BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

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Ian, from the Oughton book, comes the history of AM920. There are three photos in the book, which I have not scanned, but the captions are included below:

AM920 c/n 11; ex 40-2359; Floyd Bennett - Gander - Prestwick
13-14.5.41; SAL, Prestwick 14.5.41 mods for ATFERO; RFS with
BOAC crew; first service Squires Gate - St Hubert 28-29.5.41; to
Ferry Command 18.7.41 but remained on RFS; maintenance at
Dorval 17.10.41 to 12.12.41; allocated G-AGHG 21.5.43 for BOAC
but NTU as crashed on take-off from Dorval 1.6.43 when all engines
cut; badly damaged but visit by Frank Learman of Consolidated on
17.6.43 resulted in decision to rebuild with C-87 nose and 'canoe
conversion' kit for fuselage; parts sent to Dorval by rail; after
completion defined as LB.30B/Composite and returned to BOAC/RFS
31.12.44; regd G-AHYB to BOAC; CoR (10447) issued 19.8.46; CoA
(8302) issued 30.9.46; radio c/s OLZL; remained in constant trans-
Atlantic service and had completed 2,356 flying hrs by 31.3.47;
operated by Scottish Aviation Ltd wef 1.4.49; CoA lapsed 8.10.49 and
stored at Prestwick; regn cancelled 6.4.51 as sold abroad; ferry permit
issued 9.4.51 for flight to Tollerton for overhaul; CdN (20428) as
F-BEFR 25.7.51 at Orly to Sté de Transports Aériens Alpes Provence
La Joie de Paris; CoA suspended at Marseilles 19.2.52 ferry permit
issued 26.3.52 for flight to Bordeaux; converted at Bordeaux as VIP
aircraft and regd F-VNNP 8.5.52 with CdN 3782; CoA issued 30.5.52
to Service Impérial de Liaisons Aériennes, Dalat, Indochina for use by
Emperor Bao Dai of Viet Nam; CoA issued 10.5.55 at Nice and regd
F-OASS to Sié Commerciale d'Aviation Nord Africaine, Rabat, 13.6.55;
sold 18.4.58 to Cie Laotienne de Commerce et de Transport, Vientiane,
Laos; ntu; regn cancelled 20.5.59 and derelict at Le Bourget.

PG 119 CAPTION: Liberator LB.30B AM920 following its accident at Dorval on 3rd June 1943.

PG 119 CAPTION: After its accident, AM920 was rebuilt with a B-24D nose, a C-87 cabin and a freight door and is here seen at Malton, Ontario, in June 1946.

PG 119 CAPTION: The former AM920, F-OASS had a colourful civilian career before ending its days with SCANA of Rabat. Note that the waist-gun hatch covers had been retained after conversion.

Cheers,

Matt

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Here's the above-promised photo of a Scottish Airlines Liberator. It's G-AGZH (aka: AL557), a Liberator II looking very much like it's at Prestwick, from the background.

Matt may be able to post its full history. My note simply says that it was registered on 11 January 1946 and withdrawn on 25 April 1950.

To follow a previous post,

(1) the Scottish Airlines fin logo is very like that for Hellenic [or, rather, vice versa]

and

(2) the 'picture window' can be seen on both sides of the fuselage.

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Further to post # 137, here is a side view of G-AGCD (also known as AM259). As mentioned, this was the first Liberator to arrive in Britain. It also continued the non-stop Hurn to Almaza service following the shooting down of G-AGDR (its sister ship, aka AM918), which had happened on 15 February 1942 off the southern English coast, on the latter's return on the inaugural flight from Cairo to Hurn.

This raises the question of where this (Air Ministry) photograph was taken. Hurn seems the more likely location but I guess that Whitchurch and Bramcote are also in the frame.

Any ideas as to location, anyone?

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Ian, as requested, AL557's history:

AL557 c/n 55; TOC Dorval 13.10.41; Dorval - Gander
22.11.41, Gander - Prestwick 23.11.41; SAL, Prestwick, 23.11.41;
SAL - 22 MU 14.12.41; 22 MU - SAL for installation of R.3003
14.3.42; SAL - 120 Sqn 17.3.42; 22 MU 18.7.42; 120 Sqn 7.42; 22
MU - SAL 20.8.42 mods for 1445 Flt; SAL - 1445 Flt 14.11.42; by
road to SAL repair in works arr 29.11.42; SAL - Lyneham 19.3.43;
301 FTU 22.3.43; to India 10.7.43; 159 Sqn; general duties, ACSEA,
27.4.44; left India 23.5.44; TOC MAAF 22.2.45; to UK for SAL arr
6.4.45 for passenger conversion; regd G-AGZI to Scottish Aviation
Ltd; CoR (9860) issued 11.1.46; CoA (7339) issued 21.9.46; used on
Icelandic charters; regn cancelled 24.2.48 as sold abroad; to ELL AS
Hellenic Airlines 1.3.48 (CoR 24) as SX-DAA Maid of Athens; to TAE
/ National Greek Airlines 7.51; regn cancelled 23.11.51; to Morrison-
Knudsen Inc. 11.51 as N9981F; re-registered N68735 12.51;
damaged when skidded into a ditch on landing at Wales, Alaska
1.6.53; repaired and re-regd as N92MK still with Morrison-Knudson
Inc. for use in construction of DEW Line in Alaska; crashed on
approach to Kalikat Creek, 30 mls (48 km) S of Galena, Alaska, .58;
wreckage recovered .90 by Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum,
Anchorage; sold .96 to Lone Star Flight Museum, Galveston, TX;
stored .96-.01 at Vintage Aircraft Ltd, Fort Collins, CO; sold .01 to D
Whittington / Worldjet, Fort Lauderdale, FL; basic fuselage and
wings intact.

This aircraft continues to turn to dust in outdoor storage in Fort Collins, CO.

One thread about it:

http://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?127526-AL557-Fort-Collins-today&p=2088092&highlight=#post2088092

Attached are other photos.

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And, while I'm at it, here's the history of AM259, seen in the photo Ian posted:

AM259 c/n 2; ex 40-697; used for handling and performance
parameter trials at San Diego 2.41; San Diego - La Guardia 16.2.41,
La Guardia - St Hubert 23.2.41; TOC St Hubert 23.2.41; St Hubert -
Gander 5.3.41, held by bad weather; dep Gander 13.3.41, arr
Squires Gate 14.3.41, first Liberator to reach UK, crewed by Wg Cdr
Waghorn and Flt Lt Summers; allocated to MoEW; DGRD Hatfield
26.3.41; DGRD Heston 1.4.41; DGRD Handley Page 8.4.41; regd to
BOAC (CoR 9312) 19.4.41 to BOAC; civil conversion at Northolt
completed 28.4.41; A&AEE handling trials at Boscombe Down by
Capt J H Orrell 4/5.5.41; dispersed to Colerne/Charmy Down
6/13.5.41; regd G-AGCD 19.4.41 to BOAC (CoR 9312); CoA (6884)
issued 15.5.41; MoEW use abandoned due to airfield limitations in
Sweden; to BOAC 1.7.41; used on Return Ferry Service; made
special UK/Cairo flight 14.7.42; retd to RFS; regn cancelled 24.8.42;
made first Prestwick/Moscow return flight 21/29.10.42 and other
Moscow flights to 7.4.43, when it reverted to AM259; damaged at
Prestwick 15.5.43; retd to BOAC 23.6.43 regn restored on unknown
date; again used on Russian and special services as G-AGCD;
made special UK/Cairo flight 3/11.1.44; retd to RAF as AM259 for 45
Gp Comm Sqn 6.7.44; 231 Sqn 8.9.44; SOC at Dorval 7.11.45.

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Thanks, Matt, for the additional information about those Liberators and for the link to the one at Fort Collins. I have never been to Colorado, let alone Fort Collins, but I know the name of the place as a live concert recording was made there in 1976 and, because of the storm that day, the resulting album bears the title "Hard Rain". There was a TV broadcast of part of the concert, too, on a programme in a now-defunct British television series called "The Old Grey Whistle Test". Not too much 'hard rain' for the Liberator, I hope.

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The photo below was captioned, 'This Liberator C. Mk.VII is pictured in July 1944'. It comes in a section about Lyneham, so that is presumably the location, and, by the windows, it is a passenger-carrying version. Is that another Liberator in the background on the right?

Comments, amyone?

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This photograph appears in a 1980 book about the history of BA, specifically the chapter about BOAC in WWII. It is of AL507 and, by the snow, I guess at Dorval but I could be wrong. The photo was a double-page spread and I've tried (inexpertly) to join the two halves together. It looks to me as though the photographer has tried to compensate for the brightness of the snow/slush and that ol' AL507 has therefore turned out a bit dark. On the other hand, the shadow from the tailplane indicates a fairly low sun.

EDIT: It wouldn't upload the photo. I'll try again in another post

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In case the file size was a problem, I've reduced it. Here it is - trying again. The text in the previous post applies.

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Ian,

Re the Lib photo in post #148, I would say that, yes, that's a Lib in the right background, with the twin ovals of the fins/rudders being the telltale signs. Aircraft nose is to the right.

Matt

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I thought it looked like a Liberator but was a bit thrown by the white colour. The photo is dated to 1944, well after the formation of Transport Command and it being based at Lyneham. "Did Transport Command operate white-painted Liberators?", I wondered. Then, in the book on BA's history, I came across this drawing below. Again, it is in the chapter on BOAC in WWII which perhaps offered some kind of insight, as I understand that BOAC ran services from Lyneham.

At the same time, the Liberator shown appears to be AL544 and this was not listed by Peter Moss as being allocated to BOAC, so that just raised a series of questions in my mind:

1. Did BOAC crews use non-allocated (that is, purely RAF) Liberators on their routes?

2. Did RAF Transport Command Liberators operate services on behalf of BOAC?

3. Were any non-allocated Liberators actually under BOAC control at any time?

4. If not, why would a book covering BOAC's history display this image?

Here's the drawing and, as with a previous drawing, the registration of the colours is inexact, giving an unnecessarily blurred image. Sorry.

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1. Did BOAC crews use non-allocated (that is, purely RAF) Liberators on their routes?
Yes, sometimes.

2. Did RAF Transport Command Liberators operate services on behalf of BOAC?
Yes, sometimes - essentially questions 1 & 2 are different ways of asking the same thing.

3. Were any non-allocated Liberators actually under BOAC control at any time?
More difficult to answer, especially without a more precise definition of 'control', but refer back to the other two questions. The establishment of the RFS started at eight aircraft, then increased to ten, and finally twelve. There were periods when no more than two aircraft were servicable, and the difference was made up by 'borrowing' aircraft. It worked the other way too, with supposedly RFS aircraft being used for flights to Cairo, Moscow and other places. Annecdotally this borrowing was more prevalent on the southern route, where the ferry organisation was run from Nassau, which just happened to be where 111OTU, a mostly Liberator unit, was based, making things easy, but it did happen on the northern route too. Finding actual data to prove this for individual aircraft is another matter entirely.

4. If not, why would a book covering BOAC's history display this image?
Can't answer that. So far as I can tell AL541 only served with BOAC postwar as G-AGTI, if at all, and I have no evidence to suggest that it was converted to C-87-equivalent as this image suggests. The registration document http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/HistoricalMaterial/G-AGTI.pdf shows it registered to BOAC from 29/9/1945, but based in Perth, Western Australia, where it was assumed used by QANTAS, being sold to them in 1947. It does not appear in BOAC records for this period.

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Thanks for the reply, Lazy8.

In posing those first two questions, which are indeed similar, I was trying to distinguish between [A] BOAC crews flying RAF aircraft on BOAC routes and [B] RAF crews flying RAF aircraft on BOAC routes - evidently, not successfully.

My third question was posed because I was unclear as to whether there were any 'lines' between the BOAC and the RAF operations.

Your explanation clarifies that the lines, even if they might appear clear-cut on paper or in intention, were rather blurred in practice but the extent of the blurring varied from time to time in extent and frequency, according to operational resources and requirements. Is that fair (if rather bland) summary?

As to that drawing in Post #152, it looked like AL544 in the original but it does look more like AL541 on-screen here; the poor registration of the printed colours doesn't help clarity here. AL544 was not allocated to BOAC but AL541 was, so that makes a more logical subject for the book's illustrations . That said, it just doesn't look "right", does it?

I don't recall any photo of a BOAC Liberator in such a paint scheme (I'd be very pleased to be disabused of this notion, preferably with photographic evidence).

The registration document that you linked shows G-AGTI/AL541 as a Liberator Mk.II.

As a side issue, the printed page preceding the pdf of the actual document gives its 'serial number' (which I take to mean construction number in my parlance) as "39", Is this congruent with other information?

Getting back on track, AJ Jackson says that QANTAS had devised a particular form of civilianisation for Liberators G-AGKT and G-AGKU and that Scottish Aviation carried this further by fitting "seven rectangular windows in each side of the cabin". Jackson goes on to add that "G-AGTI and 'TJ were converted to this standard for QANTAS" - not the seven round windows in that drawing which look more like a Mk.VII, I think (was that the equivalent of the C-87 ?).

As ever, there are more questions (than answers?). Do we know whether AL541 ever bore this military serial number at all? On delivery, perhaps? And, if so, in what paint scheme? Was it delivered from North America direct to SAL at Prestwick and there converted (immediately without any 'true' RAF service) for QANTAS use? And what do we know of its journey to Perth from Prestwick?

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Below is a Scottish Aviation photo of G-AHZR (AL522) clearly showing the seven rectangular cabin windows, not to mention the 'picture window' that I mentioned earlier.

This aircraft went on to become SX-DAB and in Post # 140, longshot posted a colour picture of its sister, SX-DAA (the former G-AGZI/AL557), with the same window configuration. I will now (well, tomorrow or the day after) seek a photo of a QANTAS Liberator to check their windows.

Meanwhile, here's G-AHZR in flight:

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An early morning scoot around the internet quickly found this lovely image of VH-EAI (credited to the E.A.Crome collection via the National Library of Australia). The seven rectangular windows can be seen (though not the 'picture' window). The heading described it as a Liberator C-87 but the c/n was given as 39.

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This was a complete coincidence. I decided to look through a small bundle of AEROPLANE SPOTTERs and the second one I opened (#159, 6 April 1946) had this photo. It's a bit ropey in quality (the original image is only 3" x 1", a touch yellowed and on newsprint-quality paper) and the photo had no caption nor any reference in the text that I could find.

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Ian,

Your AEROPLANE SPOTTER photo shows AL541, whose history goes like this:

AL541 c/n 39; TOC Dorval 22.10.41; Dorval - Moncton
29.10.41, Moncton - Gander 30.10.41, Gander - Prestwick 2-3.11.41;
SAL, Prestwick 3.11.41; SAL - High Ercall (29 MU) 7.11.41; 29 MU -
SAL 29.3.42; SAL - 1445 Flt 23.6.42; 301 FTU 3.11.42; 1445 Flt -
SAL 14.12.42 but retd to 1445 Flt, no work carried out; 159 Sqn
30.4.43; took part in last 159 Sqn Liberator II operation 30.7.43; used
on general freight transport, India, 10.43; retd to UK; SAL 6.4.44;
overhauled and conv to passenger transport for Indian Ocean
services; to BOAC for Qantas 8.10.45; regd G-AGTI to BOAC; CoR
(9713) issued 25.9.45; arr Prestwick 15.11.45 for mods to SAL
interim passenger standard; CoA (7276) issued 26.11.45; dep
Prestwick 29.11.45; dld to Qantas 7.12.45 at Perth; handed over to
Commonwealth Disposals Commission, which offered aircraft for
sale 6.46; CoA lapsed 25.11.46; to Qantas Empire Airways Ltd
26.6.47 as VH-EAI; UK regn cld 2.7.47; used to carry spare engines
and cargo; scrapped at Mascot 8.50; regn cancelled 11.10.50. (Note:
the forward fuselage of either VH-EAI or VH-EAJ was converted into
a mobile fish-and-chip van and was last reported in the French's
Forest suburb of Sydney in 1955).

The same photo, better quality but tiny, is in the Oughton book.

Cheers,

Matt

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If you want to read what Ernest K Gann thought of the C-87 Liberator Express , 'Fate is the Hunter' has been re-issued as a paperback for £3 'in a bargain bookshop on your high street'

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I found this on a webpage by Geoff Goodall about Australian civil Catalinas:

In June 1944 the British authorities released to Qantas two RAF Consolidated LB.30 Liberators then being operated by BOAC, to supplement the Catalinas on the Indian ocean route. G-AGKT and G-AGKU had overhauls by Qantas at Archerfield Aerodrome, Brisbane before being delivered to Perth on 18 October and 24 September 1944 repectively in Perth. They were based at the newly-built Guildford Aerodrome (now Perth Airport), using the Australian National Airways hangar just built for their DC-3 services from the Eastern States. The Liberators which refuelled at Exmouth WA to reduce the ocean crossing, brought an increased payload of 3,800 lbs which allowed 8 passengers in airline seats, plus baggage and the essential diplomatic and priority mail. Two more BOAC Liberators joined Qantas for the Indian Ocean service, G-AGTI and G-AGTJ, allowing the Catalinas to be retired. The final Catalina service landed on the Swan River at Perth on 18 July 1945, marking a total of 271 Qantas Catalina services across the Indian Ocean.

When Avro Lancastrians became available during 1945, the Liberators were retired and flown to Sydney. The original two were scrapped, but G-AGTI and G-AGTJ remained with Qantas as freighters VH-EAI and VH-EAJ, mostly used to carry engines to Qantas airliners across the growing postwar route network.

From something else I read, the replacement engines were mostly for the QANTAS Constellations.

The photograph below is of G-AGKT and is credited to QANTAS; this is the caption:

Qantas Liberator G-AGKT at Guildford Aerodrome, Perth in late 1944. The ANA hangar had just been built and was still at Perth Airport used by Ansett Air Freight until the 1990s.

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