T.H.U.M Flight?

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14 years

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I've been asked to research the THUM flight that took place in R.A.F Woodvale and I'm having a bit of trouble finding some information on it. Could anybody give me the basics, just simple things like when it flew, what it did, and what planes it used etc. Any help is greatly appreciated

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Profile picture for user wieesso

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14 years 8 months

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http://www.airfieldpublications.com/611squadron.html

'Aldon Ferguson spent his formative years in Freshfield, very close to the southerly boundary of RAF Woodvale. He clearly remembers the early morning take off of the Spitfire from the THUM Flight en route to gather data for the country's weather forecast and also witnessed the wrecked Spitfire in which PII R A Bailey died in May 1949.'

This is presumably a good source for your enquiry.

Profile picture for user Moggy C

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I spent my formative years in Liverpool

The THUM flight Spitfires were a daily sight (Oh how little attention we paid to them in those days. All we wanted to see was 'jets')

When they were phased out in June 1957 Mosquitos took over.

Most of the Spitfires ended up with the BBMF IIRC

Moggy

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THUM Flt was formed at Hooton Park in April 1951. The job was to carry out meteorlogical flights for the Central Forcasting Office at Dunstable. Thus freeing up RAF Units that had done the job beforehand.

The first three aircraft used were Spitfire XIXs PM549, PM577 & PM652. Later they had PM631, PS853 & PS915. All three of these machines are still extant and flying today. The flight moved to Woodvale in July 1951. The Spitfire's were retired in 1957 when Mosquito's took over the job.

Hope this helps, others will know more I'm sure.

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17 years 4 months

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Hi
Correct me if I am wrong but I think they have a reunion and organisation.
Try the O/Mess at RAF Woodvale , they may be able to help you ??? failing that the ex PRO for Liverpool City Councill (as it was ) was a member of the THUM Squadron and I went to a small reunion where they had a Merlin engined Spit and a riffon engined Spit flying and a photographer from The Liverpool Daily Post and Echo was the to photograph it all so try the Echo??;) ;)
PS I remember the Mossy's

Member for

15 years 8 months

Posts: 75

THUM flight

RAF Woodvale is hosting a THUM flight celebration on May 18th and 19th.
Local reports suggest 3 Spitfires will be attending.
Don't forget by the way that the flight was conducted using Mosquitos right up to the end.(Thrown in for accuracy sake !!!! ).
With regard to trying to get into Woodvale...save your money. It isn't the easiest place to get into.
You could park in Woodvale Road ( by the traffic lights on the Southport side after Woodvale ) and then walk back 2 or 3 minutes to be opposite the airfield.

Good luck.

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15 years 8 months

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THUM flight

There you go . Spit and I posted at the same time.

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16 years 6 months

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In case any one else happened to be there and can can confirm this, I specifically remember being at an airshow in the late 50's, probably Cottesmore BoB day and 4 THUM flight Mosquitos flew over in formation.
As I recall, they were silver finish with yellow bands, what I don't understand is that my brother never took a photo of this event, though we were probably obsessed with the latest American hardware at the time.

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14 years

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Ah, thanks for the info, much appreciated

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15 years 1 month

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Extracted from the local weekly paper from a while ago:

AN EVENT to mark the 50th anniversary commemoration of the disbandment of 611R (Aux) AF Squadron and THUM Flight 2007 will take place at RAF Woodvale.

The 611 (Woodvale) Squadron of the Air Training Corps is organising the event on May 18 and 19.

611R (Aux) AF Squadron was a wartime fighter squadron particularly associated with the area. Its pilots and other personnel were mainly recruited from Lancashire and Merseyside and it was also regularly based at RAF Woodvale.

Meanwhile THUM Flight 2007 was permanently based at Woodvale on meteorological duties, from where it flew the last operational Spitfires to serve with the Royal Air Force.

Three of these actual Spitfires will be making a nostalgic return to Woodvale as part of the commemoration proceedings, courtesy of the RAF Memorial Flight and Rolls Royce Heritage.

Veterans from these units who still live in the Merseyside and Lancashire areas are contacting as many former personnel as possible. If you have not been contacted, please get in touch with FO Peter Tipping at [email]billveloman@AOL.com[/email] or [email]611@Merseysidewing.org[/email], alternatively Fl/Lt L. Wilson, 23 St Anne's Road, Formby L37 7AS, phone 01704 872962.

Please note that the commemoration event is not open to the public.

You live and learn....unless I'm barking up completely the wrong tree this is the same Peter Tipping who works with his father Bill running Mersey Motorcycles in Bootle. Didn't know he was a planes person...tho' planes and bikes often go hand in hand, in my experience.

William

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15 years 1 month

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The RAF had a long history of providing data for the Met Office, stretching back to February 1918 and the formation of the first Meteorological Flight at Berck in NE France (it was a RFC unit until 1 April 1918). This was disbanded in 1919, but two more Met Flights were formed in early 1920, one at Baldonnel, near Dublin, and the other at Upavon.

For various reasons these two were not a success (mainly because other units kept 'borrowing' their aircraft) but in November 1924 a truely independent Met Flight was formed at Eastchurch, but this soon moved - to Duxford in Jan 1925. The Met Flight moved to Mildenhall in Nov 1936, and two months later a second Met Flight was formed, this one at Aldergrove. It was with the first operational ascent by the Aldergrove Met Flight that the term THUM first appeared. It derives from Temperature and HUMidity, the two most important elements obtained during a meteorological ascent.

Despite this the units continued to be known as Meteorological Flights, and by the end of WW2 there were some 24 Met Flights operating in all the major war theatres. With the end of the war the need for the Met Flights soon disappeared as other means of gathering upper air data were developed.

However, in June 1946 Fighter Command started providing supplementary upper air data with a new THUM Flight. In fact it was not a single unit but a confederation of squadrons based at Coltishall and West Malling. The daily THUM flight (as it was now called) was flown in rotation by one of the three squadrons based at each airfield, 23, 141 and 264 at Coltishall, and 25, 29 and 85 at West Malling - all flying Mosquitoes. Each squadron had the task for about a month.

By 1950 the piston-engined Mosquitoes were being replaced by jets, which were unsuitable for the task, and the last RAF THUM flight was made from West Malling on 30 April 1951.

The following day a newly formed civilian THUM Flight, operated by Short Brothers and Harland, under the control of RAF Home Command, flew its first sortie from RAF Hooton Park. Flying RAF Spitfires the unit soon moved to RAF Woodvale where it remained for the next 7 years. The THUM Flight made its ascents over Worcester, and most were made at 1500 GMT. There were two fatalities during this time; Mr G Hargreaves died when his Spitfire crashed at Woodvale returning from a flight test on 4 May 1952. Mr T Heyes died on 4 March 1954 when his Spitfire crashed at Church Pulvernack in Shropshire whilst returning from a THUM sortie.

The last Spitfire sortie was flown on 10 June 1957. Flying Mosquitoes the THUM Flight remained in existence for a few more months, but the curtain came down with the final sortie on 1 May 1959.

Brian

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15 years 1 month

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Further to my previous post, the Civilian THUM Flight was formed with four Spitfire X1Xs, PM549 (destroyed 5/5/52), PM577, PM652 (Destroyed 4/3/54) and PM631. PS853 and PM651 replaced the lost aircraft in March 1954, but PM651 was struck off charge in July following an accident. The last Spitfire to join the unit was PS915 in Aug 1954.

The last THUM sortie by a Spitfire was flown by PS853. Not sure what happened to PM577, but the others eventually became the BBMF.

The last sortie ever by the THUM Flight was made by Mosquito TJ138. Meteor F8s were trialled as replacements for the Mosquitoes, but proved unsuitable.

The main feature of the last public air display at Woodvale on 12 June 1957 was a flypast of the Spitfires and the replacement Mosquitoes.

Brian

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Reading these posts it would make the airshow appearance as Syerston 1957, can anyone confirm this.

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15 years 1 month

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Pete,

I took the date from an article in the July 1987 issue of "Flypast". The author was Aldon Ferguson and was written to mark the 30th anniversary of the last operational flight of RAF Spitfires.

Most of the other information is taken from my own researches for an article I'm writing about the history of the RAF Meteorological Flights.

Brian

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15 years 1 month

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PS to my last. If anyone has photos of the 1957 event I would very much appreciate hearing from them.

Brian

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12 years 5 months

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THUM Flights Woodvale

I was interested to find this site and this particular subject and was wondering whether Scraggy has gleaned enough information. My father F A Chapman was Short Brothers flight commander at Woodvale during the 1950's and early 1960's and may hold invaluable information should it still be required.

Regards
Estella

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15 years 1 month

Posts: 363

Estella,

I would be extremely interested in talking to you as I'm compiling a history of the RFC/RAF Meteorological Flights and THUM Flight. As I posted earlier in this thread they go back to February 1918 so they have a long history. I've been fortunate in tracing the son of the second OC of the 1918 RFC/RAF Met Flight so I have some unique photos from that time. Through the kindness of members of this forum I have some photos of the THUM Flight aircraft, but I'm always on the outlook for more information.

Perhaps you could email me off-board.

Oops, just realised my address is not on my profile, it's monbrythATaolDOTcom

Brian

Profile picture for user John Aeroclub

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Reading these posts it would make the airshow appearance as Syerston 1957, can anyone confirm this.

I don't recall a Mosquito flypast at any Syerston show and the only Mosquito I recall was at Wymswold in the static in IIRC 1955. I attended my first BoB at Newton in 54(I'm sure) then the following year it moved to Wymswold and from then on was at Syerston. I remember that near to the Mosquito was parked a Fairchild Argus. Sadly I have no photos of the Wymswold event.

John

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I have the THUM flight at Woodvale from 13.7.51 to 1.5.59

Spitfire PR.19 PM549,577,631,652,651,628 PS853,915.
Spitfire 24 VN315
Mosquito TT.35 RS719,TA641,TA722,TJ138,TK604,VR806
Meteor F.8 VZ508,VZ540

Tommy Hayes was lost in PM652 on 4.3.54 at Pulverbach. Mr Hargreaves was in PM549 on 4.5.52.

All taken from an excellent booklet "A History of RAF Woodvale" by Aldon Ferguson MAPS 1974.

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12 years 2 months

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THUM flight Spitfire PRXIX

Attached are two photos scanned from my PRXIX bits and bobs. The top photo is of THUM Flight PM631 taken in 1956; the bottom one is of THUM Flight PS853 taken in 1957 (both according to a hand-written caption on the back). Can anyone identify where these were taken? I recall that the box I found them in at a show suggested it might have been Speke airport; the aircraft would have been based at Woodvale at these times. The photos show some interesting period details: the pilot in PM631 wears a traditional leather flying helmet whilst the photo of PS853 taken the following year shows him wearing a silver (?) 'bone-dome'. 631 has a serial number that appears quite amateurly painted compared to that on 853. Also the position of the fuselage roundels is subtly different on the two aircraft. Both appear to be the same colour, nicely worn and faded and a far cry from a glossy PRU blue applied to these two later in Historic Flight/BBMF days.

Incidentally, I live and work not far from the former Hooton Park (Liverpool airport 1930-33,now Vauxhall, Ellesmere Port) which is of course where the THUM Flight was based before redeploying to Woodvale. The original hangars are still being looked after and restored by local enthusiasts.

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Profile picture for user Mark12

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Speke to me.

Mark