BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

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And I've pieced this together (rather inexpertly, I'm afraid, but I'm short of time) from four frames at the start of the newsreel:

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The first BOAC operation on the southern route was on 10 June 1943, flown by AM262 / G-AGHG. Lyneham-‘North Africa’-Cairo-Habbaniyeh-Pahlever (Iran)-Astrakhan-Moscow. I have not (yet) found reference to a separate survey flight. If there was one it is possible it was flown by the RAF, as not only were BOAC very short of aircraft at that time, but there was also some disagreement as to who was responsible for such flights. Since the route only involved a comparatively short extension to a 'well trodden' path, it is equally possible they just went and did it.

One of the outcomes of the northern route survey flight to Moscow in October 42 was an instruction to remove the black undersides from most BOAC aircraft. This obviously took a good long while to be acted upon, but it could suggest that at least one of the aircraft in the film might have been an RAF aircraft.

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Nils Mathisrud, in his book The Stockholm Run", says that Liberators were introduced on that route from October 1943 and that, before this happened, BOAC wanted their undersides to be painted black, like the Dakotas and the Mosquitos, and requested this change by letter to the Air Ministry dated September 1943. He says the Air Ministry had no objection to the change and adds that this colour was then applied to the Libs on the Cairo route, too. He says that the lower surfaces were "Night".

Ho also says that, on the initial trips to Cairo, the Libs had "Alumnium" lower surfaces. The well-known photos of Liberators and Dakotas at Lisbon show the former with lighter lower surfaces, presumably Aluminium.

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The Liberator in the background during the opening few seconds of that newsreel footage (Post # 263) is an American Air Force one, by the way.

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A little bit of digging suggests that three Liberators were used to transport the British contingent to the Moscow Conference in October 1943 and back in November 1943.

One of these does appear to have been AM259, as I mentioned before, though possibly marked up as G-AGCD.

AM262 / G-AGHG seems a likely contender, as Adrian mentioned above (see Post # 267) that it had been used earlier in the year on a service to Moscow.. Information sent by Matt some time back said that it had flown the North Atlantic in late July 1943 and then formally returned to the RFS in August 1943.

The other one appears to have been AM263 / G-AGDS, as the information from Matt said that it was used on the Russian service, leaving Prestwick on 7 October 1943 and returning to Lyneham on 9 November 1943. I suppose a trip for a conference, being a one-off, doesn't really constitute a 'service', but be that as it may..

Do you have any further information, by any chance. Adrian?

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Adrian mentioned the code name 'Festoon' in Post # 257. Some time back, Matt sent me some information drawn from research undertaken by Tony Doyle in the Air Ministry archive - to be precise, in the notes, often handwritten, in the files of the Intelligence Section of the Air Ministry Department of Civil Aviation. Tony had combined this information with other reports and the entry for June 1943 starts as follows:

"Code words on the Russian service. 'Sealyham' = British service to Russia, southbound route; 'Festoon' ditto, northbound route; 'Goodwill' = Russian service to UK northbound flight; 'Medoc' ditto southbound flight".

Tony gives the source of this information as: "Mr Colbeck's report on flight to Russia"

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This report from July 1943 presumably relates to the Moscow service provided by G-AGHG, as mentioned by Adrian in Post # 267:

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Thank you for identifying what 'Festoon' was, Ian. It would appear that the two flights I found (both Ramenskoye-Stornoway) with that word appended should actually have been 'Sealyham', as 'Festoon' referred to that route but in the other direction!

I don't have anything further to add at the moment, other than noting that the report you attached in #272 (Flight, 22 July 1943, if I'm not mistaken) would have caused apoplexy in BOAC headquarters. There were many memos flying back and forth during the war years concerning how the company should have been styled, and one common thread was that 'BOA' was completely unacceptable!

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Adrian, my understanding of Tony Doyle's note was that 'Festoon' applied to all flights to Moscow, in both directions, on the northern, winter route (the one on the map I posted in #258) and that 'Sealyham' applied to all flights to Moscow using the southern, or summer, route, which would have been across North Africa, via Cairo to the Middle East and then 'up' to Moscow.

As for 'Goodwill' and 'Medoc', were there any reciprocal services from Moscow and back flown by Russian aircraft? If there were, I don't recall mention of them and would like a bit more information.

As for 'B.O.A.', that foreshortened acronym seems to have got quite wide usage at the time and, with no advertising by the corporation in the war years, it would have been difficult to establish the long-form version.

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Sorry, I picked the wrong word - obviously I meant 'Goodwill', but your interpretation makes at least as much sense.

I'm unaware of any reciprocal Russian service, and I struggle to think of any aircraft with which they might have flown the Northern route. On the southern route, with plenty of stops, an Li.2 or C-47 would have been quite possible, but as I say I've never seen any mention. As speculation, I'd suggest any Russian flights might have gone only as far as Teheran (from where they could connect with other means of transport), as they would not have wanted at the time to 'get involved' in either the Middle East or North Africa.

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The two newspaper reports in the image are from mid-July 1943. You may find the second, in particular, a touch amusing.

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;)
When is an airline not an airline? Is it a metaphorical 'line in the air'; is it the entity which runs airliners; is it something else again?

Going way off topic, the earliest use of the word I've come across was in 1903. Nothing to do with aviation at all, it was to be a luxury railway between New York and Chicago, built to such high standards that it would feel like riding on air. Apparently they ran out of money after building the first 15 miles...

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There appears to be more than one dictionary definition of the word 'airline'. The more common one refers to the operating company but the other refers to the route taken by air between two places. The latter, it would seem, can be rendered as one word ['airline'], two words ['air line'] or as a hyphenated word [air-line']. As the second newspaper report was based on a radio broadcast, it is not possible to determine exactly what was meant.

In pre-war Britain, operating companies generally used the word 'airways' in their titles. The exception that comes to my mind [there may be others] is Spartan but that was called 'Spartan Air Lines' - that is, three words, not two.

In Scotland, Scottish Airways was formed in 1937 and absorbed into BEA in 1947. In 1946, Scottish Aviation started Scottish Airlines [two words, not three}, presumably so-named to distinguish it from Scottish Airways. And mention of Scottish Airlines brings us back to the civilian use of Liberators.

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Although this 1943 advert placed by Consolidated Vultee [below] refers to Liberators used by the Air Force, it concentrates on its non-bombing roles, referring specifically to the C-87 Express, so may be of interest, here, if only peripherally:

Here are the images

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Oops! Part of one the above images went AWOL. Here's the whole text:

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I'm not sure if this will work but there should be the text of a 1942 Canadian magazine article about ferrying a Liberator across the Atlantic:. I've had to split the text into two parts in order to upload it here but the original is just one article in one issue of the magazine. I'll cross my fingers that these upload OK>

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Below are some details from the 'Bryan Priestman Fonds' at the University of New Brunswick ('fonds' is French for 'collection'). They list some flight plans from his service as a navigator with Ferry Command, now held in the university's archive.

Bryan Priestman went to Cambridge University and, moving to Canada shortly after the First World War, became a lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan, got a PhD at McGill University, became Head of Physics at UNB in 1929 and enlisted in the RCAF in 1940. After time with the First Army Cooperation Squadron and at Headquarters in London, he later transferred to the Atlantic Ferry Command as a navigator, rising to the rank of Squadron Leader. Discharged in September 1945, he returned to UNB but died in November 1945, attempting to rescue a drowning boy from the St. John River.

He gets a brief mention in Carl Christie's "OCEAN BRIDGE" book as one of three RCAF navigators assigned to train TCA navigators in preparation for the Canadian government's wartime transatlantic service, though it notes that he returned to Ferry Command sooner than the other two.

The 'Flight Plans' listed in the document posted below include flights using AL590 and AL593, two BOAC Liberators, as well as ferried aircraft.

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Something a little different - an envelope sent from Gander to the UK. Newfoundland, of course, was not part of Canada at the time, hence the Newfoundland stamps

It looks to me as if the censor sent this envelope to himself (or perhaps a close relative) at his UK address. I'm not sure what the protocol was in this regard but, if I am right, then it seems a touch irregular. I was tempted to suggest that the envelope was the work of a philatelist, particularly as the handstamp was so crisp and neatly applied, but the stamps were affixed rather randomly, which suggests not.

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Getting back onto track, this photograph was published in a Canadian newspaper towards the end of September 1941 and was described as one of the first photos of the Atlantic ferry service. The caption says that the B-24 / Liberator is being refuelled at "Newfoundland Airport". The serial number appears to be AM918, which was one of Libs allocated to the ferry service. If the photo has been republished subsequently, maybe this can be confirmed.

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