BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

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Re. British camouflage and nationality stripes during the BEF's presence in France there is a colour still from an amateur film ...not sharp but invaluable for modellers[ATTACH=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","data-attachmentid":3865395}[/ATTACH]

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The following is what I can gather about the FW-200 Condor OY-DAM shown at Schipol in the photograph presented by longshot in Post # 385.

OY-DAM flew the DDL service from Copenhagen via Amsterdam to London (or, rather, to Shoreham) from 13 November 1939 to 3 January 1940. It was a daily service (into Shoreham one day, back to Copenhagen the next, returning to Shoreham on the day after that, and so on) but whether it made every one of those flights is not clear. The dates that are known, however, do fit that pattern. As far as I can gather, it bore what DDL called nationality markings, as shown in the attached image.

On 4 January 1940, the London service was taken over by its sister ship, OY-DEM, so that OY-DAM could undergo a 1300-hours overhaul. Its heating system was also modified to bring into line with that on OY-DEM. The overhaul of OY-DAM was completed on 7 February 1940. It is believed that it was, during this overhaul, that OY-DAM was repainted in the overall-orange neutrality scheme.

The weather in Europe was dreadful in Europe from the end of January 1940 to the beginning of March 1940. There was heavy snow and lots of ice. Shoreham was closed for operational flying for much of this period. Even when there was respite, the airfield became too waterlogged for much flying. The weather in Denmark was also dire, so bad that many of the regular shipping/ferry services could not operate. DDL stepped up its internal air services to take over some of their supply/communications functions. The two Condors were drafted in to take part in these activities.

DDL's London service restarted at the beginning of March, using OY-DAM. Though sources seem to differ as to the precise date, the outbound flight from Copenhagen could well have been on 1 March 1940. There is also slightly contradictory information as to the regularity of this service in March 1940 and into the beginning of April 1940. What is well documented is that OY-DAM had arrived at Shoreham on 8 April 1940 for its standard stay overnight, during which German forces had invaded Denmark. Denmark then became occupied territory and OY-DAM was impounded by the British authorities.

The photograph posted by longshot was most likely taken in March 1940 - or possibly very early in April 1940.

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Here's an image of what I assume to be one of DDL's Condors (not a Lufthansa one) in the winter of 1940, as passengers go out to board , walking past piled-up snow. The photo was most likely taken at Kastrup but, unfortunately, the quality is rather poor.

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OY-DAM taken summer of 39 at Kastrup.
https://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii120/Duggy009/Duggy009-1/FW-200%20Kastrup%201939.jpg

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Nice photo, duggy, and new to me.

On the right is the 'old' terminal building at Kastrup with the 'new' terminal building under construction on the left.. A photo of OY-DEM being delivered on 15 November 1938 shows the 'new' terminal building finished or perhaps still under construction. If the latter, it is quite a bit further on in the process - the highest section is now glazed, for example.. The 'old' building looks a little different in the OY-DEM photo but the 'tower' on the top is a bit of a giveaway, as is the chimney on the end of the building. This suggests to me that the date of the photograph is mid-1938 rather than 1939.

I attach a copy of that OY-DEM delivery day photo.

The line of people at the bottom of the photo, all turning to look at OY-DAM flying over, suggests a special occasion of some kind - perhaps the delivery day for OY-DAM, 14 July 1938

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Though HP42s have featured recently in this thread, the attached image shows nothing about the camouflaging of these aircraft. It does, however, show an HP42 from an unusual angle - namely, seen from above. I trust you will forgive my posting it here.

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A short while back, there was discussion as to the BOAC fleet numbers in or around January 1943. The attached list shows the BOAC fleet a couple of years later, In March 1945.

Though the details related to March, they were published shortly before VE Day (8 May 1945). So, just a few weeks later,, it would be revealed publicly that the BASE shown as "L-------" in the listing was in fact Leuchars. These were the aircraft engaged on the Stockholm Run.

The list shows 168 aircraft, of which 142 were regarded as 'first-line'and the remaining 26 as 'training types'. This division is not shown clearly in the list, however. Only the 11 Oxfords, the single AT-7 and the single Catalina are actually marked as training aircraft,. We might perhaps add the Anson (based in South Africa) and the "military-serialled" Hudson (based in Montreal) and maybe the two Sunderlands with military serials but I'm not sure. Even then, the total would well below 26 training aircraft; so, presumably, some of the 'airliner-types" were actually used for training purposes.

The accompanying article says that the Warwick was operated by the Corporation's Development Flight "for research work".

Of the grand total of 168, 73 were British-built and 95 were American-built. In terms of "first-line" services, a somewhat different picture emerges, since most of the aircraft types acknowledged as being used for training purposes were British-built. The balance of aircraft between British-built and American-built is much influenced by the presence of 57 Dakotas in the list, roughly one-third of the overall total.

There is no reference to the KLM aircraft that BOAC leased, nor to the Lodestars owned by the Norwegian Government.

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Enjoying this thread and hope a few photos will be of interest.

G-AAUE/AS982 on the railway line at Doncaster, 7 December 1940:

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G-AAXF/AS983 at Donibristle after being converted into an office:

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Supposedly this is G-AAUD (not impressed) at Le Mans in support of 271 Squadron:

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And another of 'AAUD:

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The three impressed HP.42/45s were still flying sorties to France into 1940, including AS982 on 9 June (Hendon-Le Mans) & same a/c Hendon to Nantes and Le Mans two days later.

Last flight by any HP.42/45 was AS982 (G-AAUE) on a 20-minute local flying sortie Doncaster-Doncaster on 5 November 1940 with FO ES Knox as pilot and Sgt Gluba (Polish) as nav. It didn't fly again until blown onto the railway line as above.

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A great set pf photos, sabrejet. While it was sad to see how G-AAUE and G-AAXF met their fates, I had been intrigued by the descriptions in words, so it was valuable to view the images. Likewise, a nice clear image of G-AAUD in its warpaint gives an indication of how these aircraft were rushed into service in France at the outbreak of war.

Your confirmation that none of the HP42/45s flew after 1940 was also most welcome. After so many years of service with Imperial Airways without any losses, it seems striking to me that none survived long in wartime use (or misuse)..

Moving to the attached image, among the photos I got given in my youth was a nighttime shot of three Ensigns and a DH86 at Croydon. It is an Imperial Airways publicity photo and I've since found another photo on-line that appears to be of one of the three Ensigns, the one in the background in the photograph I have. I thought it unlikely that Imperial would have engaged the services of a professional photographer to take just one or two photos, so searched a bit further and came across the attached shot of G-AAUD. I suspect it was taken on the same night but can anyone provide more details, please? The date perhaps?

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Re the losses, I suggest old and tired airframes being flown more intensively in a much less cushioned environment.

Looking at the comparative airframes in use by competitor airlines, it is perhaps a more important question why they were persevered with for so long before the war.

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Probably need to be on FB to see but this looks like a similar session [ATTACH=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","data-attachmentid":3866679}[/ATTACH]

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[1} It's an interesting question, Graham. The HP42 was indeed a 1930s airliner based on what I might term "1920s thinking" and I read somewhere that the Board of Imperial Airwaya were wedded to the idea of biplane airliners. And, I also recall reading that G-AAXF/AS983 was deemed, after an accident in the summer of 1940, to be structurally unsound and that was why it ended its flying days, becoming the squadron office at Donibristle as depicted in the photo posted by sabrjet in Post 393 above. I think there is little doubt that the HP42/45s were coming to the end of their working lives. Nevertheless, the attrition rate after they left Imperial Airways service was strikingly high.

[2] Another great photo, longshot, and, yes, I reckon it's the same night, too. When I referred to "another photo" in Post 394, it was also to one of Ensign G-ADSS but not the same photograph. The one you posted is lined up on the starboard wheel of the main undercarriage. The one I found was lined up on the port wheel of the main undercarriage and was taken at about 8.43 pm. Though it is less clear than I would like, i think the photo you put up in the previous Post was taken a couple of minutes earlier. In all, then, that makes four photographs taken on the Croydon apron that night (the one with three Ensigns and a DH86, the two separate photos of Ensign G-ADSS and the one of HP42 G-AAUD attached to Post 394). There must be others.

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I wonder if it is possible to narrow down when the "Croydon-By-Night" photos in Posts 394 and 396 might have been taken.

Since the clock shows them to have been taken before 9pm and since it is very dark, this suggests the aircraft were photographed some time in the winter. The one original photograph is stickered, "Imperial Airways" (with a reference number) and has a description, "Three Imperial ENSIGN air liners at Croydon by night". Since the NAC took over, after the declaration of war, around September 1939, the photos predate that. The Ensign first came into commercial service on Friday 21 October 1938, so the photos post-date that and, probably by a few months, given that several Ensigns are shown in one shot.

This only narrows the time-frame down a little, to the winter of 1938-1939 and most likely in the first few months of 1939 but it's a start.

Since Imperial Airways engaged a professional photographer and since the original photograph was clearly printed for publicity purposes (the sticker on the back permits free reproduction as long as Imperial Airways is given acknowledgement) , it seems likely that one or more of the "Croydon By Night" photographs was published somewhere. If so, it would helpful to establish the date of publication.

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Further to the previous Post, a little digging shows that, on 15 January 1939, the Ensigns , five of which had been delivered by then, were withdrawn from service for 'modification'. They did not resume service until early June 1939. This prompts me to revise the date of the "Croydon By Night" photographs which must have been taken some between the end of October 1938 and early January 1939 - and there is a little more information that may support this.

I found a newspaper report of a demonstration flight by the Albatross "Frobisher" on 11 November 1938, out from Croydon over Brighton into the English Channel and back again. In this report, it says that,at the start of the trip, "Frobisher" was on the apron at Croydon next to the Ensign "Elsinore" (G-ADST), which had been stripped of its internal fittings, ready to fly the Christmas mail out to India. As far as I can discover, two of the five Ensigns operated the Paris route and three were for the mail route to India. The indications are that five Ensigns were in operational service well before the end of 1938

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Still with Ensigns but slightly more back on track. The attached shows G-ADSS in a rather -ahem! - basic camouflage scheme.

The Ensigns were first dispersed to Baginton, where some did have a crude camouflage applied, before moving to Whitchurch, where I believe this photograph was taken - can anyone confirm this?

I.m not sure about those white objects to the right of the photograph but I think they could be 'posh' seats that have been removed from the interior to save weight. Does that sound right?

Overall, I tend to the view that this is G-ADSS soon after it arrived at Whitchurch from Baginton. It bears very 'rough-and-ready' camouflage markings and is perhaps undergoing equipment changes to make ready for its war work. That would then put the photograph at some time in the second part of September 1939.

This last part is all pure supposition on my part. If anyone knows any better, I would be pleased to be corrected.

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Imperial chairs were fitted to the ex-BAL Ju.52s which were readied for service to Helsinki on 15 September 1939. All three Ju.52s were at Whitchurch by then, and this photo could have been taken at Whitchurch, so it is possible that it shows those chairs being moved. Ensigns were also stripped to carry freight for the RAF, so other dates will be possible. Incidentally, there appears to be an uncamouflaged Ensign and Frobisher in the background, which might suggest it was earlier rather than later.

Ensign serviceability in early September 1939 was awful, although by the following month they were winning friends by being constantly available. Only seven of them made it to Baginton, on 1 September, flying in line astern so they didn't get lost They went there for modifications, to include the fitting of Cyclone engines to replace the Tigers, but Armstrongs weren't ready to do this - for a start they didn't have the engines - and in fact the last conversion wasn't completed until well into 1943. The following morning the RAF officer in charge of the airfield was aghast to see his nice, inconspicuous, little airfield covered in large silver aeroplanes, and ordered them all out. By that evening only two were left - possibly unserviceable. There was some discussion whether these should be camouflaged at Baginton by Armstrongs, but it is unclear whether this happened. I tend to the opinion that it didn't, as you'd expect them to do a professional job and it is not possible to pick two aircraft from the early photographs that look as if they were painted 'properly'. One account says that one of the two remaining aircraft was G-ADSV Explorer, but she is also recorded as being camouflaged by the RAF at Benson on that day (2nd), allegedly with mops and buckets of paint.

Imperial Airways really wanted their aircraft to be camouflaged by spraying (less weight, less opportunity to get lots of paint into places it shouldn't go), but the spray equipment was on a goods train marooned in a siding at Waddon (or possibly Norwood Junction), because all the Southern Railway's locomotives were busy on important war work even before the declaration. Most of what hadn't flown out of Croydon to Whitchurch was on two trains, one nominally passenger, the other nominally goods. The passenger train seems to have run on 2 September but the goods train was delayed, and when it did arrive the resources to unload it, and places to unload it to were still to be identified. The spray equipment was unavailable for some time, leading to Imperial as well as the RAF hand-painting. That photo comes from, I think, Flight for 15 February 1957, which contains a very nice history of the Ensign (part 2 the following week) which identifies some of the Captains who were given paint and brushes and told to camouflage the aircraft they'd just arrived in. It includes the lovely story of Captain Horsey who found brown paint unavailable so painted his Ensign green all over, then added sheep to the 'field' - sadly his aircraft is not identified.
The upshot of this was that aircraft were camouflaged in a haphazard way. The RAF 'borrowed' aircraft on a daily basis throughout September, and almost all of those came back to Whitchurch with camouflage applied, usually painting over the civil registration. Imperial were unamused by this, and less so when there were further conflicting instructions concerning the application of camouflage and roundels ("targets"). It has not so far proved possible to identify a day on which a particular aircraft was camouflaged in a particular way as, bizarre though it seems, some of them wore camouflage for 24 hours or less before being stripped back to silver (or painted silver over the top), and then camouflaged again a day or two later. It does seem that there was a particular burst of activity at Whitchurch on or slightly before 23 September, and the whole camouflage question had largely been resolved by 22 October 1939. Most of the really 'home-made' paint jobs would seem to date from before that.

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Thank you, lazy 8, for the above. The detail about the camouflaging (and the "de-camouflaging") of the Ensigns was fascinating.

The two Peter Moss articles on the Ensigns were terrific. I suspect I read them some time ago and recalled some of the content. I found the image of the roughly-camouflaged G-ADSS filed away on my PC, likely pinched from the Moss article; and just needed to adjust the tones a bit before posting it here.

The contemporary press reports on the withdrawal of the Ensigns for modification said they were under-powered. After the first modification, it was reported that the Ensigns could maintain 15,000 feet on three engines and 7,000 feet on two. Imperial Airways' statement, around the time the modification work was completed had more about the modification to the controls to make them less tiring for pilots on long journeys.

The refitting with the Cyclone engines came later, of course.

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[ATTACH=JSON]{"alt":"Click image for larger version Name:\tF-BAHD-Nouakchott.jpg Views:\t0 Size:\t231.4 KB ID:\t3867178","data-align":"none","data-attachmentid":"3867178","data-size":"full"}[/ATTACH][ATTACH=JSON]{"alt":"Click image for larger version Name:\tG-ADSX Le Bourget.jpg Views:\t0 Size:\t56.7 KB ID:\t3867175","data-align":"none","data-attachmentid":"3867175","data-size":"full"}[/ATTACH][ATTACH=JSON]{"alt":"Click image for larger version Name:\tG-A-DSX-aeroplane-sep88.jpg Views:\t0 Size:\t118.1 KB ID:\t3867176","data-align":"none","data-attachmentid":"3867176","data-size":"full"}[/ATTACH]https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarch...0moss%20ensign
https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarch...0moss%20ensign

Peter Moss's late 1950s Flight articles are good reading but neither he nor anybody else since has produced any evidence for the supposed re-engining and use by the Germans of Ettrick and Enterprise yet the unproven myth persists (for example on Wikipedia). Plenty of photos of Ettrick's in a destroyed condition at Le Bourget in 1940 were taken by Wehrmacht soldiers with their mates in the photos. There is a photo of Enterprise remarked as F-BAHD 'Nouakchott' back in France but the rest of the story needs examining. .

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Ensigns out of British hands

A most interesting set of photos, longshot. I read somewhere that the Gerrmans wanted the Ensign's engines more than the airframes. Is there any evidence for that?

Croydon By Night photographs

I've continued a little more digging in respect of the "Croydon By Night" photographs (see Posts 394, 396 and the subsequent three posts about the dating of the photos).

The one posted by longshot (see Post 396) appeared on Page 5 of the January 1939 edition of IMPERIAL AIRWAYS GAZETTE. The attached image shows the front page and pages 4 and 5. According to Peter Moss in the articles to which lazy8 referred, at least one of the Ensigns in the photos wasn't taken on to Imperial's books until 24 November 1938.

Therefore, it seems likely that the "Croydon By Nigh" photographs were taken either at the very end of November 1938 or in the first (say) half of December 1938. This is still a little speculative but it's narrowing the date down bit by bit.

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