il-28 and its Harbin H-5 derivative, while the Xi’an H-6 is better known as the Tupolev Tu-16. The latest advanced projects, some of which are already flying, appear to be in line with Western designs and it will be interesting to see how they develop. A most interesting and revealing book.


Horten Ho 229 Spirit of Thuringia

(by Andrei Shepelev and Huib Ottens; ISBN 9781-903223-66-6; Ian Allan Publishing, Riverdene Business Park, Molesey Road, Hersham, Surrey KT12 4RH; 9in x 12in hardback, 128 pages, Illustrated; £30)

“A most interesting and revealing book”

(by Don Charlwood; ISBN 978-1-876425-60-9; Burgewood Books, Australia, available in the UK from Crécy Publishing, 1a Ringway Trading Estate, Shadowmoss Road, Manchester M22 5LH; 5½in x 8½in softback; 292 pages, illustrated; £9.95)

A Pilot’s Perspective (by Cedric Flood; ISBN 1-84683-130-X; Woodfield Publishing Ltd, Bognor Regis, PO21 5EL; 5½in x 8in softback; 252 pages, illustrated; £9.95)



THIS IS A reprint of a book first published in 2006 and favourably reviewed in our April 2007 issue. That said, we can just reiterate some of the points for readers who may not have seen that issue. Early days of the Horten brothers are covered and their early “wings” did not fly very well, but they were influenced by the design work of Alexander Lippisch and were convinced the flying-wing would be the aircraft of the future. The Ho 229 had many unconventional features as did its predecessors and the book describes and illustrates them all with photographs and detailed drawings. Many are of the third prototype belonging to the Smithsonian Institution, Washington. It includes a double-page chart of dimensions, performance etc for all the Horten designs – there were 28! A very interesting and thought-provoking book.

Journeys Into Night


IN 1939, LIVERPOOL-SPEKE Airfield began to be developed and the Rootes company was soon building Blenheims and Halifaxes there, while other work involved lease-lend aircraft from America, crated to the Liverpool docks and assembled at Speke. The author, when three years old, lived only half a mile from the longest runway and grew up surrounded by aircraft so it was not surprising that he became an enthusiastic spotter, having his first flight at the age of ten in a BEA Dakota on a positioning flight. Volunteer work at the flying club and flights with the members eventually led to Flood gaining his PPL and later CPL flying Ansons and Rapides. Joining the RAF, he did “square bashing” at Bridgnorth but since he had not been to a public school was declined a commission and on demob returned to commercial operations, in 1961 gaining first officer status with Cambrian Airways on Dakotas, later passing on to Viscounts and One-Elevens. The latter required strong arms, but he said were a delight. Cambrian eventually became part of BEA so then came the Super One-Eleven and in June 1992 at 55 Flood reached the normal age of retirement, just before BEA began disposing of its One-Eleven fleet. Settling into retirement he took up sailing, but kept up his flying interest with gliding and various light aircraft, learned to fly a Super Cub floatplane, then decided to build his own aircraft, an Evektor EV.97 Eurostar. Registered G-CFTJ (his and his wife’s initials), he flew it on July 16, 2006, just over five months since the kit arrived in its boxes! This is an interesting read, experiences no doubt shared by many whose paths were similar – 50 very happy years. A bargain at £9.95.

Book Briefs

THIS IS THE fourth reprint of a book first published in 1991 and is the life of the author from his beginnings in Australia to service in RAF Bomber Command and he points out that much of this concerns the base at Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire, where a first reunion was established in 1954. His experiences were no doubt typical of many problems with the early Halifaxes etc, but wartime bomber crews will find much of interest. A well-written book and worth reprinting.

A passion for flight – New Zealand Aviation before the Great War (by Errol W. Martyn; ISBN 978-0-473-26424-6; Volplane Press, PO Box 6482, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch 8442, New Zealand; 7¼in x 9½in softback; 208 pages, illustrated; (email errol. [email protected] for price and offers on earlier volumes)

“This is an interesting read, experiences no doubt shared by many whose paths were similar”

THIS THE THIRD volume of a trilogy and is sub-titled The Joe Hammond story and military beginnings 1910-1914 and readers who have already purchased the first two volumes will know the extent of research which has gone into them. As the author points out, the first two concentrated on civil aviation while this focuses primarily on the military side of things. Hammond was an instructor at Northolt in 1916 and C.G. Grey, editor of The Aeroplane, described him as “one of the great characters of aviation in its early days” who went with two Bristol Boxkites to demonstrate them in Australia, arriving in December 1910, but in spite of considerable flying over several months only one sale was made. While Hammond later served with the RFC in England and France, records of his service do not appear to have survived. However, he is known to have become a Captain in June 1916 after a posting to the Aeronautical Inspection Department (AID) as a test pilot in November 1915. He tested the strange Robey Peters RRF.25 until forced to make an emergency landing on the roof of a lunatic asylum when it caught fire, fortunately escaping injury on this occasion and again when the second RRF.25 crashed on its maiden flight! There is much of interest in these pages and appendices include amendments to volumes one and two, glossaries, detailed notes etc. The only adverse comment, a personal one, is against the sepia photographs. A well-written and easy to read account of these early days. 91


Show organisers: Is your event listed here? If not, send an e-mail to [email protected] E-mail: [email protected] Write: Aeroplane, Cudham Tithe Barne, Berry’ss Hill, Cu Cudham, Kent, Berry Cudh dham am,, Ken ent,t, TN16 TTN1 N16 3AG, G, U UK K

Compiled by John Donaldson

UK Events MAY 2014

3 OV-10 Bronco Fan Day UK Cotswold Airport, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 6BA; website 3 The Helicopter Museum 25th Anniversary Lecture & Tour The Helicopter Museum, Locking Moor Road, Westonsuper-Mare, Somerset BS24 8PP; tel 01934 635227, website http://helicoptermuseum. 3-4 Aeromodellers: Mayfly Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden Aerodrome, near Biggleswade, Beds SG18 9EP; tel 01767 627927, website 3-4 Atomic Vintage Festival Sywell Aerodrome, Northants NN6 0BN; tel 07768 061708, website 3-4 Microlight Fly-in Popham Airfield, Popham, Hants; tel 01256 397733, website 3 & 5 Large Models Air Show 2014 Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby Airfield, East Kirkby, Spilsby, PE23 4DE; tel 01790 763207, website www.lincsaviation. 4 Abingdon Air & Country Show Abingdon Airfield (Dalton Barracks), Abingdon, Oxon OX13 6JQ; website 4 “May-hem” Fly-in The Real Aeroplane Company, Breighton Aerodrome, Selby, Yorks YO8 6DS; tel 01757 289065, website N.B. see Museum Club membership entry requirements on website 4 Vintage Sunday Old Sarum Airfield, Old Sarum, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP4 6DZ; free landings for pre-1965 aircraft, website 5 Aero/Autojumble & Classic Vehicle Rally & Fly-in Popham Airfield, Popham, Hants; tel 01256 397733, website 8 The Helicopter Club of Great Britain Fly-in The Helicopter Museum, Locking Moor Road, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset BS24 8PP; tel 01934 635227, website http:// 10 The 1940s Hangar Dance Old Buckenham Airfield, Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, Norfolk NR17 1PU; website 10 Open Cockpits Evening RAF Museum Cosford, Shifnal, Shropshire TF11 8UP; tel 01902 376200, website uk 10-11 Stow Maries Fly-in Stow Maries Aerodrome, Hackmans Lane, Purleigh, near Maldon, Essex CM3 6RJ; website www.fosma. email [email protected] 10-11 Spring Flying Meeting North Coates Airfield, North Coates, Grimsby, NE Lincs DN36 5XU; tel 01472 388850, website 11 IPMS Hendon Model Show RAF Museum London, Grahame Park Way, London NW9 5LL; tel 020 8205 2266, website 11 Shuttleworth Season Premiere Air Show Celebrating 50 years of the friends of the collection – SVAS. Old Warden Aerodrome, near Biggleswade, Beds SG18 9EP; tel 01767 627927, website 11 Support our Paras Old Sarum Airfield, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP4 6BJ; email [email protected], website http:// 11 Vintage Piper Fly-in Popham Airfield, Popham, Hants; tel 01256 397733, website 13 The Golden Age of Air Travel A Milton Keynes Aviation Society lecture by Nina Hadaway, Curator of Documents, RAF Museum. Kents Hill Community Centre, Frithwood Crescent, Kents Hill, Milton Keynes MK7 6HQ; doors open 19.00hrs, lecture commences 20.00hrs, website


14 Handley Page Hampden – more than a Restoration A London Society of Air-Britain presentation by Darren Priday. The Victory Services Club, 63-79 Seymour Street, London W2 2HF; Meeting starts 19.30hrs, telephone enquiries to James Dale 01487 824922 (after 19.30hrs only), website or email [email protected] 15-17 Museums at Night RAF Museum London, Grahame Park Way, London NW9 5LL; tel 020 8205 2266, website 16 Film Night – Museums at Night 19.30hrs, Swordfish Centre, Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Ilchester, Somerset BA22 8HW; tel 01935 840565, website 17 Aeronca Fly-in & Air Cooled Classics Rally Popham Airfield, Popham, Hants; tel 01256 397733, website 17-18 Cosford Flights of Fantasy RAF Museum Cosford, Shifnal, Shropshire TF11 8UP; tel 01902 376200, website 17-18 Tribute to the V-Force Newark Air Museum, Drove Lane, Winthorpe, Newark, Notts NG24 2NY; tel 01636 707170, website 18 Heathrow Aircraft Enthusiasts’ Fair Function Suite, Kempton Park Racecourse, Staines Road East, Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex, TW16 5AQ; website 20 The Vintage Festival Old Buckenham Airfield, Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, Norfolk NR17 1PU; website www.oldbuck. com 21 Britain’s Air Defences in WWI A Royal Aeronautical Society Medway Branch evening lecture by Roger Smith, Curator Stow Maries Aerodrome. Staff Restaurant, BAE Systems, Marconi Way, Rochester, ME1 2XX; meeting 19.00-21.00hrs (preceded by AGM), website Events/Calendar 21 The Dam Buster Raid A Royal Aeronautical Society Derby Branch evening lecture by David Keen of the RAF Museum Hendon. Nightingale Hall, Moor Lane, Derby DE24 9HY; meeting 17.30-19.00hrs, website 24 Lincolnshire Lancaster Association Day & 1940s Dance Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby Airfield, East Kirkby, Spilsby, PE23 4DE; tel 01790 763207, website 24 Llandudno Air Show The Seafront, Llandudno, North Wales; website http:// 24 Shuttleworth Classic Evening Air Show Old Warden Aerodrome, near Biggleswade, Beds SG18 9EP; tel 01767 627927, website 24-25 Halfpenny Green 40s Weekend Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport, Bobbington, Stourbridge DY7 5 DY; website 24-25 Light Aircraft Association (LAA) Goodwood Roadshow Chichester/ Goodwood Airport, Goodwood, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 0PH; website 24-25 The D-Day Anniversary Air Show Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambs CB22 4QR; tel 01223 835000, website http:// 25 Cold War Jets Open Day Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, Lutterworth, Leics LE17 5QS; website http://www.bruntingthorpeaviation. com 26 American Air Day Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby Airfield, East Kirkby, Spilsby, PE23 4DE; tel 01790 763207, website 25-26 International Radio Controlled Air Show Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset BA22 8HT; tel 01935 840565, website 26-30 Women in Aviation Half Term RAF Museum Cosford, Shifnal, Shropshire TF11 8UP; tel 01902 376200, website

29 “Flying the mighty F-4 Phantom – combat operations during the Vietnam war” A Society of Friends of the Fleet Air Arm Museum (FAAM) evening talk by Col Steve Ladd, USAF. The Auditorium, Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Ilchester, Somerset BA22 8HW; tel 01935 840565, website 30-1 JUNE AeroExpo Sywell Aerodrome, Sywell, Northampton NN6 0BN; tel 020 8549 3917, website

Overseas Events MAY 2014


The information on these pages is correct, to the best of our knowledge, at time of press. Dates, venues etc may change, so check before setting out, via the contact information provided.

2-4 Central Texas Air Show DraughonMiller Regional Airport, Temple, Texas, USA; website 3-4 Planes of Fame Air Show “A Salute to The Mighty Eighth” Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino, California, USA; website 3-4 Chemnitz Air Show ChemnitzJahnsdorf, Germany; website 4 Wings over Illawarra Illawarra Airport, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia; website 10 Breitling Super Constellation “10 Years after” Event EuroAirport, Basel, Switzerland; website 16-18 MCAS Cherry Point Air Show MCAS Cherry Point, Havelock, North Carolina, USA; website 16-18 Warbirds over the Beach Air Show Military Aviation Museum, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA; website 17 Aeros & Autos Ellington Airport, Houston, Texas USA; website 17-18 Museum Opening Weekend & Spring RC Fun Fly Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Red Hook, NY 12571, USA; tel 001 845 752 3200, website 19-1 JUNE Cielo Aperto (Open Sky) A series of aviation themed events intended to celebrate the centenary of the Swiss Air Force and 75 years of service at Locarno Cantonal Airport; website 20-22 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) Palexpo, Geneva, Switzerland; website http://ebace. aero/2014 20-25 ILA Berlin Air Show Berlin ExpoCenter Airport, Schönefeld, Germany; public days 23-25, website

23-25 Classic Bodensee A classic gathering of aircraft, boats and road transport. Friedrichshafen, Germany; website 24-25 Jones Beach Air Show Jones Beach State Park, Wantagh, New York, USA; website 25 Västeräs Flygmuseum Aerospace show/Rollout 2014 Vasteras Aviation Museum, Västerås, Sweden; website 25 Volkel in de Wolken Air Show Volkel, Netherlands; website www.volkelindewolken. nl 28-29 Historical Aircraft Group (HAG) – Italy Flyparty Montagnana, Padua, Italy; website 29 Wings & Wheels Hoogeveen, Netherlands; website 30-31 Air Fair Bydgoszcz Bydgoszcz, Poland; website 31 Airexpo Muret-Lherm, Mid-Pyrenees, France; website 31 British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) Fly-in Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, 9280 Airport Road, Mount Hope, Ontario, Canada; website 31 All-in Fly-in Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield, Cressbrook, South East Queensland, Australia; website calendar 31-1 JUNE Discover Aviation Days Anoka County Airport – Jane’s Field (the home of the Golden Wings Flying Museum), Blaine MN 55449 USA; website 31-1 JUNE Fort McMurray International Air Show Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada; website 31-1 JUNE Virginia Beach Oceanfront Air Show Virginia, USA; website 31-1 JUNE Virginia Regional Festival of Flight Suffolk, Virginia, USA; website 31-1 JUNE 8th Ercoupe Antwerp Stampe Fly-in Stampe & Vertongen Museum, Antwerp Airport, Luchthavenlei z/n, B-2100, Antwerp (Deurne), Belgium; website 31-1 JUNE Aviation Fair Pardubice Airport, Pardubice, Czech Republic; website 31-1 JUNE Cielo Aperto (Open Sky) Air Show Locarno Airport, Switzerland; website 31-1 JUNE Grossenhain Airport Centenary Grossenhain Airport, Sachsen, Germany; website

ABOVE: During mid-April Midair Sqn’s English Electric Canberra PR.9

XH134 began pilot familiarization and display practice flying from its base at Cotswold Airport, Kemble. At the time of going to press the Canberra’s first public appearance of 2014 was planned for the Abingdon Air & Country Show on May 4, where it was hoped to be joined by Midair’s silver Hawker Hunter T.7 XL577. The eventual aim is to have the Canberra and two silver Hunters (XL577 and XL600) as a three-aircraft team. See next month’s issue for a full report on the Canberra, seen here being flown by Dave Piper on April 11. JARROD COTTER



Flight Lieutenant Dave Kirby, the 2014 Shorts Tucano display pilot for the Royal Air Force, is a Qualified Flying Instructor at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, near York. Dave started his RAF career as a navigator on the Tornado GR.1/GR.4 but, after crossing over to pilot training, was awarded his wings and posted to the C-130J Hercules. After three years Dave qualified as a captain on the aircraft and was Hercules display co-pilot for a season in 2006 and flew as the C-130J “role demo” captain in 2007. After six years at RAF Lyneham, “Kirbs” was appointed to station STANEVAL, responsible for standardising all 65 C-130J crews on station. During his eight years at RAF Lyneham he completed numerous operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dave moved to Linton and the Tucano in 2009 and, having completed a year as display manager, takes over as pilot for the 2014 season. He recently spoke to GARETH STRINGER about his aviation career What is your first aviation memory? Flying to Tenerife on a DC-9.

Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions? To join the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

When was your first flight? It was in a Bulldog at RAF Finningley as part of my navigator training.

Can you think of a time in the cockpit when you have looked out and thought, this is IT, this IS aviation? Flying the 100ft low pass at the end of my display is always exciting!

What prompted learning to fly? I was given the opportunity to crossover from navigator to pilot in 1999, and, as I could see there being a time when navigators would become redundant, I seized the opportunity with both hands! When was your first solo? November 17, 1999, in an RAF Tucano. As I crossed over from nav to pilot I was fast-tracked to the Tucano, so going solo in such a powerful aircraft was a major achievement. Who has been the biggest influence on your aviation career? My first RAF front line squadron commander – Wg Cdr Tom Boyle. He encouraged me as a young navigator to strive for the front seat, and without his support I’d probably still be in the back of a Tornado GR.4. What do you see as your best achievement in aviation? Becoming the Tucano display pilot. Do you hold any records? Not that I’m aware of.

What has been your worst time in the cockpit? On March 1 2001, I was holding in the RAF Valley overhead in a Hercules having bounced from a very heavy (6g) landing. I was a solo student with 15hr on type and had just mishandled a practice forced-landing. I had burst both main-wheel tyres and had to hold to burn off fuel prior to landing. By the time I landed the entire station had come to watch, hoping I’d crash spectacularly. In the event I merely parked XX236 in the grass south of runway 31. What is your favourite aeroplane? It has to be the Supermarine Spitfire. What is your least favourite aeroplane? I have enjoyed all my flying, from Bulldog to Tornado. If it can get airborne it is fine by me. Hypothetically, if you could fly one aeroplane from history, what would that be? The Spitfire, but as the Tucano is of a similar size and power it isn’t a bad alternative!

ABOVE: As 2014 marks the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, it is quite appropriate that this year’s Tucano display aircraft wears a paint scheme with poppies on its forward fuselage and “Lest We Forget” written on the fuselage sides. Those words also appear on the underside of the wings with a single large poppy at the centre. CROWN COPYRIGHT


The Spitfire Flying Club

Popham Events 2014 13th April

Jodel Club Fly-in

3/4th May

Microlight Trade Fair

5th May

Aero/Autojumble, Classic Vehicle Rally & Fly-in

11th May

Vintage Piper Fly-in

17th May

Aeronca & Taylorcraft Fly-in & Air Cooled Classics Rally

8th June

WW1/D-Day Anniversary Fly-in (all welcome)

5/6th July

Royal Aero Club Air Race. 3Rs Air Race Weekend

12/13th July

Europa Fly-in

26th/27th July

Vintage Aircraft Club 50th Anniversary & Andover Strut Fly-in

10th August 16/17th August

British Women Pilots’ Association Fly-in and Jaguar Car Club Flying Day Motorcycle Mega Meet & Vintage Aircraft Fly-in

7th September Auster Club Fly-in 14th September

Solent Aviation Society Fly-in

12th October

End of Season Fly-in

19th October

Motorcycle Enduro

Popham Airfi eld, Nr Winchester, Hampshire, SO21 3BD T: 01256 397733 F: 01256 397114 E: pophamairfi[email protected] W: www.popham-airfi



Skywriters The 500th C-97

Sir, I have just spent the weekend with the latest issue of Aeroplane (May 2014), an excellent edition with stories away from the normal stream, covering several periods of aviation history. Keep it up! The Boeing C-97 section was particularly interesting (Database). The article showed a photo of the 500th C-97 being rolled out, and commented that it is still in existence. I attach a picture of this aircraft, 52-2680/N29866 in Air National Guard KC-97L configuration, taken at the Hawkins & Powers storage area at South Big Horn County Airport, Graybull, Wyoming, on October 5, 2012. It is certainly showing signs of wear and tear, but is still a majestic piece of aero engineering. The H&P area at Graybull is a fascinating “elephants’ graveyard” of post-war military propeller heavies. There are examples of the C/KC-97, Convair PB4Y-2 Privateer, Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune, USAF and Canadian Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars, early C-130 Hercules and a couple of Fairchild C-82 Packets, as well as solitary examples of the Beech 18 and Fokker Friendship. Many aircraft in the storage area are in some stage of dismantling and disrepair, but potential flyable examples of a C-97, a P2 and a C-119 were parked on the main apron. The KC-97 also still lives on elsewhere, with 53-0283 serving as a spacious restaurant extension to the Ramada Hotel at Colorado Springs Airport. Cockpit tours and a turn in the refuelling boom operator’s blister were part of the lunch options! RICHARD LAMBERT Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire

ABOVE: The 500th C-97 built, 52-2680/N29866, seen at the Hawkins & Powers storage area at South Big Horn County Airport, Graybull, Wyoming, in October 2012. RICHARD LAMBERT

Shackleton search

Sir, The search for the Malaysian aircraft in the South China Sea brings back memories of December 1958 and a missing 205 Sqn Avro Shackleton MR.2 in the same area. The RAF Changi rover crew was just sitting down to a “POSBY” supper (POSBY was an RAF term for a miser, thought to be derived from the Post Office Savings Book. The supper was a late meal for National Service types who couldn’t afford the tasty Chinese restaurants in Changi village). A duty officer came into the dining hall asking for volunteer observers to search for the missing “Shack”, VP254. Most of our table was willing. A briefing at 01.00hrs was followed by an early take-off aboard Hastings cargo aircraft with five airmen to each. In the search area north of Borneo we descended to 500ft and began an uncomfortable square search pattern. One “erk” sat in the open door on a jury rigged chair. Others watched out through windows until their turn in the seat. We saw no sign of VP254, but sometimes turned back to investigate what turned out to be floating coconuts – looking very much like a helmeted head from above. For the duration of the search we were detached to the island of Labuan, just off Borneo. Twenty aircraft were involved in the search. A local fisherman who had seen the Shackleton hit the water, memorised its squadron number and carved 205 in the sand on one of the Sprattly islands. One search aircraft spotted the message and a navy boat was dispatched. A single crewman had been buried on the island by local people. We returned to Changi, some of us getting a “rocket” for being absent from our workplace without permission! MR D.W. CLENNELL Ex-Radio Servicing Flight, Changi

Write to Aeroplane, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry’s Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG, UK E-mail us at [email protected] putting “Skywriters” in the header

Air Test

Can you C name na a the aircraft? air rc

Put your skill to the test by identifying the aircraft from the details seen here. The complete picture will appear in next month’s issue.


May’s Air Test showed the front of Messerschmitt Bf 108 KG+EM in a Luftwaffe tropical colour scheme.

DARWIN SPITFIRES COMPETITION WINNERS We had five copies of the book Darwin Spitfires as prizes in our competition in the February issue courtesy of Pen & Sword. The answer was that it was No 1 Fighter Wing RAAF which protected Darwin from the Japanese air raids in 1942 and 1943. Congratulations to our five lucky winners, who are: William Hampton, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey; Joe Cox, Felixstowe, Suffolk; Fraser Ramsay, Farnham, Surrey; William Jackson, Finaghy, Belfast, N. Ireland; and Paul Oldman, Belmont, Hereford.

Aeronautical Amusement

By Bill Stott

Born to fly Typhoons, that lad. . .



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’ s k o o H rs u o T Invasion stripes

The black and white identification stripes applied to Allied aircraft on the eve of D-Day and the Normandy landings should not be confused with the four white and three black stripes applied earlier to Typhoons to differentiate them from the Fw 190. This month MIKE HOOKS provides a selection of preserved aircraft wearing these colours

ABOVE: Miles Messenger G-AIEK painted as General Montgomery’s RG333 in June 1987.

Spitfire IX MK732/OU-U (G-HVDM) in 485 Sqn colours at The Fighter Meet, North Weald, in May 1994, is owned by the Dutch Historic Flight. It scored a half share in a Junkers Ju 88 on D-Day, so really is entitled to wear stripes!


The Fighter Collection’s North American B-25D Mitchell N88972 (G-BYDR) painted as KL161 at Upper Heyford in May 1990 was the former 43-3318.


De Havilland Mosquito T.3 RR299 shows a nice line in stripes in September 1995.

North American P-51D Mustang 474425/OC-G Damn Yankee seen in August 1995, location unclear.

Mike began his aviation photography career in 1945 with a simple box camera, moving on to an Ensign folding camera in about 1948, and later to a Voigtlander Vito B. Mike moved on to colour in the 1950s to build one of the UK’s most extensive archives of Kodachrome transparencies

A baby warbird with stripes. Piper L-4 Cub 329934/B-72 (G-BCPH) is seen at the Air-Britain Fly-In, Middle Wallop, in July 1984, wearing the colours of the French 2nd Armoured Division, hence the small tricolour on the fin.


The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Supermarine Spitfire PR.XIX PM631/DL-E in 91 Sqn colours at The Fighter Meet, North Weald, in June 1985. Avro Lancaster I PA474 is to its left, and the tail of Hawker Hurricane IIc PZ865 is seen on the right. 99

Gifts Airfix 1:72 scale Tiger Moth kits

Hornby Hobbies Ltd, Westwood, Margate, Kent, CT9 4JX; tel 01843 233525; website; £5.99-£7.99

Three newly-tooled 1:72 scale model kits representing the D.H.82a Tiger Moth have recently been released in the Airfix range. Firstly there is a starter set (Ref A55115, £7.99) which models L6923 of No 1 Elementary & Reserve Flying School, Hatfield, circa 1938. The paint scheme of this model is all-over yellow, and being a starter set the kit includes four Humbrol paints, a paint brush and glue. One of the two standard kits represents a currently airworthy civilian example, G-ACDC of the Tiger Club in a red and silver paint scheme (Ref A01024, £5.99). The other models N9181 of No 10 Elementary Reserve & Flying Training School, Yatesbury, circa 1940 (Ref A01025, £5.99). The paint scheme for this latter model is trainer yellow with camouflage topsides. All three models have a length of just over 4in, a wingspan of just under 5in, and comprise 42 pieces to assemble.

Prices may be subject to additional postal costs

Aerotech 1:32 scale Piaggio Pegna Pc-7 resin kit

Marsh Models, Old Stable Studio, Court Lodge Farm, Wartling, Hailsham, East Sussex BN27 1RY; tel 01323 833717; website; £140

For over 30 years Marsh Models has gained a reputation for the quality and accuracy of its model cars. The Aerotech range of resin aircraft kits continues to build on this quality, and mainly includes 1:32 scale record and racing aircraft. The models are mostly resin, with smaller components in metal and on etched sheets. Of particular note, the range comprises models of aircraft that have never been produced in this scale, or perhaps even at all, offering modellers a unique collection of historically significant types. The latest addition represents a stunning but unsuccessful design, the Piaggio Pegna Pc-7, which was designed for the 1929 Schneider Trophy race. In a bid to do away with the aerodynamic drag induced by floats, the aircraft instead incorporated hydroplanes. Despite valiant attempts, however, it never managed to leave the water. The main components of the kit are moulded in resin, and the etched sheet includes the radiators for the wings and detailed small parts such as the seatbelts. A beaching trolley is also included. While expensive, the kit is limited to just 150 examples and it will give the skilled modeller a great challenge and can be built to provide a very impressive replica, without the need to buy any add-on parts.

Corgi 1:32 scale Mosquito FB.VI die-cast model Hornby Hobbies Ltd, Westwood, Margate, Kent, CT9 4JX; tel 01843 233525; website; £174.99

One of the latest releases in the Corgi Aviation Archive range of die-cast metal models represents de Havilland Mosquito FB.VI NS850/TH-M The Black Rufe of No 418 (City of Edmonton) Sqn, RCAF (Ref AA34605), circa 1944. No 418 Sqn was the highest scoring of all the Canadian units flying with the RAF, using the Mosquito to fly long-range intruder and ranger sorties over occupied Europe. Features of the model include rotatable propellers, optional undercarriage up or down, detailed armament/weapons (including two bombs in the bomb bay) and removable engine covers. This large model comes with a cradle stand and has an impressive wingspan of over 20in. 100






TEL: 07973 662415 / 0161 355 0476




Folland Gnat T.1 XP504/G-TIMM is kept airworthy by the Heritage Aircraft Trust. RICHARD PAVER tells its story


olland Gnat T.1 XP504/G-TIMM is owned and operated by the Heritage Aircraft Trust (HAT) from its base at North Weald. It is airworthy and is one of three Gnats which comprise the Gnat Display Team with the other two in the fleet being XR538/G-RORI and XR992/G-MOUR. G-TIMM has been actively flown around the UK display circuit since the early 1990s, so is a well-established favourite, however some confusion might arise over various Gnat identities in the UK as colour schemes and serials have been changed on some Gnats a number of times to represent particular aircraft. G-TIMM was built as XP504 by Folland at Hamble and first flew on September 6, 1962. It was then accepted into RAF service on December 21, 1962, and spent its entire service flying career between 1962 and 1979 at RAF Valley with 4 Flying Training School (FTS). Gnats entered service with 4 FTS in February 1962 and by August 1963 had completely replaced the D.H. Vampire T.11 as the RAF’s primary fast jet trainer. Students flew the Gnat at Valley for a 70hr course after completing their basic flying training and with its high performance and light handling characteristics it became a popular and very exhilarating aircraft to fly for the young and relatively inexperienced students. The Gnat’s days as the RAF’s primary fast jet trainer were numbered in 1976 when deliveries of the BAe Hawk T.1 began. The Gnat continued to serve alongside the Hawk until November 24, 1979, when the last examples were officially retired at Valley. The Gnats of 4 FTS had

trained 1,421 students during the 17 years in service and after retirement large numbers were not scrapped, but were kept to be used as ground instructional airframes. XP504 was allocated to RAF Halton when it was grounded in 1979 to be used with a number of other Gnats by No 1 School of Technical Training (SoTT). Here the Gnats were kept in good condition and as part of the three-year training syllabus were regularly ground run and taxied with many systems being kept operational by the Halton apprentices for use in the engineering training programmes. At Halton XP504 was allocated the maintenance serial 8618M with the tail code 68. During the early 1990s the Halton fleet was rationalised and in addition No 1 SoTT was moved to RAF Cosford in 1993, so XP504 became surplus to requirements. Because of its overall excellent condition it was bought by Tim Manna’s Kennet Aviation for restoration to flight. Kennet at that time was based at Cranfield and there the Kennet engineers led by the UK’s principal Gnat expert Pete Walker successfully restored XP504 to airworthy condition. During this restoration project the aircraft was registered G-TIMM on February 19, 1992, and was then painted to represent XM693 and it thus did not wear its original RAF serial of XP504. With the representative serial XM693 it was also painted in an all-over gloss silver training scheme with yellow bands and first appeared at the Biggin Hill Air Fair in these colours in 1993. Kennet then operated this Gnat at a number of UK air shows for several years in

the 1990s from Cranfield with the Gnat being flown by the then Chief Test Pilot of Martin Baker, Stan Hodgkins. The original XM693 was actually the third prototype T.1 and was displayed at SBAC Farnborough in 1961 and it is noteworthy that the prototype is also still extant. The original XM693 is now preserved outside the former Folland plant at Hamble and is marked as XM693 in a Red Arrows scheme. One of the founder trustees of HAT, Mark Grimshaw, then acquired G-TIMM from Kennet in the early 2000s and repainted it in an early Red Arrows scheme in order to represent XS111, which was Ray Hanna’s aircraft when he was the Red Arrows team leader between 1966 and 1970. In 2013 the Trustees of HAT decided that G-TIMM’s paint scheme was in need of a refresh and in June 2013 it was given a complete respray at St Athan by John Sparks of Hunter Flying Ltd (now known as Horizon Aircraft Services). During this repaint the CFS crest was added on the fuselage sides underneath the cockpit together with the CFS Latin Motto “Imprimis Praecepta” which translates as “Our teaching is everlasting”. In addition, new red, white and blue stripes were added across the tail and rudder to represent Ray Hanna’s aircraft during the 1967 display season. This immaculate Gnat is now being regularly displayed in the UK and is based at North Weald as part of the Gnat display team. The regular pilots of the three Gnats in this display team are Oliver Wheeldon, Chris Heames, Kevin Whyman, Mark Fitzgerald, Stephen Partridge-Hicks and Edwin Brenninkmeyer.

The Gnat wearing the tail code 68 while up for disposal from the RAF at Halton in June 1991. RICHARD PAVER



Gnat T.1 “XS111” (XP504) seen in its new colours being flown by Oliver Wheeldon and Chris Heames during its delivery flight from St Athan to North Weald on July 1, 2013 after a respray. RICHARD PAVER


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Midair Squadron Canberra Richard Paver profiles the world’s only airworthy English Electric Canberra PR.9 XH134, which is set to be a star of the UK air show scene this year.

North American A-5 Vigilante DATABASE

The Vigilante was designed and built to serve as a carrier-based nuclear bomber which was capable of flying at Mach 2. This role was destined to be short and the Vigilante would instead make a name for itself in the reconnaissance role in the hostile skies of Vietnam. Tony Buttler describes both marks in detail and their operational service in next month’s Database. Includes scale drawings and profiles.

TFC Bearcat

Originally planned to appear in this issue, Gary R. Brown presents a Preservation Profile on The Fighter Collection’s Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat 21714/G-RUMM.

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Blenheim and Baltimore pilot

Tony Harmsworth concludes the story of 99-year-old Bristol Blenheim and Martin Baltimore pilot Len Trevallion, who started as a constable in the Metropolitan Police before volunteering for pilot training in the RAF. In this part we learn of Len and his crew starting operations on the Blenheim, before conversion to the Baltimore.

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PLUS NEWS, REVIEWS, EVENTS AND MORE: THE JULY 2014 ISSUE IS ON SALE MAY 27 (contents may be subject to change)

Hairy Moment

with illustration by Tim O’Brien

erence Forced-landing with a diff difference


“I therefore accelerated and did a very tight turn over the top when the engine decided to quit. I was immediately confronted by a stationary feathered propeller”


owards the end of 1950 I was a staff QFI at the Central Flying School at Little Rissington, when we took possession of the prototype Boulton Paul Balliol Mk 1 for some trials and I was selected as the project officer. The Balliol was intended to replace the North American Harvard for advanced instruction. This prototype was the world’s first single-engined gas turbine-powered aircraft, being fitted with an Armstrong Siddeley Single Mamba engine. There were some development problems with the Mk 1, so the Mk 2, which was produced with a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, was ready for production first and that was the one that finally went into RAF service at Cranwell. Gas turbines have a high idling speed and it is desirable to have a variable pitch propeller which can change pitch very quickly. If I remember correctly, this propeller changed pitch at 60 degrees a second and consequently, if you flew slowly alongside another aircraft with the engine

throttled back and then literally slammed the throttle open, fuel would immediately be pumped into the engine and the rapid pitch change would take up the power, rather than increasing the revs. I remember flying the Balliol on one occasion when a Harvard drew up alongside for a little “illegal” formation flying. I thought I would show this chap what the Balliol could do, so I slammed the throttle open and the aircraft shot forward to the amazement of the Harvard pilot. However, the Mamba-powered Balliol had one disconcerting habit – if the propeller detected an engine failure it would automatically feather. After three months I was delivering the aircraft to RAF Strubby. As I approached the airfield I was informed by Air Traffic Control that no one else was in the circuit. I therefore accelerated and did a very tight turn over the top when the engine decided to quit. I was immediately confronted by a stationary feathered propeller. I was over the airfield and it was just a question of selecting the most

convenient runway to land on. The one I chose was not, as it happened, the runway in use. As I came to a halt a car drew up and the Wing Commander Flying got out and said: “Do you usually land those things like that?” What I had not realised was that, in concentrating on doing a safe landing, I had forgotten to turn off the fuel. Consequently avtur had entered the hot exhaust and had produced a most impressive trail of white smoke. I suppose if I had watched a single-engined aircraft land on the wrong runway, with a stationary feathered propeller and trailing white smoke, I too would have been a bit surprised.

. . . and what was yours? Tell us about your most alarming aviation-related moment, in 450 words. If we print it you will win the original artwork that goes with it. Write to Hairy Moment, Aeroplane, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry’s Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG, or e-mail aero. [email protected], putting “Hairy Moment” in the header and including your postal address

This month’s Hairy Moment was provided by AVM Sir John Severne, who wins the original illustration by Tim O’Brien GAvA ( featured on this page



Stunning Limited Offer worth over £65! For the ‘Real’ Photographer

The Album where you choose the pages from over 300 Archival Pocket Refills


rrowfile offer unique storage systems to help keep its right place. Whether it’s photos, CD/DVDs, documents, medals, postcards, tickets, collectables, memorabilia, negatives and slides or any other item you wish to organise, Arrowfile can help you store them safely and securely into a simple and adaptable storage solution. Our Binder Album System allows you to break away from the limitations of ordinary albums. Used by museums, its flexibility enables you to place ACID-FREE loose leaf refill pages with varying sized slip-in pockets into ONE SINGLE album. Start your collection today & order any pocket refills for £20 or more and claim a Leather album (worth £22.95) FREE. Even better order £36 or more of pocket refills and claim a superb double album set including two Albums and a matching slipcase FREE (worth £65.85)

Order any Acid-Free Pocket Refill Sheets For £20 or more and ....

Claim a Leather Binder Album ABSOLUTELY



1 Pack (10 sleeves) from only £4.50 Choose your Arrowfile Crystal Clear Pocket Refill Sleeves from below Please ask operator for details of Caption Inserts

Holds Six 6x4“

Holds Four 6 x 4½”

Holds Eight 5½ x 3½”


RA1515C (£4.99)




Pack of 3

10 Rows of 4 35mm Negs

RA435H (£4.99)

Holds Twenty 35mm Slides

RA926M (£4.99)

Holds Four 8x6”


RA1520C (£4.99)

Holds Six Medals & Decorations

Holds up to 35 Pin Badges

RA5510 (£7.95)

Holds 2 CDs/ DVDs

Holds Four 7x5”


Holds 18 2½ x 3½”

Holds 2 A4 Prints


RA5472 (£9.95)

RA9090C (£4.99)

Magnetic Nonadhesive Refills

A4 Insert Card

Black RA2640


Holds Two 10x8”

Holds Two 4.9 x 8.8”

Holds Nine 3.7 x 2.8”

Hold Twelve 3.7 x 2”

RAMM2A (£4.99)

RAMM9 (£4.99)

RAMM12 (£4.99)

RA9790C (£4.99)

White RA2650

RA6001 - Black RA6002 - White

Pack of 20 £6.50

Pack of 10 £3.95

Visit our website for more information and further Individual Pocket Refill Sleeves including Polyester Sleeves The Professionals Choice For all your Archival Storage Needs

Display Cabinets & Presentation Cases

Ringed Portfolios & Cases



100% U


For Special Offer quote code: AM0614



Credit Card Hotline 0844 855 1100

Even better claim a Double Album Set ABSOLUTELY FREE! when you order £36 or more of Refills Sheets



and ADD AM0614 in the promotion code box in your basket

Photo Slip-in 6x4.5”Albums

Wooden Display Case for Medals, Pins & Decorations

KDF605 Burgundy Album Set


FS1844 £19.95 Archival Storage Boxes for Prints, Documents, Books and more - Sizes from 5 x 7” to 2ft

F605 Burgundy Album £22.95

Quote: AM0614 and add FREE items to your basket online M

Head Office: Flash Foto Ltd T/A Arrowfile, 132 Churchill House, Stirling Way, WD6 2HP Reg No. 1561035

Album Size: 338mm H x 286 mm W x 70mm D | Capacity: up to 70 Refill sheets | Double Slipcase Size: 349 x 300 x 159mm

6x4”/7x5/8x6”/9x6” Traditional Photoboard Photo Slip-in Albums incl. Wedding Albums

From £3.99

FT1547 £19.95

Gold CD/DVDs • Films • SD Cards & Cases

CD/DVD Wallet

Film/Slide Scanner

84146 £11.95

F6437 £129.99

Photo Safe Adhesives

Photo Corners

C5866 £27.95 Visit our website for a FREE catalogue! 1302 £9.99 Terms & Conditions: *Please note normal P&P applies £5.95 | Offer limited to one album/set per household. | For overseas orders and non-mainland UK delivery please ring +44(0)1904 202150

For All your Collectable Archival Storage Requirements - Slip-in, Traditional, Oversized & Scrapbooking Albums, Portfolios, Photographic Accessories, CD/DVDs, Postcards, Stamps & Coins, Display Presentation Cases & Cabinets...

real watches for real people

Oris Big Crown X1 Calculator Automatic mechanical movement Chronograph Slide rule function Gun-metal PVD coating
Aeroplane Monthly 2014-06

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