Luftwaffe rising

As Nazi Germany geared up for war, opportunities for the Allies to discover more about its military capabilities were grasped with both hands. Then assigned to the Air Ministry as an air intelligence officer, RAF pilot Sqn Ldr Cedric Williams was a fascinated observer in late 1938, flying around the country in a Percival Vega Gull and making two in-depth visits. Published for the first time, this is one of his reports

Messerschmitt Bf 109D-1s of I./JG 137 at Bernburg. When Williams first saw this airfield on 26 November 1938, he reported that the Bf 109s he saw there belonged to JG 137. In fact, at the start of that month, I. and II./JG 137 had become I. and II./JG 231 respectively.

In recalling his days on No 65 Squadron, fighter ace Bob Stanford-Tuck remembered being alarmed by the number of foreign military missions which were welcomed by the RAF. He went on to state that they were shown everything, particularly when a party led by Luftwaffe generals Erhard Milch and Ernst Udet visited RAF Hornchurch soon after No 65 Squadron had re-equipped with the Gloster Gladiator in late 1937. But this practice of taking a look at the ‘opposition’ was not a one-sided deal, as many British and Allied representatives took every chance to go to Hitler’s Germany.

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