TO MARK a period of service spanning more than a century, one of the oldest fixed-wing squadrons in the world recently marked its anniversary with the release of rare archive film footage from 1914. Formed on 13 May 1912, 2 Squadron Royal Flying Corps was trained to carry out reconnaissance, a role its modem day counterparts have continued to fulfil to this day. On the outbreak of war in 1914, the squadron was one of the first to be ordered to France as part of, noted the Official Historian of the RFC, the "first organized national [air] force to fly to a war overseas". By the evening of 12 August 1914, the aircraft of Nos. 2, 3, and 4 squadrons had been concentrated together on the South Coast near Dover. Just before midnight, the final order was received: "All machines to be ready to fly over at 6.0 a.m. the following morning, the 13th of August." The first aircraft of 2 Squadron to take off departed from Dover at 06.25 hours that morning; the first to arrive landed at Amiens at 08.20 hours. This machine, a Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c, was flown by Lieutenant Hubert Dunsterville Harvey-Kelly, Royal Irish Regiment, attached RFC (who would subsequently be killed in action). Harvey-Kelly was, in fact, the first British aviator to land in France.
On the morning of June 4, two days before the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, a total of eight Douglas DC-3/C-47 variants will leave Lee-on-Solent, near Portsmouth, heading for the invasion beaches and parachute landing grounds in northern France as part of the largest aerial tribute ever put together fora D-Day commemoration. Four of the aircraft will be dropping parachutists, including D-Day veteran Douglas C-47As 42-24064/N74589 Union Jack Dak and Paddy Green's East Kirkby-based 42-100884/ N147DC Drag'em Oot. About 100 paras will be dropped over Carentan, led by the Myersville, Maryland-based Round Canopy Parachute Team. At 19.15hrs on June3, there will be tribute flypast at Lee-on-Solent comprising two Spitfires and Avro Lancaster Mk I PA474 from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and, representing the Royal Navy, the Fly Navy Heritage Trust's North Weald-based Hawker Sea Fury T.20 VX281. This will be followed by a poppy drop from C-47As 42-24064 and 42-100884. The former aircraft, Union Jack Dak, operated by Tradewind Aviation from Waterbury-Oxford Airport, Connecticut, arrived at Coventry Airport on May 10 following an Atlantic crossing. Originally flown by the 73rd Sqn, 434th Trooper Carrier Group, USAAF, at 01.30hrs on June 6, 1944, this historic machine took off from RAF Aldermaston in Berkshire, towing a Waco CG-4 glider to France.
This recycling thing isn't new, is it? Just rebranded every few years. I first saw the Mistel 1 in model form in the early 70s when someone had exhibited a 1/32 example at the Model Engineering exhibition in London - I didn't attend because in those days I was earning £7 a week and being a young chap had other pursuits in mind. I was however still making the occasional kit when not working or out with my mates, and I bought a copy of Scale Models with the Mistel on the front page and remember reading how the maker had used the Revell 109F and an MHW vacform Ju 88 (remember MHW?). I concluded that this was way beyond my meagre financial means and that I'd probably botch the vacform, never having attempted one, but it made quite an impression on me. I did attempt a 1 /72 build using Frog kits of the 109F and Ju 88 but wasn't happy with it and like many others sat back and waited for something larger. Dragon came up with most of the goods some years later with their Mistel 2 and this was purchased, the Fw 190 put to other uses and a Hasegawa 109F mounted on top. It looked fine, in fact I still have it, but it wasn't what I wanted. Some years later AIMS began producing 1/32 Ju 88 conversions after Revell's bold step in producing a kit in that scale, so I was nearly there at last. I'd bought a couple at half price when Modelzone closed their shop in Birmingham and had them stashed so when I saw AIMS' Mistel conversion at last year's Nationals, hand interfaced with wallet and I bought one. The same day I saw Trumpeter's 109G at half price and decided that my Mistel would be a late-war version as seen in Classic Publication's book.
One thing that soldiers in the field acquire is kit. That extra blanket, a pair of boots, a stove, or any number of things can make its way into their inventory. For most infantry, they are limited to what they can carry, but give them a jeep and much more can be carried. One of the common modifications seen late in the war was a rear stowage rack. Sometimes the crew would also relocate the Jerry can and spare tyre as well to allow more gear to be carried. The Legend stowage set used here provides such a rack as well as an SCR-694 - listed as the full unit nomenclature BC-1306. And whilst I was at it I also added a modified tilt from some spare parts together with a few extra details! Even with all the newer kits out, I still enjoy the Tamiya jeep for its simplicity and correct overall details. Beyond the basic construction, I added my usual brake, clutch, and accelerator pedals from plastic, as well as mounted the spare tyre on the passenger side. The Legend set makes its first appearance with construction of the radio mount and stowage rack assembly. The rack seems a bit fiddly at first, but by carefully following the bends it fits together very well and is more secure once glued to the jeep body. Note that all spare tyre and jerry can brackets are left off the rear. I didn't bother cleaning up the resulting holes and mounting pins as this area was going to be filled with gear.
On 24 July 1943, the RAF escalated their night bomber offensive with the launch of a series of raids against the port city of Hamburg. The raids were significant for the first successful deployment of 'Window'-tiny strips of metal foil - which, cut to the right wavelength, successfully jammed German radar equipment. The attack and the resulting firestorm, which caused huge loss of life and damage to industrial installations, prompted the German High Command to give greater urgency to proposals then being tried out by the Nachtjagdversuchskommando Herrmann, (Night fighter Test Detachment Herrmann), led by decorated bomber pilot Oberst Hajo Herrmann. Conceived during early 1943 as a means of making up for a general shortage of night fighters, Herrmann's unit based at Bonn Hangelar deployed ex-bomber and Lufthansa pilots who were experienced in blind flying techniques, to attack the RAF bombers visually at night. Their first interception of a British heavy bomber raid had taken place on the night of 3/4 July during an attack on Cologne. Herrmann's pilots destroyed six bombers, including one brought down by Herrmann himself, for the loss of just one machine.