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Thread: BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

  1. #61
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    Thanks for the photograph, Duggy, and for the aircraft history, Matt.

    A J Jackson's "British Civil Aircraft 1919-59" said that it crashed at Prestwick on 13 November 1948 and was scrapped in December 1948. This was clearly a mistake (possible a misreading of a handwritten note) because G-INFO says it was withdrawn from the register on 28 February 1947, as Matt states. Jackson combined its fate with G-AHYE (c/n 27) which was indeed withdrawn on 13 December 1948 as "REDUCED TO PRODUCE".

    Meanwhile, here's Consolidated's factory in San Diego - in 1943, I think, when it was being extended.
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  2. #62
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    Oops, you're right, Ian. It is "Reduced to produce", not "product", as I errantly typed.

    That kale I had last night did remind me of hydraulic fluid...reduced to produce ("But Matt," someone will ask, "how do you know what hydraulic fluid tastes like?" Good point.)
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  3. #63
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    Looks like the old Consolidated plant in San Diego (later a McDonnell-Douglas production plant) was torn down between Oct 1996 and Jan 2000, based on Google Earth photos. Before and after shots, plus a Nov 2016 shot showing redevelopment, are attached.
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    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  4. #64
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    I don't know why but I thought "RTP" meant "Reduced To Parts" until I saw it written on the pdf for G-AHYE on the G-INFO website I would never have come up with "Reduced To Produce", which is a strange turn of phrase indeed. "Produce", as a noun, is something produced; 'reduced to something that is produced' makes no sense at all to me. Maybe it was a phrase dreamed up by a civil servant with a classics education and 'produce' has a classical root of which I am not aware. Can anyone produce an answer to this conundrum?

  5. #65
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    I can only confirm the term "Returned to Produce", per the Oughton book's glossary. I don't think the bits were put into a compost heap, though.

    EDIT, the following morning: NO, NO, NO -- lack of attention on my part! It was not "Returned to Produce" but, instead, "REDUCED to Produce", per Oughton's glossary. Actually, his full term is "Reduced to produce (scrapped)".
    Last edited by Matt Poole; 24th April 2017 at 13:45.
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  6. #66
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    I can't help with the derivation of the term, which I understood was "Reduce to Produce" and meant the same as "Reduce to Parts". Perhaps it meant that they were reducing what was effectively a large pile of scrap to a smaller pile, and in the process producing something useful - i.e. spares?

  7. #67
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    The BOAC flight crews wore their civilian uniforms and were covered by the rules of the Geneva Convention.
    The cockpit of AL514/G-AGJP.

  8. #68
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    Thanks, Graham. 'Produce' used as in "to feed' damaged aircraft - sounds possible to me.

    Thanks, Duggy for the photograph - not one I've seen before but, then, I haven't made any great study of the subject.

    Here's one I found recently. I believe it is from PICTURE POST which apparently carried a feature on the "2000th flight" at Prestwick, possibly in March 1945. The wording seemed to suggest to me (perhaps I picked up what it said wrongly) that it was the 2000th aircraft flying eastward but, given the numbers I've read elsewhere for eastbound deliveries, I assume that it was actually the 2000th Return Ferry Service flight. Does that sound right?

    Anyway, I believe that this is the inside of a passenger-carrying Liberator:
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    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 24th April 2017 at 11:31.

  9. #69
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    BOAC adopted American Airlines' folding metal seats for the RFS Liberators at the end of 1944, so that would fit. However, the cabin looks a bit on the long side for a bomber-conversion-Liberator; I think this is more likely a C-87. BOAC didn't like the C-87 - they did have one, but I think it was used mostly on the southern Atlantic routes.

  10. #70
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    Not all ATA staff were BOAC staff by the way. A number of KLM staff also flew the Liberators (and used their experience to pioneer the north Atlantic route immediately postwar), albeit under cover of BOAC who also operated the KLM aircraft on a formal lease, that managed to escape the German invasion of 1940.

  11. #71
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    "farnboroughrob


    I base my info on these RFS libs on one of Don McVicar's books, 'Ferry Command'. He describes several return flights on Libs and his lack of confidence in the crews experience on the North Atlantic. If anybody has not read his books they are a brilliant read."

    That's another book ordered,look forward to reading this lesser known part of the war.

  12. #72
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    Thanks for the comments, all.

    Trumper:
    I’ve just finished reading “Ferry Command” by Don McVicar (to which someone earlier in this thread first directed me – thanks). It was a quick skate through, over a few nights, rather than a ‘study’ but he certainly didn’t relish the lack of comfort on the return from Prestwick. This was earlier than this photograph was taken and standards could have improved in that time.

    Ericmunk:
    Everything I’ve read about the North Atlantic ferry route mentions that the crews were made up of many nationalities. Five KLM DC-3s escaped to Britain at the start of WWII and were used on the Whitchurch - Lisbon service and, for that, I believe that any Dutch crewmen would have had to become BOAC staff – maybe even being issued with British passports - like the Norwegian crews that flew to Stockholm. I am less sure that it would have been a requirement for ‘flying’ Dutchmen on the North Atlantic ferry service.

    Adrian/lazy8:
    Further back along the fuselage, there appear to be cabin windows and overhead racks for bags, coats or whatever. The passengers do not appear to be prepared for cold conditions, either.

    On the other hand, when some BOAC Liberators received their civilian marks, they were registered as 18-seater aircraft (presumably 9 seats along each side?). If the photograph of the interior was taken from the front-most seat, that would be about right.

    Below, I show part of the registration certificate for Liberator II G-AHYE (AL529). I’ve chosen this one for no other reason than that it shows not only the “eighteen seater” note but also the “REDUCED TO PRODUCE” phrase, to which there is reference in earlier posts.
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    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 24th April 2017 at 14:18.

  13. #73
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    Thanks for additional photos, including Duggy's cockpit photo from AL514/G-AGJP. Here's the aircraft's history, from Oughton:

    AL514 Construction number 12; First flight or acceptance date 9.8.41; retained in USA after Pearl Harbor; Taken on charge by USAAC 12.41; released to RAF and taken on charge Dorval 10.3.42; used by Ferry Command Communications Sqn for Pacific flights (known as The Swagman) (first service 20.3.42); Dorval - Oklahoma City, 22.3.42 San Francisco, 23.3.42 Australia, 2.4.42 departed Sydney, 8.4.42 arrived San Francisco; after 3 further Pacific flights returned to Dorval 4.6.42; Ferry Command Communications Sqn; to BOAC for Return Ferry Service 4.8.42; first service to Prestwick 12.8.42; remained at Dorval 23.8.42 to 6.5.43 when test flown; returned to Return Ferry Service service 4.6.43 until 21.9.43 at Prestwick; registered G-AGJP to BOAC; Certificate of Registration #9496 issued 11.11.43; Certificate of Airworthiness #7032 issued 13.11.43 but continued to fly as AL514 6.43 to 9.46 with radio call sign OLZB; Certificate of Airworthiness lapsed 12.11.44 but renewed 2.10.46 as G-AGJP; renewed 2.10.47 and 1.11.48 (A3166); emergency landing at Keflavik 24.1.49, damaging port landing gear, hit crash truck on runway; operated by Scottish Aviation with effect from 1.4.49; Certificate of Airworthiness lapsed 31.10.49 and aircraft stored at Prestwick; regitration cancelled 6.4.51 as sold abroad; permits for ferry to Tollerton for overhaul issued 9.4.51 and 29.5.51; permit for ferry flight to France issued 31.7.51; sold to Sté de Transports Aériens Alpes Provence (Guillaume IV) CdN No.20434 22.12.51 and registered F-BEFX 26.12.51; crashed and destroyed by fire 30 mls (48 km) SE of N'gaoudere, French Cameroon, 19.2.52, killing nine; registration cancelled 17.10.62.
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  14. #74
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    True the Liberators were registered as eighteen-seaters, reflecting the number of seats already installed! However, almost as soon as they were registered, their Certificates of Airworthiness were amended to prevent them carrying commercial passengers. BOAC Liberators with civil markings only ever carried freight and company personnel. It was largely for this reason that they were turned over to Scottish Airways, who though they could make a profit on the trans-Atlantic service where BOAC hadn't (turned out they were wrong).
    Before the folding seats (removable and could be stored flat along the fuselage side, although exactly how seems to be lost), there were no seats. For the first three years the RFS passengers were instructed to bring their own sleeping bags. Luxury was when there was a light freight load, as this permitted some mattresses to be laid on the floor (it also meant there was a good possibility that the Elsan was accessible - with a full freight load this was not guaranteed!)

  15. #75
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    Thank you, adrian/lazy8, for the additional and very useful information. Do you know when the' mattresses on the floor' arrangements ended and the fitted seats came in?

    Thanks again, Matt, for the detailed aircraft history.

    For ericmunk particularly (though others may be interested):

    I attach a picture of a BOAC DC-3 at Lisbon. It is a cutting from a newspaper or magazine back in 1944. I didn't 'create' the cutting but was given it, probably some 55 years ago. I don't know who gave it to me and I don't know from which publication it was removed (maybe AEROPLANE SPOTTER). The picture came stuck to a 5" x 3" record card and you can see the handwritten note on the front ("G-AGIP Douglas Dakota Mk.3"). The note continues on the reverse side, "Of BOAC at Lisbon Airport recently with D-ARPF of Deutsche Luft Hansa in the background" and, at the bottom, is written "14.12.44". Whether that is the date the picture was taken or the date of publictaion, I don't know but probably the latter.

    G-AGIP was not one of the KLM DC-3s that escaped to Britain. You can tell quickly because the passenger door is on the port side, whereas KLM's DC-3s had the passenger door on the starboard side - I have no idea where that comes from, so I hope I'm right. However, while G-AGIP was not an ex-KLM DC-3, D-ARPF was.
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    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 24th April 2017 at 22:15.

  16. #76
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    https://www.flickr.com/photos/biblar...75074/sizes/o/
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/biblar...75772/sizes/o/
    http://forum.keypublishing.com/showt...gs-in-Portugal

    I think BOAC Liberators carried passengers during WWII but , yes, post-war just freight and concessionary pax. There was no reason for KLM crew to be given British passports for Lisbon , the original DC-3s on the route had full KLM interiors. There's a newish book out on the 'Stockholm Run' with about a dozen pages on the use of Liberators to Stockholm....One of the RFS Libs was assigned to the route but never used, first to appear was BOAC's G-AGFS in 1943 I think, then scores of Lib flights by the Americans from 1944
    Last edited by longshot; 25th April 2017 at 08:35.

  17. #77
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    First mention of Liberator seating in BOAC correspondence is on 22 January 1943, listing the modifications that American Airlines are considering for their C-87s. Relations between BOAC and Consolidated then get very frosty, partly because BOAC neglected to get Consolidated approval for their cargo-carrying mods to the LB.30s, and perhaps more so because Consolidated regard the LB.30 as obsolete and want them all quietly scrapped and replaced with 'current product'. It is a considerable embarrassment to them that BOAC can get significantly more range out of their self-modified, 'obsolete', aircraft than they, the manufacturer, can from the supposedly more developed, more powerful, newer ones! By the end of 1943 it appears that the C-87 configuration has settled down to 16 seats - whether these are the folding type is not clear. The first mention of seats for BOAC aircraft, although again talking about C-87s which they are determined not to have, is on 1 April 1944, by which time there are 19 seats in the cabin. The first seats were probably fitted in October 1944, and it seems the whole fleet was done by the end of the year. Since the seats were lightweight and foldable, I can't help wondering if the mattresses might actually have been more comfortable for a 15-hour flight...

  18. #78
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    Thanks, again.

    The photos were terrific, longshot. I already have the "Stockholm Run" book to which you refer.

    I wasn't aware, lazy8, of the 'differences' between Consolidated and BOAC that you describe.

    I have located another copy of that MOVEMENTS BOARD photo. The quality is not great but it has slightly different visual qualities that make the top of the board clearer. You can't see the column headings any better (perhaps worse, in fact) but a date is chalked on the top-left of the board. Again, it's not too clear but the year is "42". I hope that this image can be seen well enough to see that.

    EDIT: Oh dear! It doesn't seem possible to expand that image; I don't know why. Perhaps you will have more luck. What I have done, however, is copy the image below on to a WORD document and then expand the image on that page. The "42" is clear and the date may be "19" but the month is not obvious.


    .
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    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 24th April 2017 at 18:40.

  19. #79
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    Ian,

    I downloaded your photo and then I could zoom in on it. I then played around with contrast and so forth -- no luck in clarifying the month or day, though it does look like 42 to me. That's not definitive, though.

    I'm awaiting a response from a researcher who may, just may, have some strong evidence. Maybe. I'll post if he replies.

    Come to think of it, there's one more researcher I can try -- Robert Stitt, an expert on RAF Fortresses, so perhaps he'll weigh in on those two Fortresses listed on the board.
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  20. #80
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    I look forward to the results of your enquiry, Matt.

    Meanwhile, another puzzle for you - a shot of a Liberator, also said to be flying along the coast of Arran. This particular aircraft is 'captioned' as AL627. Once again, can you perhaps identify the precise location?
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  21. #81
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    A tough test, Ian! I'll download the photo, darken the background, and possibly -- possibly -- come up with something...maybe later today, maybe tomorrow.

    I wrote to Robert Stitt and will report on his opinion of the date. (He and I have been actively working together lately, so I expect that he'll get back to me fairly quickly.)
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  22. #82
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    Good luck on all fronts, Matt.

  23. #83
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    Photo of AL627 looks like it is passing Corriegills Point, Arran. Brodick beach is to the right of the nose. Crash site of Liberator AM261 is a further 5km to the right on Mullach Buidhe.

    Alan.

  24. #84
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    Excellent pinpointing, Alan. I think those landmark walls or hedges on the left were very helpful -- at least they were for me, once you honed me into the Corriegills area. You saved me some work (and I may have failed to pinpoint Corriegills on my own)!

    Here are three more images: a darkened version of Ian's photo of AL627 (showing the land features better), a fairly decent comparison Google Earth oblique view, and an overhead Google Earth view. Note the direction of north on the Google Earth items, at upper right.

    Cheers,

    Matt
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    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  25. #85
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    Researcher/author Robert Stitt just replied:

    Something odd about the board. These don't appear to be transatlantic delivery flight entries as the names for some of the Hudson crews do not match known captains.

    I would have said that Base M was Montreal but none of the Liberator or Fortress entries are bona fide Air Ministry serials.

    So I tend to agree with some of the postees, that the board has been tweaked for security purposes and there is not too much to learn from it.


    I can see the logic in altering the board's info. (By board, Robert and I refer to the one seen in the photos Ian posted, allegedly at Prestwick and showing transatlantic flights.)

    Cheers,

    Matt
    Last edited by Matt Poole; 25th April 2017 at 00:58. Reason: Clarification
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  26. #86
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    Please thank Robert for his contributions, Matt. Soon after I had posted the photograph of the "MOVEMENTS BOARD" (Post # 42), I was unsure about the veracity of the information displayed. Robert has the same concerns.

    And congratulations to Alan and Matt for establishing the location of the photograph of AL627 (post #80). Here's another shot of AL627 but, this time, the location is given - Montreal:
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  27. #87
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    On the subject of passenger seating or otherwise aboard ferrying Liberators, I have come across a 1944 article by Edward C. Bowyer that brings out the contrasting standards.

    The article appeared in FLIGHT magazine for 25th May 1944 under the title, “Britain’s Overseas Air Services”. Mr Bowyer “is Chief of the Information Department, Society of British Aircraft Constructors”, a former journalist who had joined the SBAC in 1930 to organise its Information Department and had also held other senior SBAC posts in WWII. The article reports a 25,000 mile journey from early January 1944 to early February 1944. He travelled in several different aircraft types but two of the journeys were in Liberators.

    The first of these was in Liberator FR240 EDIT; THIS WAS A TYPO - SHOULD BE 'FK240' (christened “Gremlin’s Grandpappy”) from West Africa to the Bahamas. “Eighteen passengers were on board. There were side seats in the aft portion of the fuselage, a few bunks in the bomb bay and a shelf – known as the Bridal Suite – above the bomb bay”. Mr Bowyer (the only civilian on board) was assigned the shelf, said to be the most ‘comfortable’ accommodation. As Mr Bowyer was behind schedule, Captain Williams had suggested they take the fastest route and Mr Bowyer had agreed. “My regret was to come later”, he wrote. I can’t repeat the circumstances, so will simply add another of Mr Bowyer’s comments: “My longest, fastest and most arduous flight since my first airline journey in 1921”.

    The second of his Liberator flights was on board Liberator AL614 from Montreal to Prestwick. AL614had no seats[/I] and the twelve passengers were accommodated on mattresses on the floor”. Passengers were “provided with oxygen masks, flying suits, flying helmets and gloves. Warm air was admitted through vents in the main bulkhead, but it was not circulated, with the result that the air at the top of the fuselage got very hot, while the temperature on the floor stayed below freezing point till late the following morning” (their having left Montreal at five-thirty in the afternoon). He says that it was difficult to sleep anyway, with the associated risk of kinking the oxygen tube and suffocating, and that condensation building up inside the mask trickled down and froze.

    You may find the whole article of interest; it is available on-line.
    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 25th April 2017 at 20:09.

  28. #88
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    Something seems amiss, Ian. There was no FR240-coded Liberator. No FR-coded Lib, either. For what it's worth, I can't find reference to any Liberator named "Gremlin's Grandpappy".

    EDIT: Ian has corrected the serial to FK240, which is, indeed, a Lib. And despite doing a CTRL+F search on my OCR'd serials list from the Oughton book, Gremlin's Grandpappy didn't show up -- because I haven't scanned the FK-coded Oughton listings yet! But it is in there, along with an aircraft history. I rushed a posting.

    AL614 was, indeed, an LB.30. It's history, from Oughton (no time to expand upon the abbreviations):

    AL614 c/n 112; retained in USA following Pearl Harbor; dld
    Tucson, AZ 10.12.41; TOC Dorval 8.5.42; used by FCCS by 29.5.42
    to at least 7.7.42; to BOAC for Return Ferry Service 31.8.42, first
    eastbound service 1.9.42; burst tyre on take-off Prestwick for
    Gander 24.8.43 and belly-landed at Ayr; to SAL for repairs and
    mods 7.9.43; dld BOAC Prestwick 16.11.43, in service westbound
    19.11.43; CoA applied for 30.5.46; regn G-AHYH reserved 8.46
    but ntu; radio c/s OLZN; ceased to fly 30.6.46; RTP at Dorval and
    SOC 23.5.47.

    Cheers,

    Matt
    Last edited by Matt Poole; 25th April 2017 at 18:18.
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  29. #89
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    Oops, my error.That should have been FK240 [not FR240]. Sorry about that. I'll edit the original post to show the correct serial number.

    I can't explain the "Gremlin's Grandpappy" aspect. The article is six pages long and that name appears twice, on the second and fifth pages.

  30. #90
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    Got to be careful of Ops board photos - they mostly use MSI as opposed to Aircraft Serial.

    The full RAF Movements Section MSI (Movements Serial Indicator) typically used three alpha followed by three numeric so that it would not be confused with aircraft serial. The transatlantic format was typically two alpha followed by three numeric and only occasionally the aircraft serial.

    I answered a post a few years ago on RAF Commands with a description of the RAF MSI usage

    "The KBLXXX is the MSI or movement serial indicator and it's just an accident that the BL part has been used for a Blenheim.

    In general the MSI for aircraft on ops on the same day and with take off times within a few minutes had the same alpha part of the MSI but sequential numeric parts.

    The senario is that the aerdrome Watch Office staff plan the take off and route (or in the later part of the war are instructed by Group on take off and route).

    They then assign aircraft and crews, telephone Flying Control at Fighter Command and request a MSI for x aircraft with take off time y and route z.

    Flying Control then use the three letter code of the day for that aerodrome and time period and assign the request the code with the sequential numeric portion.

    Now Flying Control have an aircraft serial with a route and estimated times logged against an MSI.

    Later the Chain Home station picks up a track and reports it to the Filter Room, the flying control liasion officer compares this to the MSIs and advises on possible hostile, possible friendly or unknown. The teller then "tells" via the telephone the plotter at Fighter Command/Sector the narrative for unknown or possible hostile and the Plotter puts it on the table.

    Any subsequent reports from Observer Corps are compared to the raid track to see if possible hostile or unknown can be resolved into an MSI and taken off the Fighter Command table.

    From about 1941 then GCI stations and Gun Laying Radar reports were also added to the mix for FCLO resolution but key to all this activity was the MSI relating to a known and planned aircraft movement."

    So the board may not be posed but a real one using a wartime code to confuse the enemy that still works today to mislead the unwary.

    Think of it as the same way ATC designate and track flights in todays controlled airspace.

    Regards
    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 25th April 2017 at 17:31.
    Restorer of Canberra PR.9 XH175 and anon (but looking more like 8249) Anson Mk.II

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