BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

Read the forum code of contact

Profile picture for user Lazy8

Member for

9 years 2 months

Posts: 549

I've wondered about that statement for some time. I haven't unearthed anything in the archives that actually proves it (or disproves it for that matter). I suspect it's not entirely accurate. While BOAC were concerned about the number of different airframes in their inventory, a greater concern was the number of different engine types - aircraft such as the Lockheed family came with a variety of different engines depending on the original customer, and flying capacity was more important than elegant engineering.
My current take on the list is below. It plays fast and loose with the dates, including aircraft that they either would have known were coming, or had recently let go, and it ignores the statement that there were only three British types in the inventory, which is clearly untrue no matter how you play it.

Wellington
Warwick
Dakota
Sunderland
S.23
S.26
S.30
S.33
L.14
Hudson
L.18
Ensign
Mosquito
Whitley
LB.30
B.314
Catalina
Anson
Beech 18
Rapide
DH.86
CW.20
FW.200
Albatross
Oxford
Ju.52

As 'reserves' in that timeframe, one might also include the Dragon (all impressed by then, I think), Flamingo (impressed but coming back to BOAC), Lockheed 10 (recently out of use) and the Tiger Moth (used under BOAC/NAC control for army cooperation work, as were some of the Lockheeds and occasional others). After losing Jason in the invasion of Norway, the remaining Ju.52s sere seen as a liability, and were shipped out to Africa to be used by SABENA under BOAC contract.

Member for

10 years 9 months

Posts: 860

The table below is derived from research undertaken by Tony Doyle, who produced a set of BOAC fleet statistics from January 1943 onwards based on a manuscript volume at the Air Ministry. The original volume contained a note saying that a time lag in getting these statistics might have resulted in some inaccuracy.

A few notes on the table:-

1. It is from the end of January 1943 and shows the number of aircraft by type ('L' is for landplanes and 'S' for the flying boats)
2. The aircraft types shown in italics are those for which stats appear on later dates but not in January 1943
3. I have shown the aircraft types listed for January 1943 IN BOLD and then added the numbering at the start of each line (the rest is Tony's work).
4. 'Handley Page' and 'Halifax' are on separate lines in the original, as shown here (but seethe next note - Note 5).
5. It seems that where 'Dakota' and 'Lodestar' appear twice, this is because training aircraft are listed separately from what I might call 'service' aircraft, even if they are the same 'aircraft type' (this may apply to the separate lines to which I refer in Note 4 above}.
6. No Dakota of any kind is shown in January 1943 but 'Dakota' appears in the tabulation from February 1943 onwards. The other marks of Dakota do not appear until 1945.
7. Bearing in mind previous discussions in this thread, I should point out that the four Wellingtons appear in the table up to the end of July 1943. There are no statistics for August and September 1943 and the Wellingtons are not listed when the statistics resume in October 1943.
8. The training aircraft in the list below are the Oxfords and the Beechcraft.

BOAC FLEET @ 27 Jan 1943

1. Airspeed Oxford............................ L 4
2. AW Ensign.......................................L 9

3. AW Whitley V ..................................L 7
Avro Anson
Avro York
4 . Beechcraft AT7 .............................L 1
5. Consolidated Liberator I............... L 5
6. Consolidated Liberator II.............. L 8
7. Consolidated Liberator III............. L 2
8. Curtiss Wright CW 20 ....................L 1
9. DH Frobisher ..................................L 3
10. DH Flamingo................................. L 6
11. DH Mosquito .................................L 1
DH89 Dominie
Douglas Dakota
Douglas Dakota I
Douglas Dakota I
Douglas Dakota III
Douglas Dakota IV
Handley Page
Halifax
12. Lockheed 10A ...............................L 2
13. Lockheed 14 .................................L 2
14. Lockheed 18 Lodestar................. L 25
Lockheed 18 Lodestar
Lockheed Hudson II
15. Lockheed Hudson III..................... L 2
16. Lockheed Hudson VI.................... L 9
17. Vickers Armstrong Wellington .... L 4

18. Boeing 314A .................................S 3
19. Consolidated Guba ......................S 1
20. Consolidated Catalina................. S 3
21. Short G Class ...............................S 1
22. Short S23 ......................................S 10
23. Short S30 ......................................S 2
24. Short S33 ......................................S 1
25. Short Sunderland ........................S 4
Short Sunderland

The end result is pretty close to the 26 figure quoted in the article to which I referred in Post # 363

Member for

12 years 6 months

Posts: 957

I've never seen any reference to Halifaxes per se in BOAC. I suspect the 1943 reference will be to surviving HP42/45s, and a postwar reference to the Haltons. It is possible that some civil Halifaxes were made available postwar for crew training in advance of the delivery of the Haltons.

Member for

10 years 9 months

Posts: 860

The "Handley Page" / "Halifax" references certainly present a conundrum, Graham. I hope I haven't misled you in the layout of the chart. The italicised aircraft types were not on BOAC's books in January 1943 but in later months covered by Tony Doyle's research. I'll come on to this a liile later, as I have been doing a bit of digging.

Meanwhile, at the outbreak of war, the former Imperial Airways HP42/45s (or some of them, anyway) were used in Northern France,as i recall, but were no longer in use by the end of 1940. Whether any of them were ever given camouflage markings is something I don't know off-hand.

Returning now to the chart, Tony Doyle reported '1' in the "Handley Page" category and '2' in the "Halifax" category but at the end of 1945 not the beginning of 1943. I suspect that Tony Doyle's original chart was mis-typed or something and these three were the Halifax aircraft (PP325, 326 and 327) that Peter Moss wrote were provided to BOAC and flown to Whitchurch in late-September 1945 Combining information from both gentlemen, this appears to be the situation. Apparently, though Whitchurch was their listed base, it was not really suitable for them, so they were temporarily hangared at Weston-Super-Mare before transferring to Hurn, from where they flew freight on the Accra route in October and November 1945, supplementing the Dakotas which could then carry more passengers.. The first of the three was written off the following year and the other two got civilian registrations by September 1946 (G-AIAS and G-AIAR respectively). Both were later returned to the RAF but subsequently reappeared .on the civil register with other owners.

BOAC had other Halifax aircraft, too. For example, I attach the registration certificate for G-AHYH. BOAC is shown as the first owner but this wasn't until 1946. Moreover, there is a note on the document that it actually operated under RAF markings, presumably as PP261. As far as I can establish, this particular aircraft was on loan from the RAF for training purposes, perhaps in connection with the arrival of the Haltons on to the fleet list, as you suggest, Graham.

Attachments

Member for

12 years 6 months

Posts: 957

Thanks Ian. I have seen at least one photo of an HP42 in camouflage. I hadn't realised that they stopped being used in 1940, I was under the impression at at least one was still in use in Africa after this.

Profile picture for user Lazy8

Member for

9 years 2 months

Posts: 549

HP.42s

'Handley Pages' in this time frame are most certainly HP.42s Unlike most of, if not all the rest of the combined Imperial / British Airways fleet, it seems the HP's were not camouflaged by Imperial / NAC when the war started, but remained silver until the RAF got hold of them. Part of this will be because several were in India when the war started, and so missed out on the initial rush to camouflage, and partly because they had small entry doors and so were less use than Imperial's other large aircraft for carrying the RAF to France, so it wasn't necessary. Some were used in the first few months of the war around North Africa, the Middle East, and India, others in the UK.

G-AAXE Hengist was destroyed by fire at Karachi on 31 May 1937.
G-AAXD Horatius was destroyed in a force landing on Tiverton Golf Course on 7 November 1939.

G-AAGX Hannibal disappeared between Jiwani ans Sharjah on 1 March 1940. There's a lot published about this, including several conspiracy theories; it's a good 'disappearance' story, even including a garbled radio message, and no wreckage or other trace has ever been found. It seems likely the aircraft went into the sea somewhere not too far from Jask. As a result the remaining aircraft were withdrawn to the UK, and 'requisitioned' by the RAF on 3 March. Even Peter Morris in his Impressments Log says "requisitioned" not "impressed", but nowhere have I found what the difference was, nor why they were different. They did initially go into RAF service wearing their civil registrations, but were far from unusual in that. Impressment, in this case a paper exercise, happened on 31 May, with reality catching up a few days later. The military serials were not painted on until the latter part of July, and if they weren't camouflaged by then, they certainly were afterwards.

G-AAUD Hanno and G-AAXC Heracles were blown together by a gale at Whitchurch on 19 March 1940 and written off.
G-AAUC Horsa was released to the 271 Sqn RAF at Doncaster on 31 May as AS981. It was destroyed in an over-weight force landing on Dissington Moor on 7 August 1940 after both starboard engines failed.
G-AAUE Hadrian was released to the 271 Sqn RAF at Doncaster on 4 June as AS982 and was destroyed in a gale there on 6 December 1940.
G-AAXF Helena was released to 24 Sqn RAF at Hendon on 8 June as AS983, but appears to have been damaged almost immediately and required Hadrian to be detached to Hendon to fill in until it was repaired and ready for use on 22nd. Helena was almost written off in a heavy landing at Donibristle on 1 August 1940. She appears to have been repaired during October, but seems not to have flown usefully again. She was dismantled in August 1941 and used as a squadron office by the resident Royal Navy flying units.

Member for

10 years 9 months

Posts: 860

I too suspect the camouflaged HP42 that Graham mentions was in RAF service at the time the photo was taken, as lazy 8 suggests.

My understanding is that, when the order came for the HP42Es to return to the UK, G-AAGX happened to be in India, so had to return to the Cairo base first and, whilst en route, went down, in the way that lazy 8 describes.

The other two (G-AAUC and G-AAUE) were in Cairo, I believe. They made their way back in silver finish but with some addition to the markings to meet the requirements of the French authorities. Though the latter were requisitioned/impressed on the dates stated, their civil registrations were not discontinued until 7 and 25 July 1940 and it was only then that their military serial numbers (AS981 and AS982) were applied.

In respect of the demise of G-AAUC, it was carrying ammunition to Stornoway when both starboard engines failed a mile north-east of Whitehaven and it force-landed on rough ground, whereupon the undercarriage collapsed and the lower engine on the port side caught fire. The crew got out before the aircraft exploded. I've seen the location also given as Moresby but, since both Moresby and Distington (that's the right spelling, I'm pretty sure, as I lived in north Cumbria for 25 years) are on the right orientation and roughly the right distance from Whitehaven, it'll be the same location.. The payload for an HP42E was supposed to be 7000lbs and 'AUC was reportedly carrying 3000 lbs of ammunition - was it really overweight? But then, two of the four engines had failed and both on the same side, too.

G-AAUE also suffered engine failure during its RAF service but just one engine and with less disastrous results. Following a force-landing, it was able to return to Doncaster on three engines.

Profile picture for user longshot

Member for

12 years 10 months

Posts: 1,706

There was an airlift of munitions from the Gloster factory at Brockworth (presumably just before France fell)...the photo shows 1x Scylla class, 1x Ensign and 2xHP.42 all camouflaged with civil registrations. [ATTACH=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","data-attachmentid":3865044}[/ATTACH]

Attachments
Profile picture for user Lazy8

Member for

9 years 2 months

Posts: 549

Interesting photo, Longshot. I've not seen that before.
The BOAC War Diary records that Heracles, Horatius, Hanno, Scylla and Syrinx were all based at Brockworth from 6 November 1939 for carrying loads to France. Horatius didn't survive the first such trip, so presumably the photo was taken after the 7th, when perhaps an Ensign was drafted as a replacement. The replacement was initially suggested to be four DH.86s, but these were neither suitable nor available, and the presence of an Ensign in the photo (otherwise unrecorded) suggests they didn't go to Brockworth.
Scylla and Syrinx were back at Croydon by 15th, when they left for France in support of the deployment of 607 and 615 Squadrons - IIRC there was a thread on this forum about that some years back, including a picture of one of them as at Brockworth, but with 'targets' as well.
Of these three HP.42s, there is only mention of camouflage for Hanno, but much earlier (9-11 September, when it was also due to visit Brockworth) and there was apparently a flurry of signals questioning whether camouflage was actually applied (this went unanswered, unfortunately). Digging a bit deeper, there is an implication that Hanno, and possibly other HP.42s, may have been camouflaged by the RAF upon their arrival in France, whereas the bulk of the rest of the NAC landplane fleet was camouflaged by their operators in the UK.

Member for

10 years 9 months

Posts: 860

Been away from a PC for a few days.

Terrific photo, longshot. I just love the bikes and the kids surveying the scene, innocently excited. Apart from G-ACJJ "Scylla", is it possible to identify the individual aircraft?

The webpage the photo came from was really interesting, too, nd the additional information from lazy8 was very informative, too. Great stuff.

The support to the BEF in France and the other aviation activities in continental Europe in that period predated the establishment of BOAC as a legal entity. Who would that make the owner(s)?

I found an image of another HP42 in camouflage but there was no other information identifying the date or place. The "G" is hidden by the RAF roundel, the "AAU" bit of its civil registration is still visible under the lighter shade of camouflage paint but the final letter is obscured. Does anyone know which aircraft it is?

Attachments
Profile picture for user longshot

Member for

12 years 10 months

Posts: 1,706

Presumably the remaining two HP42s were Heracles and Hanno? Various photos of the evacuated fleet at Whitchurch when war broke out
[ATTACH=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","data-tempid":"temp_262601_1560464279927_718"}[/ATTACH]​ [ATTACH=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","data-tempid":"temp_262602_1560464113425_513"}[/ATTACH]​ [ATTACH=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","data-tempid":"temp_262603_1560464120879_143"}[/ATTACH]

Profile picture for user longshot

Member for

12 years 10 months

Posts: 1,706

In previous top pic from PDF of Dacre Watson's RAeS talk, bottom two from Putnam Aeronautical Review 'Westwards to Whitchurch by Hugh Yeo.
The Sutton Libraries book on Croydon and the Battle of Britain has some shots of the Imperial and BA Ltd 'Armada' setting off for France[ATTACH=JSON]{"alt":"Click image for larger version Name:\tcroy45a.jpg Views:\t0 Size:\t161.4 KB ID:\t3865238","data-align":"none","data-attachmentid":"3865238","data-size":"full"}[/ATTACH][ATTACH=JSON]{"alt":"Click image for larger version Name:\tcroy44a.jpg Views:\t0 Size:\t111.8 KB ID:\t3865239","data-align":"none","data-attachmentid":"3865239","data-size":"full"}[/ATTACH][ATTACH=JSON]{"alt":"Click image for larger version Name:\tcroy40a.jpg Views:\t0 Size:\t208.8 KB ID:\t3865240","data-align":"none","data-attachmentid":"3865240","data-size":"full"}[/ATTACH]

Attachments
Profile picture for user Lazy8

Member for

9 years 2 months

Posts: 549

Ref post #376: I'm pretty sure that there were only two HP.42 with that high demarcation between upper and lower (camouflage on top, probably yellow below). Imperial hated the bright colours, so it's highly likely that the paint was applied by the RAF. G-AAXF Helena was certainly one of them. I found a copy of the photo in the post online somewhere captioned as G-AAUD (Hanno), which is not implausible, but doesn't fit with the lower demarcation in the photo of the two HP.42s at Brockworth - unless the photo was taken on 6th November and Hanno is not one of the two HPs in shot. Not implausible either that the aircraft was camouflaged more than once, as I've said before, but the HP.42 was such a complicated shape that I'm sure they'd have tried very hard to repaint it as few times as possible.

Member for

10 years 9 months

Posts: 860

Again, some great photos, longshot, that I don't recall seeing before. They seem to have been taken on the same day some time in the autumn of 1939 but I wonder on what date.

There are various Gladiators around and they carry the "AF" code of 607 Squadron. Some time in November 1939, the squadron transferred from RAF Acklington in Northumberland (now the site of a prison and young offenders institution) to Merville in Northern France (close to the D-Day beaches and where a static invasion-striped Dakota is on display, I believe). I would conclude that the photos were taken some time in November 1939

Does this seem a reasonable conclusion? How does this fit with the other aircraft seen in the photos?

I seem to recall that, in September 1939, various Imperial Airways and British Airways Limited aircraft, having been dispersed to Whitchurch, were speedily and rather haphazardly given a camouflage makeover. The colours were not the standard ones. If there were standard camouflage patterns, they weren't used. It was an 'all-hands-to-the brush' situation. The Ensigns in the three photographs, for example, seem to lack the red,white and blue banner under the fuselage registration marks. Would this be consistent with a photograph taken in November 1939?

The BAL Fokker XII (G-AEOS) that appears in two of the photographs (and perhaps, more distantly, in the third) does not appear to have been camouflaged at all. Maybe, if it was not to be used in France, it was not on the priority list. I attach an earlier photograph of it in BAL days and its colours seem unchanged. Again, would this be consistent with a photograph taken in November 1939?

Attachments
Profile picture for user Lazy8

Member for

9 years 2 months

Posts: 549

607 and 615 Squadrons flew from RAF Croydon to France on 15 November 1939. They were supported by 4 Ensigns, 4 DH.86s, both L.17s, a Magister, an Avro Ten (G-AASP) and a Fokker XII (G-AEOS). At the time, 45 aircraft flying together was believed to be highly unusual, and perhaps even a record.

The tricolour stripes below the registration has a complicated history. It was not an international standard prewar. The standard was to paint your airliner orange all over with the name of your country as large as you could manage. Imperial Airways flatly refused to do this, and British Airways Ltd were far from keen. Their creation, National Air Communications, followed suit. However, following a number of incidents where Imperial aircraft over France, particularly C-Class flying boats, were 'buzzed' by French fighters during September 1939, a solution was thought necessary. It seems that the original idea may have come from a Capt Birouard, Commandant of the flying facilities at Marseilles, who suggested tricolour stripes (it's not clear where they were to be applied) on the morning of 22 September. By the afternoon the French Air Ministry had adopted the stripes, to cover the elevators and rudder, and were insisting on full national flags below the wingtips. Then it all gets a bit silly. Apparently for no better reason than that a "subordinate offical" had the original idea, NAC refuse to paint aircraft bound for France, and furthermore issue urgent instructions that may have actually stopped people who had paintbrushes in their hands from painting an aircraft at Marseilles (possibly C-Class Cooee). The two parties snipe at each other on the subject but do nothing. By October 10 the French are insisting on stripes on elevators and rudder, and flags above and below the wingtips, and NAC are still refusing to do it. Around about then "higher authority" seems to have noticed that all this nonsense is going on, and on 14 October NAC are instructed to adopt Capt Birouard's original idea - on elevators and rudder - and ignore the French Air Ministry. Whilst several aircraft were painted that way, the underlining stripes seem to have come along without further specific instructions shortly thereafter, and there were several 'hybrid' individual schemes over the winter of 39-40; universal adoption was not quick. In that regard it is notable that some if not all LOT aircraft escaping from Poland in late September and early October had red and white underlining stripes. That probably predates any British application.

Member for

10 years 9 months

Posts: 860

Thanks for the information, lazy8. A quick on-line search shows that 615 Squadron had been based pre-war at Old Sarum, during which time its Gauntlets were replaced by Gladiators. Then, in September 1939, it transferred briefly to Kenley (an old base for the squadron) and next, quickly on to Croydon.

Perhaps 607 Squadron staged through Whitchurch to link up with the various support aircraft that you mention, lazy8. Then this group flew to Croydon, where they joined up with 615 Squadron before the mini-armada (2 squadrons of Gladiators and those support aircraft) flew off to Merville.on 16 November 1939. It must have been quite a sight. I think the surviving Gladiators were abandoned in France.

If this idea is correct, then the photos posted by longshot were likely taken at Whitchurch just before mid-November 1939.

Many thanks, lazy8, for the information on the history of the tricolour underlining of the BOAC civil registrations. It was very useful but I would make two points. These were not truly neutrality markings, in that they came in after war had been declared and were borne by aircraft of one of the parties to the conflict. Also, the overall orange neutrality paint scheme, with the country name in large letters, was first applied by KLM after one of DC-3s had been attacked on 26 October 1939. B

Profile picture for user longshot

Member for

12 years 10 months

Posts: 1,706

The photos including the Gladiators were taken at Croydon, by a Leslie Penfold, I believe. I don't think of any of the countries which used orange 'neutrality' paint took the first step in combat..weren't they always the victim of invasion? I presume the red-white-blue stripes were supposed to be in opposite order British vs French?

Member for

10 years 9 months

Posts: 860

Oops. My mistake. I hadn't realised that those three photos were not taken at Whitchurch. Thanks for getting me back on track, longshot.

On the subject of the orange-overall neutrality colours, my understanding is that KLM started this practice prior to being invaded in May 1940 and following the incident in late October 1939, which I mentioned before. One of its DC-3s had been shot at and hit while over the North Sea. The pilot landed the aircraft safely at Schipol but one passenger, a Swede, died as a result. KLM decided to paint its aircraft orange and suggested that the airlines of other neutral countries do the same. I've not seen it mentioned before in this context but orange, as well as being a colour that stands out, is also the national colour of Holland, so might be regarded as appropriate for KLM.

Anyway, Belgium and Sweden followed the Dutch example and adopted the overall-orange paint scheme for their aircraft.

Even prior to this, however, ABA of Sweden had applied, what might be called, the original neutrality markings. From at least May 1939 onwards, their aircraft, still bare metal, had 'SWEDEN' or 'SCHWEDEN' painted on their undersides. At the outbreak of war, ABA then adopted what might be called an interim neutrality paint scheme. The aircraft remained in bare metal but 'SWEDEN' was painted in large letters along the fuselage above the line of passenger windows and a large Swedish flag was painted both on the tail and above and below the outer wings. The colours of the Swedish flag were also painted on the nose.

Then came the overall orange scheme which, as I mentioned before, is usually ascribed to KLM. There is, however, an anomaly in the dates that I have read in different sources. One stated that the attack on the KLM DC-3 that prompted the adoption of the orange paint scheme took place on 26 October 1939 while another says that, on 25 October 1939, ABA advised the Air Ministry that its aircraft would be painted orange like the KLM planes. If anyone can resolve this difference, I would be pleased to hear.

Meanwhile, DDL in Denmark did not at first accept KLM's suggestion to paint its aircraft orange overall and adopted a scheme that was rather like the interim Swedish one. This seems to have been used in November and December 1939 and the overall-orange scheme was only applied around January 1940.

The above is my understanding of the sequence of events and I would welcome any corrections or supplementary information.

Profile picture for user longshot

Member for

12 years 10 months

Posts: 1,706

[ATTACH=JSON]{"alt":"Click image for larger version Name:\tDDL_Fw-200_OY-DAM-in-neutra.jpg Views:\t0 Size:\t990.0 KB ID:\t3865390","data-align":"none","data-attachmentid":"3865390","data-size":"full"}[/ATTACH][ATTACH=JSON]{"alt":"Click image for larger version Name:\tEI-ACA800a.jpg Views:\t0 Size:\t51.6 KB ID:\t3865391","data-align":"none","data-attachmentid":"3865391","data-size":"full"}[/ATTACH]

I would think that the Imperial/B.A. Ltd 'Armada' p ositioned into Croydon from Whitchurch, Ian. There is of course the famous shot of DDL, Sabena and KLM typestogether in orange overall (at Schiphol, perhaps...boy I'd like to get a decent scan or print of that!). And Aer Lingus' sole DC-3 EI-ACA was delivered through Shoreham in overall orange in 1940. And from a slightly faded Dutch slide https://www.flickr.com/photos/827078...30568/sizes/l/

Attachments