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Thread: BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

  1. #31
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    Mc Vicars book's are excellent, I have all the ones listed above. His website implies that more were published about his 1950's/60's exploits. However I have never come across any, has anybody else?
    Rob

  2. #32
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    I usually have several books 'on the go' at any one time, so I had put Don McVicar's "Ferry Command" in the small pile but, last night, I decided to read the opening chapter as a taster.

    It was amused to read that, as he took the taxi from the railway station in Montreal to Dorval, the taxi driver knew all about the supposedly 'secret' flights across the North Atlantic. It reminded me of something once written by Ralph Gleason, who was a well-known jazz writer (etc) based in San Francisco. In WWII, he had worked in the Office of War Information and, at one time, had to fly from Lisbon to Britain in one of BOAC's flying boat. Once again, everything about the flight was supposed to be secret' -except that, when the flying boat took off from the Tagus, everybody in Lisbon could hear it, including the German legation.

  3. #33
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    and as another aside regarding Secrets...the Harriers in Germany deployed to camoflaged field sites for exercises, all told to keep locations secret, but local taxi drivers knew which woodland area to go to !

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by farnboroughrob View Post
    His website implies that more were published about his 1950's/60's exploits. However I have never come across any, has anybody else?
    I think that he originally had a different distribution of stories and titles in mind and set up his website as such. Perhaps Airlife, when they came to publish his stories, rearranged them to fit in the five books as they were published. If you look at the reviews for 'More Than a Pilot' on that site you'll see that they refer to 'his four previous books'. That leads me to believe that these five were all of them. The only thing that doesn't compute is that there are also reviews for a novel by his hand. Perhaps the books were initially published on a small scale in Canada only.
    A Little VC10derness - A Tribute to the Vickers VC10 - www.VC10.net

  5. #35
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    Since we've got to the question of what is really secret and what is not, I've dug out the Ralph Gleason article with his views on "TOP SECRET EQUALS BRITISH MOST SECRET". You'll notice a odd bit of jazz terminology here and there.

    The part about the BOAC flying boat service from Lisbon is at the bottom of the first column. I hope it's legible.
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    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 15th April 2017 at 14:00.

  6. #36
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    http://www.rquirk.com/RAFLiberators/...0NOTESVer1.pdf
    Quote Originally Posted by Lazy8 View Post
    The retention of full RAF markings on the aircraft tells us that this was, perhaps, a convenient fiction to keep the more dove-like elements in the US Congress happy. After the US entered the war, and as the RAF built up their own pool of long-range experience, it was not uncommon for RAF crew members to supplement their BOAC colleagues on the RFS flights......
    .
    The retention of military serials on the RFS Liberators was possibly to placate the US airline lobby who would be opposed to a British civilian landplane regular service across the Atlantic. The BOAC civilian registered Boeing 314 service was presumably regarded differently as the Boeings had been purchased from Pan Am. There is plenty of evidence of commercial suspicions between the British and American establishments in the operations between West Africa and Cairo even after December 1941.
    At the top is a huge pdf of comments/corrections to the Oughton Liberator book here...but steering clear of the RFS/BOAC Libs
    Last edited by longshot; 15th April 2017 at 13:00.

  7. #37
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    Longshot,

    I compiled that info on Oughton book errors, etc. -- but that 2009 version is a bit outdated. Not sure when I can get a revamped version on-line.

    I was not steering clear of RFS/BOAC Libs. It's just that my main research focus has been on bomber variants, mainly in the Far East, and so most of my comments relate to 159 Squadron and other bomber units.

    Regards,

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

  8. #38
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    It may be "a bit outdated" but it is certainly a very full and thorough piece of work in its own right. I pretend no great knowledge of the subject but it impressed me. [An aside: as I type this, a Tiger Moth from the nearby airfield is practising aerobatics overhead].

    I include two images. Both are from FLIGHT magazine for 22 March 1945, forming part of a series on "B.O.A.C. Wartime Services".

    The first image is of a Liberator. It is a fairly similar shot to the one in Post # 28. The Liberator appears to be lower and there is water and maybe a bit of land beneath it. It is even possible that there is land beyond it, in the background, but that isn't too clear. The photo reference number has been written on and I've included the caption, which says that this is at the start of a flight west.

    The second image is of a Lancastrian off-loading at Prestwick. Again, the photo reference number is inscribed and the caption is shown. The latter makes no reference to it being a Trans-Canada Airlines aircraft.

    Not great scans but clicking on them will make them re-appear but larger.
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    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 15th April 2017 at 16:08.

  9. #39
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    Hi, Ian,

    Thanks for the kind words. Labor of love...you know...a.k.a. obsession. I need maybe two months of painstaking work to update that document, or I'll just wave my magic wand and update it in a flash. On second thought, if my magic wand is that powerful, I'll use it for other things instead.

    Thanks, also, for your latest photos. This angle of the Liberator seems to be attractive and popular. Here's an almost identical image from page 114 of the Oughton book, showing Liberator AL627, plus my Google Earth comparison. Nothing great here, just a bit of fun.

    I sent you a PM regarding some info I'm offering to you. Kindly let me know if you want it, or write by email to feb2944 AT aol DOT com (making the obvious changes).

    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".

  10. #40
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    The Lancaster conversion shown is Trans Canada's CF-CMS which I believe was a one-off freighter conversion pre-dating the Lancastrians http://www.airliners.net/photo/Untit...hter/1883203/L

  11. #41
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    Thanks, Matt, for the photo of the Liberator approaching Ailsa Craig. For at least a decade of my life, the latter was a regular if distant site for me. Sometimes, I would change my route home after work in order to drive down the hill from Dundonald to Loans just for the view across the Firth of Clyde to Ailsa Craig and Arran.

    The photo leads me to wonder again if the authorities sent up a Liberator to fly around the Firth of Clyde for air-to-air photography in order to gain some official photographs of the Return Ferry Service in operation. In other words, are all these photographs of the same Liberator 'simulating' first an outward 'westbound' journey and then a return 'eastbound' one?

    Thanks, Longshot, for the photo of the TCA Lancaster. The caption says it was taken at Ringway and that it came from the Avro Company, whose factory was nearby. I have three BOAC photographs of G-AGSU, the Tudor Mk.II. Two of these have captions attached. One shows "B.O.A.C.'s newest passenger air liner ... during a test flight at Manchester". The other shows it "flying very low on a test flight at A.V.Roes aerodrome, Manchester". Both are dated 3 April 1946. Did Avro use both Woodley and Ringway at the time?

    I should add that an old (1963) Air-Britain publication with an outline history of TCA says that they began their own Atlantic service on 22 July 1943 using a government-owned Lancaster, the first transport modification of the Lancaster. This was CF-CMS. It doesn't actually say that this modification was carried out by Avro itself but the photo you posted suggests this was so. The A-B publication goes on to say that it was followed "by more highly modified versions". It lists eight, offers almost no information on the first two but says the last six were converted "by Victory Aircraft Ltd., being the first Lancastrian conversions".

    I shall post an RFS-related photograph separately
    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 16th April 2017 at 10:34.

  12. #42
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    This photograph, from a book entitled "Britain At War - The Royal Air Force - From April 1942 to June 1943", is headlined "PLOTTING THE TRIP" and shows "the nerve centre of the Atlantic Ferry Service, where the position of each aircraft is plotted hour by hour". The position of those plots is quite interesting.

    I have also uploaded the movements board separately and a bit a darker. The board seems to show that some aircraft, such as the Liberators and the Hudsons, were delivered in pairs. Both the serial numbers and call-signs are chalked up, plus specific delivery information. I think the fourth column is the name of the captain (I see a "Wilde" and a "Paton", for example) but I could be wrong. Someone reading this may even be able to hazard a date the photograph was taken. I assume "BASE M" is Dorval but I'm not sure about the others.

    I bet some of you here would just love to get hold of the large record book on the desk in front of the Movements Board.

    I hope this is not a common photo and thus of interest. You can make the images larger by clicking on them. Double clicking will make them even larger, though the photographic screening makes the second image a bit less clear when double-clicked.
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    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 16th April 2017 at 11:01.

  13. #43
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    I'm in a bit if hurry at the moment but I think that someone mentioned rivalry/concerns over commercial interests regarding Atlantic traffic. The following two extracts from newspaper articles in August 1941 give a flavour of this. The first extract is the American newspaper's initial comment and the second extract is the British riposte the following day. I hope you can read them OK.
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  14. #44
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    Interesting article:
    ATFERO - The Atlantic Ferry Organization by Jeffrey Davis
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc...=rep1&type=pdf

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by wieesso View Post
    Interesting article:
    ATFERO - The Atlantic Ferry Organization by Jeffrey Davis
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc...=rep1&type=pdf
    Can't get wieesso's link to download but it leads to this promising looking thesis
    https://www.ruor.uottawa.ca/bitstrea...016_thesis.pdf

  16. #46
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    Thank you for that article, wieesso. I am otherwise engaged for the next day or two but I've printed it and will snatch a chance to read as and when I can. My quick scan has already shown it to be an interesting article, as you say.

    My own interest in this subject stems from my reading "Merchant Airmen" several decades ago (a booklet I still have) and this interest has been reactivated somewhat in recent times. So much research has been carried out in the intervening period.

  17. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by longshot View Post
    Can't get wieesso's link to download but it leads to this promising looking thesis
    https://www.ruor.uottawa.ca/bitstrea...016_thesis.pdf
    longshot, shall I send you the pdf by email?

    Martin

  18. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by wieesso View Post
    longshot, shall I send you the pdf by email?

    Martin
    Martin..Cancelling my PM, I switched to Chrome browser and the PDF downloaded fine...thanks anyway

  19. #49
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    Two quick points.

    [1] Looking at that Movements Board in Posting # 42 above, I think the details of the aircraft are fictitious. Perhaps some one could confirm this. If so, I guess it is hardly surprising in wartime. It would mean that the photo was 'posed', not unlike what I've suggested for some of the photographs of Liberators in flight to and/or from Prestwick.

    [2] I've been away for a couple of nights and took the McVicar book with me. It made for an interesting and entertaining read just before sleep. I'm about half-way through so far. Thanks for pointing me towards it.

  20. #50
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    Ian,

    There may be more than I know to the way individual aircraft were identified on that board, but I don’t have the answer.

    Speaking only of the eight Liberators listed, I can see that each serial number (in the 2nd column, which is headed by the text "SERIAL NO." or "SERIAL #" -- it's not clear enough for me to make out the second word/symbol) begins with "AG". But there were no AG-coded Liberators.

    My gut instinct is that this isn't made-up info, and that there probably is meaning to "AG" that has nothing to do with the serial number.

    The eight Liberator "serials" appear to end in:

    973
    974
    975
    982
    983
    985
    992
    993.

    IF the "AG" is incorrect but the three digits do correspond to actual Liberator serial numbers, then a perusal of serials in the Oughton Lib book shows that "BZ" would be the first code to link to these numbers. (The earlier AL and AM serials don’t go as high as 973.) Here are the delivery dates for these BZ-coded Libs:

    BZ973: Goose Bay - Prestwick 20.11.43
    BZ974: Gander - Prestwick 1.12.43
    BZ975: Gander - Prestwick 7-8.12.43
    BZ982: Goose Bay - Prestwick 22-23.11.43
    BZ983: Gander - Prestwick 27.11.43
    BZ985: Gander - St Angelo [?] 12.1.44, St Angelo [?] - Prestwick 13.1.44
    BZ992: delivered to Dorval 29.11.43; via Azores to India, arrived Karachi 17.12.43
    BZ993: delivered to Dorval 2.12.43; via Azores to Middle East, arrived Cairo 12.5.44

    But all of these are later than the “April 42 – June 43” window, based on the title of the book where the photo appears (“Britain At War - The Royal Air Force - From April 1942 to June 1943”).

    So I don’t comprehend the meaning of these numbers.

    The next 973-to-993 codes go with EV-serialed Libs which were not flown across the Atlantic until March 44 and later.

    Cheers,

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

  21. #51
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    The column headings for the MOVEMENTS BOARD - IN FLIGHT appear to be as follows:

    AIRCRAFT
    SERIAL NO. [I think, as the '#' symbol was not much used in Britain back then]
    CALL SIGN
    PILOT
    ?????? [unreadable because it's a longish word but possibly DEPARTED as it's a list of times]
    FROM
    E.T.A.
    TO
    LANDED
    ??????? [also unreadable nut more difficult to guess as there are no entries in the column]

    I assume the photo was taken at Prestwick and would suggest that, as Prestwick was a staging post between the place indicated in the "FROM" column and the place in the "TO" column, the final column would show the time that the incoming aircraft left Prestwick for the ultimate destination. Just a thought.

    I am still of a mind that the information on this MOVEMENTS BOARD is a fabrication but there is one element that might suggest otherwise. If you look at the first entry for a Hudson (the aircraft that is headed for "BASE X"), there is some additional information written above the word "HUDSON" in the first column. If one were writing fictitious information on the board for the purposes of the photograph, why bother to add this additional and unnecessary information?

    The book from which this image is taken has no publication date (nor even a year of publication) that I can find. It is possible that, while the text covers the period stated in the title, some of the "400 illustrations" cited on the title page post-date the period in question. I've looked at one of the second-hand book websites and the two UK-based sellers either give no date or state "date unknown" while a bookseller in Germany says "(ca.1944 - 1946) 1944".

    Incidentally, one of the UK booksellers is Bookcase in Carlisle, a shop I knew well. It is spread over several floors with thousands and thousands of books. Why mention it here? Well, it uses the former head office of the state brewery company, set up in Carlisle in the First World War under the State Management Scheme to control the sale of alcohol in the area and reduce the drunkeness of workers in the nearby explosives and armaments factories. As well as the brewery, it ran the pubs in the area and one of the rules forbade the buying of rounds of beer for others. They demolished sub-standard pubs, renovated others and built some new ones. The design of the new pubs influenced pub design across the country. The State Management Scheme only ended in the early 1970s, long after the exigencies of war!
    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 23rd April 2017 at 21:16.

  22. #52
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    Correction on my part. FL-coded General Reconnaissance Liberators passed through Prestwick in early 1943:

    FL973: arr Prestwick 20.3.43
    FL974: arr Prestwick 10.3.43
    FL975: arr Prestwick 2.3.43
    FL982: arr Prestwick 11.3.43
    FL983: arr Prestwick 28.4.43
    FL985: arr Prestwick 6.3.43
    FL992: Canada to the Bahamas, not Prestwick, arr 28.2.43
    FL993: Canada to the Bahamas, not Prestwick, arr 28.2.43.

    I haven't been through all serial nos yet. I do have a research friend who might have more records on Liberator flights to Prestwick. If I learn anything more, I'll post it.

    Cheers,

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

  23. #53
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  24. #54
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    Thanks, TonyT. It was new to me and very interesting.

  25. #55
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    FLIGHT magazine for 23 July 1942, which I have just seen on-line, has a six-page article entitled "Ferry Command Birthday". The main photograph on the opening page has the same photograph that we have been discussing - the one with the MOVEMENTS BOARD in it. The photograph is captioned:

    In the "operations room" of the main eastern terminal of the R.A.F. Atlantic Ferry Command

    This confirms, to my satisfaction anyway, that the location is Prestwick. It also shows that the photograph must have been taken in 1941 or, more likely perhaps, in 1942. The magazine shows the photo reference number as CH 5542 (which might be a digit short) but previous photographs I have seen with "CH" prefixes have been from the Air Ministry.

    The article has some photographs attributed to "Flight" magazine itself and here is one of them:
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    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 22nd April 2017 at 00:03.

  26. #56
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  27. #57
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    Thank you, wieesso, for that link, not only the particular page you showed but also for some of the other pages on the site. I've barely skimmed the surface this morning but it is all been good so far.

    Gander is the first place I ever set foot on North American soil (or, rather, concrete). It was in the mid-1960s, a student charter flight, an ex-Pan Am DC-7, an unplanned stop to re-fuel (caused by headwinds, I believe) and my memory of it is fairly limited. Nevertheless, I have an affection for the place and reading all these bits and pieces about Ferry Command and the Return Ferry Service has a certain resonance. Also, as well as visiting Prestwick Airport several times in my teens (my first night in Scotland was spent sleeping in an armchair in the old terminal building), I later lived quite close to the airport for a number of years.

    Thanks, again.

  28. #58
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    This piece of silent video is apparently made up of the out-takes from a Pathé News item about the expansion of Prestwick Airport in 1944.

    http://www.britishpathe.com/video/ex...stwick-airport

    The notes do not mention Liberators but you do briefly see one being worked on in one of Scottish Aviation's hangars - to me, it looks like one of the Return Ferry Service machines but perhaps someone here could confirm that or otherwise.

    In one of the shots, you can see what appears to be a Coastal Command Liberator taxiing. There is also a couple in the background as a B-17 takes off and also perhaps in the background of some of the views from the control tower.

    There are various other 'period' aircraft to be seen - B-17s parked, a Lancaster too, Daks and C-54s (still and moving), a Beaufighter flying low (presumably after take-off) and so on. The film lasts just over 3 minutes and is well worth watching. It can be viewed full screen, too.

    It makes me wonder if the original Pathé News newsreel is still availble to view. Does anyone know?

  29. #59
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    Some of you might find this interesting.
    Consolidated LB-30 Liberator Mk IIs including AL507 (5th built for the RAF's Coastal Command) @ San Diego's Lindbergh Field ca. '41. (Note longer nose section a la the B-24D and Curtiss Electric props.) AL507 was later re-designated G-AHYC and served as a BOAC freighter for ferrying RAF aircrews to the US to pick up later RAF Liberators. After the war, it was converted into a commercial transport and served until bellying in @ RAF Ayr / Heathfield (near Prestwick) in 1946.

  30. #60
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    Working outside...San Diego, CA...I love it. Thanks for the excellent photo, Duggy.

    Here's AL507's robust history, from the Oughton book:

    AL507
    Construction Number 5;
    First flight or acceptance date 9.8.41;
    retained for trials in USA;
    detained by USAAF 10.12.41 after Pearl Harbor;
    Taken on charge by USAAC 29.12.41;
    returned to RAF, flew Detroit - Dorval 4.3.42;
    allotted to Scottish Aviation Ltd 13.3.42;
    departed Dorval - Gander 11.3.42, Gander - Prestwick 16.3.42;
    Scottish Aviation Ltd 19.3.42;
    Telecommunications Flying Unit 20.3.42;
    233 Sqn 25.3.42;
    Scottish Aviation Ltd for turret installation 16.4.42;
    120 Sqn 6.5.42;
    Telecommunications Flying Unit 16.5.42;
    120 Sqn 18.5.42;
    to Prestwick 19.5.42;
    Prestwick - Gander 22-23.5.42 and to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston MA 11.6.42 for special duties;
    fitted with SCR.517 ASV Mk.III (air to surface vessel radar) in 'Dumbo' radome under nose;
    Departed Dorval 8.10.42, returned to Scottish Aviation Ltd 15.10.42;
    224 Sqn [Z] 19.11.42;
    59 Sqn [1:Z] 29.7.43;
    511 Sqn 22.10.43;
    Scottish Aviation Ltd 16.4.44;
    to BOAC 17.5.44;
    Prestwick - Goose Bay 19.5.44;
    converted to transport by Trans Canada Airlines;
    on Return Ferry Service 30.6.44;
    registered G-AHYC to BOAC;
    Certificate of Registration #10448 issued 19.8.46;
    Certificate of Registration #8301 issued 2.10.46;
    operated by Scotish Aviation Ltd;
    radio call sign OLZA;
    left Prestwick 13.11.46 for Montreal (Dorval) but experienced undercarriage trouble and circled for ten hours (!) to use fuel; made successful forced landing with wheels up at Ayr, the crew and three pasengers not being injured;
    registration cancelled 28.2.47;
    written off 23.5.47 and reduced to product (scrapped) at Prestwick.
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

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