Saturday, 17 March 2018

RAF B-26 Marauders 14 Squadron "Dominion Triumph" "Dominion Revenge"- Marauder Mk.I in RAF service

based on Tony O Toole's 'Commonwealth Marauders' in SAM  November 2015 and Mike Napier's "Winged Crusaders" history of 14 Squadron. Cheers Tony!

Marauder Mark I, FK111, of the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment, on a test flight from Boscombe Down, Wiltshire. After a period with No. 301 Ferry Training Unit, this aircraft saw operational service as a torpedo-bomber with No. 14 Squadron RAF in North Africa and Italy.

Marauder Mark I, FK375 ‘D’ “Dominion Revenge”, of No. 14 Squadron RAF based at Fayid, Egypt, in flight. This aircraft was lost during a torpedo attack off Aghios Giorgios Island on 3 January 1943.

© IWM (CM 5001)

Wg Cdr Dick Maydwell on board Marauder FK 142 ("R" Robert) "Dominion Triumph" who shot down the Me 323 of the Obfw. Walter Honig on July 30 1943 at Barcaggio (Corsica). Note two kill markings and the bullet badge under the cockpit. The Martin Marauder Mk I "Dominion Triumph", USAAF number 41-7363, on strength 23 Sep, 1942, was lost on 1 Feb, 1944 during a recce mission from Ghisonaccia, Corsica, at this time base No 14 Squadron. The entire crew: F/Sgt MC Reid, F/S JT Brown, W/O A Western, F/Sgt TN Gilchrist, F/Sgt WH Carr, F/Sgt P Daley, was declared missing.

The highly experienced 14 Sqn had been flying Blenheim Mk.IV`s in the light bomber role during all of the major battles fought in the Western Desert, with short rest periods in Palestine and Iraq in between but by mid 1942 it was the last operational unit flying the Blenheim in North Africa and due for a rest from ops. As luck would have it the first Marauder Mk.I`s began to arrive in the Middle East around this time so 14 Sqn was selected as the prime candidate to fly the new type and under the leadership of pre war RAF regular Wing Commander Wynne S.G. `Dick' Maydwell DFC it moved to Fayid in the Canal Zone of Egypt during August 1942 to commence conversion. To help with this the unit was assigned a cadre of experienced USAAF instructors led by Colonel Flint Garrison.

In fact the only crash during the work up period was made by USAAF Col. Flint Garrison and he was the most experienced B-26 pilot on the squadron! In his defence the crash was totally beyond his control and was caused by a lorry driven by Egyptian workmen which crossed the runway just as Marauder Mk.I, FK157 was landing The resulting crash totally wrecked the Marauder and killed three of the Egyptians on the truck but none of the aircrew were injured and the aircraft was stripped for spares before being struck off charge. The B-26 was regarded as something of a hot ship by USAAF pilots but most of those affected were straight out of flight school and the 14 Sqn crews already had plenty of operational experience and so were not unduly affected Just like most RAF units of the time the aircrew of 14 Sqn hailed from all four corners of Britain and its Empire (as the current Commonwealth was then known) plus occupied Europe so Englishmen, Irishmen, Welshmen and Scots rubbed shoulders with Kiwis, Canadians, South Africans, Aussies, a Kenyan, a Rhodesian and a Dane and they soon took to their new mounts which they found to be a much faster and more capable aircraft than their old Blenheim’s. The conversion and work up period went well despite the early short winged Marauders reputation as a “Widow Maker” in USAAF service. This was because of the relatively high landing speed and high wing loading of this version which caught out many inexperienced. (Tony O' Toole text)

It is said that 14 Sqd Marauders in the MTO/North Africa theatre were named after RN Subs and ships based in the Med and HMS Triumph was indeed a sub from the Malta based 10th Sub Flotilla,.....but some of the names do not correspond with serving RN vessels of the time.

Dominion Revenge- FK 375
Dominion Thunderer- FK 149
Dominion Triumph- FK 142
Dominion Upholder- FK 370

(HMS Revenge and Thunderer were battleships- although the latter had been decommissioned in 1926- and HMS Triumph and Upholder were submarines operating in the Mediterranean, mostly from Malta.)

FK375 'D' Dominion Revenge - Dick Maydwell's aircraft ready to go on a torpedo op.
The Marauder Mk.I`s ( which cost $102,659.33 each to build) operated by 14 Sqn were from a batch of 52 which were equivalent to the USAAF’s B-26A-MA and B-26A-1-MA versions that were delivered under Lend Lease terms to the RAF due to a delay in deliveries of the Martin Baltimore. Most were delivered directly to North Africa and judging by photos taken during these flights at least some bore US markings, however four crashed during their delivery flights, some were lost in the USA before delivery and four were sent to the UK for trials purposes although these were later sent on to N. Africa too as numbers available in the Middle East began to dwindle due to accidental and operational losses. One aircraft which did not leave North America was FK 115 which was stripped to bare metal, given a solid nose and named `Helzapoppin' for use by 45 Group in Canada.

Marauder Mk.I of 14 Sqn RAF. Via Tony O' Toole .." ..I have been researching 14 Sqd B-26 camouflage schemes for years and had been sure that some wore a version of the Temperate Sea Scheme which was added to those that were painted in the desert scheme when the role of the unit was changed from the expected light bomber role to that of maritime reconnaissance and strike. This can just be made out in photos of the real aircraft and when I liaised with crews who flew the type thanks to the 14 Sqn Association lo and behold I was proved to be correct! A number of aircrew recalled that some of the Marauders were painted in a sea scheme and one provided a copy of a painting that he made of his own aircraft just after the war..."

British Marauder Mk.I`s had the later style cowlings with twin air filter housings on the top as opposed to the flat style used by the first USAAC/USAAF B-26`s. Many Marauders appear to have a darker colour applied along the upper nose and fuselage and apparently this is caused by a different thickness of aluminium and this effect totally vanished from other angles of photography..

“Dominion Revenge” "D" was lost during a torpedo attack off Aghios Giorgios Island on 3 January 1943, crew report here

"... Mediterranean Safari...

Many thanks to Dick Maydwell DSO DFC (who commanded 14 Squadron during 1942/43) for sending me the following excellent "Boys Own" story in response to my plea in the last newsletter:

Nowadays sportsmen spend a fortune in running a trip to South Africa to shoot lion, kudu and impala. But in 1943, when our Squadron was stationed at Protville in Tunisia, my Marauder crew enjoyed a splendid safari in the Med, with transport, accommodation, guns and ammunition for free - but watch out for Me109s!

Our first trophy was a large three-engined Savoia Marchetti 82 Kangaroo transport. Shortly after that we shot down a four-engined Junkers 90. But one late evening with the setting sun, as we sped low over the sea, we became the hunted. We were attacked by 2 Me109 fighters at sea-level. After a short gun battle, my tail gunner, Gil Graham, managed to hit one of them and severely damage it. It departed in a plume of white smoke from a glycol leak. Now there was only one. Then disaster - the electrical power to the top gun turret fused! We were now virtually defenceless. As the second Me109 pressed home his attack, I kept the Marauder flying into the sun, moving this way and that, never on the same course for more than three seconds. The tail gunner reported on three occasions that the sea was churned up with a "whoosh" of cannon fire, exactly where we had been just a second before. Eventually, the second Me109 ran out of ammunition and left us to make our escape.

A few days later we were happy to be back on our Med safari. We were flying at sea-level close to Cape Corse at the tip of Corsica, when we saw the most enormous aircraft flying towards us. It was a six-engined Me 323. I knew it had two formidable cannons firing aft so I manoeuvred in front of the enemy aircraft and fired back at him. Soon three engines were out of action. The huge aircraft lumbered on towards the Corsican coast, where it crash- landed in a cloud of dust. Luckily for the crew, it didn't catch fire and no-one was injured as the gun crews and tractor drivers had all gone to the rear of the aeroplane. We did not shoot them up on the ground. I have been friends with the pilot of the Me323 for the last 21 years, but that is another story!

Today I am 90 years old, but I remember all those incidents as clear as a bell.."

from the 14 Sqd Association web-site here

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