BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

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Ian In the Peter Berry Prestwick book there is a 17MAY42 photo of another TWA /ATC Boeing 307 'Zuni' N19907 credited IWM ref CH.17433 but I can't find it in the excellent IWM online collection

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[1] Further to Post # 323 above, the arrival date of the Stratoliner NC19908 / N-19908 'Apache', the first of its type to come into Britain, is given as 20 April 1942 in two other sources The 18 April 1942 date came from a caption to a photograph of 'Apache' in a book on Prestwick Airport by Peter Berry, who seems to have based his information on a WWII log that is presented rather confusingly.at that particular point.

[2] The log is also only a partial record of comings and goings at Prestwick. For example, it does not note the arrival of Stratoliner 'Zuni' on 17 May 1942, to which longshot refers in the preceding post.

[3] If you refer to the photograph of Stratoliner 'Apache' in the link provided by longshot [iin Post # 322] it has the numeral '4' on the nose just below 'Apache'. It does not bear any relation to the U.S. military serial number allocated to ';Apache' [42-88626], its manufacturer's construction number [c/n 2000] or its the TWA fleet number [403], Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

[4] I attach a photograph of another TWA Stratoliner,[NC19907 'Zuni'] back in TWA's own colours - down to bare metal and devoid of its 'warpaint' - yet it still bears its military serial number [42-88625 or, rather, 288625]. Can anyone explain this?

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To illustrate the question posed in Point [4] above, please view the image below which shows the nose markings of four of the five TWA Stratoliners taken into military service during WWII. They are 'Navajo', 'Cherokee', 'Commanche' and 'Apache'.. The 'missing' one is "Zuni", which is presumably No. 5 but for which I could find no image showing its nose.

I guess that these are code numbers allocated by the Air Force but would welcome any further (more authoritative?) suggestions.

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Here's a better-focused shot of the nose of TWA-USAAF Stratoliner 'Navajo', the numeral '1' being clearer.

You may notice the 'line' between the camouflage paint on the upper surfaces and the lower surfaces has changed.

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The image of the nose of 'Navajo' in the previous post was taken from what appeared to be a publicity photograph. In trying to establish when it was taken, I found it in an American newspaper published on 17 March 1942., which was interesting because R.E.G. Davies gave a much later date for it acquiring military markings.. In his book on 'TWA - An Airline and its Aircraft', he wrote that it was bought from TWA by the USAAF on 17 December 1942, long after the transfer of the other four TWA Stratoliners. This would appear to be an error and it seems more likely that the date was 17 March 1942 rather than 17 December 1942.

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I know nothing about TWA's operation of the 307s, but in my experience Ron Davies didn't make silly mistakes. Is it possible that Navajo was initially loaned to TWA, when their operation of it was a success the other aircraft were transferred, and the different status of the first aircraft was 'resolved' at a later date?

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THe Archivist at the Croydon Airport Society once mentioned that there was talk of extending the TWA/ATC Stratoliner flights beyond Prestwick to Croydon...no idea of when in WWII or who's idea it was and I don't think it happened.

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Adrian, I have no doubt that R E G Davies had a source for that date but I can only report on what I have found.

The US War Department announced on 26 January 1942 that TWA had "turned over to the army its fleet of five Boeing stratoliners". The Associated Press news agency carried the story on its wire service and I have found short articles in two U.S. newspapers published the following day and credited to AP.. The photo of 'Navajo' (to which i referred before and which I now attach) was published in a different U.S. newspaper on 22 March 1942 and shows it with its military paint job. Therefore, the change took place on some date between late January 1942 and mid-March 1942.

The changes were not just cosmetic, however. The initial War Department/AP story had explained that the aircraft would be stripped of their 'luxurious fittings' to increase their load-carrying capacity and to extend operational range. In fact, to save weight and achieve the latter, the pressurisation equipment (unique for airliners at that time I believe) was removed. Clearly, if this were done to 'Navajo' in the period I've indicated, it could not have been flown by TWA on commercial services later in 1942.

On 11 April 1942, AP reported that, in the period since the five Stratoliners were 'turned over' in January, a further 25 airliners had similarly been ceded to the Army by other airlines. No details were given.

I would be interested to learn the source of the date given in the Davies book.

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I have no special knowledge, expertise or experience here, nor do I wish to undermine anyone else's contributions. This is very much a learning process for me and I would be pleased if going through this process adds to the body of knowledge on the subject.

Further to my previous post, the attached image is from the March 1942 edition of a TWA staff publication. The caption states that the photograph was taken on the day of the inaugural flight of a TWA Stratoliner in military service.

An article in the same issue says that the last TWA Stratoliner used on a commercial flight landed at 'LG' (La Guardia, presumably) on the evening of 14 March 1942 and that the transfer of Stratoliners to the U.S. Army "was near completion". This strongly suggests that all five Stratoliners were handed to over the Army by the end of March 1942.

The article goes on to say that, "in the meantime, the first Stratoliner had taken off with its TWA crew for foreign fronts" and goes on to say that the inaugural flight was seen off by "Civil Aeronautics Board members, TWA officials and other dignitaries", which must be the scene in the attached photo.

The article also lists, by name, the "crew members on the epochal opening flight of the foreign courier service". They are exactly the same people as in the photograph in the previous post (Post # 333) It is therefore my contention that the two photographs were taken on the same day and that, moreover, 'Navajo' was the aircraft that made the inaugural flight in March 1942.

On this basis (and bearing in mind what I have posted previously), I find it difficult to accept that 'Navajo' was bought from TWA by the U.S. Army as late as December 1942, as stated by R E G Davies.

That said, he would not have plucked that date out of thin air. There must have been some basis for his using it and I would very much like to learn what that was.

Meanwhile, comments and criticism always welcome.

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I should have added that,the logo to the aft of the roundel, shown in the photo in the previous post) is the insignia of the ACFC (Air Corps Ferrying Command) "for whom the newly created Intercontinental Division of TWA is operating under contract". Its motto can apparently be translated as "from west to east with greatest possible speed"

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The attached report, which is is from a TWA newsletter of June 1944, gives the start date of the company's contract with the Army as 26 February 1942.

In point of fact, the advertisement to which the article refers, which appeared in various American newspapers at the end of May and beginning of June 1944) clearly states that 26 February 1942 was the date of the first flight under that contract.

From the preceding few posts, there are, at the least, indications that 'Navajo' was the aircraft that made that flight.

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And, if 'Navajo' was the first of the TWA Stratoliners to fly in USAAF service, I guess it makes some kind of sense that it would be No.1 in the numerical sequence, as covered in earlier posts.

But this is where it gets really intriguing. The advertisement mentioned in the previous post, says that first TWA-USAAF flight, on 26 February 1942, was 'across the Atlantic' but it also says that " ... the first TWA Stratoliner winged its way from Washington to Africa on February 27, 1942" If this second TWA-USAAF flight was across the South Atlantic on 27 February, then it follows the first TWA-USAAF flight, the day before, must have been across the North Atlantic.

As the first Stratoliner reported at Prestwick ('Apache' not 'Navajo') arrived in April 1942, where exactly on this side of the ocean did the first TWA-USAAF flight land?

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I recently came across an article about the various international conferences and meetings held in 1942 that involved the participants travelling by air. The Liberator flights were included, as one would expect, but there was also a couple of references to Stratoliners:

[1] "April 8 : President Roosevelt's close adviser Harry Hopkins and US Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall flew to London using a Boeing 307 Stratoliners and a Boeing 314 Clipper"

[2]."July 18 : Hopkins, Marshall and American Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest King flew to London aboard a Boeing Stratoliner"

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Stratoliner NC19908 was noted arriving at Prestwick from Gander on 17 July 1942 with "Gen Marshall" on board but there was no reference to the other two gentlemen. NC19908 left Prestwick late on 18 July and flew back to Gander overnight. Whether it had flown Marshall and/or the others down to London before returning is unclear. Another Stratoliner, NC19907, arrived at Prestwick from Gander on 18 July..

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Some better quality photo's.
Boeing C-75 Stratoliner Navajo on the ground eight unidentified TWA crewmen in uniform pose standing in a line in front location unknown.
https://oi262.photobucket.com/albums/ii120/Duggy009/Boeing%20307/Boeing%20C-75%20Stratoliner%20Navajo%20on%20the%20ground%20eight%20unidentified%20TWA%20crewmen%20in%20uniform%20pose%20standing%20in%20a%20line%20in%20front%20location%20unknown..jpg
Boeing Type 307 Stratoliner C-75 "Cherokee".
https://oi262.photobucket.com/albums/ii120/Duggy009/Boeing%20307/Boeing%20Type%20307%20Stratoliner%20C-75.jpg
Boeing Type 307 Stratoliner C-75 "Comanche.".
https://oi262.photobucket.com/albums/ii120/Duggy009/Boeing%20307/Boeing%20Type%20307%20Stratoliner%20C-75-Comanche.jpg

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Thanks, Duggy, great to see.

I had found the first one (not such good quality) in an old issue of a Detroit newspaper from a date in March 1942. As you can see, the caption names the crew and they match those in the photo I attached to Post # 334.

There seems to be no obvious reason why a Detroit newspaper should carry the photo, complete the crew names, unless TWA issued a press release with the photo and those details. It might be worth exploring.

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Other matters have taken over my time of late and are likely to do so for the coming week and maybe longer. Meanwhile, here is a link to a TWA film entitled WINGED HORIZONS, made in 1941 and featuring the TWA Stratoliners.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70oAmj_6hlk

At the start of the film, NC19908 is shown at La Guardia and, in case anyone should think that i have forgotten the transatlantic Liberators, there is one in the foreground, as NC19908 takes off. I attach a still from that sequence in the film

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Excellent stuff!!...colour film, too...loved the sequence of the Stratoliner flying through the Grand Canyon. I wonder how often the BOAC/RFS Liberators went on to the USA from Canada?

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The attached article was published in November 1943 and is an overview of the first year of U.S. Air Transport Command's operations. It reads as though written by a press officer but has some interesting statistics. It also mentions in passing some of the aircraft types that have come up in this thread.

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A TWA newspaper advert from late 1940:-

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