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Thread: BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

  1. #91
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    Thanks, Ross, for setting us straight.
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  2. #92
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    Many thanks, Ross. Your explanation was all new to me (I was definitely one of the 'unwary') and it suggests that the photograph may not be an example of 'fake news' after all.

    With this in mind, I have tried to 'tweak' the date at the top of the 'MOVEMENTS BOARD' visually to see what I can make of it. It is impossible to arrive at anything definitive but I am going to have a go anyway. This is what I've come up with:-

    *9 MARCH** 42

    >>> There is a 'smudge' at the start, followed by what appears to be (but may not be) a '9'.

    >>> There is then a long 'smudge' where the month should be. This looks to me like "MARCH" followed by some rubbings-out, which could be the end of the (longer) previous month which has been rubbed out but not erased.

    >>> Finally, the '42' is clearer than the rest but, again, I stress that this may not be correct.

    Those of you of a certain age will recall chalk and blackboards from your school-days and may remember that, if the blackboard were not properly 'cleaned', a layer (maybe several layers) of residual chalk dust would remain on the surface and 'fog' what is written on top of it. Using this 'logic' (?????) my conclusion (ill-founded, I concede) is that the date is 9 March 1942.

    Does the information on that board fit with the dates for trans-Atlantic flights at this time?
    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 25th April 2017 at 21:09.

  3. #93
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    By way of a fuller example of the RAF use this is the Ops board for No.75 Sqn on a night 16/17 June 1941

    https://75nzsquadron.files.wordpress...-stretched.jpg

    First column is labeled Serial No and shows the MSI three alpha followed by the three digit for each aircraft. Also shown is the 4 numeric of the aircraft serial under Aircraft No.

    Ross
    Restorer of Canberra PR.9 XH175 and anon (but looking more like 8249) Anson Mk.II

  4. #94
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    Probably already known to the 'old hands' but there is a Charles Rector album in the SDASM/flickr stream with RFS/Liberator content e.g.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasma...7645345042686/ Presumably the Captain Eves in the Liberator AL591 crash Gander 9Feb1943

    and
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasma...7645345042686/ at Dorval? Mostly RAF serials
    Last edited by longshot; 25th April 2017 at 21:39.

  5. #95
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    Great books on the BOAC flights:

    Jons Viruly. Biography on one of the two Dutch Liberator pilots with BOAC. By Wim Adriaansen, in Dutch.

    Langs de hoge weg. Bio of Jan Moll, the other Lib Dutchie. In Dutch.

    Both with lots of photos, excellent books with lots of personal stories on the Atlantic flights.

  6. #96
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    Thank you for the links, longshot.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to the location of these three images?

    [1] I wondered if the photo in this link from longshot (below) might be at Prestwick:


    [2] Similarly, since these photos come from San Diego, whether the photo in this link might have been taken at Consolidated's factory there:


    [3] There was also this photo in the 'stream' - nothing to do with Liberators but it looks rather like Prestwick to me:
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  7. #97
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    I'm afraid that, sadly, my Dutch is zero, ericmunk.

    When I was in my mid-teens, I flew to Schipol for the day (I come from a modest background but my mother worked for BEA so i got the benefit of staff travel rates) and, whilst there, I bought a copy of a Dutch aircraft magazine (COCKPIT, was it?). It was an issue with a feature on the Belgian Air Force, as I recall. I was perusing this magazine on the flight back and my neighbour started speaking to me in Dutch. That's about the nearest I ever came to conversing in Dutch.

    Does either book have photographs relevant to this thread that you could scan and post here?

  8. #98
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    The photo below shows a Liberator VI (EW297) in what I would call Coastal Command colours. I have found it on-line as allocated to 53 Squadron with the code 'O', though this photo shows the code as 'D'.

    I do not know where I got this photograph but I have quite a few 'old' photos from Prestwick, probably obtained during one of my three visits there in the early 1960s (October 1961, August 1962 and April 1963). I am not sure whether this photo was taken at Prestwick or not, though the little bit of background landscape on the right could be Ayrshire.

    EW297 was apparently converted from a GR.VI to a C.VI. Was this conversion done at Prestwick?
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    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 26th April 2017 at 16:09.

  9. #99
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    I will Ian, in some days. As a brief summary, Adriaan "Jons" Viruly was a wellknown prewar KLM pilot and author. He made his way fron occupied Holland through Berlin by first class train. Then on a visum to Sweden issued on the autority of a Swedish-German nobleman who vouched for him, in 1941. He worked for ABA for some months towing targets with Tiger Moths, bedore catching a BOAC flight to England. He then worked for KLM/BOAC from Whitchurch a short while before volunteering for the Return Ferry Service. He flew for RFS in second half 1942 into 1943 before returning to fly KLM and BOAC DC-3s on the Lissabon line until 1945.

    The book I mentioned describea his training with BOAC on Link and dual, plus navigation. It also describes the flights with up to 22 bodies (pax) in horrendous weather over the Atlantic.

    It describes in detail his crash with a Liberator at Gander in late 1943 when it hit snowbanks on take off and broke up. Lucky escape there. And it details a descent in cloud into Reykjavik on 26 august 1943 where they missed a mountain by 100 feet. DME turned out to have a deviation...

  10. #100
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    Ericmunk, there is no great rush. Anything that you are able to contribute would be much appreciated, I'm sure.

  11. #101
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    Many Liberators were converted to transports at the end of the European war, and for troop movement after the end of the war with Japan. EW297 was so allocated, apparently at No.1 TAMU (Transport Aircraft Modification Unit) at Tempsford but instead ended up as a ground instructional airframe 5714M (later 5737M) for 111 OTU Lossie. No 2 TAMU was at kemble - I suspect that most Liberator conversions will have been one at one or the other of these rather than all at Prestwick, simply because of the numbers involved.

  12. #102
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    Thanks for that contribution, Graham. I am learning so much, it is embarrassing [but please don't be put off, everyone -just keep it coming]

    I have finished the Don McVicar book "Ferry Command" (a very 'easy' read, with lots of fascinating snippets). I have now bought Carl Christie's "Ocean Bridge" (on a recommendation in an earlier post - for which thanks). It is in my reading pile but I have taken a sneak preview. I did look at the illustrations and there are two almost identical photographs (their official reference numbers are next to one another) showing a scene at Dorval, one of the photographs being captioned "Backlog of aircraft awaiting delivery at Dorval".

    In the background of one of these photographs was Liberator AL595. The interesting thing to me was that, though bearing an RAF serial number, it is sporting a large "10" on the nose and United States insgnia on the side (note the red circle in the middle, which Bruce Robertson, in his "Camouflage and Markings" book, suggested ceased in the middle of 1942).

    Here's the relevant part of the photograph. Do these markings mean mean that AL595 was actually in service with the USAAF before being taken on charge by the RAF?
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  13. #103
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    AL595, (with others) was initially retained in the US after Pearl Harbor and not released until late April 1942.

  14. #104
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    Mad rush here. The painting most likely does mean that it was used in the US briefly before being turned over to the British in the spring of 1942. Here is its history:

    AL595 c/n 93; retained in USA following Pearl Harbor; TOC
    Dorval 20.4.42; Dorval - Sydney, NS 21.5.42; - Gander 22.5.42; -
    Prestwick 23-24.5.42; SAL, Prestwick 24.5.42 for mods for 1653 CU;
    SAL -1653 CU, Burn 17.9.42; 301 FTU 6.11.42 but crashed and DBF
    on approach to Lyneham on delivery flight that day; SOC same day.
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  15. #105
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    Thanks, Matt. That strongly indicates that the photograph was taken at Dorval between late April 1942 and late May 1942.

    I assume that "c/n 93" suggests it was manufactured in San Diego and, if the date of its first flight is not known, is it possible to estimate roughly when that first flight would have taken place?

    From that and the Dorval dates, we would roughly know the period when it might have served in the USAAF.

    And, if it did so serve, was "c/n 93" allocated a USAAF serial number? And if not, does this suggest (and it sounds unlikely), that it served in the USAAF with an RAF serial number?

    R.A. Saville-Sneath, in his "AIRCRAFT of the UNITED STATES - VOLUME ONE" (published in June 1945 but correct to November 1944), reported that the XB-24, "passed its type tests in 1939 and in modified form was released for export to France and Great Britain. Deliveries began in 1941, those originally intended for France being diverted to Britain". [The ostensible purpose of this series of books was aircraft recognition, by the way, so historical accuracy may not have been paramount].

    What did "retained in the USA following Pearl Harbor" actually mean in practice? Of course, it meant that AL595 did not get delivered to Britain straightaway but what was the thinking behind this delay? Did it just sit around (with others?) awaiting a decision? The photograph at Dorval suggests otherwise, in which case, where was it based and what sort of duties did it perform?

  16. #106
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    Ian's Boston photo was definitely taken at Prestwick. The circular pond and distant landscape are unmistakeable.

  17. #107
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    Thank you, Atcham Tower, for the confirmation. I don't recall the circular pond from my visits there 50+ years back but the general area, behind the old terminal building I thought, and the landscape behind the Boston rang right with me.

  18. #108
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    I don't remember the pond from my 1960s visits either but it features in a number of other wartime photos known to have been taken at Prestwick.

  19. #109
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    Getting back to Adriaan Viruly's late 1943 crash, this turns out to be G-AGEL at Gander on December 27th, 1943. In his book 'De zee en de overkant' (The Sea and Across) the author/pilot describes what happened. It was a final trip he agreed to do even though he had already been formally reassigned to KLM for the Lissabon line. The flight from Ontréal to Gander was uneventful. The Atlantic weather was beastly and they stayed over at Gander for 24 hours to wait for improvements. Just before midnight the crew boarded the Lib in pitch dark, in temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius and in heavy snow. There was one passenger too. Unknown to the crew, the runway lighting system had been changed to a new system. The pilot lined up according to the old system rules and took off off-centerline. At rotation speed they hit a massive snowbank in a nose-high position, tearing off parts of the tail. It then hit a second snowbank taking out the undercarriage and went head-on into a third. The aircraft broke up and engine number three caught fire. Viruly escaped through the emergency hatch, the remainder of the crew through a hole in the fuselage. Injuries were mild: a broken foot for the W/Op, and some bruised ribs for the navigator. ANd a few bumps and bruises for all. The passenger, who had been laying on the floor, had fallen out of the aircraft at an estimated 100 km/h when the floor was ripped from underneath him by the second snowbank impact. A good thing too, since the ferry tanks crushed what was left of the cabin he was in on the third impact. Miraculously he survived uninjured! The subsequent enquiry laid the blame at Aerodrome Control for failing to notify the pilots, and giving permission for take off when the aircraft was clearly wrongly lined up in full view of them...

    Other things of note in his stories:
    - Crews wore full BOAC uniforms, which they had to have made at their own expense and then got reimbursed.
    - Crew members had paid leave. Something Viruly only found out after he left BOAC and promptly got paid out his leave days in cash. He never knew he had them in the first place!
    - Every pilot had a veto right to scrub a flight if he thought conditions were too appalling (they always were appalling, but sometimes it was particularly bad)
    - He also flew on of the Cairo mail runs to the 8th Army there with a Liberator via Gibraltar, in October 1942 with a Polish navigator and copilot.
    - In one Atlantic flight eastbound they left with eight B-24s, including seven military examples. Viruly found Prestwick clouded in and made it to Londonderry. Four other made it to Ireland. One hit a hill just short of Prestwick and crashed, another one ditched at sea, a third was abandoned by parachutes. All crew survived. I have no way of checking this story, and Viruly is known to take truth somewhat liberally in his books...
    - Then there was a crash of a Liebrator in icing conditions at Charlottetown in which the crew was badly injured when the aircraft skidded of the runway and burnt. Captain Poole. This bears a striking resemblance with the 1946 crash of G-AGEM during which Viruly was not even in the RFS, or even with BOAC!

  20. #110
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    A 1942 cartoon by Pat Rooney of Viruly and his Liberators... And an ID card carried by the crew on the RFS... And a group of bodies boarding the aircraft in a snowstorm in Canada... Plus a pic of unknown origin of a BOAC Liberator. All courtesy of the Wim Adriaansen biography of Adriaan Viruly.
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  21. #111
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    Over to Jan Moll. He was one of KLM's senior captains, and had escaped to England through France in 1940. Moll later wrote his autobiography "Langs de hoge weg" (Along the high road) detailing his interesting flying career. In it he describes the following on the RFS:

    After a brief spell as an instructor with 320 Squadron, he was one of the first five pilots when the RFS was established, being picked by Sir Frederick Bowhill for the job. The others were O.P. Jones of Imperial Airways, a captain Messenger, South African Thomlinson and White, who later crashed near Ayr on take off from Prestwick. They made their way to Canada to set the outfit up. En route he shared a cabin with an Australian Sq/Ldr he knew well: it was the gentlemen who had coordinated the departure of Moll with the Uiver from the improvised field at the Albury racetrack during the London to Melbourne race years earlier!

    At St. Hubert they met captain Wilkinson who coordinated training in Canada. He had some experience flying across the Atlantic prewar with the Imperial Airways flying boats. Moll details a particularly bad take off for a December 1942 flight with nine VIPs including the Australian high commissioner, in a hurry to get to England. At Gander the weather was a full snowstorm, the aircraft was refueled and deiced inside the hangar. AIrcraft were unheated, and all passengers wore thermounderwear, silk and woolen clothing and thick flight overalls, bearskin boots and gloves. Whiskey for enroute, and oxygen supply. He started up the engines inside the closed hangar, and only when they were warm were the doors opened and the aircraft taxied outside into the nightly snow storm. Two snowplows drove ahead of the aircraft to clear a path to the freshly plowed runway. Take off was achieved in zero visibility at night, by opening a sliding cockpit window and keeping close to the runway lights on the left!

    Moll also flew Liberators from England to Moscow over the African and Scandinavian routes, and pioneered the ballbearing run to neutral Sweden when demand exceeded the capability of the Lockheeds used before. He also flew the Cairo route on occasion. His first Cairo route he drew straws with a capt Page to see who would get a warm break from cold Atlantic weather. Moll lost. Page was shot down on his return flight over the Bay of Biscany or Channel by a P-51 by accident, all hands lost. He also describes the many VIPs carried on board. Royalty, admirals, politicians. And they all were treated the same. And they all were cold as hell.

  22. #112
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    Two more pics, these from Jan Moll's autobiography.

    - A picture of Capt/ Phil Jones (middle) and Jan Moll (holding the piglet) at a Montréal bar called 'Au lutin qui bouffe' in October 1941.
    - A signed picture of a Lib with signatures of among others Messenger, Andrews, Page, and Jones.
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  23. #113
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    Latter incident sounds like the shooting down of AM918/G-AGDR over the Channel (returning from Cairo direct) by Predannack based Spitfires after misidentification

  24. #114
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    No doubt about that being G-AGDR indeed. The date fits capt. Page's death (Feb 15th, 1942). Spitfires from a Polish RAF Squadron. Moll mentions a P-51 flown by a Pole in his memoirs, probably error through hearsay.

  25. #115
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    EDIT : THE FOLLOWING RELATES ONLY TO POSTS #109, #110 and #111

    Again,thank you very much, ericmunk, for both of the extracts and for the images. Are those books only available in Dutch or has an English-language version of either ever been published?

    The image of the passengers loading was, by the weather, taken in Canada. It is noteworthy that the Liberator in question is in bare metal and thus post-WWII. AJ Jackson wrote that "seven former R.F.S. Liberators retained by B.O.A.C. were converted for Atlantiic freighting at Montreal in 1946 and flew in shining metal .... on the London Airport-Prestwick-Montreal service for several years". He also gives their registrations but notes that one, G-AHYB, "had airline windows". A few sentences later, he added, "G-AHYB, B.O.A.C.'s solitary passenger version". The Liberator in the photograph is therefore G-AHYB, which is shown in the other image you posted. It was formerly AM920 and apparently went on, in later life, to become the personal aircraft of Emperor Bao Dai of Vietnam.

    The RFS Identity Card seems to have been issued on a "one use only" basis - in this case, on 13 February 1943 for a flight with AL627 - but was then used for later flights, with the original date and 'AL627' having been crossed out. It was next used fin connection with a flight on AL528. Then, 'AL528' was crossed out, so that the card could be used yet again, this time in connection with a flight on AM258.

    According to the A J Jackson book:

    >>> the last named (AL528) was the G-AGEM that crashed at Charlottetown on 21 February 1946
    >>> the middle one (AM258) was one of thirteen Liberators first allocated to BOAC but not one of the six also with a civil registration
    >>> the first-named (AL627) is not listed by Jackson at all [It is, however, given by Peter Moss, writing in AEROPLANE MONTHLY, as one of the BOAC Liberators that did not get a civilian registration]

    I never thought to check the Peter Moss articles and he has a page devoted to BOAC's Liberators. If I can do so, I'll scan the list of Liberators it contains and post it at a later date.

    [FINAL NOTE IN THIS POSTING: one of the comments Peter Moss makes is that "BASE X', as on that MOVEMENTS BOARD discussed in earlier posts, was Moscow]
    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 27th April 2017 at 22:33.

  26. #116
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    For 75 years, the bar/restaurant Au Lutin Qui Bouffe was located at 753-755 rue St-Grégoire in Montreal, on the corner of rue St-Hubert, presumably the street that went to the old airport in Montreal - St. Hubert. The pig was the mascot of the place and many customers were photographed with it - apparently.

  27. #117
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    I did find that 755 rue St-Grégoire is on the corner with rue St-Hubert in Montreal, but the distance from the airport at Dorval to that corner is 8 miles, as the Lib flies. Rue St-Hubert traverses the city from NW-SE, never nearing the airport, and rue St-Grégoire is only a short street that ends in a T-intersection a few blocks away.

    Au Lutin Qui Bouffe was an establishment sought out by thirsty and hungry foreigners, I guess. What's a mere 8 miles to someone who flies the Atlantic, anyway?

    Ian, you asked questions in Post #105 that I can't answer. No idea of AL595's American serial number, and it doesn't seem to show up in the on-line list of American serials by Joe Baugher. No idea if this Lib was actually flown when retained after Pearl Harbor.
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    Last edited by Matt Poole; 28th April 2017 at 01:43.
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  28. #118
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    Thanks, ericmunk, for the additional images and thanks, Matt, for trying to track down what happened to AL595 before it came across to Britain. The latter is a little puzzle that, I hope, future researchers will be able to solve.

    This being a holiday weekend, I shall be very busy indeed, so probably not contributing much for a few days. Nevertheless, please keep the comments, images and information coming. I shall be keeping an eye on this thread with interest.

    Meanwhile, as promised, here's the list of BOAC Liberators, as given by Peter Moss in a 1975 article (it excludes the 1946 conversions):
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  29. #119
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    Some accounts of BOAC refer to a Mark of Liberator as having 'self-leaking' tanks. I get the impression that it was the five Liberator IIIs G-AGFN to G-AGFS, and that the earlier marks as used on the RFS were preferred...anyone know?

  30. #120
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    Consolidated built the Liberator with integral fuel tanks, but had major difficulties getting them sealed. After 41-11650 they gave up altogether while they (and the manufacturers of Prestite sealing compound) conducted experiments on various aircraft. Production from 41-24089 was supposed to have integral tanks again but they were not tested begfore leaving the factory. From 41-24115 onwards the tanks were tested and are described as 'official'. There does seem to have been some confusion for a while as to the definition of 'self sealing'; put the two together and 'self leaking' is an obvious witticism...

    G-AGFN was FL909, 41-11753
    G-AGFO was FL915, 41-11735
    G-AGFP was FL917, 41-11727
    G-AGFR was FL918, 41-11738
    G-AGFS was FL920, 41-11683
    so none of these (officially) had integral tanks.

    Of the test aircraft, several (all Liberator I) went to BOAC with civil registrations:
    40-697 became AM259 then G-AGCD
    40-700 became AM262 then G-AGHG
    40-701 became AM263 then G-AGDS
    others may have been used by them on a more ad hoc basis.

    BOAC had a definite preference for 'round-engine' Liberators - they reckoned they could carry as much as 35% greater payload than the supercharged aircraft. At the altitiudes they generally flew the RFS they had no use for the superchargers, which from their viewpoint were an additional 1000lb weight, 8 square feet frontal area, and extra fuel usage all with no obvious benefit. When Consolidated stopped officially supplying spares for the aircraft they made them themselves, and when they could no longer get engine spares they replaced them with Catalina powerplants.

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