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  • Lazy8
    Adrian Constable
    • Apr 2012
    • 563

    607 and 615 Squadrons flew from RAF Croydon to France on 15 November 1939. They were supported by 4 Ensigns, 4 DH.86s, both L.17s, a Magister, an Avro Ten (G-AASP) and a Fokker XII (G-AEOS). At the time, 45 aircraft flying together was believed to be highly unusual, and perhaps even a record.

    The tricolour stripes below the registration has a complicated history. It was not an international standard prewar. The standard was to paint your airliner orange all over with the name of your country as large as you could manage. Imperial Airways flatly refused to do this, and British Airways Ltd were far from keen. Their creation, National Air Communications, followed suit. However, following a number of incidents where Imperial aircraft over France, particularly C-Class flying boats, were 'buzzed' by French fighters during September 1939, a solution was thought necessary. It seems that the original idea may have come from a Capt Birouard, Commandant of the flying facilities at Marseilles, who suggested tricolour stripes (it's not clear where they were to be applied) on the morning of 22 September. By the afternoon the French Air Ministry had adopted the stripes, to cover the elevators and rudder, and were insisting on full national flags below the wingtips. Then it all gets a bit silly. Apparently for no better reason than that a "subordinate offical" had the original idea, NAC refuse to paint aircraft bound for France, and furthermore issue urgent instructions that may have actually stopped people who had paintbrushes in their hands from painting an aircraft at Marseilles (possibly C-Class Cooee). The two parties snipe at each other on the subject but do nothing. By October 10 the French are insisting on stripes on elevators and rudder, and flags above and below the wingtips, and NAC are still refusing to do it. Around about then "higher authority" seems to have noticed that all this nonsense is going on, and on 14 October NAC are instructed to adopt Capt Birouard's original idea - on elevators and rudder - and ignore the French Air Ministry. Whilst several aircraft were painted that way, the underlining stripes seem to have come along without further specific instructions shortly thereafter, and there were several 'hybrid' individual schemes over the winter of 39-40; universal adoption was not quick. In that regard it is notable that some if not all LOT aircraft escaping from Poland in late September and early October had red and white underlining stripes. That probably predates any British application.

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    • ianwoodward9
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Aug 2010
      • 806

      Thanks for the information, lazy8. A quick on-line search shows that 615 Squadron had been based pre-war at Old Sarum, during which time its Gauntlets were replaced by Gladiators. Then, in September 1939, it transferred briefly to Kenley (an old base for the squadron) and next, quickly on to Croydon.

      Perhaps 607 Squadron staged through Whitchurch to link up with the various support aircraft that you mention, lazy8. Then this group flew to Croydon, where they joined up with 615 Squadron before the mini-armada (2 squadrons of Gladiators and those support aircraft) flew off to Merville.on 16 November 1939. It must have been quite a sight. I think the surviving Gladiators were abandoned in France.

      If this idea is correct, then the photos posted by longshot were likely taken at Whitchurch just before mid-November 1939.

      Many thanks, lazy8, for the information on the history of the tricolour underlining of the BOAC civil registrations. It was very useful but I would make two points. These were not truly neutrality markings, in that they came in after war had been declared and were borne by aircraft of one of the parties to the conflict. Also, the overall orange neutrality paint scheme, with the country name in large letters, was first applied by KLM after one of DC-3s had been attacked on 26 October 1939. B

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      • longshot
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Aug 2008
        • 1666

        The photos including the Gladiators were taken at Croydon, by a Leslie Penfold, I believe. I don't think of any of the countries which used orange 'neutrality' paint took the first step in combat..weren't they always the victim of invasion? I presume the red-white-blue stripes were supposed to be in opposite order British vs French?

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        • ianwoodward9
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Aug 2010
          • 806

          Oops. My mistake. I hadn't realised that those three photos were not taken at Whitchurch. Thanks for getting me back on track, longshot.

          On the subject of the orange-overall neutrality colours, my understanding is that KLM started this practice prior to being invaded in May 1940 and following the incident in late October 1939, which I mentioned before. One of its DC-3s had been shot at and hit while over the North Sea. The pilot landed the aircraft safely at Schipol but one passenger, a Swede, died as a result. KLM decided to paint its aircraft orange and suggested that the airlines of other neutral countries do the same. I've not seen it mentioned before in this context but orange, as well as being a colour that stands out, is also the national colour of Holland, so might be regarded as appropriate for KLM.

          Anyway, Belgium and Sweden followed the Dutch example and adopted the overall-orange paint scheme for their aircraft.

          Even prior to this, however, ABA of Sweden had applied, what might be called, the original neutrality markings. From at least May 1939 onwards, their aircraft, still bare metal, had 'SWEDEN' or 'SCHWEDEN' painted on their undersides. At the outbreak of war, ABA then adopted what might be called an interim neutrality paint scheme. The aircraft remained in bare metal but 'SWEDEN' was painted in large letters along the fuselage above the line of passenger windows and a large Swedish flag was painted both on the tail and above and below the outer wings. The colours of the Swedish flag were also painted on the nose.

          Then came the overall orange scheme which, as I mentioned before, is usually ascribed to KLM. There is, however, an anomaly in the dates that I have read in different sources. One stated that the attack on the KLM DC-3 that prompted the adoption of the orange paint scheme took place on 26 October 1939 while another says that, on 25 October 1939, ABA advised the Air Ministry that its aircraft would be painted orange like the KLM planes. If anyone can resolve this difference, I would be pleased to hear.

          Meanwhile, DDL in Denmark did not at first accept KLM's suggestion to paint its aircraft orange overall and adopted a scheme that was rather like the interim Swedish one. This seems to have been used in November and December 1939 and the overall-orange scheme was only applied around January 1940.

          The above is my understanding of the sequence of events and I would welcome any corrections or supplementary information.
          Last edited by ianwoodward9; 15th June 2019, 09:57.

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          • longshot
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Aug 2008
            • 1666

            Click image for larger version  Name:	DDL_Fw-200_OY-DAM-in-neutra.jpg Views:	0 Size:	990.0 KB ID:	3865390Click image for larger version  Name:	EI-ACA800a.jpg Views:	0 Size:	51.6 KB ID:	3865391

            I would think that the Imperial/B.A. Ltd 'Armada' p ositioned into Croydon from Whitchurch, Ian. There is of course the famous shot of DDL, Sabena and KLM typestogether in orange overall (at Schiphol, perhaps...boy I'd like to get a decent scan or print of that!). And Aer Lingus' sole DC-3 EI-ACA was delivered through Shoreham in overall orange in 1940. And from a slightly faded Dutch slide https://www.flickr.com/photos/827078...30568/sizes/l/

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            • longshot
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Aug 2008
              • 1666

              Re. British camouflage and nationality stripes during the BEF's presence in France there is a colour still from an amateur film ...not sharp but invaluable for modellersClick image for larger version

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              • ianwoodward9
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Aug 2010
                • 806

                The following is what I can gather about the FW-200 Condor OY-DAM shown at Schipol in the photograph presented by longshot in Post # 385.

                OY-DAM flew the DDL service from Copenhagen via Amsterdam to London (or, rather, to Shoreham) from 13 November 1939 to 3 January 1940. It was a daily service (into Shoreham one day, back to Copenhagen the next, returning to Shoreham on the day after that, and so on) but whether it made every one of those flights is not clear. The dates that are known, however, do fit that pattern. As far as I can gather, it bore what DDL called nationality markings, as shown in the attached image.

                On 4 January 1940, the London service was taken over by its sister ship, OY-DEM, so that OY-DAM could undergo a 1300-hours overhaul. Its heating system was also modified to bring into line with that on OY-DEM. The overhaul of OY-DAM was completed on 7 February 1940. It is believed that it was, during this overhaul, that OY-DAM was repainted in the overall-orange neutrality scheme.

                The weather in Europe was dreadful in Europe from the end of January 1940 to the beginning of March 1940. There was heavy snow and lots of ice. Shoreham was closed for operational flying for much of this period. Even when there was respite, the airfield became too waterlogged for much flying. The weather in Denmark was also dire, so bad that many of the regular shipping/ferry services could not operate. DDL stepped up its internal air services to take over some of their supply/communications functions. The two Condors were drafted in to take part in these activities.

                DDL's London service restarted at the beginning of March, using OY-DAM. Though sources seem to differ as to the precise date, the outbound flight from Copenhagen could well have been on 1 March 1940. There is also slightly contradictory information as to the regularity of this service in March 1940 and into the beginning of April 1940. What is well documented is that OY-DAM had arrived at Shoreham on 8 April 1940 for its standard stay overnight, during which German forces had invaded Denmark. Denmark then became occupied territory and OY-DAM was impounded by the British authorities.

                The photograph posted by longshot was most likely taken in March 1940 - or possibly very early in April 1940.
                Attached Files
                Last edited by ianwoodward9; 16th June 2019, 10:32.

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                • ianwoodward9
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Aug 2010
                  • 806

                  Here's an image of what I assume to be one of DDL's Condors (not a Lufthansa one) in the winter of 1940, as passengers go out to board , walking past piled-up snow. The photo was most likely taken at Kastrup but, unfortunately, the quality is rather poor.
                  Attached Files
                  Last edited by ianwoodward9; 17th June 2019, 10:51.

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                  • Duggy
                    Flight SIM Pilot
                    • Mar 2012
                    • 1133

                    OY-DAM taken summer of 39 at Kastrup.

                    Comment

                    • ianwoodward9
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Aug 2010
                      • 806

                      Nice photo, duggy, and new to me.

                      On the right is the 'old' terminal building at Kastrup with the 'new' terminal building under construction on the left.. A photo of OY-DEM being delivered on 15 November 1938 shows the 'new' terminal building finished or perhaps still under construction. If the latter, it is quite a bit further on in the process - the highest section is now glazed, for example.. The 'old' building looks a little different in the OY-DEM photo but the 'tower' on the top is a bit of a giveaway, as is the chimney on the end of the building. This suggests to me that the date of the photograph is mid-1938 rather than 1939.

                      I attach a copy of that OY-DEM delivery day photo.

                      The line of people at the bottom of the photo, all turning to look at OY-DAM flying over, suggests a special occasion of some kind - perhaps the delivery day for OY-DAM, 14 July 1938
                      Attached Files
                      Last edited by ianwoodward9; 17th June 2019, 15:31.

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                      • ianwoodward9
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Aug 2010
                        • 806

                        Though HP42s have featured recently in this thread, the attached image shows nothing about the camouflaging of these aircraft. It does, however, show an HP42 from an unusual angle - namely, seen from above. I trust you will forgive my posting it here.


                        Click image for larger version

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                        Last edited by ianwoodward9; 11th July 2019, 22:03.

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                        • ianwoodward9
                          Rank 5 Registered User
                          • Aug 2010
                          • 806

                          A short while back, there was discussion as to the BOAC fleet numbers in or around January 1943. The attached list shows the BOAC fleet a couple of years later, In March 1945.

                          Though the details related to March, they were published shortly before VE Day (8 May 1945). So, just a few weeks later,, it would be revealed publicly that the BASE shown as "L-------" in the listing was in fact Leuchars. These were the aircraft engaged on the Stockholm Run.

                          The list shows 168 aircraft, of which 142 were regarded as 'first-line'and the remaining 26 as 'training types'. This division is not shown clearly in the list, however. Only the 11 Oxfords, the single AT-7 and the single Catalina are actually marked as training aircraft,. We might perhaps add the Anson (based in South Africa) and the "military-serialled" Hudson (based in Montreal) and maybe the two Sunderlands with military serials but I'm not sure. Even then, the total would well below 26 training aircraft; so, presumably, some of the 'airliner-types" were actually used for training purposes.

                          The accompanying article says that the Warwick was operated by the Corporation's Development Flight "for research work".

                          Of the grand total of 168, 73 were British-built and 95 were American-built. In terms of "first-line" services, a somewhat different picture emerges, since most of the aircraft types acknowledged as being used for training purposes were British-built. The balance of aircraft between British-built and American-built is much influenced by the presence of 57 Dakotas in the list, roughly one-third of the overall total.

                          There is no reference to the KLM aircraft that BOAC leased, nor to the Lodestars owned by the Norwegian Government.
                          Attached Files

                          Comment

                          • Sabrejet
                            Rank 5 Registered User
                            • Mar 2010
                            • 1756

                            Enjoying this thread and hope a few photos will be of interest.

                            G-AAUE/AS982 on the railway line at Doncaster, 7 December 1940:

                            Click image for larger version

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                            G-AAXF/AS983 at Donibristle after being converted into an office:

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                            Supposedly this is G-AAUD (not impressed) at Le Mans in support of 271 Squadron:

                            Click image for larger version

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                            And another of 'AAUD:

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                            The three impressed HP.42/45s were still flying sorties to France into 1940, including AS982 on 9 June (Hendon-Le Mans) & same a/c Hendon to Nantes and Le Mans two days later.

                            Last flight by any HP.42/45 was AS982 (G-AAUE) on a 20-minute local flying sortie Doncaster-Doncaster on 5 November 1940 with FO ES Knox as pilot and Sgt Gluba (Polish) as nav. It didn't fly again until blown onto the railway line as above.

                            Attached Files

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                            • ianwoodward9
                              Rank 5 Registered User
                              • Aug 2010
                              • 806

                              A great set pf photos, sabrejet. While it was sad to see how G-AAUE and G-AAXF met their fates, I had been intrigued by the descriptions in words, so it was valuable to view the images. Likewise, a nice clear image of G-AAUD in its warpaint gives an indication of how these aircraft were rushed into service in France at the outbreak of war.

                              Your confirmation that none of the HP42/45s flew after 1940 was also most welcome. After so many years of service with Imperial Airways without any losses, it seems striking to me that none survived long in wartime use (or misuse)..

                              Moving to the attached image, among the photos I got given in my youth was a nighttime shot of three Ensigns and a DH86 at Croydon. It is an Imperial Airways publicity photo and I've since found another photo on-line that appears to be of one of the three Ensigns, the one in the background in the photograph I have. I thought it unlikely that Imperial would have engaged the services of a professional photographer to take just one or two photos, so searched a bit further and came across the attached shot of G-AAUD. I suspect it was taken on the same night but can anyone provide more details, please? The date perhaps?
                              Attached Files
                              Last edited by ianwoodward9; 28th June 2019, 17:16.

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                              • Graham Boak
                                Rank 5 Registered User
                                • Nov 2008
                                • 953

                                Re the losses, I suggest old and tired airframes being flown more intensively in a much less cushioned environment.

                                Looking at the comparative airframes in use by competitor airlines, it is perhaps a more important question why they were persevered with for so long before the war.

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                                • longshot
                                  Rank 5 Registered User
                                  • Aug 2008
                                  • 1666

                                  Probably need to be on FB to see but this looks like a similar session Click image for larger version

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                                  • ianwoodward9
                                    Rank 5 Registered User
                                    • Aug 2010
                                    • 806

                                    [1} It's an interesting question, Graham. The HP42 was indeed a 1930s airliner based on what I might term "1920s thinking" and I read somewhere that the Board of Imperial Airwaya were wedded to the idea of biplane airliners. And, I also recall reading that G-AAXF/AS983 was deemed, after an accident in the summer of 1940, to be structurally unsound and that was why it ended its flying days, becoming the squadron office at Donibristle as depicted in the photo posted by sabrjet in Post 393 above. I think there is little doubt that the HP42/45s were coming to the end of their working lives. Nevertheless, the attrition rate after they left Imperial Airways service was strikingly high.

                                    [2] Another great photo, longshot, and, yes, I reckon it's the same night, too. When I referred to "another photo" in Post 394, it was also to one of Ensign G-ADSS but not the same photograph. The one you posted is lined up on the starboard wheel of the main undercarriage. The one I found was lined up on the port wheel of the main undercarriage and was taken at about 8.43 pm. Though it is less clear than I would like, i think the photo you put up in the previous Post was taken a couple of minutes earlier. In all, then, that makes four photographs taken on the Croydon apron that night (the one with three Ensigns and a DH86, the two separate photos of Ensign G-ADSS and the one of HP42 G-AAUD attached to Post 394). There must be others.
                                    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 30th June 2019, 07:15.

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                                    • ianwoodward9
                                      Rank 5 Registered User
                                      • Aug 2010
                                      • 806

                                      I wonder if it is possible to narrow down when the "Croydon-By-Night" photos in Posts 394 and 396 might have been taken.

                                      Since the clock shows them to have been taken before 9pm and since it is very dark, this suggests the aircraft were photographed some time in the winter. The one original photograph is stickered, "Imperial Airways" (with a reference number) and has a description, "Three Imperial ENSIGN air liners at Croydon by night". Since the NAC took over, after the declaration of war, around September 1939, the photos predate that. The Ensign first came into commercial service on Friday 21 October 1938, so the photos post-date that and, probably by a few months, given that several Ensigns are shown in one shot.

                                      This only narrows the time-frame down a little, to the winter of 1938-1939 and most likely in the first few months of 1939 but it's a start.

                                      Since Imperial Airways engaged a professional photographer and since the original photograph was clearly printed for publicity purposes (the sticker on the back permits free reproduction as long as Imperial Airways is given acknowledgement) , it seems likely that one or more of the "Croydon By Night" photographs was published somewhere. If so, it would helpful to establish the date of publication.
                                      Last edited by ianwoodward9; 1st July 2019, 10:49.

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                                      • ianwoodward9
                                        Rank 5 Registered User
                                        • Aug 2010
                                        • 806

                                        Further to the previous Post, a little digging shows that, on 15 January 1939, the Ensigns , five of which had been delivered by then, were withdrawn from service for 'modification'. They did not resume service until early June 1939. This prompts me to revise the date of the "Croydon By Night" photographs which must have been taken some between the end of October 1938 and early January 1939 - and there is a little more information that may support this.

                                        I found a newspaper report of a demonstration flight by the Albatross "Frobisher" on 11 November 1938, out from Croydon over Brighton into the English Channel and back again. In this report, it says that,at the start of the trip, "Frobisher" was on the apron at Croydon next to the Ensign "Elsinore" (G-ADST), which had been stripped of its internal fittings, ready to fly the Christmas mail out to India. As far as I can discover, two of the five Ensigns operated the Paris route and three were for the mail route to India. The indications are that five Ensigns were in operational service well before the end of 1938
                                        Last edited by ianwoodward9; 30th June 2019, 23:15.

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                                        • ianwoodward9
                                          Rank 5 Registered User
                                          • Aug 2010
                                          • 806

                                          Herewith, a couple of brief news clips showing the Ensign, both from mid-October 1938


                                          https://www.britishpathe.com/video/V...T/query/Ensign


                                          https://www.britishpathe.com/video/n...n/query/Ensign

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