Sunday, 17 March 2019

Barbarossa victims -more Soviet aircraft destroyed. Quora opinion piece on Soviet aircraft by Charles McDevitt

















Charles McDevitt
Charles McDevitt, former Retired Biologist

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Baltimore Mk.IIIA FA353/X - picture of the day #1




Baltimore Mk.IIIA FA353/X 69 Sqn or 203 Sqn, Luqa, Malta 1943


Tonka finale - 9 ship of Tornados over RAF Marham

A repost from the RAF Marham twitter feed of the nine-ship formation that flew to mark the end of the type in RAF service. A single click to view here. Posted using twitter embed code.







via Ian Black twitter feed.



Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Hellcats and Helldivers - French Carrier "Arromanches" in Indo-China Operations (1953) Gulf of Tonkin - SB2C Helldivers de la flottille 3F - Bernard Klotz memoir 'Enfer au paradis'



French carrier Arromanches, and below, scenes on the flight deck of the Arromanches, off French Indochina in the Gulf of Tonkin, circa 1951. Arromanches was a light aircraft carrier of the French Navy, serving from 1946 to 1974. She was previously HMS Colossus of the Royal Navy. The carrier was home to the SB2C Helldivers of flottille 3F and the Hellcats of 11F during the Indochina war (1954)




Arromanches/Colossus was the name-ship of the Colossus class of light carriers. She was commissioned in 1944, but did not see any action in World War II. She served with the British Pacific Fleet in 1945–46, as an aircraft transport and repatriation ship. In 1946, she was loaned to the French Navy, and renamed Arromanches; she was bought by the French in 1951. Arromanches participated in the First Indochina War in three campaigns from 1948 to 1954, and the Suez Crisis of 1956. In 1968 she was converted to an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) carrier. She was decommissioned in 1974, and broken up in 1978.





ARROMANCHES' aircraft flotille 3F (Helldivers) and 11F (Hellcats) were in action against the Viet Minh over Diên-Biên-Phu on March 13, the day the all-out assault on the camp was launched. That day just 4 Hellcats were overhead. One of them, piloted by the LV DOE of MAINDREVILLE was was lost. Following this the decision was taken to base the carrier's aircraft ashore reducing transit times and pilot workload. Their main mission was to provide Dien-Bien-Phu with maximum fire support against Viet Minh concentrations, artillery and enemy AAA and to ensure the protection of aircraft parachuting food and equipment.

Losses of the 2 flotille during this period:

- 15 March: shot down by anti-aircraft fire, LV LESPINAS of 11F was reported missing aboard his Hellcat 6 km from Dien Bien Phu.

- 31 March: LV ANDRIEUX 3F CO, shot down by anti-aircraft fire 2 km from the Gabrielle support point (KIA)

- April 9:  EV LAUGIER (3F) shot down by flak aboard his Helldiver. (KIA)

- April 23: LV Bernard Klotz of 11F was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Jumping clear he was picked up on the ground by the legionnaires of the 13° DBLE. Taken prisoner by the Viet Minh when the camp fell, he was released in September.

- April 26: the Hellcat of SM ROBERT (11F) was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The latter also parachuted but fell into enemy lines. Taken prisoner, he died of exhaustion in the forced march to an internment camp.

Lt. Bernard Klotz's account of his dive-bombing sortie flown on 23 April as a preamble to a counter-attack following the loss of 'Hugette 1' to the Viets;

"...During the night of April 22-23, the enemy seized "Huguette 1". The loss of this fortified position located at the midpoint overlooking the runway was serious- the whole airfield was now dominated by Giap's artillery and by the machine-guns and mortars of his infantry. Even more serious it shrunk the size of the drop zone, reducing the space available for parachuting. The latter ensured the survival of the garrison, provided however that the personnel and equipment dropped by the transport aircraft were recoverable. As of 22 April at least a quarter of what was being parachuted was going to the Viêts. For the camp commander, the loss of "Huguette 1" was unacceptable. He decided to launch a counterattack. First of all, the occupants had to rendered stunned by a large-scale aerial bombardment which had to be effective. It was therefore the Hellcats and Helldivers that de Castries requested first and foremost. As leader of the second 'patrouille'  "Savart vert" ('Savart green Leader')I started my dive from 8,000 ft (cf. Windrow p530) with two 500 lb bombs. The weather was excellent. The target was clearly visible. So was the anti-aircraft fire. I had to be very precise. Believing that my attack would not be, I aborted my first attempt and informed my comrade Goizet that I would have to repeat it. He replied that white smoke was billowing from my right wing. I wasn't happy, but the most pressing thing was to drop my bombs on the target. I released them between 2 and 3,000 feet and started to pull out. At that very moment I experienced a violent impact in my machine as my instrument panel exploded. I briefly considered landing on the earthen runway of "Isabelle" which was right in front of me about a minute's flying time away.

I had no time.. My machine was on fire....

In fact, in the seconds that followed, I lived two simultaneous lives. I was two characters at the same time, one whose leitmotif was to say "It's over", and another who would do whatever it took to make the first one lie and thought of nothing but to impose his will on fate. For each of them time had slowed down. Each second was worth a thousand normal seconds. To the first, who kept saying "I'm fucked ", he would scroll his life below and beyond the present moment at which, without a doubt, he would not survive. The second ignored that a bit of doubt, hesitation or clumsiness that would compromise his immediate goal: to get out of this aircraft before it exploded. A pilot does not like to abandon his machine, hence my first idea was to land mine, even on fire, on a nearby runway. The memory of Robin, who had experienced a similar situation on December 5, immediately dissuaded me from doing so. A parachute bail out requires some preliminary operations. First, climb, if possible, so as not to be too low when opening the parachute. At the same time, always if possible, direct the plane towards a favourable area, that is, for "him" outside our lines, but for me, close enough to them so that I did not fall into enemy hands. Two objectives that were difficult to reconcile in this particular case. Then unhook the seat harness, jettison the canopy, stand up, roll the plane - the last act of piloting - and dive into the void with enough effort to prevent the tail or rudder from hitting your head as it flashes past. Once in the atmosphere, all that remains is to deploy the chute. Despite the whining of my double pessimist, I did all of this very well, as if carrying out an exercise, except for the last but essential manoeuvre. To deploy the parachute you have to pull on a handle. It's simple. So that's what I did. But the handle came off in my hand. The cable connected to this handle was broken. The parachute would not open. I had no idea how to proceed ignoring the secrets of its functioning. While my 'double' kept up the mantra, "..this time it's really over" I stubbornly sought another solution. I imagined it lay behind my back thinking that maybe, although without seeing or knowing, I would be be able to do something manually. Instead of crossing my arms on my chest, I flung the, behind me to rummage around on my back. It was at that moment, when I must have been free-falling at around 750 feet, that the parachute mush-roomed open but, as it unfolded, the lines suddenly carried my misplaced arms with them and dislocated  my right shoulder..."

http://aviateurs.e-monsite.com/pages/1946-et-annees-suivantes/diomede-desccendu.html



Klotz was rescued by Legionnaires after coming down in the camp and was taken captive on 7 May 1954 with the fall of Dien Bien Phu. He survived the long march into captivity and was finally released by the Viet Minh in September 1954.

At that time he had flown 1090 hours, carried out 180 combat sorties over Vietnam and made 187 carrier landings in the Hellcat.

This was only the start of a long career that saw him command 16F (Etendard IVP) and the French carrier Foch. His memoir covering his three tours in Vietnam was entitled "Enfer au paradis" (Ardhan)













Thursday, 24 January 2019

A visit to the Bristol Aeroplane Co. Filton - pre-war colour film footage








A visit to the Bristol Aeroplane Co. Filton, just prior to the outbreak of WWII. Bristol's chief Test pilot Capt. C.F. Uwins takes a brand-new Blenheim up for a test flight...







Tiger Moths and an RAF Vega Gull in the background as Uwins walks out to the Blenheim








Another superb pre war colour film, and well worth watching for those building their Airfix Blenheim`s . Film footage here, but only viewable in the UK

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-bristols-industries-1939-online?fbclid=IwAR0MPvujjz4qrcWkJTzfKRrC09UlxeLS9NzQ3BIFYgJPS58UNkjfXEgeQ_0

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