Flt Sgt Copping's P-40 From The Egyptian Desert

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10 years 8 months

Posts: 31

P-40 Sahara desert

Hi Shay

According to the Pilot that flew with him the total flight time was supposed to be 35-40 mins so I suggest from LG009 in Egypt is more likely the departure point (remember both aircraft were damaged so normal cruise speed is extremely unlikely to be flown).

As stated earlier this pilot stayed with Coppings aircraft for a fair period of time before breaking away and making his way to LG100 on his own. He arrived after 1:30mins.

Hoping Washlee has the final bit of the story after the wingman broke away.

Roll on a serial number, so we can finally either relate the two stories we have at the moment together (Copping's Flight and an Unidentified P-40 found in the desert), or we can put a different name to the pilot, and maybe have some fun discussing a new scenario.

Buz

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20 years 4 months

Posts: 73

Some published details on the events of June 28, 1942

Flight Sergeant W.L. ‘Shep’ Sheppard's accounts: Some of our Victories

Chapter: Ops At Last, with 260

On 28th June, 1942 Flight Sergeant Copping and myself were detailed to take the two aircraft that had been shot up to the RSU at LG100, back on the Cairo-Alexandria road, and to collect two replacement aircraft. We were to fly the replacement aircraft to the squadron’s rear landing ground at LG085, before returning to the operational landing ground at LG09.

The aircraft I was flying had been badly damaged in the wings, having been shot up in a fight with the Hun that morning. The holes on the leading edge of the wings were now filled with sandbags and pasted over with canvas to give the aircraft some stability. Copping's aircraft had something or other wrong with it that could not be repaired on the Squadron, including the fact that the undercarriage could not be retracted, so off we went in the early afternoon. The flight was expected to be 30-40 minutes at the very most.

Copping was flight leader, having been the squadron very much longer than me, with me flying on the right wing. We had been in the air for about 20 minutes after taking off on a south westerly heading, and as Copping had made no attempt to turn eastwards, we were still heading south-west. I assumed he would though south after take off to avoid enemy aircraft or flying over enemy positions, because neither of us could use the guns, but having checked the course several times, I began to get worried. I broke radio silence but received no reply so I closed in on him and tried endeavored to signal the easterly direction. I tried all ways to get him to change course, signaling straight ahead and washing it out, pointed at the compass then the sun and my watch, but he did no budge. We must have been 30-35 minutes out and should be at the RSU, so surely he would realize we were off course but, no, he kept on with the original heading. At that point I had to make a decision. I was right and he was wrong, so I flew in close to him, waggled my wings and pointed eastwards. I turned under him and flew away, hoping he would follow. I returned and tried to attract his attention again, but he would not budge so I turned eastwards again on my own. I checked my compass by the sun and also set the gyro compass and held the course for some 30 to 35 minutes, but all I had seen up to then was sand, more sand and desert, and even more sand and desert. My courage was beginning to fail me a bit then, but I reasoned that by flying with the sun on my right and behind me, I had to be flying eastwards, and so I reset my course to the north east knowing that sooner of later I must come to the coast. One hoped sooner rather then later. Then I saw, to the south and away on my right, the Quattara Depression, and knew that I had done the right thing in breaking away and using my own judgment....

...Whilst writing this, I have remembered that reason I was able to fly away from Copping and then catch him up on the return was because of the fault on the undercarriage of his aircraft and he was flying with the undercarriage locked down.

I adjusted my course to the north and, shortly afterwards, saw the River Nile. I made another adjustment of course to that I hoped would be LG100/53 RSU. In actual fact, I hit the road taken 1hr and 50mins for the half hour trip! The first question asked was why there was only one aircraft when two should have arrived and hour ago.

I explained exactly what had happened and it was suggested that I wait and see if Copping turned up. I went for tea in the ops tent and met the doctor who, strange to relate, was from my home town. After and hour, it was decided that Copping was not going to show and must have used all his fuel, pranged somewhere in the desert. I was instructed to collect the new aircraft and fly to LG85, reporting to Base CO for further orders.

Arriving there, I found the Base CO was F/L Wilmot who had been my Flight Commander on joining the squadron. Once again, I had to go through exactly what happened and he thought it hilarious, saying Copping would enjoy that walk back. It was too late to fly up to the operation LG that night and there was always a spare tent and bed, so being keen and enthusiastic, I expected to rush off first thing next morning. However, later in the evening we received instructions to prepare for the reception of all the Squadron. We really were in retreat, and Copping was temporarily forgotten.

More later...

Note: this is what has been published about F/Sgt. Dennis Copping and his aircraft. The story is somewhat correct...

Lee

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10 years 7 months

Posts: 282

P40

Walshee,

RAFM museum have had Sheppard's account for a while but it does not really provide any additional proof. We knew the direction they started and that ET574 flew with her wheels were down.

I am in contact with the Sheppard family and have asked if the information in the book was based on info from a diary or was written from memory. The book came out 40 year after the fact.

It is possible Sheppard had to provide this info to 53RSU if they did a search. I hope to check the 53RSU records next weekend.

Sheppard's log book only has a one liner about the flight and provides no additional information.

260Sqn ORB only make mention to the take off and the wrong course.

The evidence is still compelling it is Copping's aircraft but still no proof :-(

regards

Mark

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9 years 11 months

Posts: 27

Flight Sergeant W.L. ‘Shep’ Sheppard's accounts: Some of our Victories

Chapter: Ops At Last, with 260

Snipped by moderation team as there was no need to quote the entire post. Think please

Fascinating account Lee, thanks for posting.

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9 years 6 months

Posts: 485

Nice of... whoever... to pinch the data plate, huh? :rolleyes:

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This thread has interested me enough to look up copies of both 'Kittyhawk Pilot' and 'Some of our Victories' however both seem very expensive.

Profile picture for user DC Page

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Is free too expensive? Kittyhawk Pilot by James "Stocky" Edwards is available on Amazon in digital format at no cost. All 4,481 pages of it.

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Is free too expensive? Kittyhawk Pilot by James "Stocky" Edwards is available on Amazon in digital format at no cost. All 4,481 pages of it.

DC

Maybe not this one but certainly Sheppard's book is hard to find and costs a fair bit when you do find it.

An Original copy of Kittyhawk Pilot is also starting to climb in price.

Buz

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Free is definitely not too expensive however I would like an actual real book, will look a bit more.
Paul

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Shepsair, Some time ago you discussed the additional Radio hatch locking plate, Dzus fastener and stencil. Another member posted that it would have been installed post factory at an RAF MU. I haven't noticed any further posts on this, so I just wanted to point out that this post factory mod was eventually incorporated into the production line. I'm not sure exactly when, but all the "N" models have triangular plates rivited to the fore and aft bottom corners of the hatch and a butterfly Dzus fastener which secures into holes provided in the fuse. These can be locked and unlocked without tools and are in addition to the original Hatch push in door latch.

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Thanks, and Welcome to the forums :D

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Nice of... whoever... to pinch the data plate, huh? :rolleyes:

Its not the dataplate, but was a plastic instruction plate. Probably fell off years ago.

Bruce

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10 years 7 months

Posts: 282

P40

43-2195

I heard it the the later P40's had a modified latch. I think this mod at the MU was very new - May 1942. The catch seems unpainted and rivets newer. Does not seem to be any photos in this ET range in ME.

It was altered due to some P40's being lost when the hatch came open in flight.

Nice little detail with the stencil as well.

regards

Mark

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20 years 4 months

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Am I the oly one not looking forward to the next youtube video?????????

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9 years 6 months

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Its not the dataplate, but was a plastic instruction plate. Probably fell off years ago.

Bruce

Are you sure, Bruce? The blank spot I was looking at was on the starboard coaning where the plate usually is and the fade mark looked rather fresh....

Profile picture for user shepsair

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10 years 7 months

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P40

Main data plate was on the starboard side towards the back of the longeron/canopy rail. Survived for a bit but not long.

The only reason the cockpit is/was relatively complete is they cannot open the canopy.

I am not sure if I want to see a 'current' video? :-(

Mark

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9 years 6 months

Posts: 485

Main data plate was on the starboard side towards the back of the longeron/canopy rail. Survived for a bit but not long.

The only reason the cockpit is/was relatively complete is they cannot open the canopy.

I am not sure if I want to see a 'current' video? :-(

Mark

No you probably shouldn't. They've prized and bent one of the cowlings away to get a better loot at the engine, then got into the cockpit by smashing out the quarter panels in the windshield and ripping the sun visors away then helped themselves to anything that looked shiny. Took a few pot shots at the bullet proof glass while they were at it, too. :(

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20 years 4 months

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sunvisors were already damaged before the canopy glass went..

Nice of... whoever... to pinch the data plate, huh? :rolleyes:

Whoever it was that has vandalised and taken items has probably not gotten over Howard Carter and all the others.....

Sad though it is to see, this is not Egyptian heritage and means diddly-squat (or less) to the locals in any historic sense. It is probably just a piece of junk which may have some scrap value, and they are not exactly well disposed to the Brits, either, so it is only to be expected.

All the more reason that someone should get it out of there as soon as possible rather than embarking upon a great deal of hand-wringing and meetings about metings to discuss its future.

Profile picture for user Beaufighter VI

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14 years 8 months

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Hopefully somebody with a brain will take his Dyson to the sand on the lower longeron and give us the construction number.