Category Archives: Articles

FLYPAST- STALKING THE ‘BEAST’

Flypast FAA 2 This month’s edition of FlyPast has a feature on the Fleet Air Arm (FAA).  Included is my article on the numerous attacks mounted by carrier-borne squadrons of the FAA against the German battleship Tirpitz always referred to by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, as ‘The Beast’.  The article covers the FAA’s intense efforts over a period of time but concentrates on the most significant, Operation Tungsten, mounted on 4 April 1944.  This was the most successful attack with numerous hits by the Barracudas carrying a variety of bombs, which put the battleship out of action for a few months.

FLYPAST – MEN BEHIND THE WALRUS

walrusThe latest Spotlight  feature in the October issue of Fly Past focuses on the one of World War 2’s unsung workhorses. the Supermarine Walrus, an aircraft designed by R.J. Mitchell.  My article, given the title The Sea Shall Not Have Them by the editorial team, concentrates on the great work by two air sea rescue pilots, Tom Fletcher DFC, DFM & Bar who operated in the waters around the south of England, and New Zealander Arnold Divers DFM who made a number of dramatic rescues in the Mediterranean area.

FLYPAST – MEN BEHIND THE SEA FURY

seafuryThe Spotlight series in the latest edition of Flypast focuses on the Hawker Sea Fury, one of the fastest single piston-engined piston-powered fighters ever built.  The feature follows the standard format with accounts of its operational service and I have contributed an article, Fast and Furious,  on the men who flew the aircraft, selecting three whose experiences are very different.

  • Alan ‘Spiv’ Leahy who earned the DSC for operations over Korea
  • Neville Duke who established world speed records en-route to Egypt and Pakistan
  • Pete Sheppard who flew many hours as the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Sea Fury pilot

 

FLYPAST – LINCOLN IN COMBAT

LINCOLNThe Spotlight feature in the August 2017 edition of the magazine focuses on the Avro Lincoln, a four-engine bomber derived from the Lancaster.  Just too late to see operational service during the Second Word War, it was the mainstay of Bomber Command until the advent of the jet bombers.  It did however, play an important part during air policing and counter insurgency operations in Malaya and in Kenya.  My article, Big Bomber Little Wars describes the role played by Lincolns of the RAF and the RAAF.

 

FLYPAST – FAST, LOW, UNBEATABLE

FlypastThe latest edition of Fly Past  profiles the Buccaneer in its series of Britain’s Cold War Guardians.  Two articles cover the role of No. 208 Squadron with the squadron’s last CO, Wing Commander Nigel Huckins, outlining the twilight  years in his article Duty Carried Out.  I look at the squadron’s role assigned to the Northern Region of NATO (AFNORTH) and the development of the training to suit this demanding and unique role.  This includes detachments to train at Red Flag, Maple Flag and the Tactical Bombing Competition in addition to regular visits to Royal Norwegian Air Force airfields.

LANCASTER 75 TH ANNIVERSARY

lancaster-75This special edition by Key Publishing commemorates the 75th Anniversary of Britain’s greatest wartime bomber.  This superbly illustrated 98-page souvenir issue includes  an article I prepared ‘Over the Top’.

This article describes the remarkable flights of a modified Lancaster PD 328.  The aircraft, given the name Aries, was the first British aircraft to complete a round-the-world flight, which was achieved in late 1944.  A few months later, it flew to the Geographic and Magnetic North Poles to gain experience in Polar navigation.  It completed other record-breaking flights before being replaced by a Lincoln bomber.

 

 

FLYPAST – MOSQUITO STRIKES IN NORWEGIAN WATERS

mosThis detailed article outlines the crucial role played by the Mosquitos of Coastal Command in attacks against shipping in Norwegian waters.  Based at RAF Banff in north-east Scotland, where the station commander was Group Captain the Honourable Max Aitken DSO, DFC, the five Mosquito squadrons of the ‘Banff Wing’ wreaked havoc amongst the enemy shipping carrying crucial raw materials to feed the German war machine.  Using the six-pounder cannon and then the 3-inch rocket projectile (RP), the Mosquitos attacked in wing strength deep into the narrow fjords, the harbours and the Skagerak Sea.  With No. 333 (Norwegian) Squadron flying their Mosquitos as outriders and Mustangs from Peterhead flying as escorts, the Banff Wing achieved great success, including the sinking of U-boats attempting to flee from the Baltic to the Atlantic.

FLYPAST – MEN BEHIND THE BEAUFORT

.beaufortThe Spotlight feature in the February 2017 edition of the magazine focuses on the Bristol Beaufort.  It operated from UK bases attacking enemy shipping with bombs and torpedoes, a role it also fulfilled in the Mediterranean where it saw a great deal of action, despite heavy losses.  The RAAF operated the aircraft in the anti-shipping and bombing roles in the southwest Pacific.  My article looks at the careers of three men;

  • Lloyd Morgan DFM a pilot on No. 217 Squadron who attacked targets in western France and the Bay of Biscay.
  • Lionel Daffurn DFC a pilot on No. 39 Squadron flying from landing grounds in North Africa to attack ships resupplying Rommel’s Afrika Corps.
  • Charles Walsh DFC a pilot with No. 100 (RAAF) Squadron flying from island bases in the Pacific to bomb targets in New Britain, Rabaul and Japanese airfields.

FLYPAST – TIGER FORCE

tiger-forceThis months edition of Flypast includes a special tribute to Bomber Command with seven articles on different aspects of the Command’s prodigious endeavours and achievements during World War Two.  I was asked to contribute and wrote about ‘Tiger Force’, Bomber Command’s considerable contribution to the war against Japan and assembled as the war in Europe was coming to an end.  In the event, with the dropping of the two atom bombs, it became the force that never was.

FLYPAST – HAWKERS FINEST – MEN BEHIND THE TEMPEST

tempest-3This article appears in the ‘Spotlight’ feature of the December issue of the magazine and  is devoted to the Hawker Tempest, a development of the Typhoon.  Entering RAF service in the later stages of the war, it gained success against the V-1 flying bomb threat and gave excellent service as a ground attack fighter with 2 TAF.  My article outlines the careers of three men who gave distinguished service flying the aircraft;

  • New Zealander Harvey Sweetman DFC who had 11 ‘kills’ against the V-1.
  • Wally ‘Smokey’ Schrader DFC & Bar highest scoring pilot in the latter weeks of the war.
  • Frank Jensen DFC, AFC who commanded No. 8 Squadron in Aden in the late 1940s.