Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Moon 'salute'

The partial eclipse of the Moon last night felt almost like a salute by "Selene" to the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11. A couple of photos that I took managed to capture some of the eclipse - cloud was a bit of a problem as it started and the Moon was quite low - coming out of the other side, the last vestiges of the Earth's shadow fades away...




Tuesday, 16 July 2019

50th Anniversary Apollo 11 :: Lift Off

At 13.32 GMT 16 July 1969 the Saturn V rocket carrying the crew of Apollo 11 lifted off from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Centre on the start of it's historic journey to the Moon...























I followed the tail end of the Gemini programme and all the Apollo missions as a child, collecting every space related article I found, like many kids of my generation dreaming of being an astronaut when I grew up.
A Spitfire pilot was another dream I had - at least I have achieved that one! Twice!!...

Friday, 5 July 2019

Irish Air Corps Spitfire Mk IXT/T9 reunion?

The recent news that the UK's "T9 tally" will soon be increased to nine with the arrival of the Bill Greenwood example, TE308/N308WK, from Aspen, CO. USA to join the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar's inventory is good news in that it will mean her return to airworthy status can proceed. 
TE308 was damaged after a landing/taxiing accident with Hawker Hurricane NX9RW/CCF 96  at the Galveston Air Show in 2008.
TE308 had been under a prolonged state of rebuild since then. 

That will mean five of the six Spitfire Trainers operated by the Irish Air Corps will be in the UK - number six, MK721/IAC 160, was written off in IAC service in the 50's. 


Perhaps we might see a 'reunion' of these fine aircraft back in the ROI at some point?...


Back to 8 - PT462 flies again

The UK's Spitfire T9 population has returned to eight airworthy aircraft (nine worldwide), after the return to flight by PT462/G-CTIX yesterday at Duxford, following her accident in February. 

With the recent news that the UK's T9 tally will soon be increased to nine with the arrival of TE308/N308WK from the USA and addition to the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar's inventory. 
That will mean five of the six Spitfire Trainers operated by the Irish Air Corps will be in the UK - number six, MK721/IAC 160, was written off in IAC service. 
(WBS file photos)




Monday, 1 July 2019

PT462 close to return to flight?

PT462/G-CTIX was outside ARCo today for several engine runs, the first since it's accident - a return to flight cannot be far off now...
SM520/G-ILDA was also having it's engine run. 
PV202/G-CCCA was keeping watch over the airfield.





Friday, 28 June 2019

GIRTY gets a bit dirty...

After yesterday's 'maiden flight' I took a chance she may be up again today...
Starting to show exhaust tarnishing - keep polishing chaps!!!
MJ271/MH424 spent a long time as a hangar queen at Duxford and was rumoured to be destined to become another T9 conversion at one point. 
Now she looks splendid and has an adventure ahead of her...







MJ271 as MH424 and soon to be G-IRTY

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Tuesday Saunter

A bit of activity today - N62CC/330647 "Virginia Ann" was getting a little P&W TLC, PV202 was being hounded by a Buchon Bandit and a little hangar shuffleage presented a few photo ops..





Friday, 21 June 2019

Friday Saunter...

Wander around today produced a few photos...
Seeing the Yak 3 G-OLEG flying today and putting on a spirited display reminded me that a couple of weeks ago I viewed a Soviet film about the Normandie-Niemen Fighter Regiment - my notes made  of the film :-
English Narration over French – dedicated to the French flyers of the Normandie-Niemen Fighter Regiment – Brezhnev and other dignitaries attending ceremony at Arc de Triomphe in Paris, wreath laying,  “Wing To Wing” title intro, archive film of Yak 3 fighters taking off, Luftwaffe bombers en route to target, AAA batteries firing at aircraft, French pilots attack enemy aircraft, first victories and losses of French pilots mentioned, Soviet pilot recalls meeting the French pilots, photos of pilots, names of some of the more 'famous' pilots, footage of French pilots parading in front of aircraft, stories of various pilots exploits while serving on the squadron, aircraft attacking bomber formation, French pilots visiting Stalingrad in 70's, more archive film of battle for Smolensk, pilots sent on rest to Moscow, Bolshoi Ballet, pilot recalls the squadron being posted to Tula, further stories of French pilots and their fate, archive footage of ground combat along the Niemen River, presentation of medals by De Gaulle, return to combat after medal presentation, end of the war and French pilots awarded Soviet orders, on disbandment of the Normandie-Niemen squadron the pilots were given their Yak-3 aircraft to fly back to France.



Ghost 'Fire...




Thursday, 20 June 2019

The long way home...

C-47 N47SJ "Betsy's Biscuit Bomber" headed north on the first leg of her flight back to the USA. Safe journey and thank you for coming over...


Saturday, 15 June 2019

D-Day +9 :: 75th Anniversary


From S/L Niven's logbook for this date 1944 :

June 15, Spitfire IXB, NH321, Bomber Close Escort, Close escort 18000’ centre position of stream of 124 Halifaxes + 156 Lancasters - port area Bologne, 10/10 layers cloud up to over 20000’ to rendezvous. Much flak, target indictors (crimson) harbour lighted by fires. 1 explosion lit sky. 1 heavy down in flames inland. Weather very duff on return. Night landing plus!

Dark skies...

Monday, 10 June 2019

D-Day +4 :: 75th Anniversary


S/L Niven had no entry for the 9th June.  Another early start for today in NH321 -

05.40 10/10 7000' 2 190's dived to deck E. of Caen. Chased one but 222 Sqdn got there first through intense flak. He pulled up, pilot baled out & landed in Caen suburbs. Kite hit deck in front of me. Other Hun beat it east.
10.35 Routine patrol 8/10 cloud over beaches. No activity.


Saturday, 8 June 2019

D-Day +2 :: 75th Anniversary


From S/L Niven's logbook for 8.6.1944 flying MkIXc NH321 OU⦿F -

10.40 Weather fair. Nothing much doing. 8-9/10 cloud.
14.45 Weather good. 10/10 7000' No air activity. Emergency Landing Strip ready. Large explosions on beach at Oisetreham.
19.00 10/10 7000' relief late. 5 mins after end of patrol 12+ 109 bombers attacked Caen area from east. Gave chase till cloud of white smoke came from port ex. manifolds. Returned to Caen canal area. 12+ 190 bombers made abortive attack on ships. Chased one into cloud, hitting him twice on port side, then lost him. Flak from ships & land intense! Sqdn got 4 dest. 2 dam. making total 7 dest. 2 dam. since "D" Day. (1 Fw 190 damaged) 

Friday, 7 June 2019

D-Day +1 :: 75th Anniversary

From S/L Niven's logbook for 7.6.44 flying MK862, MK960 & ML412

05.40 MK862 Alto stratus 10/10 9000' & 9/10 cumulus 1500'- 4000'. Battleships shooting at 190 dive bombers as we arrived. Chased 2 which passed over us at 8000' - couldn't catch. Chased several others. Like "good old days". Cumulus cleared 10m inland. 190's had long noses?
14.45 MK960 Weather much improved. Normal routine patrol. No activity in air. Caen in flames.
19.00 ML412 No cloud, but hazy. Smoke from Caen - 6000' & big blaze S of aerodrome. Warships bombarding Le Havre area. No joy!

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Dakota KP220 (G-ANAF) news

Aero Legends have just announced the addition to their fleet of vintage aircraft of DC3 KP220/G-ANAF formerly operated by Air Atlantique.


D-Day - 24th Lancers



My uncle Rhys was a driver/mechanic in Sherman tanks with 24th Lancers on D-Day and his memoirs of his time liberating Europe were translated from Welsh to English by my uncle Arthur who also served in tanks (No.3 Squadron, 2nd (Armoured Reconnaissance) Battalion, Welsh Guards - landed a couple of days after D-Day and was wounded in the battle to take Caen). 
"One day the heavy guns of the Navy were enough to deafen anyone and the air was filled with aircraft in their thousands going back and forth. By two o'clock the ship had gone as near the shore as she could and we waited while a large raft came alongside and started loading. The lorries first of all, then the tanks. We drove slowly on to the barge in case it capsized. The raft was so long the helmsman had great difficulty in keeping it heading for the shore, but land was slowly getting nearer. The co-driver and I were sealed in and eventually the order came "Start up, Taff" and into the water we went and slowly drove on to dry land. I believe our tank was the first of our regiment to land. We landed at 6.30 on June 6th. Our D-Day had arrived!
What was the reaction? Fear certainly with the heart pounding away. The bodies floating in the sea were proof that this was no child's play, but you had to hide your fears and listen carefully to the tank commander's directions as we were still under seal and could see very little ourselves. The vision through the periscope was minimal and we had to rely on someone who could see what was going on. I saw a row of men coming to meet us with their hands on their heads - these were the first POWs for me to see. We went out of the village into a large field to wait for the regiment to assemble. In the next field a cow lay feet up to show that everything was endangered here."

Rhys made it through to the end of the war returning to civilian life. Many of his comrades were not so fortunate...

6 June 1944 :: D-Day 75th Anniversary

Image courtesy Niven Family
75 years ago S/L John Niven DFC*, OC 485 (NZ) Squadron, spent the day flying Spitfire MkIXB MK862 on "Beachhead Patrol" - his logbook entries for the day...

05.35 First day fighters on patrol. Cloud over coast 7/10 1500' & hazy. Our troops approaching shore for first landing. Warships bombarding shore & Le Havre. Patrolled out to sea. No flak, no Huns.
10.35 Weather improved slightly. Landings made in St.Aubin area. Transports & tanks ashore. Heavy shelling from ships. Patrolled 1-6000'. No air activity.
18.50 Weather over beaches very clear with high cloud. Masses of bombers heading inland. Many gliders on ground near Bavent. Terrific bombing SE Caen. (Badly knocked about) On way home passed glider train stretching from Le Havre - 10 m. S Worthing.

And remembering Tony Cooper who I met and who recently passed away. 
On D-Day, 6th June 1944,Tony Cooper’s logbook shows that he flew twice. No 64 Squadron was tasked with providing ‘Low Beach Cover’ over the American assault. The Squadron ORB records that Cooper was allocated his personal Spitfire BM327, ‘SH-F’, for both sorties. He took off at 0430 hours for his first sortie of the day, as part of a 13 aircraft formation, providing “Fighter Cover for Utah Beach” and landed back after a total of 2 hours and 40 minutes airborne (the first hour recorded as night flying). The naval barrage was so intense that it was not safe to be over the coast and the Wing Leader withdrew the formation to a safer distance. Cooper’s remarks in his logbook give an interesting picture of the confusion that reigned and suggest that the invasion stripes, so painstakingly painted on by the ground crew, were not entirely effective: “Navy shelling coast defences – first landing made by the troops at 0620 hours. Nearly shot down by a Thunderbolt – Spitfire in front actually was – Another Spit hit by naval shell and blew up – General Brock’s benefit!”
On the evening of 6th June Tony flew his aircraft on another sortie over the invasion beaches, taking off at 2200 hours, this time tasked with, “Fighter Cover for Omaha Beach”. His comments in his logbook against this sortie read, “Hun bombers attacked invasion fleet – tremendous return fire from ships – one bomber destroyed.” He landed back at ten minutes past midnight – almost 18 hours after his first take-off that day – logging two hours and five minutes of night flying. When asked about night landings in the Spitfire on the short, temporary runways at Deanland, which were lit only by ‘goose-neck’ flares, Tony says, “I remember them well, with reasonably controlled terror, especially when it was raining!”
(Source: SimplySpitfire)

Monday, 3 June 2019

Daks@Dux II

Until I get home to go through the photos here is a taster of the view down the field...


18 Daks in one shot...
N431HM/42-24133

F-AZOX/44-77020

LN-WND / 42-68823 "Little Egypt"


C-41A N341A "Hap Penstance"

OY-BPB "Gamle Dame"/20019

N25641/42-32833

OH-LCH/43-2033

Li-2 HA-LIX "Kármán Tódor"

N150D/41-18401 "Airborne"

N147DC/21-00884 "Aces High"
DC-3C N877MG/43-16340 Pan Am

N24320/43-15731 "Miss Montana"

N74589/42-24064 "Placid Lassie"
DC3A N18121