EV BIG ER GE ISS ST UE
RAF CENTENARY SPECIAL ISSUE
April 2018 Issue No 540, Vol 46, No 4
HISTORY IN THE AIR SINCE 1911
SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE
• Legendary names — Trenchard, Beamont, Hanna and more • Moments of RAF history • Centenary events previewed
RAF COSFORD AIR SHOW TICKETS Closing date: Friday 4 May 2018
DATABASE: SUD CARAVELLE 01_AM_UK_COVER_v10_Apr18_cc C_BARCODEONLY.indd 1
PLUS… Air Leasing warbirds
Project ‘Redbird’ Invaders
Contents April 2018
See pages 24-25 for a g reat subscription offer
RAF 100 Aeroplane’s special tribute to the centenary of the Royal Air Force
WIN! RAF COSFORD AIR SHOW TICKETS
See page 59
52 54 60 63
NEWS AND COMMENT 4 6
FROM THE EDITOR NEWS • RAF Museum gears up for centenary • CAF’s D-Day lead C-47 ﬂies • Spitﬁre PT462 repainted …and the month’s other top aircraft preservation news HANGAR TALK Steve Slater’s comment on the historic aircraft world FLIGHT LINE Reﬂections on aviation history with Denis J. Calvert
Q&A Your questions asked and answered 22 SKYWRITERS 118 HOOKS’ TOURS More superb colour images from the late Mike Hooks’ outstanding collection. This month’s subject is the charming Currie Wot
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! US PL
AEROPLANE ARCHIVE: RAF ESTABLISHMENT How The Aeroplane covered the formation of the RAF in 1918 FATHER OF THE RAF The early days of the service were a time of tribulation for the ﬁrst Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Hugh Trenchard AEROPLANE ARCHIVE: 1936 AIR EXERCISES VOICES OF ‘THE FEW’ Fighter Command veterans recall the Battle of Britain AEROPLANE ARCHIVE: VENTURA SQUADRON TYPHOON WING Early days of the Hawker ﬁghter AEROPLANE ARCHIVE: AIR-SEA RESCUE LANCASTER OPS No 101 Squadron pilot ‘Rusty’ Waughman’s experiences of Bomber Command
128 REVIEWS The latest aviation books, products — and theatrical productions 146 NEXT MONTH
RAF 1918-2018 TIMELINE
FEATURES 112 AIR LEASING Latest developments at this burgeoning UK warbird operator 120 PROJECT ‘REDBIRD’ B-26s Testing infra-red targeting in the Korean War 131 DATABASE: SUD CARAVELLE France’s notably elegant classic jet airliner is proﬁled by François Prins
COVER IMAGE: A specially commissioned illustration of famous RAF aircraft from different eras heralds our centenary special. In the foreground is Spitﬁre I X4382 ﬂown by Plt Off Osgood ‘Pedro’ Hanbury of No 602 Squadron during the Battle of Britain; beyond are an Avro 504K and a Harrier GR3. ANTONIS KARIDIS
AEROPLANE ARCHIVE: SIKORSKY HOVERFLY 80 HIGH SPEED FLIGHT Post-war RAF record-breaking with the Gloster Meteor 88 AEROPLANE ARCHIVE: BERLIN AIRLIFT SUNDERLANDS 90 RAY HANNA The great display pilot’s early RAF career, ﬂying ﬁghter-reconnaisance and long-range ferry sorties 98 AEROPLANE ARCHIVE: JET PROVOST T1 100 FALKLANDS HARRIERS The war diary of No 1(F) Squadron 108 CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS Previewing the year’s major RAF 100 events
Editor From the
t is our pleasure to present this very special souvenir edition of Aeroplane, the largest in the magazine’s history: our centenary tribute to the Royal Air Force. Our salute to all who have served in the RAF between 1918 and 2018 provides, we hope, some different — indeed, unique — perspectives. In trying to present a fitting salute to this momentous occasion, we have concentrated above all on certain individuals who, to us, seem to embody the service’s achievements of the past 100 years. There is, of course, the man often described as the ‘father of the RAF’, Lord Trenchard, and his battle against the odds — not to mention certain figures in government — to keep alive the concept of an independent air force. There are the vivid recollections of Second World War veterans, six from the Battle of Britain and one from Bomber Command. There are accounts of the exploits of other great names: Roland Beamont and his fellow members of the Duxford Typhoon wing, world speed recordbreaker ‘Teddy’ Donaldson and his colleagues in the RAF’s post-war High Speed Flight, and that master of air display flying Ray Hanna, focusing here on his formative operational flying years in the fighter-reconnaissance and long-range ferry roles. And, coming closer to the present day, there are the recently released combat records from the Falklands War of No 1 Squadron, led at the time by future Chief of the Air Staff Peter Squire. That feature now serves as a tribute to Sir Peter, as we were very sad to learn shortly before going to press of his passing on 19 February at the age of 72. We are also in the fortunate position of being able to call upon our own rich archive: the back issues and image library of The Aeroplane, already nearly seven years old by the time the RAF was formed on 1
April 1918. Its coverage of the service, right from the beginning, forms another thread running through our centenary special. Of course, even a magazine of this size cannot hope to be completely comprehensive in its treatment of RAF history. Deciding what to omit — whether from the features, the Aeroplane Archive items or the historical 1918-2018 timeline that runs across all our celebratory pages — was as tough a task as choosing what to put in. To that end, our RAF 100 features will carry on for the rest of this year. Next month, for instance, we mark the 75th anniversary of No 617 Squadron and the Ruhr dams raid, and examine the new air force’s intervention in Russia from 191920. The June issue, our annual Cold War special, will take in items from that period such as the Project ‘Robin’ Canberra reconnaissance operations. And after that there’s still plenty to come: a retrospective on past RAF Reviews, No 54 Squadron’s pioneering trans-Atlantic Vampire flight of 70 years ago, coverage of the main centenary events throughout the season, and much more. For the moment, though, all at Aeroplane very much hope you enjoy this unique edition, and join us in wishing a happy anniversary to the RAF.
We have concentrated on individuals who seem to embody the service’s achievements
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With the volume of RAF coverage, there’s no ‘Aeroplane meets…’ feature this month — it returns next time. However, there’s no break for another of our regulars, Hooks’ Tours. Despite the passing of its compiler Mike Hooks (see last month’s news pages), our bi-monthly delve into his unique photo archive will continue for some while yet, not least in the fond memory of this much-missed gentleman.
Aeroplane traces its lineage back to the weekly The Aeroplane, founded by C. G. Grey in 1911 and published until 1968. It was relaunched as a monthly in 1973 by Richard T. Riding, editor for 25 years until 1998.
CONNECT WITH AEROPLANE…
CONTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH DENIS J. CALVERT
The Royal Air Force’s contribution to Great Britain’s security, inﬂuence and standing in the world since 1 April 1918 is something of which every Briton can be justiﬁably proud. Denis was involved in compiling part of the RAF 100 timeline in this issue, along with accounts of the RAF High Speed Flight’s two short periods of existence. Was there ever a more succinctly named unit?
Aviation has been a major part of Graham’s life. Early ‘spotting’ at Elstree, Luton Airport, Mildenhall and the much-missed roof gardens at Heathrow in the 1960s gave way to photography and writing. In his career as a graphic designer, Graham has worked closely with the Royal International Air Tattoo for many years as the designer of the show programme, RAF and USAF Yearbooks and various book projects. His father was a navigator with No 101 Squadron during World War Two and Graham has recently joined the No 101 Squadron Association as newsletter editor.
François has been writing about aviation for a long time, his work having appeared in Aeroplane and other august publications. From an early age he has been enthusiastic about all things mechanical, whether airborne, on land or the sea. Apart from aircraft he is interested in veteran, vintage and classic cars and has time in many different models from an 1897 Daimler to a Jaguar XJ220. François writes for various defence trade publications on equipment, capability and operations.
Nigel Walpole ﬂew Hunter F4s and Swift FR5s in Germany, before an exchange tour in South Carolina on the RF-101 Voodoo. He then commanded a Hunter OCU in the UK and a ﬁghter-reconnaissance squadron in Germany. As a wing commander, he served with 16 Parachute Brigade and had a brief tour on a maritime strike/attack Buccaneer squadron, before commanding the Jaguar strike/ attack wing in Germany. Nigel left the RAF in 1988, and has since published nine books and many articles on the Cold War.
AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
NEWS EDITOR: TONY HARMSWORTH
E-MAIL TO: [email protected]
TELEPHONE: +44 (0)7791 808044 WRITE TO: Aeroplane, Key Publishing Ltd, PO Box 100, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 1XQ, UK
RAF Museum gearing up for centenary
ith the opening of newly rearranged display areas in the RAF Museum London at Hendon to celebrate the centenary of the RAF approaching fast, two of the ﬁnal aircraft that will go on show in late June arrived from Cosford during the last week of February. SEPECAT Jaguar GR1 XX824 was moved from the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering at Cosford to Hendon on the 20th, with Harrier GR9A ZG477, which had been on display at the RAF Museum Cosford, pitching up three days later. Both aircraft are now in Hangar 6, which was previously the Milestones of Flight building and will now contain RAF combat aircraft dating from the Falklands War up to the present day. Hendon’s former Battle of Britain Hall will now be the main entrance to the museum and house the ‘First 100 Years of the RAF’ displays. During early February de Havilland DH9A F1010, Supermarine Spitﬁre V BL614 and former Red Arrows Hawker Siddeley Gnat T1 XR977 were placed on
Spitﬁre V BL614 being pole-mounted at Hendon in late February. RAFM
poles as the transformation of the 1978 building continued. More than 500 previously unseen artefacts relating to RAF history will go on show between the elevated aircraft, including logbooks, uniforms and technical equipment. Ian Thirsk, the RAFM head of collections says, “Preparations for the RAF centenary transformation at the RAF Museum London have provided many challenges for our Cosford-based conservation centre team. Over
Messerschmitt Bf 110G-4 night-ﬁghter Werknummer 730301 goes back together in the Bomber Command Hall at Hendon, just behind Lancaster I R5868. The 110 was previously displayed in the Battle of Britain Hall. TONY HARMSWORTH
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the past 18 months some 50 individual aircraft moves have taken place across both our London and Cosford sites, including several aircraft which have been rotated into our reserve collection. The work involved has ranged from the complete dismantling of airframes to simple repositioning of aircraft within their current galleries. Each aircraft has its own individual needs and requirements, so much planning is needed prior to any move. This preparatory
work includes consulting relevant air publications to ensure any work is in accordance with procedures and practices relevant to each particular type, the compilation of the necessary risk assessment and method statement documents plus consultation with a wide range of stakeholders across the museum and beyond to ensure everything ﬂows with the minimum of disruption. To aid this task we’ve been using the specialist knowledge and expertise of several external organisations such as GJD Services who dismantled and moved our Heinkel He 111, Messerschmitt Bf 110 and Junkers Ju 88. We’ve also been fortunate to receive support from the de Havilland Aircraft Museum at Salisbury Hall who assisted with the move of our Mosquito B35, TJ138, from Hangar 6 to Hangar 5 — a great example of inter-museum collaboration and volunteering partnership.” A ﬁrm date hasn’t yet been set for the opening of the two newly conﬁgured exhibition spaces, but it is expected to be some time in late June.
Jaguar GR1 XX824 undergoes reassembly in the new ‘Hangar 6’ at Hendon on 21 February. It was delivered to No 14 Squadron, the initial RAF unit to equip with Jaguars, on 23 September 1975. This is the ﬁrst Jaguar to go on show in the Hendon museum. RAFM
AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
April 2018 News
MAIN PICTURE: Doug Rozendaal brings C-47A That’s All Brother in close to the Beech 18 cameraship near Oshkosh on 31 January. JIM KOEPNICK INSET: The original nose artwork on 42-92847 in June 1944. CAF
CAF’s D-Day lead C-47 flies
n 31 January at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Commemorative Air Force’s Douglas C-47A Skytrain 42-92847 That’s All Brother made a 20-minute post-restoration flight with Doug Rozendaal and Tom Travis at the controls. The aircraft had not flown for 10 years, and was due for conversion to Basler BT-67 configuration with the installation of Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67R turboprop engines before US Air Force historian Matt Scales, researching the airframe’s history during 2015, found that it was operated by the US Army Air Forces’ 438th Troop Carrier Group based at Greenham Common, Berkshire, during May-June 1944. It was selected by Lt Col John M. Donaldson, commander of the 438th, to lead the first wave of C-47s over Normandy, and was fitted
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with SCR-717 radar in a pod under the rear fuselage in the hope that this specialised equipment would help deliver the C-47’s cargo of ‘pathfinder’ paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division directly onto their targets. That’s All Brother took off from Greenham just before midnight on 5 June 1944, leading 800 C-47s towards Normandy. After dropping its paratroopers at 00.48hrs on 6 June, 42-92847 returned to Greenham, and flew a glider-towing mission later that day. The machine went on to participate in Operation ‘Dragoon’, the invasion of southern France on 15 August 1944, Operation ‘Market Garden’ over Arnhem,
and Operation ‘Varsity’, the Rhine crossing. The restoration has taken 22,000-plus hours so far. Bob Stenevik, the CAF president/ CEO says, “Much of the work up until this point has been carried out by Basler Turbo Conversions at Oshkosh. Their skilled employees have unparalleled knowledge of the C-47 type, accelerating the early stages of the restoration considerably.” After initial flight testing has been completed, That’s All Brother is due to fly to its new home in San Marcos, Texas, where members of the CAF Central Texas Wing will detail the aircraft, completing the navigator and radio operator
The CAF Central Texas Wing will complete the navigator and radio operator stations, fit out the fuselage and paint it in its original colours
work stations, fitting out the fuselage with paratroop seats and painting it in the original 438th TCG colour scheme. During 2019, this historic machine is one of several US-based C-47s that are scheduled to cross the Atlantic to take part in the ‘Daks over Normandy’ D-Day 75th anniversary commemorations being staged at Duxford and over northern France. At the time of writing, 32 aircraft had confirmed their involvement, including no fewer than 18 examples from the United States. Also on the list are C-47/DC-3 variants from operators in the UK, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, together with the Lisunov Li-2 from Hungary. They will gather at Duxford from 2-5 June 2019 and Caen-Carpiquet Airport, France, from 5-9 June. See www.daksovernormandy.com.
News April 2018
REPAINT FOR SPITFIRE PT462 Carrying registration G-CTIX for the ferry ﬂight, Spitﬁre IXT PT462 arrives back at Duxford from Oxford on 22 February, accompanied by PV202. Note the late-war roundels on the wings, as originally seen on the aircraft while it was operating in Italy during April 1945. COL POPE
Supermarine Spitﬁre IXT PT462/G-CTIX arrived back at Duxford in the hands of John Romain on the evening on 22 February from Oxford Airport, where it had been stripped back to bare metal for a repaint by Flying Colours. Formerly owned by Anthony Hodgson and based in Towyn, mid-Wales, the two-seater had previously worn an ‘unusual’ gloss camouﬂage scheme. Finishing touches to the new scheme on ‘462, which is registered to Propshop Ltd at Duxford, will now by undertaken by Col Pope of the Aircraft Restoration Company.
Luftwaffe Bestmann to ﬂy
ollowing acquisition by well-known Swedish historic aircraft enthusiast Joakim Westh in late 2017, Bücker Bü 181B-1 Bestmann SE-BNK was recently roaded from Sundbro airﬁeld north of
Uppsala to Vallentuna in Stockholm County, where a rebuild to ﬂy will shortly get under way. The trainer last ﬂew in 1969 and has only 270 hours on the airframe since new. Westh intends to restore the Bü 181 in Luftwaffe colours.
The machine, Werknummer 502108, served with Luftkriegsschule 2 (Air War College 2) based at BerlinGatow, where it was used for primary ﬂight training, wearing the codes CR+IU. Although all German aircraft were grounded
ABOVE: The fuselage of Bü 181B-1 Bestmann SE-BNK at Vallentuna, where a rebuild to ﬂy will soon begin. JAN FORSGREN INSET: The Bestmann at Grönskåra, eastern Sweden, following the heavy landing with Hermann Butz at the controls on 25 May 1945. VIA JAN FORSGREN
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following the end of the war on 8 May 1945, a civilian ﬂying instructor, Hermann Butz, managed to take off from Neunkirchen on 25 May 1945 in the Bestmann, heading for Sweden. Butz landed at Grönskåra, collapsing the undercarriage, the aircraft becoming the last of four Bü 181s to be interned in the country. Butz’s wife, who had Swedish ancestry, had already arrived in Sweden on 30 April. Butz was allowed to remain in Sweden, but committed suicide in December 1947. The aircraft was handed over to the Soviet authorities in August 1945, but was to stay in Sweden, seeing use with the Soviet Legation in Stockholm for ﬂight training. In April 1947 it was disposed of to the Swedish company AB Ahrenbergsﬂyg. Damaged in a hangar ﬁre at Bromma on 9 April 1947, it was sold to AB Albin Ahrenberg at Lindarängen, Stockholm. Following complete overhaul, the Bestmann received a new construction number, Lfs 1-1949, being registered as SE-BNK on 26 September 1949.
AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
April 2018 News
Pete Kynsey making a second test ﬂight in the now R-2800-powered Sea Fury T20 WG655/G-CHFP at Duxford on 22 February. COL POPE
At Duxford on 22 February, in the hands of Pete Kynsey, The Fighter Collection-operated Hawker Sea Fury T20 WG655/G-CHFP made its ﬁrst ﬂight since conversion from Bristol Centaurus to Pratt & Whitney R-2800 power. Although several Sea Furies have been ﬁtted with R-2800 or Wright R-3350 engines in the USA and elsewhere, WG655 is the ﬁrst example to go onto the British register with an American powerplant.
Amberley additions The Royal Australian Air Force Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre in Queensland received two signiﬁcant new exhibits during February, in the shape of Gloster Meteor F8 A77-878 and Douglas C-47 A65-86. Both aircraft had formerly been stored at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Nowra, New South Wales. First aircraft to complete the 700-mile trip up Australia’s east coast was the Meteor, which arrived at Amberley on 13 February. The ﬁghter was originally delivered to the RAF as WK907 on 9 September 1952, but immediately went into storage with No 8 Maintenance Unit at Little Rissington. It was taken on charge by the RAAF in July the following year, and in June 1958 became an instructional airframe at RAAF Wagga, NSW. From 1971-88 it was displayed on a pole at RAAF Villawood, NSW, but during removal the aircraft was seriously damaged when the wings were cut off just inboard of the engine nacelles. It arrived at Nowra in 2008 and was to spend nearly
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The fuselage of Meteor F8 A77-878 positioned in front of the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Nowra just before departure for Amberley. VIA WG CDR CLIVE WELLS
the next 10 years stored outside. The C-47, meanwhile, departed Nowra on the evening of 9 February under police escort and arrived at Amberley on the evening of the 11th. A team from Amberley had prepared the transport for the move in October 2017, but due to the size of the load it was subject to various time constraints while transiting the Sydney area so the journey eventually took three days. The journey was a return home for A65-86,
which entered service with No 35 Squadron at Amberley in April 1945. Withdrawn from RAAF service in December 1998, during its 53 years of operational use the ‘Dak’ also ﬂew with the Central Flying School and the Aircraft Research and Development Unit. During November 1999 it was delivered to the Australian Navy Historic Flight at Nowra. The machine is due to be repainted in its 1945 camouﬂage scheme and is expected to be on display by late 2018.
NEWS IN BRIEF HISTORIC HAWK RETIRED At RAF Scampton on 16 February, Hawk T1A XX227, the last example from the original fleet of Hawk T1s first delivered to the Red Arrows when they converted from the Gnat, made its last formation flight with the team. Originally delivered to the RAF on 14 July 1978, it joined the Reds on 6 February 1980, and has flown 8,077 hours and made 13,855 landings. BEAVER FLIES AT DUXFORD 1953-built DHC-2 Beaver G-EVMK flew following a two-year restoration with the Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford on 15 February, with owner Thomas Harris in the right-hand seat and John Romain at the helm.
F-6 TO EUROPE? North American F-6D Mustang 44-84786/N51BS Lil’ Margaret may be heading to a new owner in Europe. This photo-reconnaissance version of the P-51D was previously owned by Henry ‘Butch’ Schroeder/ Midwest Aviation Museum at Danville, Illinois, and was the WW2 Grand Champion at Oshkosh in 1993. VEGA GULL FOR COMANCHE Percival Vega Gull G-AEZJ has been sold by Biggin Hill-based David Hulme to Comanche Warbirds, and is set to be used in a new feature film about 1930s record-breaking pilot Beryl Markham. She used a Vega Gull to fly from RAF Abingdon, Oxfordshire across the Atlantic to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, in September 1936.
TFC SEA FURY FLIES WITH A P&W
News April 2018
Greek Spitfire restoration back on
lans to rebuild the Hellenic Air Force Museum’s Supermarine Spitfire IX MJ755 to flying condition — which were put on hold following the financial crisis of 2008 — look to be back on again, and the fighter is due in the UK soon for the work to be undertaken at one of Britain’s leading restoration houses. It is understood that the combat-veteran Spitfire will be leased to a private Greek organisation, and that the Hellenic Air Force will not incur any costs. Back in 2007, British-based restorers had been invited to examine the stripped-down airframe and engine. MJ755 was built at Castle Bromwich in December 1943, and after a short period of
Spitfire IX MJ755 on display in Athens during the summer of 1968. Note the Curtiss Helldiver in the background. M. R. BELL/PETER R. ARNOLD COLLECTION
storage was dispatched by sea on the SS Fort Liard for Casablanca, North Africa, where it arrived on 13 March 1944. It was allocated to No 43 Squadron — the famous ‘Fighting Cocks’ — and on 15 August 1944 flew cover during
Operation ‘Dragoon’, the landings in the south of France. Having spent two further months operating from French airfields, in late October it moved to Italy, flying from several bases including Peretola, Rimini and, in
February 1945, Ravenna. That May it moved on to Klagenfurt, Austria. Greece received 77 Spitfire IXs after the war, most of them coming from RAF stocks in the Mediterranean theatre. MJ755 was taken on charge by the Greek air arm on 27 February 1947, and by April it was on the strength of 335 Mira (Squadron) at Sedes, just east of Thessaloniki. It made its last flight on 8 September 1953 and, after a period of storage at Hellenikon, went to Tatoi Air Base at Dekeleia for display. It was then moved to the Hellenic War Museum in central Athens where it was displayed in the open for many years until, following the formal creation of the Hellenic Air Force Museum during 1992, it went back to Tatoi in the spring of 1995.
Isle of Wight museum plans shape up
he first exhibit for the Wight Aviation Museum arrived at Sandown Airport on 18 February, in the shape of Scottish Aviation Bulldog G-CCOA, which made the short trip from a storage shed at Freshfield on the western tip of the island. Under restoration in a workshop adjacent to Bembridge is the first production Britten-Norman Islander, G-AVCN, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and is hoped that airworthy Spartan Three Seater
ZK-ARH/G-ABYN, built at Cowes in 1932, can return to the island from its current home at Taieri on New Zealand’s South Island. The director of the Wight Aviation Museum, John Kenyon, says, “Our hangar museum is planned to open in the late spring/early summer, subject to us obtaining the necessary permissions from the local authority, the process already being under way. “The fundraising plans are now also under way... An important part of our strategy
The fuselage of Bulldog G-CCOA — currently wearing the markings of the prototype — in the hangar at Sandown on 18 February. JOHN KENYON
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An artist’s impression of how it is hoped the Wight Aviation Museum will eventually look. VIA JOHN KENYON
is to raise money specifically to return airworthy Spartan Three Seater ZK-ARH/G-ABYN to its home on the island. However, we have to recognise that achieving the price needed to secure this aircraft as part of our national aviation heritage is going to be a long haul. The owner, Rod Hall-Jones, wishes it to come to the Wight Aviation Museum just as soon as we can find the money. However, we will need a serious investor benefactor if we are to succeed in acquiring this airframe.” The museum’s Bulldog was first registered to Scottish
Aviation at Prestwick on 9 January 1975 as G-BCUU, but was cancelled on 24 June 1976 after it was sold to the Ghanaian Air Force. It came back to the UK in 1996 and was registered G-CCOA for the Cranfield College of Aeronautics. On 22 August 2001 it was written off in a mishap, although the damage was restricted to the rear of the aircraft and the undercarriage. Anyone wishing to donate to the project can find details of how to do so at the museum’s website, which is at www. wightaviationmuseum.co.uk/ #support.
AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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News April 2018
Early Vampire for Trenton
The National Air Force Museum of Canada at Trenton has acquired the ex-John Travolta de Havilland Vampire F3, N6878D, which was the oldest ﬂying jet aircraft in the world before being damaged in an emergency landing at Rochester, New York on 4 June 2009. The 1947 English Electric-built ﬁghter is currently stored at the Air Land Sea Museum at Markham Airport, Toronto. At the time of the accident it was owned by Wings of Flight Inc of Rochester. Pilot Peter Treicher had taken off after the Wings over Rochester show when the de Havilland Goblin engine lost power, and in the ensuing forced landing the underside of the nose of the wooden fuselage pod was badly damaged. Originally built for the RAF as VP773, the Vampire was soon transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force. After being shipped to Canada it was assembled at the de Havilland Canada plant at Downsview and given the serial 17072. It was allocated to the ﬁrst RCAF unit to operate jet ﬁghters, No 410(F) Squadron at St Hubert, Montréal, and between May 1949-August 1951 was one of the aircraft ﬂown by the unit’s Blue Devils aerobatic display team. Formed by 15-kill Spitﬁre ace Flt Lt (later Lt Gen) Donald Laubman, the team started off with three aircraft, but after gaining ofﬁcial recognition from the Air Defence Group shortly after its ﬁrst show at RCAF Rockcliffe, Ontario on 11 June 1949 it became a six-ship outﬁt. During 1950 the team was ofﬁcially named the Air Defence Group Aerobatic Team, and prior to disbandment following a display at the Michigan Air Fair in Detroit on 19 August 1951 had performed at 45 airshows across Canada and the USA.
The fuselage pod of Vampire F3 N6878D in storage at the Air Land Sea Museum at Markham Airport, Toronto. VIA MARK PEAPELL
The RCAF retired the Vampire F3 in 1958, and 17072 was one of 27 examples sold to Fliteways Inc of West Bend, Wisconsin for conversion into business jets. Although this plan fell through, 17072 was acquired by John E. Morgan of Pittsburgh, who ﬂew it in airshows as ‘Johnny Skyrocket’. Legendary ﬁlm ﬂyer Frank G. Tallman of Orange County, California, acquired the machine in 1959 and put it on show at his Movieland of the Air Museum. After passing through the hands of several more owners, the Vampire was sold to John Travolta in 1988, rebuilt and ﬂown in a Battle of Britain-esque brown/green colour scheme before the actor relinquished ownership of the historic machine in the mid-1990s. Once at Trenton it will be restored back to its original RCAF markings and go on display close to the museum’s star exhibit, Handley Page Halifax VII NA337.
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Auster I LB314/OY-DSZ accompanied by Beagle A109 Airedale G-ARYZ at the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum in Doncaster during late February. SYAM
Historic Auster returns to Yorkshire
n 12 February, 1946, joining the Lancashire Auster I LB314 Aero Club, and 10 years later arrived on a trailer went to Germany, before at the South heading north to Denmark in Yorkshire Air Museum in 1972 where it was registered Doncaster after a road trip from OY-DSZ. its former home at Stauning In addition to LB314, the Airport in Denmark. Nearly 76 museum has the fuselage of years earlier, LB314 had been another Auster-designed delivered to No 654 Squadron machine, Beagle A109 Airedale at RAF Firbeck, just 10 miles G-ARYZ, which ﬂew from the south of the museum. museum’s current site when it Museum volunteers set out was Doncaster Airport. The from Yorkshire to collect their Airedale four-seater prototype latest prize on 8 February. After ﬁrst ﬂew in April 1961, but was a journey of 1,200 miles, and originally designated as the some Auster D8, and appalling was based on Museum volunteers the Auster C6 weather en route, they Atlantic, made a journey of stopped on 1,200 miles, with some G-APHT, which the remaining made its appalling weather en concrete area maiden ﬂight at RAF Firbeck, route, to collect the in 1958. The where the ﬁrst D8 was Auster museum was under located for 20 construction at years until moving to Lakeside Rearsby when Beagle Aircraft at Doncaster in 1999. The spot acquired the Auster company now has a memorial to those during 1960. Doncaster is the who served at the base. only place where it is possible LB314 was operated from to view the earliest military Firbeck between September variant of the Auster alongside and November 1942, when the ﬁnal civilian development No 654 Squadron left for of an Auster design. The pastures new. From there it fuselage of LB314 can now be moved between various units seen in the main hangar at the the UK, and in June 1944 was Doncaster being prepared for operated by the No 83 Group display, and will be fully Communications Squadron in assembled and exhibited support of the Allied landings publicly at the museum’s in Normandy. The machine was open-cockpit weekend on disposed of by the RAF in 12-13 May.
AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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The fuselage of Spitﬁre XVI RW388 being moved across the car park at Rochester Airport to the MAPS workshop on a freezing 5 February. TONY HARMSWORTH
Stoke Spitﬁre arrives at MAPS
upermarine Spitﬁre XVI RW388 was moved on 5 February from the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent to the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society’s workshop at Rochester Airport, where it is now being inspected prior to a proposed restoration. It is intended that the aircraft will eventually go on display in a new glass-fronted extension at the Stoke museum, which will also become the new entrance, opening out onto a city square. The building is undergoing a £6-million refurbishment, funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, although campaigners will be
submitting a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to develop interpretation panels for the exhibits. The 1945, Castle Bromwichbuilt ﬁghter was presented to the city by the RAF during
delighted that the museum could ﬁnally carry out the work on RW388 thanks to the council’s support. Around £60,000 has already been raised for the displays through Operation Spitﬁre and the
It is intended that the aircraft will eventually go on display in a new glass-fronted extension at Stoke’s Potteries Museum and Art Gallery 1972 in honour of R. J. Mitchell, who was born in the town of Kidsgrove in the Potteries in May 1895 and educated at a co-educational grammar school in Stoke. Julian Mitchell, the designer’s great-nephew, said he was
Friends of the Potteries Museum. Mitchell, a member of the fundraising group, says, “It will look fantastic. Every school pupil in the city goes to the museum and one of the things they have come out remarking on is the Spitﬁre.”
Robin Brooks from the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) commented to Aeroplane, “Although RW388 is currently in the MAPS workshop we are in discussion with the museum about the project. The owners are potentially looking for a timescale of about two years to match their building works, and they have not yet deﬁned just what they require MAPS to do to the aircraft, including what livery is required. On ﬁrst inspection the aircraft appears to be generally in good condition. If MAPS accepts the project, it will use its experience with previous projects including ﬁve Spitﬁre restorations to ensure success.”
CORSAIR ‘PRODUCTION LINE’ UNDER WAY AT VULTURES ROW
The cockpit area and ‘Birdcage’ canopy of F4U-1 Corsair BuNo 02449 in the Vultures Row workshop at Cameron Park, California. CHUCK WAHL
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At Cameron Park, California, World War Two US Navy aircraft restoration specialist Vultures Row Aviation now has three Chance Vought Corsairs under rebuild to ﬂy. Rarest of the three is a 1943 F4U-1 ‘Birdcage’ Corsair, BuNo 02449, the 297th out of 900 ‘Birdcages’ built. Vultures Row proprietor Chuck Wahl says, “The rebuilt spar has recently been placed in the centre-section jig and major progress is being made on the fuel bay/cockpit section. The ‘Birdcage’ Corsairs were a very different aircraft with many changes evolving into the later -1D version. This South Paciﬁc combat veteran will be the world’s only ﬂying ‘Birdcage’ Corsair and will be painted in a 1943 ‘weathered’ two-tone paint scheme. The aircraft was a VMF-214 ‘Swashbuckler’ and then ‘Black Sheep Squadron’ aircraft stationed at Fighter Strip 1, Turtle Bay, Espiritu Santo prior to suffering an accident during 1943. “Work has also been progressing on parts, assemblies and the outer wings for FG-1D BuNo 76628. This airframe crashed on a Hawaiian island after the war and was recovered more than 35 years ago. Currently the cockpit is getting prepared for paint and then work on sub-assemblies will continue”. F4U-4 BuNo 97382, meanwhile, is progressing quickly with its owner as Vultures Row Aviation helps with major support of parts and assemblies. Vultures Row’s most recently completed airworthy restoration was Douglas SBD-4 Dauntless BuNo 0694/N34N (see News, Aeroplane July 2017).
AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
Puma HC1 XW208 (this image) and Chinook HC1 ZA717 (below right) arriving at Newark from Cranwell on 7 and 22 February respectively. NAM
April 2018 News
PÉLICAN RETURNING TO FRANCE
Two-heli coup for Newark
uring February the Newark Air Museum at Winthorpe took delivery of two former RAF helicopters from RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire, where they had been used to train loadmasters in slinging techniques and load-securing methods. First to arrive on 7 February was an incomplete Westland Puma HC1, XW208. “This particular acquisition comes some seven years after the museum first made an attempt to secure a Puma for its collection, back in 2011”, commented Dave Hibbert, museum trustee and acquisitions officer. “RAF Pumas have been regular visitors to our Southfield site and they have always been popular at the museum. We are already actively following up leads across the UK to locate the missing parts, and while it is viewed as a long-term project we are really proud to secure this early example of an under-represented type of helicopter.” Following the same route on 22 February was Boeing Chinook HC1 ZA717, the first example of an RAF Chinook to be acquired by an independent aviation museum in the UK. ZA717’s arrival was particularly poignant for the museum’s
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groundsman Nigel Bean. As a serving RAF police officer he witnessed the non-fatal incident on 25 July 1989 that saw ZA717 being written off at
The helicopters had been used at Cranwell to train loadmasters in slinging techniques and load-securing methods RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands. The Chinook’s arrival at Newark was witnessed by 70 children from two Lincolnshire
schools, who were visiting the museum as part of an Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire artsbased education project entitled ‘Fly Away Day’. This was a particularly apt welcome for ZA717, as eventually the museum plans to use it as an interactive education space/ resource for visiting groups of schoolchildren, Scouts, Cubs and Beavers. Regarding the Chinook, Dave Hibbert said, “As with the Puma, we are already actively following up leads across the UK to locate the missing parts, and look forward to turning ZA717 into an important educational resource at the museum.”
Caudron C510 Pélican SE-AGA has been acquired by French vintage aircraft enthusiast Frédéric Louis from an owner in Sweden, and will be transported during the spring from Ängelholm to a private airfield near Castelnau in south-west France, where restoration to flying condition will continue. Louis currently operates a former Portuguese Air Force DHC-1 Chipmunk, F-AZGO. The C510 Pélican four-seat cabin monoplane prototype first flew in September 1934. Powered by a 140hp Renault 4Pei Bengali Junior engine, just 62 examples were built. This survivor was constructed in 1937 and briefly registered F-AOYC before, on 22 May that year, being flown to Sweden and registered as SE-AGA on 7 June for the Norrköpings Automobil-
The robust but peculiarly elegant Caudron C510 Pélican SE-AGA will soon be moving from Sweden to southern France. JAN FORSGREN
och Flygklubb. The machine was fitted out as an aerial ambulance, being in part funded by the Swedish Red Cross. The Caudron was also used for air experience flights, carrying no less than 2,500 passengers in 1937. By the time private flying was banned on 1 September 1939, SE-AGA had accumulated 470 flying hours. During 1945 SE-AGA was sold to Svensk Flygtjänst AB, a company specialising in airborne target-towing and maintenance. It moved on to the Linköping Aero Club in 1951, where it was named Agaton. A succession of civilian owners followed, before the registration was cancelled in August 1958.
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Hangar Talk STEVE SLATER
Comment on historic aviation by the chief executive of the UK’s Light Aircraft Association
A Link Trainer in use with No 105 Operational Training Unit at Bramcote, Warwickshire, during March 1945. AEROPLANE
he announcement last year that a new £15-million aviation academy is to be built at RAF Syerston in Nottinghamshire has to be the best news in ages for the beleaguered Air Cadet movement. It is notable, however, that the majority of the investment in Syerston — now the Air Cadet HQ — is to be spent on ground-based training and simulators, rather than aircraft. These days an ever-greater amount of ﬂying crew training is done, at far less cost in fuel, aircraft hours and to the environment, in simulators. Indeed, such is the level of ‘synthetic ﬂight training’ that it’s a sobering thought that a junior ﬁrst ofﬁcer’s initial hands-on landing in an actual airliner is likely to have paying passengers in the back. Actually, simulator training is almost as old as ﬂying itself. When in 1909 Louis Blériot established his ﬁrst ﬂying school at Etampes, he and co-designer Raymond Saulnier realised they could reduce
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damage to their ﬂying ﬂeet by creating an aircraft that could never leave the ground. The Blériot XI R1 Rouleur allowed student pilots to charge around the airﬁeld, learning ground handling, take-off and landing techniques. Fitted with clipped wings and a widertrack undercarriage, with a pair of forward-projecting skids to prevent nose-overs, the device inevitably gained a nickname
History records little of these ‘hoppers’, but the Blériot ﬂying schools were a success. In addition to Etampes, in 1910 he opened a second one at Pau, where the climate made year-round ﬂying more practical. During September 1910 a third school was established at Hendon. By the start of World War One, more than 1,000 pilots had qualiﬁed from the Blériot schools.
In creating the Link Trainer, Ed Link of the Link Piano and Organ Company used his knowledge of pumps, valves and bellows to teach new pilots how to ﬂy by instruments from another clipped-wing, ﬂightless bird, ‘le Pingouin’ — the penguin. Some examples used the early 35hp fan-type Anzani engines that had powered the ﬁrst Blériot aeroplanes. Others used 50hp Gnome rotaries that that had previously been used on the school’s training aircraft, but which now were no longer producing their full power output.
The concept was revived during World War Two, when a number of Air Training Corps squadrons built so-called ‘Foo’, ‘Penguin’ and ‘Hoppity’ ground training aircraft from scrap wood, old aircraft components and motorcycle engines. A little later the ATC developed with Slingsby a ‘gimbal’ frame that allowed an anchored Grasshopper glider to pivot into the wind and
respond to control responses without ever leaving the ground. Another ‘Hoppity’ type was created by the modiﬁcation of surplus DH82 Tiger Moths at ﬂying schools in Southern Rhodesia. Their top wings were removed and their engines adjusted so they wouldn’t run at more than 1,400rpm, rendering them (theoretically) unﬂyable. Legend, however, has it that after a session in the ofﬁcers’ mess a number of instructors made a concerted series of attempts to overturn the theory. I’d love to know if any memories remain of the results! Of course, the ﬁrst true simulator must be the ‘Link Trainer’, created in 1929 by Ed Link of the Link Piano and Organ Company. It used his knowledge of pumps, valves and bellows to teach new pilots how to ﬂy by instruments. The simulator responded to the pilot’s controls and — in addition to yawing, pitching and rolling — gave authentic readings on the cockpit gauges. The instructor could trace progress on a chart, marked by a pen attached to a device known as the ‘crab’. While the Link Trainer was initially developed in the USA, it seems these days that the centre of excellence in their restoration is here in the UK, in particular the Trenchard Museum at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. Here volunteers at the traditional home of RAF apprentice and induction training have kept the specialised knowledge and maintenance skills alive. In addition to possessing no less than three examples themselves, they’ve provided parts and expertise to ensure a number of other Link Trainers remain active, demonstrating ‘ﬂying on the ground’ at museums. ■
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DENIS J. CALVERT
Recollections and reﬂections — a seasoned reporter’s view of aviation history
978 was a memorable year for British carrierborne aviation, with HMS Ark Royal (R09, the fourth Ark) setting out from Plymouth on 5 April for its ﬁnal deployment before retirement. While the Royal Navy would be — temporarily at least — out of the ﬁxed-wing carrier game, the US Navy remained totally committed. USS Nimitz (CVN 68), the lead ship of a class of nuclear-powered, 100,000-ton carriers, had already made a ﬁrst deployment, to the Mediterranean in July 1976. I was fortunate to have visited Ark Royal during its work-up in the North Sea earlier that year. Now, through the good ofﬁces of the US Navy in Europe (then headquartered in North Audley Street, London) I had arranged a visit to Nimitz in the Mediterranean. “If you can get to NAS Sigonella by 2 May, the ship will be close, and we’ll get you aboard by helicopter”, I was told. Following a pleasant ﬂight by Monarch BAC One-Eleven to Sicily, I reported to my US Navy contact at Sigonella. “Slight change of plan”, he said. “Nimitz passed through the Straits of Gibraltar last night and is currently steaming into the Atlantic. But don’t worry, we’ll get you there”. Which he did, putting me aboard a C-1A Trader of VR-24 on its carrier on-board delivery (COD) run to the ship. We stopped to refuel at Palma (“Please, no photos. The Spanish authorities don’t like cameras”) before the second leg, ending with an arrested landing aboard Nimitz. This was my ﬁrst experience of a ﬁxed-wing carrier landing. It wasn’t that dramatic, but strange in that the C-1A’s cabin seating faced rearwards. We — there were three journos in our party — were hastened from the ﬂight deck
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North American RA-5C Vigilante BuNo 156628/603 of RVAH-6 ‘Fleurs’ comes in to land on USS Nimitz in the Atlantic, May 1978. DENIS J. CALVERT
and taken down to our quarters, to be told that we were now subject to the laws of the United States and that, if we had any alcohol in our possession, we must surrender it forthwith. This was a reminder that the US Navy at sea is ‘dry’.
eight squadrons: two ﬁghter with F-14A Tomcats, two light attack with A-7E Corsair IIs, one heavy attack with A-6E Intruders, one airborne early warning with E-2C Hawkeyes, one ﬁxed-wing anti-submarine warfare with S-3A Vikings and one helicopter ASW with
We were told that if we had any alcohol in our possession, we must surrender it forthwith — a reminder that the US Navy at sea is ‘dry’ Flying activity aboard Nimitz was relentless, with launch and recovery cycles throughout the 24 hours. Below deck, there was only artiﬁcial lighting and you soon lost track of day or night. Statistics on Nimitz tend to numb the mind, so I shall avoid repeating any, but the Carrier Air Wing comprised
SH-3Hs, along with an RA-5C Vigilante reconnaissance detachment. Over the next six days, there was plenty of time for photography of the regular ﬂight deck activity. One of the advantages of being aboard a carrier at sea is that the very fact of your presence is the
near-guarantee of your right to be there. Unlike on a military (especially a US Air Force) airﬁeld, you are not constantly stopped and asked for identiﬁcation. We were well-looked after and well-fed, and were offered some helicopter ﬂying in an SH-3: “Report for brieﬁng at 04.00, take-off at ﬁrst light.” Nimitz was clearly geared up for hosting guests, whether bottom-of-the-pile aviation journos or VIPs. It was while I was eating my breakfast Wheaties in the ofﬁcers’ mess that an elderly gentleman put his hand on my shoulder and offered, “Mr Calvert, I’m Joseph Luns. I trust you’re enjoying your visit”. Joseph Luns? I knew the name, but it was only after he departed that I recalled that he was the Secretary-General of NATO.
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THIS MONTH’S ANSWERS
THIS MONTH’S QUESTIONS Rocketing the ﬁghters
Q Victor B1A XH650 immovable in the Gaydon grass. The station’s emergency services eventually returned the aircraft to the pan.
In the February issue, Richard Falconer recalled an incident at RAF Gaydon in 1961 involving Victor bombers. Richard Lilleyman provides pictorial proof of the Gaydon incident, showing the Victor to be visiting B1A XH650 of No 55 Squadron. Ron Collie, meanwhile, was stationed at Gaydon at the time. He believes the lead Victor had a nose steering problem, which caused it to veer off-line. The starboard main undercarriage leg came off the runway on to the grass where it just sunk in, defying all initial attempts to move it. He says, “I think it was some time on Monday when they got it out”. Mo Davies was another attendee; he was told that the lead aircraft had cut a corner. Roger Smith remembers the scramble, with a Verey ﬂare being ﬁred and the crews running to board their aircraft in a simulated response to a nuclear attack. “One of the aircraft failed to turn quickly enough and ran off the opposite side of the runway, sinking into the grass and blocking the runway”, Roger writes. He is also sure that at least one of the other three Victors managed to take off.
Recollections of aircraft accidents at RAF Changi from Richard Stacey appeared in the February edition.
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Former Changi-based reader Tony Fairbairn — author of the feature on RAF Skymasters last month — was intrigued by the Vampire mishap mentioned. He writes, “The original (WW2) runway did cross the public road to Changi village. However, a new runway, at right angles to and bisecting the old, was completed in early 1950. The ‘old’ runway then became a taxiway to a new parking area for visiting aircraft, plus home for No 48 Squadron and the Far East Communications Squadron. Trafﬁc on the public road was controlled by a barrier, but the only reference to a Vampire mishap at Changi I’ve been able to unearth involved FB9 WG872, which hit lights on approach on 2 February 1956 and was written off. The military building overlooking the airﬁeld that Richard remembers was maybe the very spot where I spent many hours with a camera in the mid-1960s — the base of the ATC tower.”
In summer 1943, vertical rocket launchers mounted in the upper turrets of USAAF B-17s was one plan to try and defeat Luftwaffe ﬁghters from bombing the ﬂeets of Flying Fortresses from 4,000ft, above defensive machine gun range, as they headed across Germany for their targets. A four-tube installation was ﬁtted to one B-17 at Prestwick, and to gain more experience on how the individual weapon would work a Hurricane from the A&AEE at Boscombe Down was modiﬁed with a
5in-diameter ‘chimney stack’ launcher behind the cockpit, canted forward at about 4°. Codenamed ‘Sunﬂower’, the modiﬁed Hurricane was tested with some degree of success, ﬁrst at Pendine Sands and later Aberporth in Wales. The B-17 rocket turret was cleared for action in September 1943, but before it could be deployed the wily Germans switched their tactics and began attacking the American bombers from the head-on aspect. Do any pictures exist of the installation on the B-17 and/ or the Hurricane?
Can any reader identify this aircraft type from its cockpit?
Paul Cowlard forwarded two photographs, one of his father and another (above) showing a colleague, in the cockpit of a twin-engine wartime aircraft and would like to know the type. His father served as a leading aircraftsman repairing Mosquitos in India with No 45 Squadron, but the cockpit is obviously not that of a Mosquito. Can anyone identify the type?
CORRECTIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS • The main picture on pages 24-25 of the February issue, captioned as showing a No 544 Squadron Mosquito PRXVI, actually features a fully armed Mosquito FBVI. • An editing error in the February issue saw to it that the wrong
Roosevelt was named on page 25: it should have course have been Franklin, not Theodore. • The distance covered by Fw 58 D-ALEX on 23 July 1937, mentioned in Q&A in the March issue, should have read 1,366 miles, not 13,662.
• The images in the March issue’s ‘Aeroplane meets’ captioned as featuring Sir Charles Maseﬁeld actually show his father Sir Peter. • The caption on page 19 of the March issue should refer to George Stainforth, not John Staniforth.
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Golden memories of a ‘gentle giant’ Denis J. Calvert’s wonderfully evocative Flight Line column about the visit by Antilles Air Boats’ Short Sandringham to England in 1977 (Aeroplane January 2018) brought back very happy memories. Every year my father would take me in his Jaguar E-type for a week in the West Country at the end of the school summer holidays, usually based around Shaftesbury, and always taking in a visit to Yeovilton for the Fleet Air Arm Museum and the annual Air Day. This particular year my father revealed that he’d lined up something rather special with which to round off the trip — a ﬂight in a ﬂying boat. And so, on a glorious late summer afternoon, I found myself tasked with navigating us down past Beaulieu and Buckler’s Hard to Calshot Spit, using our faithful leather-bound John Bartholomew road atlas (no easy task, I seem to recall). Southern Cross was sitting out in the bay, resplendent in her Antilles Air Boats livery. She was reached by a short boat trip, followed by the challenge of clambering out of the heaving boat and up through the Sandringham’s boarding hatch. Once aboard, it was hard not to be impressed: the interior was divided up into several large cabins, each seating six or so people in comfort and affording a ﬁne view out through enormous picture windows — quite unlike any other ﬂying machine. The cockpit was reached via a sturdy ladder, as was an open hatch in the roof which would later provide for some memorable views out across the top surface of the wings and the rear fuselage as the four Pratt & Whitney
Sandringham VP-LVE Southern Cross moored off Calshot in 1977. AEROPLANE
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LETTE R of the MONT H
Twin Wasps hummed and thrummed away. The ﬂight itself was every bit as magical as Denis describes, and one of my most vivid memories is of how the spray kicked up by the propellers’ wash and the hammering of the wave tops against the hull built to a crescendo, before abruptly ceasing as the Sandringham lifted majestically into the air. Denis is right: there really is nothing quite like the experience of ﬂying in a true hulled ﬂying boat. We progressed serenely around the Isle of Wight in warm early-evening sunshine, all of us on board at liberty to stroll around, talk to the crew, and enjoy the ‘open-hatch’ experience. Compared to take-off the landing was an altogether quieter affair, as Capt Blair gracefully kissed the water’s surface with the hull and then cut the power, allowing this most gentle of giants to gracefully settle back down again. The light was fading as we returned to the car, which made for an interesting drive home as my father revealed it was a long time since he’d last driven it at night and couldn’t remember how to work the lights! Sadly my father isn’t with us any more, but the Sandringham lives on in the excellent Solent Sky Museum, now in her nearidentical Ansett colours. The E-type (and road atlas) survives too; I had it restored to its former glory four years ago, and I now enjoy using it to take my son to airshows, just as my father did with me all those years ago. Simon Pimblett, Dulwich, London
Skyfame and the ‘Mossie’
I would like to comment on two recent articles in Aeroplane, namely ‘Towing the Line’ in January 2018, and ‘Aeroplane meets… David Ogilvy’ in the October 2017 issue. Both mentioned the Skyfame Collection based at Staverton Airport in the 1960s and ’70s. There were two errors in ‘Towing the Line’ relating to Mosquito RS709, now preserved in the USA. Firstly, the aircraft was not earmarked for Skyfame while at Exeter with No 3 CAACU. After retirement RS709, together with TA719 and RS712, was ﬂown to RAF Shawbury for storage. While there, RS709 and RS712 were purchased by Gp Capt Hamish Mahaddie and immediately leased to the Mirisch Corporation for 633 Squadron. Upon completion of the ﬁlming in September 1963, RS709 was retained by Mahaddie for future ﬁlm work. The following August RS709 was ﬂown to RAF Abingdon by Taffy Rich for the annual airshow there. It was whilst at Abingdon that the ‘Mossie’ was inspected by my father Peter Thomas, with a view to purchasing it as a replacement for TA719, which had been badly damaged in a ﬂying accident at Staverton in July 1964. After paying £1,000 for the aircraft, RS709 was ﬂown to Staverton in September 1964 and stayed with Skyfame until ’69 when she was reluctantly put up for sale. Over the years a number of aviation magazines have stated that she was sold by Skyfame direct to Ed Jurist of Nyack, New York, but this is incorrect. The aircraft was actually sold to Tony Osborne of Southend, who re-sold her to Jurist. It was actually TA719
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Painted in 633 Squadron film colours as ‘RF580’, this is actually Mosquito B35 RS709 during its appearance at the September 1963 Biggin Hill Battle of Britain ‘At Home’ Day.
which was earmarked for my father in late ’62, and was chosen by my mother Gwladys Thomas, who reasoned that as the pilots at Exeter had recently been photographed in front of the aircraft for an article in Flight, this was probably the best available. I was surprised to read David Ogilvy’s comment about my father being “difficult to deal with”. His comment about needing enough fuel to safely divert to another airfield should Staverton’s runway become blocked is of course valid, but what he omitted to say was that the Mosquito flew four times that day, each sortie lasting 20 minutes: a total of one hour and 20 minutes. This must have cost a fortune, and bearing in mind this was not an air display with the public paying to watch the demonstration it’s hardly surprising that my father was being careful about the costs involved. David also mentions that the Anson G-AMDA was purchased from Derby Airways for £50. The correct amount was actually £500, a considerable sum in 1963, and included two spare Cheetah engines. Ray Thomas
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Mike Hooks — an appreciation
With sadness I learned of the passing of Mike Hooks, who has been a doyen of the aviation world for well over 60 years. I first met him shortly after the war and so began a lifetime when our paths crossed many times. In 1968 he became editor of the prestigious magazine Airports International before picking up the reigns as public relations officer for the SBAC. During his career as everybody’s Farnborough liaison, he breathed a welcome degree of fresh air and humour into what had hitherto been a somewhat
stuffy and hard-to-approach organisation. A long-term advocate of Air-Britain, he instituted a much higher degree of accuracy and detail into aviation history than had been practised before, while his numerous books are testimony to his attention to detail as well as his devotion to photographing aircraft. Early in the 1970s we went together to Canada to survey the Canadian aircraft industry. During this trip we were granted a rare facility by de Havilland Canada at Downsview. They lent us a Twin Otter to pursue our
Thanks for another outstanding issue of Aeroplane. As a minor amendment to the Cassutt Racer article, the SAS captain mentioned in the caption on page 61 was Jan Christie. It is fitting that he should appear in the February issue as he was a heroic Mosquito pilot in World War Two, having originally joined the Royal Norwegian Air Force and then escaped to the UK. Coincidentally he was also closely associated with Edgar Percival EP9 G-ARTV/ N747JC shown on page 75. When he and his family moved to the USA he registered it after the Boeing 747s he flew for Scandinavian Airlines: ‘November 747 Jan Christie’. Always very modest regarding his exploits and bravery, Jan Henning Christie passed away on 9 January 2015 at the age of 97. Igor Best-Devereux
aeronautical sightseeing. Being mid-winter with much frost and snow, we went to view close-by Niagara Falls stilled into solid ice. With DHC’s chief pilot in the left seat, I was allowed to P2 the ‘Twotter’ while Mike stood right behind us taking pictures through the front screen. Suddenly turbulence ruffled our feathers and a hand shot out for support, whereupon both engines almost shut down. Mike had inadvertently grabbed the overhead throttle levers! How we laughed — afterwards… On another occasion we disturbed some ‘spotters’ cutting the fabric from the sides of a vintage biplane at White Waltham. The retribution Mike meted out was joyous to behold. More recently we have helped each other on less strenuous projects, and I shall miss that occasional ’phone call on some obscure detail of long-past aircraft or ancient events in our careers. We will be the poorer for the loss of Mike’s erudition, and those of us privileged to have known him will join me in extending to his widow, Pamela, our condolences. Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume
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THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO 100 YEARS OF ACHIEVEMENT AND DETERMINATION To celebrate the centenary of the Royal Air Force, Key Publishing presents a unique 100-page tribute to the fighters that have defended Britain and fought in conflicts across the world since 1918. Every major combat type is covered, from the Sopwith Snipe of 1918 to today’s Eurofighter Typhoon. Such famous aircraft as the Bulldog biplane, Hurricane and Spitfire, the Mosquito ‘wooden wonder’, the Lightning and the Phantom are profiled. HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
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100 COMMEMORATING A CENTURY OF ACHIEVEMENT IN AIR POWER • Legendary names, famous operations • How The Aeroplane covered RAF history • Centenary celebrations previewed • RAF timeline 1918-2018
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RAF 100 RAF ESTABLISHMENT
Ben Dunnell explores The Aeroplane’s outstanding archives to cast new light on past stories
BIRTH of the THIRD ARM
The creation of an independent Royal Air Force did not meet with universal praise in 1918 — and The Aeroplane’s criticism was no exception
eorge the Fifth, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, To all whom these Presents shall come, Greeting! “Whereas by the Air Force (Constitution) Act, 1917, it is enacted that it shall be lawful for Us to raise and maintain a Force, to be called the Air Force, consisting of such numbers of officers, warrant officers, noncommissioned officers and men, as may from time to time be provided by Parliament: “Now know ye that it is Our Will and Pleasure that the Air Force to be established pursuant to the said Act shall be styled the ‘Royal Air Force’. “Given at the Court of Saint James’, the 7th day of March, 1918, in the Eighth Year of Our Reign.
RAF 100 1918 - 2018 Key events from 100 years of Royal Air Force history Compiled by Ben Dunnell and Denis J. Calvert
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1918 1 April 1918 Establishment of the Royal Air Force, formed by combining the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. This follows royal assent to an Act of Parliament on 29 November 1917 creating both the RAF and the Air Council. First operational mission by the newly independent service
flown by Bristol F2B Fighters of No 22 Squadron in France. 13 April 1918 Having clashed with the Secretary of State for Air, Lord Rothermere, the resignation of Maj Gen Sir Hugh Trenchard as the first Chief of the Air Staff takes effect. He is replaced by Maj Gen Sir Frederick Sykes.
LEFT: Their serials blanked out by the censor, Royal Aircraft Factory SE5as of No 85 Squadron are lined up at SaintOmer in June 1918, just two months after establishment of the Royal Air Force. ALL PHOTOS AEROPLANE
13 May 1918 Independent Air Force established to conduct strategic bombing campaign against Germany using Airco DH4s and DH9/9As, Handley Page O/400s and Royal Aircraft Factory FE2bs in closing stages of World War One. June 1918 The Royal Aircraft Factory (the original ‘RAF’) at Farnborough www.aeroplanemonthly.com 29
RAF 100 RAF ESTABLISHMENT
“By His Majesty’s Command, Rothermere.”
BELOW: Upon the November 1918 Armistice, the Handley Page O/400 was the RAF’s most numerous heavy bomber, equipping seven squadrons. This is No 207 Squadron’s B8811 pictured in 1919.
That notice from the Secretary of State for the Air Force, which appeared in the London Gazette — the government’s official journal of record — on 15 March 1918, made public the name chosen for the UK’s newly independent air arm. But not all publications expressed pleasure. The Aeroplane certainly did not. As might be expected, its editor C. G. Grey adopted a contrary and critical tone. “At any rate now we know the worst”, he wrote in the 20 March 1918 issue. “The glory of the names of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps, with their traditions of gallantry, chivalry, and self-sacrifice, are to be merged into initials which stand for everything that has been bad in Military Aeronautics.” Grey was referring, of course, to the Royal Aircraft Factory. “Probably the vast majority of the present personnel of the Flying Services have worn the King’s uniform for so short
a time that the initials RAF connote to them merely an obsolete engine which does good work under strictly limited conditions, or those unpleasant streamlined wires which break of their own volition without enemy assistance, or perchance a curiously evil-smelling ‘dope’ which causes sickness among air mechanics. These newcomers have no recollection of the evil days when the malfeasances of the Royal Aircraft Factory came near to wrecking the British Aircraft Industry and leaving the Flying Services without either aeroplanes or engines fit for war.” Strong words — but Grey had only just started. “The RAF machines”, he went on, “owing to complicated design and bad draughtsmanship, took months to build instead of weeks; the RAF engines, owing to pure ignorance on the part of the designers, were utterly unreliable. And so at the end of 1915, when the RFC should have had complete mastery of the air as it has to-day, the Germans had altogether the upper hand, except for a few gallant and fortunate fighting pilots who were in every single case mounted on machines of ‘trade’ design. “The attempt to create a monopoly of design for the RAF was broken by the RNAS, which, under the guidance of Commodore Sueter, an officer with an open mind quick to grasp new ideas, deliberately took up everything which was turned down by the RFC on the advice of its RAF ‘experts’… If anyone doubts the accuracy of these statements, let them inquire whether it was the RNAS or the RFC which kept the Sopwith firm alive and encouraged the production of ‘1½ Strutters’, ‘Pups’ and ‘Camels’. Is it or is it not a fact that the RFC, being devoid of fighting machines owing to the utter failure of the first SEs designed by the RAF, came and begged for Naval ‘Pups’ and Nieuports and the earliest ‘Camels’ to help them out of their trouble?” The qualities of the Sopwith and Nieuport machines, and the positive effect they had in terms of changing Allied fortunes in the skies of the Western Front, were not in doubt.
Allied ground forces during the course of the Battle of Amiens, the start of a large-scale Western Front offensive.
8-11 August 1918 More than 700 RAF aircraft — Airco DH4s and DH9s, Armstrong Whitworth FK8s, Bristol F2Bs, Royal Aircraft Factory FE2bs, RE8s and SE5as, Sopwith Camels and Dolphins — provide air support to
11 November 1918 The signing of the Armistice marks the end of the First World War. RAF strength at the time numbered 188 front-line squadrons, with 22,647 aircraft and 291,170 personnel.
is renamed as the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) to avoid any confusion.
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1919 31 March 1919 Sir Hugh Trenchard re-appointed as Chief of the Air Staff. Troubles remain, however, as there continues to be opposition to the concept of an independent air force. 2-6 July 1919 RAF airship R34 flies from East Fortune, East Lothian to New
Nor were the shortcomings of the RAF BE2 family, which remained in production longer than it ought. But in considering his views, it must be remembered that Grey had long used the pages of The Aeroplane to campaign against the Royal Aircraft Factory and in favour of private industry, often in positively vitriolic terms. The version of events he outlined was, at best, a simplification. By March 1918, it could also be seen as out-of-date. Yes, the SE5 had suffered early problems, but the improved SE5a — despite production delays — was already proving its worth. And the RFC had procured significant numbers of non-RAF ‘trade’ designs of its own, not least the Bristol F2 Fighter, which Grey ignored. He seemed to be fighting yesterday’s battle.
Grey had long used The Aeroplane to campaign against the Royal Aircraft Factory and in favour of private industry Nevertheless, his view of the Royal Aircraft Factory coloured Grey’s entire opinion of the Royal Air Force. “The great lesson of all the past history of the Flying Services is that ‘competition is good for trade’,” he claimed. “One does not mean trade in the sense of profits for manufacturers, but for the trade the active service pilots have to do against the Hun. And it is for that reason that one chiefly dislikes the merging of the two Flying Services, and especially of the two technical departments, into one.” He returned to the theme the following week. Given that The Aeroplane’s editor so objected to the new air arm’s name, what was his suggestion? “[It] could all have been avoided so easily”, he opined, “by doing the simple right thing, bringing in a short Bill to legalise the use of the word ‘Imperial’, and calling it the Imperial Air Service.”
York — the first trans-Atlantic airship crossing. October 1919 The School of Technical Training is formed at Halton to train apprentices, the so-called ‘Halton Brats’. This activity will continue at the Buckinghamshire station until 1993. 1 November 1919 Establishment of AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
More analytically, the question of factional fighting exercised Grey. “The fact is that the majority of the seaplane people do not want to belong to the RAF. Curious as it may seem, considering how the RNAS has been treated by the Navy, most of the seaplane people want to belong to the Navy”. Referring to recent RNAS aerial activity, he said the service’s successes have “probably caused an eleventh-hour repentance at the Admiralty for letting the RNAS be swallowed by the RAF.” As the future establishment — and transfer back to the navy — of the Fleet Air Arm would prove, this was a prescient point. Less so was Grey’s contention that, “When Naval Aviation is properly developed, the day of the big surface-ship will be done… The Royal Navy will have to make its choice in the next year or two between becoming almost altogether a Naval Air Service, or becoming entirely a Submarine Service. There will be no place for ordinary ships on top of the water. Let those brains at the Admiralty which still retain their activity think over that statement of fact.” The editor’s ‘Matters of Moment’ editorial in the first issue published after the birth of the RAF, that for 3 April, dealt with other matters. Elsewhere it published the text of the telegram sent by King George V to the Lord Rothermere: “To-day the Royal Air Force, of which you are the Minister in charge, comes into existence as a third arm of the defences of the Empire. As Generalin-Chief I congratulate you on its birth, and I trust that it may enjoy a vigorous and successful life. I am confident that the union of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps will preserve and foster that esprit de corps which these two separate forces have created by their splendid deeds.” Elsewhere, though, Grey resorted yet again to his well-worn point about the initials RAF. He referred to “the fulsome flattery which has
the RAF (Cadet) College at Cranwell; it will become a full command on 5 February 1920. 11 December 1919 Trenchard sends Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for Air, a memorandum on the permanent organisation of the RAF. This forms a key blueprint for the future of the service. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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The Short 184 seaplane was a mainstay of the RAF’s early maritime squadrons.
BE2e C7133 of No 31 Training Squadron at Wyton in May 1918. C. G. Grey was an outspoken critic of the BE2 family, and thus of the Royal Aircraft Factory.
The Bristol F2B gave outstanding service to the RAF in its formative years, not least in policing the outposts of Empire. These aircraft, with F4611 in the foreground, belong to No 46 Squadron at Quetta, India, circa 1919.
1920 January-February 1920 RAF DH9 operations in conjunction with the Somaliland Camel Corps assist in defeating Dervish leader Mohammed bin Abdullah Hassan, the so-called ‘Mad Mullah’, in British Somaliland. He and his followers had conducted a long campaign against British forces.
2 February 1920 Withdrawal of British forces — including RAF DH9s and Short 184s — from South Russia, where they have been fighting Bolshevik elements. 3 July 1920 RAF Hendon in north London hosts the first RAF Tournament — later renamed the Pageant, then the Display.
1921 23 June 1921 RAF Vickers Vernons start a weekly air mail service between Cairo and Baghdad. It will be taken over by Imperial Airways in 1927. 1922 September 1922 In a pioneering www.aeroplanemonthly.com 31
RAF 100 RAF ESTABLISHMENT
“The simplest way out of all the present disastrous squabbling over the affairs of the air”, C. G. Grey wrote in the 17 April 1918 issue, “seems to be for the Admiralty to revive the Royal Naval Air Service on its own account, and for the Army Council to revive the Royal Flying Corps as a purely military concern”
ABOVE: Sometimes the RFC had been slow on the uptake when it came to Sopwith products. However, its Snipe was for a time to become the standard postWorld War One RAF ﬁghter, despite many shortcomings. Illustrated is a No 25 Squadron example over Constantinople during the Chanak Crisis of 1922, when Turkish troops threatened British forces in the Dardanelles.
been oozing from all the pores of the officially inspired Press during the past week, in its endeavour to persuade the world that the RNAS and RFC should be proud to sink their dearly bought honours in the common puddle which the name of the RAF suggests”. It was a contrast to the views of his opposite number at Flight, Stanley Spooner, who referred to 1 April 1918 as marking, “an epoch in the history of the fighting forces of the British Crown”. That would certainly turn out to be true; his “irresistible conclusion” that “armies as we [know] them now — and even fleets — may disappear as a means of practical war” would not. Grey’s ire only deepened when Maj Gen Sir Hugh Trenchard’s resignation as Chief of the Air Staff — submitted before the RAF’s formation — was
aerial evacuation, Vernons and DH9s airlift British forces and civilians from Sulaymaniyah to Kirkuk, Iraq, after they were endangered by Kurdish tribesmen and Turkish irregulars. 1923
April 1923 As part of continuing operations connected with Kurdish 32 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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confirmed. “The simplest way out of all the present disastrous squabbling over the affairs of the air”, Grey wrote in the 17 April issue, “seems to be for the Admiralty to revive the Royal Naval Air Service on its own account, and for the Army Council to revive the Royal Flying Corps as a purely military concern.” About Trenchard’s leadership qualities, as is described in the feature that follows, hindsight shows that Grey was undoubtedly perceptive. And it must be said that he was far from alone in opposing the concept of an independent air force, even if his reasons for doing so appear questionable. Trenchard himself had been sceptical about attempting to amalgamate the two flying services
uprisings and Turkish expansionism, Vernons carry out the first trooping flights, carrying 280 Sikh troops and equipment from Kingarban to Kirkuk, Iraq. 1924 20 March 1924 Establishment at Martlesham Heath of the Aeroplane
while conflict was still ongoing, though his view did evolve. Senior members of both the army and navy hierarchies were hostile, and one can appreciate why. Their opposition to the third service would only grow in the post-war era — as of April 1918, many struggles for the RAF’s survival lay ahead. Some of those debates continue to this day. There will always be different views as to the application of air power, just as there were a century ago. But one less controversial comment of Grey’s from early 1918 seems to resonate down the years. “Being now entirely separated from the Army”, he wrote of the air force, “it cannot trade on the reputation of the British soldier. It has to make a reputation for itself ”. That the Royal Air Force certainly would.
and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE). The Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment (MAEE) at Felixstowe follows on 1 April.
1 January 1925 Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) formed as a separate command.
1 April 1924 The Fleet Air Arm is formed, as part of the RAF at this stage. It takes in RAF units that operate from Royal Navy vessels.
1 May 1925 Successful end of what was known as ‘Pink’s War’, the RAF’s first independent front-line operation. Commanded by Wg Cdr Richard Pink,
AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
RAF 100 LORD TRENCHARD
“A great general of ﬁghting men” He is rightly considered to be the ‘Father of the Royal Air Force’, but the ﬁrst stint by Sir Hugh — later Lord — Trenchard as Chief of the Air Staff was a brief, and fraught, affair. Correspondence from 100 years ago demonstrates the extent of the animosity that led to Trenchard’s resignation
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Hugh Trenchard during his second period as Chief of the Air Staff.
WORDS: BEN DUNNELL
29 October 1925 Observer Corps (later Royal Observer Corps) formed to identify and track aircraft movements over the UK. It would come into its own during the Second World War.
hence the nickname, Bristol F2Bs and DH9As of Nos 5, 27 and 60 Squadrons attacked rebel Mahsud tribesmen in Waziristan, India. 15 May 1925 First of the Special Reserve squadrons, part of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, formed: No 502 Squadron at Aldergrove, flying the Vickers Vimy. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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1926 1 October 1925 Cambridge University Air Squadron, the first UAS, formed.
17-19 June 1926 Major air operations by Nos 1 and 30 Squadrons —
flying Sopwith Snipes and DH9As respectively — against Sheikh Mahmud and his followers in Iraq, following insurrections against British rule. 1927 27 March 1927 No 41 Squadron brings the Armstrong Whitworth Siskin IIIa, the first all-metal RAF fighter, into service. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 33
RAF 100 LORD TRENCHARD
RIGHT: The British air section at the January 1919 Versailles peace conference, including the then Chief of the Air Staff, Maj Gen Frederick Sykes, in the centre of the front row. BELOW RIGHT: Lord — later Viscount — Rothermere became an implacable opponent of Trenchard during his short stint as Secretary of State for the Air Force.
he last thing the newly established Royal Air Force needed, in the face of ongoing hostility to its very existence from elements of the other two services, was personal animosity between those tasked with upholding its best interests, whether militarily or politically. Yet this was exactly the situation that occurred just as the air arm’s formation was being lauded in some quarters and derided in others. Of all the candidates to become the first Chief of the Air Staff, Maj Gen Sir Hugh Trenchard was the most obvious. Having joined the army during 1893, serving with distinction in India, South Africa and Nigeria, he rose through the ranks to become a major in 1902. Ten years later he learned to fly at Brooklands and was appointed as second-in-command of the Central Flying School. When war broke out in 1914 he was made commandant of the Royal Flying Corps’ Military Wing, thus heading up the RFC on British soil, and then of its French-based First Wing. That led on to a posting as commander of the RFC in France, and promotion to major general in 1916. The editor of The Aeroplane, C. G. Grey, wrote of Trenchard that he “made the RFC what it is” — into, he said, “the finest fighting machine in the world”. The admiring Grey went on, “His enemies — who are not a few — say that General Trenchard is a Bismarck, and uses Prussian methods. Those who know him best know that his kindness of heart is his greatest weakness.” The seeds of the internal discord to come were sown by events following royal assent of the Air Force Bill on 29 November 1917. Prime Minister David Lloyd George had intended to make press baron Lord Northcliffe — Alfred Harmsworth as was — Secretary of State for the Air Force and president of the Air Board, but he turned the job down. Instead it went to his brother Harold Harmsworth, Lord Rothermere. He offered the position of Chief of the Air Staff to Trenchard, who had expressed opposition to creating an independent
26 September 1927 First success in the Schneider Trophy race for the RAF’s new High Speed Flight. Flt Lt Sidney Webster wins in a Supermarine S5. 1928
11 December 1928 Four RAF Supermarine Southampton flying boats from the Far East Flight, led by Gp Capt 34 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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air force by merging the RFC and Royal Naval Air Service while war continued. But in the wake of the recommendations made to the Prime Minister by Gen Jan Smuts in July and August 1917, Trenchard began to bow to the inevitable. He did not wish to become the first head of the new air arm, and foresaw troubled times ahead, but agreed to meet Rothermere to discuss the matter. Returning to London on 16 December 1917, he went to see Rothermere in his room at the Ritz Hotel. Northcliffe was there too. Very soon, the discussion took a turn Trenchard disliked, when the pair said they would use their newspapers to press for the removal of Field Marshal Douglas Haig as commander of the
Henry Cave-Browne-Cave, complete the service’s most ambitious longdistance flight when they reach Seletar, Singapore, for the third time during the 14-month, 27,000-mile undertaking. 1929 25 February 1929 Conclusion of the RAF’s evacuation by air of members of
the British legation in Kabul, together with dependents, expatriates and Afghan royal family members — 586 people in all. June 1929 Another of what will become the quintessential inter-war RAF fighters, the Bristol Bulldog, comes into service with No 3 Squadron at Upavon.
British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front and Gen Sir William Robertson as Chief of the Imperial General Staff. Given Trenchard’s staunch support for Haig, this was bound to displease him. After several hours of argument, Trenchard put aside his better instincts. He was to write, “I thought I might be of more use to the nation, the RFC and the RNAS if I accepted the post. At the same time I knew I should have to fight Rothermere and Northcliffe from the day I took the job.” In these less than auspicious circumstances, the first Chief of the Air Staff took up his post on 3 January 1918. Clashes with Rothermere became a depressingly regular occurrence. Their disagreements on the use of air power were quite fundamental, and Trenchard repeatedly felt that the
1930 February 1930 No 33 Squadron at Netheravon brings the Hawker Hart into service. The Hart heralds a great line of Hawker biplane combat aircraft. 1931 May 1931 No 43 Squadron at AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
Chief of the Air Staff, Rothermere said of Trenchard’s resignation, “I can only attribute it to instability of purpose, which I have observed in you on several occasions recently”. It finished, tartly, “For anything you have done since I have been here I wish most cordially to thank you.” On 13 April, Trenchard was replaced as Chief of the Air Staff by Maj Gen Frederick Sykes, who had himself learned to fly at Brooklands in 1910-11, commanded the Military Wing of the RFC and the corps’ elements in the field, and held numerous other senior positions. He was, in short, eminently well qualified for the post. Even so, Grey wrote in The Aeroplane for 17 April, “everyone concerned with Service aviation was staggered by the announcement that Sir Hugh Trenchard had resigned”. Rumours of unrest at the Air Ministry and the Air Council, he said, had been put about by the different factions involved. “It was all very paltry, very disgraceful, and above all very dangerous at this critical state of affairs…” But Trenchard was far from done. Lest there have existed any confusion about the circumstances of his resignation, he recounted them to the King and the Prime Minister. Given a right to reply to the War Cabinet, Rothermere wrote that Trenchard “was perfectly impossible”, “entirely without imagination” and “had prepared no strategic plans of any kind whatsoever”. Disquiet about Rothermere was growing. Lt Gen Sir David Henderson — another Brooklands flying trainee who had also commanded the RFC in the field, been director of military aeronautics and, as such, assisted Smuts in the writing of his report — resigned as vice-president of the Air Council. John Baird, Parliamentary Secretary to the Air Council, wrote to Lloyd
George and his boss Rothermere on 22 April 1918 stating that he “could not support” some of the views expressed by Rothermere in a memo of 9 April regarding the possible reorganisation of the RAF, and requesting the chance to put his views to the War Cabinet. But Rothermere was not much longer for office. On 23 April, he submitted his own letter of resignation to the Prime Minister. “I desire to relinquish my office as Secretary of State for the Air Force at the earliest possible moment”, he wrote. “There are three reasons actuating me in reaching this decision. One is that my stock of health is hardly adequate for such an anxious and harassing post. “Another and more decisive reason is that this young Force after all the publicity it has received during the last few weeks requires a rest from comment and criticism. So far no harm has been done. I feel however that a continuance during the next few months might impair discipline and prejudice efficiency. “With myself as Secretary of State there is every reason to suppose that comment and criticism will continue. With the Office in the hands of someone else there is a fair chance of a moratorium as far as newspaper and parliamentary publicity are concerned… “The third reason for my resignation is that the immediate work I set out to accomplish is finished. The blending of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps is complete; their fusion into the Royal Air Force went through on the 1st April without a hitch. So there is no question of ‘swapping horses’. The stream has been crossed.” Rothermere had planned to resign for some time. Indeed, he had
LEFT: Trenchard was unquestionably an uncompromisingly single-minded character, but there were tales of his personal kindness. BELOW LEFT: At Saint-Omer on 5 July 1917, thenMaj Gen Trenchard (right) and Queen Mary of Teck, King George V’s wife, view a Bristol F2B as part of an inspection of RFC aircraft.
Trenchard was to write, “I knew I should have to fight Rothermere and Northcliffe from the day I took the job”
Secretary of State was bypassing him on key matters, discussing them instead with others. On 18 March — as recorded in documents held by the National Archives — he wrote to Rothermere, “if you have not sufficient confidence in me even to tell me what is happening in the branches of my department I consider, and I feel sure that you will agree with me, that the situation created is an impossible one”. Rothermere’s dismissive reply was the last straw for Trenchard, who immediately sent a letter of resignation. Meeting Rothermere again, Trenchard agreed to postpone his leaving the post until after the RAF had been formed on 1 April, so as to avoid embarrassment to the new service and the government. But still the Secretary of State was not done. In another letter to the departing
Tangmere receives the RAF’s first Hawker Fury Is, the first operational British fighter to exceed 200mph in level flight. 13 September 1931 Flt Lt John Boothman of the RAF’s High Speed Flight wins the Schneider Trophy in perpetuity for Britain, at the controls of Supermarine S6B S1595. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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29 September 1931 Another member of the High Speed Flight, Flt Lt George Stainforth, uses S6B S1595 — now with a more highly tuned Rolls-Royce R engine — to set a new outright world air speed record of 407.5mph. 1932 February 1932 The de Havilland DH82
Tiger Moth elementary trainer enters RAF service with the Central Flying School. 1933 6-8 February 1933 In the second Fairey Long-range Monoplane, Sqn Ldr O. R. Gayford and Flt Lt G. E. Nicholetts set a new world distance record of 5,410 miles by flying non-
stop from Cranwell to Walvis Bay, South-West Africa. 1934 July 1934 With rising concerns about German rearmament, first RAF Expansion Scheme adopted. Scheme A calls for 1,544-aircraft front-line strength and new airfields. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 35
RAF 100 LORD TRENCHARD
ABOVE: The establishment of what is now the RAF College at Cranwell — initially known as the RAF Cadet College — was one of Trenchard’s innovations. Here he inspects cadets there circa 1922.
informed Trenchard of this intention. Both of his eldest sons had been killed in wartime service, the oldest of them on 12 February that year. “My second tragic loss in the war ten weeks since caused and causes me great distress of mind and body”, he wrote to Lloyd George. “Every day the burden of work and responsibility seemed crushing and I was suffering much from ill health and insomnia”. The Prime Minister accepted his resignation “with the deepest regret”, saying that Rothermere’s time at the Air Ministry “has been of inestimable service to the nation”. Others disagreed. Letters held in the Parliamentary Archives show that Rothermere was still not done with his criticism of Trenchard. Writing to Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons Andrew Bonar Law on 3 May, he said, “In getting rid of Trenchard I flatter myself I did a great thing for the Air Force. With his dull unimaginative mind
and his attitude of “Je sais tout” he would within twelve months have brought death and destruction to the Air Force. As it was he was insisting on the ordering of large numbers of machines for out of date purposes.” The same day, Rothermere penned another missive to Lloyd George. “Two things have been accomplished”, he stated. “The Air Force has lost General Trenchard as an autocrat and the Administration has been deprived of one of its newspaper Ministers. At this juncture a continuance of the Trenchard regime would have meant paralysis and death in the Air within twelve months. I also believe a continuance in office of myself would have become more and more difficult for your Government as the General Election approached.” In June, Trenchard was given command of the RAF’s new Independent Force, which conducted
a strategic bombing campaign against Germany. Hs headquarters were in Nancy, France, and many saw him as something of a ‘king across the water’. MPs pressed for his reinstatement, while C. G. Grey called him, “not a political soldier; he is one thing and one thing only — a great general of fighting men… When the proper time comes for him to return, Heaven help those who stand in his way!” January 1919’s appointment of Winston Churchill as Secretary of State for War and Air — Lloyd George had decided to combine the two departments — removed one of the obstacles. Churchill felt Trenchard would be better-placed than Sykes to lead the RAF through a period of post-war upheaval and inevitable financial constraints. A memorandum from Trenchard, outlining what would be his priorities, convinced Churchill. Sykes was moved to become Controller of Civil Aviation, and on 31 March 1919 the natural order was restored. Trenchard was Chief of the Air Staff once again. Success has many fathers, and to describe Trenchard as the ‘Father of the Royal Air Force’ is to ignore the others whose contributions to its founding and survival were similarly pivotal. But during his second period as Chief of the Air Staff he proved notably successful at defending the service against its detractors, of whom there were many in the other services as budgetary cuts took hold. Consider also his establishment of institutions like the RAF College and the Halton apprentice training scheme, decisions that would help shape the air force for ever more. By now the first Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Trenchard retired on 1 January 1930, being elevated to the House of Lords. His place in the history of British military aviation was assured, but it had required a considerable personal struggle.
Rothermere wrote to Bonar Law, “In getting rid of Trenchard I flatter myself I did a great thing for the Air Force”
10 September 1934 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum begins pilot training on Avro-built Cierva C30A autogyro, known as the Rota — the RAF’s first rotary-wing aeroplane. 1935
26 February 1935 An RAF Handley Page Heyford bomber flying near 36 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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Daventry, Northamptonshire, is picked up by radio detection equipment during a test of a prototype system developed by Robert Watson-Watt and others. The technology would evolve to the point at which a network of 21 Chain Home radar stations was — thankfully — available to bolster Britain’s air defences upon the outbreak of war in 1939.
12 April 1935 Bristol flies Type 142 executive transport for first time. Faster than many of the RAF’s contemporary biplane fighters, it would rapidly be adapted and adopted as a light bomber: the Blenheim. 6 July 1935 With a static display at Mildenhall and a flypast over Duxford, King George V conducts the first Royal
Review of the RAF, part of his silver jubilee year celebrations. 6 November 1935 Hawker test pilot Flt Lt ‘George’ Bulman takes the company’s specification F36/34 prototype, serial K5083, for its maiden flight at Brooklands. A new monoplane fighter age is approaching. The aircraft was named Hurricane the following June. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
NOW IN PAPERBACK E ST TIM FOR THE FIR
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www.kbobm.org KENT )01303 893140 BATTLE OF BRITAIN MUSEUM
The Premier Collection of Battle of Britain Artefacts
Aircraft ·Vehicles · Weapons · Flying Equipment · Fine Art Prints · Relics from over 700 crashed aircraft
On the grounds of both security Adults: £8.00 and copyright, we regret that no OAPs: £7.50 cameras, video recorders, mobile Children: £4.00 Museum Shop, No.25 phones or any other type of Squadron Mess and Tea Room electronic recording equipment is Free parking for cars and allowed in the museum. coaches
Aerodrome Road, Hawkinge, Nr. Folkestone, Kent, CT18 7AG
Easter Friday to 4th November April, May and October 10 am - 4 pm June to September 10 am - 5 pm Last Entry One Hour Before Closing Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays Closed November to Easter
RAF 100 1936 AIR EXERCISES
Biplane ﬁghters and bombers held sway at the time of the 1936 Air Exercises, but Britain’s defensive and offensive capabilities needed rapid improvement to meet potential new threats
DEFENDERS of the REALM ABOVE: A scene from Biggin Hill as No 111 Squadron’s Gloster Gauntlets are readied for a sortie during the 1936 Air Exercises.
ALL PHOTOS AEROPLANE
RIGHT: Warning of incoming bombers having been received, Furies of No 1 Squadron power into the air at Hornchurch.
verstretch. It was a familiar theme in relation to the RAF of recent years, especially when simultaneous combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq took their toll. Add in the need to replace some ageing equipment, to say nothing of the pressure placed on its personnel, and the service found itself in a very tight spot. This was nothing new. There is a parallel to be drawn with 1936, when the permanent commitment to policing the Empire saw the air force heavily engaged overseas while undergoing upheaval and transition back home. The previous year, King
February 1936 RAF Expansion Scheme F approved; now sought 2,500 front-line aircraft by March 1939. This would lead to creation by aircraft industry of ‘shadow factories’ to increase production capacity, and provision of further new or upgraded aerodromes. 38 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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George V’s Jubilee Review of the service at Mildenhall and Duxford had mustered 356 front-line aircraft, all of them biplanes. The new monoplanes that came to define the RAF’s future were still some way from squadron employment. Indeed, the last of its biplane fighters, Gloster’s newly named Gladiator — the first prototype of which was put on display amid the buffet for official guests at the Duxford ‘half ’ of the review — had only just been the subject of a small production order. It was against this less-thanfavourable backdrop that the 1936 Air Exercises took place from 27-29 July. The circumstances
5 March 1936 ‘Mutt’ Summers, the Vickers chief test pilot, makes the first flight of Supermarine Type 300 fighter prototype K5054 at Eastleigh, Southampton. That June, the aircraft that would become the Spitfire is ordered by the Air Ministry to the initial tune of 310 examples. One of the greatest legends of British aviation is born.
were immediately obvious to The Aeroplane’s correspondent Mrs C. M. McAlery, writing in the 5 August edition. “Preoccupations of expansion, reorganisation, and the temporary absence overseas of a number of
6 March 1936 No 48 Squadron at Manston brings Avro Anson I coastal reconnaissance aircraft (left) into service — a major step forward with its retractable undercarriage and monoplane configuration. 1 July 1936 Approval for the establishment of the RAF Volunteer Reserve. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
squadrons” were, she said, responsible for the 1936 edition involving less than half the number of aircraft as had its 1935 counterpart. By reorganisation she meant the establishment of Fighter and Bomber Commands just a fortnight previously. With that came the allocation of squadrons to newly formed groups, and different men in senior positions. Fighter Command’s incoming Air Officer Commanding, Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, took the opportunity to visit some of his stations during the three days. No wonder a Flight editorial said the exercises “must have been an unmitigated nuisance”. There were other issues, too. “So far as we could make out in the course of a short tour of Service Stations”, McAlery wrote, “the problem of this year’s Exercises was not so much a shortage of machines as a shortage of pilots. One fighter squadron had plenty of machines in their sheds but only three pilots, so the squadron had to operate as a flight only. This seems to be a case for calling up some of the Reservists to do their training during the Exercises and to bring the squadrons up to strength as was done last year, when one fighter squadron was manned entirely by reservists by day and by regulars by night.” The first day’s scenario had 10 simulated raids crossing the east coast between Dover and Harwich, and attacking the airfields at Biggin Hill, Hornchurch and North Weald. “Seven of the raids were between 10,000 and 25,000ft”, reported McAlery, “and the other three
14 July 1936 In a major reorganisation, three new RAF commands are created: Fighter, Bomber and Coastal. Training Command already exists. 1937 23 February 1937 Tangmere-based No 72 Squadron sees service entry of the Gloster Gladiator. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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were low. The official report states that all three low-flying raids were intercepted, but in the high-flying raids the skilful use of clouds and in some cases the loss of height on the way to the targets made the task of the defence more difficult and as a result some of them reached their objectives without being attacked. Even so the fighters intercepted a satisfactory proportion. “During the evening phase weather was favourable to the defence, as there was less low cloud than during the morning. Ten raids crossed the coast and attacked from varying heights up to 20,000ft. A high proportion of these raids, according to the official report, was intercepted.” The light day bomber element of the attacking forces was provided by Hawker Hinds from units based at Abingdon, Bircham Newton and Upper Heyford. However, “Most of the squadrons operated from advanced landing grounds because of their limited range”. The heavy night bombers were Handley Page Heyfords stationed at Boscombe Down and Mildenhall. According to McAlery, “The Bomber personnel did not look on these Exercises very seriously. They were in fact of little value to bomber units, but rather an exercise for fighters and ground defences.” Those fighters hailed from the three aerodromes under ‘attack’. Biggin Hill contributed the Bristol Bulldogs of No 32 Squadron for night
work and the Gloster Gauntlets of No 111 Squadron by day, the newer Gauntlets being “not yet equipped for night flying”. Much the same was the case for the units at Hornchurch, Nos 1, 25 and 43 Squadrons contributing Hawker Furies for day work, and 54’s Bulldogs at night. North Weald’s Nos 17 and 56 Squadrons were both still on Bulldogs. “During a visit to Hornchurch on the evening of the first day”, McAlery recounted, “we watched an attack by a bomber formation. Warning was received that a raid was coming in over Herne Bay at 500ft and a flight of No 25(F) Squadron took off to intercept it. No 43(F) Squadron Flight was already in the air in search of another raid and No 1(F) Squadron was standing-by. “A few minutes after the warning the bomber formation, a Flight of Hinds of No 15(B) Squadron came in from an unexpected angle at about 200ft and flew right over the aerodrome, demolishing, apparently, the entire station, the whole of No 1 Squadron and two representatives of The Aeroplane. A Flight of No 1 Squadron took off after them with amazing speed and alacrity and pursued them out of sight. Of course they might have been shot down by AA [antiaircraft] gunfire before they reached Hornchurch.” Insight was offered into a fighter scramble. “The first warning is usually received when the raiders cross
ABOVE: Their Rolls-Royce Kestrels running, flights of No 1 Squadron’s Fury Is await the signal to roll for take-off.
The problem with this year’s exercises was not so much a shortage of machines as a shortage of pilots
March 1937 Blenheim I deliveries to No 114 Squadron at Wyton begin — a step forward for the bomber force. 14 May 1937 Agreement for transfer of Fleet Air Arm to Admiralty control. December 1937 No 111 Squadron at Northolt takes delivery of the RAF’s first Hurricane Is.
1938 4 August 1938 Supermarine test pilot Jeffrey Quill delivers to Duxford the initial Spitfire I for the RAF, which will enter service with No 19 Squadron. 1939 28 June 1939 Establishment by King
George VI of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). 1 September 1939 The German invasion of Poland takes place. RAF reservists are duly mobilised for permanent service. 2 September 1939 The RAF deploys squadrons of Hurricane fighters and www.aeroplanemonthly.com 39
The warning signals vary at different stations. At one of them, where a siren is used, a squadron was ready to take off before they realised they had mistaken the station timesignal for a raid warning
RAF 100 1936 AIR EXERCISES
ABOVE: Tangmere was used as an advanced landing ground by the Abingdon-based Hinds, including these No 40 Squadron examples. They refuelled at the West Sussex aerodrome between each ‘raid’.
the coast and the pilots get into their kit and the motors are started up. On the second warning the pilots get into their machines and taxi into position. They then wait with their radio-telephony headphones on for orders from the control room which give them the height, direction and position of the raiders. They then take off. “The warning signals vary at different stations. At one of them, where a siren is used, a squadron was ready to take off before they realised that they had mistaken the station time-signal for a raid warning. The siren system will have to be discontinued now that the fighter stations are rapidly being surrounded by factories or we shall be having the squadrons going into action because the British working-man is going home to tea.” The second phase should have lasted 48 hours from three o’clock on the 29th, but instead it was curtailed at midnight on the 30th. “Air Exercises usually come to a stop in this way”, wrote McAlery, “because the Directing Staff decide that they serve no further useful purpose and consequently any further expenditure of petrol is an unnecessary extravagance”. Apparently, “A high proportion of the raids was
Fairey Battle light bombers to France under the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF). 3 September 1939 Britain declares war against Germany. A Wytonbased No 139 Squadron Blenheim conducts the RAF’s first wartime sortie, photographing the Kriegsmarine base at Wilhelmshaven. 40 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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intercepted before they reached their objectives.” There were some notably useful aspects of the 1936 exercises. Praise was reserved for the antiaircraft searchlight operators — largely all from the Territorial Army — who had undergone their own exercise the previous week, and the members of the Observer Corps. But deeper-seated limitations and shortcomings were also brought to the fore. With rising concerns about European stability, the Air Ministry had already embarked on the first phases of its RAF expansion plan. Scheme F was now in force, which sought a front-line aircraft strength of 2,500 airframes by March 1939. The rapid degree of organisational change that accompanied it had, McAlery felt, “reduced the effective strength of the air defence of this country to such an extent that at the moment we are an easy prey for any Power which likes to attack us from the air.” She continued, “The temporary absence overseas of squadrons” — notably in the Middle East and Palestine — “which belong in the Home Command is simply another result of postponed expansion.
4 September 1939 Blenheim IVs of Nos 107 and 110 Squadrons at Wattisham and 139 from Wyton, together with No 149 Squadron Vickers Wellingtons from Mildenhall, carry out the first Bomber Command raid of hostilities, attacking the German fleet in port at Wilhelmshaven. Losses prove heavy and the attack’s effects negligible.
20 September 1939 No 88 Squadron Battle gunner Sgt F. Letchford claims the shoot-down of a Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109 near Aachen. However, the kill is not confirmed. 25 October 1939 The first prototype Handley Page HP57 heavy bomber, later to become the Halifax, flies for the first time.
Our Air Force overseas should be strong enough to defend the frontiers of our possessions and mandated countries and to protect our countrymen in foreign lands without having to call on units which have been raised and armed for Home Defence.” What McAlery called the “outstanding lesson” of the exercises was, “the urgent need for day bombers which have a long range. Nobody can say where the storm will break, or when, but if we are to have a Home Defence Air Force that is any use at all we must have plenty of bombers with a range of at least 1,000 miles out with full war load, and 1,000 miles home when unloaded.” As it was, RAF expansion bore sufficient fruit just in time for that storm. None of the types in service at the time of the 1936 exercises would have cut the mustard in an earlier Battle of Britain. But beyond that McAlery, who served during World War Two in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and became a group officer, made an observation that has rung true through many eras of the RAF’s 100-year existence: “A little air force goes a very long way, but for Heaven’s sake let there be enough to go round in future.” Ben Dunnell
29 November 1939 First shoot-down of a German aircraft — a Luftwaffe Heinkel He 111 — over British soil during the latest hostilities. Nos 602 and 603 Squadron Spitfires attacked the bomber, which came down near Humbie, Lothian. 17 December 1939 Signature by representatives of the UK, AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
B R I TA I N ’ S F I N E S T H O U R
YOUR FINEST DAY OUT
VISIT THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL ON KENT’S FAMOUS WHITE CLIFFS AT CAPEL-LE-FERNE, NEAR FOLKESTONE
Relive this country’s finest hour with a visit to the Battle of Britain Memorial. Our interactive Scramble Experience brings to life the skills, bravery and sacrifices of ‘the Few’ in 1940, while the clifftop site offers opportunity for reflection and remembrance. Look for well-known names on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall, admire the replica Hurricane and Spitfire, shoot down enemy aircraft from a mock-up Hurricane cockpit in the Scramble Experience and enjoy a coffee and unrivalled views of the Channel from our first floor café.
Registered charity No. 1169005
AIN MEM OR RIT FB
RUST CIO LT IA
For this summer ’s special events, see the website
BATTLE OF BRITAIN FIGHTER ASSOCIATION
For more information, please call +44 (0)1303 249 292, email [email protected]
or visit www.battleofbritainmemorial.org
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”
RAF 100 BATTLE OF BRITAIN
Voices of ‘the Fe RAF Fighter Command veterans of the Battle of Britain recall the momentous aerial combats of the summer of 1940
s every year passes, so the ranks of ‘the Few’, as immortalised by Winston Churchill in the House of Commons on 20 August 1940, are further diminished. Today there are just eight survivors of the 2,927 aircrew members who qualified for the Battle of Britain clasp to the 1939-45 Star by virtue of flying at least one operational sortie with a squadron assigned to RAF Fighter Command between 10 July and 31 October 1940. Chances
Australia, Canada and New Zealand of the agreement creating the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. It went on to train almost half of those nations’ wartime aircrew members. 1940
10 May 1940 As German forces invade Belgium, Luxembourg and the 42 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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to hear their first-hand testimony are, therefore, ever more to be valued. It was in the very appropriate setting of the Cowdray Room at the RAF Club in London that the author was given just such an opportunity. The date, 18 August 2010, could hardly have been more fitting. It was exactly 70 years since what became known as the battle’s ‘Hardest Day’, when the Luftwaffe’s efforts to mount an all-out aerial assault against RAF airfields met with a determined Fighter Command
Netherlands and start their attack on France, Neville Chamberlain resigns as British Prime Minister, replaced by former Air Secretary Winston Churchill.
in Belgium are shot down. The VC recipients are pilot Fg Off Donald Garland and his navigator Sgt Thomas Gray, both from No 12 Squadron.
12 May 1940 The action that led to the first Victoria Cross awards to aircrew during World War Two: four of five Battles involved in an attack on bridges over the Albert Canal
14 May 1940 RAF Battles and Blenheims strike against German forces that have advanced into France near Sedan. Thirty-nine of the 71 aircraft are shot down.
response, and the two sides’ highest combined losses — in the air and on the ground — on a single day of the entire campaign. Thanks to the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, it was possible on that occasion to speak with six of ‘the Few’, gathered in the capital to attend some of 2010’s anniversary commemorations. They comprised Wg Cdr Bob Foster of No 605 Squadron, Sqn Ldr Geoffrey Wellum of 92, Flt Lt William Walker of
16 May 1940 In a memo to the Air Council, ACM Sir Hugh Dowding, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Fighter Command, warns of the dire risks of sending any further fighters to France and Belgium. Fifty-two fighter squadrons represent the minimum number required to defend the country; current Fighter Command strength is 36 squadrons. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
WORDS: BEN DUNNELL
perspectives enormously valuable in appreciating a little of what it was like to defend one’s country at a crucial moment. The memory of these conversations is increasingly to be treasured, for four of the six gentlemen involved have since passed away. William Walker died aged 99 on 21 October 2012; Bob Foster on 13 July 2014 at 94; Ken Wilkinson on 31 July 2017, aged 99; and Nigel Rose on 10 September 2017, also at 99. Were you aware at the time of the enormity of events, or only later? Bob Foster: “We knew we were in a very important battle, and we knew that if we lost the battle they may invade us. The vast implications, I suppose, were there, but it wasn’t foremost in our minds. The main object was to stop them coming, to shoot down as many as we could and so on. The strategic thing, I think, didn’t enter our minds quite as much.” Geoffrey Wellum: “One realised that something pretty serious was going on. But the implications were that you were aware of possible invasion, you were aware of the constant bombing, and you were aware of mortal combat. It was very serious.”
616, Fg Off Ken Wilkinson of 616 and 19, Wg Cdr Tom Neil of 249 and Sqn Ldr Nigel Rose of 602. To be in their presence made for a memorable afternoon, as in the relaxed atmosphere of the Piccadilly club they talked authoritatively and openly, recalling how they experienced those momentous events of the summer of 1940. In reflecting on the battle’s wider importance and some of the debates surrounding it, their opinions were forthright but considered, their
21 May 1940 The last RAF aircraft based in Belgium are evacuated. 26 May 1940 Allied soldiers start to be evacuated from Dunkirk under Operation ‘Dynamo’. RAF aircraft are assigned to provide air cover. 3 June 1940 The end of Operation ‘Dynamo’. A total of 177 RAF aircraft AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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William Walker: “I don’t think we appreciated it quite at the time. A squadron was very parochial — in my case, we only sort of knew what was going on around us. We very seldom mixed with other squadrons when we were on the same station.” Nigel Rose: “I would agree with William. Mind you, I was a very junior pilot. I would think that we had no idea at all that there was a tremendous significance in what we were doing. It just seemed to be part of the job. One read the papers, one read what the Germans said they were doing and what the Air Ministry said the RAF
has been lost in just nine days. 8 June 1940 HMS Glorious sunk in Norwegian Sea by German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, with the loss of more than 1,200 men. Among the aircraft casualties are Gladiators of No 263 Squadron and Hurricanes from No 46 Squadron, flown aboard the Royal Navy carrier as part of the
was doing, and you judged it as best you could.” Ken Wilkinson: “As far as I’m concerned, the Germans were bombing this country and they were proposing to invade this country. Now, any true-blooded Englishman steps up and says, ‘No you bloody don’t!’” Tom Neil: “When we started off, I was just 19. I don’t think you take a very high, strategic view of things when you’re 19; in fact, between the ages of 19 and 25, war became like a very serious rugger match, in which you were likely to get killed rather than have an arm broken. As a young fellow who’d been brought up in the tradition that Britain never lost a war — we lost the occasional battle every now and again — it never occurred to me for a moment that we were going to lose, nor did it occur to any of my friends. We were the RAF, we’d dusted up the Germans in the First World War, and we’d do so again. We’d just been given these new aircraft called Hurricanes and Spitfires, which in fact weren’t as good as they were said to be, but after the biplanes we’d been flying they were far superior. Don’t forget that No 611 Squadron was flying Hawker Harts and then Hinds until 1939. “I always say that between the ages of 19 and 25 you can subject the mind and the body to pretty well anything; beyond 25 you got a bit cautious, you began to think, ‘What are we in this for?’, you know, and weighed up the pros and cons.”
MAIN IMAGE: No 249 Squadron pilots with one of the unit’s Hurricane Is at North Weald on 21 September 1940. From left to right, Plt Off Percy Burton, Flt Lt ‘Butch’ Barton, Fg Off Albert Lewis, Plt Off T. Crossley, Plt Off Tom Neil, Plt Off John Beazley, commanding ofﬁcer Sqn Ldr John Grandy, Flt Lt George Barclay and Plt Off Keith Lofts. VIA JONATHAN FALCONER
INSET: The 1939-45 Star with Battle of Britain clasp.
GW: “I didn’t arrive at Biggin Hill until 7 September. Biggin showed all the signs of being in the front line. Everything was bombed, and you knew immediately that you were in total war. You just accepted it. The Germans were very active in September, particularly towards the end. For me, one of the most unpleasant times was when the Germans stopped their daylight bombing. They used to send 109s
evacuation of British forces from Norway. 18 June 1940 The last RAF Hurricane squadrons to be based in France, Nos 1 and 73, leave for Britain. 10 July 1940 The date officially recognised as the start of the Battle of Britain, as German attacks on supply
convoys in the Channel and coastal objectives, and the RAF’s response to them, intensified. Hitler’s plans to invade Britain, Unternehmen ‘Seelöwe’ (Operation ‘Sealion’), are very much on. 2 August 1940 The defence of the besieged Mediterranean island of Malta, previously in the hands of the Hal Far Fighter Flight’s Sea Gladiators, is www.aeroplanemonthly.com 43
RAF 100 BATTLE OF BRITAIN
CLOCKWISE FROM RIGHT: Wg Cdr Bob Foster, Sqn Ldr Geoffrey Wellum, Sqn Ldr Nigel Rose, Fg Off Ken Wilkinson, Wg Cdr Tom Neil and Flt Lt William Walker.
over, doing fighter sweeps, and they used to come over high. Normally we didn’t have time to get up to them, so it was the threat of being bounced by a 109 that kept me on my toes.” What was your first engagement with the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain period? BF: “Mine was not until September, and it was a rather indecisive, vague one, unlike some people who went into a lot of bombers on their first time. We intercepted a crowd of Bf 109s... I shot at a few but I didn’t hit anything at all. It was very inconclusive as far as I was concerned. It was the first time I’d fired a shot in anger — it was not very satisfactory, and I came home a bit disappointed. Then of course it got more intense after that.” GW: “My first experience I can remember vividly, because I was
bolstered by the delivery of a first batch of RAF Hurricanes, flown off HMS Argus. 12 August 1940 A new phase of the Battle of Britain begins, as Luftwaffe Bf 110s attack Chain Home radar stations in southern England. Ju 88s strike Portsmouth and Portland naval bases, the Supermarine works at Woolston in Southampton, and 44 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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flying number two to my flight commander, and somehow we’d got split up on the climb. We heard the controller vectoring us down towards Dungeness and calmly saying, ‘150plus’. I looked up, and there was this mass of aeroplanes in the sky in front of me, like a lot of gnats on a summer evening, with the bombers fairly steady and the 109s above. My reaction was, ‘Where do you start? What do you do?’ “The next thing you know, because your combined closing speed was something like 600mph and didn’t give you long to think about it, you were in the middle of it. I sprayed bullets all over Kent, and somebody said I shot something down. If that’s true, then that’s fine. But that was my first combat.” WW: “My first encounter was purely by accident. I joined my squadron in May 1940 — if I had joined later,
Ventnor radar station on the Isle of Wight, and Bf 109s, Bf 110s and Do 17s inflict significant damage on the Fighter Command stations at Manston and Hawkinge. Britain’s air defence infrastructure is under attack. 13 August 1940 The date chosen by Germany as ‘Adlertag’ (Eagle Day), a concerted effort to knock
out Britain’s defences. It proves largely unsuccessful, Luftwaffe losses outnumbering the RAF’s. 16 August 1940 His Hurricane having been attacked by a Bf 110 and set ablaze, Flt Lt James Nicolson of No 249 Squadron delays bailing out until he has shot down a second example of the German twin-engined fighter. For
I probably would have gone to an OTU, but at that time there just wasn’t time so I joined the squadron, and you picked it up as best you could as you went along. My training with my squadron was perfunctory to say the least. On one occasion we did what was referred to as a ‘battle climb’ — we climbed up to about 20,000ft and were stooging around on a beautiful day, I was rather enjoying the flight, and we suddenly received a message on the radio to say that there was a bandit in the area. We were being led by an operational pilot, then there was another trainee and myself. I was flying a MkI, which was a bit slower than the other two which were MkIIs. They hared off, and I got left far behind. When I arrived at the bandit, which turned out to be a Dornier, they had gone. “I had never fired the guns on a Spitfire — nobody had ever shown me how to use the gunsight! There
this he is awarded Fighter Command’s sole VC of the Battle of Britain. 18 August 1940 The so-called ‘Hardest Day’ brings Luftwaffe attempts to knock out the two key Fighter Command bases at Kenley and Biggin Hill. Kenley is badly damaged, but not destroyed; Biggin sustains mainly insignificant damage. Luftwaffe loses 69 aircraft to AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
was a button on the stick which said ‘on/off ’, so I turned it on, closed in on this Dornier, pressed the trigger, and there seemed to be tracer bullets all over the place. I appeared to be hitting the Dornier, which caught fire and crashed into the North Sea. I was absolutely exhilarated — I had something like five hours on Spitfires and I’d got my first Hun. “I went back, landed and was being debriefed by the intelligence officer, and I’d just got to the bit where it caught fire when the flight sergeant came and said, ‘Do you know your guns weren’t loaded?’ Then it all became apparent. What had happened was that the tracer bullets I saw were actually the German firing at me. Obviously the other two Spitfires had gone in and hit him, but the fire didn’t start until I got there. Unfortunately, they hadn’t even put another film in the gun camera, so my exploit was never recorded.”
RAF’s 63; RAF losses still heavy and unsustainable, but British efforts to repair infrastructure and make good fighter losses become key to eventual outcome. 25-26 August 1940 In retaliation for Luftwaffe aircraft dropping bombs on London the previous night, Bomber Command Hampdens and Wellingtons AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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NR: “My first encounter was on about 17 or 18 August 1940. We’d flown down from Scotland [from Drem to Westhampnett] as a squadron on the 13th, when the Germans were reckoning to put paid to the RAF. We’d only been there two or three days when we went out to meet a huge gaggle coming in to the south coast, more or less in the direction of Bognor or Brighton. “Our sector commander handled matters very well, and he got us up to about 2,000ft above the incoming bombers and fighters. What’s more, he got us with our backs to the sun, which was also a good thing. So there we were at about 22,000 and the Germans were coming in at about 20,000. I’d never seen a German aeroplane before. To see 100-andsomething, a mixture of bombers and fighters, silhouetted against a white cloud which was at about 5,000ft like a huge number of little black dots...
“At any rate, the squadron commander said, ‘A Flight, you pick the fighter-bombers’, the Bf 110s. The other flight, B, was sent to go after the bombers. We in A Flight thought B Flight was rather lucky in that. We chased down, and I can remember reckoning that perhaps the best thing to do was to go for the easiest target, which would be the rear bloke who was tailing along, probably with a rather old aircraft, such as many of us had — we had Spitfire Is, which were getting a bit decrepit. “I got a lot of rounds off into the back of the 110 as I saw it, but I think I was rather out of range most of the time. We had a gun camera on board, and it showed that the aircraft was rather further out than it ought to have been. The chap turned over on his back and went vertically downwards, white smoke pouring out of one of the engines. I thought, ‘Ah-ha’, you know, ‘I’ve done it!’ But I’m afraid
CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE LEFT: The distinguished veterans at the RAF Club in August 2010: Bob Foster and Geoffrey Wellum, Nigel Rose and William Walker, and Tom Neil and Ken Wilkinson. BEN DUNNELL
August 1940 Deliveries of the Short Stirling, the first of the RAF’s new fourengined heavy bombers, begin to No 7 Squadron at Leeming.
Luftwaffe steps up raids on London, in what is generally viewed as a tactical error. Despite some 1,100 enemy aircraft being committed to the day’s effort, Fighter Command is able to meet the challenge, the Germans having severely underestimated RAF strength.
with a decisive RAF response — there are 56 Luftwaffe losses, 28 RAF. Two days later, Hitler postpones his invasion plans, a postponement that would become indefinite. This date would henceforth be commemorated as Battle of Britain Day.
7 September 1940 Its attempts to destroy the RAF having failed, the
15 September 1940 The heaviest Luftwaffe raids on London yet meet
31 October 1940 The end of the Battle of Britain. Official statistics
attack Berlin for the first time, but miss their objectives.
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experience taught me later that I’d have been very lucky to have done any serious damage. I might have got something through his radiator, because that would have produced white smoke with the glycol streaming out, in which case it was possible he couldn’t have crossed the Channel on his way home. Afterwards I thought that probably he’d dived down to that cloud below, disappeared into it, and went on his way home. “I suspect many people will have told you that after a tremendous toand-fro, with people roaring past each other in all directions, you’d perhaps dive after an aircraft, then pull up and you wouldn’t see a thing in the sky at all. Extraordinary.”
BELOW: Spitﬁre Is of No 616 Squadron about to get airborne from Fowlmere, Duxford’s satellite airﬁeld, during the unit’s time as part of the ‘Big Wing’. At left is X4328/ QJ-R, which was shot down near Faversham by a Bf 109 on 27 September. IWM
TN: “I was on Hurricanes then — I started off on Spitfires and transferred to Hurricanes. I’d only flown the Hurricane for three weeks when we became operational on 4 July 1940. I encountered my first aircraft on the same day, when I was scrambled as one of three people. Twenty miles off Flamborough Head in the North Sea was a Do 17 reconnaissance aircraft, and we tackled it the wrong way. We went through a ridiculous business of, ‘Number one attack, number one attack, go!’, all in line-astern. “I had a halfwit in front of me called Young, and he couldn’t see anything. He vacillated for so long that we
count 2,927 pilots (some say 2,946) — of whom 574 hailed from overseas — as having participated while on the strength of eligible units. 3 November 1940 RAF aircraft join Greece’s fight against the Germans. Blenheims of No 30 Squadron and Gladiators from No 80 Squadron arrive at Elefsis near Athens. 46 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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missed it, and the German had gone into cloud before we could fire. The German was rather canny. If he’d decided to turn and run, we’d have had him, instead of which he turned towards us and flew ‘between our legs’. Of course, we were all tumbling over each other trying to get into the correct line-astern formation. We were hampered by the fact of the ‘thin red line’ mentality. We were doing things according to the Fighter Command rulebook, and they didn’t work.” KW: “We were down by the Thames Estuary, and we saw this great big gaggle. ‘What on earth do we do about this?’, you know. I was aware of the fact that the people before me had just got stuck in, and I thought, well, let’s get stuck in too. I came away unhurt, and most of the Germans went home unhurt as well.” BF: “[The combats] were all intense, and they didn’t last very long. They weren’t like the First World War when you went dicing around for half an hour. It was ‘in, out, in, out’ and so on, all over in minutes. Intense while it happened, but for a very short time.”
19 November 1940 First kill for an AI (airborne interception) radarequipped Bristol Beaufighter night fighter, with the shootdown by No 604 Squadron’s Flt Lt John Cunningham of a Ju 88.
November 1940 Avro’s Manchester bomber enters service with No 207 Squadron at Waddington. The twinRolls-Royce Vulture-powered aircraft is a disappointment; its development into the Lancaster anything but.
25 November 1940 Maiden flight of the prototype de Havilland DH98 Mosquito, serial W4050.
November 1940 Linton-on-Ousebased No 35 Squadron brings the Halifax into service, though it will
What are your views on the organisation and tactics of the RAF as opposed to the Luftwaffe’s? BF: “I think we were fairly confident of our own tactics, in that we were scrambled on time, vectored on to the aircraft and so on. From the German point of view, I don’t think it came to our minds — to my mind, anyway — how efficient or not they were. They were always coming over.” GW: “It’s a very difficult question. You’ve got to remember, this was happening in split seconds. But with a little bit of hindsight, one realised that they were very well-organised. We flew in tight formations, as if we were doing a Hendon Pageant. They didn’t, they were spread out in fingerfour. They had evaluated their aircraft and their targets in the Spanish Civil War. We hadn’t got a Spitfire in service then. So, tactically they were very, very good. And they were no fools. They had good aeroplanes, aeroplanes that had been evaluated and developed. But we didn’t have time to think of those things in those days.”
take until March 1941 to conduct its inaugural bombing raid. 1 December 1940 Establishment of Army Co-operation Command. 1941 9 January 1941 The first prototype Avro Lancaster, BT308, completes its AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
What, to your mind, was the crucial aspect that allowed the RAF to prevail? TN: “There were many things. I can tell you one thing, which is very seldom spoken about, is that on many occasions we on No 249 Squadron would be down to five aircraft at the end of the day. We’d have started off with 18, and after four or five interceptions during the day we’d be down to five. People would appear with parachutes under their arms the day after, but we’d lose the aeroplanes. “The critical thing was that, with Beaverbrook in charge at the Ministry of Aircraft Production, miraculously other aircraft would appear, and we would be back to full strength the following day. This was the most significant factor. We were never short of aircraft. Short of pilots, yes, towards the end, because the regular element of
initial flight. From the outset the four Merlin-engined aircraft is an enormous improvement over its Manchester predecessor. 5 February 1941 Formation of the Air Training Corps, its aim to offer aviation experience to cadets. 20 April 1941 Death in combat of AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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the RAF was being lost either because they were too old or they were shot down. They were gradually replaced by Volunteer Reservists, and Fighter Command was largely composed of Volunteer Reservists towards the end of the battle. They were not as experienced as their forebears, but it’s a bit like a soldier. Putting on a tin hat and a khaki uniform doesn’t make a soldier — it takes a year to produce a soldier, and it takes three years to produce an army. This is why our army didn’t have any success until El Alamein, three years after the commencement of the war. “In exactly the same way, the Volunteer Reservists only came into the picture towards the end of
Sqn Ldr Marmaduke ‘Pat’ Pattle, shot down by a Bf 110 near Athens. With 40 confirmed aerial victories in RAF Gladiators and Hurricanes, the South African would remain the war’s highestscoring British Commonwealth ace. 15 May 1941 Maiden flight of the Gloster E28/39, the first British jet aircraft, with its Power Jets W1 engine
the Battle of Britain, and in 1941 and thereafter. The whole ethos between sergeant pilots, officers and everything else disappeared. The line of demarcation gradually disappeared, because most of the sergeant pilots became officers, and the whole character of the air force changed.” WW: “I think the biggest problem for Keith Park was that he was losing pilots at really a rather alarming rate, and reserves were not coming through as quickly as he would have liked. But the aeroplanes were coming through.”
LEFT: Vics of No 249 Squadron Hurricanes getting airborne from North Weald during October 1940. V7313/GN-F at extreme left was a regular mount for Tom Neil. G. PERRIN
NR: “The older fighter pilots, people with short-service commissions, people who’d been in France — there were comparatively few of them altogether, and of course they were being shot down and killed, while others went on to OTUs, and some went to rest, especially those who were in France. As William was saying, Dowding certainly felt the pinch. We were getting pilots almost fresh from flying training schools with hardly any experience on Spitfires, and also some army co-operation chaps who’d been on Lysanders.”
developed — not without considerable difficulty over official intransigence — by RAF officer Frank Whittle. 26 May 1941 A No 209 Squadron Consolidated Catalina sights the German battleship Bismarck in midAtlantic, making known its position and aiding in its subsequent sinking by the Royal Navy.
8 July 1941 The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress makes its combat debut when No 90 Squadron’s Fortress Is (equivalent to the B-17C) carry out a raid on Wilhelmshaven. 1 August 1941 No 651 Squadron is formed as the first RAF unit to operate the Taylorcraft Auster I air observation post aircraft. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 47
RAF 100 BATTLE OF BRITAIN
ABOVE: A No 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron Spitﬁre Ia during the summer of 1940. The Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadrons and their pilots made a major contribution to the battle.
VIA D. CAMERON
TN: “The object of the exercise as far as the Germans were concerned was to destroy the RAF in the air, to destroy the airfields themselves, and to destroy the factories making the aeroplanes. Then in late August the RAF had the temerity, not very successfully, to bomb Germany, and Hitler committed the crime of all crimes — he changed his policy. So from 7 September onwards they forgot about us in the air, on the ground and the factories, and they challenged our cities in order to destroy the will of the people. That was the turning point, absolutely. We went on fighting in the old way, but that was the turning point. “Another factor — your German was a land animal when he thought of his forces. He thought of his army. The air force was just an ancillary part to the army. They had dive-bombers, airborne tanks, and the fighters were there to protect the airborne tanks. The bombers, the Do 17s, He 111s, were there to help the army going forward. They weren’t there to invade. The whole Luftwaffe was wrongly created. “Not only that, but the 109 had this thumping great engine of 39 litres. Heavy engine, very small aircraft — it could dictate terms, but it had very short range, only one hour 25 minutes. It could just about reach London from the north coast of France. It had better armament, better this, better that, it was a more effective fighter, but they kept running out of fuel all the time.
19 September 1941 First production Mosquito W4051 flies an operational mission for the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit at Benson. September 1941 No 56 Squadron at Duxford introduces the Hawker Typhoon to service. It will take some time to iron out the aircraft’s troubles, but an outstanding machine results, 48 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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Every now and again, of course, they missed the rendezvous because they could only fly for a short time while the bombers could fly for five hours. “The other thing that was totally different was the attitude of this creation of the important people in the fighter element. As an officer, I had one uniform, which I bought for £40. You were given £40 because you were an officer, and you bought the whole of your rig-out — two uniforms, a greatcoat, the whole gamut, which cost you hundreds of pounds but you’d been given £40. The Germans had 12 uniforms for their fighter pilots, and they were bedecked peacocks. They were big cheeses, you know. “I remember going to Germany before the war, and I was thrilled to pieces to see these officers with all these gongs and crosses. I thought they were wonderful. Of course, this was the way their air force was built up — the ‘big ace’ attitude. We had a squadron attitude. We didn’t have ‘big aces’. [Erich Hartmann], who eventually shot down 352, only joined the Luftwaffe in 1940 and finished training in 1942. His attitude was very simple and straightforward, which was the attitude of most of the people in the Luftwaffe. He had this bloody great engine, this small aeroplane, and they could dictate tactics — they would dive at us, they would climb quickly off us, get within shooting distance, fire their
albeit in the ground attack role rather than as an interceptor.
the RAF Regiment to provide airfield defence.
15 November 1941 First Mosquito IV bombers delivered to No 105 Squadron at Swanton Morley.
22 February 1942 Air Marshal Arthur Harris appointed Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Bomber Command.
1942 1 February 1942 Establishment of
7 March 1942 RAF Spitfire Vs are flown off HMS Eagle to land at Ta’ Qali,
guns, close their eyes and disappear. He didn’t indulge in head-on attacks, quarter attacks and so on; he got directly behind the person in front and shot him down. That’s what they did, and they did it very well. “I flew Hurricanes, Spitfires and a 109, and it was a rough old brute, it really was. The Germans who flew the Merlin thought it was a lovely, nice, quiet engine, and fast. The Daimler-Benz engine was, as they said, as rough as a bird’s arse. But it had fuel injection, it had a much better supercharger, an electric propeller which we didn’t have — lots of things. The thing that was an absolute bugbear of the 109 was the undercarriage, which was splayed out, and meant they had a hell of a job on landing and take-off, particularly on bouncy airfields.” Can you describe the sortie that included your first confirmed Luftwaffe ‘kill’ of the battle? BF: “We’d been jumped by some 109s at about 20,000ft, and we broke away. They shot down the chap next to me, he went down in flames, and I spiralled down out of the way, because you didn’t stay to mix it when they were above you. As I pulled out at about 2,000ft, one of the 109s which I assumed had attacked us earlier on was going home, and forgot the dominant rule that you don’t relax when you’re in the fighting area. He had done his job, he was going home for lunch or something like that, and he didn’t appear to see me so I shot him down.” GW: “It was in that first combat, actually, when we went into that 150-plus. After the initial attack, you didn’t hang around in the crossfire. You broke downwards, and I came out of it at about 4,000ft. I saw a He 111 going like a mad-hat back out towards the coast; obviously he’d got separated and he was batting it out for home. I was lucky enough to catch him, and I hit him. One of the engines went, and the other one wasn’t too good. I gather he crashed near the lighthouse
Malta, having been assigned to boost the Mediterranean island’s defences in the face of Axis attacks. Three days later, a first kill is achieved against a Luftwaffe Bf 109. 17 April 1942 Nos 44 and 97 Squadrons fly their new Lancasters on a low-level, unescorted, daylight raid against the MAN U-boat engine AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
LEFT: The two main group commanders within Fighter Command in 1940: AVM Keith Park of No 11 Group (immediate left) and his No 12 Group opposite number AVM Trafford LeighMallory (far left). The two men found themselves at odds over several tactical issues.
at Dungeness, just off the coast there, but I didn’t claim it as a definite. I just said I’d had a good go at it, and the time and so on. But they gave me a confirmation.” WW: “The first occasion was on the Germans’ ‘Eagle Day’, when the squadron was still stationed up at Leconfield in Yorkshire. We were having lunch in the mess when suddenly our radio went mad: ‘No 616 Squadron, scramble!’ We all dashed out, grabbed our aeroplanes, took off and more or less formed up in the air. “We were vectored on to about 80 or 90 Ju 88s which had come in from, I think, Norway. They were unescorted, because although fighters had come from Norway they hadn’t got enough fuel to escort them over land, so they had gone back once they reached the coast. I had never seen so many aircraft in the air in my life. I attacked and shot at three; it was the first time I had shot with loaded guns. You couldn’t miss them, and I thought, ‘Oh, this is easy’. I was to know later that it wasn’t. “When I was eventually shot down on 26 August, we were scrambled as a section of three to patrol Dover and Dungeness at angels 20 at the height of what was the battle. It was a far cry from Bader’s ‘Big Wing’ — just three of us. Actually, it was a complete disaster. We met a whole squadron of 109s. My leader, Fg Off ‘Teddy’ St Aubyn, was shot down and terribly badly burned, and Sgt [Marmaduke] Ridley, a good friend of mine, was killed. I got a bullet in my leg, so I bailed out. I wasn’t taking any chances, and I pulled the ripcord straight away. It took ages to come down, but I didn’t see a single aircraft the whole time. It must have taken about 20 minutes to come down.” NR: “Usually there was an understanding when people were flying around at that time that you didn’t shoot at somebody coming down in a parachute. I’m not sure that was always adhered to, because occasionally there were examples which denied that was true, but it seemed a nice, chivalrous attitude to take.”
plant in Augsburg. Seven of the 12 aircraft are shot down; his machine badly damaged, 44’s CO, Sqn Ldr John Nettleton, makes it back to Britain and is awarded the VC. 8 May 1942 A single Douglas Dakota of No 31 Squadron — the first RAF unit to operate the type — airlifts an unprecedented 65 people out of AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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WW: “I couldn’t have done it. Could you?” NR: “I don’t think so.” TN: “The first one was directly after the occasion when we didn’t shoot down that Dornier. A couple of days later, we shot down a Ju 88, but that again raises a little point which is symptomatic of various things that happened in Fighter Command at the time. We shot down this Ju 88, which force-landed and killed three people in Yorkshire, and we claimed the aircraft. We cut the swastika and things from the fuselage. Then we suddenly heard that he’d been shot down by Spitfires from No 41 Squadron up at Catterick. We went to the local cinema and saw it on Movietone News — the commentator said, ‘Now here’s an aircraft shot up by our brave fighter pilots of No 41 Squadron’. There were screams of wrath from the stalls. That was the first inclination I had that the only thing to fly was a Spitfire. If you were flying a Hurricane, you were wasting your time — you weren’t really in the Battle of Britain. But, as you well know, there were virtually three times as many Hurricanes.” NR: In early September, a section was sent up because a reconnaissance 110 had been spotted over Portsmouth. The navy had been firing at it and hadn’t had any success. We went up
to intercept it, which we did. I had two experienced blokes in the section with me — I was the junior — and we met this chap at about 20,000ft above Portsmouth. We all went into a terrific helter-skelter dive, because this Luftwaffe chap was heading for home and getting down as near to the sea as he could. “The first of our section went in as we were nearing sea level and set one of the engines on fire on the 110, and I went in second. I wrote laconically in my logbook, ‘No results from self ’. But then the third one went in, and the thing blew up and fell in the sea. I always felt they should have handed me a third, because I might have done some damage. But it wasn’t confirmed by me.” What’s your perspective on the backup the pilots had — the groundcrews, those who repaired the airfields, and so on? BF: “Second to none. It was only that — the groundcrews, the organisation at the back, the aircraft factories, the delivery pilots, the air traffic people, the fighter control people — that kept us going and enabled us to win.” GW: “You had your aeroplane, you had your own fitter and rigger. The groundcrews and the flight sergeants on the flightline, they were the salt of the earth. Without them the Battle of Britain couldn’t even have been
10 May 1942 No 2 Squadron flies its first mission with the Allison V-1710-engined North American Mustang I.
Manchesters and Lancasters — 1,047 aircraft — fly on Bomber Command’s first ‘1,000-bomber’ raid, the target Cologne. Forty-one of them are lost; a Manchester pilot, No 50 Squadron’s Fg Off L. T. Manser, is awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions.
30-31 May 1942 Wellingtons, Stirlings, Halifaxes, Whitleys, Hampdens,
12 June 1942 A single No 236 Squadron Beaufighter Ic flies from
Myitkyina, Burma, before the Japanese capture the airfield.
Thorney Island to Paris, drops a French tricolore on the Arc de Triomphe and strafes the Gestapo HQ on the Place de la Concorde. 28 July 1942 No 64 Squadron at Hornchurch flies its first operation with the new Spitfire IX, its major advance being a Merlin engine with two-stage supercharger. The MkIX proves www.aeroplanemonthly.com 49
RAF 100 BATTLE OF BRITAIN
RIGHT: Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 Werknummer 5068 of Oberleutnant Paul Temme from I./JG 2 ‘Richthofen’ crashed near Shoreham airﬁeld, Sussex, on 13 August 1940. It had suffered engine problems and is believed to have been shot down by a No 43 Squadron Hurricane. The Bf 109’s short range was a handicap throughout the battle. IWM
fought, let alone won. You had a great rapport with your fitter and your rigger. You flew their aeroplane. You were their pilot. There was a little example of comradeship within the comradeship of a fighter squadron. I can’t elaborate more on what Bob said.” How frustrating were some of the long periods of inaction? BF: “You’d be called to readiness first thing in the morning, then sit around all morning waiting for the thing to do. Sometimes the alarm would sound, and you’d go off and it would be a negative — they’d turned away or something — and you came back again. The strain of being there all day long was worse than the actual action. It got to some people quite a bit, sitting around doing nothing, but once you were called and were up, you were fine.” GW: “I make no bones about it — I confess that waiting in dispersal for that phone to go and scramble you was the worst part of my day. I used to go out and have a walk, or kick a stone around, or do something. Waiting, knowing that some time during the day you were going to end up in the most almighty fight… I hated it.” What are your perspectives on No 12 Group’s use of the ‘Big Wing’? BF: “The ‘Big Wing’ thing will go on and on and on — there’s no answer to it, is there? The quite simple answer is that in No 11 Group we could not operate ‘Big Wings’. It was bad enough trying to form up two squadrons, if we ever did. To try and form up three or four or so on, taking all that time, we’d have been annihilated. It just wasn’t on.” GW: “I agree with Bob. I thought about it at the time, and a ‘Big Wing’ takes time to form up. That’s just what you haven’t got. This is where Park had it absolutely right, to operate squadrons independently rather than spend a lot of time forming up a ‘Big
more than a match in European skies for the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. 15 August 1942 Bomber Command establishes the Pathfinder Force, commanded by Gp Capt Donald Bennett. 19 August 1942 Operation ‘Jubilee’, the Dieppe landings. While a disaster 50 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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It’s not about medals, it’s not even about we survivors being thanked. It’s important and rather nice to be remembered, because if you’re remembered you’re taking in everybody Wing’. I think their attitude was that it didn’t matter when you shot the enemy down as long as you shot him down. In other words, are you going to allow him to bomb? That’s not right. I did not agree with the ‘Big Wing’ concept, nor those that advocated it.” WW: “The ‘Big Wing’ was a nonsense. By the time they’d all assembled up in the air, it was almost time to come home for those who’d taken off first. Keith Park juggled the
from the Allied point of view, important lessons are learned — not least regarding provision of air support — that will be put to good use later in the war. 25 August 1942 A No 228 Squadron Short Sunderland III carrying HRH The Duke of Kent to Reykjavík, Iceland, crashes in Caithness with the loss of the duke and 13 of the 14 others on board.
26 October 1942 Vickers Wellingtons and Bristol Beauforts of Nos 38 and 42 Squadrons respectively sink Axis tankers Tergestea and Proserpina at Tobruk, denying Rommel’s forces crucial oil supplies at a critical stage of the Battle of El Alamein. 8-16 November 1942 Heavy RAF involvement in Operation ‘Torch’, the
squadrons around with considerable success during the Battle, and I think it would have been easy for someone of lesser ability to have made a complete cock of it.” NR: “The ‘Big Wing’ idea was really promoted by Bader, Leigh-Mallory and ‘Sholto’ Douglas, I think to the horror to much of the larger part of Fighter Command who didn’t feel that they were on the right track at all. In the end it died a natural death. A lot of books and things have been
Allied landings in Vichy French-held North Africa. 11 November 1942 End of the second Battle of El Alamein, during which aircraft of the RAF’s Desert Air Force have been in almost constant action. 20 November 1942 The Operation AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
of fighting, because as soon as you attacked the enemy bombers you were down to ones and twos and threes. “Of course, this set up antagonism between Keith Park, who had a sensible view of things because he’d been a very successful fighter pilot in the First World War on Bristol Fighters, and Leigh-Mallory who never flew a fighter in his life. LeighMallory was in awe of Douglas Bader, who was a noisy person, advocating this ‘Big Wing’ business, which was wrong. I must say, operating from North Weald repeatedly we used to be involved in an action and come back feeling like pieces of chewed string, in ones and twos — then we’d suddenly look up and see 60 aircraft sailing across our heads looking for the enemy. The enemy had long since gone home. Later in the day, we’d find they had shot down 45 or something. Bader was an enthusiast to his own credit and no-one else’s.”
written about all this, and everyone seems to condemn the idea.” TN: “You’ve got to know a little about Douglas Bader. Douglas Bader had a philosophy: ‘Me first, I’m next, anything left I’ll have’. He was a supreme exhibitionist. He believed that with a huge formation you’d upset the enemy. In fact, what you need in fighting is flexibility, small groups of aircraft doing pretty well what they like. This was contrary, absolutely, to the main purposes
‘Stone Age’ merchant ship convoy reaches Valletta’s Grand Harbour safely, escorted in part by RAF Spitfires. This effectively marks the end of the Axis siege of Malta. 1943 5 March 1943 Gloster flies its F9/40 jet fighter prototype for the first time. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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KW: “As far as the principle of air fighting is concerned, I was just a sergeant pilot, that’s all. I had no thoughts as to whether it was best to do it with lots of aircraft or just a few aircraft. I had no idea. As far as I was concerned, we were fighting the same war. But I do know this — that we were called on much too late, time and time again. We would get down over the Thames Estuary area and find that the Germans were going home. I don’t know the reasons for that — whether it was the temperamental Park, or whether it was a little girl sitting over a typewriter not doing their job — but we were called on late.” TN: “It was a terrible problem between Park and Leigh-Mallory, and it went right back a long way. Park was a protégé of Dowding. In certain respects Leigh-Mallory was, but Park was promoted over the top of LeighMallory, really. He was given a more effective, more prominent group than Leigh-Mallory, and I think it irked. “And Leigh-Mallory, whom I came to know quite well, was a brain-picker. He had no ideas of his own, but he
In production it will become known as the Meteor. 5 March 1943 Start of the Battle of the Ruhr, a concerted Allied bombing effort against Germany’s industrial heartland. 25 March 1943 Establishment of Transport Command out of what had been Ferry Command.
picked the brains of other people, and he happened to pick the brains of Douglas Bader, who recommended wrong tactics to my way of thinking. Very often, it became a battle of the two AOCs. Park would ask for support from No 12 Group to protect the northernmost elements of No 11 Group — North Weald, Debden and so on — and for reasons of his own Leigh-Mallory either didn’t or wouldn’t accept the asking. It became a personal issue.”
BELOW LEFT: Efforts to repair damaged aircraft contributed much to the RAF’s eventual success in 1940. This No 92 Squadron Spitfire Ia, R6597, suffered a mishap on 22 July but was back in action before the battle ended. NO 92 SQUADRON
How important is it that the battle is still remembered? BF: “I suppose we’re very biased, aren’t we? I think it’s very important. Apart from it being a personal thing, as has been said so many times over the last few months, years and so on, this was a decisive battle. It should be remembered, because had it been lost, we wouldn’t be sitting here today. Simple as that.” GW: “I’ve got a little bit of a fixed view on this. To me, it’s not about medals, it’s not even about we survivors being thanked. It’s important and rather nice to be remembered, because if you’re remembered you’re taking in everybody, not only those of us who survived but those who paid the extreme sacrifice. That to me is important.”
HONOURING ‘THE FEW’ The men who fought with Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain are all listed on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne in Kent. A new visitor centre at the site — built in the shape of a Spitfire wing — houses a huge amount of information for those who would like to learn more about ‘the Few’, as well as hands-on exhibits designed to introduce visitors to those who won the Battle of Britain. This year’s Memorial Day event will take place on 1 July and marks the 25th anniversary of the memorial’s unveiling. For further information, visit www.battleofbritainmemorial.org
31 March 1943 Army Co-operation Command is disbanded, most of its assets being incorporated into the new Second Tactical Air Force, established later the same year. 16-17 May 1943 Using the Upkeep ‘bouncing bomb’ conceived by Barnes Wallis, Lancasters of No 617 Squadron breach the Möhne and Eder dams in
Germany’s strategically vital Ruhr valley during Operation ‘Chastise’. 10 June 1943 Start of the Combined Bomber Offensive, involving a coordinated campaign by RAF and US Army Air Forces heavy bombers. 9-10 July 1943 Airborne landings kick off Operation ‘Husky’, the Allied www.aeroplanemonthly.com 51
RAF 100 VENTURA SQUADRON
Mixed fortunes for No 21 Squadron’s Lockheed Venturas in action over occupied Europe
NOTHING VENTURED… ABOVE: Six Venturas of No 21 Squadron ﬂying in formation from their base at Methwold near Thetford on 13 January 1943.
ALL PHOTOS AEROPLANE
f the myriad Americanbuilt aircraft types operated by the RAF during World War Two, there were many great success stories. The Boeing Fortress and North American Mustang, instances where UK front-line experience contributed much to the improvement of US equipment, spring most readily to mind. The Lockheed Ventura does not. Hopes that it would build on the excellence of the Burbank, California manufacturer’s Hudson in RAF service came to nought, as this development of the Lodestar transport turned out to be behind the times. Three squadrons assigned to Bomber Command received Venturas during 1942. Having been disbanded overseas on 14 March, No 21 Squadron re-formed that same day at Bodney, Norfolk, as a medium bomber squadron within No 2 Group.
invasion of Sicily. RAF Halifaxes and Armstrong Whitworth Albemarles are among the aircraft towing troopcarrying gliders into battle; many other RAF squadrons are involved in subsequent operations. 27-28 July 1943 The most significant raid of Operation ‘Gomorrah’, a series of Bomber Command attacks against 52 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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Hamburg. On this occasion the strike by 787 aircraft results in a serious firestorm, killing more than 40,000 people. 17-18 August 1943 Bomber Command Lancasters, Halifaxes and Stirlings attack the German rocket research facility at Peenemünde. It is estimated that the raid held up V2
It initially flew Blenheim IVs left there by No 32 Squadron, before the first Venturas arrived on 31 May. Early night-flying practice showed some disadvantages: “Inaccuracy of the pilot’s compass” and “the limited visibility both from the pilot’s and navigator’s seats” are mentioned in the operations record book. A move was made to Methwold on 1 November, by which time re-equipment with both Ventura Is and IIs was almost complete. Their first mission came two days later, three aircraft hitting rail targets near Hengelo in the Netherlands. Then came Operation ‘Oyster’, the famous low-level attack on the Philips radio works at Eindhoven on 6 December. No 21 Squadron’s aircraft joined Douglas Bostons of Nos 88, 107 and 226 Squadrons, new DH Mosquitos from 105 and 139,
development by around two months.
and further Venturas operated by Nos 464 (RAAF) and 487 (RNZAF) Squadrons. The objective for 21 was to attack the plant’s smaller lamp and valve factory with incendiary and delayed-action high-explosive bombs. Led by the CO, Wg Cdr Richard Prichard, 17 aircraft took off; “all were believed to have reached the target, including two which did not return. One of these was seen to be in flames after dropping its bombs on the target, while the second was also seen on the run-up”. A third, “whose petrol pipe had been shot through”, ditched off Suffolk on its return flight — the crew was picked up by rescue launch. “Only three aircraft escaped damage by flak but these were all damaged by birds”. Nine Venturas from the three squadrons were lost, the highest rate of any of the three types engaged. Nevertheless, “Photographs were taken which showed that the attack was very
20 September 1943 First flight of Britain’s second jet fighter prototype, the de Havilland DH100 — later called the Vampire.
January 1944 No 486 Squadron takes delivery of the RAF’s first Hawker Tempest, a development of the Typhoon.
18-19 November 1943 The first raid of Bomber Command’s Battle of Berlin, which will continue until March 1944.
18 February 1944 Operation ‘Jericho’: 19 Mosquitos of Nos 21, 464 (RAAF) and 487 (RNZAF) Squadrons, as well as AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
successful”. Prichard was awarded the DFC for his part in this mission. This time escorted by Spitfires, 21 sent six aircraft to strike the port at Den Helder on 23 December. All returned. An attack against IJmuiden on 9 January proved similarly favourable. Four days later, 21 provided nine of 18 Venturas, the others hailing from 464, for a raid against Abbeville-Drucat airfield. The target was hit and the Spitfire escorts shot down three Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw 190s. “Soon after the return from this Operation”, 21’s ORB states, “seven aircraft took off for exhibition flying to provide more photographs for publication in the press”. A first image appeared in The Aeroplane for 22 January, and a full spread on 19 February. Unfortunately, the aircraft of the new CO, Wg Cdr King, “crash-landed in the middle of the aerodrome” on its return, having damaged its undercarriage on the hedge that jutted out into the airfield. “The rear gunner Sgt Lewis, who was in the rear turret, was knocked unconscious for a few minutes but recovered very quickly”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this mishap went unmentioned in The Aeroplane’s reports. The regular round of involvement in ‘Circus’ operations, drawing out Luftwaffe fighters to be dealt with by the escorts, continued. One of 21’s aircraft was shot down on 3 February after the squadron turned back from an attack on Kortrijk-Wevelgem airfield due to thick cloud; another after bombing St Brieuc airfield on
15 March, the machine ditching off Guernsey. The results were rather mixed, and exercises in March showed that, to quote King, “So far as concerns the low-level operations, owing to the time required to open the bomb doors before the release of the bombs, and the impossibility of turning quickly onto a target which may not be sighted within 3/4 mile, the Ventura is not suitable for
The Ventura is not suitable for attacking troop concentrations and other targets which may be heavily camouflaged attacking troop concentrations and other targets which may be heavily camouflaged.” At the start of April, 21 moved to Oulton. The month did not begin well: four aircraft of 12 sent on a ‘Ramrod’ sortie to bomb an Axis tanker at Brest were lost, three of their crews ending up missing after intense combats with Fw 190s. Three
more failed to return from 21 April’s raid on the Abbeville rail marshalling yards. On 28 May came an attack on some coke ovens at Zeebrugge, after which “two aircraft collided during the evasive action”, one crew being reported missing. Four aircraft forcelanded in the UK following damage sustained during 31 May’s raid against Caen-Carpiquet airfield. And an attack on a heavy gun position northeast of Abbeville-Drucat on 22 June ended tragically when King’s aircraft, Ventura II AE910, was “shot down in flames”. All five on board, including Swanton Morley station commander Gp Capt Spendlove who was along for the ride as passenger, were killed. The unit was supposed to re-equip with North American Mitchells, but the process was cancelled on 6 July and the two aircraft thus far delivered sent elsewhere. It moved to Sculthorpe and re-equipped instead with Mosquito FBVIs. The process was completed on 25 October, when the last Ventura was delivered to Bicester. Says the ORB, “The aircraft overshot on landing and became a total wreck”. It seems a not entirely inappropriate epitaph for the Ventura’s time on No 21 Squadron. Ben Dunnell
LEFT: Ventura I AE774 with a mixed load of 250lb and 500lb bombs being moved to the flightline. Piloted by Sgt D. H. Lear, this aircraft crash-landed near Betteshanger, Kent, on 3 February 1943 after the No 21 Squadron formation that had just turned back from a raid on Kortrijk-Wevelgem airfield in Belgium encountered heavy flak and the attentions of Luftwaffe fighters near Calais-Marck. Lear was injured.
LEFT: The Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines of six No 21 Squadron Venturas turning on the Methwold flightline before going flying for the press.
the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, attack the Amiens prison in an effort to free French Resistance and other inmates. 30-31 March 1944 Of 795 Bomber Command aircraft sent to attack Nuremberg, 95 are lost — the command’s heaviest loss rate of the whole war. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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14 April 1944 Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, assumes control of all Allied strategic bombing operations in Europe as preparations for the invasion take hold. 5 June 1944 D-Day minus one: final pre-invasion missions. Lancasters, Halifaxes and Mosquitos attack coastal
gun batteries near the Normandy beaches, and numerous deception sorties including dummy parachute drops away from the invasion area. 6 June 1944 D-Day: the Allied invasion of Normandy. Shortly after midnight, members of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry capture a key bridge — subsequently known
as Pegasus Bridge — across the Caen Canal near Bénouville. They had landed in Normandy in Airspeed Horsa gliders towed by RAF Halifaxes (above). www.aeroplanemonthly.com 53
RAF 100 DUXFORD TYPHOONS
“Typhoons as a wing are an unwieldy and dangerous assemblage”. So say the records of one of the Hawker ﬁghter’s ﬁrst operational squadrons, whose efforts to operate in a wing grouping brought only limited success WORDS: BEN DUNNELL
The SECOND DUXFORD WING
Among 13,743 sorties flown by the Allied air forces that day, all major RAF commands contributed: dropping parachutists and supplies, towing gliders, providing fighter cover and escort, performing reconnaissance, bombing coastal objectives, attacking enemy troop and vehicle movements and naval vessels, spotting for naval guns, laying smoke cover and more. 54 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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Enemy air activity proves minimal. Not to be forgotten, RAF servicing commando units, ready to set up and support forward airfields, and medical personnel sailed for Normandy themselves on 6 June. 7 June 1944 D-Day plus one: the Allied advance takes hold. The first advanced landing ground (ALG) in
Normandy, B-1 near Asnelles-surMer — close to Gold Beach — is completed, and receives Spitfires three days later. Many resupply missions, attacks on road and rail targets. 8-9 June 1944 First use of Barnes Wallis-developed 12,000lb ‘Tallboy’ deep penetration bomb by No 617 Squadron, to destroy a railway tunnel
near Saumur used as a German military transportation route. 22 June 1944 First combined operations by RAF and USAAF fighterbombers hit flak sites near Cherbourg — RAF Typhoons fire rockets and Mustangs drop bombs and strafe, before AAF P-38s and P-47s follow up with further bombs. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
n 22 August 1942, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Trenchard visited RAF Duxford. During the Second World War he acted as something of an unofficial ‘inspectorgeneral’ for the air force, and on this occasion he wished to see how the Hawker Typhoon was faring in service. Trenchard asked Sgt André Blanco, one of the many Belgian pilots on No 609 Squadron, “whether he thinks the Typhoon has got over its teething troubles”. According to the unit record, Blanco “astonishes everyone by replying in the affirmative”. Even after almost a year, the Hawker fighter still had its problems. Duxford had witnessed the type’s service entry when No 56 Squadron received an initial two examples of the Typhoon Ia in September 1941, building up to full strength by the end of October. Soon 56 found it was not the outstanding new mount that had been hoped for. The relatively thick wing reduced its effectiveness in the air-to-air role, and performance at altitude proved disappointing. Added to this were failures of the Napier Sabre engine, pilots being poisoned by carbon monoxide entering the cockpit (56 suffered a loss for that reason during November 1941) and, later, structural failures. While 56 was redeployed away from Duxford in March 1942 and went on to spend time at various locations, No 266 (Rhodesia) Squadron, which had arrived in January, took its place. It converted to the Typhoon at that time. Then in March came No 609 (West Riding) Squadron, a Royal Auxiliary Air Force unit with a notably international make-up. Still equipped with Spitfire Vbs on moving to Duxford from Digby in Lincolnshire, 609’s Typhoons started arriving on 17 April. The first example was flown the following day by the unit CO, Sqn Ldr George ‘Sheep’ Gilroy. The squadron record said it “probably won’t last very long”, though the reactions to the new machine were “favourable, except for the lack of control during the take-off.” After tea on 20 April, the unit got together to hear a talk by Duxford’s
12 July 1944 The RAF enters the jet age: the first Meteor Is are delivered to No 616 Squadron at Culmhead, in part as a rapid response to the V1 flying bomb threat. 4 August 1944 Meteors score two V1 kills within minutes, one by tipping the flying bomb out of control, the other with cannon fire. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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15 August 1944 Operation ‘Dragoon’, the Allied invasion of southern France, is mounted from Sicily. RAF Spitfires, Beaufighters, Mosquitos, Wellingtons and Martin Marauders are involved alongside USAAF and Free French aircraft. 17 September 1944 The start of Operation ‘Market Garden’, the Allied
wing commander flying, Wg Cdr Denys Gillam, “about this [aircraft] and its future, and from this they derive considerable encouragement. They learn that new tactics must be evolved, that they must (temporarily) adhere strictly to certain rules (chiefly concerning oil temperature), that they are a pretty privileged squadron to be chosen to fly them at all, and as such will be almost immune from postings. Above all, they can thank their stars that they are the third, and not the first [squadron] to get these new aircraft, as most of the snags have already been found and dealt with.” The work-up period wasn’t entirely without incident. Gilroy suffered a mishap on 15 May “when one of his brakes binds, causes an oleo leg to fail and some damage to the aircraft. According to standing instructions he puts himself under open arrest, interviews himself sternly, finds himself not guilty of neglect, and releases himself ”. As can be seen, 609’s operations record books are among the finest documents of their type, providing a more eloquent, detailed and, when the occasion demanded, amusing insight into daily squadron life than most. The entry for 27 May, following productive practice intercepts of No 616 Squadron Spitfires, offers an indication as to pilots’ impressions of their new mounts. “This is the most successful interception by Typhoons to date, and considerably bolsters the morale of Typhoon pilots, who are apt to harp on this aircraft’s inferior manoeuvrability.” That the Napier Sabre was still far from perfect became apparent on 29 May, when Plt Off Baron Jean de Selys Longchamps, “testing some new apparatus from Napiers, has his engine catch fire and bales out SE of March, his Typhoon crashing to bits almost on the main road”. With Gilroy suddenly being posted away, Sqn Ldr Paul Richey took his place, and once de Selys Longchamps — who had been “entertained by the Home Guard” — had been collected by some of his
liberation of the Netherlands. RAF Dakotas and glider-towing Halifaxes and Stirlings are part of the initial airborne forces assault; rocket-armed Typhoons provide close support to ground forces. Eventually, efforts to retain a foothold around Arnhem are unsuccessful and the Allies fail to cross the Rhine — the origins of ‘a bridge too far’.
LEFT: A six-strong formation of No 56 Squadron Typhoon Ibs. Leading the vic nearest the camera is EK183. AEROPLANE
19 September 1944 Engaged in a resupply mission to Allied forces at Arnhem following the start of ‘Market Garden’, No 274 Squadron Dakota III KG374 continues an ammunition drop despite heavy enemy ground fire. It crashed, only the navigator surviving. Pilot Flt Lt David Lord is posthumously awarded the VC, the only one for Transport Command during the war. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 55
RAF 100 DUXFORD TYPHOONS
BELOW: Then-Flt Lt Roland Beamont in a No 609 Squadron aircraft. Beamont did not care for the Typhoon’s cockpit door and canopy arrangement.
ROLAND BEAMONT VIA C. H. THOMAS
fellow pilots, toasts were drunk to all. At one stage that night, their 32 pints were arranged on a table to spell the numbers ‘609’. The idea was to create a Typhoon wing composed of Nos 56, 266 and 609 Squadrons. 266’s record for 3 June relates, “26 Typhoon sorties including nine aircraft on Wing Formation with No 609 Squadron. Three Typhoons flew down to Heston, Kenley and Tangmere to show Spitfire pilots the Typhoon aircraft for recognition purposes”. This was important, for concerns existed that the new Hawker fighter could easily be mistaken for a Focke-Wulf Fw 190, something recorded as the cause of several instances of ‘friendly fire’. As June dawned, and news arrived that two No 56 Squadron aircraft had been shot down in error by Spitfire IXs in the belief that they were Fw 190s, so 609 spent much of the first of the month involved in an army cooperation exercise codenamed ‘Blitz’. In this the Typhoons were to counter simulated German forces. Ironically, given the type’s later successful employment in the low-level role, the
27 September 1944 The last of Wg Cdr (later AVM) ‘Johnnie’ Johnson’s 34 confirmed individual aerial victories, making him the most successful British ace of hostilities. In Spitfire LFIX NH382, he downs a Bf 109 near Rees, Germany. 31 October 1944 A force of 25 Mosquitos attacks the Gestapo HQ at 56 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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ORB recounts, “Most pilots find lowflying attacks in Typhoons extremely difficult; in fact the general feeling is: ‘Blitz in Spits is well enough, But in Typhoons is rather tough’.” The new Duxford wing went into action on 20 June. “The first Typhoon operation”, records 266’s ORB. “No 266 Squadron together with No 56 Squadron led by Wg Cdr Gillam, DSO, DFC & Bar & AFC and with the Station Commander, Gp Capt John Grandy took off from Duxford, flew to Mardyck and crossing French coast flew over Calais and Boulogne and returned to Duxford. The object being the interception of E/A [enemy aircraft] coming out after our withdrawing Spitfires. Some aircraft seen in distance but not identified. No flak or combats. All aircraft returned safely, one almost at once with hydraulic trouble.” There was rather more in the way of trouble for 609 on 26 June. “At 06.00 hours Flt Lt de Spirlet, Plt Off Ortmans and Plt Off Lallemant set off on formation practice. Immediately after the take-off Flt Lt de Spirlet and Plt Off Lallemant collide, the latter’s aircraft cutting off the former’s tail. de Spirlet’s aircraft plunges to the ground and explodes; de Spirlet is killed. Lallemant manages somehow to land, and though his engine is torn from its frame, he only suffers from shock”. The ‘A’ Flight commander, François de Spirlet is described as being “in almost every way… the rock of the squadron”. Then there was an Army exercise in which to participate, before, “Gloomily in the evening the squadron betakes itself to Sawston College for its dance. This turns out to be good psychological medicine… After the party is over there is a continuation for some at the houses of the Station Commander and Fg Off Tidmarsh”. The next day, it is recorded, “Taking his hangover to Sick Quarters, and feeling at death’s door, the Adjutant is told confidentially by an orderly that the coffin has arrived”. The realities of flying, even non-operational flying, were never far away. 29 June saw No 266 Squadron, again accompanied by 56, engaging
Aarhus, Denmark, in a very successful low-level mission. 12 November 1944 After a series of attacks by both the RAF and Royal Navy, in Operation ‘Catechism’ Lancasters from Nos 9 and 617 Squadrons finally succeed in sinking the German battleship Tirpitz near Tromsø, Norway.
1945 1 January 1945 The Luftwaffe launches Unternehmen ‘Bodenplatte’, a series of attacks against Allied airfields in the Low Countries. While some RAF and USAAF units sustain quite serious losses, the response leaves the Luftwaffe seriously weakened for the remainder of the war.
in a ‘Circus’ — a bomber escort sortie into nearby parts of occupied Europe, intended to draw Luftwaffe fighters into combat. This one was ‘Circus 195’, in which, says the ORB, “Wing was to arrive at Marck at 16.40 hours and come in behind the beehive of Bostons as they left the French coast at Mardyck”. Once more, although three Fw 190s were seen, they were not engaged. Light relief for 266 came on 10 July. With dreadful weather at Duxford, all the squadron pilots went on a visit to the Napier works at Acton to view production of the Sabre engines. “Then proceeded to London, rendezvoused at the Final where tanks were refilled frequently and then pilots went on sorties in loose formation, some weaving more than others. All our pilots got back to their respective bases safely although somewhat after the ETAs.” 609’s pilot strength by the end of June numbered 11 Belgians, 10 English, two Canadians, one Frenchman and one Rhodesian. “For the first time for many a day, there are now almost as many English pilots in the squadron as Belgian”, says the ORB. Among the Englishmen was Flt Lt Roland Beamont DFC, the former Hurricane pilot being keen to resume operational RAF flying after a spell as a test pilot at Hawker. He became ‘B’ Flight commander. “Bea is an anachronism; he ought either to be dead or a Wing Commander”, commented Fg Off Alec ‘Joe’ Atkinson. Of course, he did go on to become a wing commander. With 609 declared operational on 1 July, there was still a wait before what was described as, “A red letter day in the squadron’s annals, for it sees it go on its first sweep in Typhoons”. This was 19 July. While ‘Rhubarb’ fighter sweep missions over northern France were carried out by Spitfires, the Typhoon wing was to sweep off the coast from Berck to north of Hardelot. “This is duly done, 609 leading and skimming the water all the way”. However, the only incident of note
13-15 January 1945 Bomber Command and USAAF aircraft attack the city of Dresden with high-explosive and incendiary bombs. As many as 25,000 people are killed. 22-23 February 1945 Operation ‘Clarion’, a major effort by Allied fighters and bombers to knock out German transportation routes. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
involved a No 56 Squadron aircraft again being shot at by a Spitfire. So it went on for the rest of the month, occasional scrambles interspersing the usual round of practice flying and the odd bit of exuberant socialising. After an especially long night in London on 21-22 July, celebrating Belgium’s national day, the ORB describes Gillam as, “missing, believed drunk”. Intentions to draw out Luftwaffe fighters on sweeps of the French coast came to nought and led to yet another Typhoon from 56 finding itself on the receiving end of a Spitfire’s attentions — this time, on 30 July, being shot down. The Typhoon pilot, Norwegian Fg Off Erik Haabjørn, parachuted out and made it back to his unit. Beamont notched up a first in the early hours of 28 July: a night operational patrol in a Typhoon, taking off just a few minutes before Sqn Ldr Green of 266. The Luftwaffe was mounting some local raids, but the vectors given “are not very satisfactory and all they see are some fires in Cambridge.” It was to 266 that the honour of the first Typhoon kill fell. On 9 August, flying on a sea sweep from Matlaske (Coltishall’s satellite airfield), two of its aircraft shot down a Ju 88. “This leads to an exchange of rhyming teleprinted signals between the two squadrons”, recounts the 609 record, “beginning, ‘He flew through the air like a bloody buffoon, that daring young man on the ropey Typhoon’.” When 266 bagged another Ju 88 on 13 August, the comment was, “609 getting a bit jealous”. Operational flying was hotting up, though. When 12 B-17E Flying Fortresses from the 97th Bomb Group at Polebrook conducted the US Army Air Forces’ first raid in the European theatre, against rail marshalling yards at Rouen on 17 August, the Typhoon wing provided cover for a diversionary operation. Nearing the Belgian coastal town of Nieuwpoort, No 56 Squadron reported that its Typhoons were under attack. Formation was “generally lost” by 609, Beamont saying later, “I have never seen so many individual
February 1945 The RAF’s first helicopter type, the Sikorsky Hoverfly, enters service with the Helicopter Training Flight at Andover. 14 March 1945 First operational use of the 22,000lb ‘Grand Slam’ bomb made against the Schildesche railway viaduct in Bielefeld by a No 617 Squadron Lancaster. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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A teleprinted exchange began, ‘He flew through the air like a bloody buffoon, that daring young man on the ropey Typhoon’
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Plt Off Raymond ‘Cheval’ Lallemant is second from right in this image of Belgian airmen who had escaped from their homeland upon the German invasion and joined the RAF. He later commanded No 609 Squadron. VIA A. VAN HAUTE No 56 Squadron’s Fg Off Erik Haabjørn was one of the unfortunate Typhoon pilots shot down by ‘friendly’ aircraft mistaking the type for an Fw 190. The Norwegian survived his bail-out on 30 July 1942. VIA NILS MATHISRUD A mid-1942 shot of No 266 Squadron Typhoon Ib R7679 at its Duxford base. VIA B. SALT Sgt Norman Lucas (left) shared the first Typhoon kill of a Ju 88 on 9 August 1942. Fellow No 266 Squadron member Plt Off W. R. Smithyman (right), a Rhodesian, fell to an Fw 190 during the Dieppe operations on 19 August. WG CDR P. COOKE
24 March 1945 The Allied crossing of the Rhine, Operation ‘Varsity’. RAF Dakotas, together with Airspeed Horsa and General Aircraft Hamilcar gliders, are part of the airborne assault. Fighters from the 2nd TAF help provide air cover. 29 April 1945 RAF Lancasters begin Operation ‘Manna’, a series of food
drops to the people of the still-occupied western Netherlands, who were facing starvation. It lasts until 7 April. USAAF B-17s conduct their own operation. 2 May 1945 The successful conclusion of Operation ‘Dracula’, the Allied landings in the Burmese capital Rangoon. RAF aircraft are among those providing air support.
4 May 1945 Air operations in northwestern Europe come to an end. Notably, Typhoons and Tempests of the 2nd TAF have been involved in antishipping operations in the Baltic. 7 May 1945 Coastal Command’s last successful U-boat attack is carried out by a No 210 Squadron Catalina. U-320 sinks off Norway two days later. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 57
RAF 100 DUXFORD TYPHOONS
Typhoons were directed to carry out a sweep from Le Touquet to Le Tréport. Now one of them got to fire its guns, as a formation of some 20 Fw 190s was encountered. The pilot was Sgt Arnaud de Saxcé, a member of the Free French air arm. He took “a short squirt” at a Focke-Wulf “from 100 yards beam, but sees no result”. Despite that, and the overall failure of the Dieppe landings, 609 was left “feeling that the squadron has at last taken a little part in the war for a change.” Beamont’s part in the war was soon temporarily curtailed. Not long after scoring “easily the best results” in drogue-firing at Matlaske, he suffered a fall in Cambridge. Thankfully his injury was less serious than the broken pelvis first suspected.
ABOVE: The famous mascot of No 609 Squadron, Air Cdre William de Goat DSO DFC.
RIGHT: Typhoon Ib R7752 was the regular mount of Sqn Ldr Paul Richey when he was CO of 609.
P. H. T. GREEN COLLECTION
aircraft pissing for home”. No contact was made with the enemy. The morning of 19 August brought a sense of anticipation. Says 609’s ORB, “The alarums and discussions of the night before, and the tense air of secrecy, have formed the impression on most pilots’ minds that today they will be called upon either to assist or to repel an invasion — more probably the former… Still without knowing anything about the operation as a whole (except that it is called ‘Jubilee’) 12 aircraft led by Wg Cdr Gillan set out at 10.53 as leading squadron of the Typhoon wing to rendezvous at Orfordness with nine special calibration Defiants [from the Defiant Flight, a countermeasures unit at Northolt]. Escorting these from 18,000ft they fly up the enemy coastline from Mardyck to Ostend and… well, that is all: they have fulfilled their mission of trying to distract attention from Dieppe.” Airborne again, this time from West Malling, 11 of the squadron’s
8 May 1945 An RAF Dakota is among several transport aircraft that fly in to Berlin’s Tempelhof airport carrying those to be involved in the formal German surrender, including Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, Eisenhower’s deputy. They are driven to Karlshorst in eastern Berlin where the surrender is signed. This is VE Day, marking final Allied victory in Europe. 58 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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Subsequent efforts to draw the enemy into action met with very little success. What was described as “a more elaborate operation than usual” on 3 September involved the Typhoon wing, No 137 Squadron’s Westland Whirlwinds and two Spitfire squadrons. “Wing Commander’s idea”, 609’s records recount, “is that the Whirlwinds, going in towards Diksmuide, will (as twin-engined aircraft) create the impression that a bombing raid is approaching Lille, and the Typhoons will then mop up the ‘enemy reaction’. The Hun however is not deceived by these tricks, and stays on the ground…” No 56 Squadron had its first taste of Typhoon combat success on 14 September, when Flt Lt Michael
26 May 1945 Having flown around the world the previous year, the Empire Air Navigation School’s modified Lancaster PD328 Aries returns to RAF Shawbury after a pioneering flight over the magnetic North Poles. 15 July 1945 The 2nd TAF is reorganised as the British Air Forces of Occupation.
15 August 1945 VJ Day — victory over Japan, the end of World War Two following the US atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 20 August 1945 Five days after VJ Day, a final offensive sortie is flown in Burma by Mosquito FBVIs of No 110 Squadron as Japanese forces were still exchanging fire with British troops. 110
Ingle-Finch and Canadian Plt Off Wally Coombes shot down a Ju 88. But doubts were increasingly being expressed about the effectiveness of the Typhoon wing concept. As 609’s ORB puts it, “it became increasingly apparent that Typhoons as a wing are an unwieldy and dangerous assemblage.” Richey was a prime mover in a change of role. On 12 September he submitted a paper to higher authority, recommending that the Typhoon be switched to the low-level environment. His opposite number on 56, Sqn Ldr Hugh Dundas, also felt that employment as an interceptor failed to play to the Hawker aircraft’s potential strengths. Just five days later, an order arrived directing that 609 be moved to Biggin Hill, its old home from 1941-42, to tackle low-altitude ‘hitand-run’ Fw 190 raids from across the Channel. “Such a sudden reaction to his paper astonishes even the CO”, the record states. The end of the Duxford Typhoon wing was marked on 18 September. No 609 Squadron made its move to Biggin, and 266 to Warmwell; at this point, 56 was at Matlaske. Gradually the aircraft, with excellent low-altitude performance, found its considerable niche both as fighter and fighterbomber. That was thanks in no small part to the recovered Beamont, who took command of 609 in October 1942. Before long his squadron had notched up its first shoot-downs, and it went on to become the most successful Typhoon unit of all. What a far cry from those uncertain beginnings.
had been one of the units that, flying Blenheims, took part in the first raid of the war against Germany. 15 September 1945 As part of the national Thanksgiving Week events a month after the war’s end, a 300-aircraft RAF flypast is mounted over London. Since this is also Battle of Britain Day, it is preceded by 12 Spitfire AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
RAF 100 AIR-SEA RESCUE
ABOVE: In the hands of Flt Lt James Renvoize, Walrus I L2335 conducts a demonstration rescue for the press on 8 July 1943. The part of the downed airman was played by one Fg Off Vacquier.
ALL PHOTOS AEROPLANE
Many Allied airmen owed their survival to the RAF’s wartime air-sea rescue ‘team’ of Walrus and Spitﬁre
‘THE SEA SHALL NOT HAVE THEM’
he badge of No 276 Squadron is one of the more unusual in RAF history: a retriever’s head. Its motto, indeed, was ‘Retrieve’. Established at Harrowbeer, Devon, on 21 October 1941, the unit was part of the formalisation of the service’s air-sea rescue arrangements. The Battle of Britain had made apparent shortcomings in the recovery of downed airmen, an operation headed
IXs led by Gp Capt Douglas Bader, the other pilots being fellow Battle of Britain veterans. 7 November 1945 Gp Capt Hugh ‘Willie’ Wilson, CO of the Empire Test Pilots’ School, breaks the world air speed record in Meteor IV EE454 — the first time a jet had ever captured the record. 60 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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up by the vessels of the RAF’s Marine Craft Section. February 1941 saw the establishment of a dedicated Directorate of Air-Sea Rescue, with its own specialised units and a focus on improving techniques and equipment. A first step was the formation of air-sea rescue detachments equipped with the Westland Lysander and Supermarine Walrus. From October, they were amalgamated into full squadrons, each with an assigned area
30 November 1945 Disbandment of the Air Transport Auxiliary, whose pilots had ferried more than 307,000 aircraft since 15 February 1940. 1946 1 May 1946 Entry to service, with No 64 Squadron at Horsham St Faith, of the superb de Havilland Hornet.
8 June 1946 A year and a month after VE Day, RAF and Fleet Air Arm aircraft take part in a large-scale Victory Day flypast over London. 7 September 1946 Gp Capt ‘Teddy’ Donaldson of the RAF’s re-formed High Speed Flight raises the world air speed record to 616mph in another Meteor IV.
of operation. 276’s took in the western end of the English Channel and the Bristol Channel. It was considered that having a faster aircraft with which to search for airmen in the water, and drop dinghies and supplies to them, would make for increased chances of survival. Boulton Paul Defiants initially replaced the Lysanders, and when Supermarine Spitfires began arriving in March 1943 they were a further step forward. The
1947 January 1947 The Air Ministry issues specification B35/46 and puts out a request for proposals in respect of an advanced new long-range strategic bomber for the RAF. This will lead to the three ‘V-bombers’. February 1947 RAF aircraft deployed AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
fighters could also, as John Yoxall wrote in The Aeroplane’s 16 July 1943 edition, “render a good account of themselves if attacked by enemy fighters.” As was the period practice, Yoxall’s piece did not identify the squadron number. It said that the unit had “so far rescued 177 pilots or members of air crews from the sea”, having been “the first to reach the total of 100”, and was commanded by Sqn Ldr Ronald Hamlyn AFC DFM. As a sergeant pilot on No 610 Squadron during the Battle of Britain he had shot down five Luftwaffe aircraft — a Junkers Ju 88 and four Messerschmitt Bf 109s — on a single day, 24 August 1940. His first tour as a CO was with No 275 Squadron, formed at Valley six days before 276. On 8 December 1942 he was transferred to lead the Harrowbeer-based unit. While five Avro Ansons and several Walruses were on strength as of July 1943, “the former being used for the longer searches over the Atlantic”, Spitfire IIs now formed “the greater part of the equipment of the squadron”. They each carried “two cylindrical parcels, one a dinghy laced up in a canvas covering and the other a metal container of food and rescue equipment. These are dropped near the man in the water. The dinghy inflates as it falls and the metal container, attached to it by a line, can be hauled into the dinghy as soon as the pilot climbs into it. “The food container and dinghy are housed in the flare chutes in the rear of the Spitfire’s fuselage. They are joined together by 75 yards of orange rope… Both packages are propelled from the chutes by means of powerful springs through two small doors, which open sideways into the slipstream.”
to Aden — Mosquitos, later Tempests — begin involvement against dissidents in the Middle Eastern protectorate. 1948 28 June 1948 RAF Dakotas begin an airlift to RAF Gatow, Berlin, in support of the British garrison in the German AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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Describing the modus operandi, Yoxall wrote, “When an aeroplane is forced to come down in the sea a wireless signal is sent out and a rough ‘fix’ is obtained by two or more wireless stations on the coast. The position thus determined is sent to the rescue squadron, which dispatches a flight of Spitfires, together with an escort of fighters if enemy aircraft are known to be operating in the area. When the pilot is found the Spitfires ‘orbit’ the dinghy and send back news by R/T to base which obtains the exact position of the pilot ‘in the drink’. “The Spitfires then fly over and drop smoke bombs in order to determine the direction of the wind. One Spitfire then approaches at less than 100mph with the flaps down, at a height of about 50ft in to the wind, and attempts to straddle the ‘target’, getting the food container one side of the pilot and the dinghy the other, with the rope joining the two within his reach. The pilot clambers into the dinghy and pulls the food container to him by means of the rope. “As soon as the message is received at base from the searching Spitfires, the Walrus and an HSL [high-speed launch] are despatched together with a fighter escort, which may be as large as a wing, to the position found by the radio bearings. If there are more than four men to be rescued the Walrus picks up any wounded and the remainder wait until the HSL arrives.” The piece noted how June 1943 had been 276’s busiest month so far, with 37 airmen rescued. One, on 7 June, was described in the squadron record as, “probably the most daring rescue Fighter Command have yet effected”.
In Walrus L2271, Plt Off Butterfield was ordered to a search position just five miles from the coast of occupied France. He landed on the water and picked up Plt Off Thatcher of No 412 (RCAF) Squadron, whose Spitfire V had been hit by flak during a fighter sweep. Thatcher was unhurt but had been in his dinghy for 11 hours. “After two attempts to take off ”, the record states, “the Walrus was airborne”. It made it back to Harrowbeer, where Thatcher was taken to the station sick quarters. Meanwhile, a pair of 276’s Spitfires had been sent to drop supplies in case the Walrus was unable to land. They found the empty dinghy. Starting to head for home, one of the two, P8674 flown by Sgt Dorman, was bounced by Focke-Wulf Fw 190s and shot down. It was the squadron’s first loss to enemy action. With Allied aircraft conducting more and more offensive missions into mainland Europe, No 276 Squadron had plenty of ‘trade’. It followed the liberating forces into France and Belgium, and in August 1945 its Walruses went to ply their trade in Norway. Disbandment came on 14 November 1945, the unit having done its best to live up to another motto, that of the Directorate of Air-Sea Rescue: ‘The sea shall not have them’. Ben Dunnell
city following imposition of a Soviet road, rail and canal blockade.
Dakotas, Yorks and Sunderlands are engaged almost immediately.
29 June 1948 The Berlin Airlift begins to deliver supplies to sustain the city’s civilian population as well as the western garrisons. To the RAF it is known first as Operation ‘Carter Paterson’, soon changed to ‘Plainfare’. The US dubs it Operation ‘Vittles’. RAF
6 July 1948 Spitfire FRXVIIIs of No 60 Squadron fly the RAF’s first offensive sortie of Operation ‘Firedog’, the Malayan emergency, which had begun on 23 June following unrest involving Communist guerrillas. Many more would follow.
ABOVE: The cylindrical parcels, one containing the dinghy and the other food and rescue supplies, are loaded into Spitfire P8131’s flare chutes.
LEFT: Spitfire IIa P8131 being flown by Sqn Ldr Benjamin Bowring.
14 July 1948 Six Vampire F3s from No 54 Squadron land at Goose Bay, Labrador, having made the first transAtlantic flight by jet aircraft — and just beating the USAF in the process. 1949 4 April 1949 Establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization www.aeroplanemonthly.com 61
RAF Museum, Hendon, London
Thursday 5 July 2018
100 years of the Royal Air Force Your chance to dine with veteran pilots at an exclusive celebration evening at the RAF Museum London • Private viewing of the brand new multi-million pound Hangar 1 museum • Drinks reception beneath a Lancaster Bomber • Meet ex-RAF pilots, Rusty Waughman (WWII) and Michael Napier (ﬁrst Gulf War) • Two-course meal with wine under the wings of a Short Sunderland • Live swing and jazz music throughout the evening • Signed Hardback copy of Michael’s new book, The Royal Air Force: A Centenary of Operations included with each ticket purchase*
Go to boundless.co.uk/raf100 to book your tickets today * Please note that group tickets (Tickets for Two and Tickets for Four) receive ONE book per 2 tickets. If you require a book for each attendee than please purchase individual tickets (£110) rather than group tickets.
RAF 100 LANCASTER OPS This image of a No 101 Squadron Lancaster on the Bremen raid demonstrates just one of the perils that crews faced over the target area, with bombs often falling in close proximity to those aircraft at lower altitudes in the bomber stream. VIA GRAHAM FINCH
ON AWING AND A PRAYER Not many people have found themselves inverted over occupied Europe in a fourengined heavy bomber and lived to tell the tale. Now in his mid-90s, Avro Lancaster pilot Russell ‘Rusty’ Waughman DFC AFC Ld’H recalls his wartime experiences with No 101 Squadron WORDS: GRAHAM FINCH
12 May 1949 The Soviets lift the Berlin blockade. The RAF’s airlift contribution has involved 49,733 flights — carried out by Dakotas (right), Yorks, Sunderlands and the new Handley Page Hastings — carrying 281,727 tonnes of freight to Berlin, as well as AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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67,373 passengers. To build up the city’s stockpiles, airlift flights continue until October. 13 May 1949 One of the most significant post-war RAF aircraft, the English Electric Canberra twin-jet bomber, makes its maiden flight from Warton. Prototype VN799 is in the hands of Roland Beamont.
1950 3 February 1950 Oxford UAS at Kidlington receives the RAF’s first de Havilland Canada Chipmunk T10s, the service’s new elementary trainer.
(NATO), of which the UK is a founding member.
26 March 1950 Lincolns of No 57 Squadron bomb terrorist targets in Malaya for the first time. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 63
RAF 100 LANCASTER OPS No 101 Squadron aircrew at Ludford Magna, probably during 1944. NO 101 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION ARCHIVES
orn in Shotley Bridge, County Durham in 1923, Russell Reay Waughman’s early years were punctuated by a series of health issues that impacted badly on his education. War was imminent when the family returned from a holiday in 1939 and Rusty remembers the time well: “As my brother had become a regular in the Territorials, I had to do my bit, so I joined the Local Defence Volunteers. “At 17, I was able to volunteer and have some sort of choice as to what I went into. As Dad had been in the Royal Navy in the Great War, I thought I’d keep up the family tradition and try the navy. But when I went to the local school to sign up, the naval recruiting officer was my own doctor. I thought, if I go in there I’ll never get in, so I went next door to join the RAF and for some unknown reason they said, ‘yes’. So began my service career.” Rusty went to Heaton Park in Manchester to be sworn in and undergo elementary testing. From there, he was sent to West Kirby and, much to his surprise, was told he could train as aircrew under the PNB (pilot, navigator, bomb aimer) scheme. An elementary flying school was the next port of call. “I was sent to a civilian flying school near Wolverhampton [No 28 Elementary
Rusty Waughman gives the photographer his best Winston Churchill impression before climbing aboard Lancaster LL757 Oor Wullie.
NO 101 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION ARCHIVES
July 1950 Sunderland GR5s belonging to the Far East Flying Boat Wing begin maritime patrol deployments to Iwakuni, Japan, helping uphold the United Nations blockade against North Korea during the Korean War. 14 August 1950 No 149 Squadron becomes the first to operate the Boeing Washington, as the RAF calls 64 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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the 87 B-29s it receives as stop-gap heavy bombers. 1951 5 April 1951 The Shackleton MR1 maritime patrol aircraft, Avro’s latest and last Lancaster offshoot, enters service with Kinloss-based No 120 Squadron.
18 May 1951 The initial prototype of the first of the three ‘V-bombers’, the Vickers Type 660 — subsequently named as the Valiant — flies for the first time. 25 May 1951 English Electric test pilot Roland Beamont delivers to Binbrook the RAF’s first Canberra B2, destined for No 101 Squadron.
Flying Training School at Pendeford, operated by Air Schools] with civilian instructors. After a few hours on Tiger Moths, I went solo and then it was back up to West Kirby, from where we were to be posted to South Africa in early 1942 to join the Empire Air Training Scheme.” However, Rusty and his group somehow got overlooked, and were left behind. He quickly found himself back where he had started. “They said, ‘Right — all your kit’s gone, all your records are gone, we don’t know anything about you’. We had to start again”. They were dispatched to another initial training wing, at Stratford-on-Avon. “We finished the course after re-doing everything we had already done and because they believed us when we told them we could fly, we were posted again, but this time to Canada.” Now his training could begin in earnest. “We began flying Tiger Moths. Then the Americans sent 300 Boeing Stearmans across the border for us to train on, and it became a mix of the two types, although mainly we learnt on the Stearmans. I enjoyed the flying; the Stearman was great, but I wasn’t getting on all that well according to my instructor, who was an ex-Battle of Britain pilot. He said, ‘I think you’d better have a wash-out check’, which I did
20 July 1951 Hawker’s P1067 prototype, later to become the Hunter, makes its maiden flight from Boscombe Down. 1952 15 January 1952 The first of the RAF’s new ‘clutch’ bases in Germany, Wildenrath, opens. It will be followed by AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
with the chief flying instructor, who seemed to think I’d done enough to carry on. At the end of the course, my choice of Bomber Command saw me posted to De Winton and Medicine Hat [Alberta] and Moose Jaw [Saskatchewan], where flying [in twin-engined Airspeed Oxfords] gradually became second nature. The training was very thorough.” Cross-country flying was initially undertaken with an instructor, but eventually two trainee pilots would be sent off, one as pilot and the other as navigator, switching their roles half-way through the flight. It was during one of these sorties that Rusty’s RAF career nearly came unstuck. “Flying with a fellow called Dick Sharman, he said to me, ‘Let’s go down and do a bit of low-level’, which was really forbidden stuff. So down we went, over the lakes, and suddenly all these geese rose up and we clattered right through them. Although we ended up with broken Perspex and me with a goose wrapped around my neck — I was navigating at the time — thankfully the engines kept going. I think we were allowed to carry on training, despite what we
had done, mainly because we got the aircraft back in one piece.” Returning to Britain, Rusty went to various holding units and eventually got back to flying Oxfords. His progression to operations saw him posted to No 28 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Castle Donington to fly Vickers Wellingtons. In need of a crew, Rusty remembers the selection process: “They put us all in a big room, about 200 of us, and told us
Rusty and his new-found crew could now concentrate on training. “On operational training you started to learn about fighter evasion, cross-country flying and bombing, and began to come together as a crew. They were such a varied lot. My bomb-aimer, Norman Westby, spent his early life in a gypsy caravan near Manchester. He used to come on ops with a crease in his trousers, despite the relaxation of the dress code within Bomber Command. My navigator, Alec Cowan, lied about his age when he joined up — he was only 16. He joined us at 17 and went on ops aged 18. Les, my first flight engineer, was great in training — he was 19 years old — but sadly he couldn’t cope on operations. Taffy had been brought up in a pub in Aberdare and never lost his love of beer, but he was a wonderful character. Our midupper gunner, Tommy Dewsbury, was the old man of the crew at 26, married with a family and a labourer for Oldham council. My rear gunner, Harry Nunn, was Canadian and such a conscientious lad — he saved our lives more than once when we were flying.
They put us all in a big room, about 200 of us, and told us to sort ourselves out. You just went round asking people if they would be your navigator, your bomb aimer. We were missing a wireless operator
Geilenkirchen, Brüggen and Laarbruch — a significant contribution to the defence of western Europe. 30 August 1952 Avro flies its Type 698 prototype, soon given the name Vulcan. 24 December 1952 The Handley Page HP80, later the Victor, completes its initial flight. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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to sort ourselves out. You just went round asking people if they would be your navigator, bomb aimer, etc — and we ended up, along with another crew, missing a wireless operator. The officer in charge said, ‘Something’s gone wrong here’, and they found the two wireless operators hiding in the loo. One was Idris Arndell [‘Taffy’] and the other was his friend Colin Farrant. They dragged these two out and had to toss up as to who was going with who. I lost, so I got Taffy.”
1953 15 July 1953 RAF Odiham hosts Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation Review of the RAF. No fewer than 641 aircraft take part in the flypast; 318 are on static display. 8-10 October 1953 The London to New Zealand Air Race takes
place; its speed section is won by an RAF Canberra PR3, in the hands of Flt Lts ‘Monty’ Burton and Don Gannon, which flew from Heathrow to Christchurch in an elapsed time of 23 hours 50 minutes 42 seconds. In so doing it beat a Royal Australian Air Force Canberra B20. 11 November 1953 RAF Lincoln
ABOVE LEFT: Rusty’s flight engineer ‘Curly’ Ormerod and special duties operator (SDO) Ted Manners. Although crews shared accommodation together in Ludford’s Nissen huts, SDOs were billeted separately due to the sensitivity of their role. RUSTY WAUGHMAN
ABOVE MIDDLE: Wireless operator Idris ‘Taffy’ Arndell — a wonderful character, according to Rusty. RUSTY WAUGHMAN
ABOVE: At 26, gunner Tommy Dewsbury was the oldest member of Rusty’s crew, all eight of whom survived the war. RUSTY WAUGHMAN
deployments to Kenya begin, in increasing efforts to combat Mau Mau terrorists. 1954 February 1954 The Supermarine Swift F1 enters service with No 56 Squadron at Waterbeach. It is the RAF’s first swept-wing jet fighter, beating the www.aeroplanemonthly.com 65
RAF 100 LANCASTER OPS
CLOCKWISE FROM RIGHT: Lancaster ‘SR-G’ awaits take-off. In the foreground are the FIDO pipes installed at Ludford Magna that ran the length of the runway. The two fuselage aerials on the ABCequipped aircraft have been removed from this image by the wartime censor, but the one under the nose was missed.
NO 101 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION ARCHIVES
This unique photograph shows the secret ABC installation in the Lancaster. The black boxes housed the transmitters, and leads went to the three large external aerials that made 101’s ABC aircraft so distinctive.
NO 101 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION ARCHIVES
Such was the secrecy surrounding 101’s ABC-equipped Lancasters that few photos exist showing the fuselage-mounted aerials. The special duties operator on Rusty’s crew, Ted Manners, was taking a chance when he used the cover of the tool shed to take this shot of LL757 undergoing maintenance.
VIA RUSTY WAUGHMAN
“Having completed our operational training, we had to convert to the ‘big ones’: the four-engined heavies. We started to fly on the Halifax, with No 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Blyton. After conversion on to the Halifax, we moved onto the Lancaster on the same station with the Lancaster Finishing School, which just meant transferring from one hut to another.” Rusty found himself quite at home with his new mount. “The Lancaster was a lovely aeroplane to fly, much easier than the Halifax. But for me, although my height was alright, when you’re taking off in a ‘Lanc’ with all four props at 3,000 revs there’s a tremendous amount of torque, and with my short little legs I was having problems keeping these four black monsters going straight down the runway.” Rusty’s turn for posting to an operational squadron arrived soon enough, and he would quickly be confronted by the reality of war. “My friend Paul Zanchi, who had finished his conversion, had been posted to No 101 Squadron, so when my turn came a couple of days later I asked my flight commander, ‘Could I follow Paul on to No 101 Squadron, please?’. And he said, ‘It’s a special duties squadron — we only send the best ones there’. Anyway, the next day, he said, ‘Right, Waughman — No 101 Squadron, get your bags packed’. I asked, ‘Change of heart, sir?’, to which he replied, ‘No, Waughman, 101 is the squadron with the highest attrition rate in Bomber Command and they’ve got first call on the availability of aircrew’. The day I arrived on the squadron, I found out that Paul had been killed on ops the night before, so I never did see him again. It was then you started to realise that this was serious stuff.”
Hunter, but in day fighter form it will sadly not prove a success. It was better as a fighter-reconnaissance platform, the FR5. 1 April 1954 The RAF’s last operational Spitfire mission, a photographic reconnaissance sortie conducted over Malaya by a No 81 Squadron PRXIX from Seletar, Singapore. 66 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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Rusty’s new squadron was located at the hastily constructed base of Ludford Magna, near Lincoln, having moved south from Holmeon-Spalding Moor (where 101 had swapped its Wellingtons for the Lancaster) in June 1943. Ludford Magna soon became ‘Mudford Magna’, poor drainage and the local weather conditions turning many areas of the base into a muddy morass. Due to the importance of 101’s role, Ludford was one of only 15 bases, most of them on the east coast, to have the FIDO (Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation) landing aid involving two large pipes running either side of the runway, into which petrol was pumped and then ignited when foggy conditions dictated. The intense heat would burn off the fog above the local area and guide returning aircraft to a clear, illuminated landing. Upwards of 100,000 Imperial gallons (450,000 litres) of fuel per hour was required, an astonishing amount under wartime conditions, but in terms of aircrew lives saved and subsequent reduction in aircraft losses it was considered worth it. Rusty was to take make use of FIDO twice during his tour. “I arrived on the squadron around the middle of November 1943, just at the beginning of the Battle of Berlin. There we were given an extra crew member, our special duties operator [SDO], Ted Manners. Ted was a young Austin apprentice who had wanted to be a pilot, but the waiting time was so long that he joined as a gunner instead, just to be in the RAF.” Rusty recalls his reaction on seeing the specially modified Lancasters that flew with No 101 Squadron: “To me, the aircraft on the squadron seemed a bit sinister, with three huge aerials: two on top of the fuselage, and one pointing down on [the starboard side
Because we were using their frequencies with ABC, the German night fighters could home in on us
31 July 1954 Leuchars-based No 43 Squadron receives the RAF’s first Hunter F1s. 4 August 1954 Advances to come for the RAF’s fighter force are heralded by the maiden flight of English Electric’s supersonic P1 prototype, with Roland Beamont at the controls. This will become the Lightning.
1955 8 January 1955 The ‘V-bomber’ era for the RAF begins when No 138 Squadron at Gaydon takes delivery of its first Valiant B1. 17 October 1955 A flight of No 2 Flying Training School at Hullavington sees its first trainee going solo
of ] the nose. These were really big things, 6 or 7ft long. When we were given our SDO we found out what it was all about; before that we had no idea. What we had was equipment called ABC — Airborne Cigar, referred to as Dudelsack [bagpipes] by the Germans, whereby the aircraft was fitted with 3in cathode ray tubes where the rest bed had been. “The SDO, using his receiver, was able to tune in to the night fighter controllers and listen to the
following ‘all-through’ jet tuition on the Hunting Jet Provost T1, a new concept in flying training. 1956 February 1956 Deliveries of the Gloster Javelin FAW1 all-weather deltawinged fighter begin, No 46 Squadron at Odiham the recipient. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
instructions that were being given and could then lock our aircraft’s strobe onto the signal and lock the frequencies together. By pressing another button, he could listen in and decide if the language was actually German, because there were Poles and Czechs flying around as well, and another button allowed him to pass our aircraft’s engine noise over the frequency to jam it. He had to do all this within 30 seconds, and was able to jam three different aircraft. The
SDOs were kept very busy and saved many aircraft from being shot down due to their efforts.” The nature of their task rendered the ABC Lancasters especially prone to attack. “Because we were using their frequencies, the German night fighters could home in on that frequency, which made us very vulnerable. As we had to cover the whole raid, and ABC only had a range of 50 miles, we were staggered every 90 seconds throughout the bomber
stream. The bomber stream could be 60 or 70 miles long and about 15 miles wide and we would be covering the entire stream. 101 was used on every major bombing raid because we were the only squadron with the equipment, hence we had the highest loss rate in Bomber Command.” For Rusty, there was to be no ‘second dickie’ trip at the beginning of his tour (new pilots usually flew with an experienced crew to get a feel for actual operations). “Without
31 May 1956 No 230 Operational Conversion Unit is formed at Waddington — long the scene of RAF bomber ‘firsts’ — as the initial Vulcan B1 operator.
11 October 1956 No 49 Squadron Valiant WZ366 makes the first live drop of a British atomic bomb — a Blue Danube weapon — on the Maralinga range in South Australia.
the Suez Canal. RAF Canberras and Valiants attack Egyptian Air Force airfields in the Canal Zone and the Nile Delta. DH Venom FB4s join the offensive the following day.
Minister Anthony Eden will be forced to resign from office as a result, in January 1957.
June 1956 Transport Command’s jet era begins, as No 216 Squadron at Lyneham receives its first de Havilland Comet C2.
31 October 1956 The start of Operation ‘Musketeer’, the AngloFrench military intervention against Egypt following its ‘nationalisation’ of
6 November 1956 A ceasefire ends the Suez crisis — humiliatingly so for Britain, given stringent American opposition to the military action. Prime
10 March 1957 Disbandment of all remaining Royal Auxiliary Air Force flying squadrons ends a lengthy tradition.
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RAF 100 LANCASTER OPS
BELOW: A familiar scene at Ludford Magna, commonly referred to by those stationed there as ‘Mudford Magna’. This image is immortalised on a memorial plaque attached to the White Hart Inn in Ludford village, and as part of the recently unveiled No 101 Squadron memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas near Lichﬁeld, Staffordshire.
NO 101 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION ARCHIVES
any operational experience at all, my first mission was to Berlin. But over Europe on the way there, I realised that my flight engineer wasn’t doing anything — he was just sitting on the floor. And we had other problems. I’d lost instruments and we had difficulties with the navigation; the Gee box had packed up. Basically, we got lost. Had we had operational experience, we could probably have carried on, but we didn’t, so we turned back. The wingco wasn’t too pleased. So we went off and did the next operation, again to Berlin, but once again the flight engineer just sat on the floor, shaking and sweating. I had to do everything, which was pretty annoying. “On the next op, we had an engine fire and Les still wouldn’t do anything to help at all. With an engine out, we turned back again. The wingco threatened us with LMF if it happened again. LMF stood for ‘lack of moral fibre’ and being labelled as such was basically being called a coward. I explained to him about my flight engineer, and that afternoon Les left the squadron. We never saw him again or learned what happened to him. And we were warned again by Wg Cdr Alexander that any repeat and we were off ops.” At this point, John Ormerod (‘Curly’) joined Rusty’s crew. He had been Paul Zanchi’s flight engineer but had missed that crew’s fateful flight because of a stomach bug. “We had
4 April 1957 Publication by Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government of a Defence White Paper, largely the work of defence minister Duncan Sandys. It caused the cancellation of all manned interceptor programmes, except what became the English Electric Lightning, together with the Avro 730 strategic bomber/ reconnaissance aircraft. Sandys 68 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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trained together since our time at the OTU, so we already knew him”, says Rusty. Operations began to intensify for the rookie crew. “We did four more Berlin trips. On one, as we crossed into Europe we had five night fighter attacks, one straight after another. Our gunner, who didn’t fire his guns, gave me instructions and we managed to corkscrew to avoid all of them. We could tell when we were being fired on — our tracer shells were pinkish in colour, and the Germans’ fire was
Once you’d dropped your bombs you couldn’t just get the hell out of it. You had to wait to drop a photo-flood flare bluish-green. You would see this stuff flying past you and you immediately thought, ‘Thank God, it’s missed’. “On another mission to Hannover, I was targeted by searchlights, which was really quite alarming. And of course the Germans had their Freya and Wurzburg radars that could put a night fighter on to you. They would also put up a ‘box barrage’, an area completely covered by flak, and although they weren’t firing directly at you, it was still quite frightening.
believed that missiles would henceforth be the order of the day. 15 May 1957 Flying from Christmas Island, No 49 Squadron Valiant XD818 makes the first British hydrogen bomb drop — of a prototype Yellow Sun weapon — as part of Operation ‘Grapple’, conducted over Malden Island in the Pacific.
11 July 1957 Last three Spitfire PRXIXs of Temperature and Humidity Monitoring Flight at Woodvale flown to Biggin Hill to form nucleus of new RAF Historic Aircraft Flight, later renamed as Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. 29 November 1957 Victor B1 deliveries start, to No 232 OCU at Gaydon.
You were buffeted around quite a bit and you would hear this stuff rattling against the fuselage, and you could smell it. Luck played a big part. I still have a piece of shrapnel that came through the canopy and just missed my head which we didn’t find until we got back. We knew something had happened because it was very draughty…” By July 1940 the Germans had established the Kammhuber Line defence system, a series of control sectors from Denmark down to Spain that were divided up into five ‘boxes’ equipped with radar, searchlights and night fighters. It was named after its creator, Luftwaffe Gen Josef Kammhuber. Initially highly successful, the effectiveness of the system was reduced once RAF tactics changed whereby bombers were directed to fly in a single stream, thus overwhelming the defences in that sector. “The fighters that operated as part of this set-up were called ‘Wilde Sau’ [Wild Boar] and ‘Zahme Sau’ [Tame Boar]”, Rusty continued. “With the help of their radar, ‘Wilde Sau’ night fighters could be put into the bomber stream. They knew where we were and what height we were flying but they didn’t know where we were going; they were mainly Bf 109s. The ‘Zahme Sau’ Bf 110Gs, fitted with Lichtenstein radar, could home on to an individual aircraft. Most of the aircraft shot down were a result of
1958 20 June 1958 First flight of the Westland Wessex helicopter, a derivative of the American Sikorsky S-58. July 1958 Bristol Bloodhound surfaceto-air missile enters service with Fighter Command at North Coates, Lincolnshire. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
LEFT: One of the photographs for the ‘Good-Bye Berlin’ article that featured in Illustrated magazine of 19 February 1944 shows Rusty (centre, seated) filling his Thermos flask after the main briefing for the raid, with bomb-aimer Norman Westby, rear gunner Harry Nunn and navigator Alec Cowan in attendance.
night fighter activity. In the ongoing radar war, we had Monica, which could counteract their Lichtenstein, and they used Freya to interrupt Monica.” Nearing and passing over the target area, the degree of vulnerability hit home for Bomber Command’s crews. “The navigator had got you there and you could see the target ahead because the pathfinders were marking it. Then the bomb aimer took over and for a couple of minutes he was telling you how to fly to get to the target. But once you’d dropped your bombs you couldn’t just get the hell out of it. You had to wait another 30 seconds or so to drop a photo-flood flare, which was timed to illuminate at the point at which your bombs hit the target, and a photograph was taken. This came about because in the early days there were cases of crews dropping their bombs in the [English] Channel and then flying round and round until they knew it was time to come back.” In early March 1944, the Transport Plan was introduced. The Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Bomber Command, Air Marshal Arthur Harris, now had to curtail his area bombing concept to concentrate on hitting targets such as marshalling yards, troop concentrations and railway depots that would inhibit the Germans’ ability to move troops and firepower to the planned invasion area around Normandy a few months later. These raids would prove to be a test of Rusty’s mettle, and that of his crew. “One raid [on 3-4 May 1944] was to Mailly-le-Camp, which had been a French military depot right on the village of Mailly. The Germans had taken this over as a tank depot and troop concentration centre, and there was a railway marshalling yard there as well. Two sections were going, No 5 Group and No 1 Group, and our squadron aircraft were staggered all the way through both groups, with us in the second bunch. “We were to meet at the designated beacon where we had to wait while
19 September 1958 The first American-built Thor intermediaterange ballistic missile handed over to No 77 Squadron at Feltwell. The inaugural RAF-controlled Thor launch will take place at Vandenberg AFB, California on 16 April 1959. 19 October 1958 Following an appeal for funds, St Clement Danes AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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VIA RUSTY WAUGHMAN
LEFT: The author’s father, navigator Sqn Ldr H. J. Finch DFC RAFVR (seated at left), completed his tour with 101 at Holme-on-Spalding Moor before moving to Ludford Magna as base navigation officer in June 1943. He is debriefing Flt Lt Andy Wallis and his crew on their return from ops. VIA SQN LDR H. J. FINCH
the pathfinders went in to mark the target. At briefing we were told we must be very, very careful with our bombing: ‘Make sure you’re bombing right, we don’t want to hit the village’. The pathfinders were given the same instructions; [Gp Capt Leonard] Cheshire was marking the target, and when No 5 Group reached the beacon the pathfinders weren’t happy with the marking and said not to go in and bomb. They kept trying to mark the target but Cheshire wasn’t happy, and
has been completely restored and re-consecrated to become the Central Church of the Royal Air Force. 1959 15 May 1959 The last operational flight by an RAF flying boat is made by a Sunderland of No 205 Squadron at Seletar, Singapore.
they kept delaying — only a matter of minutes, but in consequence the second wave caught up, so that at the beacon there was something like 400 aircraft all milling around. There just happened to be three night fighter stations quite handy and they got in amongst us. It was absolute mayhem. “Normally on a raid, once you were airborne it was complete radio silence, but the RT discipline over the beacon this night just disappeared. People were calling up and pleading with
1960 13 April 1960 Big changes in UK defence policy; the UK opts for the new American Douglas GAM-87 Skybolt missile, to equip modified Vulcans (right). 25-26 May 1960 A Valiant of No 214 Squadron makes the first non-stop www.aeroplanemonthly.com 69
RAF 100 LANCASTER OPS
ABOVE: Taken during a raid on Bremen, this photograph highlights the fact that apart from their special duties role, 101’s aircraft carried full bomb loads.
NO 101 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION ARCHIVES
the markers to get on with it. Very shortly afterwards the pathfinders marked the target and called us in, and it was like Derby day with all these aircraft descending on the target”. Mailly was a successful raid, but of the 380-odd aircraft that went, something like 12 per cent were lost, which equated to 42 aircraft. Rusty’s crew was to experience a frightening turn of events, as he recalls: “We had just dropped our bombs and were flying at 12-13,000ft when a blast of air came up. We didn’t know what it was — probably some explosion on the ground. We’d just got over that when Norman shouted, ‘F*****g hell!’ as another Lancaster blew up right underneath us and turned us upside-down. This was where the training came in. Once you got upside-down, you didn’t pull the stick back to try to get yourself out, you rolled with it. I eased it round in a big barrel roll and we ended up at about 1,000ft when we came out of it. It was very fast: the normal speed for a ‘Lanc’ was 360mph and we were doing over 400mph. “Another raid was to the marshalling yards at Hasselt on the
UK-Singapore flight. Covering 8,100 miles (13,053km) in 15 hours 35 minutes, the aircraft is refuelled en route over Cyprus and Pakistan. 31 July 1960 The end after 12 years of Operation ‘Firedog’, the Malayan emergency. Far East Air Force aircraft had flown 375,849 sorties since the start in 1948. 70 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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Belgian-German border [on the night of 11-12 May 1944], our 20th operation. We were just about 10 minutes from the target, and the flight engineer, looking out of the window, only had time to say, ‘Bloody hellfire!’ and another Lancaster just flew straight into the side of us. It slid underneath us and his canopy was taken off when it was cut through by our engines. The collision damaged our starboard nacelles and his propellers cut through our front compartment, just missing the bomb aimer who was lying down, and ruining our starboard tyre. His mid-upper turret carved through our fuselage, cut part of our tail off, and we lost our electrics. I didn’t see this aircraft at all, but the crew saw it break up and fall away. You can’t imagine what a hell it must have been for the men in that aircraft. “For a few seconds, everything went limp. I had no control whatsoever. But we found that because our engines were ahead of the other Lancaster that hit us, they still worked. We could still fly. We didn’t
July 1960 The Lightning F1 enters RAF service with No 74 ‘Tiger’ Squadron at Coltishall. The first — and last — British-built supersonic fighter, it will serve for almost 30 years. 1961 March-April 1961 Aircraft of Transport Command and Air Forces Middle East
air-drop famine relief supplies in Kenya. 1 May 1961 Elements of Fighter Command, including fighter and missile squadrons, assigned to NATO under the command of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). 20-21 June 1961 The first non-stop UK-Australia flight is made by a Vulcan
really realise at the time the severity of the damage, but we knew it was bad. But as we were not far from the target, we decided to carry on and bomb. We knew the hydraulics were dicey, so we checked that we could open the bomb doors, which were a little bit damaged. We didn’t fancy winding them down manually. I said to the rear gunner, ‘Harry, get yourself up the front with your parachute. If we start to take evasive action we’ll start to break up, so come up front — it’ll be safer’. ‘No, I’m going to keep a look-out’, came the reply. This was the attitude of 99 per cent of the rear gunners. We bombed the marshalling yards, albeit four-and-a-half miles north of the target! “With difficulty, we crawled back, slowly losing height. We knew when we got back to Ludford we would have to do a crash-landing, so when we were more or less overhead I gave the crew the opportunity to bale out, but they said, ‘We’re going to stop with you’. One wheel came down, and the other collapsed. Luckily the bad wheel skidded through the gap between the FIDO pipes and the other wheel bounced over them, and we veered towards the control tower in the semi-dark, where all the staff in the tower came out to see this idiot bend his aeroplane.” The Lancaster involved in this incident was ME565/SR-W Wing and a Prayer. Rusty had painted the name on the aircraft himself. It featured a Plt Off Prune figure with hands in prayer and a pair of wings, the name coming from a popular song of the time, Coming In on a Wing and a Prayer performed by Vera Lynn. Following this eventful operation, Rusty and his crew found themselves without an aircraft. “When we went out to dispersal to see our new aircraft [LL757/SR-W], we found that the nose art had already been painted on. Our groundcrew chief, William ‘Jock’ Steadman, had painted the Glasgow Sunday Post cartoon character Oor Wullie sitting on top of his bucket. Oor Wullie gets most written about, but we actually did many more operations in Wing and a Prayer.”
of No 617 Squadron. It involves three aerial refuellings (over Cyprus, Karachi and Singapore) and covers the 11,500 miles in 20 hours three minutes, an average speed of 573mph. 1962 1 February 1962 ‘V-force’ starts its quick reaction alert (QRA) readiness AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
With the attrition rate on the squadron so high, 101 was one of the first units to have the rear turrets of its Lancasters converted from four 0.303in Brownings to a pair of 0.5in guns. “You can just imagine the gunners with their 0.303s — it must have seemed like firing rifle bullets compared to [the Germans’] 20mm cannon”, says Rusty. The mission that left the greatest impression on the whole squadron, however — although Rusty and his crew were fortunate and didn’t suffer badly — was the now infamous Nuremburg raid on the night of 30-31 March 1944. “It should never have taken place”, says Rusty. “Just after the end of the Battle of Berlin, and before the start of the Transport Plan [the pre-invasion strategy whereby Allied bombers concentrated on German transportation networks in France], which Harris disapproved of, the thought was that he laid on this raid just to get a last one in. The met officer wasn’t 100 per cent certain about the weather, and despite being delayed twice — and even when we were in the aircraft — we never thought we would take off. But we did, and we had to assemble over the Channel, then down to a beacon at Charleroi. “There were roughly five boxes of aircraft, all following one another, so that we didn’t all arrive over the target at the same time. We were in box three, near the end, and by the time we got to Charleroi and turned east for the long leg the forecast cloud had blown away. The leg was a long straight of 265 miles, which was unusual because normally there would be a dog-leg to confuse the enemy, just south of the Ruhr. “There were two German beacons there called Ida and Otto, north and south of our route, and by the time we reached the German border we
had already seen 16 aircraft go down. Aeroplanes were just falling out of the sky. What we didn’t know was that the Germans had sent 240 aircraft down to cover the two beacons. Another 150 came down later on. All these aircraft were milling around and we were just flying through them. Just on the long leg, over 60 bombers were shot down and although the Germans had their radar, they didn’t need it. All the cloud had blown away, there were contrails, and it was just like flying in daylight. The fighters got in amongst us, bluegreen tracer flying around, and it really was chaos. “One German night fighter pilot, who I met a long time after the war, shot down five aircraft in less than half an hour. What they had developed, and which we knew nothing about at the time, was ‘Schräge Musik’ [which translated as off-tune, or literally ‘slanting’ music]. They put two 20mm cannon pointing upwards so that the fighters didn’t have to attack directly from astern, and could fly underneath and fire into the fuel tanks in our wings. We had no ventral armament, nothing at all. “We eventually got down to Nuremburg, but the Germans had
The thought was that Harris laid on the Nuremberg raid just to get a last one in before the start of the Transport Plan
commitment with one loaded weapon system and crew per operational squadron, held at 15 minutes’ readiness. This arrangement will continue until 30 June 1969. 27 October 1962 Bomber Command put on alert condition 3 in preparation for dispersal of the ‘V-Force’ as the Cuban missile crisis AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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worsens; some Thor missiles placed on nine-minute readiness. The ‘V-Force’ alert status would be relieved on 5 November. 1963 February 1963 Vulcans of No 617 Squadron receive the Blue Steel stand-off air-to-surface nuclear missile
shot down one of the pathfinders just outside Schweinfurt and all his markers blew up when he crashed. Some of the bomber stream — about 100 out of the 720-odd that went, who were well off target — saw these markers and bombed Schweinfurt instead. The pathfinders were not carrying many sky markers and those they dropped were blown by this strange wind 10-15 miles east of the target, which meant that farmland was bombed instead. Some bombs did hit Nuremburg, but it was not the successful raid expected. Normally on a raid there would be quite a lot of peaceful flying until you were over the target, but on this Nuremburg raid I had to concentrate very, very hard more or less all the time. The trip took us eight hours and 20 minutes, and for much of that time I was on the edge of my seat.” Landing back at Ludford, Rusty and his crew shut down their aircraft and, somewhat numbed by their experience, made their way to debriefing. Rusty sums up their mood: “When we got back, we were like zombies. The unwinding period was very difficult. When we went to debriefing, the intelligence officer wouldn’t believe the figures we were giving him. The actual figures have never been released by Bomber Command, although officially losses were stated as 97 shot down and 1015 crashed on return. We realised
following the cancellation of the American-made Douglas Skybolt. Blue Steel will not prove to be a long-term solution, having too short a stand-off range. 9 May 1963 The last Mosquitos in RAF service are retired by No 3 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit at Exeter Airport.
BELOW LEFT: The Wing and a Prayer artwork on Lancaster I ME565/ SR-W was created and painted on the aircraft by Rusty Waughman himself, looked on approvingly by flight engineer ‘Curly’ Ormerod. This was the aircraft Rusty was forced to crash-land back at Ludford having survived a mid-air collision during a raid against Hasselt on 11-12 May 1944.
NO 101 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION ARCHIVES
BELOW: Oor Wullie was Rusty’s second aircraft, Lancaster III LL757/SR-W. It was eventually lost on a raid to Stettin on 30 August 1944. NO 101 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION ARCHIVES
1964 January 1964 The Ballistic Missile Entry Warning System (BMEWS) radar site at Fylingdales on the North York Moors becomes operational with its classic ‘golf ball’ radomes. 1 April 1964 A unified Ministry of Defence is created by Alec www.aeroplanemonthly.com 71
RAF 100 LANCASTER OPS
RIGHT: 94-year-old Rusty at the National Memorial Arboretum on 23 September 2017. He had been invited as guest of honour to unveil the No 101 Squadron memorial at the dedication ceremony. GRAHAM FINCH
BELOW: The endorsement in Rusty’s logbook from his station commander, Gp Capt Patrick King, regarding the midair collision on 11 May 1944.
VIA GRAHAM FINCH
how drastic it had been when we found that No 101 Squadron had lost seven out of its 26 Lancasters, just over a quarter of the squadron; 56 men out of the 208 that went on the raid. “It’s very difficult to describe the atmosphere. You couldn’t sleep, you couldn’t think, you didn’t want to talk about it. When we went back to have our post-op meal, none of the WAAFs or waitresses were in the mess at all. They’d left the meals out with a notice on the board saying, ‘Please help yourselves’. They were all in the rest room, upset about the losses. The WAAF officer asked us if we would all sit at the same tables so that the girls didn’t see empty seats. That was the atmosphere, and Bomber Command didn’t operate for another couple of weeks after that. Nuremburg affected us more than any other raid we went on.” Rusty bombed several more transport targets, and 101 was tasked to fly its ABC Lancasters in support of the Normandy invasion, although the crews were kept in the dark. “We were on the battle order, but we had no idea where we were going. When we went out to the aircraft to check
Douglas-Home’s government. The Air Ministry is renamed as the Air Force Department, and the Air Council becomes the Air Force Board. 27 September 1964 First flight of BAC TSR2 supersonic strike/reconnaissance aircraft XR219 from Boscombe Down. It has been designed as a replacement for the Canberra. 72 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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what our fuel and bomb load was, ‘Jock’ told us we had a full petrol load, overload tanks and no bombs. I thought, Christ, are we going to Russia or Italy or what? But because the invasion was put on hold for 24 hours, they took the overload tanks off, loaded a few bombs and we bombed Sangatte near Calais as a diversion. When we got back, we were diverted to Faldingworth, a satellite airfield for Ludford, and we spent the night in chairs in the mess.
1965 6 April 1965 Second TSR2, XR220, ready to fly, but whole project is cancelled by the new Labour government against a background of rising costs and the seductive charms of the American-built General Dynamics F-111. Earlier, in February, the P1154 supersonic V/STOL fighter
and the HS681 STOL transport had also been cancelled. The future for military procurement would be European co-operation or buying offthe-shelf from America. 6 May 1965 First public display by the new RAF Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, at Biggin Hill, flying seven red Hawker Siddeley Gnat T1s.
“The next morning, we were going out to the aircraft when the station commander, Gp Capt King, arrived in his little van and told me, ‘Come on, I’m taking you back home’. I said, ‘But we’ve got an aircraft outside, we’ve got to fly back’, and he said, ‘No, I’ve brought a crew out — that was your last operation’. It didn’t sink in at all at the time, but that was it. “The next day I had an interview with him in his office. Referring to my mid-air collision, Gp Capt King said he couldn’t give me an award, but he gave me an endorsement in my logbook instead. On the wall, he had a chart of crew statistics which was curtained-off, and when he pulled the curtain back he said, ‘You’re the first crew in your flight that’s finished a tour of operations for six months’. I had another week or so on the squadron but wasn’t allowed to go anywhere near an aircraft.” Rusty makes the point that although he and all the other aircrew were at the sharp end of things, the ‘back-room boys’ also deserved recognition. “On the station we would have something like 200-odd aircrew and about 2,000 groundcrew, and without them, we couldn’t have flown.” That might have been the end of his operational tour, but Rusty’s RAF career had a while to run. He instructed on numerous OTUs and joined Transport Command, flying on the Berlin Airlift. Rusty left the regular RAF after a tour as training officer and examiner on No 30 Squadron at Abingdon in April 1952. After that he joined the RAF’s reserve of officers, which included some instruction on the Chipmunks of Cambridge-based No 22 Reserve Flying School, until May 1960. And his connections with the service remain strong. In September 2017, Rusty was invited to unveil a memorial dedicated to No 101 Squadron at the National Memorial Arboretum to mark the unit’s centenary — a fitting tribute to the 1,176 aircrew who lost their lives with 101 during World War Two.
3 December 1965 No 29 Squadron and its Javelins deploy to Ndola, Zambia to provide air defence following political developments in Rhodesia. 1966 7 April 1966 The BAC VC10 C1 transport enters service with No 10 Squadron at Brize Norton. Continued on page 77
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RAF 100 FIRST HELICOPTERS
The ﬁrst RAF helicopter pilot trainees learned their craft on the Sikorsky Hoverﬂy during 1945
hen the RAF started flying helicopters, there was really only one model it could turn to. After a maiden flight in January 1942, the Sikorsky R-4 had become the first machine of its type to enter true series production, and shown the huge potential offered by such aircraft during early wartime operations with the US Army Air Forces. No wonder Britain showed a keen interest, and procured the R-4B model under Lend-Lease. The RAF had already amassed some experience of rotary-wing aviation through its employment of the Cierva C30/Avro Rota autogyro family. The helicopter, though, was a largely new ball game. It required a dedicated means of pilot instruction, to which end the Helicopter Training Flight was formed within No 43 Operational Training Unit at Andover in February 1945. It had nine examples of the Hoverfly I, as the R-4B was dubbed in RAF service, which had been built by VoughtSikorsky at Stratford, Connecticut and shipped across the Atlantic. Five instructors were on strength, all trained on type in the USA. Heading them up was Sqn Ldr Basil Arkell, a former Avro Anson pilot who had flown the Rota on radar calibration sorties, latterly with No 529 Squadron. The rotary experience would stand him in good stead. The Helicopter Training Flight became a stand-alone unit on 9 April 1945, by which time No 1 (Pilots) Course was well under way. There was the odd minor mishap, such as Hoverfly KK984 sustaining tail damage at the hands of pupil Flt Lt
8 November 1967 Fifty RAF transport aircraft — Bristol Britannias, Short Belfasts, newly delivered Lockheed Hercules — are used in the withdrawal of troops from Aden. This is the largest transport operation the service has conducted since the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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Naturally the flight spent some of its time demonstrating the unfamiliar machines. Onlookers were as diverse
1968 16 January 1968 F-111K order (50 aircraft) cancelled to save “about £400 million between now and 1977”. Withdrawal announced from Far East and Persian Gulf by end of 1971. 1 April 1968 Fiftieth anniversary of the RAF — a relatively low-key event,
as senior Army officers at Larkhill, the School of Air Support at Old Sarum, high-ranking military personnel from the British Dominions, a Belgian Air Force representative with an interest in the air observation post role, and cameramen for the Gaumont British Newsreel. Bob Hope called in en route to Salisbury Plain, having “a short trip in one of the aircraft”. And then there was The Aeroplane, whose representatives visited Andover on 20 June for a report published the following week.
with an evening government dinner at Lancaster House attended by the Queen, the Queen Mother and representatives from many RAF stations. 5 April 1968 Flt Lt Alan Pollock flies under Tower Bridge in Hunter FGA9 XF442 in an unofficial act to mark the RAF’s 50th anniversary. This will prove to be a career-limiting move.
ABOVE: A very neat formation of the Helicopter Training Flight’s Sikorsky Hoverﬂy Is in the hover. In the foreground is KK990. ALL PHOTOS AEROPLANE
30 April 1968 RAF Bomber and Fighter Commands are merged to create Strike Command, located at the former Bomber Command HQ at High Wycombe. 14 June 1968 To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the RAF, the Queen carries out a Royal Review at Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
Dennis on 1 May, but such could only be expected. That first course completed its final flying checks on 12 May, two of its members almost immediately beginning their upgrade to instructor status. With a limited pool of RAF helicopter expertise, it was sensible to make use of such new blood.
RAF 100 FIRST HELICOPTERS
ABOVE: Hoverﬂy KK995 ﬂying over RAF Andover, with ranks of stored Airspeed Horsa gliders below.
RIGHT: Time for tea! A demonstration of the Hoverﬂy’s stability in the hover.
It said, “We did several hours’ flying in the Sikorsky R-4” — the report never used the name Hoverfly — “straight flying, ascents, descents and landings. The average pilot of any experience should pick up the feel of the controls and the not very great differences in flying within a few hours. At the school at Andover five or six hours’ instruction is considered sufficient. Pupils with no previous flying experience have been sent off solo in about the same number of hours, but would feel the lack of air experience in any case of emergency. “Some of the accompanying photographs, though clearly theatrical in detail, demonstrate clearly what can be done with a helicopter in the way of vertical ascent and hovering. Hovering for any length of time is quite a tricky business and requires very delicate handling of the sensitive controls; any slight tendency of the helicopter to bang down on to the ground — perhaps through the influence of vertical ground draughts — must be countered at once.” The reporter did outline some shortcomings of the Hoverfly. He noted how the tip speed of the rotor blades was about 280mph, 300mph being “about all they will stand”. Observing that the 38ft-diameter rotor looked “rather cumbersome”, he said, “Smaller rotors, therefore, demand more revolutions, for which stronger blades must be designed”. Such developments would prove key to the ever-increasing capability of helicopter designs that followed. The Hoverfly, with its 185hp Warner Super Scarab R-550-1 seven-cylinder radial engine, could only attain a maximum speed of 80mph. Despite the performance limitations, potential applications
29 June 1968 Avro Anson retired from service with Metropolitan Communications Squadron at Bovingdon after 32 years on the RAF inventory. 23 August 1968 No 228 OCU at Coningsby receives the first McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR2 destined for RAF service. 78 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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were becoming obvious. USAAF R-4s had already been employed for rescue missions in the China-BurmaIndia theatre, and for shipboard operations in the South Pacific. The Aeroplane praised the “excellent” view from the Hoverfly’s cockpit, “which suggests great utility for Army cooperation work, for photography and for certain aspects of Naval flying. Deck landing presents no problems to helicopters, and they have sat down on decks with 22 degrees of roll.” Such qualities appealed to the Fleet Air Arm, which joined the RAF in pioneering its use of helicopters with the Sikorsky type. Some of its early examples were, indeed, transferred from the Helicopter Training Flight. Reflecting future rotary-wing roles, new trainees joining the courses at Andover included air observation post, Coastal Command and Transport Command pilots, as well as the Rota radar calibration flyers of No 529 Squadron. Based at Crazies Farm near Henley-onThames, its first two Hoverflies were delivered to start replacing the venerable autogyros on 16 April
1969 4-11 May 1969 A Harrier GR1 operating from ‘RAF St Pancras’ (the coal yard at St Pancras railway station) makes the fastest westbound crossing in the Daily Mail London-New York trans-Atlantic air race. This flight, involving four air-to-air refuellings from Victor tankers, takes six hours 11 minutes 57 seconds.
30 June 1969 Responsibility for Britain’s strategic nuclear deterrent passes to the Polaris submarines of the Royal Navy. From this point onwards, the RAF will have only tactical nuclear weapons at its disposal — and, from 1998, none at all. 1 September 1969 British forces withdraw from Libya.
1945, thus introducing the helicopter to ‘operational’ RAF use. It proved short-lived. With post-war budget cuts biting, helicopters took a lower priority. The disbandment of 529 took place on 16 October 1945, and the Helicopter Training Flight followed on 16 January 1946. The RAF continued to use its Hoverfly Is for various purposes, a good example being KL110, the aircraft now in the RAF Museum London. It was transferred from Andover to the Transport Command Development Unit at Brize Norton and then the King’s Flight, which used a quartet of helicopters for mail runs between Dyce and Balmoral Castle, operating from the Balmoral cricket pitch. By the time the RAF retired the R-4B in January 1949, and the FAA likewise in July 1950, the path to future rotary-wing operations was clearer. The 52 Hoverfly Is had played their part. Basil Arkell — who joined Fairey and set a world helicopter speed record in its Gyrodyne — knew the potential. As The Aeroplane reported on its Andover visit, “He regards them as capable of as valuable service to aviation as jet propulsion…” Ben Dunnell
1 September 1969 No 43 Squadron becomes the first RAF air defence unit on the Phantom FG1, taking delivery of aircraft diverted from the Royal Navy order. The Fleet Air Arm’s operation of the Phantom will prove relatively shortlived as it gets out of fixed-wing carrier aviation in 1978 upon the retirement of HMS Ark Royal (R09), the Phantoms going to the RAF. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
Midland Air Museum Sir Frank Whittle Jet Heritage Centre Coventry Airport CV3 4FR
*Tea Room *Guided Tours *Large Exhibition Hangars *Well Stocked Shop *Tea Room *Sit in Vulcan and Argosy *Large Free Car park *Group Discounts
The Spitfire and Hurricane Museum is a unique site housing a Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI and the Hawker Hurricane IIC as well as a host of objects and artefacts which help tell the story of life in and around Ramsgate during WWII. An absolute must visit, photography is welcome and best of all, it’s free to visit too!
Supermarine Spitfire MkVI(LF) TB752
As of April 2018, visitors will be able to book a flight in the museum’s Spitfire Simulator • Booking is essential. • £30 charge applies. For more information go to: www.facebook.com/ManstonSpitfireExperience
Most important of all, there is the Allied Crew Memorial Garden where all visitors are welcome to sit on the benches to relax and reflect in an evocative atmosphere. The museum also offers bespoke education sessions and can accommodate group or coaching bookings. Opening Hours 10am - 5pm (1 April – 31 Oct) 10am - 4pm (1 Nov – 31 Mar) Closed Mondays in January and February
Free Admission Free Car and Coach Parking Disabled Access Merlin Café open daily
Tel: 01843 821940 Email: [email protected]
The Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum, Manston Road, Ramsgate, Kent CT12 5DF
RAF Manston Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Trust. Museum Registration 1991. Registered Charity No. 298229
RAF 100 HIGH SPEED FLIGHT
In re-forming its High Speed Flight after World War Two, the RAF had but one aim: to break the outright world air speed record. In doing so, the service generated considerable prestige for itself, and for the Gloster Meteor that made the feat possible WORDS: DENIS J. CALVERT ABOVE: A tremendous beatup of Tangmere by Gp Capt Edward ‘Teddy’ Donaldson in Meteor IV EE530 of the High Speed Flight in July 1946. This was one of the unit’s ‘hack’ aircraft provided for training purposes.
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ormed at Felixstowe on 1 October 1926, the Royal Air Force High Speed Flight was born of necessity. Following the failure by Britain to win the 1926 Schneider Trophy contest at Hampton Roads, Virginia, the Air Ministry decided to create a specialist unit to ensure that the British team for the 1927 event would be both better-prepared and better-equipped. Victory for a Supermarine S5 bore out the effectiveness of the new approach. Come 1931, a British triumph was a formality. Flt Lt John Boothman duly flew the course unopposed on race day, 13 September, in Supermarine S6B S1595. The winning machine was put on show at
1 October 1969 The Hawker Siddeley Harrier, the world’s first vertical/ short take-off and landing (V/STOL) fixed-wing aircraft, enters service in GR1 form with No 1 Squadron at RAF Wittering. Forty years later, this remarkable feat of engineering will still be the world’s only successful V/STOL fixed-wing aircraft, a tribute to its ingenuity. 80 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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Vickers House in Westminster, while the cup itself — the Coupe d’Aviation Maritime Jacques Schneider — was entrusted to the Royal Aero Club. The High Speed Flight was disbanded, its primary task achieved. Few thought it would ever return. Immediately after the Second World War Britain had, in the Gloster Meteor, one of the fastest aircraft in production anywhere in the world. While jet fighters had not had any decisive effect on the outcome of the Second World War, this was demonstrably the way forward. The Meteor had export potential, and many air forces eagerly sought the cachet of fielding a jet fighter in their front line. Gloster Aircraft, with its forward-looking publicity
2 October 1969 The first Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR1 maritime patrol aircraft is delivered to No 236 OCU at St Mawgan, Cornwall. October 1969 The Buccaneer enters RAF service with No 12 Squadron at Honington in the maritime strike role. Pedants note that it entered Royal Navy service six years earlier.
1970 15 February 1970 ACM Sir Hugh Dowding, AOC-in-C Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, dies at the age of 87. 4 April 1970 After 27 years’ service, the RAF retires its last Dakota. In 1993, the type will re-enter service
department, was keen to capitalise on this. On 7 November 1945 Gp Capt Hugh ‘Willie’ Wilson, CO of the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) at Cranfield, broke the world air speed record in Meteor IV EE454 Britannia. Operating out of RAF Manston and flying a measured course over Herne Bay, he pushed his aircraft to 606mph. This was the first time a jet-powered aircraft had taken the world speed record, and a Gloster advertisement rushed out for publication proudly proclaimed its achievement of “10 miles a minute”. Back at Gloster and within the depths of the Air Ministry, there was an appetite to raise the record further, something thought to be within
when ZA947 joins the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. 1971 4 May 1971 RAF Harriers embark in HMS Ark Royal for trials. 29 September 1971 The Westland Puma HC1 helicopter enters service AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
the capability of a suitably modified Meteor IV. Wilson had broken the 600mph barrier; now the goal was to exceed 1,000km/h (621mph), although to get any new record ratified required bettering the existing record by at least 8km/h (5mph). To facilitate this second attempt, the High Speed Flight was reestablished at RAF Tangmere. Gp Capt E. M. ‘Teddy’ Donaldson, who had wartime experience flying the Meteor and would later find fame as the air correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, was given command of the new unit, which officially re-formed on 14 June 1946. Two other pilots joined him on the strength: Sqn Ldr Bill Waterton and Flt Lt Neville Duke. At the time, Waterton was still an RAF officer; his career as a test pilot with Gloster would come later. Duke, meanwhile, was seconded to Hawker and had just completed his ETPS course after a notable wartime career on Spitfires, Curtiss Tomahawks and Kittyhawks. Much effort was expended, even before the flight had formed, by the men from the ministry in studying the theoretical aspects of Wilson’s record and how things could be more finely tuned to better his 606mph by the required margin. A course was surveyed over the sea off the south coast of England, the timed part to be a 3km stretch on a line between the ends of Bognor and Worthing piers. Height-indicating balloons and inflatable bags in the sea were installed to mark the line of the course, which in places was only 600 yards from the beach. Extensive publicity was given to the
with No 33 Squadron at RAF Odiham. October-December 1971 As part of a scaling-down of RAF operations in the Far and Middle East, the Far East Air Force (FEAF) is disbanded on 31 October, followed by the withdrawal of RAF units in the Gulf area and the disbandment of Air Forces Gulf Headquarters at Bahrain. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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forthcoming record attempt, the diary of one aviation magazine in summer 1946 confidently offering, “Aug 15th (or after). Attempt on World’s Air Speed Record by RAF High Speed Flight”. There was nothing like advance publicity to add to the pressure faced by those aiming to make a new record a reality. Two Meteor IVs, EE549 and EE550, were to be allocated to the flight for the record attempt. Both were claimed as normal ‘long-wing’ production aircraft, although the
Rolls-Royce Derwent V engines would be uprated, the gun armament removed and the ports faired over, and a different cockpit hood fitted. This modified hood, made of duralumin with two Perspex panels on each side, would guard against the Perspex of the standard hood softening in the aerodynamic heating at the high speeds expected. Before delivery of these two ‘specials’, three standard Meteor IVs were provided for training and practice. The serious work-up started in late June, with all three pilots of the flight making practice runs at high Mach
ABOVE: The would-be record-breakers: from left to right, Flt Lt Neville Duke, Sqn Ldr Bill Waterton and Gp Capt Edward Donaldson. BELOW: The record-breaking Meteor IV EE549. FRANK MUNGER
1972 January 1972 The Shackleton AEW2 (right) enters service, as No 8 Squadron at Kinloss becomes the first RAF airborne early warning squadron. 15 November 1972 HM Queen Elizabeth II opens the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon, London. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 81
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“NOTHING OF VALUE IN IT”
That was Marshal of the Royal Air Force Baron Trenchard’s view of the inter-war Schneider Trophy contests — but, even so, he was key to making possible the RAF involvement that led to British success
pon its establishment in October 1926, Sqn Ldr Leslie Slatter was posted to command the High Speed Flight. The unit was effectively an offshoot of the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, also at Felixstowe, as marine experience was considered essential. Its brief was wider than simply to win the 1927 contest and included research into various aspects of aerodynamics, engines and propellers as part of the testing of new highperformance seaplanes. That said, there was little doubt as to the main objective to be achieved. Marshal of the Royal Air Force Hugh Trenchard was initially unhappy at seeing the RAF get involved in what he considered a private race, although he equally appreciated the potential prestige of winning the contest, being convinced that only service discipline — and RAF discipline at that — could make this possible. Suitably competitive aircraft were somewhat late in arriving, and it was not until May 1927 that the ﬂight had received its Short Crusader and was able to start a serious work-up. It detached to Calshot in July, in preparation for the contest to be held that September in Venice. Seven aircraft — three Supermarine S5s, three Gloster IVs and the Crusader — were available for training, and the timing of their subsequent shipping to Venice allowed a couple of weeks of ﬁnal practice. Slowest of the three was the Crusader, while the Gloster had problems of forward visibility for the pilot, with take-off and landing proving much an act of faith on his behalf. The S5 was by far the best of the designs, and the British team as entered comprised two S5s and a Gloster IVB. In the contest on 26 September, only the S5s completed the required seven laps of
March 1973 Operation ‘Khana Cascade’, in which RAF Hercules transports drop 2,000 tonnes of food to Himalayan villagers facing starvation in Nepal. 30 May 1973 No 226 OCU at Lossiemouth takes delivery of the first 82 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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the 50km course, the Gloster IVB and all three Italian entrants retiring for various technical reasons. The victor was Flt Lt S. N. Webster in S5 N220, who averaged 281mph. While the prowess and efﬁciency of the High Speed Flight had been convincingly demonstrated, the fact that Webster had ﬂown an unnecessary ‘extra’ eighth lap after fearing that he’d miscounted on his makeshift paper lap-counter slightly dented this impression. Victory gained, the ﬂight returned with its aircraft to Britain, where it was temporarily disbanded. It came back to life early in 1928 in order for Flt Lt Sam Kinkead to attempt a new world speed record in S5 N221 on 12 March on a course over Southampton Water. This ended in tragedy when, as the following day’s Western Morning News recorded, “just as he appeared to be entering the marked course, his machine nose-dived and shot like a shell from a gun into the Solent”. Flt Lt D’Arcy Greig, Kinkead’s replacement, made another attempt some months later in S5 N220, but his speed of 319mph did not better the existing Italian record by the margin required for it to be ratiﬁed. The High Speed Flight team for the 1929 contest was commanded by Sqn Ldr A. H. Orlebar, who took over on 1 February 1929. With four other pilots including D’Arcy Greig, plus around 30 NCOs and airmen, the nucleus incorporated ‘the best of the 1927 ﬂight’. By this time, British aircraft manufacturers had accepted that the biplane was no longer competitive in the Schneider Trophy, and that in future only monoplanes would take part. Meanwhile, all participating nations had agreed to there being a two-year gap
two SEPECAT Jaguar GR1 fighterbombers for the RAF. Two hundred more will follow. 17 July 1973 The first Westland Gazelle HT3 helicopters are delivered to Training Command at RAF Ternhill. Along with the Puma and Lynx, the Gazelle is the fruit of Anglo-French co-operation.
between contests, the next to be held at Calshot in September 1929. Disagreement at government and ministry levels about funding and RAF participation hampered an earlier start to the ﬂight’s preparations, but it was ready again to decamp to Calshot for training in mid-April. Time had been available for Rolls-Royce to develop the 1,900hp ‘R’ engine, around which Reginald Mitchell and his Supermarine team built the S6, a scaled-up development of the S5. The S6 was a purpose-built racer requiring expert handling to take full advantage of the power and master its handling. It is therefore surprising to read, in Orlebar’s Schneider Trophy (Seeley & Service, 1933), that, “none of us had any experience of sea-ﬂying before we came to the Flight.” The 1929 race on 7 September was won by Fg Off H. Waghorn in S6 N247 at an average of 328mph, this despite — as Orlebar recounts in his book — the betting in Portsmouth having been two-to-one on an Italian win. Fg Off ‘Batchy’ Atcherley in the other S6, N248, had a miserable race. His vision became obscured after he lost his goggles in ﬂight (an early but genuine example of a wardrobe malfunction) and he was forced to ﬂy head-down in the cockpit, hampering his view. As a result, he missed a pylon and was disqualiﬁed. The politics and vacillation of policy that nearly scuppered Britain’s entry in 1931 are already well-known. A third win for the High Speed Flight would bring the trophy to Britain and end the contest, while it was becoming clear that all four competing nations — Britain, France, Italy and the
1 September 1973 RAF Maintenance Command and No 90 (Signals) Group are disbanded, with the newly-formed RAF Support Command taking over their duties. 1974 22 May 1974 At an event staged to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the
first flight of the Canberra, no fewer than 33 different marks of the aircraft are to be seen at Cottesmore. 1 July 1974 Phantom FGR2s start their move to the UK air defence role. No 111 Squadron forms on the type at Coningsby, but the type will never completely replace the Lightning in RAF service. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
The High Speed Flight’s aircraft and pilots for 1931: S6Bs S1596 (left) and S1595 ﬂank S6A N248, the latter modiﬁed from its previous S6 standard but not ﬂown in the race.
USA — were ﬁnding it problematic to continue to justify the ever-increasing funding required. Trenchard himself, having been instrumental in making possible the 1927 win, is quoted as saying four years later that he saw “nothing of value in it”. There was also the human cost. The ﬂight’s Lt Gerry Brinton, ﬂying an S6 modiﬁed to S6A standard, was killed while making his ﬁrst take-off in the aircraft just weeks before the 1931 contest. The Italian team, ﬂying the superlative MacchiCastoldi MC72 with 2,850hp at its disposal, lost two aircraft and two pilots in the lead-up to the race itself, and subsequently withdrew its entry. French and American teams also failed to materialise, leaving Britain unopposed. For all these reasons, enthusiasm for continuing beyond 1931 was diminishing. Had there been an agreement to postpone that year, giving time to perfect the MC72, the Italians might well have won. This would have thrown the contest wide-open once more, and one could image the biennial pattern continuing. Boothman’s victorious average speed in S6B S1595 at the 1931 race was 340mph, acceptably above that of Waghorn’s in 1929. It was, though, something of a hollow victory. A degree of pride was restored when, later in the day, Flt Lt George Stainforth took off in the other S6B, S1596, and ﬂew four passes over a 3km course to establish a new world speed record of 379mph. This, at least, ensured that the vast crowds went home happy. On 29 September, Stainforth raised the record to more than 400mph.
numbers and at low level in the ‘hack’ Meteors. These low-level flights put a strain on the airframes, and on one occasion Waterton suffered a sudden loss of power and vibration in the port engine, a potentially serious situation when at such a low altitude. He shut down the powerplant in question and returned to Tangmere where, on stripping-down, several turbine blades were found to have failed. The cause was identified as loose bits of rivet from the wing skinning process that had found their way into the engine nacelles. From there, they had been ingested into the engine, impacting on the centrifugal compressor and causing parts to break off. The debris was then drawn through the engine, removing turbine blades and unbalancing the shaft. The affected engine on Waterton’s Meteor was replaced, but examination of another aircraft used by Duke revealed that it had suffered the same damage. A fitting link with the earlier High Speed Flight was provided in July by the visit of AVM John Boothman, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff
26 July 1974 Following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, RAF Support Command transport aircraft including VC10s, Comets and Hercules ferry more than 7,500 tourists off the island.
21 August 1974 Duncan Simpson makes the first flight of the Hawker Siddeley Hawk trainer from the company’s airfield at Dunsfold, Surrey.
14 August 1974 The prototype Panavia MRCA — later Tornado — makes its first flight at Manching, West Germany, piloted by BAC’s Paul Millett.
4 November 1974 The last Vickers Varsity leaves Oakington and No 5 FTS — the end of the type’s 25-year training role.
AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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(Technical Requirements) and pilot of the winning Supermarine S6B in the 1931 Schneider Trophy contest. Still qualified to pilot single-seat aircraft, he went aloft in one of the flight’s Meteors, pronouncing it easy to fly and far less demanding than “the temperamental Schneider floatplanes”. August saw the arrival at Tangmere of EE549 and EE550. They had been specially finished, with all panel lines filled before the airframe was painted to give an exceptionally smooth surface. Even the airbrakes were locked shut and filler used to close the gaps with the wing. These were true high-speed Meteors for the High Speed Flight. The specially prepared Derwents, though, had yet to be installed, as they had an overhaul life of just six hours and engine hours had to be carefully controlled. It was at this point that, according to some accounts, Donaldson pulled rank. With only two suitable Meteors, he announced that he would fly EE549 on a record attempt, while Waterton would pilot EE550.
John Boothman pronounced the Meteor easy to fly and less demanding than the Schneider floatplanes
The ﬁrst of the specially prepared Meteor IVs was EE454, pictured before it was named Britannia for the record attempt by Gp Capt Hugh ‘Willie’ Wilson.
1975 January Near East Air Force (NEAF) fighter, bomber and transport units depart Cyprus, leaving only helicopters based there. 6 February 1975 ACM Sir Keith Park, AOC No 11 Group during the Battle of Britain, dies in New Zealand.
10 March 1975 In the final hours of the Vietnam War, RAF Hercules evacuate civilians from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. November 1975 Harriers and Pumas are sent to the British protectorate of Belize in Central America to counter the threat of an invasion by neighbouring Guatemala. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 83
RAF 100 HIGH SPEED FLIGHT
Flight reported in its 22 August 1946 issue that Air Marshal Sir James Robb, Air Officer Commanding-inChief of Fighter Command, took the decision that Waterton “should attack the record after Group Capt Donaldson and that Flt Lt Duke should act as reserve pilot” during a visit to Tangmere on 14 August. This left Duke without an aircraft and bitterly disappointed at being shut off from any chance of a tilt at the record, at least in a Meteor. Of course, he would take the world air speed record
31 March 1976 NEAF disbands as part of the continuing contraction of RAF commitments worldwide. March 1976 Development of an Air Defence Variant (ADV) of the Tornado is announced in preference to an ‘offthe-shelf’ purchase of the Grumman 84 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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in Hunter F3 WB188 some seven years later. By this time, the course off the south coast was ready, with the necessary timing equipment and cameras in place. The Meteors, however, needed to return to Gloster for attention to correct control imbalance in EE550 (a left wing drop) and to repair some airframe buckling in the lower fuselage of both machines. Then, with the uprated engines installed, everything was ready for the record attempt.
F-14 Tomcat or McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. 1 April 1976 RAF Gan in the Maldives is closed. 29 June 1976 Agreement is reached (and signed) for UK, Germany and Italy to produce 809 Tornados, including 385 for RAF.
1977 March 1977 Nimrod AEW3 development agreed as an airborne early warning Shackleton replacement, in preference to the Boeing E-3. 13 June 1977 Training Command and Air Support Command are merged into RAF Support Command.
Everything, that is, apart from the weather. While the ideal conditions for setting a new record required high ambient temperatures and smooth air, late August 1946 produced only cold, rain and mist. This delay was frustrating to all those waiting for better conditions, and there was the ever-present threat of the Americans getting in first and upping the record by a few mph with the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. The daily papers had been going into hyperbolic
29 July 1977 The Queen’s Silver Jubilee Review of the RAF at Finningley, South Yorkshire. 1978 August 1978 Sufficient numbers of aircrew have completed training at the RAF Sea King Training Unit for No 202 Squadron at Lossiemouth to AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: A scene from Tangmere on 7 September 1946, with Meteor EE550 on the flightline. Donaldson settles himself into the cockpit of EE549, complete with nonstandard canopy. EE530 being flown along the south coast course, past one of the timing stations and some of the barrage balloons that marked them.
The weather delay was frustrating to all those waiting for better conditions, and there was the ever-present threat of the Americans getting in first and upping the record with the Lockheed P-80
overdrive in presenting the flight, its celebrity pilots and ‘the record that was going to be set’ but, by early September and with no record attempt, there were signs that they were beginning to tire of the story. Saturday 7 September brought more favourable weather, even though the ambient temperature was far below the ideal. The decision to ‘go’ was taken. Donaldson elected to make the first attempt, taking off from Tangmere in EE549 at 17.45hrs. Two runs were required in each
be established in the SAR role on the new helicopter. The Sea King will go on to replace both the Whirlwind and Wessex on SAR duties. October 1978 The last RAF squadron based on Malta, No 13 Squadron, departs the island. Equipped with Canberra PR7s and PR9s, it has provided the RAF’s dedicated photoAEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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reconnaissance capability with NEAF. 1979 November 1979 Having entered service with No 4 FTS in November 1976, the British Aerospace Hawk T1 replaces the last Gnats in RAF service this month when it becomes the mount of the Red Arrows.
1980 May 1980 The Red Arrows embark on their first display season following re-equipment with the Hawk T1. 1981 29 January 1981 Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) opens at
An interested crowd of onlookers watches Donaldson make a curving final approach in EE549 after breaking the record, with sister aircraft EE550 in the foreground. Relaxed faces at Tangmere between the record attempts. Between Waterton and Donaldson, on the left and right respectively, are Mr H. J. Allwright, Technical Assistant (Airframes) to Air Marshal Sir Alec Coryton, Controller of Supplies (Air) at the Ministry of Supply, and the AOC of Fighter Command, Air Marshal Sir James Robb.
Cottesmore. British, German and Italian crews will henceforth train together in the UK. 24 August 1981 UK/US memorandum signed to produce ‘new-generation’ Harrier II as GR5/AV-8B. 9 November 1981 First RAF hardened aircraft shelter (HAS) in the UK www.aeroplanemonthly.com 85
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wing started to drop. To counteract this, and to keep the aircraft level, Waterton needed to input right rudder and to use both hands on the stick. He managed to keep the aircraft straight and level with his left arm jammed against the side of the cockpit, but was forced to abandon his first run. Despite these problems, he flew the following four runs of the course accurately and at the prescribed altitude, and his instruments suggested fast times. Waterton landed back at Tangmere after 20 minutes’ flying. He knew that his use of right rudder would have caused drag and reduced his speed and that, as a result, the record would not be his.
ABOVE: ‘Teddy’ Donaldson with the Royal Aero Club’s Britannia Trophy for the British aviator adjudged to have achieved the most outstanding performance in the past year, awarded to him in March 1947 for his world speed record. RIGHT: Gloster made much publicity use of the achievement to promote the Meteor, as evidenced by the cover of Flight’s 17 October 1946 edition.
direction to negate the effect of wind, these being made at an altitude of around 100ft. The Meteor’s engines emitted tell-tale black smoke as the aircraft was tracked by a timing system using still and cine cameras at both ends of the course. Donaldson landed back at Tangmere after a flight of just 15 minutes, seemingly happy with his performance. He was followed by Waterton, who took off at 18.11, headed out to sea and passed over the end of Bognor pier before starting his run. It was shortly afterwards, as he increased speed, that EE550’s left
The Meteor’s engines emitted tell-tale black smoke as the aircraft was tracked by a timing system using still and cine cameras. Donaldson landed back at Tangmere seemingly happy with his performance
completed at RAF Honington. The Cold War gets colder.
When the timings were verified, Donaldson’s average speed was confirmed as 616mph and Waterton’s as 614mph. Donaldson — and Britain — thus took the world air speed record, although the hoped-for 1,000km/h remained tantalisingly out of reach. In its edition of 13 September 1946, The Aeroplane attempted to put the achievement into perspective. While its editor Thurstan James struck a note of realism by stating that, “This step of 10mph up the ladder of aeronautical speeds is not the greatest”, he went on to celebrate the “outward manifestation to the World of the superb teamwork within the aircraft industry and the Royal Air Force”, and, “another upward step in man’s unceasing aeronautical aspirations. That so many of these steps have been taken first by this country is no mere accident, but the result of continuing effort. It is proper that such effort should be allowed to flower from time to time in the establishment of records…” Flight added, “Curiously enough, if anyone has lacked
credit it is the pilots themselves. They have been too ready to compliment the Meteor on its unimpeachable flying qualities and too modest in describing the super-precision flying which is, nevertheless, demanded of them.” The course markers were left out, but further attempts at the record later in the month were unsuccessful. Such activity was cut short by engine hour limitations on the Derwents and by the fact that only one spare engine had been supplied. Hopes of trumpeting the 1,000km/h milestone during September’s SBAC show at Radlett were therefore dashed. The High Speed Flight was disbanded soon afterwards, on 26 September 1946. While it might be premature to say ‘never’, it is difficult to imagine the circumstances in which it might be re-formed at any point in the future. That said, has any other unit left more of a mark on the history of the RAF with such a short period of existence?
2 April 1982 Argentine forces invade the Falkland Islands. A major RAF air transport effort, involving Hercules and VC10s, is set in motion as British forces prepare for action. 86 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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5 April 1982 British Task Force leaves Portsmouth for the South Atlantic. RAF involvement in the Falklands War over the coming 10 weeks will include Harriers, Vulcans, Nimrods, Hercules, Victor tankers (from Ascension Island) and helicopters. 18 April 1982 The first five Victor tankers from Marham arrive at Ascension.
1 May 1982 Initial ‘Black Buck’ mission. Vulcan XM607 of the Waddington Wing attacks Port Stanley airfield, dropping bombs on runway. Mission made possible by Victor tanker force operating from Ascension. 25 May 1982 Three RAF Chinooks among a cargo of 10 British military helicopters — as well as 12 men — lost
when requisitioned merchant ship Atlantic Conveyor is sunk by Exocet missiles fired by a pair of Argentine Navy Dassault Super Étendards in the South Atlantic. Chinook ‘Bravo November’, serial ZA718 (page 88), was airborne from the vessel at the time and thus survived, landing aboard HMS Hermes. It is still in service to this day. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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A limited editi on medal has been struck with on ly 319 being m ade costing £100 .
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RAF 100 BERLIN SUNDERLANDS
RAF ﬂying boats didn’t just deliver food and other supplies to they also helped boost morale
SUNDERLAND SAVIO U ABOVE: The crew of No 201 Squadron Sunderland V VB389 takes a breather atop the aircraft following its arrival on Berlin’s Wannsee, as its cargo — probably of food — is loaded on to barges. From there the loads were moved by river to Spandau for onward distribution to the Western sectors of Berlin. PRM AVIATION COLLECTION
s Berlin changes inexorably, so the Großer Wannsee in its south-western suburbs seems to become ever more of an idyll. Of a summer weekend it can seem as if the whole of the city has decamped to the lake on the River Havel, bordered by beaches and forests, criss-crossed by sailors, pleasure craft, tourist boats and public transport ferries. How different things were 70 years ago. Berlin was still largely in ruins, its people slowly getting back on their feet. Then in June 1948 came the Soviet blockade of surface transport routes into the western sectors, and the emergence of a new threat to the city’s livelihood. Thus began the remarkable Allied airlift, mounted initially to supply the western — American, British, French — garrisons, but soon extended to sustain the entire populace. Alongside
the streams of transport aircraft that began to be received by the existing airfields at Tempelhof in the US sector and Gatow in the British one, the Großer Wannsee famously played its part. A signal from the Foreign Office to the Air Ministry and the air headquarters of the British Air Forces of Occupation (BAFO) on 28 June said, “The Havel Lake [sic] in British Sector Berlin offers good landing area for flying boats and seems worthy of consideration for movement of food or passengers to or from Berlin. As all means of importing food to the city are valuable it might be possible to load flying boats on the Elbe near Hamburg Docks and unload on the Havel”. The Großer Wannsee was certainly long and deep enough, while
3 June 1982 Vulcan XM597 is forced to divert to Rio de Janeiro in neutral Brazil after losing its in-flight refuelling probe while returning from an antiradar sortie to the Falklands. A minor diplomatic incident ensues. 14 June 1982 Argentine forces in the Falklands surrender. Message from Maj Gen Jeremy Moore, commander of 88 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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British land forces during the conflict, to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: “The Falkland Islands are once again under the government desired by their inhabitants. God save the Queen.” 31 July 1982 SAC Ron MacDonald, an officers’ mess steward, becomes the first airman to swim the English Channel.
ample support and facilities were available for loading and unloading. An immediate survey confirmed its suitability. BAFO was a little sceptical. “We have no knowledge here of the scale of effort anticipated”, its air headquarters replied, “but doubt whether the tonnage lifted would counterbalance the increased congestion in the air space over the British Sector of Berlin caused by the introduction of another type of aircraft with different speeds and landing area. Nevertheless the fly-in of flying boats would be of great value from a morale point of view, and would provide an additional indication to the Russians that we intend to use all resources to break the blockade.” What the commander of British forces in Berlin, Maj Gen E. O.
31 August 1982 Officers in the Falklands at RAF Stanley enjoy their first dining-in night, wearing combat dress, Wellington boots and bow ties fashioned from black duct tape. The event is held under canvas. 12 October 1982 ‘Salute to the Task Force’ flypast mounted over central London. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
es to Berlin in 1948 —
O URS Herbert, called “the most suitable loading and unloading point” was actually in the US sector, at the Klare Lanke bay. Herbert’s American opposite number Col Frank Howley gave permission, noting, “it will be necessary to clear the German boats which now anchor in the Klare Lanke”. Then as now, the Wannsee was popular with local sailors. On 3 July it was confirmed. Ten RAF Short Sunderlands would be assigned, flying from Finkenwerder on the Elbe river west of Hamburg to Berlin. Drawn from Nos 201 and 230 Squadrons and No 235 Operational Conversion Unit, all home-based in the UK at Calshot, they formed the BAFO Coastal Command Detachment. It started operating on 7 July. For The Aeroplane, John Fricker reported from Berlin on the RAF’s
1983 25 July 1983 First VC10 K2 tanker conversion handed over to RAF, to be operated by No 101 Squadron from Brize Norton. 15 August 1983 No 216 Squadron re-formed at Brize Norton to operate Lockheed Tristar tanker/transports. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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airlift efforts. “The lake at Havel [sic] is a natural flying-boat base”, he wrote in the 26 July edition, “being sheltered by low hills on all sides, so that the surface is always calm. An almost unlimited run is available, although only on one heading, so that most landings and take-offs are cross-wind. There has been a little difficulty with the Sunderlands in bad weather, because the run-in is between the Gatow and Tempelhof circuits, but the boats always give way to land aircraft and manage quite well. “The depth of the lake, with the exception of one or two points, is sufficient for the flying-boats to moor quite close to the shore, where their cargoes are unloaded into lighters and transferred to barges, which take the food up the Havel See [sic] to Spandau. With a load of about 10,000lb stowed in the bomb compartments and lower deck, the Sunderlands have a turn-round time of about 20 minutes, and are averaging about 16 sorties a day”. According to airlift HQ, “Their cargo has been mostly meat, plus noodles and yeast”. Later they began transporting salt, and there were more unusual loads, like 208 boxes of bullion.
In addition, they had flown 1,269 children and 199 accompanying adults out of Berlin, in what was known as ‘backloading’. It was decided during February 1949 that flying boats would not return to Operation ‘Plainfare’, as the RAF’s airlift contribution was dubbed. The British element of the Allied Control Commission for Germany said, “the potential lift of the flying boats is very small and their operation would unduly complicate the already difficult traffic problem in the northern corridors and at Gatow, alongside which is the Havel flying-boat landing. Even if the difficulties could be overcome the amount of effort required in provision of base organisation and maintenance is out of all proportion to their value.” That may have been so, but, as John Fricker had written in July 1948, “Apart from their loadcarrying powers, the Sunderlands have a dignity which has a great psychological value for the Germans, many of whom have never before seen a flying-boat. The banks of the lake were usually crowded with people, who stood for hours, often in heavy rain, to watch them operating. The scheme is a further illustration of the British capacity for turning the original, unexpected and impossible into a routine.”
Apart from their loadcarrying powers, the Sunderlands have a dignity which has a great psychological value
Civilian flying boats joined in, namely the Hythe-class Sunderland conversions operated by BOAC. This was just as well, as the RAF Sunderlands had flying hour restrictions imposed on them during August. Once those were lifted, a “maximum effort” was mounted, not least because it was known that flying boats would be unable to operate in winter due to ice. The final Sunderland sortie left the Havel on 14 December, by which time the RAF aircraft had completed 1,159 sorties carrying 5,080.6 tonnes of freight.
29 August 1983 Maiden flight of a production McDonnell Douglas AV-8B/ BAe Harrier GR5 — the ‘secondgeneration’ Harrier, designated as the Harrier II — at St Louis, Missouri.
30 March 1984 No 50 Squadron, the RAF’s last active-service Vulcan operator, disbands at Waddington.
31 September 1983 First Tornado GR1s assigned to RAF Germany arrive on the strength of No XV Squadron stationed at Laarbruch.
19 October 1984 No 74 ‘Tiger’ Squadron re-forms with F-4J(UK) Phantoms, refurbished ex-US Navy machines.
BELOW: Sunderland V PP117 from No 230 Squadron moored up between airlift sorties. Much support equipment had to be gathered from local sources to permit operations to begin. A. DONALDSON
October 1984 An RAF Nimrod MR2 crew wins the multi-national Fincastle Trophy competition for anti-submarine warfare. 5 November 1984 First Tornado F2s delivered to No 229 OCU at Coningsby, beginning the reequipment of the RAF’s air defence force. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 89
RAF 100 RAY HANNA
MAKINGof a MASTER
The legend of Ray Hanna is known to all with an interest in historic aviation. This extraordinary aviator, regarded by many as the best Red Arrows leader and Spitﬁre display pilot there has ever been, possessed innate abilities that left others in awe. Those qualities were much in evidence even in the formative years of Hanna’s RAF service, whether engaged in low-level ﬁghter reconnaissances or long-range ferry ﬂights, as a near-contemporary recalls — illustrated by rare photos from Ray’s personal collection WORDS: NIGEL WALPOLE
first met Ray Hanna at an armament practice camp (APC) at Sylt, northern Germany, in 1955. He was serving on No 79 Squadron in the fighter reconnaissance role and scoring well at air-to-air gunnery in a Meteor FR9. The massive, very rapid expansion of the RAF in the early 1950s, in a reaction to the fastdeveloping Cold War, had spawned some 25 RAF jet squadrons in that part of Germany alone. The great majority of the pilots, Ray and I included, were young, inexperienced, on their first tours, unmarried and interested primarily in flying the new breed of jet fighter. It was from an eclectic mix that a number of fine leaders emerged, and Ray Hanna was one of them.
12 May 1985 Mount Pleasant Airfield in the Falklands opened, purposebuilt to replace RAF Stanley. The UK’s ability rapidly to deploy forces to the Falklands is massively improved. August 1985 Four nations — UK, West Germany, Italy, Spain — sign 90 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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Ray’s professional expertise developed rapidly on his first frontline squadron, and if I needed further proof that he was potentially one of the war-winners of our time it came when we met again at RAF Gütersloh in 1966. There, after a brief welcome, OC Flying Wing began laying down the law on what Ray’s Red Arrows could and could not do at the following day’s air display. Ray’s reaction was courteous but decisive. He rose from his chair, stating calmly that he could not accept such constraints, and would take his team home forthwith. This was just one of many brushes he had with authority, and suffice it to say that on this one, as with many others, he won the day.
agreement to produce the European Fighter Aircraft (EFA), which will become the Eurofighter Typhoon. 1986 February 1986 The troubled BAe Nimrod AEW3 programme is put on final notice by an exasperated government.
5 March 1986 BBMF Spitfire PRXIX PM631 flies over London to mark the 50th anniversary of the type’s first flight. 28 July 1986 Deliveries of the ‘definitive’ air defence Tornado, the F3, begin to No 229 OCU at Coningsby. The interim F2 will soon be phased out.
Training on No 3 Flying Training School at Feltwell on the Harvard IIb. RAY HANNA COLLECTION
The RAF Feltwell rugby team of 1950-51. Ray is in the front row, second from right. RAY HANNA COLLECTION
18 December 1986 Boeing E-3 Sentry selected to become new RAF airborne early warning aircraft. Nimrod AEW3 programme is terminated, not a moment too soon. 1987 June 1987 RAF fire engines, previously painted olive drab as part of a 1970s AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
Graduating from No 226 Operational Conversion Unit at Stradishall in late 1951. RAY HANNA COLLECTION
The great majority of RAF jet pilots in Germany in the mid-1950s, Ray and I included, were young, inexperienced, on their first tours, and interested primarily in flying the new breed of jet fighter. It was from an eclectic mix that a number of fine leaders emerged
‘tone-down’ programme, return to their rightful red scheme. November 1987 NATO declaration of first operational RAF Tornado F3 unit, No 29 Squadron at Coningsby. 1988 30 June 1988 Final flight by an RAF AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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Lightning made from Binbrook after 28 years in service. The type will continue to be flown by BAe on Tornado trials. June 1988 New RAF policy announced to remove Spitfire gate guardians, and to replace some with glass-fibre replicas. Many of the Spitfires will be restored to flying condition when sold into private hands.
30 August 1988 Two Soviet MiG-29 ‘Fulcrums’, escorted by RAF Tornado F3s as they approach UK airspace, arrive at the Farnborough show. The Cold War shows signs of thawing? 1 September 1988 First Shorts Tucano T1 turboprop trainer handed over to RAF at Central Flying School at Scampton.
1989 13 May 1989 Fortieth anniversary of the Canberra celebrated at Wyton, ‘the home of the Canberra’. Suitably, 40 examples form a static line. 20 July 1989 Announcement that women will forthwith be recruited as RAF pilots and navigators. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 91
RAF 100 RAY HANNA
Planning diligently, Ray was soon flying as low as the rules allowed — sometimes a little lower... he had very special talents for low-level operations, as he would for formation aerobatics in future
Six of No 79 Squadron’s Meteor FR9s head for an armament practice camp at RAF Sylt, northern Germany. RAY HANNA COLLECTION
That evening, with four fighter squadrons in residence, the officers’ mess cellar bar was more than lively, but at nine o’clock Ray bid me a quiet ‘goodnight’. He said nothing to his pilots, but within the next 15 minutes they had all left the bar. Not for them some of the excesses of earlier years. Next day, there were more lessons on Ray’s special brand of leadership, at the pre-flight briefing and in the air, where I witnessed an immaculate display by the Reds from the rear seat of his Gnat. All that was a long way in the future during 1928, when Ray was born in Auckland, New Zealand. He became obsessed with aeroplanes at a very early age and spent every penny he could earn in his teenage years —
5 January 1990 The first Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1 for the RAF, ZH101, makes its maiden flight from Seattle, Washington. The AWACS aircraft will replace the ‘stop-gap’ Shackleton AEW2 in service with No 8 Squadron. June 1990 The Red Arrows perform 92 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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typically sweeping hangar floors — on flying lessons. At the local flying club, he went solo after nine hours’ instruction and flew a total of 52 hours in the DH82 Tiger Moth, thus beginning to prove himself in the air. Being physically fit and having achieved the necessary academic credentials, he volunteered for the Royal New Zealand Air Force, but was told that it had no requirement for pilots at that time. Undaunted, he worked his passage by sea to England, gaining rapid promotion within the crew as his natural abilities were recognised, and on arrival he was accepted for pilot training in the RAF. His initial ground training at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey in 1950 was followed by a course in basic flying
behind the Iron Curtain for the first time, displaying in Kiev and Budapest. 25 July 1990 Publication by the Thatcher government of its ‘Options for Change’ defence review, confirming substantial post-Cold War cuts. Many RAF assets will be withdrawn from Germany, and the Phantom retired altogether.
2 August 1990 Iraq invades Kuwait. On 11 August, Tornado F3s of Coningsby’s No 29 Squadron deploy to the Royal Saudi Air Force base at Dhahran and Jaguars of Nos 6, 41 and 54 Squadrons from Coltishall arrive at Thumrait, Oman. 15 September 1990 The largest flypast over London of the modern era
at No 3 Flying Training School at Feltwell. There he gained his ‘wings’ in May 1951, with a total of 220 hours in the Prentice T1 and Harvard IIb, inter alia leaving behind a very grateful Feltwell rugby team. Ray converted to twin-jet Meteor T7s and F4s, with 50 hours on No 203 Advanced Flying School at Driffield, and completed his FR training on the Meteor FR9 with No 226 Operational Conversion Unit at Stradishall. In 1952, having had no trouble exceeding the required standards on the ground and in the air, he was posted to No 79 Squadron at RAF Gütersloh in western Germany.
marks the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Leading the 168 aircraft is BBMF Spitfire IIa P7350, a 1940 combat veteran. 1991 January 1991 Fg Off Anne Marie Dawe becomes the RAF’s first female navigator on graduation from No 6 FTS AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
79, which had distinguished itself as a fighter squadron in the Battle of Britain, disbanded at the end of World War Two but re-formed in November 1951 to provide near-realtime photographic, visual and armed reconnaissance against targets such as airfields, military units, bridges and lines of communication. To that end, the nose of its FR9s contained four 20mm Hispano cannon and three cameras, the latter set obliquely for low-level photography in port, nose and starboard stations. During Ray’s time on the squadron, the WW2vintage F24 cameras were replaced by Vinten 70mm strip-aperture cameras, which allowed continuous, highquality photographic cover at muchincreased speeds and at lower levels.
at Finningley. She will go on to fly with the Hercules fleet at Lyneham. 16 January 1991 In the first coalition air attacks of the Gulf War, Tornado GR1s with JP233 airfield denial weapons attack Iraqi air bases. Later RAF involvement in the campaign will include most aircraft types in its thencurrent front line. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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To achieve surprise and minimise exposure to low-level air defences in the very hostile environment to be expected in the squadron’s main operating area of East Germany, it was imperative that the single-seat FR pilot be able to read large-scale maps accurately while flying as low and as fast as was practicable (the FR9 could ‘dash’ when needed at 400ktplus), making use of terrain-masking and operating in radio silence to avoid electronic detection. To add to the high workload, the leader and wingman had to provide cross-cover for the other while the number two kept his leader in view in tactical formation to anticipate energetic manoeuvring. In all this Ray was quick to show his potential. Planning
2 February 1991 First RAF Buccaneer sortie in Gulf War — against an Iraqi road bridge, jointly with Tornado GR1s — flown from Muharraq. 28 February 1991 End of the Gulf campaign; Kuwait is liberated. The RAF has lost six Tornado GR1s in combat, but completed around 6,000 sorties during Operation ‘Granby’.
diligently, he was soon flying as low as the rules allowed — sometimes a little lower — and was always reluctant to abort a sortie until the last minute when the weather demanded. It was tempting, but a calumny, to suggest that Ray exceeded his limits. His longevity proved otherwise. The truth was that he had very special talents for low-level operations, as he would have for formation aerobatics in the future. So it was that, in No 79 Squadron’s primary role — that of finding and reconnoitring the target, and surviving to return with perhaps crucial details on the enemy — Ray graduated rapidly from student to mentor in his first and only operational tour, at the end of which he was awarded an ‘above average’
ABOVE: Low flying, Hannastyle. Meteor FR9 WB122 carries the old No 79 Squadron insignia, with no white backing. RAY HANNA COLLECTION
FAR LEFT: Ray Hanna (left) and Brian Luffingham surviving al fresco during a war deployment exercise. VIA BRIAN LUFFINGHAM
17 April 1991 WL757, a Shackleton AEW2 of Lossiemouth-based No 8 Squadron, makes the venerable Avro type’s final flight in RAF service, bringing to a close 40 years of active duty. The unit will officially hand over airborne early warning duties to the Boeing Sentry AEW1-equipped No 8 Squadron at Waddington on 1 July that year. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 93
RAF 100 RAY HANNA
ABOVE: Ray leading No 167 Squadron’s aerobatic team of Hunter F4s.
RAY HANNA COLLECTION
assessment as an FR pilot. He had thoroughly enjoyed his time with 79, which he was wont to say was, “four years never above 100ft.” Unlike other tactical reconnaissance squadrons in NATO, which often boasted of operating single aircraft ‘alone, unarmed and unafraid’, the RAF had a tradition of arming its FR aircraft with guns, enabling them to attack their primary targets if so tasked, or any high-value opportunity targets they found en route (for example, a nuclear weapon convoy), while also providing a measure of self-defence. No 79 Squadron trained accordingly, with air-to-air and airto-ground gunnery, and once more Ray proved highly skilled in both. He became an obvious candidate for pilot gunnery instructor training at the RAF’s prestigious Central Gunnery School at Leconfield and completed the course in March 1954 with
May-July 1991 RAF Hercules and Chinook detachments operating from bases in Turkey deliver tonnes of food, clothing and medical supplies to Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq, as a major humanitarian crisis develops in the wake of the Gulf War. June 1991 Flt Lt Julie Ann Gibson becomes the RAF’s first female pilot. 94 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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another ‘above average’ assessment. Then in February 1956 he passed the difficult pilot attack instructor course, again with flying colours, and an ‘exceptional’ grade for an average error of only six yards with 3in rockets. In those heady days, the RAF’s squadrons were equipped with all the necessary vehicles to deploy anywhere overland within NATO, at very short notice, and this capability was rehearsed regularly. So it was that No 79 Squadron deployed to the Royal Netherlands Air Force station at Volkel in 1953, to operate al fresco in wooded extremities of the airfield for Exercise ‘Coronet’. Deprived of many creature comforts and the normal operating equipment, the situation gave vent to individual enterprise, initiatives and tolerant resilience. Here too, Ray showed his mettle.
She will go on to fly Hawker Siddeley Andovers with No 32 Squadron. 30 September 1991 The Royal Observer Corps stands down. By this time, its primary role for many years had been to stand ready for the reporting and monitoring of nuclear blasts and radioactive fall-out in the UK.
1992 January 1992 A VC10 C1 of No 10 Squadron flies Gurkha engineers and medical supplies to the Western Samoan Islands after the destruction caused by Cyclone Val. April 1992 Following the disbandment of Andover operator No 60 Squadron,
He was proving to be a man of many parts. Adrenalin flowed among the young, high-spirited officers, who learned on the job in the air and lived together in the often palatial ex-Luftwaffe officers’ messes. Some mischief was inevitable, and Ray might be found among the miscreants. When it was said that he had been identified flying under a well-known rail bridge on the Kiel Canal, an officer from command HQ was sent to the scene of the alleged crime. He arrived to see others, including a formation of four Venoms, performing the same act of derring-do. To avoid the need to court-martial half the fighter pilots in RAF Germany the hierarchy confined its retribution to the issue of firmer warnings. To his credit, Ray was not known to shrink from responsibility, as in the case of some makeshift gunnery
fixed-wing flying ceases at RAF Wildenrath, the first of the RAF Germany stations to wind down under ‘Options for Change’. 31 May 1992 The Queen Mother unveils a statue of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris outside St Clement Danes Church in the Strand, London. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
With fellow pilots on what was now dubbed the Ferry Squadron discussing a Hunter team display at Benson to mark Battle of Britain Day in 1960. RAY HANNA COLLECTION
Ray was wont to say of his time in Germany that it was “four years never above 100ft”
Ray Hanna married Eunice Rigby at Gosforth, Newcastle on 27 July 1957. RAY HANNA COLLECTION
practice at Gütersloh when he and another pilot tried their luck with an air gun against the fish in the lake beside the station commander’s house. When apprehended by the great man himself, Ray’s ‘wingman’ fled, but he himself stood his ground, probably claiming that fighter pilots were expected to take every opportunity to improve their gunnery scores. The station commander’s reaction is not known. Ray may not have been the ringleader in the extra-curricular activities on a very active social squadron, but he was often the ‘ideas man’ and a willing participant. At that time, a pilot who had performed well and shown further
1 July 1992 No 56 Squadron reequips with the Tornado F3 (from the Phantom). It then becomes No 56 (Reserve) Squadron, taking on the duties of the F3 OCU.
mission. Sadly, the namesake of the operation, Gp Capt Leonard Cheshire VC — the founder of the Cheshire Homes — would die on 31 July, shortly before his 75th birthday.
2 July 1992 RAF Hercules transports begin flying humanitarian aid into the Bosnian capital Sarajevo under Operation ‘Cheshire’, a UN-sponsored
1 November 1992 The final flypast by RAF Phantoms, when No 74 Squadron disbands on the FGR2 variant at Wattisham.
AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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13 November 1992 The famous ‘golf balls’ at RAF Fylingdales are replaced in service with the commissioning of the triangular pyramid structure of the new AN/FPS-115 phased-array radar. 12 December 1992 Two Hercules take part in Operation ‘Vigour’ relief flights into Somalia. Based near Mombasa,
Kenya, the aircraft fly missions to Mogadishu and Kismayu airports as well as several rough fields in Somalia. 1993 19 January 1993 The first upgraded Chinook HC2 for the RAF is rolled out at the Boeing plant in Philadelphia. The HC2 is broadly comparable with www.aeroplanemonthly.com 95
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potential in the air by the end of his first operational tour could reasonably except a second tour in that or a similar role, thus making good use of a successful initiation. Ray certainly qualified for such a posting, but it was not to be. In 1956 he was posted to No 167 (Long-Range Ferry) Squadron at RAF Benson, tasked with delivering aircraft to and from their operating bases and collecting them. Although disappointed not to be staying on the front line, Ray relished the thought of getting to fly a wide variety of mainly jet aircraft, largely unsupervised, to unfamiliar lands, so this was grist to the mill for a man who enjoyed high demands on individual responsibility. Yet again he would more than prove his worth.
Going round a loop with the Meteor F8s of the College of Air Warfare aerobatic team in 1964. Joining Ray in the formation were fellow instructors Ben Lewis and Pete Jones. RAY HANNA COLLECTION
In the cockpit of a Hunter T66 with Bill Filling during 1960. RAY HANNA COLLECTION
the US Army’s CH-47D, but with some additional equipment. 23 March 1993 Having been kept airworthy by the RAF’s Vulcan Display Flight at Waddington, last airworthy Vulcan B2 XH558 makes its last inservice flight on delivery to new owner C. Walton Ltd at Bruntingthorpe. More would be heard of it... 96 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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March 1993 Two notable base closures are announced: RAF Greenham Common, the former USAF airfield in Berkshire and RAF Gütersloh in Germany, an RAF station for 48 years. 1 April 1993 The Queen presents a new colour to the RAF to mark the 75th anniversary of its founding, though the planned Royal Review flypast at RAF
Marham is cancelled due to appalling weather. On this day, RAF Germany disbands after 34 years on the NATO front line. 29 May 1993 The prototype Tornado GR4, XZ631, makes its first flight at Warton. The GR4 is the mid-life update of the strike/attack Tornado, to keep the aircraft viable through to 2020.
After a month’s role familiarisation flying in January 1957, he was put to work on relatively simple routes to the Second Tactical Air Force in Germany, serving Jever, Laarbruch, Wildenrath and Geilenkirchen, then to the Near and Middle East, the RAF in Aden and the Persian Gulf. He graduated further afield, as far as Singapore, and assisted the sales of British aircraft overseas, typically to Iraq, Lebanon and Muscat. Given unpredictable political disturbances, the vicissitudes of the weather, different air traffic systems and language difficulties, Ray was justifiably proud to have been the first to deliver single-engine fast jets, in the shape of Hunters, to India, staging through France, Malta, Cyprus, the UAE, Iran and Pakistan. The first of 10 such adventures — which could take as little as five days but often much longer — began in a single-seat Hunter Mk56 on 25 October 1957, and ended with the delivery of a two-seat Hunter Mk66 on 13 February 1961. Surprisingly, Ray had only one major mishap: an engine failure in a Vampire T11. It ended with a very skilful wheels-up forced landing between giant anthills beside a railway line in India, by which means — after much haggling — he returned to civilisation.
30 July 1993 The first ex-British Airways Super VC10 to be converted to VC10 K4 tanker configuration after years of storage at RAF Abingdon, ZD242, makes its maiden flight from Filton near Bristol. September 1993 No 6 FTS at Finningley retires the RAF’s last Jet Provosts. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
Continuing earlier trends, Ray was rated ‘above average’ in his first confidential report from the ferry squadron, and ‘exceptional’ on completion of his tour. For his flying and airmanship skills, initiatives and determination to complete every task expeditiously, he was recommended for an Air Force Cross, but for this distinction he would have to wait a little longer. He had indeed made the best of all that the tour had to offer, while greatly increasing his tally of aircraft flown as captain, and even persuaded the co-located Royal Navy units to let him fly their Sea Fury and Attacker. He also managed to wrest from the senior service one of its WRNS officers, marrying Eunice Rigby at Gosforth, Newcastle on 27 July 1957, with a traditional interservice celebration to follow. In 1960, having completed 12 years of a short-service commission, Ray elected to retire from the RAF, and out of loyalty to his family return to
15 October 1993 No 55 Squadron disbands at Marham, bringing to an end no fewer than 33 years of flying Victor bombers and tankers — then a record for an RAF squadron operating a single type of aircraft. The last seven Victor K2 tankers are put up for disposal by the MoD, several of them ending up with museums and collections. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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his native New Zealand. However, try as he might, he could not settle. He found no satisfaction in civilian life and there were no suitable flying opportunities to be had at the time. It was Eunice who persuaded him to talk to the air attaché in Wellington — fortuitously an old RAF friend — on the possibility of rejoining the service. As a result the Hanna family was soon passing through the Panama Canal again, UK-bound, one year to the day since doing so in the opposite direction, for Ray to resume his service with the RAF. While he had to forfeit all his seniority as a flight lieutenant, he would soon be granted a permanent commission. He graduated from the Central Flying School at Little Rissington in October 1962 as a B2 flying instructor and was posted to the School of Refresher Flying at Strubby to instruct on Meteors. Under the heading of ‘staff continuation training’, a glance at the
1994 27 March 1994 First flight of the Eurofighter 2000 is conducted at Manching, Germany, by Peter Weger. On 4 May, British Aerospace at Warton hosts the type’s ‘public’ debut, including first British prototype ZH588. 31 March 1994 Retirement of the
number of related entries in Ray’s logbook at Benson and Strubby showed a passion for formation aerobatics. This had not gone unnoticed. In 1965 he was chosen to be a member of the Red Arrows. The down-side was that after three years as a successful instructor (latterly categorised A2), and with a lengthy involvement with the Reds to come — twice as their leader — his chances of securing an executive appointment on the operational fast jet front line, a role he dearly wanted, had significantly diminished. So it was that, when his time with the Arrows was over and he was given a staff job within the flight safety organisation, he elected to retire in May 1971, at the age of 43. He had served the Royal Air Force exceptionally well. But, as anyone who saw him displaying warbirds such as his beloved Spitfire IX MH434 will attest, there was much more to come.
Buccaneer from RAF service with No 208 Squadron at Lossiemouth. The end of the ‘Bucc’ also spelt the conclusion of the Hunter’s RAF service career, the Hawker type having latterly been used as a Buccaneer crew trainer. 2 June 1994 Chinook HC2 ZD576 crashes on the Mull of Kintyre with the loss of all four crew and 25 passengers
ABOVE: An illustrious group pictured in February 1961: Hawker test pilot Duncan Simpson, Ray Hanna, the Indian Air Force air advisor, Hawker chief test pilot Bill Bedford and Ray’s Ferry Squadron colleague Terry Kingsley. RAY HANNA COLLECTION
(Northern Ireland intelligence experts) in the RAF’s worst peacetime accident. Not until 2011, following a lengthy campaign, would the pilots be exonerated. 5 June 1994 Twelve RAF Hercules transports led by the BBMF’s Dakota overfly Pegasus Bridge in Normandy and drop 1,000 paratroops as www.aeroplanemonthly.com 97
RAF 100 JET PROVOST T1
‘All-through’ jet training was an ambitious plan, but the Jet Provost T1 proved it could work
TRANSFORMING TRAINING ABOVE: A quartet of No 2 Flying Training School’s Jet Provost T1s (XD675, XD693, XD677 and XD678) airborne out of Hullavington during 1957.
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rogress? What progress? Today’s newly fledged RAF combat jet pilot will have started out on the pistonengined Grob Tutor elementary trainer, stayed with propellerdriven aircraft but moved on to the turboprop Shorts Tucano for basic fast jet training, and only got their hands on an actual jet at the advanced stage with the BAE Systems Hawk T2, prior to reaching the operational conversion unit for their designated front-line type. But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the mid-1950s, RAF trainees were being sent for their very first solo on a jet. The Hunting Jet Provost T1 may have looked an unpromising prospect, with its absurdly tall undercarriage, but this offshoot of the piston-powered Provost ushered in a revolution in military flying training.
part of the D-Day 50th anniversary celebrations. 18 June 1994 Closure of RAF Gatow in Berlin as part of the departure of Allied forces from the city. The airfield will be handed over to the Luftwaffe. 31 July 1994 The last operational RAF unit in Belize ceases flying when No 98 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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It did so astonishingly quickly, too. First flown in prototype form on 16 June 1954, the type began RAF service the following May when a trio of pre-production T1s were attached to the Central Flying School for trials at South Cerney. Instructors were trained and a syllabus developed. At Hullavington, home of No 2 Flying Training School, students were also given a taste of the aircraft to see how they fared in it. The results proved extremely positive. It was within a dedicated flight of No 2 FTS that the ‘all-through’ jet training concept was introduced. The unit had been using the piston Provost for the ab initio element, before trainees who made the grade moved on to the jet-powered Vampire T11. This “two-prong training sequence”,
1563 Flight on the Puma stands down. 1995 February 1995 The first of six newbuild Westland Sea King HAR3A helicopters for the RAF’s search and rescue flights makes its maiden flight at Yeovil. The avionics and systems of this version are much improved over the
existing HAR3, with a new automatic flight control system. March 1995 No 20 (Reserve) Squadron, the Harrier OCU, begins operating the two-seat Harrier T10, a trainer version of the GR7. 31 March 1995 The end of more than 100 years of British military ballooning,
opined Flight in May 1955, was itself “a fairly bold step” given the potent performance of the Provost. From September that year, its jet counterpart took things a stage further. The concept may have seemed ambitious, but made good sense. After all, if pilots were to graduate to careers in jet aircraft, why not train on a jet from the outset? While the Jet Provost was more expensive to operate than the piston variant, time — and thus operating cost — could be saved by cutting down the length of the Vampire course, eliminating the jet conversion element. By the time The Aeroplane’s John Fricker visited Hullavington for a report published on 8 March 1957, that hope had come to pass. Two all-jet courses had graduated, and the arrangement had, Fricker said, “proved not only more economical
as the RAF’s Balloon Operations Squadron — used to train parachutists — is disbanded at Hullavington. The ceremony fortunately goes off with a whimper rather than a bang. 8 August 1995 Five Chinook HC2s and six Puma HC1s deploy to Ploče, Croatia, to provide airlift support to elements of 24 Airmobile Brigade AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
but has already produced better students in a shorter time”. It quoted the CFS Examining Wing as saying, “compared with the average student trained on the piston Provost, the jettrained student achieved, in a shorter time in the air, a more dexterous and better mental approach to the art of modern flying.” Seven T1s were on strength, together with a single example of the T2, a purely development version incorporating numerous improvements including a shorter undercarriage and an uprated mark of the Armstrong Siddeley Viper engine. The first 18-pupil course included 12 students “who had no previous flying experience”, but all had gone solo on the Jet Provost by the end of October. “This was itself remarkable”, said The Aeroplane, “since there had never previously been a standard Provost course on which no member had been suspended before the first solo stage”. When they did go solo, those with no prior experience did so in an average of 11 hours 25 minutes, as opposed to 14 hours on the piston Provost. “As a result of the CFS report”, Fricker went on, “six of the students who had completed the initial 85 hours went straight on to the Vampire T11 to complete the 110 hours of advanced training, while the others first completed the remaining 75 hours on the Jet Provost, performing night and formation flying, and highaltitude navigation, with excellent results”. It was decided to run a second course, which achieved a 25-hour saving in Vampire flying hours during the advanced stage, and then a third. Fricker was able to sample a Jet Provost T1 during his visit to Hullavington, flying it with instructor Flt Lt R. Tuffin. “From take-off onward”, he said, “the Jet Provost proved a delightful aircraft to fly, with an exhilarating impression
of power, and light and effective controls. Despite its speed range of 75-350mph, or a roughly similar performance to the Spitfire in 1942, the Jet Provost can present no insuperable difficulty to the average pupil pilot, and must surely be one of the easiest aircraft of any to handle.” There had been teething troubles, of course. The T1’s undercarriage proved problematic, as did its pneumatic system, which operated the undercarriage, airbrakes and flaps. From the T2 onwards this was replaced by hydraulics. But for the most part aircraft availability was excellent, and the RAF’s fullscale order for the ‘definitive’ T3 model represented a definite vote of confidence in Hunting’s product. There was also considerable interest from overseas countries in the No 2 FTS system: the unit’s operations record books show a constant stream of visitors from NATO and other countries, keen to find out more for themselves. The Jet Provost was much admired, even if few export sales would result. It attracted still more attention through its aerobatic prowess. When the CFS received its own Jet Provost T1s, it re-equipped its four-ship Provost display team, known as the Sparrows. The Aeroplane reported on 19 September 1958, “A longstanding CFS speciality — formation aerobatics with the leader inverted — has been continued by the Jet Provost team which performed so ably at the SBAC Display”. Exclusive images were captured of the Little Rissington-based quartet, made up of Flt Lts N. H. Giffin (leader), D. McClen, F. W. J. Packer and D. Millington. That the ‘JP’ went on to have an outstanding RAF career, lasting until 1993, needs hardly to be said. The seeds were sown by those stalkylegged T1s. Ben Dunnell
Classic formation aerobatics, Central Flying School-style: 1958’s Sparrows team of Jet Provost T1s in action.
The jet-trained student achieved a more dexterous and better mental approach to the art of modern flying
forming part of the UN Protection Force during the Balkans crisis. 30 August 1995 NATO launches Operation ‘Deliberate Force’ against Bosnian Serb forces, following aggression against UN ‘safe havens’ in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the first use of offensive air power in Europe since 1945, RAF Harrier GR7s AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
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‘JP’ students and instructors crewing-in on the Hullavington flightline.
and Jaguar GR1As fly from Gioia del Colle, Italy, to conduct strikes against Serb forces. Other RAF assets involved in the campaign, which continued until 20 September, are Tornado F3s, Tristars and Sentry AEW1s.
rolled out at Lockheed’s Marietta, Georgia, plant. Twenty-five C-130Js have been ordered for the RAF, of which the first 15 examples will be stretched C4 versions.
18 October 1995 The first C-130J-30 Hercules C4 for the RAF, ZH865, is
9 January 1996 The final UN relief flight to be made into Sarajevo under
Operation ‘Cheshire’ is completed by an RAF Hercules. 31 March 1996 The RAF Hercules C1K tanker force is disbanded on the return of the last aircraft from detachment with No 1312 Flight at Mount Pleasant. 31 March 1996 Final DHC Chipmunk flight by an air cadet carried out www.aeroplanemonthly.com 99
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When No 1(F) Squadron took the Harrier GR3 to war in the Falklands conﬂict, it h did so in the best RAF traditions. Using recently released ofﬁcial documents, this is t WORDS: BEN DUNNELL
BAPTISM of FI R
by No 5 Air Experience Flight at Cambridge; AEFs henceforth merged into University Air Squadrons, all flying Scottish Aviation Bulldog. April 1996 The last RAF HQ in mainland Europe, that of No 2 Group at Rheindahlen, is disbanded. No 1 Group HQ at High Wycombe had taken over No 2 Group’s
responsibilities on 4 March, having moved from Benson earlier in the year. 9 August 1996 Air Cdre Sir Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine and a great pioneering aviation engineer, dies aged 89. 4 November 1996 RAF Sek Kong, the last RAF station in mainland Asia,
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closes when No 28 Squadron moves its six Wessex HC2 helicopters to Kai Tak International Airport, Hong Kong. 1997 1 April 1997 Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) formed at RAF Shawbury to consolidate the helicopter training of all three services. No 2
FTS, 705 Naval Air Squadron and the Army Air Corps’ 670 Squadron come together under one figurative roof. April 1997 The Operations Support Branch is established, incorporating five staff specialisations. These comprise air traffic control, fighter control, intelligence, the RAF Regiment and flight operations. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
ct, it had many challenges to overcome, but his is the unit’s Operation ‘Corporate’ diary
n omnibus princeps’ reads the Latin motto of No 1 (Fighter) Squadron, Royal Air Force: ‘First in all things’. In 1982 it lived up to that, by taking the Harrier GR3 into combat during the Falklands War. Operation ‘Corporate’ was not the sort of campaign for which the vertical/short take-off and landing aircraft had truly been earmarked — while versatility was the Harrier’s watchword, flying from a Royal Navy aircraft carrier in the South Atlantic was a far cry from operating in the field somewhere in northern Europe, supporting efforts to repel Warsaw Pact forces. The achievements of No 1(F) Squadron in ensuring its aircraft were suitably equipped for the task, working up, deploying and operating in both the air-to-ground and air-toair roles while in a very demanding theatre deserve due recognition. It was a commitment that not only contributed much to the success of British forces in recapturing the Falklands, but also to the continued development and success story of the RAF Harrier force. The story of 1(F)’s war is a remarkable one, spearheaded by the efforts of its commanding officer, then-Wg Cdr Peter Squire. Later becoming Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter, he was Chief of the Air Staff from 2000 to 2003. His personal diaries provide candid insights into the ‘Corporate’ deployment; he also compiled the squadron’s operations record book during the conflict. Added to those, a number of files only released last year by the National Archives contain some fascinating material, including detailed accounts by other pilots and groundcrew. Together, they help us recall this important chapter in RAF history. They also, now, form a tribute to Sir Peter Squire. This true gentleman sadly passed away on 19 February — he will be sorely missed. 2 April 1982: Squire recorded in his diary, “the crew room conversation is dominated by the news of the Argentinean invasion of the Falkland Islands… The flexibility of the
3 June 1997 Final flypasts around Hong Kong by the Wessex HC2s of No 28 Squadron, prior to Britain’s hand-over of the territory to Chinese control on 1 July. The unit’s Wessex are transferred to the Uruguayan Air Force upon disbandment. 31 August 1997 The Westland Gazelle HT3 is retired from RAF service. It is
replaced by the Eurocopter Squirrel HT1 as the basic helicopter trainer at the DHFS. 31 October 1997 The first upgraded Tornado GR4 is delivered to the RAF at Boscombe Down for trials. This mid-life update incorporates a wide array of systems upgrades and new weapons capabilities.
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6 December 1997 The first of the newbuild Chinook HC2As for the RAF is delivered by Boeing. 1998 31 March 1998 The final WE177 tactical nuclear weapon is retired from RAF service. From this point, the RAF has only conventional weapons.
LEFT: No 1(F) Squadron Harrier GR3 XV789 recovers to HMS Hermes after an Operation ‘Corporate’ mission. PRM AVIATION COLLECTION
8 July 1998 The Blair government’s Strategic Defence Review sets out sweeping changes. For the RAF, the retirement of the VC10 and Tristar, and procurement of four C-17 transports for the Rapid Reaction Force, are proposed. The Royal Navy will acquire two new aircraft carriers and its Sea Harriers will join with the RAF’s GR7s in Joint Force Harrier. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 101
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ABOVE: Two of the three Harriers that remained at Wideawake airﬁeld on Ascension to provide local air defence in the event of an Argentinean threat. BOB SHACKLETON BELOW: The ARI-23353/1 electronic countermeasures pod ﬁt was introduced during the campaign.
VIA ALFRED J. PRICE
BELOW RIGHT: A test mounting of the GR3’s AGM-45 Shrike anti-radar missile ﬁt. One aircraft was deployed aboard Hermes with this capability, but it went unused.
Harrier makes it an obvious choice for any retaliation but the deployment options look sparse indeed.” 8 April: A signal from the Ministry of Defence to the station commander of No 1(F) Squadron’s home base at RAF Wittering, Gp Capt Pat King, “asking for details of operational requirements to cater for possible involvement in the South Atlantic.” 13 April: Sqn Ldr Bob Iveson, a flight commander on 1(F), and the unit’s senior engineering officer Sqn Ldr Bruce Sobey visit Liverpool to inspect the laid-up Cunard container ship Atlantic Conveyor. They decide it could carry helicopters and Harriers to the South Atlantic, “operating the former during the voyage, but not the Harriers”. The vessel would be converted at Devonport with the addition of a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) pad on the deck. Eight aircraft, led by Squire, are flown to Goose Bay in Labrador as the first stage of a long-planned
25 January 1999 The Secretary of State for Defence, George Robertson, announces that the RAF’s support helicopter fleet of Chinooks, Pumas and Merlins will transfer to the new Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) to form on 5 October 1999. Search and rescue helicopters and some overseas
deployment to Cold Lake, Alberta for the ‘Maple Flag 9’ exercise. Writes Squire, “It is my first long ferry flight using AAR [air-to-air refuelling] and, as such, will prove to be a very useful dress rehearsal for what is to come”. The aircraft are flown on from Goose to Cold Lake by RAF Germany pilots. 15 April: The squadron starts ski-jump training at RNAS Yeovilton following validation of the GR3 for this purpose by A&AEE test pilots. Extra pilots with recent 1(F) experience are requested; further aircraft will be provided by No 233 Operational Conversion Unit and RAF Germany’s Harrier squadrons, Nos 3 and 4. 17 April: Answers to fundamental questions about the Harrier’s planned employment in the Falklands are still awaited. “At the same time”, writes Squire, “we continue to press for an AIM-9 [Sidewinder air-to-air missile] capability; even a cardboard mockup, if photographed and publicly displayed, could be to our advantage.”
RAF units are not affected by this decision. 23 February 1999 Further details of Joint Force Harrier are announced. Its units will be located at RAF Wittering and Cottesmore and combine the RAF Harrier and RN Sea Harrier FA2 fleets under one HQ located at RAF Strike Command, High Wycombe.
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24-25 March 1999 Start of Operation ‘Allied Force’, the NATO bombing campaign to remove Serbian forces from the province of Kosovo. RAF Harrier GR7s are airborne on this first night of the war. 12 June 1999 NATO ground troops enter Kosovo as Serbian troops withdraw. RAF Chinook HC2 and
19 April: A preliminary deployment plan is issued. Nine aircraft are to deploy to Ascension Island, six of them to go on to join the Task Force in the South Atlantic — as Squire later put it, they were “identified as replacements for Sea Harrier attrition and would operate from a CVS with minimum RAF manpower support” — and three to stay at Ascension for air defence. Sixteen GR3s will be modified for shipboard operations and given a Sidewinder fit. The AIM-9Gs themselves are provided from stocks at RAF Coningsby, then a Phantom base. Squadron engineers are put on 12-hour shifts around the clock. 21 April: Squire expresses concern in a signal “that short preparation time may preclude embodiment of all navalisation mods”. These include anti-corrosion treatment, shackles on the outrigger wheels, active nosewheel steering and an I-band transponder for recoveries in instrument flying conditions. 23 April: Exercise ‘Typhoon’ sees dissimilar air combat training (DACT) sorties against French Armée de l’Air Mirage IIIs and Aéronavale Super Étendards, organised at very short notice. These are two of the main Argentine combat jets likely to be encountered over the Falklands. Six 1-v-1 missions are flown against Mirages operating out of Coningsby, and one against Étendards flying direct from France. Sqn Ldr Jerry Pook, another of 1(F)’s
Puma HC1 helicopters support the deployment of British forces. 20 June 1999 The formal end of ‘Allied Force’, in which Harrier GR7s and Tornado GR1s were involved in offensive sorties. RAF helicopters will remain committed to the theatre to support KFOR, the NATO-led peacekeeping force. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
28 April: The operation order for the nine-aircraft deployment to Ascension is issued.
flight commanders, reports, “Excellent training value”, both from the sorties themselves and post-mission debriefs on tactics and weapons system employment. Squire added of the Mirage, “Aircraft has excellent rate of turn at speeds in excess of 350kt. Below 350kt Mirage is still manoeuvrable but will normally lose to a Harrier in a slow-speed fight. Mirage tactics should therefore be to remain fast and make slashing attacks… GR3 tactics must be to remain low-level in order to minimise effectiveness of Mirage systems.” The MoD meanwhile signalled, “We have already examined the feasibility of fitting chaff or flares to Harrier and regret that in the very short term this is not possible… but rest assured that we will pursue its provision vigorously as capacity comes available”. It described the fitment as, “very much more complicated than AIM-9”.
30 April: Six AIM-9Gs are fired by No 1 Squadron pilots at the Aberporth range. This is part of an intensive operational work-up: ultra-low-level flying over the Otterburn range and over the sea when conditions were suitable, the dropping of BL755 cluster bomb units (CBUs) on a splash target, and rocketing at Holbeach with 2in Royal Navy projectiles, the GR3’s usual SNEB rockets not being cleared for embarkation. Squire recorded that it had been, “a most extraordinary month”. However, “What has been less satisfying is the seemingly disjointed command and control which has governed the planning and execution to date of the squadron’s involvement in Operation ‘Corporate’. Initially the squadron was reacting to inputs from four sources, MoD, Strike Command, 18 Group and the Navy, with 38 Group [to which 1(F) belonged] being kept very much in the dark. Only in the last week has any form of chain of command been established and even so there have been several instances of ‘left hand and right hand’; naturally such incidents have been most frustrating.”
The Defence Secretary was very open as to what we could expect and it was an interesting introduction
26 April: Tests of the GR3’s radar warning receiver against HMS Birmingham’s Sea Dart radar. 27-28 April: The A&AEE conducts a Sidewinder test-firing campaign for the MoD’s Controller, Aircraft (CA) clearance. Time is getting very short.
15 June 1999 The RAF selects the Raytheon-led consortium as preferred bidder for its airborne stand-off radar (ASTOR) requirement. This battlefield surveillance system will be installed on five Bombardier Global Express business jets and be based at Waddington. 13 September 1999 The replacement for the Scottish Aviation Bulldog
basic trainer, the Grob G115E Tutor, is officially unveiled by Bombardier Aerospace at the RAF College Cranwell. Ninety will be supplied for use by UASs and AEFs. 5 October 1999 An RAF officer, AVM David Niven, is at the helm as the new Joint Helicopter Command is formerly established.
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1 May: On the day the first ‘Black Buck’ Vulcan raid heralds the start of RAF operations in the Falklands, 1(F)’s junior engineering officer Flt Lt Brian Mason and a ground support party of 17 leave Wittering for Ascension by Hercules. 2 May: The first five Harriers earmarked to deploy to Ascension are pre-positioned to St Mawgan. “That night”, Squire recorded, “the Defence Secretary, Mr John Nott made a specific point of visiting the Mess on his way through in order to meet the aircrew. He was very open as to what we could expect and it provided an interesting introduction to our new environment.” 3 May: Three aircraft depart St Mawgan in the morning, joining up with Victor tankers from Marham and setting off south. Two made Ascension in one leg of nine hours 15 minutes, without any support for the last 1,000 miles; the third diverted to Banjul in the Gambia as its tanker had insufficient fuel. The Harrier carried on to Ascension that night.
ABOVE LEFT: The initial embarkation of six GR3s on the Atlantic Conveyor, which had been requisitioned for military use, began with the aircraft with the worst engines to take advantage of lower morning temperatures. VIA SIR PETER SQUIRE
ABOVE: Pilots of No 1(F) Squadron during the transit to the war zone on board the Atlantic Conveyor, in front of one of the ‘bagged’ Harriers. From left to right, Sqn Ldr Peter Harris, Flt Lt Jeff Glover, Flt Lt Mark Hare, Flt Lt John Rochfort, Sqn Ldr Bob Iveson, Wg Cdr Peter Squire and Flt Lt Tony Harper, with Sqn Ldr Jerry Pook sitting. VIA SIR PETER SQUIRE
4 May: The next three aircraft leave St Mawgan. One, flown by Flt Lt John Rochfort, diverts into the island of Porto Santo near Madeira due to fuel transfer failure. Rochfort carries on by Hercules, but his aircraft is flown to Gibraltar and recovered to the UK. That evening, 1(F)’s pilots are the guests of 809 Naval Air Squadron — one of the Fleet Air Arm Sea
2000 10 September 2000 A hostage rescue operation in Sierra Leone involves RAF Hercules and Chinooks. Eleven members of the British Army’s Royal Irish Regiment led by Maj Alan Marshall and their Sierra Leone Army liaison officer, Lt Mousa Bangura, had been held hostage by an armed rebel group.
2001 21 August 2001 The closure of RAF Brüggen, the last RAF air base in Germany. The decision to remove all RAF assets from Germany had been taken in 1998 following the Strategic Defence Review. A formal ceremony officially brings to an end a continuous RAF presence in Germany since www.aeroplanemonthly.com 103
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ABOVE: On 21 May 1982, XZ997 suffered a landing mishap aboard Hermes. The ship’s report of proceedings states, “[Flt Lt John] Rochfort landed with outrigger wheel in port catwalk. Swiftly recovered by deck crews, lifting outboard CBU [cluster bomb unit], and pulling down on inboard one!” PRM AVIATION COLLECTION
Harrier FRS1 units — at the Exiles Club in Georgetown, Ascension’s capital. 5 May: Another four aircraft begin their ferry flight. Again one diverts to Banjul with fuel transfer problems, in the hands of Flt Lt Ross Boyens. Aircraft and pilot reached Ascension on 6 May. The Atlantic Conveyor also arrives at Ascension. Squire and Lt Cdr Tim Gedge, boss of 809 NAS, recce the ship’s facilities and plan the next day’s embarkation. Squire confides in his diary that Gedge, “really makes the briefing very long-winded.” It is confirmed in an MoD signal that one AN/ALE-40 chaff and flare dispenser had been obtained. The intention is, “to carry out trial installation and flight trials ASAP with a view to equipping a total of 12 aircraft soonest”. One navalised GR3 was to be made available to the A&AEE for this purpose. 6 May: Embarkation of six GR3s on Atlantic Conveyor “carried out in slow time and without mishap”, wrote Squire, “although most pilots approached their first VL [vertical landing] onto a deck at sea with some apprehension. Conditions in the ship were very cramped as one would expect on a ship normally crewed by 31 but now manned with 150”. Also on board are eight Sea Harrier FRS1s to reinforce those Fleet Air Arm squadrons that have been active since the Task Force began operations. The other three Harriers are left behind at Ascension to provide air defence cover. A signal on this date states, “Air threat at Ascension is
World War Two. All remaining Tornado GR4s leave for UK bases by 4 September 2001. 7 October 2001 As part of the international response to the 11 September terror attacks in the USA, the UK’s Operation ‘Veritas’ is launched against Taliban forces in Afghanistan. The theatre will engage RAF aircraft,
low and consists of covert operations by long range aircraft. Climate is mainly VMC [visual meteorological conditions]. Harrier GR3s adequate to cover such a threat in this climate. Use of Phantoms or Lightnings in the immediate future is ruled out due to excessive overload on Ascension facilities.” 7 May: That evening, Squire said, “after dark the amphibious armada led by HMS Fearless slipped anchor and set sail for the South Atlantic”. En route, the aircraft are bagged in specially designed Driclad covers and their FINRAE (Ferranti Inertial Rapid Alignment) systems, “designed to make it possible for alignments [of the inertial navigation system] to be carried out on a moving deck”, checked. In the event, a wiring problem in the aircraft and a software problem in the system meant it never quite fulfilled expectations, though it did give an accurate head-up heading and a stable platform for instrument flying, which was itself extremely welcome. 8 May: The Task Force commander requests deployment of six more GR3s. This is approved by the Secretary of State for Defence on 10 May.
19 May: A programme of air combat training, “to give pilots experience of deck operations and a chance to fly after the 12-day lay-off ”. Squire and Flt Lt Jeff Glover are vectored 180nm north of the Task Force to intercept an Argentine Air Force Boeing 707. They are not successful, but it brings the unit into the war. Squire wrote later, “The concept of a FOD-free deck is totally alien to normal Harrier procedures and it took some time for pilots to accept the cramped parking, the continual back-taxiing into position and the marshalling of aircraft nose to tail at very high power settings”. Although its centre of gravity was further back than the Sea Harrier’s, “Providing the correct ski-jump technique was used, take-offs from the 12° ramp posed no problem for the GR3”. Landings, he commented, “were not difficult”.
17 May: The aircraft are unbagged and prepared for transfer to HMS Hermes.
2002 September 2002 Selection of the STOVL (short take-off and vertical landing) variant of Lockheed Martin’s F-35, the F-35B, to meet RAF/RN requirements.
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18 May: The transfer of aircraft to Hermes starts, though serviceability and time pressures mean it is not completed until 19-20 May, all without incident.
13 May: No 1 Squadron’s 70th anniversary. Pre-dinner drinks take place in the Atlantic Conveyor’s wardroom and the ship’s master, Capt Ian North, is presented with the squadron flag. In return, 1(F) is given the Cunard flag.
especially Harriers, Tornado GR4s and support assets, for years to come.
The AN/ALE-20 chaff and flare dispenser is given its release to service for the GR3.
2003 20 March-9 April 2003 The second Gulf War. In what Britain refers to as Operation ‘Telic’, the RAF flies 2,519 sorties, 1,353 of which are offensive strikes. The ‘Telic’ commitment will, in fact, officially continue until the final withdrawal of British forces from Iraq on 22 May 2011.
2004 1 April 2004 No 1115 Flight is announced, based at Indian Springs, Nevada (later renamed Creech AFB), and flying the General Atomics Predator unmanned air vehicle. RAF crews use the facility to train on UAVs. On 3 January 2007 it is re-designated as ‘A’ Flight of No 39 Squadron. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
20 May: “The first successful war mission… a three-aircraft attack, led by the CO, against a POL [petroleum, oil and lubricants] storage area at Fox Bay”. Squire, Iveson and Pook dropped CBUs.
pairs of GR3s are to crater the runway with 1,000lb retard bombs. Two IA-58 Pucarás and a helicopter are destroyed, “but the runway damage, as expected, was only minimal and easily repaired.” Due to Victor shortages, a Harrier GR3 participates in an A&AEE trial with a Buccaneer tanker to gain CA release. However, this capability will not be used in the Falklands.
21 May: Britain’s invasion to recapture the Falklands begins and the Harriers are tasked in support of ground forces. “On one mission, led by Sqn Ldr Pook, a Chinook and a Puma helicopter were attacked and destroyed. During the multi-pass attack Flt Lt Hare’s aircraft received battle damage from ground fire”. HMS Hermes’ report of proceedings states, “Captain reprimands pilots for foolhardiness, but commends them for tenacity.” “Later on in the morning”, 1(F)’s record goes on, “Flt Lt Glover [in GR3 XZ972] was sent on a CAS CAP [close air support combat air patrol] mission as a singleton after his leader [Squire] had gone unserviceable on take-off. During this sortie he was shot down, cause unknown, and his loss was a sad blow to us all. The day had reminded us of two important lessons, firstly not to linger longer than absolutely necessary in a defended area and secondly, not to launch singletons unless absolutely vital.” Initial release to service of the 1,000lb Paveway laser-guided bomb (LGB) comes through.
25 May: Argentina’s National Day, and a major attack on the Task Force by Exocet-armed Argentine Navy Super Étendards. Two missiles are fired, but seduced by chaff and re-locked on the Atlantic Conveyor. The vessel is hit and has to be abandoned; among the many lives lost is that of its captain. “Fortunately all squadron personnel had been transferred to Hermes”, wrote Squire in the ORB. “The abandoned hull finally sank some three days later taking with it some 200 CBUs and the planking for the second strip ashore”. Also lost were a Pegasus engine, aircraft covers and possibly some other items of equipment that had gone missing during the transfer to Hermes. Earlier, Harriers had tried toss deliveries for the first time, again against the Stanley runway. There were no direct hits; “the arrival of LGBs was awaited with keen anticipation”. Squire wrote in his official report, “It was recognised that Stanley itself was a well-defended target and most of the attacks against the runway were carried out using loft or high-level delivery techniques… The GR3 did not have the weapon aiming accuracy to stand better than a lucky chance of cutting the runway from high-level or loft profiles.” In a signal, the MoD authorised the release of ARI-23353/1 electronic countermeasures (ECM) pods for service on the GR3, to be mounted in the starboard gun pod.
22 May: Armed recces are carried out. The news is “obtained through message intercept” that Glover had been captured. 24 May: The squadron’s first major attack on Stanley airfield — after toss-bombing by two Sea Harriers, two
27 May: The Paras start their assault on Darwin and Goose Green. Harriers are tasked in support, but “many of the all-too-familiar problems of FAC [forward air control] were very evident. Aircraft had to hold at heights above 6,000ft in order to achieve
25 August 2004 The Defence Secretary announces the deployment of RAF Harrier GR7s to Kandahar, Afghanistan. This rotational duty will continue until June 2009, when Tornado GR4s will take over. 30 October 2004 RAF Tornado F3s deploy to Lithuania for the first time to undertake the Baltic Air Policing role.
2005 30 January 2005 Hercules C3 XV179 shot down by ground fire over Iraq. Ten on board are killed. 2006 31 March 2006 The start of a new era for the RAF as the first operational
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communications and were often locked up by AAA [anti-aircraft artillery] radars whilst at the IPs [initial points]. Only one IP was used throughout the day and so any element of surprise was completely lost.” In XZ988, Iveson was downed on the second sortie of the day to the same targets. “Again there was no FAC assistance and several targets were in the offing”, he wrote in an account held by the National Archives. “I was told to go for a different gun, but I neither saw it [nor] received any detailed information about its precise location. But I went round for a second look and on that pass I detected company positions… I released my cluster bombs and it was, I think, a good attack. “But, because I assumed the Paras were in trouble and needed every form of assistance they could get, I decided that I would give this attack everything I had, so I came in again, low and fast to use my 30mm guns. Normally this is tactically not advisable, but in view of the ground situation I felt it was a must. “The gun attack worked well, giving the Argentine troops a long burst right along their trenches before pulling off. I had reversed my flight path down to 100ft when I felt hits, one closely followed by the other. They must have been fairly heavy calibre as the shock through the aircraft was very noticeable, there being two heavy thumps. “Almost immediately the fire warning light came on, and I detected fumes in the cockpit. Suddenly the controls froze completely — I thought I must have been hit in both of the hydraulic control systems,
ABOVE: A GR3 about to use Hermes’ ski-jump. This posed few problems for the RAF aircraft, having been cleared by the A&AEE Boscombe Down test pilots. VIA SIR PETER SQUIRE
LEFT: A pair of GR3s using the very basic facilities at the San Carlos strip. PRM AVIATION COLLECTION
Typhoon unit, No 3 Squadron, forms at Coningsby. 28 July 2006 The Canberra is retired by the RAF after 55 years of service, as ceremonies are held at Marham to mark the phasing-out of the last PR9s by No 39 Squadron (right). They had only recently been involved in operations over Afghanistan and Iraq. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 105
RAF 100 FALKLANDS HARRIERS
BELOW: The badly damaged XZ989 after its accident at San Carlos on 8 June. The aircraft was not returned to service and instead used as a spares source.
VIA SIR PETER SQUIRE
But shortly after they cleared again although when I carried out a visual cockpit check, I found I was losing hydraulic pressure at an alarming rate. “I punched the fire extinguisher system and checked in the mirror, looking along the top of the aircraft where I saw flames. Smoke then started pouring into the cockpit. Then the controls went slack and the aircraft went into a dive. I managed to arrest the angle by vectoring the engine nozzles (this provides a very powerful nose-up trim change which can be used to great effect in air combat) and the aircraft nose picked up. Although I had by then corrected the angle of dive, flames now started licking into the cockpit itself. “The Pegasus engine was still fine, running in fine style — no problem at all. But it was obviously a situation that I could not sustain without any usable flying control, so I pulled the ejection handle. I must have passed out for a few seconds, because when I came to, I was flying horizontally through the air and going straight for a fireball — my burning aircraft. “There were a few tense moments at that point, but fortunately the main chute opened and I was dropping clear of the fireball. I think I was on the chute only for about five or ten seconds — very quick indeed. As I landed I could not see very well, as my eyes were affected by the high-speed wind, blasting at my face during the ejection. “I did know, however, that I was on the wrong side of the lines — behind the Argentinean front-line forces…” Squire recounted in the ORB, “A keen sense of self-preservation secured his survival by living off the land and the comforts of a deserted
farmhouse for the 48 hours before the Paras had secured the area and he was picked up by a 3 Cdo Bde [Commando Brigade] Gazelle.” 28 May: Further support is provided to Paras and other forces operating around Mount Kent, west of Stanley. 30 May: The first LGB attack on Stanley airfield. “The bombing aircraft dropped the weapon in a 60° dive from 35,000ft with a lateral displacement of 10,000ft from the desired point of impact. A second aircraft designated for the bomber again from 35,000ft… on this occasion the bomb did not fuse. Two further sorties were similarly unsuccessful and UK has now confirmed that the Harrier cannot designate for an LGB. Any further attacks will have to involve the use of an LTM [laser target marker]. “On the same day Sqn Ldr Pook [in XZ963] received small arms fire whilst en route to his target; the resultant fuel leak meant that he was forced to eject some 30 miles from the ship. He was rescued without problem and his recovery, together with the return of Sqn Ldr Iveson, was adequately celebrated that evening.” 31 May: Super Étendards are reported as possibly being at Stanley airfield; in a “panic reaction”, as described in the combat report, Harriers are sent to attack. The ORB says, “The task was given with no notice to the CO and Flt Lt Hare who were in the cockpit on RS5 [five-minute readiness], awaiting a CAS [close air support] task. Once again the attack was supported by Sea Harriers with VT [variable time] fused bombs”. The targets turned out to be a Beech T-34 and Aermacchi MB339s. This time, both Harriers “received battle damage with cracked windscreens, punctured fuel tanks and possible debris damage”. A lucky escape. 1 June: Two attrition replacement aircraft are flown from Ascension to join Hermes, an eight-and-a-half-hour trip, by No 3(F) Squadron’s Flt Lts Beech and MacLeod. These GR3s are
2 September 2006 In the biggest single loss of life experienced by the British military since the Falklands campaign, Nimrod MR2 XV230 crashes near Kandahar, Afghanistan, killing all 14 on board. An in-flight fire following a fuel leak is to blame. 30 November 2006 RAF Coltishall closes after more than 66 years as a
fighter station. The resident Jaguars had left for Coningsby in April. 2007 1 April 2007 Air Command comes into existence with the combining of Strike Command and Personnel and Training Command. The HQ is located at High Wycombe.
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26 April 2007 After 33 years, and despite the success of the recent upgrade to GR3/GR3A standard, the Jaguar is retired from RAF service by No 6 Squadron at Coningsby. The Tornado GR4 fleet takes on the bulk of its air-to-ground role. 29 June 2007 The Typhoon formally assumes responsibility for the QRA
fitted with chaff and flare dispensers and ECM pods. 4 June: Confirmation that Glover is in a military hospital in Argentina with a fractured shoulder and collarbone. 5 June: First landings at the San Carlos FOB (forward operating base) on East Falkland. It had a 280m temporary strip, forward observation point, two taxiing loops and a pillow tank for refuelling. Up to four aircraft could use it at any time. “The strip was far from ideal”, Squire wrote, “but it did permit both Sea Harriers and GR3s to respond more rapidly to demands for AD CAPs [air defence combat air patrols] and attack missions if required, especially since the Étendard/Exocet threat had forced the Task Force to move further east.” 8 June: XZ989, which was suffering from various known defects, crashes at the San Carlos strip in Squire’s hands while transitioning away from the hover. He wrote, “at about 90kt there is a marked drop in thrust which is not corrected by pushing through the limiter. As a result of the rate of descent and the fact that I am pointing directly at a Rapier [missile] FU
element of UK air defence in the southern part of the country at Coningsby. For the moment, the Tornado F3 continues to hold northern QRA from Leuchars, Scotland. October 2007 ‘B’ Flight, No 39 Squadron starts to operate the General Atomics Reaper UAV in Afghanistan. It is based at Creech AFB, Nevada. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
[field unit], I elect not to eject and the aircraft hits the ground very hard”. Two more aircraft arrive aboard Hermes from Ascension, flown by Flt Lts Ross Boyens and Nick Gilchrist. The latter’s mount is modified to carry AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missiles; it was completed by 12 June but not used, as Squire described in his post-war report, because it was “decided that Argentinean radars should no longer be attacked”.
aircraft recovered on deck, the rear fuselage was cooking nicely and a lot of paint had been burnt off or was smouldering, in certain areas right down to the bare metal.” 13 June: The last attack mission of the war for 1(F), two bombs being delivered during each of two sorties flown by Squire and Pook against a dug-in position and field gun. Both score direct hits. The squadron had flown 126 operational sorties in 25 days, excluding transits from ship to FOB and aborts due to unserviceability. It expended 83 CBUs, 52 2in RN rockets, 1,500 30mm cannon rounds, 31 1,000lb freefall bombs, 28 1,000lb retard bombs and 11 Paveway LGBs (only four actually with laser guidance). “The whole episode”, Squire wrote, “has been a remarkable experience for all concerned with considerable courage being displayed in the air and true dedication shown by the small team of groundcrew, who worked long and hard in unfamiliar surroundings to produce serviceable aircraft.”
10 June: A new phase of operations: battlefield air interdiction-type sorties west of Stanley, often against targets dug in to hills and artillery positions. 12 June: “Flt Lt MacLeod’s aircraft [XW919] was hit in the rear equipment bay causing a fracture of the reaction control air piping. When approaching the hover, the escape of hot air caused a fire in the back of his aircraft. Despite this and alarming fuel indications in the cockpit, which indicated a massive fuel leak and possible flame-out, he carried out an immaculate vertical landing in the minimum possible time.” Flt Sgt David Frost, part of the RAF engineering team aboard Hermes, wrote, “By the time the
2008 7 January 2008 The RAF welcomes a new royal recruit in Fg Off HRH William Wales, who will go on to fly Sea King SAR helicopters from Valley. 1 April 2008 The 90th anniversary of the RAF is celebrated throughout the world. Ninety down, 10 to go…
With the war over, the GR3s were re-roled to air defence with AIM-9s on their outboard pylons. Preparations
July 2008 The RAF’s Typhoon force is declared operational as a multi-role fighter force (air-to-air, air-to-ground). 2009 May 2009 Last Tornado GR4 mission over Iraq is flown by No 13 Squadron. 18 July 2009 Henry Allingham, a
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were made for establishment of a full Harrier site — only Stanley airfield was deemed suitable, though still far from ideal, not least in terms of living conditions. Four more Harriers were brought from Ascension aboard MV Contender Bezant, arriving in Fitzwilliam Bay abeam Port Stanley harbour the day after the ceasefire. On 4 July, the Harriers disembarked Hermes and landed at Stanley. The next morning, they started a quick reaction alert commitment, with two aircraft at 10-minute readiness. Sea Harriers came ashore to augment them. The additional GR3s were flown off Contender Bezant on 7 July. Elements of No 3(F) Squadron arrived to relieve their counterparts from 1(F) who had been deployed the longest. There were occasional operational air defence scrambles responding to early warning reports, but no interceptions. It was always going to be a temporary commitment for the GR3s given the presence of the Sea Harriers, which were of course far better air defenders, and the forthcoming arrival of RAF Phantom FGR2s. Personnel were rotated in and out for several months. Back home, Squire and Gilchrist flew in the victory flypast over London on 12 October; returning to the Falklands, Squire ejected from XW767 on 6 November after engine failure, being rescued within minutes from the water two miles north-west of RAF Stanley. Fittingly, he was the last 1(F) pilot to leave the Falklands, five days later. The Hardet (Harrier Detachment) task was handed over to No 4 Squadron. Squire and Pook were both awarded the DFC for their efforts in the Falklands, while Iveson and Hare were mentioned in dispatches. These and the other honours bestowed on No 1(F) Squadron’s personnel were fitting recognition of their part in Operation ‘Corporate’ — an undertaking that cemented the Harrier’s reputation, and demonstrated the best qualities of the RAF.
founder member of the RAF (he transferred from the RNAS on 1 April 1918), dies aged 113 and is buried with full military honours. December 2009 MoD announces order for 22 new Chinook helicopters to increase the RAF fleet to 50, as part of a £900-million package for operations in Afghanistan.
LEFT: The RAF Harrier deployment on Hermes proved a great success, with much praise for the Royal Navy’s co-operation throughout. PRM AVIATION COLLECTION
11 December 2009 First flight by prototype Airbus A400M airlifter. RAF has 25 (later amended to 22) on order, to be named Atlas C1. 2010 31 March 2010 Premature retirement of the Nimrod MR2 marked at Kinloss, leaving the UK without a dedicated www.aeroplanemonthly.com 107
2018 promises to be the busiest year ever for the Great War Display Team, given the 100th anniversaries of both the RAF and, in November, the armistice that marked the end of the First World War. It will see the team’s replica aircraft performing on both sides of the Channel. “The full schedule is around 40 displays this season”, says team leader Gordon Brander, who ﬂies the Sopwith Triplane. Several major events including Farnborough and Bournemouth have booked the full nine-aircraft line-up: Avro 504K, BE2c, Sopwith Triplane, three SE5as, two Fokker DrIs and Junkers CLI. Other notable appearances are scheduled for Abingdon, La Ferté Alais and IWM Duxford in May, Cosford in June (with representation both in the static and ﬂying displays), Shuttleworth’s WW1 Centenary Military Pageant and RIAT in July, and East Kirkby in August. See www.greatwardisplayteam. com for more.
RAF 100 CELEBRATIONS
CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS Looking ahead to the season’s major RAF 100 events
he RAF centenary will, naturally, dominate 2018’s air event calendar. Occasions large and small the length and breadth of the country are set to mark the occasion, and many a unique spectacle is sure to result. While a lot of details remained to be confirmed at press time — and it is impossible to be exhaustive, given the number of events that will include it as a theme — we here present a preview of the main RAF 100 festivities. Where better to host the first really major airshow of 2018 focusing on RAF 100 than the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden? Nowhere else, after all, can hope to present such a wide range of flying aircraft representing the period leading up to 1918, and the RAF’s MAY
RAF maritime patrol aircraft force. April 2010 Typhoon Phase 1 and 2 Enhancement upgrades for air-tosurface weapons are introduced. June 2010 Flt Lt Kirsty Moore becomes the first female pilot to receive the coveted red flying suit with the Red Arrows.
history from then until World War Two. Shuttleworth’s Season Premiere and RAF Centenary Airshow is due to feature two public flying display debuts from the collection itself, namely the reproduction Sopwith Camel and newly restored Spitfire LFVc AR501, alongside as many of the based aircraft as possible that depict the RAF. Visiting acts confirmed as of mid-February were the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Blenheim, the Imperial War Museums’ Spitfire Ia N3200, the Old Flying Machine Company’s Spitfire IX MH434 and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s trio of Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire. A bid has been put in for extensive modern RAF support; details remained to be confirmed at press time. Updates can be found at www.shuttleworth.org.
November 2010 Prime Minister David Cameron announces results of the UK’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). These include the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4, the complete withdrawal of the Harrier and the closure of several bases. 15 December 2010 Harrier GR9/T12 force retired with due ceremony at
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Cottesmore — the end of more than 40 years of RAF Harrier operations. 2011 March 2011 Operation ‘Deference’ involves the RAF with a mission to evacuate British nationals from Libya. March-April 2011 Under Operation
WORDS: BEN DUNNELL
On the same date, the Abingdon Air and Country Show at the former RAF Abingdon, now Dalton Barracks, takes RAF 100 as a theme. A special static display of historic RAF aircraft is expected to include one of Martin-Baker’s ejection seat test Meteor T7s, appearing for the second year running, while further relevant items in the flying programme include the Great War Display Team, an Aircraft Restoration Company Spitfire/Buchón dogfight, Hangar 11’s Spitfire PRXI, Plane Sailing’s Catalina and more. More details at www. abingdonairandcountry.co.uk. MAY
The first stop for the RAF
16-20 100 National Aircraft Tour,
a ‘travelling circus’ of static aircraft, is City Hall Gardens in Cardiff. Exhibits are due to include
‘Ellamy’, RAF Tornado GR4s and Typhoon FGR4s fly sorties over Libya in support of the enforcement of a no-fly zone. A no-fly zone patrol on 22 March is the Typhoon’s inaugural combat mission. 12 April 2011 RAF Typhoons conduct operational air-to-ground missions for the first time. AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
the RAF Museum’s Sopwith Snipe reproduction and Harrier GR3, and a replica Spitfire. The RAF Cosford Air 10 Show — for which Aeroplane and our sister magazine FlyPast are media partners — will unquestionably be a highlight of the centenary celebrations. Plans are in place for a unique static display of 100 aircraft to reflect the RAF’s 100 years, including several non-flying airframes being brought in specially for the occasion, as well as very rare outdoor appearances from RAF Museum charges. Speaking in mid-February, show operations manager Peter Reoch told Aeroplane that this special static park will involve much more than just the aircraft. It is planned to display each aeroplane as part of a period diorama, many of them taking in vehicles and re-enactors as part of a more ‘interactive’ approach. For instance, Hugh Taylor’s Hurricane I P3717 and the Historic Aircraft Collection’s Spitfire LFVb BM597 will be seen in a typical World War Two fighter pen, while Aces High’s C-47A Skytrain is being put into RAF markings to represent the Berlin Airlift and will be the scene of loading and unloading activities throughout the day as a means of saluting those operations. The re-enactors accompanying the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre’s JUNE
28 June 2011 After a stay of execution for Operation ‘Ellamy’, the last Nimrod R1 electronic intelligence-gathering aircraft are retired by No 51 Squadron at Waddington. The era of DH Comet derivatives in RAF service thus ends. 31 October 2011 ‘Ellamy’ ends following the death of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi 11 days earlier.
Lightning (which is being restored specially for the event) and the British Phantom Aviation Group’s Phantom FG1 XV582 ‘Black Mike’ will not just be suitably costumed — they will even be wearing the patches of Nos 74 and 111 Squadrons, the units the colour schemes on these aircraft depict. Similar attention to detail will be apparent around the Buccaneer S2B of GJD Services and a Jaguar GR3 from
2012 July 2012 RAF Typhoons detach to Northolt to ensure security over London during the Olympic Games. 19 July 2012 Britain receives its first Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II at the manufacturer’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
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the Cosford-based Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering, both in 1991 Gulf War markings. The show is dividing the RAF’s history into four segments: ‘Policing the Empire’ for the lead-up to 1918 and the period until 1939, ‘World at War’ for the Second World War, ‘Age of Uncertainty’ for the post-war era until 1999, and ‘New Millennium’. Aircraft from the RAF Museum fit well into the first three: it is so far confirmed as bringing its Bristol M1C and Sopwith 1½ Strutter reproductions, Gladiator, Defiant, Gloster F9/40, Devon, Pembroke and Jetstream into the open. As for the flying programme, the historic RAF aircraft will all be presented in chronological order. On the list at the time of writing were Avro 504K, BE2c and SE5a from the Great War Display Team, the Historic Aircraft Collection’s Fury I making a very rare appearance away from Duxford, the ARC’s Blenheim, Anglia Aircraft Restorations’ Hurricane I, the IWM’s Spitfire Ia, Hangar 11’s Spitfire PRXI, Jon Higgins’ Chipmunk, the British debut of the Flying
2013 12 June 2013 First four RAF pilots graduate from new advanced fast jet training course, based around the Hawk T2 and ground-based synthetic training systems at Valley. 25 September 2013 Last flight by an RAF — or any — VC10, when K3
LEFT: The British Phantom Aviation Group’s exNo 111 Squadron Phantom FG1 XV582 ‘Black Mike’ has recently been reassembled at Cosford by GJD Services, ready for its appearance in the show’s RAF 100 static display. PETER REOCH
BELOW: Demon Displays’ Hawker Demon and the Shuttleworth Collection’s Gloster Gladiator will be prominent at Old Warden this year. BEN DUNNELL
ZA147 lands at Bruntingthorpe on delivery into preservation. Both the VC10 and Tristar have been replaced by the Airbus Voyager tanker/transport, based on the A330. 12 November 2013 Delivery to Waddington of the RAF’s first Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint of three ordered to replace No 51 Squadron’s Nimrod www.aeroplanemonthly.com 109
RAF 100 CELEBRATIONS
RIGHT: The Flying Bulls’ Sycamore Mk52 OE-XSY is set to make its British debut at the RAF Cosford Air Show. It will also display at RNAS Yeovilton on 7 July. BEN DUNNELL
Bulls’ marvellous Bristol Sycamore, Andrew Whitehouse’s Whirlwind HAR10, two Gazelles from the Gazelle Squadron and Jeff Bell’s Jet Provost T5. Some interesting set-piece combinations of aircraft are expected. Interspersed between the historics — sometimes in historically appropriate positions on the programme — will be the overseas military flying items appearing in salute to the RAF. The final part of the afternoon will be devoted to the RAF of today. Many more aircraft and acts remain to be confirmed. Note that admission is by advance ticket only. Further details at www.cosfordairshow.co.uk. The end of June is the date TBC set for the re-opening of the much-revised RAF Museum London at Hendon. More details in this month’s news pages. JUNE
The National Aircraft Tour moves on to Horse Guards Parade in central London.
This date, a Tuesday, is 100 days since the ‘big day’ on 1 April. It has thus been chosen for the RAF 100 parade and flypast down The Mall in central London, both preceded by a centenary service in Westminster Abbey. The scope and format of the flypast are still to be announced, but an educated guess as to the hoped-for number of aircraft involved might not be too far off the aspiration… JULY
BELOW: September at Duxford means Spitﬁres and Hurricanes en masse. BEN DUNNELL
R1s. They have been converted from ex-USAF KC-135Rs — airframes older than the Nimrods were… 2014
26 September 2014 Under Operation ‘Shader’, RAF commences operations against Da’esh forces in Iraq and Syria. These involve Typhoon FGR4s,
Tattoo at RAF Fairford becomes a full three-day affair — Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “The London event [on 10 July] we see as the national celebration of the centenary”, RIAT chief executive Andy Armstrong told Aeroplane. “It then flows into RIAT, which is the international celebration.” Friday 13 July will see a Centenary Review of the RAF as part of the show. An element of this ceremonial occasion will be a flypast — not a repeat of the London one, but still sizeable. The extent to which this will be featured on the Saturday and Sunday of the event remains to be seen. Naturally, a significant number of RAF aircraft will be on static display for the review and the rest of the show: “Potentially up to 25 per cent of our concrete is available to tell the story of today’s Royal Air Force — for now it’s a blank canvas”, says Andy. “As a minimum we hope to see an example of every type of aircraft currently in the RAF on the ground.” At this stage, details of RAF participation remained to be finalised. However, this is set to be the last time the service’s Tornado GR4s will be seen at RIAT before retirement, and the show would like to pay this due regard. Bringing the story up to date, it is hoped to be able to see the new Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II.
Tornado GR4s and Reaper UAVs. 17 November 2014 Better late than never, the first Atlas C1 — the RAF’s designation for the A400M — is handed over at Brize Norton. 2015 31 March 2015 Leuchars finally closes
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For the first time, the
13-15 Royal International Air
as an RAF air base. The Typhoon squadrons — and northern QRA — have already moved to Lossiemouth, which is now the RAF’s only front-line flying station in Scotland. 4 October 2015 RAF retires final SAR Sea King — the end of the yellow RAF rescue helicopter. Search and rescue provision around Britain is now entirely
Some historic RAF types will be exhibited in the static park, not least courtesy of the BAE Systems heritage display. However, the historical element will not be foremost in the RIAT ground displays. “I think that others can do that better”, says Andy. He adds, “In the air there will be some vignettes throughout the display as a nod to eras”. Already confirmed are the Great War Display Team, aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and the newly RAF-marked Vampires of the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron. “We will look to include others”, Andy reports. Dialogue is, meanwhile, ongoing about the staging of unusual mixed formation flypasts. Participation from the world’s air arms is likely to be the strongest RIAT has seen for some years. “There’s no question that we will have great support”, says Andy. “We’re renting additional fields for off-base parking because we anticipate using the concrete for aircraft”. Involvement from the air arms of Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece and Switzerland has been announced by the show so far; many more will follow. Enthusiasts should note that, with RIAT 2018 featuring a full Friday, aircraft will begin arriving at Fairford on the preceding Tuesday rather than the Wednesday. Also, the flying display content will necessarily be different on each of the three days. Admission is by advance ticket only, and they’re selling
civilianised under a contract with the Bristow Group. 2016 29 June 2016 First RAF F-35B arrives in Britain, landing at Fairford. The visit is in connection with the RIAT and Farnborough airshows; the aircraft will return to the USA afterwards AEROPLANE APRIL 2018
VIA KENNETH AARKVISLA
ABOVE: The Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron, great supporters of UK airshows in recent times, has put temporary RAF liveries on both its DH Vampires for the 2018 season. “We decided to mark our aircraft with the markings of former RAF Vampire squadrons that are still active ﬂying squadrons today”, says the organisation’s founder and lead pilot Kenneth Aarkvisla. “We also think that the strong bonds and close connection between the RAF and the Royal Norwegian Air Force from the Norwegian squadrons in the RAF during World War Two are important to remember”. Single-seat FB6 LN-DHY — pictured outside its hardened shelter at Rygge AB, Norway, during February — now appears as an FB5 of No 72 Squadron, a current Shorts Tucano unit at Linton-on-Ouse. Two-seat T55 LN-DHZ has been given the colours of No 4 Squadron, the RAF’s present-day BAE Systems Hawk T2 operator at Valley. Not surprisingly, Kenneth reports, “We have seen massive interest in our ‘RAF’ Vampires from UK airshow organisers. RIAT and Swansea have conﬁrmed, although we await conﬁrmation of bookings from many other shows.”
at an unprecedented rate, so make sure you book soon. More details at www.airtattoo.com. On Saturday 14-Sunday 15 July, meanwhile, the Flying Legends Air Show at IWM Duxford — also advance-ticket only — includes an RAF 100 element. AUG
The Glasgow Science 1-2 Centre hosts the Scottish part of the National Aircraft Tour. Taking place on the seafront in nearby Ayr on the same two days is the Scottish International Airshow. SEPT
Gardens in Manchester.
The National Aircraft Tour
10-12 visits Newcastle in County
Down, Northern Ireland. This coincides with the Newcastle Festival of Flight over Dundrum Bay on Saturday 11-Sunday 12 August. Next stop on the 25-27 National Aircraft Tour programme is Victoria Square in Birmingham. AUG
to continue its training and testing programme. 11 July 2016 Order announced for nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the RAF, to replace the long-since cancelled Nimrod MRA4. Delivery is planned from 2019, with Lossiemouth designated as the home base.
The finale of the National
15-16 Aircraft Tour, at Cathedral SEPT
IWM Duxford hosts its
22-23 Battle of Britain Air Show,
which has been designated as an official RAF 100 partner event. As now befits a September show at the famous former fighter base, a massed Spitfire flypast and tailchase is due to be a central feature, but — like last year — Hurricanes and other Battle
2017 17 March 2017 No XV(R) Squadron makes its final operational Tornado GR4 flights before disbandment. This marks the end of RAF aircrew conversion to the Tornado, which will be retired during 2019. The type has been continually engaged in combat operations since the 1991 Gulf War.
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of Britain-era aircraft will be far from forgotten. Strong support is hoped for from the modern-day RAF, while the cream of the UK’s warbird crop should make this one of the year’s standout gatherings of historic aircraft. Admission, as with all IWM Duxford airshows, is advance-ticket only: further details and, nearer the time, participation updates at www.iwm.org.uk/visits/ iwm-duxford/airshows. This listing can merely scratch the surface of the RAF 100 calendar. For more details, visit www.raf.mod.uk/ raf100/whats-on. The May Aeroplane will include a focus on Britain’s top vintage airshows, with a behind-thescenes look at Shuttleworth’s displays and a celebration of Flying Legends’ 25th anniversary, plus a full UK and international airshow calendar listing.
2018 1 April 2018 RAF celebrates its 100th anniversary. Summer 2018 First RAF F-35B Lightning IIs (right) due to arrive in the UK, to be based at Marham. No 617 Squadron is the service’s initial F-35 unit. www.aeroplanemonthly.com 111
SYWELL’S WARBIRD MECCA
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: RICHARD PAVER
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The historic Northamptonshire airfield is now a major centre of warbird restoration and operation, thanks to Air Leasing
n a recently built hangar at Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire known as the ‘Spitfire Blister’, a magnificent array of airworthy aircraft and restoration projects demonstrates the expansion of one of the most dynamic organisations on the UK historic aviation scene. Air Leasing moved to Sywell from its previous home at Bentwaters, Suffolk, in January 2016, and has only grown ever since. Air Leasing was initially established by Carolyn and Nick Grace in 1984 to provide a sustainable means of operating and maintaining their family Spitfire IXT, ML407, and to preserve this truly historic operational Spitfire for generations to come. Their son Richard Grace explains, “The intention is to always keep this very historic Spitfire in our family. Its story has obviously been very well told in recent years — as an airworthy, proven combat veteran with 370 combat hours and 176 World War Two operational sorties logged, its historical significance cannot be underplayed in an era when increasing numbers of rebuilt warbirds are essentially brand-new and, as such, have doubtful historical provenance. “As time progresses, and more and more essentially all-new aircraft restoration projects are completed, I firmly believe that proven historical provenance will become increasingly valuable. Genuine wartime aircraft with proven provenance and operational history will attract a premium, as discerning buyers will want to go only for these examples — I deal with exacting owners who insist on this and I can’t see the importance of provenance decreasing. “My father also undertook a significant amount of buying and selling historical aircraft in Air Leasing and sourcing rare vintage aircraft for new owners. For example, he acquired several Tempest IIs, Spitfire PL965 — now flying with the Hangar 11 Collection — and the Spitfire XIV NH649, which is in the Overloon War Museum. I have been closely involved
in historic aircraft for as long as I can remember, and started to build and add to Air Leasing’s business activities in 2007 when we set up in a hangar at Bentwaters. Prior to then ML407 had been based at Duxford, and the move to Bentwaters enabled us to have a dedicated hangar for ML407 and at the same time to start to build up the business. We rapidly became very well-known and trusted for providing maintenance and engineering support services for a wide variety of historic light aircraft such as Chipmunks. “Our first warbird project was for Mark Davy. He had purchased the Yak-3M ‘White 100’ from Chris Vogelgesang, who had previously kept the aircraft at Bremgarten in Germany. We carried out the buyer’s pre-purchase inspection, and then we were contracted to get a UK permit to fly for the Yak and to do the work necessary to place the aircraft onto the UK register. Very shortly after this we commenced our first major restoration project for a warbird — Spitfire XII EN224 — and we were also immediately given the Seafire III, PP972, to complete. EN224 is well advanced: the wings are nearing completion, the engine and prop are done, the tail is done, and depending on our other commitments final assembly could commence very soon. “The Seafire was a hugely prestigious and very rare project to be awarded — it is the only airworthy Seafire III in the world, and prior to it coming to us five different companies had been involved in various ways in its restoration. We had the major challenge of understanding and checking on what had been done before and then completing all the systems installation, final assembly, test-flying and certification. “When we received the Seafire it was structurally sound but had no systems, and the fuselage which had been out of alignment had been fixed, so we had to put it all together and basically finish a project which had been under way slowly for many
As time progresses, I firmly believe that historical provenance will become increasingly valuable
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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Air Leasing’s recently built blister hangar at Sywell shows the range of restoration projects taking place and a selection of airworthy aircraft that are either housed or maintained there. In the foreground are three Buchóns and P-51D Mary Mine; beyond are Will Greenwood’s Yak-3 and Anglia Aircraft Restorations’ Spitfire FRXIVe, behind which can just be seen the tail of Spitfire XII EN224. At far right is one of the Pitts S-1Ds of the Trig Aerobatic Team. Richard Grace brings a great deal of enthusiasm and expertise to the Air Leasing business. Rapid progress has been made on the return to flight of P-51D 44-64005/ N51CK Mary Mine. Boschung Global’s HA-1112-M1L Buchón, serial C.4K-152/N4109G (c/n 220), flanked by Anglia Aircraft Restorations’ example C.4K‑105/ G-AWHH (c/n 145) to the right and Warbird Investments’ C.4K‑99/G-AWHM (c/n 187) at left.
TOP: Richard Grace at the controls of twoseat HA‑1112‑M4L Buchón G-AWHC during its maiden post-restoration flight on 24 November last year — the first time it had flown since 1968. This superb machine’s airshow debut in 2018 is keenly awaited.
ABOVE: In US Air Service colours, 1919-vintage SE-5E G-BLXT is hangered at Sywell but seldom flown.
years. We now operate the aircraft on behalf of the owner; we manage all its airshow appearances and provide the engineering support required to keep the aircraft flying. “Whilst the warbird fraternity may well recognise and appreciate both its World War Two operational history and the type’s rarity, the sad fact is that for most airshow organisers and audiences it is another Spitfire. Other than for specific navy events we haven’t seen any increased demand for it from most airshows due to its rarity. Flying Legends is the one possible exception. It is a beautiful aircraft to fly — basically it has the same flying characteristics as a Spitfire V. The additional weight for the manual wing-folding mechanisms makes no difference to performance. “One side of our business which is perhaps less well-known is that we provide a number of specialist services for clients such as aircraft brokerage and direct sales. We carry out prepurchase inspections and condition reports for clients considering
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investing in an historic aircraft. We also specialise in shipping and moving aircraft all over the world for owners — since 2010 we have packed and moved over 20 aircraft, a recent example being the RAF Museum Spitfire XIVe MT847, which we packed and crated for transfer to the Pima museum in the USA, where it arrived safely at the beginning of April. We handled the export and packing of Peter Teichman’s P-40 Kittyhawk, which was sold to the USA last year.” Back in the hangar at Sywell, the arrival of several Battle of Britain film veteran Hispano HA-1112 Buchóns, sold by ‘Connie’ Edwards, has attracted much attention. Richard recalls, “I went out to ‘Connie’s’ ranch at Big Spring, Texas to inspect all the Buchóns and they were all in remarkable condition. They were totally complete and had next to no corrosion due to having been stored in a very dry climate. After some work, one was easily ground-run — not bad after 40 years’ storage!
“The paint and stencilling on all the Buchóns was still that which had been applied for the Battle of Britain film, but it had all dried out in the hot storage conditions in Texas, and as a result the paint had become very flaky. However, all the aircraft systems and cockpits were complete. “We have the two-seater, G-AWHC, which we flew at Sywell at the end of 2017, with the single-seater G-AWHM to follow closely, plus another two single-seaters which are currently in the pipeline and will follow on to fly as soon as possible. One of these, N4109G owned by Boschung Global, is a very significant airframe as it was flown by Adolf Galland during the Battle of Britain film. “We expect to have the two-seat G-AWHC flying at a number of shows this year. It wears its Battle of Britain film colours, which have been newly applied. The owners are Australian-based investors Warbird Investments PTY Ltd and the possibility of using the two-seater for a customer rides programme will be
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The intention is to always keep this very historic Spitfire in our family. As an airworthy, proven combat veteran with 370 combat hours and 176 World War Two operational sorties logged, its significance cannot be underplayed assessed with the owners and the CAA in due course. This aircraft is the only factory-converted two-seat Buchón in existence, and it was flown by Robert Stanford Tuck and Gen Adolf Galland together for a special sortie during the Battle of Britain film in 1968, so imagine the privilege of having a flight in the very same aircraft that two such famous aces and former enemies flew in together — this is unrepeatable anywhere else in the world. Now that the two-seater is flying we are working on the single-seat G-AWHM and we will have that flying as soon as possible too.” Aside from the Buchóns, another very special Air Leasing project is the restoration of P-51D-20-NA Mustang 44-64005/N51CK Mary Mine. A genuine World War Two veteran of the 361st Fighter Group, it is something of a ‘time capsule’, having never been structurally rebuilt since its wartime service. During its time with the 361st FG’s 376th Fighter Squadron at Bottisham, Cambridgeshire, this Mustang became the personal aircraft
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of Lt George Vanden Heuvel. It was flown for many years in the USA under the ownership of Charles Kemp, and in 1983 at the Confederate Air Force Airsho Vanden Heuvel was reunited with his Mustang and given a flight in it. Richard Grace says, “This is a unique Mustang with proven provenance and a well-recorded European combat history. Its last flight was in the USA in 2002 when it was sold to its UK owner by Charles Kemp. It is totally complete with all the original logbooks and paperwork. The primary structure has never been rebuilt — for example, it has all its original longerons and rivets throughout, so we will carry out a very sympathetic project to conserve as much as possible of the aircraft’s originality, which is a very specific requirement of the owner. It is in lovely condition — it is an authentic 1944 Mustang which has never lost any of its wartime originality.
Therefore, to get it flying again will be relatively straightforward. The engine is currently in the USA being zero-timed. “This Mustang on arrival with us at Sywell was about 50 per cent ready to go as some work was completed in Florida. We are aiming to fly it in late 2018 or early 2019. We will put the deactivated guns back in and aim to have this Mustang as stock as possible, finished with the distinctive 361st FG yellow nose. I fully expect this aircraft to be actively flown around UK shows and available for enthusiasts to enjoy.” A newly completed restoration for the UK scene is a Canadian-built Harvard IV, which was imported by its owners Cirrus Aircraft UK. It arrived in October 2016, having been shipped from Denver, Colorado. Registered G-CJWE, the Harvard now flies in a California Air National Guard scheme. In addition to these major restoration projects, Air Leasing was appointed in March 2017 to operate and manage all the warbirds in the fleet owned by Anglia Aircraft
ABOVE: The famous ‘Grace Spitfire’, two-seat IXT ML407, in the hands of Dave Evans. Passenger flights are now available in this combat veteran aircraft.
BELOW: Anglia Aircraft Restorations’ TF‑51D G-TFSI Miss Velma flying in May 2017, a couple of months before its off-airfield emergency landing at Duxford. The two-seat Mustang should return to the UK after repairs in America either in late 2018 or early 2019.
Restorations. These include TF-51D Mustang G-TFSI Miss Velma, Fury Mk11 G-CBEL, Spitfire FRXIVe MV293/G-SPIT, Hurricane I P2902/G-ROBT and Spitfire LFVc EE602/G-IBSY, a recent addition to the Anglia collection from Biggin Hill. They will be seen at either Sywell or Duxford as space allows, coming to Sywell for all engineering work and then being hangared at Duxford. The Hurricane was recently given temporary No 303 Squadron codes for participation in the filming at White Waltham of a forthcoming movie which features the famous Polishmanned unit. Sadly, the Mustang experienced an off-field forced landing during the Flying Legends show in 2017, suffering damage to the wings and ‘dog-house’. It was recovered by road to Duxford, dismantled and shipped to the USA for repair. Pacific Fighters are rebuilding a new wing for it — the fuselage was fine — and the repaired machine will return to the UK in either late 2018 or early 2019. Prior to this accident Air Leasing was well advanced in gaining the appropriate CAA permissions to offer Safety Standards Acknowledgement and Consent (SSAC) passenger flights in the Mustang. Richard anticipates that these will begin at Sywell shortly after Miss Velma arrives back in the
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UK. As a TF-51D variant it has a full set of dual controls in the rear seat, which is slightly raised above the pilot’s front seat to give the passenger a spectacular view. In addition, the canopy is extended when compared to a ‘stock’ version to provide greater headroom and comfort for the rearseat occupant. Air Leasing already holds CAA consent for SSAC flights in the Grace Spitfire, ML407. Hangared at Sywell too is David Arnold’s Eberhardt SE-5E G-BLXT (an American-built SE5a), which is fully airworthy but very rarely flown. Richard has piloted this lovely aircraft, but he reports that the conditions have to be perfect. It is never operated away from base and carries out only very short local flights in sight of the Sywell circuit. Aside from its work on ‘White 100’, Air Leasing has been closely involved with the UK’s other Yak‑3M, G-OLEG, now owned and operated by Will Greenwood from Goodwood (see Aeroplane November 2016). Richard Grace carried out a pre-purchase condition survey of this aircraft for Will, after which they successfully moved it to the UK register — it had previously been registered and based in Germany. The company has continued to support it with engineering services, permit renewals and so forth.
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I don’t agree with those who say that the engineering skills required to support historic types are dying out and will disappear totally in a few years... they are very much alive and well
While operations have transferred to Sywell, Air Leasing retains a presence at Bentwaters for storage and as a back-up facility. Sywell offers an accessible central UK location and has far fewer restrictions on aircraft movements, so as the business grew a move away from Bentwaters became a necessity to allow for further expansion. In storage at Bentwaters are another two Buchóns, which will come to Sywell for restoration to fly. Also in storage for a UK owner is another hugely exciting project: P-38H Lightning 42-66841, which arrived during 2014 for an eventual return to airworthiness. This combat veteran flew operationally during World War Two, based at Port Moresby in New Guinea with the Fifth Air Force’s 49th Fighter Group. It force-landed at Faita airfield on 10 June 1944 due to bad weather, being damaged and writtenoff in the process. The airframe remained there until 1992, when it was recovered and restored to static display standard by the Classic Jets Fighter Museum at Parafield, Australia.
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Reflecting on the future of the warbird industry, Richard Grace says, “I have been involved with historic aircraft for as long as I can remember. I’ve probably been a Duxford regular since I was about seven years old, and as soon as I could read I was always looking through various aircraft manuals. I have inherited my love for these classic aircraft from my parents, and I don’t agree with those who say that the engineering skills required to support historic types are dying out and will disappear totally in a few years… [they are] very much alive and well in the UK, and I get massive job satisfaction from flying and looking after these superb aeroplanes. Here at Air Leasing we are encouraging and training new, young, engineering talent and I can only see this expanding. This is also taking place at other centres such as Duxford, North Weald and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, so I can see a very positive future. “The systems, structures and materials used in these classic warbirds are obviously very different
from modern aircraft today, but there is a huge business around the world specialising in maintaining such machines, and much positive networking takes place to compare notes on how to look after them properly. That knowledge exists today and is being transferred to a new generation who value these aircraft just as much as, if not more than, the earlier post-war generation of warbird collectors. “If you look around this Spitfire Blister hangar today you will see two Mustangs, a Seafire, two Spitfires, a Hawker Fury, two Buchóns, an SE5a and a Harvard — my role in flying and looking after these wonderful historic types is just such a rewarding, varied and exciting job to have. For me it’s all about the opportunity to fly and be closely involved with such diverse historic types.”
ABOVE: A beautiful study of Seafire IIIc PP972, being flown by Dave Puleston.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The author expresses his thanks to Richard Grace for his help in putting this feature together.
Mike Hooks 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. He converted to colour in the 1950s, and went on to build one of the UK’s most extensive archives of Kodachrome transparencies
WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: MIKE HOOKS
Two prototypes of the Currie Wot were built in 1937, while post-war the Hampshire Aeroplane Club produced several. Since then around 20 have been home-built in the UK, and a number of them survive MAIN PICTURE: Just airborne from Badminton in April 1988, the Continental O-200-powered G-BFWD sports a sliding canopy. It was one of three Wots converted to represent SE5as, in which colours it became ‘C3009/B’.
The very smart G-AXOL — complete with wheel spats — taxies in June 1974. The Mikron III-engined machine was sold to New Zealand in November 1994 as ZK-WOT, but has now been cancelled from that register too.
The second Wot built post-war was G-APWT, pictured at Elstree on 26 May 1963. It had ﬂown experimentally with a 60hp Rover gas turbine, later a Walter Mikron III and then a 70hp Rover TP60 turbine, before converting back to normal with a Mikron. Phoenix Wot Special G-AYMP, at Sywell for the 1971 PFA Rally, had a 65hp Walter Mikron III engine. It is said to be under restoration near Swindon.
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One of the more unusual Wots was G-AVEY, registered as a Super Wot with a Pobjoy R engine. The markings partially represented a pre-war US Navy ﬁghter scheme. The location was the Popular Flying Association Rally at Sywell in August 1971. Seen in May 1988, Wot G-ASBA sports a Rolls-Royce badge on the cowling covering its 65hp Lycoming. Note the streamlined headrest.
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The use of infra-red technology to detect moving targets is today a staple for military aircraft, but it was in its infancy during the Korean War, when US Air Force B-26C Invaders tested the concept in combat WORDS: WARREN E. THOMPSON
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ow best to detect a moving target has long been a priority for military commanders. The development of infra-red technology offered a significant advance, not least during the Korean War, when it was still in its infancy. The Chinese were moving materiel at night, posing a problem when it came to detection in some of the deeper valleys and other difficult terrain. The AN/AAS-1 infra-red detector, developed by Bell Sound Systems under cover of a project codenamed ‘Redbird’, offered a potential solution. It could pinpoint the location of hidden vehicles or anti-aircraft artillery positions in excess of four miles away, providing the target was emitting heat radiation. From July and December 1952, the AN/AAS-1 system was combattested in the Korean War by the US Air Force’s 3rd Bombardment Wing flying the Douglas B-26C Invader. Thus equipped, the aircraft completed 39 night reconnaissance missions, 39 night attack sorties and 12 ‘buddy’ missions to detect and mark targets, making it possible for following aircraft to photograph or attack them based on the information provided by the infra-red tracker. The Chinese were forced to route all their traffic at night due to the number of fighterbombers in the air by day. The enemy was still able to get a certain quantity of supplies through, but it proved a costly venture. The key player on the operational side of testing was Capt B. G. ‘Griff ’ Jones III. With a lot of four-engined bomber experience flying B-29 Superfortresses out of Okinawa during occupation duty in the Far East, he was selected to begin the tests at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio with the first experimental infra-red system installed in a B-17 Flying Fortress. He went on to earn the Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts in the night intruder programme, and flew 20 combat missions over North Korea.
of minutes we would join up. At that time, we picked a heading — the most frequently used one was the route from Dayton to just past Cleveland, Ohio. The F-80 moved ahead of us and our equipment would track him. In the nose of the B-17 operating the equipment was the heart and soul of the project, engineer Demetro ‘Mac’ Cavitch. “These flights started in midJune 1948 and continued on for the remainder of the year. Most were flown at night. In September, we took the aircraft out to Holloman AFB, New Mexico, where we did extensive checks on our navigation equipment. From there, we went back to WrightPatterson to resume our infra-red testing against a variety of jet types — T-33, F-80, F-84 and F-94 — during the latter part of 1949. We took our modified B-17 out to Muroc, California [renamed Edwards AFB around this time] and flew against many of the smaller civilian aircraft that were headed for Los Angeles airport. All of them were prop types
AFB, Virginia, to get checked out in the B-26. This consisted of a few day flights followed by some night-time flights and finally a couple of divebombing runs. It was obvious to me that we would not be able to use this technique in North Korea with our existing infra-red equipment. “When I returned to WrightPatterson, the B-26 was just about finished, so the next step was to take it to Eglin AFB, Florida, to do some extensive testing on their range. This consisted of using 100lb sand bombs that had a flare attached against a wide variety of targets. This emitted a flashing light when hit so we could determine the accuracy. Of course, all of these were night missions. “We used a small kerosene space heater as the bullseye. On my second mission, I got a direct hit on the heater and knocked it out of commission. They had to purchase another one before we could continue. Our time at this range had been very successful, which proved that our infra-red B-26 was just about ready for combat.” On 16 June 1952, Jones flew his Invader to Hill AFB, Utah to be fitted with extra fuel tanks for the long flight across the Pacific. The final leg in the States was to McClellan AFB, California. While he was there, three regular B-26s flew in, also with extra tanks. The four would make the flight to Japan together, led by Jones and accompanied by a Douglas C-54 for navigation. They left McClellan on 25 June headed for Hickam AFB in Hawaii. From that point, they hopped from Johnson Island to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, then to Guam and on to Tachikawa, Japan. There the tanks were removed and the aircraft readied for the flight to Kunsan AB, South Korea. Infra-red detecting technology was exposed to combat over North Korea for the first time on 31 August 1952. Following meetings with ordnance officers, it was decided that the 250lb general-purpose bomb would be the dominant weapon of choice. About a month after the arrival of the lone ‘Redbird’ Invader, two more of the modified aircraft arrived at Kunsan. Each of them would carry the colours of a different 3rd Bomb Wing squadron: yellow for the 8th Bomb
They ordered all of them to stop smoking as Jones lined up for another pass. This time they could not pick up any heat signatures, so the system had detected the heat from lit cigarettes
Jones recalls some of the early flights, which also involved an F-80 Shooting Star in support. “We took off first in the B-17 to get up to our required altitudes. At that time, we radioed back to the F-80 pilot who was waiting to take off. In a matter
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and we registered outstanding results on our equipment. “While the equipment was being modified to fit in a smaller aircraft, they let us take the B-17 over to Fort Bragg, North Carolina where we flew four missions against tanks, trucks, ground troops and anything else they had available. It was there they found out just how sensitive the infra-red was. On a night mission against about 100 troops out in the country, they made one pass over them and picked up scattered returns. Capt Jones readied his contact on the ground and asked if any of the troops were smoking cigarettes. The answer was affirmative and they ordered all of them to stop smoking as Jones lined up for another pass at about 500ft altitude, just as the previous [one] had been. This time they could not pick up any heat signatures, so the system had detected the heat from lit cigarettes. “By January 1952, the modified equipment was just about ready to be tested in the B-26 Invader. Since I had only been flying four-engine aircraft, I was sent over to Langley
ABOVE LEFT: This ‘Redbird’ Invader is getting the ﬁnal check-up for a mission to be ﬂown after dark out of K-8, otherwise known as Kunsan Air Base, in March 1953. CORKY SUMNER VIA WARREN E. THOMPSON
LEFT: The ‘Redbird’ B-26C that probably amassed the most combat time in Korea is 41-39401, coded Mc after engineer Demetro ‘Mac’ Cavitch, a key ﬁgure in the project. This aircraft is still extant, in the ownership of Kermit Weeks in Florida. SIGMUND ALEXANDER VIA WARREN E. THOMPSON
Capt B. G. Jones, pictured on 1 December 1952, flew approximately 20 missions in the ‘Redbird’ aircraft. B. G. JONES VIA WARREN E. THOMPSON
Squadron, red for the 13th and white for the 90th. Assigned to the 90th BS, A2c (Airman Second Class) Gary R. Long was one of the wing’s most experienced gunners. He had notched up 41 combat missions in regular Invaders by the time the first ‘Redbird’ B-26 arrived and he was assigned to fly with Jones. “My first look at the modified Invader came during the afternoon pre-mission walk-around”, he recalls. “The most distinctive difference was the extended nose and associated equipment housed in it. From my point of view, it was a new airplane in beautiful shape, with only a top turret which was not too unusual. “The date was 21 September 1952 and my records show we had an 18.00hrs alert time and a 19.45 take-off. We met with the WrightPatterson engineers as we did our final checks, and I watched them as they loaded liquid nitrogen into a tank in the nose of the Invader and made last-minute adjustments. Our callsign for the mission was ‘Pintail 99’. “Flying down low at night on the infra-red missions was exciting and the routes that we were allowed to run were among the best. The drill was to cruise either the roads or rail lines, and if the system detected any heat we investigated. Our usual altitude during these missions was about 2,000ft. When we went down for a strafing run, we got down to about 100ft, and on most occasions people on the ground were firing at us.
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Flying down low at night on the infra-red missions was exciting and the routes that we were allowed to run were among the best. The drill was to cruise either the roads or rail lines, and if the system detected any heat we investigated “Normally we flew with a flare ship that would illuminate the area where we got a heat return, but after a few missions we were getting a feel of the system and decided to do it ourselves. I believe they were MkIV parachute flares that we jammed into the gunner’s compartment so I could drop them through the bomb bay. It was pretty tight in there with all those flares, and I cringe at the thought of what could have happened if one of them had ignited while still on the aircraft. If we picked up a target, Capt Jones would rack our aircraft around, and when we got over the target he would call for me to pitch a flare out.” On one sortie they found a small, moving convoy down in a valley. The infra-red picked it up and they went down for a look. Jones wanted Long to fire some rounds at them but he only had the top turret at his disposal. To give his gunner a chance, Jones descended to 50ft and made a pass parallel to the road doing about 250mph. “This allowed him a full deflection shot”, says Jones. “His rounds were not hitting the mark but kicking up a tremendous amount of dirt all around the trucks as they made violent manoeuvres trying to evade… He never stopped the trucks but the drivers had a bad case of nerves for the remainder of their trip. “There were a few times we came and tried to finish off some trucks we had stopped with our top turret.
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After three or four of these missions, I went back to armament and asked them what they had that we could use to give us better coverage and more destruction. We already had 250lb GP bombs and .50-calibre guns. “They came up with a weapon called the M1A2. It consisted of eight bombs in a cluster; each bomb weighed about 18lb. They were made like a grenade, only they were ribbed and had lots of wire in them. When you dropped one of these bombs, you’d get eight explosions. When the clusters left the bomb bay, they spread out, thus giving us a wide carpet of bombs. Not only that, they were a lot lighter than the load of 250lb GPs we usually carried. Each of the clusters weighted in at about 150lb so we could carry more of them. As we came down to the bomb release point, we would drop one bomb early, one dead on and one late, so we were getting the maximum amount of destruction covering a wide area around each target. We did all of this from about 3,000ft altitude.” The groundcrews who serviced the infra-red equipment were well-versed in what had to be done to keep it effective. Doug Hanks, a radio and radar technician assigned to the 3rd BW and the ‘Redbird’ project, says, “[steps] were taken to reduce [the sensitivity of the equipment]. This was done by placing dry ice in the unit’s compartment. Since the life of dry ice was limited, it was inserted into the unit after both engines
were warmed up and the airplane was sitting at the end of the runway waiting to begin its take-off roll. The groundcrews would pull up to the nose of the B-26 while the engines were running. One would get up on the front hood of the truck and fold the Plexiglas nose window back out of the way. The dry ice was made using apparatus on a cylinder of nitrogen located in the back of the weapon-carrier truck. A plug, 1in in diameter and about 4in long, would then be placed inside the de-sensitising cylinder. The Plexiglas would then be put back in place, after which the truck crew would back away and the aircraft would take off.” There were always concerns about losing one of the special Invaders over enemy territory, but the deeper the penetration the more lucrative the targets became. On 25 and 26 October, Jones flew two very long sorties. During one of them, he came up with the idea of a joint mission with a photo-recce aircraft, so that some good pictures could be taken. After some detailed mission planning and examination of the maps, they set it in motion. Jones says, “The photo ship launched from Suwon AB. We took off from our base at Kunsan AB and met up at checkpoint A. I started out at 3,000ft altitude and the photo pilot wanted to be at 5,000ft so as to get perfect pictures. Our B-26 was loaded with 100lb napalm from the World War Two era. It wasn’t the
ABOVE: The white fin stripes on these Invaders indicate that this was the 90th BS flightline in 1952, with the ‘Redbird’ B-26C nearest the camera and four standard aircraft beyond. GARY LONG VIA WARREN E. THOMPSON
LEFT: The first nose art to appear on any of the ‘Redbird’ aircraft was We Go Pogo, applied by the 13th Bomb Squadron. DON MANSFIELD VIA WARREN E. THOMPSON
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greatest, but it did mark where we had dropped and [gave] enough light to get the pictures.” Navigator/bombardier 2nd Lt D. L. ‘Corky’ Sumner flew several sorties in the ‘Redbird’ Invaders with the 13th BS from January-March 1953. “I flew my first special mission on 4 January. This led to 12 more missions, the most memorable of which was on 8 March 1953. We were assigned to fly over a large port city on the coast to see if we could detect the heat from a large ammunition depot. We took off at 01.20hrs on what would have been a four-hour-plus mission. As we approached the city, our infra-red system detected a significant heat source on a peninsula sticking out in the bay. I lined it up and made a run, dropping two 500lb incendiary bombs on the indicated target. “When the bombs released, I had time to relax and look out the nose. I saw a reflection of the moon on the water, which could show as a heat source on the infra-red system, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh! I’ve dropped my ordnance in the bay’. However, luck was with me and the bombs hit the ammo dump. There were two very large secondary explosions followed by several smaller explosions over the next 20 minutes as we continued to circle the area. We claimed the destruction of the ammo dump, 15 buildings and three trucks that were parked next to the building. The system had worked to perfection.” The three modified B-26s saw duty all the way through the remaining months of the war. The ‘Redbird’ Invader that probably amassed the most combat time was the example carrying the unusual tail code ‘Mc’ after the engineer who was the driving force behind the new infrared system, ‘Mac’ Cavitch. Infra-red technology has improved in leaps and bounds since the early 1950s. It became truly viable in Vietnam, able to detect Viet Cong campfires from much greater altitudes. By the time the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq began in the 2000s, aircraft such as US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier IIs could loiter even higher, at night, watching a single individual walk down a road and tell what type of weapon he was carrying. It’s a far cry from the equipment used in Korea, but a direct line of development can be traced from the pioneering efforts of Project ‘Redbird’.
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LEFT: A2c Gary R. Long, a gunner on the ‘Redbird’ project, working on the top turret of a modified B-26C at Kunsan. GARY LONG VIA WARREN E. THOMPSON
BOTTOM RIGHT: A technician dedicated to servicing the infrared equipment helps get this Invader ready for action in February 1953, together with the armourers. DAVE MENARD VIA WARREN E. THOMPSON
BOTTOM LEFT: A ‘Redbird’ aircraft coded X, assigned to the 90th BS, on the Kunsan ramp. D. L. SUMNER VIA WARREN E. THOMPSON
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The latest books and products for the discerning aviation enthusiast
BOOK of the MONTH The Royal Air Force: A Centenary of Operations by Michael Napier published by Osprey
It seems ﬁtting that the Book of the Month in our RAF centenary issue should have this as its theme. The concept is an ambitious one: to tell the story of RAF operations from 1918 to 2018, in campaigns small and large — and not necessarily in crisis or conﬂict zones, hence inclusion of such exploits as the Fairey Long-Range Monoplane’s record attempts and the High Speed Flight, albeit only in its prewar incarnation. Thankfully, the author, a former Tornado GR1 and Hawk pilot, is equal to the task. Even in such a weighty volume, the sheer number of events requiring coverage means description of them must be fairly general in nature — how can one distil the enormity of such campaigns as the Battle of Britain or D-Day into chapter sections rather than entire books, for instance? — but Napier’s text is concise without leaving the reader feeling that it’s too much of a skim. This is not a complete history of
Phoenix Volume 2: The Genesis of Air Power 1935-1937 by Richard Meredith published by Helion
Let it be said straight away that this volume is a source of reference, and not something that you’d pick up for a quiet read in front of the TV. The author gives in-line translations for the many German terms (ranks, organisations, units) used, with the original in italics and the translation in brackets, which aids understanding if not readability. This is the second volume in a series that will cover ‘The Complete History of the Luftwaffe 1918-1945’. It is said that it represents the culmination of 40
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the RAF, rather a focus on its operational commitments, but one can look elsewhere for that. The wider military context is brought in when appropriate, though Napier is careful to remain politically even-handed, even when considering such controversial matters as Suez, the 1957 Defence White Paper and the second Iraq war. To this reviewer’s mind, that conciseness aside, the book has two particular strengths. One is the coverage given to RAF efforts in policing (mostly now former) British territory, both preand post-World War Two. The other is the selection of images, including many from the IWM and RAF Museum, and a good deal of period colour. Unfortunately, this also brings us to one of the title’s shortcomings, namely the image reproduction. Colour and contrastwise it’s good, but too little attention has been paid to cleaning them of scratches and other marks, and it’s a shame to see some crooked horizons on such well-designed pages. There is the odd typo or questionable designation (‘Fairy IIIF’ on page 9, for instance), while the Nimrod pictured on page 219 is surely an MR1 rather than the captioned R1. The index could also be more comprehensive for reference purposes. But a valuable reference it still is. Ben Dunnell ISBN 978-1-4728-2540-7; 11.25 x 9.25in hardback; 340 pages, illustrated; £30.00
years’ detailed research, and your reviewer is quite prepared to believe the claim. The attraction is that it delves deep into the Luftwaffe and its organisation, never forgetting that behind the lead combat units were ground forces, medical units, anti-aircraft artillery and a huge training setup. Oh, and politics. The 1935-37 period here covered includes the Luftwaffe’s massive construction programme and the Legion Condor’s involvement in Spain. The text is detailed and makes use of extensive footnotes; indeed, some pages have more space given over to footnotes than to text. As you might expect, there are comprehensive appendices, a bibliography
and a good index. Photos, all in black and white, are contained in two sections. Their reproduction, though, falls somewhat short of sagenhaft (fantastic). The full set of these volumes promises to provide a deﬁnitive work of reference. Denis J. Calvert ISBN 978-1-910777-27-5; 10.0 x 7.0in hardback; 924 pages, illustrated; £59.95
Coccarde Tricolori Speciale 7: F-16A/B ADF by Riccardo Niccoli published by RN Publishing
Not for the ﬁrst time, Italy’s Aeronautica Militare (AM) found itself in a difﬁcult situation in the early 2000s. Its 24 Tornado F3s, acquired on lease from the RAF to plug the gap until the Euroﬁghter Typhoon came into full-scale Italian service, needed further upgrading to extend their service until 2010. No satisfactory solution could be thrashed out with the UK, so the AM turned to the US government, acquiring a job lot of 30 F-16 Air Defence Fighters (ADFs) from storage, to be reconditioned and be available for service from January 2004. This was the ‘Peace Caesar’ programme, which ran until 2012. Here we have, in Italian and (good) English text, the story of the programme, the aircraft and their period of AM service. Despite a relatively short time with the air arm, several aircraft were repainted in ambitious — outlandish, garish — individual schemes, and this aspect is well covered by the many all-colour images, which have been treated to a decent standard of reproduction.
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There are four pages of colour drawings and six pages of close-up shots, all for the delectation of modellers. OK, it’s primarily a picture book, but a good one. DJC ISBN 978-88-95011-12-7; 11.7 x 8.3in softback; 96 pages, illustrated; €25.00/£25.00
STAMPS Isle of Man Post Office RAF Centenary Collection The Isle of Man Post Ofﬁce has released a set of eight commemorative stamps to celebrate the RAF’s 100th anniversary, ofﬁcially licenced by the Ministry of Defence. They feature images of different RAF aircraft from 1918 to 2018, from Sopwith Camel to F-35B, while the set contains further details such as key airﬁelds, personnel, medal ribbons, ﬂags and the RAF ensign. It is available in several different forms, details of which can be found on the website. The Isle of Man was home to three wartime RAF airﬁelds — Jurby, Andreas and Ronaldsway — together with air-sea rescue boats, so there is a local link, while the collection’s designer Ben Glazier is the grandson of a former Royal Flying Corps pilot who was still in service and transferred to the RAF on 1 April 1918. A nice touch. ‘Philaticus’ Various prices from www.iompost.com/ stamps-coins or telephone 01624 698430
DVDs RAF Habbaniya, Iraq: Jewel of the Desert No, the subtitle ‘Jewel of the Desert’ is not a tongue-incheek reference by National Servicemen to a particularly despised, out-ofthe-way posting. RAF Habbaniya, built in the 1930s on the banks of the Euphrates River in Iraq, was a true jewel in the desert with gardens, water fountains, lawns and tree-lined avenues. This DVD, the second in the ‘Outposts of Empire’
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Daniel York as Supermarine works manager Len Gooch, and the rest of Shadow Factory’s cast.
Shadow Factory Southampton’s brand new NST City theatre was the setting on 15 February for the world première of Howard Brenton’s Shadow Factory. Set during the Battle of Britain in September 1940, and focused on the building of the Spitﬁre, the play looks at the effect on Southampton of relentless Luftwaffe raids, and the attempts to resume production after Supermarine’s Itchen and Woolston factories were put out of action. Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production, arrives in Southampton after the Woolston raid to get production restarted from a series of 28 dispersed sites around the city, using unlikely locations including Dimmock’s Laundry (based on the historical Sunlight Laundry) that is the main focus of the action. The main characters are mostly women from different social classes, portrayed as archetypes of ingenuity and pluckiness, and of women’s emancipation through the sole female ‘draughtsman’ in the Spitﬁre design team. She is shown letting Lady Cooper see the plans of the new Spitﬁre VII, an implausible act that would have been instantly punishable. The dialogue often lurches towards the didactic, which doesn’t help the series, opens by placing Habbaniya on the map, and by showing the RAF station entrance with a road sign displaying ‘London 3,287 miles’ to the left and ‘Baghdad 55 miles’ in the other direction. T. E. Lawrence — Lawrence of Arabia — features, as do RAF Rolls-Royce armoured cars, the motley aircraft ﬂeet of No 4 Flying Training School and the airliners of Imperial Airways. The presentation, which is narrated and is enlivened by ﬁrst-hand recollections from those who were there, employs a mix of still images and movie sequences, which ﬁt together surprisingly seamlessly. There are shots of the wonderful military transports — AW Atalantas (owned by the newly formed BOAC but impressed into RAF service) and Vickers Valentias — that were used in April 1941 to ferry several hundred members of the King’s Own Regiment to Habbaniya in the ﬁrst major wartime airlift of British
characterisation, while the narrative is interrupted by several sung choruses, the music rather sub-Lionel Bart’s Oliver. Like a classical Greek chorus, they provide commentary on the story, but also add details that could have better served inclusion in the spoken dialogue. The principals are supported by a well-drilled chorus of local amateurs, who morph into Fighter Command WAAF plotters, draughtsmen and cowed civilians spending nights on the common to escape the bombing. Twelve dynamic articulated neon light strips created memorable effects, moving about relentlessly: a squadron tailchase, a wrecked factory roof or the lift achieved by the airﬂow over a Spitﬁre wing, while projections onto the stage showed attacking aircraft tracks over the city streets while zooming in and out on speciﬁc places. One longs for the Brenton of 1980, who wrote Romans in Britain for the National Theatre. This piece, by contrast, fails to create a really visceral response. The production values are certainly impressive, but the script often jars, a triumph of form over substance, leaving the sense of a work still in progress. David Halford troops. Post-war types depicted include Iraqi Air Force Hawker Furies, while Short Sunderlands appear in colour sequences. A ﬁnal section is entitled, ‘Equestrian pursuits and the opposite sex at RAF Habbaniya’. Sorry, you’ll simply have to view that part yourself. DJC Running time 105 minutes; £14.99 from www.outposts-of-empire.co.uk
It was with sadness that we learned in early February of the death of Tim Staples from Diverse Images/Staples & Vine, whose products have been featured regularly in our pages over the years and will continue to be so in future. Our condolences to his family and friends.
ECHOES FROM THE SKY
Between having his wings pinned on by Lord Trenchard in 1949 to retirement in 1978, Wing Commander H. T. Price DFC flew over 550 individual aircraft – among which were 158 Meteors, 70 Vampires, 131 Hunters, and 60 helicopters of various types (notably the Whirlwind 10). He crashed one aircraft, brought five back against the odds (including engine failures over the North Sea and over the Borneo jungle), and had many close shaves. All are mentioned in the book. Copies may be obtained for £10 (including P&P) from D Price, 23 Glynrosa Road, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 8QS
RICHARD N. SCARTH The History of Acoustic Defence. Following the air raids of WW1, Britain was left with no eﬀective warning of the approach of enemy aircraft, other than the human eye and ear. Acoustic systems were developed to track aircraft twenty years before the emergence of RADAR. Tangible remains of these ‘sound mirrors’ can still be visited around the UK and ‘Echoes From The Sky’ oﬀers the clearest understanding of their development and design. This much expanded and revised edition includes information from many new sources, archives and pictures and with 448 pages, and 115 photographs and illustrations forms a complete history of Acoustics Defence. ISBN: 978-1-872836-17-1 Large format paperback: 234 x 156mm £12.95
RAF BIGGIN HILL –THE OTHER SIDE OFTHE BUMP
PETER OSBORNE This is a new work exploring the research work which led to the creation of the airﬁeld and the establishment of the Air Defence Experimental Establishment at Biggin Hill. Later, the interception tactics, which were to be a key element in the great RAF victory in 1940 were developed during the ‘Biggin Hill Experiments’, together with radio communications - the reason that the airﬁeld ﬁrst came to life - were honed to perfection, ready to meet the onslaught. Without the volume of research, development and experimentation undertaken at Biggin Hill there is little doubt that the Battle of Britain would have been lost. 352 pages with 226 previously unpublished or rarely seen, pictures, plans and illustrations. Hardback £19.95. Large format softback £12.95
Order online now: www.indbooks.co.uk E-mail: [email protected]
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ABOVE: Taking off from Zürich-Kloten is SAS Caravelle III OY-KRG Alf Viking. ETH-BIBLIOTHEK ZÜRICH
TOP: Caravelle III F-BOHB Béarn of Air France. This aircraft was lost, and all 95 people on board killed, when it came down in the Mediterranean on 11 September 1968. CHRIS SANDHAM-BAILEY
DEVELOPMENT SUD CARAVELLE
The latest in French fashion
The first two Caravelle prototypes flying together. Nearest the camera is second example F-WHHI, with initial aircraft F-BHHH — in Air France colours — beyond. AEROPLANE
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Bréguet entered both turbojet and turboprop types, among them one for a SNECMA Atar-powered tri-jet to be developed in association with the Société Nationale des Constructions Aéronautiques du Nord (SNCAN), and another for a turboprop type. These were filed under a single design number, Br978, and submitted on 7 January 1952. Hurel-Dubois put forward a twin-Rolls-Royce Avon-powered airliner and various turboprop designs based on an aircraft with a narrow fuselage and a shoulder-mounted high-aspect wing, giving it a profile that may be considered similar to many later regional airliners. Latécoère produced an interesting design, dated 6 December 1951, which made use of bypass turbojets. Unfortunately, at the time, there were no working examples of such engines, and this remained a paper concept.
Requiring a third engine naturally involved it being fitted on the centreline, which meant the tail, so the three powerplants were grouped at the rear of the fuselage. Experiments conducted on the SE2410 Grognard ground attack aircraft testbed had shown this to be the ideal position, and it much improved the efficiency of the air intakes. At this stage Rolls-Royce started offering a more powerful Avon, the RA14, that could develop 9,260lb thrust, making the auxiliary powerplant on the SO60C and the third engine on the X-210 unnecessary. Within a month the committee had dropped the SO60, and it appears that soon afterwards the HD45 was also rejected. It apparently regarded the X-210 highly and asked SNCASE to redesign it using twin Avons. This gave the company’s design team, headed by chief engineer Pierre Satre, the freedom to
From the outset the SNCASE machine looked highly elegant and stylish. It was a total departure in French airliner design and construction
simply delete the three Atars and install two of the more powerful Avons in their place on the rear fuselage. The X-210 has the distinction of being the first airliner to adopt this engine layout, the design of which was patented. There was talk within SNCASE of retaining the three-engine configuration using Avons to give the X-210 greater range and better performance, but this was not proceeded with as it was contrary to the original specifications. With the rear engine layout, cabin noise was greatly reduced and the wing cleared of obstructions. SNCASE submitted the revised X-210 design with twin Avons to the Secrétariat à l’Aviation Civile et Commerciale (SGACC) in July 1952. Two months later it received official notification that its design had been accepted, and the X-210 became the first short/ medium-haul turbojet airliner destined for commercial service. The SGACC approved construction of the type in January 1953, but it was not until 6 July that it agreed subsidies and confirmed that two prototypes and two static airframes for fatigue testing would be built. SNCASE licensed several fuselage design features from de Havilland, such as the nose section and cockpit layout of the DH106 Comet — the two companies had already worked together on other aircraft, such as the Vampire. Air France pilots were familiar with the British jetliner, as the carrier had taken delivery of Comet 1s that year. The late John Cunningham, then the DH chief test pilot, remembered having shown the French manufacturer’s designers and engineers the Comet production line at Hatfield. From the outset the SNCASE machine looked highly elegant and stylish. It was a total departure in French airliner design and construction, but there were major lessons that had to be learned along the way. The passenger cabin featured
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Proposals from the SNCA du Sud-Ouest (SNCASO) had varying power units, including the use of two Rolls-Royce Avon RA7s for the SO60C. As the Avon was not regarded as powerful enough, two smaller Turbomeca Marboré engines were added as auxiliaries. The SNCA du Sud-Est (SNCASE), meanwhile, entered several pure jet designs, which were given the designations X-200 to X-210. The large number of entries kept the Comité du Matériel Civile busy for some time, but by 28 March 1952 it had cut the list down to just three: the four-engined Avon/Marboré SO60C, the twin-Avon Hurel-Dubois HD45, and the three-engined SNCASE X-210. SNCASE’s offering made used of the 6,100lb-thrust SNECMA Atar 101D engine, but as more power was required it decided to use three of them. This led the design team to find a suitable layout.
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to 1,200 miles. A maximum payload of 14,000lb and a take-off run not to exceed 6,500ft were listed. Interestingly, the type and number of engines were not specified, although the committee did have a preference that Frenchdesigned and built turbojets be used. Several firms had already been working on new designs when the specification was published and they duly rushed to get them in front of the committee. The target customer was Air France but it was expected that foreign orders would follow in due course. This request came at the right time, with French aircraft manufacturers looking for new challenges. The response was strong and almost every company submitted at least one proposal, a total of 20 different designs being received. Many of them made use of all-turbojet power.
hile France’s aircraft designers did make some efforts to be ready for the post-World War Two peace when it came, they were not quite like the plans Britain made under the aegis of the Brabazon Committee for air travel after the war. It was therefore slower to address new aircraft requirements for Air France and other French airlines serving its overseas territories, internal connections and international routes. However, once the country was liberated the aviation industry wasted no time in making up for the years of occupation. During the war the Junkers Ju 52/3m had been manufactured in France, as the Amiot AAC1, and in the first months of peace it continued to be built for use on the airline network. When matters improved, several new piston-engined designs were built quickly, tested and entered service. They were conventional and did not offer much in the way of advanced technical specification, as did British airliners such as the de Havilland Comet, Bristol Brabazon, Vickers Viscount and Airspeed Ambassador. French designers were working on similar aircraft, but they were hampered by a lack of funding. First, France had to rebuild its fortunes and a country that had been ravaged by six years of enemy occupation. Compared to Britain, France was in a far better financial position by the end of the 1940s. Having rebuilt its fortunes, greatly assisted by generous foreign aid, the country was in a position to move its aviation industry to a new level. Consequently, on 12 October 1951, the Comité du Matériel Civile (Committee for Civil Aircraft) published a specification for a mediumrange aircraft, which was sent to the French aviation industry by the Direction Technique et Industrielle. It called for an aircraft with a cruising speed of at least 370mph, carrying 55 to 65 passengers and 2,200lb of cargo on routes up
Four of the crew for the Caravelle’s maiden flight on 27 May 1955: from left to right, Jean Avril, André Moynet, Pierre Nadot and Roger Beteille, joined by the besuited Sud-Aviation president Georges Héreil. KEY COLLECTION
unusual windows in a teardrop water tank was built at the shape or an inverted triangle Etablissement Aéronautique with rounded corners. They de Toulouse and one airframe gave a good view and did subjected to load cycles, each away with the standard of which represented a flight. squared-off windows. In early The programme concluded images of the Caravelle, it was after 100,000 ‘flights’, yielding shown with round windows; it a great deal of information may be that the designers relating to airframe fatigue were worried and general about the maintenance. It was named square design In February after the 1953, even Caravelle in tribute to problems that the sailing ships under though official had been contracts had the command of experienced not been on the Comet. Columbus received, The SNCASE designers drew managing heavily on the data available director Georges Héreil and from the Comet, which was the board decided to go then the only pure jet airliner ahead and order the required in service, the Boeing 707 not materials to build the aircraft, yet being a reality. Both the designated as the SE210. The French and the Americans first metal was cut, and by the learned much from the end of March assembly of the published findings of the court airliner commenced at of inquiry at Farnborough SNCASE’s Toulouse-Blagnac following the Comet 1 crashes. facility. For example, de Havilland With work well advanced, co-operated with SNCASE on Pierre Satre became ill and the fatigue test programme; a had to step down. His place as
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team leader was taken by SNCASE chief designer Etienne Escola. The SE210 was vital for SNCASE, and it put its most experienced engineers and managers on the project to ensure its timely realisation. The official order for two prototypes arrived from the SGACC in July 1953, and the required finances were put in place. A suitable name for the airliner was regarded as important if it were to be marketed overseas. Annapurna was considered, a French mountaineering team having recently made a successful ascent of this Himalayan peak. This, however, was dismissed. Instead, Georges Héreil named the aircraft Caravelle in tribute to the fleet of sailing ships under the command of Christopher Columbus, in anticipation of conquering the aviation world. Early press office drawings of the aircraft show one of the Columbus ships painted on the nose.
The first prototype, registered F-WHHH (French aircraft carry test registrations prefixed ‘F-W’ before delivery), entered the final assembly line in April 1954 and was largely complete by the end of the year. The machine was painted in the SNCASE house colours of white top, blue cheatline, the company logo on the silver tail and the name Caravelle either side of the forward fuselage, aft of the cockpit, before it was ceremonially rolled out at the Saint-Martin site at Toulouse on 21 April 1955. Invited dignitaries and the world’s press were on hand to witness Yvonne de Gaulle — wife of the famous Gen Charles de Gaulle of the Free French, who was soon to become the first president of the Fifth Republic — christen the aircraft as the Caravelle. The French media were unsurprisingly effusive in their reports. Though some seats were fitted, the first prototype was not equipped with a complete
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DEVELOPMENT SUD CARAVELLE
In Service Insights
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mile sales tour. In South America the Caravelle made some 94 demonstration flights while representatives of Sud-Aviation, including Georges Héreil, gave 60 presentations to potential customers in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela. From there the new airliner and its attendant DC-4 flew to New York via Miami on 3 May to start a three-week series of demonstrations to US airlines. At the invitation of Boeing it also called in at the US manufacturer’s Seattle plant. Beginning on 25 June, the aircraft made the return journey between Gander and Paris-Orly non-stop, a distance of 2,540 miles. This was the first time the North Atlantic had been flown by a twin-jet airliner. F-BHHI had now logged more than 1,000 flying hours since it made its first flight in May 1956. Unfortunately, though there was interest in the Caravelle, no North American orders were immediately forthcoming, but on 16 October 1957 Varig in Brazil ordered two of the type (PP-VJC and -VJD) for routes to North America. Earlier in the year SNCASE had held talks with Republic Aviation regarding establishment of a Caravelle production line at its facility in Farmingdale, New York. Though they were productive and tentative agreement reached, the type was never built in the USA.
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While F-BHHH was flight on 4 June using the undergoing flight trials the power of a single engine. Back second prototype, F-WHHI with the manufacturer, the (later F-BHHI), which Caravelle was among the incorporated the modifications highlights of June’s Paris Air detailed above, was nearing Show and was demonstrated completion. It flew on 6 May to Lufthansa on 9 July. On 2 1956, with Pierre Nadot at the November it logged its controls and Léopold Galy as 1,000th flying hour, after which co-pilot. F-BHHI was it was taken off the completed with 70 seats, two programme for a time to be toilets at the rear of the main inspected and overhauled. cabin and space for baggage Despite a major sales push to be carried in two holds, fore by the manufacturer, which and aft, flew beneath the prospective There were no cabin floor. clients in the At this prototypes, problems on the first stage, Air other flight and Nadot said France was operators the Caravelle behaved were slow in the only firm impeccably customer for signing up. the Caravelle, Not until June which had 1957 was a been priced in 1955 at 425 second buyer secured, million francs — about Scandinavian Airlines System £440,000 — per unit. It had (SAS) becoming the first signed an order for 12 foreign customer when it Caravelle Is on 3 February ordered six with options for 19 1956, with an option for a more. Encouraged by this, the further 12. Nevertheless, manufacturer — which had SNCASE had confidence in its become Sud-Aviation on 1 design, and there was always March 1957, when the French the guarantee that the French government merged SNCASE government would buy the with SNCASO — decided to aircraft, so it established a put the Caravelle into series production programme and production at four units a ordered the tooling required month. to make 50 examples at a rate Early in 1957 the aircraft was of four per month. demonstrated in the Americas The first aircraft was painted by Air France captains Lionel in Air France colours and Casse and Antoine Lesieur. leased to the airline on 23 May They flew F-BHHI, now fitted 1956 for evaluation. With a with 54 luxury seats, across the crew from the flag carrier it Atlantic via Casablanca, Dakar made a trans-Mediterranean and Recife to begin a 30,000-
airliner interior. A cargo door was located on the lower left-hand side of the fuselage, but this was not featured on the second prototype, then in build, which had an all-seating cabin configuration. Engine runs commenced on 13 May and ground tests five days later. Following these, the Caravelle was made ready for its first flight. It occurred on 27 May, when F-WHHH (later re-registered as F-BHHH), powered by two Avon RA26 Mk522 engines each with 10,000lb of thrust, climbed effortlessly into the sky above Toulouse. The crew consisted of pilot Pierre Nadot, second officer André Moynet, flight engineer Jean Avril, radio operator André Préneron and observer/engineer Roger Beteille. There were no problems on the 41-minute flight and Nadot reported that the Caravelle had behaved impeccably. Incidentally, Roger Beteille was later to become one of the founders of Airbus Industrie and, as general manager, oversaw the development of the successful A300 series. This was the start of a thorough nine-month test programme. It included, on 30 November, the type’s first take-off on a single engine to demonstrate to potential customers that in the event of an engine failure the aircraft remained flyable. A few design flaws were noted during the course of the flight trials. The major change that resulted from them was the need for a boundary layer fence on the upper surface of each wing. Further tests dictated the fitting of a second layer fence, these becoming standard on the second prototype aircraft and all production examples. Once 100 hours had been notched up during the manufacturer’s own trials with F-BHHH, the aircraft was flown to the French military flight test centre, the Centre d’Essais en Vol (CEV), on 29 February 1956 for further tests by its pilots and technicians. A CEV crew made the Caravelle’s first trans-Mediterranean flight to Algiers on 24 April.
Newly christened as the Caravelle by Yvonne de Gaulle, the first SE210 prototype originally carried the test registration F-WHHH. KEY COLLECTION
TECHNICAL DETAILS SUD CARAVELLE
An adaptable design
he circular-section, all-metal, stressed-skin fuselage was of monocoque construction. Under the main floor were two freight compartments, one measuring 21ft 4in by 2ft 3in and the other 18ft 2in by 2ft 3in. Further baggage space was available forward of and behind the passenger cabin. When first designed the Caravelle was to be fitted with 28 rounded, Comet-like windows, 11 of which doubled as inward-opening escape hatches. Unusually, for the time, passenger access was via a retractable stairway under the tail with an inwards-opening door through the flat rear pressure bulkhead. This gave the Caravelle an operational advantage, as there was no delay in waiting for steps to be brought to the aircraft by airport ground services. Further, while passengers made use of the rear stairs, freight and baggage could be loaded through the 6ft 6in by 5ft 11in hatch in the port side of the forward fuselage, saving time in routine turn-arounds. A sliding door inset into the freight hatch allowed crew
access; the freight door was only fitted to the first prototype, the sliding door giving way to a conventional access door on production aircraft. Below the rudder the tail cone held a 22ft ribbon braking parachute, a further option for landing at smaller airports where the Caravelle could steal a march on its competitors. It is worth remembering that in the mid-1950s France still possessed or administered several overseas colonies, many of which had small airports with relatively short runways thought more suitable for slower, piston-engined aircraft. The Caravelle could be used in some of these outposts. The high-aspect, lowmounted, three-spar wing was aerodynamically clean thanks to the lack of buried engines and air intakes in the wing roots, or of engines suspended in pods. Michel de Lamaze and his team had produced a slim, efficient wing with a 20° sweepback at 25 per cent chord. The prototype had double-slotted trailingedge flaps and leading-edge slats, but after flight trials the
Passengers boarding Series III HB-ICW of Swissair, demonstrating the retractable stairs in the rear fuselage that were such a practical feature of the design. ETH-BIBLIOTHEK ZÜRICH
latter were deleted in favour of a fixed ‘drop-snoot’ shape, as fitted to the second prototype and to production aircraft. The engines were fed by integral fuel tanks in the wings, holding 4,080 Imperial gallons on the initial aeroplanes. Their location, separated by some distance from the hot engines, reduced the fire risk in the event of a wheels-up landing. Production and assembly were centred at Toulouse, but many of the main components
were made elsewhere in France and abroad. For example, Italy’s Fiat Aviation produced the Caravelle’s one-piece tailplane, fin, ailerons and engine nacelles. Breguet completed the rear fuselage, and a lot of smaller items were imported from Britain and the USA. SudAviation manufactured the majority of the main fuselage, nose section, rudder, tail cone, the leading and trailing edges of the wings and the Fowler flaps.
SPECIFICATIONS: CARAVELLE III POWERPLANTS:
Two Rolls-Royce Avon Mk527 turbojets, 11,400lb thrust each
DIMENSIONS: Length: 104ft 10in (32.01m) Wingspan: 112ft 6in (34.30m) Height: 28ft 7in (8.72m) Crew: Three Seating capacity: 64-80
The braking parachute was intended to allow the Caravelle to land more comfortably on shorter runways. ETH-BIBLIOTHEK ZÜRICH
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WEIGHTS: Empty: Maximum take-off:
51,600lb (23,400kg) 95,900lb (43,500kg)
PERFORMANCE: Maximum speed: Maximum cruising speed: Range: Service ceiling:
500mph (805km/h) 456mph (734km/h) 1,430 miles (2,300km) 39,370ft (12,000m)
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TECHNICAL DETAILS SUD CARAVELLE Development
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IN SERVICE SUD CARAVELLE
Sud’s success story
ir France’s initial Caravelle, c/n 1 (test-registered F-WHRA), was rolled out on 6 April 1958 and ﬂew for the ﬁrst time on 18 May. It was operated jointly by Sud-Aviation and the airline on route-proving ﬂights, following which Air France requested that the manufacturer make some 230 modiﬁcations to the aircraft. These included the lengthening of the engine pods, thicker fuselage skins to improve fatigue life and an extended dorsal ﬁn. Though these changes meant a delay to the inservice date, Air France decided it was acceptable and prudent to wait before revenue-earning ﬂights could commence. While the requested alterations were being carried out, the second prototype was leased by Air France to initiate a training programme, which began on 1 March 1959. Proving ﬂights were conducted between Paris and Algiers and — as has been conﬁrmed by some former Air France crew members, though details are sketchy — the ﬁrst prototype was also operated on similar sorties as a freighter. Intensive ﬂying for certiﬁcation purposes took in hot-climate trials in the Sahara by F-BHHH during July-August 1958, operating from Colomb-Béchar, Algeria, and cold-weather ﬂights in northern Scandinavia by
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F-BHHI from January-February 1958. French certiﬁcation was obtained on 2 April 1959. F-BHHI was leased to SAS in April for crew training, and on 26 April the inaugural revenueearning Caravelle ﬂight was made using this aircraft on the Copenhagen-Beirut route. It was not until May that SAS put its ﬁrst Caravelle, LN-KLH Finn Viking (c/n 3), into service. By this time Sud-Aviation had received orders for 29 machines. Air France was quick to follow. Its initial example, F-BHRA Alsace — all the
also purchased two examples of the Caravelle I. From the outset of revenueearning ﬂights, passengers loved the French airliner. It was quiet, fast and quite different from the piston-engined types that remained in service on many routes. Although 80 seats was considered standard, early customers generally ﬁtted 64, but it was not unknown for 99 to be crammed in when required in a one-class cabin conﬁguration. Caravelle Is differed from the prototypes in having a fuselage extended by 4ft 7in
From the outset, passengers loved the Caravelle. It was quiet, fast and quite different from the piston-engined types airline’s Caravelles being named after different French regions — had completed the certiﬁcation effort and was handed over ofﬁcially on 2 April 1959. Four days later the carrier introduced the Caravelle on the Orly-RomeAthens-Istanbul service. The ﬁrst Air France ﬂight to London from Paris was operated by Caravelle F-BHRB Lorraine on 27 July. The US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) had granted type approval on 8 April, opening the way for Brazil’s Varig to start American services with the aircraft on 7 December 1959. Air Algérie
and an extension to the dorsal ﬁn housing communications antennae. A slightly longer nose had room for a weather radar installation. Air France’s production Caravelles were powered by two Avon RA29 Mk522s, similar to those on the prototypes but giving 10,500lb of thrust. Meanwhile, Sud-Aviation was developing the type as the Caravelle IA, with power supplied by Avon Mk526A engines. This new model appealed to Air Algérie, Finnair and Royal Air Maroc. Finnair was the launch customer, the ﬁrst of its three
ABOVE: F-BHRB was the aircraft that operated Air France’s inaugural Caravelle ﬂight from Paris to London on 27 July 1959. AEROPLANE
aircraft (OH-LEA, c/n 21) ﬂying at Toulouse on 11 February 1960 and being delivered on 18 February. After crew training was completed it made its ﬁrst revenue-earning ﬂight from Helsinki to Stockholm on 1 April. When Rolls-Royce announced the more powerful Avon Mk527, all 30 aircraft built so far were converted to Caravelle III standard during 1960-61. The designation was a reﬂection of the third-stage development of the engine, which in Mk527A and 527B form was ﬁtted with noise suppressors and allowed the aircraft to operate at an increased payload and a higher cruising speed. Caravelle c/n 19 (F-WJAQ) was converted on the line to become the prototype Series III and ﬂew on 30 December 1959. Later this aircraft, re-registered as F-WJAK, would serve as the prototype Series VI-N and carried out tropical weather trials in South Africa before being sold to Aerolíneas Argentinas (as LV-PRR, later LV-HGX) in January 1962. The Caravelle III became the best-selling variant, 80 being built at the Toulouse factory. Apart from Air France, Swissair,
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In Service Insights
aircraft entered a test programme. A second Series III, F-WJAO, was leased to join it. Fitted with GE engines, it ﬂew from Toulouse on 31 August 1962. This machine was given a modiﬁed wing with improved ﬂaps to meet FAA requirements, and an auxiliary power unit was installed in the rear fuselage. During September 1962, Trans World Airlines (TWA) announced that it had placed an order for 20 stretched-fuselage Caravelle 10As. This model had grown out of the VII, which was dropped, and had a window line some 10in higher than the standard Caravelle. With the increased fuselage length, it could accommodate 94 passengers in a comfortable one-class cabin. The raised ﬂoor allowed for additional storage space in the baggage holds. The Series 10A test effort came to nothing, as TWA cancelled its order. It had run into ﬁnancial problems and a new, tailor-made airliner was not feasible. Sud-Aviation had reached an agreement with Douglas Aircraft — which had considered licence-building the Caravelle as far back as 1960 — to sell the 10A in the US as the Caravelle Horizon, but after some months, having had time to study the aircraft in great detail, Douglas simply stalled and decided not to proceed with the deal. However, it was suitably impressed with the French airliner and in 1963 launched the DC-9, in some ways not dissimilar to the Caravelle. TWA later recovered sufﬁciently from its ﬁnancial woes to purchase the Douglas jet. The Series 10A test aircraft ended up being re-engined with Avons and converted back to VI-N status before being sold. The Series VI-R was sold to Indian Airlines, Brazil’s Cruzeiro do Sul and Panair, Spanish ﬂag carrier Iberia, LAN Chile, Aerolíneas Argentinas and TAP Air Portugal. Sud-Aviation produced 56 examples of the model, which enjoyed many years of service with the principal buyers and second-hand customers. United ﬂew its Caravelles on high-density routes within the US and surrounding countries until it retired the type in October 1970.
part from Capital, which was operating the Vickers Viscount, North American domestic carriers were still largely reliant on piston-engined types from Douglas, Convair and Lockheed as the 1960s dawned. Some Lockheed L-188 Electras were in use, but with a lack of modern turboprop or turbojet aircraft from US manufacturers there was little choice. Carriers operating international ﬂights were in a better position, with the Boeing 707 already in service and the Douglas DC-8 and Convair CV-880 waiting to enter operation. It was natural that US airlines would look elsewhere for a suitable medium-range aircraft, and in February 1960 Sud-Aviation was able to announce that United Air Lines had signed a contract to purchase 20 Caravelles. The variant in question was the Caravelle VI-R, which had Avon Mk532/533R engines incorporating thrust reversers, hence the R sufﬁx), together with additional wing spoilers and more powerful brakes to meet US operating requirements. The cabin windows were enlarged but retained the distinctive teardrop shape; the cockpit was made bigger and the glass area increased. The ﬁrst Caravelle VI-R was rolled out in May 1961, ﬂown on 19 May and handed over to United on 31 May. Before being delivered to the airline on 18 June it was shown at the Paris Air Show in United livery. The FAA certiﬁed the type on 5 June and United made its ﬁrst revenueearning Caravelle service (with N1001U) between New York and Chicago on 14 July 1961 to coincide with Bastille Day. The manufacturer wanted more sales in the US and announced the Caravelle VII especially for the American market, which was to be powered by General Electric (GE) turbofans. Consequently, a Series III, c/n 42, was purchased by GE as a testbed. It was ferried to the USA in July 1960 and carried out a sales tour before ﬂying to GE at Cincinnati, Ohio, where the Avons were replaced with CJ-805-23C turbofans. Registered N420GE and ﬁrst ﬂown from Edwards Air Force Base, California on 29 December 1960, the
SAS, Royal Air Maroc, Alitalia and Air Inter (which purchased 16) operated it. The initial delivery of I-DAXA (c/n 35), the ﬁrst of 14 aircraft ordered by Alitalia, was made on 29 April 1960. The Italian ﬂag carrier put the type into service between Rome and London on 23 May. This aircraft and three other Alitalia Caravelle IIIs went on to be converted into Series VI-Ns. Impatient to start ﬂying the type, Swissair leased some from SAS to inaugurate a Caravelle service between Zürich and London on 21 May 1960. By this time, 35 European airlines were Caravelle customers. Of the continent’s major carriers, only British European Airways/ BOAC, KLM and Lufthansa would never buy any. Unfortunately, 1960 also saw the ﬁrst Caravelle accident, when OY-KRB (c/n 14) of SAS crashed at Esenboğa Airport in Ankara, Turkey on 19 January. Seven crew members and 35 passengers were killed. In all, some 64 Caravelles are recorded as having been lost in accidents. Sud-Aviation next put the developed Caravelle VI into production. It was powered by Avon RA29/6 Mk531 engines, becoming the Series VI-N when ﬁtted with the Mk531B. Gross weight was increased and performance improved. To cope with the extra power the main structures and the Hispano landing gear were reinforced. The ﬁrst VI, F-WJAK, completed its maiden ﬂight on 10 September 1960. Launch customer this time was the Belgian national carrier Sabena, which received its ﬁrst aircraft (OO-SRA, c/n 64) on 20 January 1961. It commenced operations with the Series VI on the BrusselsNice service on 18 February. Other operators who purchased the derivative, 53 of which were built, included French airlines Corse Air, Minerve and EAS Europe Airlines, JAT Yugoslav Airlines, Ecuadorian carrier SAETA and India’s Pushpaka Aviation. Five Caravelle IIIs were modiﬁed to become VI-Ns.
Its nose titling proclaiming ‘Caravelle Jet Mainliner’, United’s VI-R N1014U Ville de Nice taxies at Newark, New Jersey, in August 1962. ADRIAN M. BALCH COLLECTION
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ENGINE DEVELOPMENTS The Avon RA26/29 Mk522 version, which differed greatly from the original AJ types of Avon, was chosen for use in the Caravelle. Once the type was ﬂying Rolls-Royce continued to work with the SNECMA’s trusty Caravelle III testbed, F-ZACF, with manufacturer to improve the the new CFM56 turbofan engine. For example, Air Algérie wanted to run a higher undergoing ﬂight trials. engine rpm to improve performance during take-off in hot atmospheres. RollsRoyce and Sud-Aviation came up with an eightthermocouple circuit enabling the Avon to be used at 8,100rpm, giving the same thrust (10,500lb/4,760kg) as the standard Mk522 did at 8,050rpm. This modiﬁed Avon was designated Mk526. Rolls-Royce developed the Avon Mk522 into the Mk522A for the Caravelle by adding an anti-noise device consisting of six peripherical fans, which reduced engine noise by some 5dB. Other modiﬁcations included a better cooling system for the forward blades, while the jet efﬂux pipes were improved and strengthened. Caravelles ﬁtted with the Mk522A were dubbed the Series IA, the ﬁrst example (c/n 21) being converted on the line. Registered F-WJAK, it made its ﬁrst ﬂight on 11 February 1960 and was delivered to Finnair on 18 February as OH-LEA to enter service on the Helsinki-Stockholm route from 1 April. Aside from the General Electric testbed described separately, another Caravelle was used for engine ﬂight trials. This was an ex-SAS Series III, SE-DAH (c/n 193), acquired by SNECMA and re-registered F-ZACF. From 1973-75 it was ﬁtted on the starboard side with the French manufacturer’s new M53 turbofan, which went on to power the Dassault Mirage 2000, and from 1977-80 with the CFM International CFM56.
THE CARAVELLE AND AUTOLAND In early 1962, test pilot André Turcat — who would later carry out the maiden ﬂight of Concorde and lead the supersonic airliner’s test team — was put in charge of automatic landing trials with the Caravelle. Sud-Aviation equipped the ﬁrst prototype, F-BHHH, with an autoland system based on the Lear 102 autopilot. It made its ﬁrst automatic landing at Toulouse on 29 September 1962. Joint trials by ofﬁcials from the French and US authorities were carried out at Toulouse early that December. Caravelle VI-R c/n 136 was taken off the line in 1964 and registered F-BLKI to Sud-Aviation the following year, also being used for autoland work. For comparison the Smiths Autoland system was ﬁtted to Caravelle c/n 143 (F-WJSO). The Lear system was deemed more suitable and chosen for further development. It was installed in F-BLKI to carry out the certiﬁcation programme. During 1964, acceptance trials were conducted up to category II weather standards, certiﬁcation being granted on 25 September. The ﬁrst airline authorised to operate its Caravelles in accordance with these standards was Alitalia, which introduced the system in the spring of 1966. Development of the Sud-Lear equipment up to category IIIA weather standards continued during 1965-66. Early in 1967, when that level of certiﬁcation was granted, some 10,000 automatic approaches had been carried out, including 3,500 actual touchdowns at 75 different airports. The ﬁrst Caravelle to be delivered new with built-in Sud-Lear cat IIIA autoland equipment was a Series III aircraft, F-BNKC (c/n 217), handed over to Air Inter on 24 February 1967. 140 www.aeroplanemonthly.com
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A ﬁne example of the so-called ‘Super 10’: Caravelle 10B3 F-BJTU of Air France subsidiary Air Charter at Frankfurt during 1988. WOLFGANG MENDORF/AIRTEAMIMAGES.COM
SERIES 10, 11 AND 12 Next was the Series 10B, sometimes known unofﬁcially as the ‘Super Caravelle’. It featured several modiﬁcations, the most notable being wing leading-edge extensions to improve airﬂow at high angles of attack. Split ﬂaps were added to the wings and the fuselage was extended by 4ft 7in. This increased passenger capacity to 105. Sud-Aviation did not wish to proceed with the use of GE engines and chose instead the excellent Pratt & Whitney JT8D-1 turbofan with 14,000lb of thrust. The prototype Series 10B, F-WLKJ, made its initial ﬂight on 3 March 1964. It was a major improvement over the existing models and a strong rival to aircraft such as the BAC One-Eleven, which had ﬂown the year before. Finnair became the launch customer with eight aircraft and introduced its ﬁrst, OH-LSA, on the Helsinki-Milan service on 16 August 1964. Other airlines that purchased the run of 22 Caravelle 10Bs included Iberia, Germany’s LTU, France’s UTA and Danish carrier Sterling Airways, the latter taking over a cancelled Aviaco order. Sud-Aviation also offered the higher-revving JT8D-7 engine for use in ‘hot and high’ climates. Around this time, a welldeserved tribute was paid both to the Caravelle and to the design team headed by Pierre Satre and Etienne Escola when the Crédit
Lyonnais banking concern celebrated its 100th anniversary. It established a prize of 150,000 francs to be presented annually for 10 years for outstanding contributions to French industry and trade. On 14 December 1964, the ﬁrst of these awards was made at the Academie des Sciences to representatives of SudAviation for the Caravelle. Sud-Aviation knew it had a good product with the Caravelle. When it ﬁrst entered service there were no competitors in the market sector, but by the early 1960s Boeing had launched the 727 and de Havilland was offering the Trident, both types featuring rear-mounted engines and aimed at short and medium-haul routes. The French ﬁrm responded with the Series 10R, using the VI-R’s fuselage with JT8D-7 engines and Sud-Aviation-designed cascade thrust reversers. Maximum weight at take-off was increased to 115,000lb, some 13,000lb more than the Series I and 4,400lb up on the VI-R. Seating remained between 68 in a two-class cabin and 105 in an alleconomy layout. The prototype Series 10R, F-WLKS, took to the air on 18 January 1965 and received FAA certiﬁcation on 23 May. Sud-Aviation had expected the much-improved aircraft to attract signiﬁcant business but only 20 were built, the ﬁrst being delivered to Royal
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Just six examples of the combi-configured Caravelle 11R were built, among them EC-BRY of Transeuropa. Pictured at East Midlands Airport in June 1975, the aircraft was based at Palma de Mallorca.
(OY-SAA, c/n 270) arrived with the Danish airline on 12 March 1971. It was in that year that the French government merged the state-owned Nord company with Sud-Aviation to become Société Nationale Industrielle Aérospatiale (SNIAS), better known as Aérospatiale. The Caravelle was still among the new firm’s product line, but it had reached the end of the road. The very last example, F-BTOE (c/n 280), was completed on 8 March 1973 and delivered to Air Inter later that month. Aérospatiale was busy with the British Aircraft Corporation on the Concorde programme, which had emerged from the combination of a Sud-Aviation design for a small supersonic airliner — initially known as the Super Caravelle — and the Bristol 223 project for a larger such machine. After design work had started on Concorde the Super Caravelle label was
which was to be the last incarnation of the series. This was the Series 12, aimed directly at the buoyant charter and inclusive tour markets. It made its maiden flight from Toulouse on 29 October 1970, with the French registration F-WJAN. This aircraft, c/n 269, was delivered to Sterling as OY-SAC in May 1971. The Series 12 was a 10B with a noticeably longer fuselage, stretched by 10ft 7in (6ft 6in forward of the wing leading edge and 4ft 1in aft of the trailing edge) to accommodate up to 140 passengers in a one-class cabin. The newer, uprated version of the JT8D-9 engine with 14,500lb of thrust was fitted and the aircraft had a reinforced structure to permit an operating weight of up to 127,870lb. An auxiliary power unit was added at the rear of the fuselage. Production of 12 examples started in 1970, and the first of seven for Sterling
The red and white livery of German charter carrier LTU looked good on the Caravelle. These three 10R versions — D-ABAW, ’AP and ’AV — are parked at Düsseldorf in 1982 following their transfer to Special Air Transport, otherwise known as SAT Flug, which later became Germania. WOLFGANG MENDORF/AIRTEAMIMAGES.COM
(unofficially) transferred to the Series 10 and 12. The Series 12 flew commercially in Europe until October 1996, the last operating with Marseillebased charter carrier Air Provence. A few soldiered on elsewhere though, notably in Africa, South America and the Far East. More than 60 airlines flew second-hand examples. Once they had passed to their third or fourth owners, they may not have been maintained in the best of condition, but the Caravelle had long proved itself to be a tough and capable aeroplane. The final commercial Caravelle flight recorded was flown by a Series 10B of Waltair, based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, probably in 2003. This aircraft was 9Q-CPI (c/n 169), which had been the prototype 10B. There were unconfirmed reports of Caravelles flying in South America well into the mid-2000s. Quite a few have survived. The first prototype Caravelle, which Sud-Aviation continued to use for in-flight systems trials, should have been preserved but it was not to be. The airframe was left to languish at Toulouse and later Orly, where it was scrapped with a bulldozer on 29 October 1986. However, the forward fuselage of the second prototype survived and is on show in a spurious Air France livery at Le Bourget. Several can be found in museums in Europe (mostly in France) and a couple are preserved in North America. Turkey, Uganda and Morocco each have a Caravelle on display.
Jordanian Airways (which bought three) on 31 July 1965. The model was also operated by Aero Lloyd and SAT of Germany, Swiss firm CTA and Spanish carrier Hispania among others. On 20 June 1965, a new contract from Air France took the Caravelle order book past the 200 mark, the break-even figure. There were studies for a Caravelle VIII and IX. The former was to be powered by twin Rolls-Royce RB141 bypass engines, which never entered production, and the latter to make use of the Pratt & Whitney JT3D-1, which was deemed too powerful for the airframe. Neither variant was proceeded with. The pressure was now on Sud-Aviation to make the Caravelle appeal to more specialised operators. It sought to address a gap in the market with the Caravelle 11R Combi, announced in 1966. Based on the Series 10R, it had a fuselage length of 104ft, about 28in more than other models, and incorporated a 10ft 9in by 6ft cargo door on the port side (similar to the first prototype of 1956) with a movable bulkhead to separate the rear passenger compartment. This enabled the 11R to carry a mixed load of passengers and cargo, but it could be reconfigured to all-passenger or all-cargo layouts if required. The first, F-WJAL, flew from Toulouse on 21 April 1967. Just six were produced, delivered to Air Congo, Air Afrique and Transeuropa of Spain. Sud-Aviation was already looking at the next model,
The ultimate Caravelle with its final European commercial operator: Series 12 F-GCVM in service with Air Provence on a 1996 visit to Birmingham. The French airline retired the type that October. DAVE STURGES/AIRTEAMIMAGES.COM
IN SERVICE SUD CARAVELLE Armée de l’Air Caravelle 10R serial 201/F-RAFH was on the strength of the Groupe de Liaisons Aériennes Ministerielles. AIRTEAMIMAGES.COM COLLECTION
MILITARY CARAVELLES The French military was attracted to the Caravelle from early in its life. Trials were carried out by the French Air Force (Armée de l’Air) regarding the suitability of the type not only as a presidential/
VIP transport but also other roles. Ten were acquired for military use in all, comprising examples of the Series III, VI-N, VI-R and later the 11R. President de Gaulle was very keen on the aircraft and early in his term of ofﬁce used the ﬁrst prototype, painted in Air France livery, as an ofﬁcial
United Air Lines offered a men-only ‘executive’ service from 1953 to 1970, ﬁrst with Douglas DC-6Bs and later the Caravelle. It operated between New York’s Idlewild (now JFK) airport and Chicago, and later between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Mainly scheduled to leave at 17.00hrs in each direction between the two cities, these ﬂights did not carry women or children, while ﬂight attendants catered to customers with special meals and offered complementary cigars. A last-minute message service allowed the passenger to, “Simply write out your messages and United will telephone them promptly”. Calls were then made on behalf of the passenger to their ofﬁce or home as the aircraft left New York. On board, a teletype business news update gave closing market prices, and work tables were made available. Later the New York ﬂights were moved from Idlewild to Newark, New Jersey.
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transport. He later called the aircraft, “the fast, the safe, the gentle Caravelle”. Madame de Gaulle christened the ﬁrst two air force Caravelles on 24 March 1959, during a ceremony at Orly North. Although the president used the Caravelles of Air France and the air force as required, it was not until 13 May 1963 that Caravelle III F-RAFG (c/n 141, ex-F-BJTK with Air France) was assigned to the Groupe de Liaisons Aériennes Ministerielles (GLAM) at Villacoublay, the ofﬁcial transport unit for senior military and civilian ofﬁcials, of the Armée de l’Air as a presidential transport. In its service career it carried de Gaulle and other senior government ofﬁcials on many ofﬁcial visits in and outside Europe. The interior layout included a forward salooncum-conference room, with seating for eight people, and a 38-seat rear cabin. It has
survived and is part of the Musée de l’Air collection at Le Bourget, albeit stored at the Dugny site rather than being on public display. From January 1978, F-RAFG was joined on the GLAM strength by Caravelle 10R c/n 201 (the former F-BNRA of UTA), which became F-RAFH. Three French presidents used the Caravelle: de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Charles de Gaulle had one of the GLAM aircraft modiﬁed as an airborne command post. In 1981, President François Mitterrand decided the Caravelle was too old and BELOW: The Yugoslav Air Force’s Caravelle VI-N, serial 74101, served as a VIP transport from 1969-79 when it was sold into French commercial hands. CHRIS SANDHAM-BAILEY
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French nuclear test sites in the Paciﬁc and conducted other missions when necessary, including the delivery of humanitarian aid. Like other jet airliners of the same vintage, the Caravelle was far from fuel-efﬁcient and its operation became less cost-effective. F-RAFH was the last to be based by the Armée de l’Air inside metropolitan France, ﬂown for the last four years of its service, 1988-92, by Escadron de Transport 3/60. Newer equipment like the Falcon series and the Airbus A310 proved more economical for VIP transport, while CASA/ IPTN CN-235 and Transall C-160 twin-turboprops took over from the ETOM 82 aircraft in the Paciﬁc, which were the ﬁnal Armée de l’Air Caravelles when they were phased out in 1995. The CEV at Brétigny used at least four examples for trials
and tests. One was VI-R c/n 234, which served with Air Inter before going to the CEV in 1989. Re-registered F-ZACQ, it was converted for parabolic zero-gravity ﬂights on behalf of the CNES (Centre National d’Études Spatiales, the French space centre), simulating weightlessness to gather data on how the human body reacts in a zero-g situation. This Caravelle was retired in 1995 and replaced a couple of years later by an Airbus A300. F-ZACE (c/n 116), meanwhile, stopped ﬂying with the CEV in 1997 and made the type’s last ﬂight in France on 13 February 1998, from Brétigny to Istres. Apart from Sweden (see boxed item), Caravelles were operated as government or military transports by Algeria, Argentina, the Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, Mauritania, Mexico, Rwanda, Senegal and Yugoslavia.
TOUR BUSES Many Caravelles were chartered to ferry stars on tour. Transavia’s aircraft were popular: David Cassidy leased PH-TRR for his British and European concerts in 1973, Frank Sinatra’s company did likewise with PH-TRY for his May 1975 European tour, and the same month the Osmonds hired PH-TVV when they toured Europe. French singers like Johnny Halliday and Sasha Distel also made use of Caravelles.
started making use of the smaller, three-engined Dassault Falcon 50; he also ﬂew on Air France Concordes for ofﬁcial visits to North America and elsewhere. According to the French Ministry of Defence, its Caravelles “performed without a ﬂaw for more than 30 years”. Among other tasks, the GLAM aircraft ﬂew on logistics support sorties and goodwill visits to French territories such as Djibouti (previously French Somaliland), Guadeloupe, Mali, French Guiana, Martinique and French Polynesia. A trio of ex-airline 11R models were added to the ﬂeet in 1976 for operation by Escadron de Transport Outre-Mer (overseas transport squadron, or ETOM) 82 at Tahiti’s Fa’a’ā International Airport. Replacing the Nord Noratlas and Douglas DC-6, they supported the work of
other foreign territorial waters. Each sortie lasted approximately four hours, with four or ﬁve ﬂights per week being the norm. Soviet ﬁghters were met occasionally, as well as intelligence-gathering aircraft from other nations. The last ofﬁcial mission took place on 28 September 1998. Both Tp 85s have been preserved by the Flygvapenmuseum (Swedish Air Force Museum), with 85172 being on public display at Malmslätt. The second Tp 85, 85210, is on loan to a volunteer society called Le Caravelle Club. In 1999 it was ferried to Arlanda airport north of Stockholm. This aircraft has been maintained in ‘live’ condition, and it is hoped that 85210 will be taxied to an area adjacent to the Arlanda Civil Aviation Collection this summer. Jan Forsgren
During 1969, the Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force) expressed an interest in acquiring up to six of SAS’ Caravelles. Only two were actually sold to the air arm in 1971, and designated Tp 85. Previously registered as SE-DAG (air force serial 85172) and SE-DAI (85210), the aircraft were based at F 8 Barkarby and initially used for VIP and military passenger ﬂights. Both Tp 85s were transferred to F 13M in 1973 and modiﬁed — probably at Bulltofta airport outside Malmö by the Svenska Flygverkstäderna (Swedish Air Workshops) — for signals intelligence (SIGINT) duties on behalf of the Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA, or National Defence Radio Establishment). They were mainly used for SIGINT ﬂights over the Baltic Sea, always operating at least 20km from Soviet and
German electronics giant Grundig leased a Belgian-registered, former Sabena Caravelle (OO-SRD) in early 1973. The interior was adapted to showcase Grundig’s products, and potential agents and customers were welcomed aboard. This did not go unnoticed by French rival Thomson, which hired F-BJTJ (ex-Air France) in October 1974 for a similar campaign.
SWEDEN’S SIGINT CARAVELLES
Tp 85 serial 85172 in use for SIGINT duties with Swedish Air Force wing F 13M. VIA ARLANDA CIVIL AVIATION COLLECTION
CARAVELLE PRODUCTION Prototypes
(one as a static airframe)
Series VII and 10A
INSIGHTS SUD CARAVELLE
The Caravelle’s ﬂying qualities being demonstrated by an Air Inter crew in Series III F-BNKC at the May 1983 La Ferté Alais airshow. The French domestic airline had been operating the type for 16 years. DENIS J. CALVERT
From the ﬂight deck
rom the start of test-ﬂying it was apparent that the Caravelle was an excellent aeroplane. Test pilots at the time did not have the luxury of computer models and simulators that are commonplace today, aiding the pilot in knowing exactly how a new aircraft will behave on its maiden ﬂight. Thankfully the Caravelle’s initial sorties showed few ﬂaws in the design. There was plenty of power in reserve and the airliner responded easily to the controls. From a report made at the time when the Caravelle was entering its ﬁrst phase of test ﬂying, we can read that the Rolls-Royce Avon RA26s, “are started and allowed to warm and set to about 60 per cent power. The throttles are opened to 5,000rpm to get the airliner moving on the taxiway. Once it is moving the engines are throttled back to about 4,500rpm. This gives the correct taxi speed; control once under way is by the steerable nosewheel, making
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the use of [the] brake unnecessary”. As the engines were ﬁtted close to the centreline of the fuselage it was not practical to use them for steering on the ground as you could with a two- or four-engined aircraft with conventionally mounted units on the wings. “Rudder control becomes effective at 75kt, and once lined up on the runway the engines are opened up to 8,000rpm with the Caravelle held on the brakes; ﬂaps are set to 10° and the brakes are
released. As the aircraft gathers speed, at about 120kt the nosewheel lifts and the aircraft unsticks soon after. Power is maintained as the Caravelle climbs and within 20 seconds of leaving the runway the undercarriage and the ﬂaps can be fully retracted. Climbing at 255kt the throttles are brought back to keep the engines at 7,100rpm as the aircraft climbs, with the speed increased gradually until 290kt is indicated, whereupon we are at an altitude of 13,000ft. Climb rate is 1,500ft per
Caravelle ﬂight crews enjoyed piloting the aeroplane, which handled well and had few vices. ETH-BIBLIOTHEK ZÜRICH
minute and 290kt is held as we continue to climb until we reach 30,000ft. Here the engines are boosted slightly to 7,250rpm and maintained until the desired cruising altitude is reached. [The] Caravelle has a service ceiling of 42,000ft and this is reached quickly and smoothly”. Sud-Aviation archives, held by Airbus, note that the Caravelle would reach 30,000ft in a standard climb lasting 40 minutes. Pilots appreciated the well-laid-out ﬂight deck. Unlike earlier piston-engined airliners, which many had ﬂown before converting to the Caravelle, “all knobs and levers fell easily to hand and having powercontrolled systems made life a joy.” Landing the Caravelle was typically made by letting-down “from 38,000ft to 5,000ft, without airbrakes, at a constant 216kt. Flaps and undercarriage when lowered created little need to alter the trim and power was reduced to give an airspeed of 135kt at 4,500rpm. In the event of an aborted landing or a need to go around, full power could be attained in ﬁve seconds and acceleration to a safe speed was reached quickly.” The Caravelle carried sufﬁcient fuel to allow reserves to maintain a holding pattern for nearly an hour at 10,000ft or to divert to a suitable alternate airport within 200 miles. Cleared to land, the pilot could put down a normally loaded Caravelle of 86,000lb in a landing run of 2,160ft; this was greatly reduced to about 1,150ft when the aircraft was 20,000lb lighter. “Using the built-in tail parachute the landing run of a normally loaded Caravelle could be limited to 1,800ft.” Pilots are universal in their praise of how the aircraft handled. For many it was the ﬁrst jet airliner that they had ﬂown. Coming from a piston type the difference was remarkable, especially with the engines mounted in the aft position. One pilot who ﬂew a tired Caravelle commented, “there was still life in the old girl and she responded as she once did 20 years before.”
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e 8 le L Th 201 n sa PRI e. o g AY es 2 A an M E go n 1 t to ch U K o bjec ISS he U ts su t n in Conte
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DAMBUSTERS SALUTE 75 years of No 617 Squadron
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1945 Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire FR XVIIIe s/n: TP280 Reg: D-FSPT Price: GBP£1,950,000 + VAT if applicable
1945 Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire XVIe s/n: TB252 Reg: N752TB Price: US$2,500,000
1942 National Steel Car Corp. (Westland) Lysander 3A s/n: 1206 Reg: C-FVZZ Price: US$950,000
1941 Curtiss P-40E “Time Capsule - One owner since 1946” s/n: AK803 Reg: C-GHTM Price: US$1,895,000
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