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Monday, August 30th 2021, 3:35pm

Heavenly Pursuits Spotlight On: British Commercial Aviation - Part 1

British Overseas Airways Corporation (B.O.A.C.)
Headquartered from its new London Airport (Heathrow) base, BOAC is still the number-one British flag carrier with an extensive network of routes across the Empire and into the Middle East and Africa.

The current fleet is a mix of types but modernisation is proceeding rapidly and the fleet has reached its largest size as it flies 845 million passenger-kms per year.

BCAC Type 167 BC.2 Britannia - this modern long-range airliner can carry up to 90 day passengers (61 is more common on transatlantic routes) or 36 sleepers. 20 of the initial Series 200 powered by the 5,000hp Bristol Twin Centaurus I 36-cylinder radial engine are in service. Since 1949 deliveries have begun of a planned fleet of 25 Series 210 aircraft powered by Armstrong Siddeley ASP.3 Python 3 turboprops. Future plans from 1950 onwards will see 10 Series 215 aircraft with the ASP.4 Python 4 delivered by 1952. This fleet will form the core of the transatlantic service and trunk routes to the Far East.

BCAC Bristol Type 175 BC.3 Britannia - this is the medium-range variant of the BC.2, 25 Series 110 aircraft carrying 74 passengers and powered by 3,900shp Bristol Proteus II turboprops have been delivered. From 1950 18 Series 150 aircraft combining the airframe of the BC.2 Series 210 with the Proteus engines and fuel system of the Series 110 for 139 passengers on high-demand routes will be delivered.

BCAC Bristol Type 175 BC.3 Britannia Series 300 - 5 aircraft of Series 150 standard but fitted for a freight-carrying role as the heart of BOAC's Cargo Division.

De Havilland DH.106 Comet 1: the future begins here with the futuristic jet-powered Comet 1, a dozen of these sleek airliners should be in service in 1951 linking some medium-range trunk routes that demand high-speed for improved journey times. Work has begun on an improved long-range Comet 3 for the transatlantic service to enter service around 1954.

Short S.32 Sandringham II - this 36-seat airliner with a pressurised cabin entered service in 1941 and today is earmarked for replacement by the Britannia and is mostly now flown on local Middle East routes or charters. 19 remain in service.

Avro 688 Tudor - this 24 day/night passenger or 60 day passenger airliner with a pressurised cabin entered service in 1943 and is mainly used on the Transatlantic and Caribbean routes. Again, the Britannia is rapidly pushing this venerable airliner back to secondary services and the Napier-Paxman Pilates III diesel engines have never proven to be completely reliable. 24 remain in service.

Handley Page H.P.66 Hermes - this 50-seat airliner with a pressurised cabin entered service in 1943 and remains the main workhorse of BOACs routes in Africa and to the Far East. 24 remain in service.

Handley Page H.P.74 Hermes II - this stretched version can take up to 82 passengers but 60 is more usual given BOAC's levels of comfort. 20 remain in service.

10 De Havilland D.H.95 Flamingo - this venerable 17-seat airliner has been in use since 1938 and is now a feeder-route aircraft. 10 remain in service.

6 D.H.95 Flamingo Mk.II - this improved variant with a 2ft longer cabin and improved gross weight entered service in 1942. 6 remain in service.

Miles M.60 Marathon - this 20-seat airliner was acquired in 1944 for feeder service. 20 remain in service leased out to BOAC's partner airlines.

Short S.35 S Class - this successor to the large G Class flying boats remains on some Caribbean and Far Eastern routes fitted for 40 day passengers or 20 day/night passengers. Acquired in 1945 15 remain in service.

Short S.45 Solent - this 30-seat (24 day/night berth) flying boat succeeded the famous C Class in 1943 and operates around the remote areas of the network in the Caribbean and Africa where airfields remain sparse. Charter operations are also flown and some are used solely for cargo. 35 remain in service.

Saro SR.55 Duchess - this ultra-modern massive turboprop flying boat looks set to replace the S Class but only 10 are forecast and rumours still circulate of its cancellation as BOAC looks to terminate its flying boat routes by 1955.

Aden Airways Limited
Established on 7 March 1949, it took over BOAC’s assets at Aden and scheduled operations are flown across the Arabian and Gulf region and into Sudan. On 1 February 1950, the aircraft were placed on the Aden (VR-A) register. Additional capacity for Hajj flights are handled by charters.
The current fleet is 6 Flamingo Mk.II and 8 Marathons

East African Airways Corporation
Founded on 1 January 1946 and headquartered in the Sadler House in Nairobi, Kenya with its main operations base at Nairobi Airport. The airline is run by the East African Air Transport Authority for the British East Africa protectorates and colonies of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. With an initial £50,000 capital, ownership of the company is split between Kenya (67.7%), Uganda (22.6%) and Tanganyika (9.7%). Management and technical expertise is provided by BOAC. Sir Reginald Robbins is chairman.
Regional routes are; Nairobi–Mombasa–Tanga–Zanzibar–Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam–Zanzibar–Tanga–Mombasa–Nairobi, Nairobi–Moshi–Dar es Salaam, Nairobi–Kisumu–Entebbe, Nairobi–Eldoret–Kitale, Dar es Sallam–Zanzibar–Tanga, Dar es Salaam–Lindi, Mombasa-Lindi, Nairobi-Kigali and Dar es Salaam–Morogoro–Nduli–Southern Higlands–Chunya–Mbeya. A service to the Kongo is operated in conjunction with Koninklijke Kongo Luchtvaart Maatschappij (KKLM).
The current fleet consists of: 6 DH.89 Dragon Rapide, 3 Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar, 4 DH.104 Dove, 4 DH.114 Heron (with 6 DH.114 Heron Series 2 on order). Further new equipment on order consists of; 2 BCAC BC.3 Britannia Series 115, 3 BCAC BC.2 Britannia Series 215 and 4 BCAC VC.2 Viscount 700.

Elder Colonial Airways, Lagos, Nigeria
In January 1935 Imperial Airways completed negotiations with the Air Ministry for the creation of a route from Khartoum in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan to Nigeria. Imperial Airways (West Africa) Limited was jointly formed between Imperial and Elder Dempster on 7 November 1935, and it was operated as Elders Colonial Airways. BOAC owns a half stake in the company and supplies all aircraft and personnel. With the formation of the West African Airways Corporation in 1946, Elder Colonial’s contract with BOAC was replaced by a contract with WAAC.
The current fleet is; 4 Miles Marathon (leased from BOAC), 1 Miles Merchantman and 2 Miles M.73 Herald.

Hong Kong Airways
In 1946, Jardine Air Maintenance Company (JAMCo) was formed to service the needs of airlines serving Hong Kong and Jardine Airways was formed as the general sales agent in Hong Kong and China for BOAC. Hong Kong Airlines was formed in 1947 by BOAC and Jardine, Matheson & Co. which is a feeder carrier to transport passengers from BOAC’s London to Hong Kong service to onward destinations in China and the Far East.
The current fleet is; 4 Miles Marathon (leased from BOAC), 2 BCAC VC.1 Viking and 1 Short S.32 Sandringham II

Malayan Airways Limited (MAL)
Founded on 12 October 1937, by Alfred Holt's Liverpool-based Ocean Steamship Company, in partnership with the Straits Steamship Company and Imperial Airways. In June 1947, BOAC acquired the Holt shareholding and began an expansion in feeder routes across Malaya and to Borneo and Burma.
The current fleet is; 10 Miles Marathon, 4 Miles Merchantman and 6 Miles M.73 Herald.

Middle East Airlines
Formed 16 May 1942 by Saeb Salam, with operational and technical support from BOAC.
The current fleet is; 3 DH.89A Dragon Rapide and 4 BCAC VC.1 Viking.

West African Airways Corporation (WAAC)
Founded 1 January 1946 and headquartered in the Sadler House in Airways House in Ikeja, Nigeria with its main operations base at Lagos Airport. The airline is run by the West African Air Transport Authority for the British West Africa colonies of Nigeria, Benin and Chad. With an initial £50,000 capital, ownership of the company is split between Nigeria (69%), Chad (22%) and Benin (9%). Management and technical expertise has been provided by BOAC. The company provides British West Africa with air transport facilities, to connecting it with Dakar and Khartoum in order to provide passengers with a gateway to the Americas and the Middle East, respectively, and to operating feeder flights that connected with Europe-bound BOAC services. WAAC is also acts as an agent for BOAC in Nigeria. Elder Colonial Airways’ daily Kano-Porto Novo and Kano-Lome routes run under BOAC contract are now run under WAAC contract.
The current fleet is; 4 BCAC Type 170 Freighter, 10 DH.104 Dove, 2 Miles Marathon and 3 Douglas DC-3.


Wednesday, September 1st 2021, 6:46pm

The Air Ministry, London

Two officers chatting in an office one wintry January day

"You know we're laying on that public relations event in a couple of month at 107 Squadron at Marham?"
"The new Canberra squadron? Yes, a delegation from the Philippine Air Force I believe."
"Well someone on the Air Staff wants us to invite a few foreign attaché's give it a really big show, well its the first British jet-propelled bomber and all that. Walter Schellenburg is on the list."
"He's a bit dodgy isn't he? Don't the secret service suspect him of being an Abwehr earpiece?"
"Yes I think that's rather the point, let him see for himself what's going on and what the Canberra is capable of. Better than sending the brochure to Berlin ourselves and if we paint the picture good, the right messages might filter back to Berlin."
"I'll add him to the address list them."


Wednesday, September 1st 2021, 7:16pm

Major Schellenburg can't wait for his invitation. :D


Thursday, September 2nd 2021, 3:33pm

30 January
Two new jet-powered aircraft have entered RAF service. The Canberra B.Mk.II tactical bomber has entered service with No. 107 Squadron based at RAF Marham, replacing that unit’s de Havilland Mosquitos). In Fighter Command, the first of 450 Gloster Meteor F.Mk.VIII fighters have entered service with No. 19 Squadron at RAF Tangmere, replacing that unit’s Hawker Tempest piston-engined fighters. Two other squadrons will also convert to the type this year.

2 February
The second Tudor research aircraft, Avro 706 Tudor Mk.VII, converted from a Tudor I airframe was first flown as WB491 today. It is fitted with a completely equipped passenger cabin with 32 seats and is intended for use in high altitude environmental control research.

4 February
The Chung Khiaw Bank has been established in Singapore by millionaire Aw Boon Haw, who famous for his ‘Star Newspapers’ in Hong Kong and Singapore and ‘Tiger Balm’ ointment and who is the bank’s chairman. The managing director is Lee Chee Shan.


Wednesday, September 15th 2021, 10:27am

11 February
The 1950 British Empire Games, the fourth such games, has been held in Auckland, New Zealand between 4 and 11 February. The main venue was Eden Park, although the closing ceremonies were held at Western Springs Stadium. Teams participated from all over the Empire, including; Australia, Burma, Canada, England, Jamaica, Malaya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Scotland and Wales.
Events included athletics, boxing, cycling, diving, fencing, lawn bowls, rowing, swimming, weightlifting and wrestling.
All the teams won at least one medal. Australia won 34 Gold, 27 Silver and 19 Bronze. England won 19 Gold, 16 Silver and 13 Bronze. New Zealand came third in the ranking with 10 Gold, 22 Silver and 21 Bronze medals.

At Yeovil, BCAC flew the modified two-seat Wyvern W.38 T.Mk.V prototype today. Developed as a conversion trainer variant of the Wyvern, the aircraft has a slightly deeper rear fuselage for a second cockpit for an instructor, who is also equipped with a periscope to assist in landings.

15 February
The third de Havilland DH.108 Swallow research aircraft, VW120, has been destroyed in a crash near Brickhill, Buckinghamshire, killing its test pilot, Squadron Leader Stuart Muller-Rowland, the Officer Commanding of the Royal Aircraft Establishment. The pilot seems to have lost control and one wing separated from the aircraft in the resulting dive and some witnesses on the ground reported hearing an explosion.
The purpose of flight was to observe longitudinal stability and aeroelasticity at high Mach numbers at 38,000ft. The aircraft broke up during a steep dive from 27,000ft. Some of the wreckage came down at Little Brickhill, the cockpit came down somewhere near Bow Brickhill church. Other pieces were found as far away as Husborne Crawley. Muller-Rowland's body was found near Sandy Lane between Bow Brickhill and Woburn Lane. Woburn, Bletchley and Leighton Buzzard fire brigades were all called out to attend the accident. Because of the secrecy of the aircraft the local police sealed the area to keep the public away, and after the crash police officers visited local schools to appeal for any 'souvenirs' to be returned. An accident investigation has now begun to find the cause of the accident.


Thursday, September 16th 2021, 11:20pm

The German Air Ministry expresses its condolences on the loss of Squadron Leader Stuart Muller-Rowland in pursuit of the frontiers of aviation.


Tuesday, September 28th 2021, 5:43pm

20 February
Amman Airport in Jordan opened today for civil flights. Already used as an RAF airfield, the British have invested in building a new terminal for commercial flights. New runways and taxiways have been built along with a new apron for airliners.

Ealing Studios release their latest film, The Blue Lamp, introducing the character Police Constable George Dixon, played by Jack Warner, with Dirk Bogarde playing the role of a young criminal.
The action mostly takes place in the Paddington area of London. PC George Dixon, a long-serving traditional "copper" who is due to retire shortly, supervises a new recruit, Andy Mitchell. Called to the scene of a robbery at a local cinema, Dixon finds himself face-to-face with Tom Riley, a desperate youth armed with a revolver. Dixon tries to talk Riley into surrendering the weapon, but Riley panics and fires. Dixon dies in hospital some hours later. Riley is caught with the help of professional criminals and dog-track bookmakers who identify the murderer as he tries to hide in the crowd at White City greyhound track in north-west London. The kudos of arresting Riley falls to young Andy Mitchell.

21 February
The famous Cunard liner RMS Aquitania today arrived at a scrapyard in Faslane at the end of an eventful 36-year career. Built by John Brown she joined the Cunard Line on 24 May 1914 and made her maiden voyage six days later. Aquitania was the third in Cunard Line's "grand trio" of express liners, along with RMS Mauretania and Lusitania. During the Great War she served as an auxiliary cruise, troop transport and a hospital ship, notably as part of the Dardanelles Campaign. Returned to transatlantic passenger service in 1920, she served alongside the Mauretania and the Berengaria. Widely considered during that time as one of the most attractive ships of her time, Aquitania earned the nickname "Ship Beautiful" from her passengers. Cunard planned to replace her with RMS Queen Elizabeth, but she continued to operate on other transatlantic routes, including the migrant trade to Canada. Finally, last year the Board of Trade found her unfit for further commercial service.

23 February
The day of the General Election across the United Kingdom.
The election is also notable for having the first televised General Election results, the BBC running a live programme all evening.


Wednesday, September 29th 2021, 1:52am

The famous Cunard liner RMS Aquitania today arrived at a scrapyard in Faslane at the end of an eventful 36-year career.

A sad. :(


Saturday, October 2nd 2021, 10:04am

*drum rolls to build up the tensions, trumpets and fanfares*

24 February
The ballots in the General Election have been counted. The total votes cast were 28,771,124 giving a turnout of 83.9% (notably higher than the 1945 election at 72.8%). Out of the 625 constituency seats, 313 are needed for a majority.

The Labour Party contested 617 seats, winning 315 seats, losing 13 seats, with 46.1% of the vote.
The Conservative Party contested 495 seats, winning 290 seats, gaining 28 seats.
The Liberal Party contested 475 seats but won only seventeen seats, losing six seats.
The Communist Party of Great Britain contested no less than a hundred seats but won none and lost their two Parliamentary seats.
Independent Labour candidates contested six seats and lost both their previous seats.
Independent Conservative candidates contested three seats and lost both their previous seats.
The Independent Labour Party contested four seats but lost all three previously held seats.
Various Independent candidates unsuccessfully contested fifteen seats.
Independent Liberal candidates contested two seats and successfully held one.
An Independent Liberal and Conservative candidate unsuccessfully contested one seat.
Various Independent candidates unsuccessfully contested fifteen seats.
The Scottish Nationalist Party contested only three seats at this election, but won none of them.
Plaid Cymru unsuccessfully contested seven seats in Wales.
The Mudiad Gweriniaethol Cymru Party unsuccessfully contested one seat in Wales.
Sinn Féin unsuccessfully contested two seats in Northern Ireland.
The Nationalist (NI) Party maintained its two seats.
The Irish Anti-Partition League unsuccessfully contested one seat in Northern Ireland.
The Irish Labour Party unsuccessfully contested two seats in Northern Ireland.
A National Independent candidate unsuccessfully contested one seat.
The Social Credit Party unsuccessfully contested one seat.
The Socialist (GB) Party unsuccessfully contested two seats.
The United Socialist Party unsuccessfully contested one seat.

The result is a thinly held-majority of five seats for the Labour Party. A disappointing result for Labour but one that probably reflects the divided and hard-fought campaign by both sides. This afternoon Clement Atlee drove to Buckingham Palace to inform the King that he can form a government.

26 February
Clement Atlee has announced his re-shuffled Cabinet.
Sir Stafford Cripps has moved from the Board of Trade to Chancellor of the Exchequer. Hugh Dalton has moved to become Minister for Town and Country Planning. Lord Addison has moved from being Dominions Secretary to the positions of Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords. George Tomlinson has replaced Ellen Wilkinson as Minister for Education and Hector McNeil has replaced Tom Williams as Secretary of State for Scotland. Tom Williams has replaced Joseph Westwood as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Arthur Henderson is the new Secretary of State for Air and the Lord Pakenham has taken on the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Prime Minister: Clement Attlee
Lord Chancellor: Viscount Jowitt
Lord President, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Commons: Herbert Morrison
Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords: Lord Addison
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Sir Stafford Cripps
Home Secretary: James Chuter Ede
Foreign Secretary: Ernest Bevin
Colonial Secretary: Jim Griffiths
Dominions Secretary: Patrick Gordon Walker
Secretary of State for Scotland: Hector McNeil Tom Williams
Minister of Defence: Emanuel Shinwell
Secretary of State for Air: Arthur Henderson
First Lord of the Admiralty: A. V. Alexander
President of the Board of Trade: Harold Wilson
Secretary for Overseas Trade: Hilary Marquand
Minister of Education: George Tomlinson
Minster of Labour: George Isaacs
Minster of Health: Aneurin Bevan
Minister of Transport and Shipping: Alfred Barnes
Minister of Civil Aviation: The Lord Pakenham
Minister of Fuel and Power: Emanuel Shinwell
Minister of Supply: George Strauss
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries: Tom Williams
Minister of Works: Richard Stokes
Minister of Town and Country Planning: Hugh Dalton
Minister of National Insurance: James Griffiths
Minister for Pensions: Wilfred Paling
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Lord Alexander of Hillsborough
Postmaster-General: The Earl of Listowel


Saturday, October 2nd 2021, 1:17pm

The German Government acknowledges the Labour victory and expresses its hope of continued good relations with Britain.


Friday, November 26th 2021, 6:32pm

1 March
The Teachers’ Training College has opened in Singapore today, the first dedicated college to train teachers in the region.

6 March
Further changes have taken place in Singapore today, albeit ones with some confusion as a new district postal system comes into effect which divides Singapore into 28 districts.
Meanwhile in London the World Figure Skating Championships have begun.

8 March
Rover have begun testing a revolutionary new turbine-powered car. The JET1 prototype is an open two-seat tourer with a small turbojet engine positioned behind the seats with air intake grilles on either side of the car and exhaust outlets on the top of the rear end. It is hoped to achieve speeds of up to 80mph and beyond during testing.

10 March
The Hawker Sea Hawk FN.Mk.II has entered service with the Fleet Air Arm. The new model has several refinements, including powered ailerons and provision for two 90 gallon underwing tanks to extend the operational range. 80 have been ordered.

11 March
The War Office have confirmed that a new vehicle is entering service with the British Army this year. The FV402 observation vehicle is a variant of the FV401 Cambridge Carrier with and enclosed rear body with roof armour and armoured hatches.
The Armoured Vehicle Research and Development Establishment has already begun initial design work on a new vehicle to replace the Oxford and Cambridge designs and to supplement the smaller FV310. The new FV420 chassis will form the basis of a family of support vehicles. It is designed to carry a fully armed section of infantry in an enclosed hull and it is hoped the new vehicle will entered service during 1953.

12 March
An Avro 689 Tudor V, named Star Girl, owned by Airflight Limited today crashed on approach to Llandow airport. The aircraft had been chartered privately for a trip to Belfast to watch the Welsh rugby union team compete against the Irish in the Five Nations. Star Girl was carrying 75 passengers and 5 crewmen. The Avro Tudor approached runway 28 at an abnormally low altitude with the undercarriage down. The pilot attempted to correct the descent by increasing the power of the engines but pulled-up too sharply, the aircraft rose steeply to 300ft attaining a nose-up attitude of 35 degrees before stalling. Star Girl plummeted towards the ground with the right wingtip hitting the ground first, followed in turn by the nose and left wing, which separated from the fuselage. There was no explosion on impact or ground fire. Two passengers who were sitting in additional seats bolted in at the back of the tail section walked away unaided and nine more injured passengers were taken to hospital in a critical condition. Sadly, the remaining 65 passengers and all five crew were killed. Amongst those who died were three members of Abercarn Rugby Football Club and six members of Llanharan RFC. The death toll sadly makes this the worst air disaster in history.

15 March
Colonial Cocoa has completed its takeover of Malayan Cocoa Ltd. In 1945, Colonial Cocoa brought a 49% stake in the business. Malayan Cocoa will now be renamed Colonial Cocoa (Malaya) Ltd.
In related news, the United Cocoa Development Company Ltd., formed the same time as Malayan Cocoa Ltd to provide state funds to other cocoa schemes has announced that around forty plantations across South East Asia have now since received loans since its operations began in 1924. Since 1930 it has also run a laboratory to assess the best growing and yield techniques and developed a number of new species of plant.

26 March
No. 3 Squadron at RAF North Weald have begun trading their existing de Havilland Vampire fighters for the new Hawker Falcon F.Mk.I. 120 of these single Rolls-Royce Tay powered swept-wing fighters are on order for Fighter Command. The P.1081 is based on the naval P.1040 Sea Hawk but developed further via the P.1052 swept-wing prototypes and with the addition of the Rolls-Royce Tay which features reheat to increase the thrust of the engine to 6,250lbs.

27 March
In Burma the Ministry of Education has officially been formed and will in future oversee all of Burma’s educational establishments and will form educational policy and be responsible for all the training of teachers.


Friday, November 26th 2021, 6:34pm

Operation Hatrack – Philippine Evaluation of the Canberra Hosted by No 107 Squadron

The BCAC Canberra had been talked about since details of its development entered the aeronautical press as the first jet-powered tactical bomber for the RAF.
The Canberra B.Mk.I with blind-bombing equipment using H2S was still at least a year away given some systems issues, but the Mk.II with a visual bomb-aiming position in the nose was now in service. Also a year away was the photo-reconnaissance PR.Mk.III version, a maritime reconnaissance variant with ASV equipment and a cannon pack as well as bombs and a conversion trainer, the T.Mk.4.
The first crews on No 107 Squadron based at RAF Marham in Norfolk had converted at the Bomber Command Jet Conversion Flight at RAF Binbrook on Gloster Meteor fighters. The crews had to have two tours in Bomber Command as Captains for the pilots and highly rated for the navigators and bomb-aimers. The crews were among the crop of Bomber Command, many coming from the de Havilland Mosquito but some from the ‘heavies’, the strategic bombers. Most had at least six months flying experience on their new mounts and they were settling in and starting to push the envelope of the aircraft. Powered by two 6,500lbf Rolls-Royce Avon R.A.3 turbojets the Canberra has a maximum speed of 570mph and a range of 2,600 miles with a service ceiling of 45,000ft. The maximum take-off weight is 50,000lb. The bombload comprises either; one 5,000lb, or two 4,000lb or six 1,000lb HE bombs or smaller bombs can be carried down to 20lb practice bombs in special racks.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) was one of the first to enquire about potentially buying the Canberra to replace their Douglas A-26 Invaders. Initial political overtures were successful and a delegation was despatched to evaluate the Canberra for themselves.
The delegation comprised:
Colonel Florentino Ballecer – the chief of mission and member of the PAF Air Staff, he has wartime experience flying Martin Marylands against Itu Aba.
Captain Namesio Caravara – a pilot with the 15th Bombardment Squadron flying the A-26
Captain Renaldo Robles – a pilot with the 26th Bombardment Squadron flying the A-26
Captain Sergio Garcia – a pilot with the 27th Bombardment Squadron flying the A-26
Major Victor Silayan – commander of the 12th Fighter Squadron flying the MiG-15
Mr. Kayvin Santos – a representative of the Minister of Defence

Monday 13th March
The delegation arrived at London Airport and were taken to the Air Ministry for an official briefing on the Canberra by the RAF, the Ministry of Supply and members of the Westland design and engineering team from Yeovil. The briefing covered the basic design and systems, operating costs, mission efficiencies and technical support considerations.
After lunch they were driven to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough where they were given a more detailed technical discussion on the aircraft and its performance. They were shown around the second prototype B.Mk.2 aircraft and able to inspect the internals. They were then hosted to dinner before settling in a local hotel.

Tuesday 14th March
Five of the PAF delegation were pilots, four with twin-engine experience but lacking jet experience and one with fast jet experience but no asymmetric experience. A brief course was laid on, Squadron Leader Ernest Guthrie and Flt. Lt. Eric Mountjoy were assigned as instructors and two Gloster Meteor T.Mk.7 trainers assigned to Farnborough for jet conversion flying – this was deemed essential by the Air Ministry as the Canberra was a single-pilot aircraft and no two-seater T.Mk.4 was currently available.
So Silayan went up first with Guthrie, finding the Meteor somewhat more sluggish than the MiG-15 he usually flew, indeed at dinner that night Guthrie was keen to talk about the MiG with Silyan as the RAF awaited its first swept-wing jet fighters. Silyan got to grips with the asymmetric power exercises and soon Ballecer and Caravara were up with Guthrie and Mountjoy. Robles and Garcia were the next pair up, Robles finding his first asymmetric touch and go a little tricky but despite a wing-drop, he recovered in time and made it perfect next time around. Everyone passed the truncated course with flying colours and even Santos was treated to a ride before lunch.
During the afternoon Garcia went up with the RAE test crew in the Canberra to observe a high-altitude flight while the others were treated to a tour of Farnborough’s facilities. Silayan was much taken by the stubby delta-winged Boulton Paul P.111 but of course was not allowed to fly it. He enquired why the RAF wanted swept-wings if they had moved on to tailless deltas? Guthrie pointed out it was the future but a hot ride for a typical fighter pilot, explaining how landings needed an unusually high angle of attack.

Wednesday 15th March
The day was spent at Farnborough doing circuits and bumps in the Meteors for most of the pilots, Silayan was able instead to observe another RAE test flight in the second prototype Canberra, a long-range navigational equipment test which took the crew to Orkney and back via the Irish Sea.

Thursday 16th March
While Mr Santos travelled to London for the dry talks of politics and money, the rest of the group was flown to Marham in a de Havilland Devon. With talk of so many top-brass coming to visit Marham no effort was spared in making the airfield as presentable as possible. Every kerb painted, every blade of grass neatly trimmed, aircraft polished to a high finish and every uniform pressed and woe betide anyone who made a mess from the Station Commander’s wrath.
Most of the morning after their arrival was spent in meetings with the Squadron headquarters staff. The CO was Squadron Leader Ernest Cassidy, DFC, and he welcomed the PAF pilots. Given the squadron was still working up, a handful of BCAC test pilots and ground engineers were on hand too. A briefing outlined the itinerary and flying programme. Each of the PAF pilots were assigned a counterpart with whom he would fly, two BCAC and three RAF pilots, and the respective crews.
The afternoon was spent on the flight line, looking over the aircraft and then a full safety briefing, they were reassured tongue-in-cheek that should they prang any of the aircraft the repair bill would be posted to Manila.
Three Mosquito squadrons were also based at Marham so it was a busy place. Using the station ‘hack’ the PAF pilots were given ‘circuits and bumps’ to get used to the landing pattern and local landmarks from the air.

Friday 17th March
Each man joined his appointed crew. Being a three-man aircraft they had to perch beside the navigator in the ‘coal hole’ behind the cockpit on take-off and landing or they could sit in the bomb-aimer’s seat if he wasn’t going on the trip. They all spent a lot of time ‘genning’ up on the Pilot’s Notes, which the RAE was still adding too given the aircraft was brand new.
The day was spent in circuits and bumps and some longer flights, each of the PAF pilots observing their counterpart and going through the flight procedures. In the afternoon they all got a chance to perform at least one fast taxi down the runway to get a feel of the aircraft, albeit firmly on terra firma.

Saturday 18th March
Flying began in earnest.
Ballecer – AM a practice high-level bombing sortie at 30,000ft to the Wash ranges with four 250lb practice bombs released; PM a local familiarisation flight with Ballecer piloting
Caravara – AM an evaluation of navigation equipment with ten 100nm radius circuits of over Eastern England at 30,000ft; PM practice low-level bombing sortie at 5,000ft to Orfordness with four 20lb practice bombs released
Robles – AM a practice high-level bombing sortie at 30,000ft to the Wash ranges with four 150lb practice bombs released; PM a local familiarisation flight with Robles piloting
Garcia – AM briefing on armament options; PM practice low-level bombing sortie at 5,000ft to Orfordness with two 500lb practice bombs released
Silayan – AM a local familiarisation flight with Silayan piloting; PM fighter evasion sortie over Norfolk against Meteors at 30,000-20,000ft with Silayan observing

Sunday 19 March
A day of rest for the group who visited the city of Norwich for shopping and some relaxation.

Monday 20th March
The weather was not good but in the afternoon Robles and Silayan were able to join two No 101 Squadron crews as the unit performed a six-aircraft formation flight to the Cumbrian ranges but poor weather prevented any bomb runs.

Tuesday 21st March
Mr Santos returned from London to rejoin the group.
Ballecer – AM a practice high-level bombing sortie at 35,000ft to the Wash ranges with two 250lb practice bombs released with Ballecer piloting; PM spent reading aircraft manuals
Caravara – AM an evaluation of navigation equipment a flight across the North Sea towards Nordmark and return at 30,000ft
Robles – AM attended a briefing with groundcrews on important servicing aspects of both the Canberra and the Avon; PM a local familiarisation flight with Robles piloting
Garcia – AM AM attended a briefing with groundcrews on important servicing aspects of both the Canberra and the Avon; PM a local familiarisation flight with Garcia piloting
Silayan – AM a local familiarisation flight with stalling tests with Silayan piloting; PM observer as BCAC crew conducted fuel consumption tests at 40,000ft.

Wednesday 22nd March
Caravara and Silayan were flown to Farnborough in a Heron, where they observed BCAC trials and discussed several aspects regarding the Avon engines.
Ballecer – a local familiarisation flight with Ballecer piloting and Santos as passenger; PM flew two practice low-level bombing sorties to Orfordness at 4,500ft and 2,500ft respectively and releasing a total of four 20lb practice bombs
Robles – AM long-range navigational exercise with a circumnavigation of Ireland and return with Caravara piloting with a mean cruising altitude of 30,000ft
Garcia – AM aircraft unserviceable due to brake problem; PM a local familiarisation flight with Garcia piloting

Thursday 23rd March
Caravara and Silayan returned in the afternoon from Farnborough.
Ballecer – AM navigation equipment calibration flight with Ballecer piloting.
Robles – AM practice low-level bombing sortie at 10,000ft to Orfordness with four 20lb practice bombs released with Robles piloting, PM briefing on navigational equipment
Garcia – AM practice low-level bombing sortie at 10,000ft to Orfordness with eight 20lb practice bombs released with Garcia piloting, PM briefing on navigational equipment

Friday 24th March
Open Day with visiting Air and Defence Attachés. See separate report for details.
Santos rejoined the group and during the armament demonstrations both Caravara and Garcia were observers aboard the Canberras.

Saturday 25th March
Another busy day of flying.
Ballecer – AM a practice high-level bombing sortie at 35,000ft to Orfordness with two 250lb practice bombs released; PM Ballecer flew two practice low-level bombing sorties to Orfordness at 4,500ft and 2,500ft respectively and releasing a total of four 20lb practice bombs
Caravara – AM a local familiarisation flight with Caravara piloting; PM long-range navigational exercise at 25,000ft over the North Sea to Newcastle and return overland east of the Pennies
Robles – AM a practice high-level bombing sortie at 25,000ft to Orfordness with one 1,000lb practice bomb released; PM Robles piloted a practice high-level bombing sortie to the Wash ranges at 40,000ft but no practice bombs dropped
Garcia – AM a local familiarisation flight with Garcia piloting; PM long-range navigational exercise at 25,000ft over the North Sea to Newcastle and return overland east of the Pennies
Silayan – AM fighter evasion sortie against Meteors over Lincolnshire at 25,000-15,000ft with Silayan piloting; PM aircraft unserviceable due to No.1 engine generator failure

Sunday 26th March
Mainly a day of rest but in the afternoon Robles and Garcia both managed to fly high-altitude sorties to the Wash but cloud prevented any bomb release.

Monday 27th March
Santos returned to London for more talks. Meanwhile the flying intensified.
Ballecer – AM fighter evasion sortie against Spitefuls at 20,000-15,000ft with Ballecer piloting; PM Ballecer flew two practice high-level bombing sorties to Orfordness at 40,000ft and 30,000ft releasing two 250lb practice bombs each time
Caravara – AM long-range navigational exercise to Aldergrove, Northern Ireland and return with Caravara piloting with a mean cruising altitude of 40,000ft
Robles – AM Robles flew a practice high-level bombing sortie at 45,000ft to the Wash, releasing two 1,000lb practice bombs; PM Robles piloted a fighter evasion sortie against Meteors over Lincolnshire at 35,000ft
Garcia – AM dive-bombing demonstration at Orfordness with dives from 30,000ft with pull out at 4,000ft and release of eight 20lb practice bombs; PM briefing on the cannon pack
Silayan – AM long-range navigational exercise to Ballykelly, Northern Ireland and return with Silayan piloting, average altitude 28,000ft

Tuesday 28th March
Another busy day of flying, Ballecer was flown to Hendon to join Santos in talks.
Caravara – AM aircraft unserviceable due to hydraulic problem; PM Caravara piloted a high-altitude sortie at 30,000ft to Cornwall and back via English Channel
Robles – AM long-range navigational exercise to Acklington, Scotland with fighter evasion en-route and return with Robles piloting
Garcia – AM simulated ground strafing runs at Orfordness with Garcia piloting; PM Garcia piloted three practice low-level bombing sorties between 10,000-2,000ft to Orfordness with release of six 20lb practice bombs
Silayan – AM carried out a full flight test regime including stalls, spinning and asymmetric flight

Wednesday 29th March
The party bid farewell to Marham, following a Mess party last night. Flown to Hendon and then visited the Air Ministry for a farewell meeting before the party travelled to London Airport to return via air home.

Operation Counterpoint – Demonstration of the Canberra for Foreign Attachés by No 107 Squadron
With the arrival of the Philippine Air Force delegation, a decision was made by the Air Staff to conduct a demonstration of the Canberra to a selected audience of foreign attachés at RAF Marham. This was held on Friday 24 March.

Coronel Ernesto Ferdinand Silvas – Military Attaché of the Republic of Argentina
Wing Commander Peter Pearce (Royal Australian Air Force) – RAAF Liaison Officer at the Air Ministry
Capitaine Alphonse Garnier (Armee de l'Aire) – Air Force Attaché of the Republic of France
Walter Schellenburg – Military Attaché of the Republic of Germany
Captain Hendrik Larsen – Military Attaché of the Kingdom of Nordmark
The delegation from the Philippine Air Force
Major Kiril Lipovsky – Military Attaché of the Russian Federation
Colonel James Donovan – Air Force Attaché of the United States of America

Following arrival at Marham the guests were provided by a briefing by the Officer Commanding, No 101 Squadron, Squadron Leader Ernest Cassidy, DFC. This gave a brief outline of the main salient features of the Canberra and its performance and equipment. There was an opportunity to ask questions and briefing packs prepared by BCAC were handed out.
Then the visitors were shown onto the apron and allowed to inspect a Canberra up close, with guided tours of the cockpit by one of the senior officers of the squadron. Photography was not permitted.
Following the inspection a vic of three Canberras from ‘A’ Flight took off to fly a basic routine of formation aerobatics and low-level flypast to demonstrate the aircraft in the air.

After lunch Rolls-Royce held a short talk on jet engine technology and in particular its new Avon axial-flow turbojet. Then Squadron Leader Cassidy conducted a briefing on the armament and discussing briefly future developments such as a cannon pack and future versions equipped for photographic reconnaissance and maritime patrol. There was no discussion of the forthcoming H2S/NBC equipped B.Mk.I.

The party was then ferried by coach down to Orfordness to observe the Canberra in action. Three dummy targets had been erected on the shingle beach, not unlike landing craft in appearance and six Canberras came in for low-level bombing runs at about 2,500ft following shallow dives, all Canberras dropped a stick of 20lb practice bombs with flare/smoke on impact to mark the bursts. Accuracy was good. Captain Namesio Caravara and Captain Sergio of the PAF Garcia were observers aboard the Canberras during this sortie.

On return to Marham the party witnessed a group take off of a dozen Mosquitos of the Marham Wing who were performing a nocturnal exercise before a brief debriefing and transportation back to the railway station.


Friday, November 26th 2021, 7:18pm

By the way, when should the Chilean Air Force send their money for their order of Canberras?


Saturday, November 27th 2021, 11:06am

Production began in 1949 and its only just gone into operational service so it might take a little while to ramp up production, but by next year there there should be a second production-line running (either Avro or Shorts). I would think the first deliveries could be around Q2/51, depending how many you want it should be possible to deliver them all during the year.