Friday, 31 October 2014

Spike in Russian air Force activity around Europe - Tu 95 'Bear H' intercepted by Lossiemouth Typhoons

  ".. NATO has sounded a warning after 26 Russian bombers, tankers and fighter jets on military exercises were intercepted around Europe in just 24 hours..."  (Above Norwegian  F-16  escorting 'Bear' around northern European air space)

 RAF Typhoons scrambled to intercept Russian bombers over the North Sea as NATO reported dozens of planes in European airspace - 26 Russian aircraft flew 'military manoeuvres' in 24 hours including two Bear bombers followed by RAF fighters - Nato steps up its defences as it says two planes near Britain did not file flight plans or contact controllers - Alliance reported 'unusual' activity after intercepting 100 Russian planes in 2014 - triple the number in 2013..

..  Jets were scrambled by the RAF and allies in Germany, Portugal and Turkey after the 'unusual' spike in activity, which saw two giant Tu-95 Bear H bombers fly close to Britain yesterday. The alliance said Russia had conducted 'significant military manoeuvres in European airspace' - though it then added none of the planes had strayed into any specific country's territory. The two Bear bombers had been part of an eight-plane formation which was first intercepted by Norwegian F-16s over at 2am yesterday. While six of the planes returned back towards Russia, the two Bears carried on south west towards the UK where they were picked up by RAF Boulmer, Northumberland. The RAF scrambled Typhoon jets from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, northern Scotland, which tracked the Bear bombers as they continued through Britain's 'flight information region'. Nato said: 'The bomber and tanker aircraft from Russia did not file flight plans or maintain radio contact with civilian air traffic control authorities and they were not using on-board transponders..'.

 Nato's new chief said today the alliance is increasing its readiness and air policing after yesterday's flurry of activity. Jens Stoltenberg said that while Nato is not back on a Cold War footing with Russia, its former arch-enemy as the Soviet Union, recent behaviour has severely undermined mutual trust. Mr Stoltenberg said the trans-Atlantic military alliance 'remains vigilant and ready to respond'. 'We need to keep our forces ready, therefore we are investing in high readiness, new capabilities,' he said. 'We are... increasing air policing as an answer to the increased air activities we are seeing from Russia.' He also urged Russia to remove its forces from Ukraine - Russia denies they are there - and warned against plans by pro-Russian separatists to hold local elections in eastern Ukraine.

from the RAF's FB page ;

"...On Wednesday, 29th October RAF Aerospace Battle Managers in RAF Boulmer’s Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) alerted and scrambled Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon fighter aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth to intercept Russian military ‘Bear’ aircraft flying in international airspace. The RAF Typhoon pilots visually identified the Russian aircraft and escorted it through the UK flight information region. The primary role of the RAF is to defend the UK “365, 24, 7”. The RAF remains alert and ready to intercept any unidentified military or civilian aircraft around UK airspace...."


The interceptions yesterday were unrelated to a sonic boom caused by RAF fighter jets across Kent. Typhoons from RAF Coningsby,Lincolnshire, flew at supersonic speeds to dramatically halt a Latvian cargo plane on its way to Birmingham after it 'caused concern' to air traffic controllers. The swoop, which resulted in the Lativan-registered plane being grounded at Stansted airport yesterday evening, sparked a massive sonic boom which was heard across a 50-mile radius. Soon after the incident, an unverified audio clip was posted online which appeared to have recorded the moment an RAF pilot warned the plane it risked being 'shot down'. A man was heard saying: 'I’m instructed by Her Majesty’s government of the United Kingdom to warn you if you do not respond you will be shot down’. 
 More here

Friday, 24 October 2014

RAF 56 Sqn F-4 scramble

A Rolls Royce Spey engined Phantom of 56 "Firebirds" Squadron is scrambled to intercept a Russian Tu 16 Badger with support from a Shackleton AEW from 8 Squadron...

Upper Heyford Sparkvark Ravens 1990

EF.111 A Raven 42nd ECS 66th ECW Upper Heyford (Kevin Pike and Ian Powell photos)

from the Aircraft and Airshows of the 70s, 80s and 90s page on Facebook .

Hawker Typhoon IB, 56 Squadron April 1943

Caption: "A nice detailed photograph of the front fuselage of a Hawker Typhoon IB, 56 Squadron, Matlask, 21st April 1943." Source: Flightglobal archives FA_18514s

The stripes were specifically introduced on Typhoons to prevent anti-aircraft gunners from mistaking them for Fw 190s. This is why the stripes are only on the wing undersurfaces, not the upper surfaces or fuselage. They were introduced in December 1942 and phased out in February 1944. Unfortunately, several Typhoons were shot down by Allied AA fire, and also Allied fighters - the first two Typhoons to be shot down were dispatched by Spitfires. Several recognition markings were tried, including a single yellow wing stripe, and painting the entire nose white, before the black/white stripes solution was finalized..(Robert Allen text)

 This Typhoon IB (s/n R8752) of No. 1 Squadron RAF was written off after crash-landing in a field near its base at Lympne on 2 June 1943. W. H. RAMSEY hit a telegraph pole over France, but managed to bring his badly damaged aircraft home Photo : IWM (CH 18509)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Life in the RAF during the 1960s - 111 Sqd Lightnings, Javelins, Canberras

Here’s another neat youtube video — 9min long — depicting the RAF in the 1960s, featuring Lightnings, a Valiant tanker, Javelins and Canberras. A single click to watch here. Features 111 Sq Lightnings at Marham and a brief shot of the red-tailed Lightnings of 56 Sqd. The Javelins and Canberras are filmed on Akrotiri.

also on this blog, Javelins at Coltishall

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

" Beyond the Horizon" - The history of Airborne Early Warning AEW aircraft - Ian Shaw, Harpia Publishing

A chat with Ian Shaw, author of a new history of AEW aircraft, due soon from Harpia Publishing

Hello Ian, could you please tell me how you to came to write this book, what was your angle and your interest ?

 "..Essentially the story stems from me reading "AWACs and Hawkeyes" by an American author Edwin Armistead which purports to be a history of AEW aircraft but actually only really covers the Hawkeye and other American aspects of the subject matter. I first read Armistead's book when I was an RAF Warrant Officer Liaison with NATS in Heathrow Control Tower around 9 years ago. I had done previous tours at Waddington and worked with the RAF AEW component there and knew that Armistead's account of the RAF in the Balkans Wars was inaccurate. Also his version of the genesis of AEW completely missed out the fact that the British had invented the air cooled cavity magnetron and that the Wellington ACI was the first AEW aircraft and more importantly the Tizzard Commission had given all of our radar secrets to MIT for them to develop. His book fails to cover the USN E1, the AEW Shackleton, RN FAA AEW Skyraiders or French Navy Avengers in any sort of detail. It also fails to examine the early use of Wellington aircraft to detect V-1 flying bombs fired over the North Sea, concentrating on the Project Cadillac start in the US. All these omissions from his book so annoyed me that I wrote an essay that I published on-line. Brazilian aircraft enthusiast Sergio Santana read my article. He contacted me and asked if I would like to join with him to finish a book he had already started covering the history of AEW Aircraft.."

  Can you tell me something about the research and writing of your book ? 

"...The biggest snag by far was that Sergio Santana hardly spoke English and everything he wrote in English had to be completely rewritten. To cut a long story short around 3 years ago he spoke to Harpia Publishing and they said they would be interested in producing a history of AEW aircraft, but in a completely different format of book to what we had completed so far. We therefore started all over again and here we are years later with the final product. The format is very much the Harpia high-quality house style with lots of fantastic unpublished photos and side view drawings of every type of operational AEW aircraft by Tom Cooper, just to whet your appetite! Just look at the quality of the Wedgetail cover picture.."

What about some of the types that are covered; Beriev 'Mainstay' for example ?

Yes, the history of the Mainstay is covered in depth, it's use in Chechnya and other conflicts. Also all the other IL-76 derivatives are covered including the Baghdad 1 and 2 and the Adnan 1 and 2 in detail.

  Are you pleased with the end result ?

 "...Very much so! No-one else has covered the subject before in so much detail with actual aircrew and ground crew accounts included. There are a few secret trials -no longer within the secret time restrictions- in the book which I personally researched at Kew that have never been written about before either. Sadly Sergio, my co-author, dropped out of the writing process last Christmas at the most critical time of the book's production. Our original target was autumn 2013 but in 2012 I had to leave the project for around 9 months as my grandson was born in the February and for family reasons my wife and I ended up bringing him up for the first 9 months of his life, no easy task at 54 years of age. But sometimes in life you have to do what you have to do and in any case family always comes first. Fortunately our publisher extended the deadline by a month which my wife and I met, just by working through the little bit of the Christmas and New Year holidays that I had off from my job working over Christmas in a Police Control Room. I have spent the past nine months doing all the re-edits with Tom Cooper and Thomas Newdick and essentially re-written the book again for a third time! We originally thought the book would go to 2 volumes of 256 pages but Harpia in the end decided to do just the one volume. That meant some cuts to the text and much of the stats and serial number data being chopped, but these will be on my website when the book comes out. Readers can then have absolutely the whole story and all the back up data. It has been a long gruelling process but I think we have now killed the subject especially with that back up data going on my web site. There are some terrific photographs in the book , drawings of nearly all the squadron badges and patches but sadly very few maps and no models or kit info as was my original plan all those years ago, hence the models on the website again.."

  When is the book published ?

 "... We are launching the book at this year's Scale Model World in November at Telford - I am a keen modeller and IPMS member. I'll have some nice AEW models on my signing table at Telford too. Look out for the Aviation Bookshop's stand which is where I will be. It's been a labour of love and there absolutely no profit in it so I will not be getting rich on the proceeds but it was my dream to tell the "real" story not the American-biased version as it were, although I'm very happy to acknowledge that  I got lots of help from the USAF and US Navy AEW fraternities..."

Thank you for your time Ian and best of luck with the book !

Ian Shaw's website "AEW world" is here

Two images that failed to make it into the book, courtesy Ian Shaw, the Sea King ASaCS Mk.7 and Saab 340 B Argus.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Aircraft of the Syrian conflict, September 2014 - MiGs and Sukhois over Syria, Su 24 MF cruises over Idlib

September 2014 witnessed the appearance of non-Syrian aircraft conducting air raids over Syria and specifically units of the U.S -led coalition fighting ISIS, such as the B-1 bomber and the F-16 in addition to the UCAV Predator which was first seen over Al-Raqqa then over Aleppo and recently over Idleb. Here I've posted some screen captures from some of the 'Free Syria' videos posted on youtube depicting coalition and Syrian aircraft over that country during September 2014.

Below; US B-1 bomber at altitude on 26 September

B-1 over the Kurdish border town of Kobani on 7 October

UAV, Raqqa, 29 September

Above and below;  Su 24 MF cruises over Idlib on 30 September. The Syrian Arab Air Force was believed to have around twenty Su-24 Fencer aircraft at the beginning of the uprising. The aircraft, based at Tiyas, have only occasionally been filmed or photographed, even though they have been involved in several air strikes and operations.

MiG 23 MF

On 18th August 2014 a Syrian MiG-23 crashed (according to regime reports) or was shot down (as per reports of rebels). The aircraft which was code-numbered 617 and based in Hama AFB, was actually an MF variant and piloted by Major Aref Amin Bsesini who was KIA due to a failure in ejection. The MiG-23MF crashed as reported not far at the north of Hama airbase.

MiG 21 over Damascus

Friday, 10 October 2014

Gotha Flugzeug - Ebay photo find #29

Gotha Flugzeug(e)

Operation Pedestal, August 1942

HMS Indomitable and HMS Eagle sailing behind HMS Victorious, 3-10 Aug 1942; note Hurricane and Albacore aircraft on Victorious' flight deck. Imperial War Museum photo

Operation Pedestal, August 1942. 14 merchant ships and the most powerful escort to ever sail into the Med steaming towards the besieged island of Malta. Eagle was sunk by a German U Boat during an air attack on the convoy, the Indomitable was seriously damaged and had to limp out back to Gibraltar for repairs. The escort consisted of the two battleships Nelson and Rodney, four carriers, Eagle, Furious, Victorious and Indomitable, 16 cruisers, 40 destroyers and the smaller ships. A little-known but vital episode in the Med - the island of Malta was the linchpin of the victory in North Africa and the eventual invasion of Sicily...

Polish Bristol F2B fighter

I am grateful to Tad Dippel once again for pointing me in the direction of the Polish Military Aviation museum in Krakow. From their site comes these images of a restored Bristol F2B in a colour scheme from the 1920 Polish / Russian war. Restored by Vintage Aviator Ltd. (TVAL) in New Zealand, this aircraft is in a Polish colour scheme as the centre piece of an exhibition about the use of the Bristol Fighter in Poland. A total of 106 Bristol Fighters were purchased by Poland.

translation from the Polish Aviation Museum site:

The plane is preserved in about 60% of the original design of the First World War and has undergone extensive reconstruction to restore it to its original state. It is equipped with a functioning Hispano-Suiza engine with 300 hp and in accordance with the assurances of the New Zealand side of the plane has the ability to self taxi.
A copy will be presented in the Polish Aviation Museum in the original Polish painting from the period of the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920. Exhibit will be open to the public in the Main Building of the Museum until the end of October., As a key element of the temporary exhibition, dedicated to the service of the Bristol Fighter aircraft in Poland. F.2B Bristol Fighter is a two-seater fighter plane, introduced into British service in 1917. Served as a machine hunting and assault. Production continued after the war and more than 4.000 were manufactured, which saw service service world-wide. One of the leading users of the type was Poland, which in 1920 purchased 106 examples, which were used until 1932.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Shuttleworth DH 88 Comet, last show of the season, 5 October 2014

"...The season finale at Shuttleworth, in superb weather on Sunday 5th October, brought a massive crowd. It is a few years since I had last seen the car parks so full! The day was about air racing and centre stage was the DH88 Comet Racer, winner of the MacRobertson Air Race in October 1934. Here is Dodge Bailey taking off in the Comet.."      Tad Dippel.  More from Tad on his FB page here

and via 'Alpha Delta 210' on britmodeller, this nice selection

USAAF 8th & 9th Air Forces - the Roger Freeman collection, Elwyn Guido "Eager El" RIGHETTI, 55th Fighter Group

.. a few highlights from the Roger Freeman Collection of photographs. The Imperial War Museum acquired the collection in 2012 and began to make it available online in earlier this year with the release of 5,000 images. The remainder of the images will be released in batches as the cataloging is completed. The Roger Freeman Collection consists of approximately 15,000 prints and slides assembled by Roger Freeman (1928–2005), aviation historian and East Anglian native. These images can be used by enthusiasts in a "non-commercial educational context" ...

".. Freeman was a farmer’s son who lived close to Boxted airfield in Essex, used by the United States Eighth Air Force during the Second World War. His teenage enthusiasm for the airfield developed into a life-long interest, and he published many highly respected books on the US Air Forces in Britain, whilst making his living as a farmer. He collected images from veterans and official sources, identified and sorted them. The majority of these images are black and white but a significant proportion of them are in colour. The colour photographs in particular offer a fresh view of Second World War military life..."

P-51D-10-NA (serial number 44-14783) of Andrew W. "Andy" FULLER (ex-486th BG) of the 3rd Scouting Force. The green and yellow chequered pattern on the nose, denotes that the 3rd Scouting Force was attached to the 55th Fighter Group. This aircraft was badly damaged in a midair collision with a Flying Fortress on 13 April 1945 Photo : Roger Freeman Collection (FRE 5485)

Below; James COPE, Flight Surgeon of the 352nd Fighter Squadron, 353rd Fighter Group, at the crash site of an Airspeed AS.10 Oxford (FRE 349).

  The United States Army Air Force units used 137 different Oxfords on loan from the Royal Air Force. Mostly used as general-purpose communications aircraft in the United Kingdom from June 1942 they were also used for Beam Approach Training.

B-24J-145-CO (serial number 44-40101) named "TUBARAO" of the 855th Bomb Squadron, 491st Bomb Group, used as a flight assembly ship. (FRE 6860)

Another B-24 Assembly ship - - B-24D-1-CO (serial number 41-23667) of the 93rd Bomb Group was used as a flight assembly ship  (FRE 780)

B-26B-55-MA (s/n 42-96165) named "Big Hairy Bird" of the 599th Bomb Squadron, 397th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force, in flight on 1st of December 1944

P-51D-20-NA (serial number 44-72203), nicknamed "Sweet and Lovely", of the 78th Fighter Group, Duxford. The aircraft was piloted by Thomas V. THAIN and was later transfered to the Italian Air Force as MM 4240

A shark mouth Lockheed F-5 named "The Florida Gator" of the 22nd Photographic Squadron, 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group at Mount Farm Photo : Roger Freeman Collection (FRE 5394)

P-51D-20-NA (serial number 44-63209) of the 84th Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, nicknamed "Sherman was Right !". The phrase derived from a speech in which General William T. Sherman (commander of a Union Army in the American Civil War) said: "There is many a boy here who looks on war as all glory but, boys, war is all hell." The pilot in front of it is Frank E. OILER (one victory). This aircraft was lost in 1945 with its pilot Louis R. HEREFORD (KIA) Photos : Roger Freeman Collection

A Mosquito P.R.XVI of the 654th Bomb Squadron, 25th Bomb Group flies over the countryside Photo : Roger Freeman Collection (FRE 603)

Jack S. JENKINS, the CO of the 55th Fighter Group, sits in cockpit of his Lightning at Nuthampstead air base in October 1943. Jack Jenkins was credited with the first Lightning victory in the 8th Air Force. He added one more confirmed, one probable and one damaged before he was shot down and taken as POW on 10 April 1944. Roger Freeman Collection (FRE 145)

Above; P-38H-10 (s/n 42-67074)  "Texas Ranger", assigned to the CO of the 55th Fighter Group, Jack S. JENKINS. Jack Jenkins was shot down and taken as POW on 10 April 1944 while flying a P-38J (s/n 42-67825) named "TEXAS RANGER IV". His score consisted of 2 confirmed victories, one probable and one damaged. USAAF photos via Sundin artwork :

Ground crew and a pilot of the 356th Fighter Group admire a Dornier 17 painted below the cockpit of a Thunderbolt, although it is quite unlikely they ever met this type in combat (FRE 465)

Elwyn Guido "Eager El" RIGHETTI, the CO of the 55th Fighter Group,  with his P-51D-20 (s/n 44-72227) named "KATYDID". Elwyn Righetti was the 8th AF's "King of the Strafers" with 27 aircraft destroyed on the ground and 8 more damaged. While strafing Riesa-Canitz airfield (near Dresden) he was downed by flak on 17 April 1945 in this machine. Although he was able to carry out a forced landing, he never came back...

Personnel of the 359th Fighter Group work on the engine of a P-51D-5-NT (s/n 44-11348) named "Oh Nurse!" at East Wretham Photo : T. P. Smith via Char Baldridge; Roger Freeman Collection (FRE 539)

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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. Uwin...