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BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

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  • ianwoodward9
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Aug 2010
    • 806

    Still with Ensigns but slightly more back on track. The attached shows G-ADSS in a rather -ahem! - basic camouflage scheme.

    The Ensigns were first dispersed to Baginton, where some did have a crude camouflage applied, before moving to Whitchurch, where I believe this photograph was taken - can anyone confirm this?

    I.m not sure about those white objects to the right of the photograph but I think they could be 'posh' seats that have been removed from the interior to save weight. Does that sound right?

    Overall, I tend to the view that this is G-ADSS soon after it arrived at Whitchurch from Baginton. It bears very 'rough-and-ready' camouflage markings and is perhaps undergoing equipment changes to make ready for its war work. That would then put the photograph at some time in the second part of September 1939.

    This last part is all pure supposition on my part. If anyone knows any better, I would be pleased to be corrected.
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    • Lazy8
      Adrian Constable
      • Apr 2012
      • 563

      Imperial chairs were fitted to the ex-BAL Ju.52s which were readied for service to Helsinki on 15 September 1939. All three Ju.52s were at Whitchurch by then, and this photo could have been taken at Whitchurch, so it is possible that it shows those chairs being moved. Ensigns were also stripped to carry freight for the RAF, so other dates will be possible. Incidentally, there appears to be an uncamouflaged Ensign and Frobisher in the background, which might suggest it was earlier rather than later.

      Ensign serviceability in early September 1939 was awful, although by the following month they were winning friends by being constantly available. Only seven of them made it to Baginton, on 1 September, flying in line astern so they didn't get lost They went there for modifications, to include the fitting of Cyclone engines to replace the Tigers, but Armstrongs weren't ready to do this - for a start they didn't have the engines - and in fact the last conversion wasn't completed until well into 1943. The following morning the RAF officer in charge of the airfield was aghast to see his nice, inconspicuous, little airfield covered in large silver aeroplanes, and ordered them all out. By that evening only two were left - possibly unserviceable. There was some discussion whether these should be camouflaged at Baginton by Armstrongs, but it is unclear whether this happened. I tend to the opinion that it didn't, as you'd expect them to do a professional job and it is not possible to pick two aircraft from the early photographs that look as if they were painted 'properly'. One account says that one of the two remaining aircraft was G-ADSV Explorer, but she is also recorded as being camouflaged by the RAF at Benson on that day (2nd), allegedly with mops and buckets of paint.

      Imperial Airways really wanted their aircraft to be camouflaged by spraying (less weight, less opportunity to get lots of paint into places it shouldn't go), but the spray equipment was on a goods train marooned in a siding at Waddon (or possibly Norwood Junction), because all the Southern Railway's locomotives were busy on important war work even before the declaration. Most of what hadn't flown out of Croydon to Whitchurch was on two trains, one nominally passenger, the other nominally goods. The passenger train seems to have run on 2 September but the goods train was delayed, and when it did arrive the resources to unload it, and places to unload it to were still to be identified. The spray equipment was unavailable for some time, leading to Imperial as well as the RAF hand-painting. That photo comes from, I think, Flight for 15 February 1957, which contains a very nice history of the Ensign (part 2 the following week) which identifies some of the Captains who were given paint and brushes and told to camouflage the aircraft they'd just arrived in. It includes the lovely story of Captain Horsey who found brown paint unavailable so painted his Ensign green all over, then added sheep to the 'field' - sadly his aircraft is not identified.
      The upshot of this was that aircraft were camouflaged in a haphazard way. The RAF 'borrowed' aircraft on a daily basis throughout September, and almost all of those came back to Whitchurch with camouflage applied, usually painting over the civil registration. Imperial were unamused by this, and less so when there were further conflicting instructions concerning the application of camouflage and roundels ("targets"). It has not so far proved possible to identify a day on which a particular aircraft was camouflaged in a particular way as, bizarre though it seems, some of them wore camouflage for 24 hours or less before being stripped back to silver (or painted silver over the top), and then camouflaged again a day or two later. It does seem that there was a particular burst of activity at Whitchurch on or slightly before 23 September, and the whole camouflage question had largely been resolved by 22 October 1939. Most of the really 'home-made' paint jobs would seem to date from before that.

      Comment

      • ianwoodward9
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Aug 2010
        • 806

        Thank you, lazy 8, for the above. The detail about the camouflaging (and the "de-camouflaging") of the Ensigns was fascinating.

        The two Peter Moss articles on the Ensigns were terrific. I suspect I read them some time ago and recalled some of the content. I found the image of the roughly-camouflaged G-ADSS filed away on my PC, likely pinched from the Moss article; and just needed to adjust the tones a bit before posting it here.

        The contemporary press reports on the withdrawal of the Ensigns for modification said they were under-powered. After the first modification, it was reported that the Ensigns could maintain 15,000 feet on three engines and 7,000 feet on two. Imperial Airways' statement, around the time the modification work was completed had more about the modification to the controls to make them less tiring for pilots on long journeys.

        The refitting with the Cyclone engines came later, of course.
        Last edited by ianwoodward9; 5th July 2019, 20:48.

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        • longshot
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Aug 2008
          • 1666

          Click image for larger version  Name:	F-BAHD-Nouakchott.jpg Views:	0 Size:	231.4 KB ID:	3867178Click image for larger version  Name:	G-ADSX Le Bourget.jpg Views:	0 Size:	56.7 KB ID:	3867175Click image for larger version  Name:	G-A-DSX-aeroplane-sep88.jpg Views:	0 Size:	118.1 KB ID:	3867176https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarch...0moss%20ensign
          https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarch...0moss%20ensign

          Peter Moss's late 1950s Flight articles are good reading but neither he nor anybody else since has produced any evidence for the supposed re-engining and use by the Germans of Ettrick and Enterprise yet the unproven myth persists (for example on Wikipedia). Plenty of photos of Ettrick's in a destroyed condition at Le Bourget in 1940 were taken by Wehrmacht soldiers with their mates in the photos. There is a photo of Enterprise remarked as F-BAHD 'Nouakchott' back in France but the rest of the story needs examining. .
          Last edited by longshot; 6th July 2019, 00:02.

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          • ianwoodward9
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Aug 2010
            • 806

            Ensigns out of British hands

            A most interesting set of photos, longshot. I read somewhere that the Gerrmans wanted the Ensign's engines more than the airframes. Is there any evidence for that?

            Croydon By Night photographs

            I've continued a little more digging in respect of the "Croydon By Night" photographs (see Posts 394, 396 and the subsequent three posts about the dating of the photos).

            The one posted by longshot (see Post 396) appeared on Page 5 of the January 1939 edition of IMPERIAL AIRWAYS GAZETTE. The attached image shows the front page and pages 4 and 5. According to Peter Moss in the articles to which lazy8 referred, at least one of the Ensigns in the photos wasn't taken on to Imperial's books until 24 November 1938.

            Therefore, it seems likely that the "Croydon By Nigh" photographs were taken either at the very end of November 1938 or in the first (say) half of December 1938. This is still a little speculative but it's narrowing the date down bit by bit.



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            Last edited by ianwoodward9; 11th July 2019, 22:01.

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            • ianwoodward9
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Aug 2010
              • 806

              To return for a moment to BOAC fleet numbers, the attached list was published in mid-January 1944 but was compiled in late 1943, as explained in the next paragraph. Compared with the March 1945 fleet list [see Post # 392], it excludes about a dozen trainers but does include the three Lodestars owned by the Norwegian Government, namely G-AGDD, G-AGDE and G-AGEI.

              The inclusion of Lodestar G-AGDE, which was lost over the North Sea on 17 December 1943, returning on a flight from Stockholm, shows that the list was compiled at least a month before publication, possibly in early December 1943.

              By my count, there are 107 aircraft listed but perhaps the most interesting aspect is the change in aircraft types compared with the list that resulted from Tony Doyles researches (see Post # 367].




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              • ianwoodward9
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Aug 2010
                • 806

                This chart attempts to show the changes in BOACs fleet during the course of 1943.

                Tony Doyle's research, as already presented in Post # 367 of this thread, is shown in the columns on the left. The numbering system used in Post 367 is preserved but the aircraft types not operated by BOAC at all in 1943 are now omitted. The training aircraft in the January 1943 list (the Oxfords and the Beechcraft) were not included in the December 1943 fleet list. Their omission from the December list does not indicate that BOAC had ceased their use, only that the later list is limited to service aircraft.

                The column on the right is based on the BOAC fleet list that was published in early 1944 and included in Post # 406.

                The principal changes are as follows:-

                [1] Six aircraft types operated in the early part of 1943 are not in use by BOAC at the end of the year. Shown in italics to the right of the right-hand column, they are the Whitleys, the CW20, the Frobishers, the Hudsons, the Wellingtons and the Catalinas.

                [2} The most notable change is the introduction of Dakotas to the fleet - 20 in all

                [3] In terms of increased numbers of aircraft types that appear in both lists, there are four additional Mosquitos (for the Stockholm Run) and seven additional Sunderlands.

                [4] The changes in the Liberator fleet probably need more analysis.

                The remaining changes in the BOAC fleet during 1943 are perhaps less significant in terms of the aircraft types flown and their numbers.


                Please feel free to add flesh to these bones. Comments and/or corrections would be most welcome.



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                Last edited by ianwoodward9; 14th July 2019, 15:52.

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                • ianwoodward9
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Aug 2010
                  • 806

                  In the previous post, i wrote that the change in the number of Liberators in the BOAC fleet during the course of 1943 needed further analysis. The position in respect of Liberator II fleet is particularly troublesome, with different sources giving different information.

                  The situation in respect of the Mark III Liberators is more straightforward but not without the odd difficulty, as in the next paragraph..

                  The BOAC fleet for late 1943, as given in Post # 406, includes five Liberator IIIs, namely G-AGFN, G-AGFO, G-AGFP, G-AGFR and G-AGFS. My difficulty relates to the beginning of the year, however,when it is stated that BOAC had two aircraft in the Liberator III category. G-AGFN had been available since the end of 1942, so presumably is one of these two, but, since the other four were apparently not ready until much later in 1943, which is the second?.

                  Can anyone help me with this?
                  Last edited by ianwoodward9; 21st July 2019, 22:41.

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                  • ianwoodward9
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Aug 2010
                    • 806

                    This is a BOAC advertisement placed in a British newspaper in January 1941. BRITISH AIRWAYS is proclaimed prominently and is included in the body of the text, while "British Overseas Airways Corporation, as can be seen, appears almost as a footnote... The 'Speedbird' is shown circling the globe.

                    To show the whole advert in a legible form would require a large file, so I have typed up the text of the advert as close to the layout in the original as possible.



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                    • longshot
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Aug 2008
                      • 1666

                      Very interesting to see both names in one notice and British Airways most prominent...no doubt raised a few ex-Imperial blood pressures!

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