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BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

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  • ianwoodward9
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Aug 2010
    • 806

    Thanks, Duggy, great to see.

    I had found the first one (not such good quality) in an old issue of a Detroit newspaper from a date in March 1942. As you can see, the caption names the crew and they match those in the photo I attached to Post # 334.

    There seems to be no obvious reason why a Detroit newspaper should carry the photo, complete the crew names, unless TWA issued a press release with the photo and those details. It might be worth exploring.
    Attached Files

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    • ianwoodward9
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Aug 2010
      • 806

      Other matters have taken over my time of late and are likely to do so for the coming week and maybe longer. Meanwhile, here is a link to a TWA film entitled WINGED HORIZONS, made in 1941 and featuring the TWA Stratoliners.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70oAmj_6hlk

      At the start of the film, NC19908 is shown at La Guardia and, in case anyone should think that i have forgotten the transatlantic Liberators, there is one in the foreground, as NC19908 takes off. I attach a still from that sequence in the film
      Attached Files

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      • longshot
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Aug 2008
        • 1666

        Excellent stuff!!...colour film, too...loved the sequence of the Stratoliner flying through the Grand Canyon. I wonder how often the BOAC/RFS Liberators went on to the USA from Canada?

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        • ianwoodward9
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Aug 2010
          • 806

          The attached article was published in November 1943 and is an overview of the first year of U.S. Air Transport Command's operations. It reads as though written by a press officer but has some interesting statistics. It also mentions in passing some of the aircraft types that have come up in this thread.
          Attached Files

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          • ianwoodward9
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Aug 2010
            • 806

            A TWA newspaper advert from late 1940:-
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            • longshot
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Aug 2008
              • 1666

              Click image for larger version

Name:	32863816037_de74843b37_o.jpg
Views:	219
Size:	320.6 KB
ID:	3862414 There's a bare-metal RFS Liberator in the foreground in this 1944ish photo at Prestwick (from Mark Allen M on WIX forum) https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...74843b37_o.jpg
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              • ianwoodward9
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Aug 2010
                • 806

                Just excellent.

                I scanned this from a book. It was taken on the same day but the bare-metal Lib has moved nearer the camera. Perhaps (just perhaps) it would be possible to read its serial number on the original photograph.
                Attached Files
                Last edited by ianwoodward9; 16th May 2019, 19:33.

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                • ianwoodward9
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Aug 2010
                  • 806

                  Here are the two previous photographs together:

                  EDIT: I hadn't realised, until I looked at the image this morning, that it looks like a 'Spot The Difference' competition - but, In terms of the aircraft, only the bare-metal Liberator has changed, I think.
                  Attached Files
                  Last edited by ianwoodward9; 17th May 2019, 05:36.

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                  • ianwoodward9
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Aug 2010
                    • 806

                    This aerial view was obviously taken on a different day but I have marked the spot where (more or less) where the photographer was positioned to take the above two shots.
                    Attached Files

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                    • ianwoodward9
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Aug 2010
                      • 806

                      And here's the bare-metal Lib in close-up. Are those code letters on the nose?
                      Attached Files

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                      • ianwoodward9
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Aug 2010
                        • 806

                        If that's 'ZM' on the nose, then it would seem that it is AL529, which had 'OLZM' as its call-sign.

                        The photograph attached shows AL529/ZM at Dorval and the code letters on the nose read '29' and 'ZM'. The Lib in the photo above (Post # 350) seems to have 'ZM' on the nose but I'm not sure that it is '29' above the 'ZM'.

                        Also, I can't see a BOAC 'Speedbird' logo on its fuselage. This is a lesser concern, if intriguing, but the photos is not too clear on this, anyway..


                        Comments, anyone?
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by ianwoodward9; 16th May 2019, 21:24.

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                        • ianwoodward9
                          Rank 5 Registered User
                          • Aug 2010
                          • 806

                          The image from the WIX Forum that longshot posted is so much clearer than the one I had scanned from a book I had a go at counting the number of aircraft shown.

                          Excluding the B-17s first of all, I make it 25 aircraft: 1 Wellington, 1 C-54, 12 Daks, 5 Liberators, 5 Lancs and, in one of the Dak line-ups, a B-25, I think . [Forgive me if I'm wrong about the identifications - my spotting days are well past me now]

                          Counting the B-17s is not easy but I got to 33 and I think there may be one or two others way back in the pack.

                          Overall then, close to 60 aircraft are in this photograph, if not actually 60.

                          And we know, if only from the aerial photograph of Prestwick (in Post # 349) that there may well be other aircraft in parts of the airfield not shown in the photo posted by longshot.

                          If you care to attempt this for yourself, here is longshot's posting again, with the tones lightened and showing just the aircraft.
                          Attached Files

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                          • Lazy8
                            Adrian Constable
                            • Apr 2012
                            • 563

                            RFS LB.30s usual presentation on the nose was the last three of the military serial above the last two of the Transport Command callsign. I have no reason to suspect that a particular callsign was assigned to more than a single aircraft, but a comprehensive list does not seem to have survived. (More has survived relating to the Dakota fleet, but it doesn't give one the feeling that this was the result of the most coherent application policy you've ever come across...)
                            I think this might be AL614 OLZN. This could well be the first photograph I've seen of that aircraft, and aside from records of Atlantic crossings I know little about it. It appears unusual in a number of respects. There seems to be no anti-glare panel. There are quite extravagant 'moustaches' on the side of the nose, instead of the small aerial masts one usually sees on all Liberators - that could explain why you can't see the Speedbird, which was quite small in any case. The tail in the second photo might belong to AL529, just to confuse matters.

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                            • ianwoodward9
                              Rank 5 Registered User
                              • Aug 2010
                              • 806

                              I think you may very well be right, Adrian. I attach two images:

                              [1] a similar image to the one in Post #350 but slightly cropped and with the tonal range adjusted
                              [2] a much tighter crop with the lighter tones unrealistically high

                              It looks like the upper line of the code ends in "4" and the lower line looks more like an "N" now

                              AL614 / OLZN looks like the right call to me. Any dissenters?

                              And, of course, they could indeed be different bare-metal Liberators in the two photographs. That raises the question of how close in time the two photographs were taken. Apart from the elusive bare-metal Liberators, the only changes I've found are in the positions of the people and the 'disappearance' of one lorry.
                              Attached Files

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                              • Lazy8
                                Adrian Constable
                                • Apr 2012
                                • 563

                                I have a suspicion that this may not be 1944, but some time after VE Day. Look at the B-17s: they have a variety of unit markings as well as some unmarked - I think they're on their way home. They're certainly not shiny new airframes just arrived. The Lancasters are a bit more of a puzzle, as one or maybe two of them have front and rear turrets and three certainly don't, but again I don't think they've just arrived. Possibly since the bulk of the RCAF Lancaster squadrons hurried home to prepare for being part of Tiger Force, these are 'spare' aircraft following on a bit later. From before D-Day, I think, the bulk of RAF Liberator deliveries were going via the southern route and across Africa to India, so the GR's parked there could be going back to the US at the end of Lend Lease too.
                                Or I could be putting two and two together to get five.

                                As to the sequence of the photos, the picture of what we now think is AL614 has a crew walking from the aircraft to the 'terminal' (and no-body else, which might also suggest it's post-war) so I think it's just arrived. The photo of the tail of what could be AL529 is clearly close to the other one in time, and with the aircraft parked in front of the terminal I think it's loading, about to depart. That would mean the AL529 photo was first and the other one afterwards.

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                                • ianwoodward9
                                  Rank 5 Registered User
                                  • Aug 2010
                                  • 806

                                  From what I can gather, Peter Berry's research indicated that the call-sign 'OLZN' was used between December 1944 [see EDIT note] and February 1946. Earlier than this, AL614 was recorded.

                                  EDIT: I think I have misread the dating and December 1944 was actually December 1945


                                  Do we know when 'warpaint' gave way to bare metal on the RFS?
                                  Last edited by ianwoodward9; 18th May 2019, 08:00.

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                                  • Lazy8
                                    Adrian Constable
                                    • Apr 2012
                                    • 563

                                    I've yet to come across an instruction to strip the paint off. With very few exceptions the photos of the RFS fleet are undated, or the dates are vague enough that you just know the caption-writer is really saying "your guess is as good as mine". Best I can do is some time betweeen May and November 1944. Quite conceivably it took all of that six months to strip the whole fleet. The only photo I've found of a natural-metal airframe without nose codes is of AL547, which had a non-standard nose anyway.

                                    Incidentally, your photo of AL614, in post 129, shows the 'moustaches' on the nose, as on the aircraft in the photo we're currently discussing. I've never seen them on another aircraft, so I think that confirms the identification. I wonder what they're for?

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                                    • ianwoodward9
                                      Rank 5 Registered User
                                      • Aug 2010
                                      • 806

                                      Oughton says that AL614 was taken on charge at Dorval on 8 May 1942 and used for a couple months by Ferry Command's Communication Squadron. On 31 August 1942, it was allocated to BOAC for the Return Ferry Service and its first eastbound flight was on 1 September 1942. Berry's research says it arrived at Prestwick from Gander on 2 September 1942. The latter's research shows multiple Atlantic crossings, plus a few flights elsewhere.

                                      One incident is noted in this period, though the accounts differ.

                                      Oughton says of AL614: "burst tyre on take-off Prestwick for Gander 24.8.43 and belly-landed at Ayr". Berry says: "Aug 23/24 Liberator Gander - Ayr. Belly-landed Pwk. RFS. AL614", suggesting it left Gander on 23 August en route for the UK, where it crashed. From other reports, what appears to have happened is this. AL614, returning from Dorval en route to Prestwick, stopped off at Gander. As it took off from there, around 8.00 in the evening of 23 August, a tyre burst and the undercarriage was damaged. It continued its journey and belly-landed at Heathfield (Ayr) around 8.30 on the morning of 24 August 1943.

                                      Oughton goes on to say that, on 7 September 1943, AL614 went for repair to Scottish Aviation Limited. It was moved from Heathfield to Prestwick late on the morning of that day. As well as the repairs, it apparently had modifications to meet 'A.I.D. requirements'. I'm not sure what those are but perhaps it explains the 'moustache' noted by Adrian in the preceding Post. Oughton says it was returned to BOAC at Prestwick on 16 November 1943. To add to that, there was a radio check on 15 November, a 'nose wheel shimmy damper' problem on 16 November, a further radio check on 17 November and, it would seem, a test flight on 18 November.

                                      Oughton says AL614 was back in service westbound on 19 November 1943. Berry's research shows it left Prestwick on 19 November 1943 bound for Gander. It left very early that day, around one in the morning, and stopped off at Gander, arriving at Dorval in the early evening. It remained at Montreal until almost the end of December 1943, during which period the cabin was modified in some way. It then left Montreal on 29 December 1943 for Gander, where it stayed for more than a day, awaiting an 'anti-air pump' and its 'load'. It got back to Prestwick on Hogmanay (31 December).

                                      Now for a bit of speculation on my part. My suggestion is (with no basis in fact) that the photograph of AL614 in Post #129 (repeated below) was taken by SAL in mid-November 1943, just prior to their returning the aircraft to BOAC.
                                      Attached Files
                                      Last edited by ianwoodward9; 19th May 2019, 21:23.

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                                      • ianwoodward9
                                        Rank 5 Registered User
                                        • Aug 2010
                                        • 806

                                        Can anyone help with the matter of the "A.I.D. requirements?

                                        What are they?

                                        ...and ...

                                        Would meeting these requirements result in any outward change to the aircraft?

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                                        • Duggy
                                          Flight SIM Pilot
                                          • Mar 2012
                                          • 1133

                                          Thought you might like this Ian.
                                          Consolidated 'Liberator' II aircraft AL 522 of B.O.A.C. visiting No. 1 General Reconnaissance School, R.C.A.F., Summerside, P.E.I., 1945.

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