Welcome to the March edition of the CAHS National Newsletter.
CAHS National News
CAHS Convention 2016
Join us in Winnipeg and Brandon for the 53rd Convention and Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. The Manitoba Chapter is pleased to act as your host for an exciting week of tours, speakers, and films. We have arranged speakers covering a broad range of Canadian aviation history, from the First World War to Afghanistan, and from the first women in the air to modern air transport into the north. With fascinating topics, good food, and great friends, Winnipeg is where you want to be.
The tentative schedule is as follows: Wednesday 1 June - Meet and Greet at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, 7 pm to 10 pm; Thursday 2 June - Tour of Southport Aerospace Centre in Portage la Prairie, and the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon, 8:30 am to 9 pm; Friday 3 June - speakers and annual general meeting, 9 am to 5 pm, free evening; Saturday 4 June - speakers, 9 am to 4 pm, and awards banquet, 6 pm to 10 pm; Sunday 5 June - Farewell breakfast, 9 am to noon.
We hope to see you in Winnipeg, recently named as one of National Geographic Traveler's Best Trips of 2016! Don’t miss the new Canadian Museum of Human Rights and the Journey to Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, among many other attractions.
Story and photos by John Chalmers, CAHS Membership Secretary
A highlight of the 2016 convention of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society will be a visit to Brandon, Manitoba to tour the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum. Like the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Brandon’s museum is located in a 1941 wartime hangar of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The museum’s focus is on the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. In my first visit to Brandon a few years ago, one of the museum’s board members told me, “Our museum is about 1939 to 1945 – nothing before, nothing after.”
A well-known publication by the museum, commonly found in other museums and archives in Canada, is the hefty volume called They Grew Not Old. It lists all those who fell during the war while serving with the RCAF. In September 2014, the museum dedicated a new national memorial to all those who lost their lives while serving with the RCAF. Like the Bomber Command Memorial at the aviation museum in Nanton, Alberta, Brandon’s is comprised of polished black granite panels naming those who fell in service for Canada.
At the dedication ceremonies, I had the honour of unveiling the panel which included the name of my navigator uncle, F/S Alfred Reid Chalmers, who lost his life while flying with 101 Squadron of the Royal Air Force. All eight crew aboard their Lancaster, four RCAF and four RAF, perished when shot down in Denmark. All Canadians in the crew are named in the memorial.
The CAHS annual national convention provides the opportunity to attend informative presentations, as well as this year’s tour to Brandon. As always, the convention provides opportunity to renew acquaintances and make new friends who share an interest in our aviation heritage.
On the grounds of the Comfort Inn at Brandon beside the Trans-Canada Highway is a Bristol Bolingbroke placed there by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.
A Fairchild Cornell in BCATP yellow livery is one of the wartime aircraft on display at the museum.
The Royal Canadian Air Force Band, based at 17 Wing, Winnipeg, under the baton of Captain John Fullerton, played at the dedication of the RCAF Memorial at the Brandon museum.
Before you visit Brandon, you can see more about the museum and the RCAF Memorial in my article that appeared in Airforce magazine. Just click here.
Women in Aviation Worldwide Week
Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week took place this year from March 7-13. It is a global outreach initiative that takes place annually. March 8th is the anniversary date of the world’s first female pilot to recieve a licence, issued in 1910. International Women’s Day is also celebrated on March 8 every year since 1914.
In 2017, the event will take place from March 6-12. Mark your calendars and check the Women in Aviation Worldwide Week website for information on local activities. Tip: The flying events that are offered at some locations book up fast, so be sure to book early with participating organizations in 2017!
We invite anyone who wishes to foster gender balance in aviation to plan activities during the week to honour women’s existing contributions to aviation as well as to engage and introduce girls and women to the opportunities that aviation offers.
To fulfill the vision of the pioneers who stood up to open the doors of aviation for all women, we extend a warm welcome to girls of all ages in aviation facilities across the globe.
United across borders, we create a warm, welcoming, and hard-to-miss and hard-to-resist message aimed at the female population at large. Each year, the week has a theme that highlights an historical female achievement in aviation.
Activities such as flying events, factory, and school open door events, museum special programs, and much more are organized to showcase today’s women of aviation as well as extend a warm welcome to female newcomers.
Restored Fairchild/Fleet Cornell
Submitted by Gord McNulty
A beautifully restored Fairchild/Fleet Cornell provided a welcome surprise at an open house fly day of the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association in Tillsonburg, ON, on 1 Aug, 2015. Cornell CF-CVE/FV724 is owned by Doug Harkes of Wroxeter, ON. Doug acquired the Cornell "in a million pieces" from a farm in Alberta and started the rebuild in 2010. This aircraft was among the last 50 built by Fleet Aircraft at Fort Erie and was never assigned to a school. At one time it belonged to the Brant Norfolk Flying Club. The restored aircraft first flew on 23 May 2015. Doug, and pilot Dave Thomas of Goderich, ON, then flew it to EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, where it won a Silver Lindy Award in the Reserve Champion Antique Category. Well-deserved accolades for an excellent restoration!
Also shown is a photo of CF-CVE taken at Hamilton's Mount Hope Airport in 1969 by my father, Jack. At the time, it was painted in what appears to be a hybrid civilian/military paint scheme, with the Fleet logo on the fin, above the fin flash. What an impressive Cornell, whatever the paint scheme.
CVE in flight, Tillsonburg, Aug. 1, 2015.
CVE firing up at Tillsonburg, Doug Harkes, owner, Wroxeter, Dave Thomas, pilot, Goderich, Aug. 1, 2015.
1975 Hamilton International Airshow Feature
A 14-page illustrated feature on the 1975 Hamilton International Airshow, a veritable "warbird time machine" that was the first international airshow held in Hamilton, appears in the March 2016 issue of Warbirds International. It includes a list of airshow participants and photos from various contributors including CAHS member Osborne Love of Ancaster.
Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, Toronto Branch, invites all to attend their guest lecture on March 24, 2016.
Speaker: Alan White (Dash 7 Project Engineer, 1980-1986)
Subject:The DHC DASH 7: Bringing STOL Service from the Backwoods to Downtown
RCAF Station Chatham, New Brunswick to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Royal Canadian Air Force Station, Canadian Forces Base
July 8 to 10, 2016
Activities open to all military and civilian members who worked, served, or trained in Chatham or St. Margarets, and their families. Tickets are limited. To learn more, click here.
Canadian Aviation Moments
We hope you enjoyed answering the Canadian Aviation Moments in February. We encourage readers to send in their responses to the Canadian Aviation Moments questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your responses will be included in the following month's newsletter. Here are the correct answers:
Question: The Vickers Wellington bomber was affectionately named the "Wimpy". What comic strip character was the bomber named after?
Answer: “The most successful of Bomber Command’s wartime starting stable was the Vicker’s Wellington. Affectionately nicknamed the “Wimpy” after J. Wellington Wimpy, Popeye’s corpulent hamburger-eating chum, the somewhat portly Wellington was a docile yet lively performer.”
Source:No Prouder Place, by David L. Bashow, Page 23
Question: What was the total number of personnel in the RCAF at the beginning of WWII and at the end of WWII? What was the authorized strength after WWII and how long did it take to reach that strength?
Answer: Around the end of 1939 “the RCAF had only 4,061 officers and airmen (including the Non-permanent Force).”
Source:Canadian Combat and Support Aircraft, by T.F.J. Leversedge, page 26
Answer: “At the cessation of hostilities the RCAF had 164, 846 all ranks (the peak was in 1944 with 215,200) serving; this was to be reduced to an authorized strength of 16,000 all ranks. This demobilization was to take place over two years.”
Source:Canadian Combat and Support Aircraft, by T. F. J. Leversedge, Page 32
Question: There was only one Canadian squadron named after a person. Which squadron was it and who was it named after?
This answer was submitted by Robert Nash of Winnipeg:
419 Squadron, was named after Wing Commander John "Moose" Fulton DSO, DFC, AFC.
"The high esteem in which the men of No. 419 Squadron held their missing leader was demonstrated by the adoption of his nickname as their own, thus immortalizing the first commanding officer of "Moose" Squadron for all time. No. 419 was the only Canadian squadron to be named after a person." Source
Answer: “419 Squadron was based at Mildenhall in 3 group territory and flew its first operational sorties in January 1942. Again, following what had become something of a tradition, the unit’s first commanding officer was a CAN/RAF, the highly capable and charismatic Wing Commander J. “Moose” Fulton, DFC, AFC, who had already completed a distinguished tour of thirty operations with 99 Squadron and an equally distinguished tour of duty with the Armament Defence Flight Experimental Section at Farnborough. Fulton was a tireless, fearless, and popular commander, who led from the front and fully shared the risks of his men, in spite of orders at the time to squadron skippers to minimize their operational flying. This combination of dedication and concern would lead the squadron into taking Fulton’s nickname for its own after his death in action, and eventually getting it officially recognized, so it became No 419 (Moose) Squadron, RCAF – the only Canadian squadron to be named after a person.”
Source:No Prouder Place, by David L. Bashow, Page 84
The Canadian Aviation Moments were submitted by Dennis Casper from the Roland Groome (Regina) Chapter of the CAHS.
The Canadian Aviation Moments questions for March are:
Question: What was the original strength of the Sea Kings – How many are left?
Source: Page 11 – Air Force Revue – Winter 08
Question: What was the single reason, caused by bureaucracy, that limited the Short Stirling bomber to a 15,000 ft ceiling?
Source:No Prouder Place: Page 39
Question: What was the name of the WW1 equivalent to the BCATP of WW2 – How many pilots were graduated and of those how many went overseas and how many fully trained observers graduated?
Source:From Baddeck to the Yalu: Page 31
From Around the World
* The following news articles are gathered from the Internet, and are provided for your interest. They are not reviewed to the same standard that Journal articles are reviewed, and may contain errors of fact, style, or grammar.
Female Spitfire pilot, 92, takes to the skies 70 years after last flying the iconic plane to aid World War Two effort
By Lucy Waterlow for MailOnline | Click here to read the full article.
A female war veteran rolled back the years to take to the skies in a Spitfire again today, decades after she last flew the iconic plane.
Joy Lofthouse, 92, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, was one of only 164 women who were allowed into the Air Transport Auxiliary during World War Two.
The small group of female pilots dubbed the 'Attagirls' were based at White Waltham in Berkshire and were trained to fly 38 types of aircraft between factories and military airfields across the country.
Joy Lofthouse, 92, was at Boultbee Flight Academy in Chichester today to fly a Spitfire again.
For Joy, flying the Spitfire was the ultimate thrill and she was delighted to be given the chance to fly the plane again this morning.
Speaking before taking off at the Boultbee Flight Academy in Chichester, she told BBC Radio Five Live: 'I feel excited but aware of my age so hoping that things go ok, I'm not as confident as I was when I used to fly them alone when I was young!
'The Spitfire is such a wonderful plane. It's the nearest thing to having wings of your own and flying.'
Joy was accompanied on her flight by a co-pilot who controlled the take off and landing but allowed Joy to take the controls for a time while they were in the air.
During the flight, Joy beamed with happiness and said: 'It's incredible to be in a Spitfire again after so long. I am so lucky to be given this chance to fly it again. It's hard to describe the feeling.'
She particularly relished coming in to land telling her co-pilot that was 'always the exciting bit.'
With her feet back on the ground, Joy said the flight had been 'lovely'.
She added that the only difference from when she had flown the plane 70 years ago was the use of radio.
When she used to fly there was complete silence after take off with no radio contact with people on the ground.
After the war Joy, now a widow, married and became a teacher.
Her older sister, Yvonne MacDonald, had also been a pilot in the ATA.
The pair signed up in 1943 after spotting an advert in a flying magazine.
As previously reported in the Daily Mail, the women had to show plenty of determination to convince military bosses that females were up to the task of flying military planes.
But once accepted, they said they were treated no differently from the men - except they weren't allowed to fly in combat.
Joy said: 'When the war broke out all our boyfriends would talk about was flying.
'So when we saw the advert we both decided to apply.
'Once we were there was no sex discrimination. In fact, I don't think those words had been invented back then.
'It really was the best job to have during the war because it was exciting, and we could help the war effort. In many ways we were trailblazers for female pilots in the RAF.'
The role of the female pilots was to transport the planes to where they were needed and although this didn't involve any fighting, the job was not without danger.
They often had to fly in challenging weather conditions - which cost the lives of some experienced female pilots including Amy Johnson, who had become famous for setting world records for flying long-distances, but died in 1941 after baling out in cloud over the Thames estuary.
'The weather was our biggest enemy,' said Joy. 'There were a couple of times when I thought I'd lost one of my nine lives.'
Luckily the conditions were good for Joy to take to the skies again today and she loved every minute.
'It was perfect, it made me feel quite young,' she said.
Lancaster wreckage is found in Germany
Skegness Standard | To read the full article, click here.
The RAF Spilsby Airfield memorial
Wreckage of a Lancaster bomber never to return to its base at RAF Spilsby has been found – by coincidence – close to the twin town of Bassum in Germany, where it was shot down.
Spilsby twinned with Bassum in 2010 after a 10-year friendship, little knowing the historic link that would one day be discovered.
The find in Pestinghausen, the village to which Bassum belongs, was made by historian Volker Urbanski, who came across the fragments of the Lancaster bomber while scanning the site with a metal detector.
News recently filtered through to Spilsby Town Council when it received a cutting from the local newspaper in Bassum from members of the twinning association in Germany.
This week town clerk Bonny Smith received the translation, which describes how ‘houses were partly unroofed’ as the Avro Lancaster EE126 from RAF Spilsby crashed on a field in the village on its way to Leipzig. Three of the seven airmen died during the crash, the other four escaping from an altitude of 4,000 metres using their parachutes, only to be captured and made prisoners of war.
There has been an emotional response to the discovery, especially with the news the last surviving crew member of the bomber, 94-year-old Maurice Askew, today lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he is a renowned artist.
Kevin Matley – former secretary of the 207 Sqn (RAF) Association, which commissioned the first memorial in the town to those who served at RAF Spilsby, and now secretary of Friends of RAF Spilsby – said: “Learning of the discovery has filled me with mixed emotions.
“In acknowledging the work by Mr Urbanski in identifying the crash site of a Spilsby-based Lancaster ‘The Friends’ reflect on the loss of three young lives – Air Gunners Sgt LT Linton RCAF and Sgt SP Rogers RAF(VR) and wireless operator Sgt JT Morey RAF(VR).
“They remain in our minds as war heroes and part of a generation, who at that time saved civilisation. It is a debt we shall always owe.”
In the newspaper article, another German historian Ulrich Dannemann said Mr Askew had been overwhelmed by the news that, after so many years, the site of the crash had been located.
Mr Urbasky said there were 832 English bombers that took off for a raid on Leipzig, 78 of which did not return to their base. The Avro Lancaster EE 126 of No 127 Squadron was among these four-engined planes. It had taken off from RAF Spilsby in 1944 and was on its way to Leipzig when it got into the beams of search lights near Meppen. It was chased and attacked by night fighters of the Luftwaffe and shot down.
The three bodies which were recovered from the burnt out plane today rest in the English cemeteries of Sage near Oldenburg and Urbansky.
Spilsby town clerk Bonny Smith said: “Residents who know that we are twinned with Bassum will see it as a link between the towns and that we have all moved on from Second World War and become friends.”
Rebuilding history: Bomber's flight deck one of war buff's reconstructed treasures
Geoff Landon-Browne is rebuilding the flight deck of a Lancaster heavy bomber plane.
Geoff Landon-Browne’s property in Carp is a stockpile of historical machinery.
In his household garage rests a fully rebuilt and refurbished Land Rover from 1958, a stripped-down Volkswagen Iltis in the midst of reconstruction and — perhaps the most impressive of the countless pieces of 20th century mechanics strewn about from wall to wall and floor to ceiling — the flight deck of a Lancaster heavy bomber plane.
Lancasters were some of the most famous and successful heavy bombers used by the Royal Air Force in the Second World War. Of the roughly 7,400 built, Landon-Browne says there are just 17 left, most of them residing in Canada.
He’s been working on his reconstruction project, here and there, for seven years.
“I had the money at the time and I wanted to keep as much of her in one place as I could,” he says. “At its time, it was the ultimate war machine. It was a new generation. Everything that’s being tossed around in Iraq and Iran and Afghanistan at the moment had its birth in the Second World War: Radar, automatic gunnery systems, identification systems, electronics for aircraft — most of them were tried out on the likes of the bomber first. It was the epitome of engineering at its time.”
The English-born millwright moved to the area from London seven years ago and filled his garage and work shed with metalworking equipment and mechanical parts, many of them fragments of British and Canadian efforts in the Second World War. The 58-year-old has been collecting military items for 50 years and building them for the past eight.
He sees his knowledge of mid-1900s machinery as another relic of a past era.
“It’s knowledge and information that is just passing out. The vets themselves, they’re a handful,” he says. “It’s knowledge that’s no longer needed in this world. But that’s not a good excuse for losing it.”
The Lancaster flight deck sits deep in the back of his garage, rebuilt using the original seat, switches, throttles and other parts. Only some of the structural components have been re-fabricated based on the many originals to bring it all together. Next to the flight deck lies the aircraft’s engine, a Rolls-Royce Merlin that was pulled from the English Channel.
Mounted on the ceiling is the flooring of a Lancaster in which six men died in a postwar collision, says Landon-Browne, who, as he talks about his work, demonstrates both a passion for the aircraft’s history and an appreciation of war’s human sacrifice.
In the main chamber of the garage is a 1958 Land Rover, a British off-road vehicle originally developed in the aftermath of the Second World War. In his work shed is the Iltis, a German military vehicle produced in the late 1970s through to the late ’80s, which he has been slowly taking apart and rebuilding. Next to it there’s an old turret that he has restored over the past five years.
Landon-Browne is constantly swapping parts with other hobbyists all over the world with the help of eBay and other online networks, and even some Canadian military museums. His reconstructions are just for his own enjoyment, though, until they’re completed and it’s time for them to go.
“My wife’s going to have a hell of an auction sale,” he quips.
Rudi Aksim says his neighbour’s passion and knowledge is obvious, and that others with similar interests can learn a lot from Landon-Browne.
“He could talk about it forever. He’s a Second World War buff, and he’s a machine buff, and so on. He’s constantly reading about it,” says Aksim, a retired English professor who taught at Algonquin College for nearly four decades. “I find it fascinating, this material history approach to how things work and what they do … It’s a real part of history and it’s not the way we always approach it.”
Landon-Browne says it all comes down to knowing what you love to do, and doing it.
“I’ve got the knowledge, I’ve got the tools, I’ve got the time,” he says. “Why do (I) do it? Bottom line is because I can.”
By the Numbers:
7,400 Lancaster bombers were built.
17 remain, Geoff Landon-Browne says
7 years, in all, he’s spent rebuilding this flight deck
150 pieces are in the reconstructed deck
$66,000 is the roughly estimated cost of those pieces.
I am a war historian and I am researching a few air combats during the Battle of Britain made by Canadian fighter pilots. I am also writing a book about the JG 26 during the period from July to December, 1940. Unfortunately, I can not find anything about air combat on 7th October 1940, when No. 1 Squadron RCAF lost Hurricane Mk.I P2993/YO-? (FB/Cat. 2 I suppose) piloted by F/O Arthur Deane "Father" Nesbitt. The aeroplane was severely damaged by Bf 109E and force-landed at Biggin Hill. The big problem is the time. Combat sortie made by squadron was certainly at around 13:20 to 14:30, but there could be another one later. If you have any information about this fight, please email me at the address below. Thank you very much.
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