Author Archives: Pierre Lagacé

About Pierre Lagacé

Retired school teacher since 2004.

Updated Chapter Eight – Cucumber Art Under 3 Flags

Updated 12 July 2019

The July 2019 issue of National Geographic contains many first time images and facts on the success of Apollo 11, fifty years ago. I remember this new era with fond memories, where I was in Ontario, Canada, and the people with me, as I watched in black and white Americans walk on the Moon. I found the article “Let’s Send Only Women to Space” the most interesting read, as in fact the very first image of a human in space was a nude female. Apollo 12 and 17 flights also carried nude female photos to the Moon, however you will not read that in National Geographic magazine.
On 3 October 1942, the first man-made [German] ballistic missile broke free of the earth’s atmosphere, and painted on it’s tail was a nude German lady called “Frau Luna” [Lady in the Moon] This is the true story of the German rocket art, and the German artist who painted the rockets, which NASA do not wish people to read.

Research and story by Clarence Simonsen

All rights reserved

Cover page

The Emblem Art on the Aggregat-4 [A4] Vergeltungswaffe-2 [V2] German Peenemünde [cucumber] Rocket

My painting depicts German engineer [graphic artist] Gerd Wilhelm de Beek finishing his art of “Frau Im Mond” [Women in Moon] prelaunch date 3 October 1942. Gerd de Beek was the technical rocket illustrator who served under Wernher von Braun at Peenemünde, Germany. This A/4 nicknamed “the Cucumber”, will be the first manmade object to leave the atmosphere, 50 miles above earth.

The German WW II rocket, technical name “Aggregat-4 [A/4] was developed at Peenemünde, established as the German Army Secret Rocket Experimental Base on 1 May 1937. Between 1937 and 1943, the German missile technology developed and tested at Peenemünde made its most remarkable and important world space achievements. In a short span of five years, the scientists achieved the Twentieth Century’s most impossible technological challenge, sending a rocket into space. During the development and testing period the technicians nicknamed their test A/4 rocket the “Cucumber” due to shape and color. A German technical illustrator and rocket drafting artist, Gerd de Beek, created a secret art form which was placed on the tail section of the A/4 test rocket before each launch. My research confirms each of the first 33 Peenemünde launched A/4 rockets carried secret German tail art before they were fired. Many images can be seen on launch film, but this fact has been over-looked by historians for the past 73 years. [3 October 1942 to 3 October 2015]

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This German Federal Archive free domain image is showing an A/4 launch and a small white area [in black square] which contains tail art by Gerd de Beek.

In 1931, the German Army [Ordnance Rocket Dept.] established a research base at Kummersdorf weapons range, south of Berlin. On 1 October 1932, a twenty-one year old German civilian was officially hired to conduct new rocket artillery testing and his name was Wernher von Braun. By December 1934, Braun was appointed director of rocket research, with 60 researchers, and they successfully launched two rockets named “Max” and “Moritz”. Von Braun named these rockets for two German cartoon characters created by Wilhelm Busch in 1865.

Source Internet

I can offer no proof, but feel this was instrumental in the painting of future A/4 rocket tail art.

By 1936, Braun needed a larger test area and a new site was selected on Usedom Island, a heavily forested remote site named Peenemünde. The German Army and Luftwaffe poured money into the construction of a huge super-secret complex for housing, missile manufacturing, and rocket testing. By 1942, the complex housed 2,000 scientists plus 4,000 rocket personnel. Their new home was the first designed rocket launch site in the world, for development of the A/4 [later named V2] and other new German missiles like the Fi-103 flying bomb. General Walter Dornberger’s construction design was based on a huge first rate technical facility, combined with an attractive and comfortable living accommodation for his employees. The entire facility covered the northern peninsula of Usedom Island and proceeded south eight miles, almost to the village of Karlshagen. All of the buildings were carefully constructed among the pine forest that covered most of the island, which provided camouflage, plus saved the habitat for the deer and other wildlife that called this home. The pine forest was dotted with large oak and elm trees, which in the summer time was full of beautiful birds and many types of ducks covered the three regional lakes. Running parallel to the entire east coastline of the base was the Baltic seashore, with pure white sand and large sand dunes. The entire housing settlement was constructed just west of the beach and was only separated by a forest of pine trees. To the scientists, engineers, technicians and military officers, it soon earned the name “Paradise of Peenemünde”. In terms of money, complex-design, size and social considerations, it was without equal anywhere in the world. It was also without equal, in the fact it produced a secret society where secrecy became the everyday fact of life to all the occupants. In this secret world, the A/4 rocket was designed, assembled, and tested by this highly skilled German team led by Wernher von Braun and General Walter Dornberger. To the average German mainstream public this area did not exist. [The Americans would copy the Germans WWII secret base concept and years later, constructed “Area 51.”] This secret German society also produced a secret A/4 rocket tail art that lasted for only the flight time of each rocket, from 10 to 230 seconds. The original color tail art was seen by only a select few at the launch site and then was destroyed when the test missile exploded, or crashed on land or the Baltic. All of the original test research was photographed on motion picture film and black and white 35mm negatives. The 35mm prints were placed into a number of photo research albums which totaled 1,458 pages, with 5,178 photo images, including all the A/4 Peenemünde rocket tail art. These 38 tail art photos have been hidden from the public eye for the past 70 to 72 years. Each original tail art color image has been repainted to replica using the photos from the 1942-44 German photo albums. The first A/4 launch attempt came on 18 March 1942, at test stand VII, but ended in failure. Test stand VII or Prufstand VII [P-7] was the principal A/4 testing facility at Peenemünde and was installed with the world’s first closed-circuit television camera and screen to record each launch.

The true history will never be known as the original German Nazi Scientists took it with them to the grave.

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Based on my research contained in Chapter One, I feel the first A/4 launch attempt V1 carried rocket art, and this could also be where the very first “Frau Im Mond” idea originated. I believe this idea of A/4 rocket tail art originated between Dr. Wernher von Braun and technical artist Gerd de Beek, which was supported and approved by Gen. Dornberger and maybe even Dr. Walter Thiel.

My painting is expressing the idea the tail art originated with the very first rocket, possibly based on a real person, actress of silent screen Gerda Maurus who played “Women in the Moon, in 1929 movie directed by Fritz Lang.

Dr. Walter Thiel was born on 3 March 1910, at Breslau, Germany. He became the third civilian hired by Gen. Dornberger, and joined the German rocket plant at Kummersdorf in 1936. Thiel and his team moved to Peenemünde in the summer of 1940, soon after the construction of the rocket test stands had been completed and were ready for testing. Thiel and fellow engineer Klaus Riedel, designed, developed, tested, and perfected a rocket motor with 56,000 pounds thrust, which powered the new A/4 test rocket. Although his rocket motor became part of the new German Nazi implement of war, he had dreams of building a rocket motor capable of manned flight to the moon and space.

Gerd Wilhelm de Beek was born in 1904 in Bremen, Germany. He was hired by von Braun himself and arrived in Peenemünde in fall of 1937. It is believed he first worked under Walter “Papa” Riedel in the drawing administration at Peenemünde. On 1 August 1944, de Beek was a manager in charge of a department of graphic technical art design. Gerd worked his whole life with the rocket team as a Graphic Engineer and technical illustrator for von Braun. It is believed he created all of the art paintings that appeared on the tail of the A/4 rockets until 17 August 1943.

On 23 March 1942, V1 is moved to the Peenemünde test tower [P-7] for the first full-scale static testing. The test was witnessed by Albert Speer, [recorded film] failed and it was scrapped. If this rocket contained any tail art it was possibly the de Beek painted image of “Frau im Mond” wearing a dress, black stockings and garter belt.

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No restrictions to publish – Fred Ordway III collection donated to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Could this be the very first “Frau Luna” painting completed by Gerd de Beek for use on A/4 launch testing Versuchsmuster-1, date – 23 March 1942? When this rocket was scrapped de Beek retained the original sketch for use on launch V-4. Wernher von Braun selected the same pose but requested a full nude “Frau Luna” for V-4 which is today space art history.


The 1899 German Operetta by Paul Lincke inspired the people of Germany when Berliners travel in a hot air balloon to the Moon and meet the lady in the Moon – “Frau Luna.” This music score is still a large part of the German classical culture today, and young von Braun was born and raised into this rich musical world. At age 15 years, [1927] he played the music of Schubert, Lincke, Haydon and Mozart, and even composed his own classical German music. In that same year a very striking beautiful blonde with high cheek bones and very expressive blue eyes came to the attention of German movie producer Fritz Lang. She would soon come to the attention of the film world.

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Free domain Internet postcard

Gertrud Pfiel was born on 25 August 1903 in present day Croatia, the daughter of a Vienna engineer. She took singing and dancing lessons in Vienna, and at age fifteen, began her theatrical career in Vienna, Hamburg, and became famous in various theatres in Berlin.

This was the peak period of the “Weimar Republic” era [Chapter Two] with over 500 clubs or cabarets and no censorship on nudity, drugs, or prostitution. Gertrud changed her name to Gerda Maurus and this natural blonde beautiful lady used her charm to entertain the rich and famous of Europe plus Prohibition bound United States elite rich visitors. [This exciting part of her life many never be fully known!] During a performance in the fall of 1927, German film director Fritz Lang was over powered by her beauty and offered her a film contract without an audition.

During the filming of “Spies” in 1928, Lang fell in love with Gerda which led to the break-up of his marriage to film writer/wife Thea von Harbou.

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Free domain German Federal Archives, Fritz Lang and wife Thea von Harbou at home in 1923-24.

In 1929 Gerda received the starting role in the new space film “Women in the Moon” and her beauty captivated an entire German male population including 17 year old von Braun.

Wernher von Braun had enrolled in the Berlin Institute of Technology by the summer of 1929, and that fall a movie “Frau im Mond” premiered in Berlin on 15 October 1929. We know this historic space movie had a great effect on von Braun, and I’m positive the stunning beauty of Gerda Maurus did not go unnoticed!

The movie by-product [money] allowed Hermann Oberth to develop his first German rocket [23 July 1930] and von Braun joined this important rocket group. Is it possible that von Braun met and even had sexual contact with Gerda Maurus, as she was only the part time lover of film director Fritz Lange, and never his wife? It is well documented that Gerda had sexual affairs with Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and communist Friedrich Wolf, proving she was also attracted to other important Nazi males. In 1933, Hitler took control of Germany and Lang left for Hollywood, fearing for his future life in Nazi Germany. [Lang was Catholic and his mother was Jewish]

After divorcing Lang, von Harbou began working for the Nazi regime and climbed to the top of the UFA studio in Berlin, which was controlled by Joseph Goebbels. That is possibly how Goebbels became involved with actress Gerda Maurus. Those protruded cheek bones, combined with natural beauty and her forceful look “bewitched” many high class German men, and that is possibly why she became the seductive ‘heroine’ to rocket scientist von Braun. In 1934, von Braun obtained a doctorate degree in physics from the University of Berlin while he served as the technical director of rocket research at Kummersdorf. He is fast becoming a part of the new Hitler Totalitarian Society and the top scientist in the world of space travel, a fact that would not escape Gerda Maurus. If von Braun and Gerda had any serious connection it probably took place from 1935 until she married in 1937. Gerda Maurus married writer and director Robert A. Stemmle in 1937, however she continued to dance and sing on stage in Berlin until 1944.

I believe the idea and original drawing of the “Women in the Moon” wearing a dress, black stockings and garter belt, was inspired by Gerd de Beek for von Braun, based on the living silent screen actress Gerda Maurus.

This art was possibly originally drawn by de Beek for the launch of V-1 but after failure it was later offered to be painted on the launch of V-4. Von Braun himself possibly approved the design idea but did he direct the rocket art to be a fully nude lady? It is very important to note the second painting by de Beek featured the “Lady in the Moon” wearing only stockings and high top leather boots. These same boots are featured in paintings and titled “Whore Boots” from the wild drug and sexual “Weimar Republic” era.

Why this image was contained in the private collection of Frederick Ira Ordway III may never be known, however he owned a very large collection of original space paintings and this was obviously important to archive. Nothing is recorded on the back of the print other than his ARFOR Library and Picture Archives label.

My color painting is based on the original black and white image completed by de Beek.

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Image taken 21 March 1941, Peenemünde pre-launch. German Federal Archives Free domain.

In late April 1942, lunch vehicle V2 is towed to the launch site, and damaged in the test tower. This delayed the testing, and 15 May, it is photographed by a RAF Spitfire [photo-recon.] aircraft. The British notice nothing unusual. This rocket becomes the first test launch attempt, and becomes damaged again during its fourth attempted test firing on 20 May 1942. Finally on 13 June 1942 it is launched in front of a powerful delegation of high ranking German officials. The test is a failure; rocket explodes, cart-wheeling into the Baltic, range 1.3 km.

The art work of Gerd de Beer can be seen on the rocket tail but the image is impossible to understand. I feel it is a German female face image, and possibly connected with “Frau im Mond”?

 

Image by Clarence Simonsen based on small rocket launch film, pure guess work? Was this the face of film actress Gerda Maurus who appeared as the 1929 “Lady in the Moon?”

On 16 August 1942, V3 is test fired, nose section broke off and rocket is destroyed, range 8-7 km. This rocket is the first space vehicle to break the sound barrier during 194 seconds of flight.

German Federal Archives free domain, date unknown but it should be the morning of launch on 16 August 1942. The A/4 launch V-3 is undergoing the many prelaunch preparations. The rocket has not been fueled with liquid oxygen as the body has no signs of white surface frost. The tail art by de Beek has not been painted on which leads to the question on the date of photo. This could be possibly the day before launch 15 August 1942.

This art was painted directly onto the rocket tail in oils painted by de Beek. The art work is very simple in design and thus would not take a long period of time to paint.

The pre-launch image from the HAP-11 BILD photo album, [Betr] Subject #3, photo B474/42, 16 August 1942. Microfilm from National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

Image by Clarence Simonsen based on photo records and painted to replica size. In two publications, actress Gerda Maurus is described as having a bewitching effect on German males, could this be reflected in the witch art? Please see details in Chapter Four, German U-Boat Insignia and possible sexual content in this tail art.

On 3 October 1942, launch vehicle V4 makes world history, becoming the first ballistic missile and first man-made object to leave the atmosphere. Powered by Thiel’s engines the A/4 rocket flies at 1,322 m/s reaching 85 km above the earth and 190 km down range before crashing into the Baltic. It carries the tail art of a fully nude “Lady in the Moon” art with “V4 on the rocket tail.

Pre-launch photo from HAP-11 archive photo album, Subject #59, microfilm from National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

This image was copied in black and white from the original Peenemünde photograph and became part of the private collection of Mr. Fred Ordway III, a NASA official and advisor to the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. It was donated to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Dept. of Archives, at Huntsville, Alabama. This clearly shows artist de Beek completed two images for the 3 October 1942 launch, one with Frau Luna wearing a dress and one nude. I believe Wernher von Braun made the selection and picked the fully nude “Women in the Moon.”

The most obvious reason for the Frau Luna in a dress was the influential German film which premiered on 15 October 1929. This historical space movie was titled “Frau im Mond” [Women in the Moon] directed by Fritz Lange, who hired German space expert Hermann Oberth as his technical adviser. The film was remarkably accurate in moon rocket design, acceleration, weightlessness, and the first use of a countdown in seconds 3-2-1 before rocket ignition. This movie sparked the imagination of space travel for thousands of German male youth, and introduced German actress Gerda Maurus to the world.

This image by Clarence Simonsen is based on the original launch film and painted in full scale replica.

Michael Neufield is the expert on Wernher von Braun and his historical background at Peenemünde. In his book titled “Von Braun Dreamer of Space Engineer of War” in 2007, he states – “Von Braun had a charismatic personality and was known as a ladies’ man.” “As a student in Berlin, he would often be seen in the evenings in the company of two girlfriends at once.” The eighteen year old Braun attended the Technische Hochschule Berlin in spring 1930 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the spring of 1932. Braun was part of the team that constructed the very first German gasoline, liquid oxygen rocket, which was launched 23 July 1930. The fact remains, both German rocketry and their future leader, both came to power under the “Weimar Republic” era, 1919-1933. This was also the period of time where Berlin became the experimental sex and drug pleasure capital in Europe. Nudity flourished in most of the 500 cabarets, and all had some form of topless dancers, as well as in stage acts and German screen. The new found openness of nudity, allowed the gay males, lesbians, and transvestites to openly display and discuss their sexuality in the cabaret scene. Many pre-teen school girls became involved in the nude dancing, prostitution, use of drugs, all centered in the City of Berlin nightlife.

To what extent Wernher von Braun took part may never be known, but having sex with two girls would be considered very normal in Berlin, 1930-32. Is it possible that it is reflected in the rocket art of “Frau Im Mond” and the nude pose? A close look at the A/4 tail art rocket painting also gives another important clue. The German female has dark hair, is full nude, and wears only stockings and what was commonly called “whore boots.”

V5

On 21 October 1942, A/4 launch vehicle number V5 was ignited from test stand VII; with a burn of 84 seconds it reached 147 km. De Beek painted art of a nude German male stepping onto a cloud in outer space from the earth, with his hands reaching to the stars.

This painting confirms the excitement and male enthusiasm for German space flight, and I believe was directed towards all the rocket experts at Peenemünde! At least one website has suggested this was part of the Weimar Republic nudity, gays, and transvestites. I do not believe that has any connection. It could possibly show the nude male as the new born German “Aryan” race, which has reached into space and will soon control the world. This is fully covered in Chapter Two German rocket nudity.

German Federal Archives image – V-5 Peenemunde, Germany. Free domain.

Artist Gerd de Beek has been painted directly on the A/4 tail skin in oil paints, approx. 30″ high by 20″ wide. Dr. Walter Thiel [Deputy Director of Peenemunde test facility] appears in pre-launch film with this tail art image.

This is the last tail art painted directly on the rocket skin, possibly due to lack of time to paint on rocket tail!

Original German Peenemunde photo #B786/42 BSM, copied on microfilm National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

My painting titled “Man in Space” contains a scale replica of the German A/4 tail art, a replica of one of the 1942 gate signs at Peenemünde, a ground map of the test area, with test launch pad #VII marked in red. The SS trooper stands for the watchful eye von Braun is under, as one year later [Oct. 1943] he will be placed under surveillance and later arrested [mid-March 1944]. The insignia shows up in 1942 Peenemünde film and is the building used by the [Sturmabteilungen] S.A. Storm Troopers.

V5 [Subject #132] and V6 [Subject #131] located on same page in HAP-11 BILD photo albums, copied NARA public domain.

V6

Free domain image from German Federal Archives, V-6 Peenemünde.

This image became the first art taped onto the A/4 rocket before launch and not painted directly onto the skin. This is the first image painted by de Beek in his office or at home and then taped onto the rocket just before launch. 

Note – This taping of art on the rocket tail will continue until 27 January 1954, when de Beek painted and taped his last known nude lady on the tail of a Redstone rocket at Cape Canaveral.

This rocket was launched on 9 November 1942 and reached 67 km high, 14 km down range. It clearly shows a time of joy and good luck for the German rocket scientists, “Gluckspilt” means ‘Lucky Me’ the fast growing rocket work, like growth of mushrooms.

V7

V2Rocket.com website

V7 is launched on 28 November 1942, failure when it tumbled after 37 seconds of flight. range 8.6 km.

 

V9 – Pigs in Space

The next two German A/4 rocket art images are both pigs and could be titled “Pig in Space”. The pig image came from the figure of speech to describe impossibility – “When Pigs Fly”.

I am positive this was painted by de Beek for von Braun and his huge ‘space flight’ achievement.

The pig image appears on an A/4 rocket which has the upper stage painted solid black and the lower body white. The number one and two fins are painted solid black, number three and four solid white. The pig appears to be approx. 20″ by 20″ and was painted directly onto the rocket above the tail unit thrust ring, between fin number one and two. This rocket film launch took place on 9 December 1942 and is V9.

This tail art appears in the HAP-11 BILD photo albums on page 92, identified as photo B355/42 BSM. Dr. Walter Erich Thiel [Deputy Director of Peenemunde Army Research] stands on the right beside unknown German scientist.

Reichsfuhrer [SS] Heinrich Himmler attended the launch of V9, which was a failure due to a steam generator explosion at +4 seconds, range 1 km.

This figure of speech pig tail art will appear on two more rockets, V10 and V17.

Photo Bild-Nr B355/42 BSM, Betr [Subject] #92, Blatt [Sheet] #45.

Scale replica of V9 pig without wings, A/4 tail art and sketch of Von Braun.

This period became a high point in the career of Von Braun and the “Pig in Space” may have reflected on his own feelings – “His pigs could fly”. This is pure space cartoon humor, combined with fact. The red flowers and gold neck band could reflect on the old Weimar Empire German national colors – Black-Red-Gold. The German rocket was born 23 July 1930, and in 12 years the pig flew.

V10

The second pig art V10 was based on the first de Beek original design but appeared with the addition of white wings and red jet tail exhaust from the rear end. HAP-11 BILD album Subject #93, Sheet #45.

If any image fit the feelings and technical achievements of the Peenemünde scientists it was this one. Due to the strict rules on security this image would never appear as a logo, insignia, or symbol to display the group’s huge achievement.

My painting also contains the sketch of Walter Dornberger, when he was promoted to Major General on 28 May 1943. The German belt buckle logo image was very rare and only two are known to exist today.

This buckle was probably produced [without approval] by one single person, and due to strict security, appeared in late 1944. The German ID badge number 2249 was worn by a worker on the Peenemünde West [Luftwaffe] site.

V11

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V11 was launched on 25 January 1943, burn +64.5 seconds, range 105 km.

During the Third Reich period [1933-45] horse racing became a major spectator sport which grew into a special social event much like the Kentucky derby in the United States. The Brown Ribbon of Germany horse race was run annually in July at Munich racetrack from 1934 to 1944. The race attracted a large number of Nazi officials and fifteen German stamps were issued for this special “Das Braune” event.

This is the July 1942 issue showing the Brown ribbon of Germany banner, which probably inspired Gerd de Beek to create his V11 tail art painting. [free domain]

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V12

V12 had two tail art images painted by de Beek, it is possible both were placed on the rocket but not confirmed. 17 February 1943, burn +61 seconds, range 196 km.

These two tail art paintings appear on the same page in the HAP-11 BILD photo albums, dated 1943 and given Blatt [Sheet] #35. Both of these paintings appear to have been applied in oils directly onto the A/4 rocket skin. This is the second set of duel paintings completed for a launch, as V4 also had two, one Frau Luna dressed and one nude. The cameraman recording the image of the V12 nude lady also captured the shadow of the Meillerwagen [Meiller transport trailer] which is still in the lifting position and has just placed the rocket in the launch position.

“A Good Throw” for double six

The second nude Frau Luna riding a fire trailing Wolf to the moon.

Today we know wolves do not howl at the moon, they howl to rally pack meetings, signal a pack location to others, and most of all to attract a female in breeding season. In ancient civilizations they observed the wolf howling at the moon and this appeared in image and literature belief. The Roman goddess Diana, and Greek goddess Hecate both are associated with dogs, and Norseman mythology records a pair of wolves chasing the moon. Many Native American tribes believe the wolf howling brought the moon into existence. This A/4 rocket has taken the shape of a wolf which is transporting Frau Luna from Earth to Moon.

V13

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V13 was launched on 19 February, explosion at +18 seconds, range 4.8 km.

Watering a four leaf clover for the “Lucky 13” launch.

V16

V16 is the first A/4 to introduce a new standard fin paint scheme and standard location for the de Beek tail art paintings. The overall A/4 painting scheme can be found in many publications and on websites. I only wish to detail the location of the tail art paintings.

The art is placed between tail fin #4 and #1, half way between the base and top of tail fin, [13 feet or 3,945 m. The thin tail stripe is 4 inches or 100 mm wide and the art is placed over the center. The Gerd de Beek art is 28 inches high or 711 mm. This becomes the stand tail art location for the next fifteen launches, until 29 June 1943 and V38. The National Air and Space Museum reported in 1969 that V38 lacked a 4 inch stripe between fin #1 and #2, plus one side of fin #2 was white.

National Archives and Records administration – public domain

The tail art image for V16 appears in the HAP-11 photo album with Blatt [Sheet] #44 and other technical data connected with the launch.

V16 launched 3 March 1943, burn +33 seconds then explosion, range 1 km. The German reads – Alle Neune “All Nine.”

V18

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V18 was launched on 18 March 1943, burn +60 seconds, range 133 km. Until this date the rockets have been launched in order of V number from V1 to V16. The rockets are now launched in any order with some that match test date with V number such as V18 on 18 March. The little blonde German angel or possibly “Frau Luna” with wings appears on V16 and V18.

V19

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V19 is launched on 25 March 1943, burn +60 seconds, 268 seconds of flight. This is the very first appearance of German political art showing a drunk P. M. Churchill consuming his second bottle of red wine. This painting is also the first to suggest that the A/4 will be used as a weapon of “major” destruction against the British, causing much stress for the P.M.

This marks a dramatic change in the style of A/4 rocket art by de Beek and it was possibly painted on instructions from von Braun to impress visiting Nazi members.

This tail art image is contained on HAP-11 album Sheet #50, which also contains a rare Russian/Jewish marking and German lettering. Was this painted by a Russian POW, and if so why was it recorded?

V17

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V17 is launched 3 April 1943, burn +64.5 seconds, range of flight 310 seconds.

This is the third and last use of the “Pig in Space” figure of speech in tail art. The drooling little ‘Miss Piggy’ with wings is attempting to break free from the earth gravity but remains tied by her hind, left leg. The patch indicates the many repairs [operations] to get the A/4 rocket to fly correctly. Very good use of cartoon art and most important to observe de Beek painting the early images of earth from space.

V20

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V20 is launched on 14 April 1943, burn +64 seconds, range 287 km.

This tail art by de Beek is clearly directed at the German Frau Luna and her trip to hug the man in the moon. Frau Luna has now appeared four times, V4 dressed, V4 nude, V12 nude, and now V20 dressed. It becomes obvious that Frau Luna, the moon, and space are the main theme in these first A/4 tail art paintings, however that will soon change.

V21

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V21 is launched 22 April 1943, burn +60 seconds, range 252 km.

I believe this tail art was painted for Dr. Walter Erich Thiel who moved from Kummersdorf test ground to Peenumunde in 1940. He became the deputy director of Peenemunde Army Research Center and recruited many new German scientists to speed up rocket testing. In total twelve of his scientists would come to the United States and build the Saturn V rocket. The hard and intense work of Walter Thiel powered the first successful launch of V4 into space on 3 October 1943. The Rabbit [Easter Bunny] and egg are connection to Easter Sunday which fell on the latest possible date, 25 April 1943. This will not occur again for 95 years, 25 April 2038. The pipe and glasses on the Easter Bunny are the trade mark of Dr. Thiel. The Easter egg is hatching a new baby A/4 rocket with very wet and soft tail fins, like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.

V22

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V22 is launched on 14 May 1943, a burn of 62 seconds and range 250 km.

The smoke from a well dressed A/4 rocket reads “On Gent’s”

 

V26

V2Rocket.com website

free domain from internet

This is the first appearance of the secret code letters HAP which stood for Heimat [Home] Artillerie [Artillery] Park-11. This code name first appeared on 17 May 1943 and became official on 1 June 43. It appears the German HAP cook has prepared a new hot dish – “V26” for some special German visitors.

This day is explained in detail on page 76 of the book “V-Missiles of the Third Reich” by Dieter Holsken. This is the first meeting of long range weapon V.I.Ps from the Third Reich. They have come to Peenemünde to observed the ‘comparison firing’ of two A/4 rockets and the V-1 flying bomb. That is why the new code name “HAP” is painted for the first time on tail art. I’m sure von Braun directed Gerd de Beek to include the new name.

After lunch they watched a partly successful launch of V-25, burn 43 seconds, range 27 km, then the burn stopped and the rocket fell into the Baltic. The background photo shows the pre-launch image of V25 which contained tail art in a form of what appears to be a female head.

This was a special event for von Braun and major support for his rocket program was gained thanks to the twin test shoot-off and the VIP meetings. On 9 June 1943, priority classification for the A/4 program was ordered.

Was this rocket tail art another image of Frau Luna or could it have been the face image of the silent screen actress Gerda Maurus? This art is still contained in the HAP-11 albums in Munich, Germany.

My painting is based on pure guess work with no factual proof.

This National Archives and Records Administration rare image captures the two rockets [V25 and V26] which were launched on 26 May 1943.

V24

V24 is launched on 27 May 1943, burn +56 seconds, range 138 km. It is unknown if this rocket contained tail art. Again the proof remains hidden in the photo albums in Munich, Germany!

 

V23

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V23 is launched 1 June 1943, burn +62 seconds, range 62 km.

The lady bug is much like the A/4 rocket, it has the shape like Hitler’s Volkswagens but surprisingly it can fly!

 

V29

The de Beek tail art of V23 and V29 both appear on the HAP-11 photo album same page, sheet #72. V29 is the very first image to show an attack on the United States of America, combined with the Soviet Union and United Kingdom.

A copy of this V29 art is also found in the private collection of Fred Ordway III, donated to U.S. Space and Rocket museum at Huntsville, Alabama.

From the private collection of Fred I. Ordway III, donated to the U.S. Space and Rocket Museum at Huntsville, Alabama.

V29 is launched 11 June 1943, burn +63 seconds, range 238 km. This tail art is the second to take a political shot at Great Britain, plus adding Russia and United States. This is the only A/4 tail art to display the American national flag, showing the rocket being use as a missile of major destruction against the United States. Is this possibly a reflection on the events taking place that week? [V-Missiles of the Third Reich – page 77] Goring, Milch and von Axthelm meet to discuss the problems of A/4 launch sites. On 28 June, Hitler agrees to their decision to build four large A/4 launch bunkers and 96 field sites in France.

V31

National Archives and Records Administration -public domain.

V31 is launched 16 June 1943, burn +61 seconds, range 238 km.

V28

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

A/4 rocket V-28 was launched on 22 June 1943, burn was 36 seconds, then at 70 seconds the rocket exploded in mid-air, range was 75 km.

This de Beek tail artwork featured a huge cigar aimed at Churchill in the shape of a A/4 missile. The name “HAP Hausmarke” [House Brand] has constructed the missile [cigar] with brand name A/4 painted on rocket body. On 10 June, Hitler had remarked that all work for the A/4 project would be promoted in every way. More skilled workers were becoming involved in Peenemünde plus civilian trained workers involved in the project were having more close contact with the German scientist. Could this explain the hand and civilian suit holding the A/4 rocket?

This is the second appearance of the new Peenemünde code title “HAP” and the first usage of the secret code name for the German missile A/4 by artist de Beek. This would only be allowed due to the fact the rocket and art would be destroyed in seconds after launch. I’m positive Wernher von Braun would have approved this usage of two classified rocket codes in the tail art.

V30

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain

V30 is launched 24 June 1943, burn +65 seconds, range 287 km.

This art displays the new improvement of the missile to hit the target [Ziel – Aim] and also being used as a weapon of major destruction to attack anywhere on the earth. This has nothing to do with space travel but clearly shows the A/4 being used to aim and hit a target.

Launch date 7 January 1944. This art was completed in June 1943 and V 32 should have been launched. Something went wrong and it was possibly moved back for repairs. It survived the RAF attack on 17/18 August 43, and was launched in the New Year, 7 January 1944.

 

V36

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain

V36 is launched 25 June 1943, burn +65 seconds, range 235 km.

Peenemünde was established as the German Army Secret Rocket Experimental Base on 1 May 1937 and retained that title until 17 May 1943. On 1 June 1943, the official name became “Heimat [Home] Artillerie [Artillery] Park – 11” or code HAP11. Twenty-four days later de Beek featured the new code name in his tail art for V36. Is it possible the painting is based on a real German lady based at Peenemunde? This is the second art to contain the secret rocket code “A/4” and the third to use the code letters HAP.

 

V38

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V38 is launched 29 June 1943, and was this obviously special tail art created by de Beek for the second visit of Reichsfuher Heinrich Himmler and his SS entourage? [the first visit was on 9 December 42, launch of V9] V38 was a morning launch, which turned west at an altitude of 200 m and crashed into the woods at the airfield on Peenemünde West. Three aircraft were destroyed but no one was killed. This shows the A/4 being designed by the German scientists at Peenemünde for use as a weapon by the [Heer] German Army. V40 is launched in the afternoon and is a successful burn of 64 seconds.

V39

V39 was painted by de Beek and possibly due to problems was never launched. I believe it was in the A/4 rocket assembly building, which was destroyed on the RAF attack 17/18 August 1943.

 

V40

This tail art from V40 was also in the private collection of Fred I. Ordway III, donated to U.S. Space and Rocket Museum in Huntsville, Alabama, 2014.

This was painted for the afternoon launch witnessed by Himmler and his SS group who are attempting to take over the A/4 Army rocket program.

This becomes the third political attack on Great Britain by de Beek, [to please Reichfuher Himmler] showing a depressed and possible drunk [red nose] P. M. Churchill sitting of the White Cliffs of Dover as a lightning bolt from V-40 is about to strike him. V-40 was launched on 29 June 1943, burn 64 seconds, range was 236 km, a successful test rocket flight. A number of historical documents report Wernher von Braun and Himmler had openly talked about using the A/4 as a weapon of major destruction against the Allies. This tends to backup those reports, and was it possibly removed by Fred Ordway in the 1950s to protect the German scientist image at Huntsville?

 

V33

V33 is launched on 1 July 1943, it is a failure and explodes after 2 seconds burn.

It would appear Gerd de Beek was inspired by this 1941 Deutlches Reich stamp. [free domain]

The German Hunting Horn has persisted in German culture for centuries and a hunt was not complete unless a bugler was present to sound commands. When the Nazis took control of Germany in 1933, Hermann Goering became head of all hunting and formed “Deutsche Jaegerschaft” which introduced many hunting reforms. This stamp of the day 1941 honours the new hunting controls and the sounding for the hunt to begin.

Is it possible this A/4 tail art reflected on Hermann Goering and the German Hunting Horn sounding the beginning of the new Space age rocket?

 

V41

V41 is launched on the morning of 9 July 1943, this rocket fell onto a pump building and exploded. This art work is the most powerful in displaying the A/4 missile being used as a weapon of major destruction to destroy England in a mass of flames.

 

V34

National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

V34 is launched in the afternoon of 9 July 1943, exploded at 1.4 seconds.

Microfilm from the National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

This is page 91 of the HAP-11 photo archive album which came to the United States in 1945. It records the last three tail art images created by de Beek before the RAF attack on Peenemunde 17/18 August 1943.

 

V54

V54 was the last A/4 launched at Peenemünde before the RAF attack, 13 August 1943, it had a burn of 68 seconds and flew 270 seconds. It contained no tail art as de Beek had just finished V47 and was possibly still painting the special V50.

 

V47

The tail art for V47 had been completed by de Beek but it never flew, due to the RAF attack on 17/18 August 1943. It was possibly slated for a launch date after 19 or 20 August 1943 and was lost in the bombing of the A/4 rocket assembly building.

De Beek has painted a total of 38 tail art images, 32 have been launched at Peenemunde, two missiles V4 and V12 have two tail images, and three images will never be launched, [V39,V47 and V50]. V54 was launched without tail art and it is unknown if V24 contained tail art.

Was V47 possibly the last tail art painting completed by Gerd de Beek just a day or two before the RAF attack on 17/18 August 1943? I believe this rocket art was in the A/4 assembly building on the night of the attack and was destroyed. This painting displays the old colors of the German flag, black, red, and gold. The aggressive looking eagle can be associated with the Third Reich which adopted the eagle as a national symbol [Hoheitszeichen] and the eagle above a swastika became the formal symbol of the Nazi Party. The eagle’s claws grasp a wreath of oak leaves surrounded by a swastika. Hundreds of these Reich Eagles remain today in Germany displayed as prominent decoration of the Nazi Party era, and most have the swastika removed, but not all. The original design showed the eagle’s head facing right when used as a national symbol on government buildings and architectural projects. The Nazi Party symbol showed the eagle’s head to the left when used on Nazi Party buildings or monuments. Gerd de Beek painted this eagle as looking straight ahead into the sky.

 

V50

Microfilm from National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.

This pen sketch of the tail art for the launch V-50 marks the “Golden Jubilee” for the German scientists and de Beek plans to paint tail art which features fourteen of his past A/4 tail art creations, including the most famous. Top of “V” clockwise you will find – V7, V31, V3, V26, V23, V4, V17, V34, V6, V36, V11, V39 V13 and last V40.

I believe the tail art for V50 was completed and placed on the A/4 rocket for the proposed launch on 18 August 1943.


 

The sudden RAF raid on Peenemünde destroys the planned special launch and possibly damaged or destroyed the intended A/4 rocket in the Peenemunde assembly building.

On the evening of the attack German female test pilot Hanna Reitsch was a special guest of Wernher von Braun and it is believed the next morning was his special day, with the launch of V-50 for his famous German female pilot guest of honour. The rocket never flies and Peenemünde tail art will never be the same.

German Federal Archives free domain – undated, possibly 1936 Olympic Games, where Hanna Reitsch was the only female glider pilot entered in this special event.

The Peenemünde employees lived such a secret hidden peaceful lifestyle; it lulled everyone into a false sense of Germany being at total world war. When the RAF raid missed the most important main target, it not only saved the lives of the expert German technicians and scientific people, it in fact saved German rocket testing for two more years. Many families will be relocated to the Mittelwerk underground factory, while others were scattered around the Peenemünde area, including the family of Gerd de Beek. This surprise attack also put an end to the cartoon style A/4 tail art paintings as von Braun ordered de Beek to suspend his tail paintings. Many publications describe the depressed mood in Peenemünde and for that reason the tail art had lost its usefulness. After the RAF raid, the German S.S. took over all production of the A/4 Peenemunde test rocket.

The de Beek family remain at Peenemünde, moving from location to location to avoid any further bomb attacks. Gerd returns to his design duties as manager in charge of a department of graphic technical rocket art design in Peenemünde until May 1945.

Until the 18 August 1943 attack, it is confirmed 38 tail art images were completed by a Peenemünde artist believed to be Gerd de Beek. Not one image displays the Nazi Swastika and only V47 [never launched] displays possible Nazi party eagle symbol. On 26 August orders are proposed for the building of the huge underground rocket assembly at Niedersachswerfen near Nordhausen in the Harz mountains. A new development plant will be constructed at Lake Traun in Austria and a new firing range will be constructed in Poland. The glory days of Peenemünde and the rocket tail art will never return, however test launches will continue until 19 February 1945, and one more tail art appears. It is impossible to know who designed this new tail art for the 100th launch, which is again painted on paper and glued to the rocket tail. This image clearly shows a change in art design from space cartoon to a more German Military Heraldic symbol in the 100th shot painting. I believe this V100 tail art was designed by Gerd de Beek, as it features the old German National colors of “Black-Red-Gold” which was banned by Hitler in 1933. Rather than showing the swastika or the National Socialist colors, the 100th launch [shot] is directed again at space flight and the achievement of the German scientists.

Image taken from pre-launch film.

232 rockets will be test launched at Peenemünde until 19 February 1945, including the above 100th shot. This art was not painted directly onto the rocket, but pre-painted and glued onto the rocket. I can find no evidence to support any other rockets contained tail art, however it is possible a few did.

This painting on the Gezackt Ragged No. 1 rocket [test camouflage] design first appeared in the summer of 1944. The German rocket team are now under the watchful eye and total control of the S.S. and Himmler. Artist Gerd de Beek fully understood the power of his cartoon art, combined with the fact the rocket art would only be seen for some minutes or seconds, then gone and destroyed in space or on impact with the ground.

One huge advantage to using cartoon art is the fact, an image, will stay in the mind of the viewer long after the event has faded away.

I believe de Beek took advantage of this and was able to show the 100th shot with rocket into space, using the old German national colors, “Weimar” Republic” under the very eyes of the S.S.

I cannot find any evidence to support the use of V-2 tail art by the German Wehrmacht, who began launches against Allied targets in early September 1944. The book titled -“V-Missiles of the Third Reich The V-1 and V2” by Dieter Holsken contains four images of A/4 rocket tail art. On page 327, the author states – “So far as is known, operational V-2s did not feature any unit insignia or cartoons.” There is a simple reason for that, the launch tail art was only special to the German scientists who tested their rocket at Peenemünde.

In August 1936, thousands of workers began to arrive at the heavily forested island situated on the Baltic Sea, 95 miles due north of Berlin. From the very beginning Peenemünde was shrouded in total secrecy. Advertisements directed workers to send their applications to an anonymous address in Berlin. Once the applications were screened and secret interviews took place, the worker still had no idea where he was going until he arrived. The new employees were then educated in the new rules regarding security, but again had no idea what he was building or the nature of the job site. The site location was also picked by General Dornberger and Wernher von Braun due to the huge demand for secrecy. Usedom was a remote island, not directly connected to any major roads, and only accessible by three bridges. All heavy equipment arrived by ship and the road bridge traffic could be closely monitored. The northern peninsula allowed all secret rockets testing to be conducted over the Baltic, which avoided any crash in a populated area. In the settlement living section and the production and testing facility, virtually no expense was spared. They reasoned that if the select rocket specialists enjoyed the best living and working conditions, they would also perform better on the job. At the same time, they created a huge new secret world, which was isolated from Nazi-Germany, and even during total world war they lived a different life-style. Secrecy was the central fact of life in Peenemünde, and the occupants became a lost secret society. There were secret regulations for everything, including the spoken word. The new rocket was called ‘smoke trail instrument’ or ‘instrument A/4’. This new language and coding of all technology used orally or in correspondence became everyday life in Peenemünde. Military rank just melted away and became secondary to professional technical qualifications. Security zones, and check points became a normal part of life, and the metal ID badge with number replaced the name and identify of people. Peenemünde was somewhere between an Army Base and a new social experiment for rocket engineers and scientists. This tight formed group developed an engineering style and new secret social structure that designed a rocket for outer space. At the same time the security regulations forbid the use of an insignia, emblem, or symbol to display their great secret achievements as a group. They could not even call their ‘rocket’ a rocket. Someone in the group [de Beek ?] came up with the idea of painting a number of pre-launch rockets with a comic style painting, and this would have no effect on security. The A/4 test rocket burn lasted 60-70 seconds and then the rocket fell to earth or in most cases into the Baltic Sea after a flight of 230 seconds. Graphic artist Gerd de Beek may have suggested this idea, and when approved, [by Wernher von Braun] painted all the tail art images. As the war situation in Germany worsened, the paradise life on the Baltic coast continued with a vibrant and exciting culture all to themselves. While rationing in Germany made food scarce, the local deer, fish, and eel in the Baltic easily supplemented their rations.

A/4 rocket fuel was plentiful so the chemists distilled ethyl alcohol into pure alcohol and moonshine of many flavors was produced. They had parties with A/4 “instrument” fuel while Germany was being bombed to death. The Peenemünde employees lived such a peaceful life it lulled almost everyone into a false sense of war. On the night of 17 August 1943, [23:30 hrs] the RAF struck and their secret paradise was gone forever, including future rocket tail art.

This image appears in the German Federal Archives [free domain] and records General Dornberger and Wernher von Braun sharing a joyous moment during a 1944 Christmas banquet in Peenemünde. The card has a congratulatory message from possibly Hitler, as the War Service Cross with swords has been awarded to each space pioneer, [seen in photo].

It is possible this was the art work on the card, as this cartoon had the message – “Congratulations for Special Duties in the Army”. The little A/4 smiling rocket wears the War Service Cross as England burns and may also have appeared on a A/4 test rocket at Peenemünde.

The speed race to discover and capture the secrets of the German technology began even before the end of the war in Europe, and the Americans speed captured everything. On 10 April 1945, the advancing American troops of the Third Armoured Division entered the foothills of the Harz Mountains, and discovered the entrances to the Mittelbau tunnels, also named Dora. The American troops entered the first long tunnel and found German railway freight cars loaded with new V2 rockets. On 5 June 1945, this area of Germany would be in the Soviet zone of occupation, and the Americans would have to move fast, which they did. U.S. Col. Holgar Toftoy, Chief of Army Technical Intelligence formed “Special Mission V2”, which sent a team to investigate, and evacuate specialized parts, back to the United States. On the last day of May, the final section of 341 railway cars, 100 complete V2s and specialized parts left for the port at Antwerp. Sixteen American liberty ships would move the components to New Orleans and later to White Sands, New Mexico.

On 2 May 1945, Wernher von Braun and his V2 specialists surrendered to U.S. forces in Bavaria and were later moved to a prisoner enclosure were allied interrogators questioned them. At this point the Americans had the top German scientists, the best of the V2 missiles, but they were still missing the fourteen tons of Peenemünde documents that engineer Dieter Huzel, [from von Braun’s group], had hidden in an abandoned iron mine in the village of Dornten, Germany. On 12 May, American Major Robert Staver found and interviewed his first V2 engineer, Karl Otto Fleisher, who had been part of von Braun’s caravan to Bavaria. Karl Fleisher was the only person who knew the general location of the hidden documents, and on 20 May, he was tricked into revealing the location of the missing papers. On 5 June, the Dornten area would fall into British hands, and again the Americans had to scramble to move the fourteen tons of German documents to Paris, and then to Aberdeen proving grounds in Maryland, USA. It is very important to note these tons of paper material contained the HAP-11 research photo album archives of the A/4 launches, which included the 38 tail art photos of the original paintings by Gerd de Beek. While the original tail art was destroyed in each rocket launch and final crash, the black and white 35 mm images in the German photo albums saved de Beek’s art, recording a first space history.

The British Government protested the removal of the documents and pointed out that by prior agreement, half of the V2s should be turned over to them. The American Government ignored these protests, but gave the British the opportunity to gather as much material before the Soviets took control of the area. On 22 June 45, General Eisenhower sanctioned the British launching of long-range German V2 rockets to ascertain the German technique of launching, etc. 

Operation “Backfire” was the code name given to the British military scientific operation which went on a large scale search throughout Germany for V2 parts, to build and test the V2 rocket.

Over 400 German railway cars and 70 RAF Lancaster flights were needed to transport a quarter of a million parts and 60 plus specialized vehicles to the new built launch site at Cuxhaven, Germany, in the new British sector. Over 2,000 Canadian Army Engineers constructed the launch site. The British were able to assemble enough parts to construct eight V2 rockets for test firing, and four of these contained new tail art by Gerd de Beek.

By the middle of May 45, over 7,000 German rocket troops had been captured or surrendered to allied forces. These troops were known as V2 Division z.V [Division for Retaliation]. On 22 July 45, 70 Peenemünde scientists, [including von Braun and Gen. Dornberger] 128 V2 firing troops and 600 German P.O.W.s were transported to Cuxhaven.

The German V-2 forces, [renamed Altenwalde Versuchskommando] or AVKO, at first were not keen to work for the British, General Dornberger was most reluctant and almost all of the German scientists were horrified of being under control of the British. I’m sure the British had some strong feelings towards the Germans, but they required the technology to learn the procedures in the handling and launch of the V-2 rocket. German personnel wore their original uniforms [without insignia] and were ordered to perform their duties, which for the most part, they did willingly. Many of these Germans [127] had been picked for the V-2 testing in the U. S. and it was not wise to cause trouble for the British.

Cover art image from V2Rocket.com website

V2Rocket.com website

V2Rocket.com website

For this operation five rocket launch attempts were completed, and three V2 rockets were fired successfully. [above] All eight V2’s were painted in black and white, much like the original markings of the test rockets at Peenemünde. All of the British drawings, art sketches, and diagrams were completed by German artists Gerd de Beek and Max E. Novak. 

The British also filmed the three launches and took black and white photos of the complete operation. After fifty years the Crown copyright on the 35 mm negatives expired and the photos show an amazing part of German art work on the V2 launch rockets. For an unknown reason, the British allowed one of the German team members to paint four German V-2 tail art images, each with a launch number. The early Peenemünde rocket launch art has reappeared, glued on the British V-2’s before launch time.

The British launch A/4 tail art is reborn but completely different in style from the comic art painted on the rockets at Peenemünde. I believe they all contained a secret message directed at the British!

Photo V2rocket.com website

Photo from website V2Rocket.com

[British neg. # 76-9074] 1 October 1945, two German V2 specialists glue the art work on the V2 rocket engine between fin numbers one and four. This was launch V-1 which began at 09:30 hrs and launch attempt at 15:54 Hrs, which failed. The rocket was rechecked and a second launch was attempted at 18:15 hrs. This also failed.

It is important to note that Wernher von Braun joined the German Army Ordnance Office Rocket Program on 1 October 1932. The first British attempted launch of a captured German V-2 was slated for 1 October 1945, but failed to launch twice. On 1 October 1958, NASA was created in the United States of American. Each of the last two important dates are thirteen years apart. Did von Braun have any connection to these special German space rocket dates?

The German V2 painted in the new British black and white rotation test colours. The little German lady, [approx. 30″ high by 20″ wide], has been glued on the V2 engine area between fin number I and IV.

The British Lancaster stands for the 70 flights of V2 parts that were required to build the eight V2s at Cuxhaven, Germany. The RAF roundel stands for all the aircrew killed in the operation to destroy the V2’s site at Peenemünde, 17/18 August 1943.

The German soldier with three V-1 rockets raining down on burning London was used by Nazi propaganda machine in an attempt to keep Italy in WWII. This was a stamp issued to show a new secret weapon [?] was about to be launched on England, the V-2.

The rocket V2 tail image in blue cloud was the British cover used for the documentation of Operation “Backfire”.

The little German lady is not very happy by the expression painted on her face, with high eye-brows and tight mouth, looking down at the British officials. She appears with old national German colors, gold hair, red dress, and black outline.

On 2 October 1945, the British prepared the second V-2 for launch which began at 09:30 hrs. British Crown Neg. # 76-9075 shows the impressive full nude German girl sitting on a barrel with lettering “Soft Soap” and end lettering “Targettc Co. Ltd.”

The rocket was launched at 14:41.12.3. Seconds and became the first British flown V-2 in Operation Backfire. It traveled 69.4 km high and 249.4 km down range. This little nude German lady has reached into space for the British.

Photo from V2Rocket.com website – credit Frank Micklethwaite

Full scale replica image based on photos

This art also contains a secret message, the nude lady could be “Frau Luna” and the expression on her face shows the German feelings towards the British. Targettc Co. Ltd. stands for the V-2 to the moon, and the “Soft Soap” is a play on words, don’t downplay the fact the Germans have the technology to place the lady on the moon.

This painting is titled “Soft Soap and Frozen Lightning”.

On 4 October 1945, at 09:15 hours, the fourth attempt and second launch is prepared. This rocket had twice failed to fire on 1 October. At 14:15.55.09 seconds the V2 is launched but after a burn of 35 seconds the engine cuts out, and the test is a failure. It traveled 17.4 km high and 24 km down range, flight time two minutes 16 seconds. This launch proved it was possible to fuel and then un-fuel a rocket, then later launch without any major overhaul.

For this launch the rocket carried new tail art with number “1”.

Photo from V2Rocket.com website

The post war security check by the U.S. Army in June 1945 assessed the Peenemünde scientists on political and security liabilities. They showed no realization there was anything wrong with Germany’s war or in using the V weapons. As a group they refused to acknowledge Germany started the war and instead believed they were the victims of foreign aggression. When Gen. Dornberger was informed he would be assisting the British he was most reluctant, but in the end was almost forced to cooperate. The German organization chart shows 367 technicians and a labour force of 224 were  loaned to the British for the test firing. Almost all the Germans were at first horrified to be working for the British, and giving away their secrets. I believe this clearly shows in the A/4 rocket tail art launched on 4 October 45. A German Horten [Ho-229] jet has just blown the head set off the bald head of a British scientist. This was in fact the secret German two engine flying wing which was rebuilt and tested in the U.S. [2009 documentary – Hitler’s Stealth Bomber] and found to be a ‘stealth bomber’ which was partly hidden from radar.

The third and final rocket is launched on 15 October 45, a demonstration to representatives from the United States, Russia, the Dominions, [Canada] Whitehall, and the World Press. This rocket behaved normal in flight and but fell 18.6 kilometres short and 5.3 km right of aiming point.

This rocket carried the final tail art image painted in Germany, featuring a topless girl with three pieces of fruit carried on a head basket. It is the most difficult to understand.

Is it possible the fruit stands for the United States, Russia, and United Kingdom, and the lady is again “Frau Luna”?

V2Rocket.com website

On 22 July 45, 591 of these ex-V2 rocket troops are driven to the British test area being constructed at Cuxhaven, northern Germany.

These ex-retaliation rocket troops have their name changed to “Altenwalde Versuchskommando” [AVKO] for short by the British. Their first main task is the preparation of an English language memorandum book on the V2 overview and full operation which contains hundreds of technical drawings in fine detail. [Assembly of these parts was a major concern for the British to learn]

V2Rocket.com website

The total contents can be found on line for free thanks to the released by the Smithsonian. A few of the drawings are signed “Novak” a draftsman who I believe was under the authority of Gerd de Beek at Peenemunde.

V2Rocket.com website

Wernher von Braun was the man who picked his two German A/4 draftsmen to document and complete the drawings in the British memorandum book. He picked Gerd de Beek and Max Novak, the very same two draftsmen he had earlier chosen to come to American with his special rocket team [Paperclip].

The memorandum book cover image has German sketch art showing the launch of a V2 in the forest at Cuxhaven. The cover contains the German words – “Long Range Rocket Equipment and Accessories, and the large letters AVKO.

A German artist has signed – “Novak” to the cover page. Von Braun has selected him in the first group of German scientists for the testing at White Sands, N.M. in 1946, he was later [1950] identified as Max E. Novak, Assembly Chief of #4712, MSFC [Marshall Space Flight Center] R-M.

Max Ernest Novak was one of 55 scientists selected in group #1 [later Paperclip] and arrived in New York aboard the S.S. Argentina on 16 November 1946. In December 1945, he was photographed with a group of 104 German A/4 [V-2] Scientists at Fort Bliss, Texas, including his Peenemünde boss Gerd de Beek. In 1949, he moved to the Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama, where he became head of the Assembly Engineering Branch in 1960. Max died on 24 July 1998, age 89 years. [Born – 28 Sept. 1908]

Max Novak is officially listed only with the members at Huntsville, Alabama, however nothing is known about his career in Peenemünde and the A/4 rocket. It is obvious he created many of the hundreds of drawings completed for the British Operation “Backfire” at Cuxhaven in the fall or 1945. He was an expert in the technical drawings of the German A/4 launch crews, the launch vehicles and the complete breakdown of the Peenemünde A/4 rocket design and most important rocket assembly operation. Is that possibly why he was selected by von Braun?

One question remains, did Max ever paint tail art on the German A/4 rockets?

V2Rocket.com website

Cover art of 1945 memorandum book prepared for the British by ex-German V-2 rocket experts at Cuxhaven, North Germany. The cover art is signed Novak. The British records of Operation “Backfire” show five Germans under H.Q. Computing Section, and two are draughtsmen, Gerd de Beek and Max E. Novak.

The history of Max Novak is part of the Peenemünde story but I feel this is still protected by members of the American/German community at Huntsville, Alabama.

The launch site plan drawn by Gerd de Beek and Max Novak, Operation “Backfire’ Oct. 1945.

At the conclusion to the V-2 testing at Cuxhaven, most of these former V-2 Division rocket troops will return to a defeated Germany, to rebuild their shattered lives. A select few [127] will be interviewed and picked by the Americans to join the V-2 testing in White Sands, New Mexico, including Gerd de Beek and Max Novak.

The British had become involved in rocket research in 1944, and immediately after the war showed official interest in ballistic missile testing. During the “Backfire” search for rockets an enormous amount of documentation on the V2 was found around Germany, and shipped to the U.K. This formation combined with what they learned in Operation “Backfire” placed the British as leaders in ballistic missile research but the simple fact was, what the U.K. could afford was very limited, so programs had to be cancelled. In 1945, the U.K. owed Canada over 242 million dollars for the BCATP, a loan which was forgiven by Canada, but clearly shows the U.K. could not afford a space program.

In 1948, the British Government decided to leave ballistic system research to the United States, however the “Backfire” test was not a total loss as much of the V-2 test material had a large influence on the future design of U.K. aircraft and guided weapons sub-systems.

German Federal Archives and NASA free domain photo

On 23 February 1946, a group of 104 German scientists arrive at El Paso, Texas, to begin work in the new White Sands Missile Range. The above photo taken at Fort Bliss [Dec. 45] records the group which became known as “The Team”. The man standing in front row, fifth from the left is Max E. Novak, V2 assembly chief and artist. The man in back row fifth to the right is Gerd Wilhelm de Beek, MSFC MS-G Peenemünde graphic artist, and known V4 tail artist. During his briefing at Fort Bliss, 1946, von Braun told Americans of the plans to build an A11 and A12 rocket for the moon. He then directed Peenemünde illustrator de Beek to paint a cutaway of the future A11 rocket.

Number 36, Max Novak and number 90, Gerd de Beek are the only two artists in the original German group. One of these man painted the A/4 tail art at White Sands.

White Sands soon became the dumping ground for 431 train loads of WW II German captured V-2 rockets, material, and components were unloaded by the U.S. Army. The first static test of a German V-2 was conducted on 15 March 1946. Two weeks later on 16 April the first V-2 was launched in the New Mexico missile range. This marked the first press release to the American public on the German V-2 and featured a drawing titled “Star bound rocket.”

The first V-2 high altitude test was conducted on 10 May 1946, and this captured rocket carried German painted tail art.

I also believe this was another painting based on the German “Frau im Mond”, completed by Gerd de Beek for Wernher von Braun?

U.S. Army photo of the 10 May 1946, V-2 rocket launch at White Sands N.M.

The position of the German tail art can be clearly seen, the same location as the early 1942 launch rocket art at Peenemünde, Germany. Frau Luna or Frau Im Mond is back on course for her journey to the moon from American soil.

Von Braun understood a good scientific team required a strong sense of belonging, of self-pride, and achievement as a group. He handpicked many of the early German technicians at Peenemünde, and soon others followed through personal connections. In 1945, many of these original Peenemünde Germans came to United States with von Braun and reformed a sound, honest, trusting, rocket-building team. This tight formed group developed an engineering style and social structure that designed the most powerful Saturn rocket in the world, which launched the first humans [Americans] to land on the moon. They all came to America with a shared historical past and I believe the little Frau Luna art was a secret part of it.

German independence from their American hosts at White Sands became very clear early in 1946. Wernher von Braun was very adept at political manoeuvring and quickly befriended J. Edgar Hoover and Democratic Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate, Lyndon Baines Johnson. I believe this contributed to his free use of German V-2 tail art, the same as it had appeared on the rockets in Peenemünde, Germany.

While this art had little meaning to the U.S. Army officials, it did in fact mean much more to von Braun, as his heroine “Frau Luna” was once again on her way to the moon.

Is this the same German “Frau Im Mond” that began her trip at Peenemünde on 3 October 1942?

Gerd de Beek the forgotten A/4 rocket artist would spend his entire life working for his friend Wernher von Braun, in the graphic arts of the rocket team, at Peenemünde, Fort Bliss, White Sands, and Huntsville, Alabama. He died at Winter Haven, Florida, on 2 December 1989. His ashes and those of his wife Irma were returned to the family burial plot in Bremen, Germany.

On 1 October 1958, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was formed, on the same date, 26 years before; [1 Oct. 1932] Wernher von Braun joined the German Army Ordnance Office rocket program. It should be noted that the first attempted launch of a British captured Nazi V-2 was on 1 October 1945. These historic events are both 13 years apart, and only important to one person -Wernher von Braun.

Ten days later, 11 October 1958, NASA launched Pioneer 1, from Cape Canaveral to the moon. This first American rocket failed to reach the moon, however this first attempt had a very special meaning to von Braun. Did Gerd de Beek paint a small image of “Frau im Mond” for his boss and hide it on Pioneer 1, launched 11 October 1958?

Free domain image taken at Redstone Army Airfield, Huntsville, Alabama, 18 May 1963. Did Wernher von Braun trick President Kennedy into creating NASA on the same date he had joined the German Army Ordnance Office rocket program?

Screen actress Gertrud Pfiel/Gerda Maurus passed away at Dusseldorf, [West Germany] on 31 July 1968. She would never know that man had landed on the moon or that possibly her movie name sake went along for the ride. I’m positive she would also be surprised [and maybe pleased] to learn that American nude pin-up girls from the pages of Playboy magazine travelled to the Moon and back to Earth on Apollo 12 and Apollo 16 space flights.

Keeping these facts in mind, it is also possible the image “Frau im Mond” was carried to the moon hidden on Apollo 11, inside the Lunar Module descent stage. The first Americans to land on the moon were assigned many scientific and technological tasks. Apollo 11 also transported an assortment of disks, medals and flags to the surface of the moon which the astronauts placed there.

American medals in the memory of astronauts Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chaffee, who died in the Apollo 1 fire were taken to the moon and returned to the widows of the three men. The shoulder patch from the Apollo 1 crew was left on the surface of the moon. Soviet medals depicting the cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov were placed on the moon. They had been given to Apollo 8 commander Frank Borman by the Soviet Union. A small gray disk, the size of 50 cent coin, carried the goodwill message from the leaders of 73 countries. Each message was reduced 200 times and only appeared as a dot on the disk. Flags from 136 countries in special metal containers the size of a beer can was placed on the moon. A 3 ft. by 5 ft American flag remains on the lunar surface. The die proof of a stamp commemorating the moon landing made the trip to the moon and back to earth.

Two American flags carried through the entire flight were returned and presented to the American Congress. Smaller flags from the 50 states of the Union, and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa made the return trip. The flags of Army, Navy, and Air Force academies, the Chiefs of Staff of the armed forces, and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, made the complete trip.

I have learned that the German space events were and still are [secretly] celebrated at Huntsville, Alabama, and the American moon landing had a secret cultural meaning to the German rocket team scientists in July 1969. Why not secretly hide a painting of Frau Luna on the surface of the moon? Even if the German image of Frau Luna never made it to the moon, the German/American scientists who built the Saturn V had their own personnel feelings.

Yes, they all knew their “Frau Luna” had finally made it home to her Moon!

Painting based on fictional idea of Clarence Simonsen.

Author Apollo badge collection and two of the Playmate nudes
that flew to the Moon and back to Earth on Apollo 12.

When the very first NASA Apollo astronauts set foot on the moon [Apollo 11] they carried little ‘cheat sheets’ which were attached to their wrists. These little checklists attached to their wrists outlined main stages of the surface extravehicular activities or [EVA]. These cheat sheets came with funny little cartoons, plus a special Playboy Bunny surprise. The Apollo 12 back-up crew secretly inserted reduced images of the nude pin-up ladies taken from issues of Playboy magazine. The full detailed histories with images are found on two websites, [including NASA] and were auctioned off in 2009. One Playboy gatefold of Ms. De De Lind was also smuggled aboard the Apollo 12 spacecraft and made the journey to the Moon and back.

The use of the “Playmate of the Month” image was not new to the American space age and in fact dates back to the beginning of the magazine in 1953 and the second test flight of the Redstone rocket. Al Reisz was born in the United States to German parents, joined NASA as a young propulsion engineer and was involved in the development, testing, and moon flights of the Saturn V during the complete Apollo program. Al has been most helpful with my research and attempt to record the tail art painted on the German and NASA rockets. In 2011, Al Reisz won the Hermann Oberth award for outstanding achievement in astronautics and space exploration. He was part of the human exploration of the moon and experienced firsthand the world events and achievements of certain men in reaching the surface of the moon. He personally knew each and every member of the German Peenemünde scientific rocket team and attended many events with this group.

These same German scientists had designed and developed this rocket in Peenemünde, Germany, in 1944. Hitler had forbid any production or testing of the new rocket as he believed the A/4 would win the war for him. The construction and testing of this rocket would not be approved in the United States until early 1952. The name “Redstone” became official on 8 April 1952, and the first twelve missiles were built at the Redstone Arsenal. Assembly [below] began in September 1952 and the engineers now needed a test stand to improve the missile design.

Free domain image U.S. Army early production assembly of Redstone Rocket, believed to be RS-1.

Wernher von Braun placed Fritz A. Vandersee in charge and he designed an interim test stand for the cost of $25,000, the maximum amount of money allowed. In the spring of 1953, the first rocket tests were conducted and after a number of successful test runs the rocket was transported to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for the final test flight. Cape Canaveral had two launch pads built and numbered LC-4 and LC-4A.

Al Reisz recalls the first issue of Playboy came out in December 1953 and the new “Sweetheart of the Month” became a must see for even the American Redstone rocket team members. The Redstone missile was developed predominantly by the ex-Nazi German rocket team from Peenemunde. The new American rocket was a direct descendant from the testing at Peenemünde, Germany, and was designed as a surface-to-surface missile for the U. S. Army. The first launch of the Redstone [RS-1] came on 20 August 1953 at LC-4A at Cape Canaveral; however it suffered engine failure early in the launch and crashed.

NASA free domain image of 20 August 1953 launch of Redstone RS-1 at LC-4A.

During the early development of the Redstone at Huntsville, Alabama, it was suggested that German WWII artist Gerd de Beek paint a lady on the U. S. Army test missile like he had done at Peenemünde during WWII. The second test was conducted on 27 January 1954. Due to security and other issues it was impossible for de Beek to paint directly onto the Redstone skin, as he had done on the early missiles at Peenemünde, Germany. A nude lady image was selected from the gatefold of Playboy issue number one, and de Beek painted this voluptuous blonde nude [Frau Luna] on a large section of art board. This was based on the Playboy nude “Sweetheart of the Month” of Marilyn Monroe but it is not known if any original image exists. This art board painting was them taped to the rocket tail just like Gerd de Beek had done at Peenemunde, beginning with V6 on 9 Nov. 1942. The second test Redstone RS-2 lifted off and ascended just as scheduled. The force of the launch and rocket vibration caused the nude lady drawing to loosen and fall away. For some strange reason, unexplained by the space engineers, the ground tracking radar became fixed on the nude fluttering to the Atlantic, leaving the rocket to fly into space unrecorded.

The top space flight engineers were not amused and ordered – ‘that was our last Playboy Redstone.’ This also became the last recorded missile tail art, #45 painted by artist Gerd de Beek.

Artist de Beek used the “Sweetheart of the Month” from page 19 of the first issue of Playboy magazine for this Redstone rocket art, but it is not known if the original photo image exists. In following his style the number “2” would appear with the art or possibly the launch number RS-2.

It is believed that Gerd de Beek painted all 39 known paintings at Peenemünde, which contained ten female images, two nude and six connected to Frau Luna. At Cuxhaven, Northern Germany, he painted four more tail art images, three are females, two are nudes, and at least one is connected to Frau Luna. In the United States he again paints two more tail art images, one on a captured A/4 missile and one on the new Redstone RS-2. Both ladies are nude and I believe were connected to Frau Luna. In total de Beek painted 45 known tail art rocket paintings, fifteen are females, six are nude and ten are believed to be connected to Frau Luna.

It appears the next “Lady im the Monde” will become De De Lind centerfold of the Miss August 1967 Playmate which travelled to the moon and back with Apollo 12.

The most interesting nude artwork to make it to the Moon and back to Earth occurred on Apollo 16, which landed on the surface 16 April 1972. The cuff checklist [cheat sheet] of Charlie Duke contained a fully nude “Lady on the Moon” fully embraced with an American astronaut who is very sexually excited. This could be the only “soft Porn” to make it to the Moon, but only NASA can answer that question.

NASA free domain image of Charlie Duke and his left cuff checklist 1972.

The first A/4 rocket was towed to the test stand at Peenemünde in April 1942, and launched on 13 June 42 as V2. This rocket contained tail art which I believe was “Lady in the Moon” [Frau im Monde]. This was possibly the very beginning of the Wernher von Braun fantasy of flying Frau Luna to the moon and is it possible that same idea was realized by the crew of Apollo 16 in 1972, thirty years later?

Apollo 16 landed on the Moon on 16 April 1972, thirty years after the first launch of a German A/4 rocket. Could this be the “Happy Birthday” greeting the American astronaut is giving to the nude sexy “Frau Luna”, or Frau im Mond” or “Lady in the Moon” [Whatever your name is]?

 

Kevin Duckworth – 2015

The grandson of Gerd de Beek travelled to Peenemünde in June 2015, his first visit and could find only one item with the name of his artist Grandfather.

The Museum at Peenemünde contains the [improper] tail art painting of Frau Luna, plus no other historical information or mention of the original German artist.

Kevin Duckworth – 2015

F/O SS ‘Sid’ Shulemson

Clarence Simonsen’s contribution to my new blog about RCAF 404 Squadron

RCAF 404 Squadron

Images from Clarence Simonsen’s collection

15

PL29809

RCAF image

From archived 403squadron.com

Shulemson earns Distinguished Service Order

On 26 January, six 404 Squadron Beaufighters in strike configuration led by F/O Shulemson in ‘U’, and six from 144 as anti-flak escort were back in action. R/404 (F/O Fair and Sgt Towns) had to turn back to base due to engine trouble. This time the target was a convoy of three merchant vessels of 2,000 to 3,000-tons including the Finse, Orlanda and the tanker Kloveren along with three escort vessels and a minesweeper off of Stadlandet.

One of the Buffalo crews, F/O EJ Keefe and WO BG Steed, scored four hits on the minesweeper and left it burning. “F/O Keefe figuring he had been damaged made a suicide attack on one and blew it out of the water with his cannons and rocket projectiles. ” This vessel was likely a 560-ton German Auxiliary Whaler…

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Doug Davidge remembers his uncle Rod Davidge

source Internet

Doug wrote back about his uncle Rod…

Unfortunately Rod is no longer with us so he can’t tell his own story. That said, if you browse the links below, you will find courtesy of others, he will always have a profile on the Internet (see links below).

In regards to his career as a fighter pilot during WWII, he and another young man from Edson, AB (William “Bill” Switzer) both enlisted at about the same time…both achieved their wings and were both assigned to RAF 193 about the time they received their first Hawker Typhoons.

Both men had many adventures flying Typhoons most of which was a bit hair raising to say the least. Like so many other Tiffie pilots, the risk to life and limb was always present. They lost many good pilots. Rod was hit twice by flak but landed safely…dead stick, one wheels down, one wheels up. He had many other close calls. Bill Switzer was hit on a few occasions and on his last mission he had to bail from a burning aircraft. In the process, he broke his leg, suffer burns but somehow managed to get out in time for his parachute to open. He soon found himself along the front lines and had to take cover for a couple of days…crawling the whole time. He eventually had to find water and in doing so was taken prisoner by German infantry. Their commanding officer was crucial in keeping him alive. Not long after, though, the German squad got into a fire fight with American troops and Bill was able to steal away into hiding. Before his ordeal was over, he had to avoid a tank battle, bush fires, but was eventually picked up by US troops who found him in pretty bad shape. Once they figured out he was RAF (and not a German pilot), the got him to medical aid. He was eventually moved to England to recover. About the same time, my Uncle Rod was finally removed from active service with 193 (132 combat missions, mental fatigue) and was shipped to England to recover. Both men made it back to Canada by Christmas, 1944.

Doug Davidge

Links to Rod’s story

http://www.amnesta.net/other/index_davidge.html

http://www.thetyphoonproject.org/raf/RAF-193-Davidge.html

http://www.rafharrowbeer.co.uk/193_Sqdn.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py8wTFPlP1s

Another fellow from Edson also ended up in Typhoons:

http://flyingforyourlife.com/pilots/ww2/l/laurence/

Update – “Crabapple” Fighter, Hurricane Mk. XII, serial #814, RCAF 5389

Comment made on February 22, 2019

I enjoyed very much reading this. Great work! I do have some details of Hawker Hurricane 5588 that is mentioned above. My Uncle (Rod Davidge, originally from Alberta), who had served overseas with the RAF 193 Typhoon Sqd. (130 missions), was eventually repatriated back to Canada late in 1944. He resumed his service with the RCAF helping out with flight training new pilots late January, 1945. He was assigned to 3 SFTS in Calgary and then later to Rivers, MB. On April 24th his flight log shows him being flown to Yorkton, SK where he picked up Hurricane 5588 and flew it to Moose Jaw, Sk. On the 25th he was to ferry 5588 to Calgary but weather interfered as he got close to Calgary. I don’t believe he had a radio in the aircraft. Low on fuel he was able to put 5588 down at a ranch/farm in the Eagle Butte area of southern Saskatchewan. He finally made it safely to Calgary on April 28th. He continued to fly 5588 during May, June and into July, 1945. His last logged flight was on July 2nd and he was scrambled after a Japanese Balloon spotted along the foothills. Although he did say he had seen one of the balloons near the US border, I don’t think he ever fired a shot at one. If interested I can provide a digital copy of his flight log for this period of my Uncle’s RCAF career.

Cheers,

Doug Davidge

Exclusive research done by Clarence Simonsen about the little History of “Crabapple” Fighter, Hurricane Mk. XII, serial #814, RCAF 5389


“Crabapple” Fighter, Hurricane Mk. XII, serial #814, RCAF 5389

By Clarence Simonsen

RCAF Hurricane 5389 was constructed by the Canadian Car and Foundry factory in Fort William, Ontario, on the western tip of Lake Superior in May 1942.

The first production Hurricane Mk. XII aircraft serial RCAF 5376 was retained at the factory in Fort William for testing and was not assigned to the RCAF until taken on strength 6 August 1943. The next 25 production new Hurricane Mk. XII [serial 5377 to 5401] aircraft were flown directly by No. 124 ferry pilots to No. 4 Training Command at Calgary, Alberta, or their Ferry Detachment at Lethbridge, Alberta, then later assigned to No. 133 [Falcon] Squadron which was formed at Lethbridge, Alberta, on 3 June 1942.

The first Air Force Ferry Squadron was formed at Air Force Headquarters, RCAF Station, Rockcliffe, [Ottawa] Ontario, on 24 December 1941, Organization Order 173, Flight Lieutenant H. O. Madden [C1407] was approved as the first Ferry Squadron Commander. On 14 February 1942, they were officially numbered No. 124 [Ferry] Squadron, formed for the purpose of inter-command ferrying of all RCAF aircraft across Canada, with detachments located in Eastern Division at Moncton, New Brunswick, Montreal, Quebec, Megantic, Quebec, Malton, [Toronto] Ontario, North Bay, Ontario, Kapuskasing, Ontario, and Western Division at Armstrong, Ontario, Regina, Saskatchewan, Lethbridge, Alberta, Cranbrook, B.C. and Penticton, B.C. The Daily Diary records the first ferry aircraft were Oxford AT533 and AS6596 delivered to R.A.F. Station Penhold, Alberta, on 4 January 1942, before they were officially numbered 124 [Ferry] Squadron.

The month of June 1942, became a busy period for No. 124 [Ferry] Squadron as new Canadian built Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII aircraft were being delivered from the factory in Fort William to new formed units in Eastern and Western Canada. The Daily Diary records the number of aircraft delivered but no aircraft individual serial number is recorded. The No. 124 squadron ferry pilot who delivered Hurricane 5389 is not known, however this fighter was taken on charge by RCAF on 23 June 1942, and assigned to No. 133 [F] Squadron in the next few days.

Hurricane aircraft serial 5377 to 5382 were taken on charge by the RCAF 16 January 1942, and later in June delivered by 124 [Ferry] Squadron to No. 133 at Lethbridge, AB, which is recorded in the Daily Diary of squadron operations. Between 24 June and 30 June 1942, No. 124 Squadron will ferry 53 aircraft to allotted units and a large percentage are new Hurricane fighters, including 5389.

This RCAF photo [PL12324] which was a posed image taken at No. 133 Squadron at Lethbridge, Alberta, records two new Hurricane aircraft #5383 without code letter and #5398 [March of Dimes] with code “L” painted on fuselage. This was most likely taken around the end of July 1942, when the squadron was busy with training and painting code letters on their new Hurricane fighters.

The No. 133 Daily Diary records the following for 17 July 1942 – Hurricane “March of Dimes” aircraft No. 5398, together with No. 5395 arrived at his unit at 19:00 hrs from Fort William, Ontario.

Hurricane # 5398 was first ferried to Calgary from Fort William on 15 July 1942 and was officially taken on charge by the RCAF. This was a special presentation aircraft with the “March of Dimes” painted on both sides of the nose panel in white lettering.

Photo taken at No. 4 Training Command Headquarters, Calgary, Alberta, 15 July 1942.

 

No. 133 Squadron Commanding Officer received the new presentation fighter at Lethbridge, Alberta, 17 July 1942, newspaper clipping on left. The nose lettering reads – ‘CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANADA “MARCH OF DIMES” HELPED TO PURCHASE THE AEROPLANE.’

On 4 February 1943, No. 133 [Falcon] Squadron were based at Boundry Bay. B.C., conducting normal patrols and training exercises. P/O Grover Stewart Sargent, J11976, was assigned a night time map reading exercise [flying Hurricane 5398, “L”] to the training area at Pender Island, then west to Patricia Bay, fuel, and return to base at Boundary Bay. He never arrived at Patricia Bay and the next morning his body was recovered near Pender Island. The crash site has never been found, and the cause is unknown. The body of Pilot Officer Sargent, age 20 years, was returned to Quebec, where he was buried in Lake View Cemetery, Pointe-Claire, Quebec.

All Hurricane fighters were painted at Fort William in R.A.F. colors for period June 1940 to June 1942.

Aircraft code letters were painted on at assigned RCAF units as shown above.

This records the correct 1942 roundel markings on the Canadian Hurricane fighters that were delivered from Fort William to RCAF Home War Establishment units. Upper roundel was type “B” red and blue, under wing was type “A. II” and fuselage was type A. I, red, white, blue and matt yellow.

Hurricane RCAF 5389 was the thirteenth fighter delivered to the RCAF and taken on charge 23 June 1942 at Calgary, Alberta, delivered to Lethbridge two days later. The fighter was painted with the code letter “M” and began general pilot training on 1 July 42, where Hurricane flying time was recorded at 23:15 hrs. On 2 July 42, Wing Commander Gray arrived by air at 11:00 hrs to arrange the allotment of three No. 133 Hurricane aircraft for pilot training at No. 135 Squadron at Mossbank, Saskatchewan. On 8 July 42, RCAF Hurricane 5385, 5386 and 5389 were transferred to No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron at Mossbank, Saskatchewan for pilot training. They arrived at Mossbank the next day, recorded in Diary. Pilots were S/L Brookes, P/O Sargent, [killed 4 February 1943, March of Dimes] and F/Sgt. Shavalier.

[It is recorded in the No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron Daily Diary that all pilots had been fully trained and soloed in the Hurricane fighter aircraft by 17 July 1942. It should also be recorded that Hurricane 5389 trained many of the first RCAF fighter pilots in No. 135 ‘Bulldog’ Squadron].
It is most likely Hurrican

e 5389 received a new 135 squadron code letter, and possibly even the nose art of the 135 “Bulldog” appeared on her engine covering for a few weeks.

No. 135 pilot George Lawson in front of Hurricane “U”, at Mossbank, Sask., 13 July 1942, which could possibly be one of the loaned fighters, 5386, 5385 or [Calgary] 5389, with Bulldog nose art.

On 26 July 1942, Hurricane 5385 and 5389 are returned to No. 133 Squadron from Mossbank, Sask. RCAF Hurricane 5386 returns to Lethbridge on 31 July 42.

27 July 1942, Mr. E. J. Sousby, General Manager of Canadian Car and Foundry Co. arrives for a special meeting to discuss the new Hurricane aircraft. The following day all Hurricane Mk. XII aircraft are being tested by the flying instructors for a detailed report on their general condition, which will be sent to the Fort William factory.

On 31 July 1942, Officer Commanding No. 133 Squadron, S/Leader W. T. Brooks, reports 24 Hurricane and 6 Harvard aircraft on strength, only 9 Hurricane fighters are serviceable. 28 August 1942, at 15:20 hrs. Hurricane 5380 makes a crash landing on aerodrome and is a total loss. F/Sgt. Pilot E. B. Monypenny R108600 is suspended from further flying. This is the first Hurricane lost and not taken off charge until 11 February 1943. On 12 May 1943, F/Sgt. Monypenny lost control of Hurricane 5383 at 1,500 ft over base, crashed and was killed.

Pilot Eric Burk Monypenny

On 31 August 1942, No. 133 Squadron has 13 officers and 199 airmen on strength, 23 Hurricane aircraft and 6 Harvard trainers. Total Hurricane flying training time for the month is 30:55 hrs day and 7:30 hrs night. 15 September 1942, Captain D. M. Howard, Chief Test Pilot, Canadian Boeing Aircraft, Co. arrives to test all of the squadron Hurricane aircraft.

23 September 1942, S/L Brooks advises the Squadron they will be moving to Boundary Bay, B. C. in October. The advance party depart by rail for Boundary Bay on 30 September 1942. At 17:00 hrs that same day, [30 Sept.] No. 135 squadron [Bulldogs] arrive for fuel with 19 Hurricane aircraft on their southern route to Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C. The “Bulldogs” will become the first RCAF Fighter Squadron to fly from Lethbridge, Alberta, to Spokane, Washington, Yakima, Washington, and then to Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C., No. 133 Squadron will follow this same route on 5 October 1942.

No. 133 [Falcon] Squadron patrolled the Canadian section [orange] however, unknown to many Americans, they also patrolled and were even stationed from Bellingham to Tacoma, Washington, [yellow]. This is covered in detail with Daily Diary records in chapter on pilot Gordon Hill.

Secret orders – 8 December 1942- Daily Diary

October 4th, ground personnel consisting of 135 Airmen and Officers, departed from Lethbridge at 23:59 hrs by special C.P.R. train, under supervision of flying Officer Thompson. October 5th, 16 Hurricane and 4 Harvard aircraft, under the supervision of Squadron Leader W. T. Brooks, depart from Lethbridge at 07:20 hrs via Spokane [fuel] and Yakima [fuel-image below], arriving Boundary Bay at 16:00 hrs same day.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States government moved quickly to organize, purchase, or lease local airports to be used as Military training airfields. In the State of Washington, 17 municipal and local civilian airports would be used as military airfields, with new expanded runways, new constructed hangars, and many other improvements. Most of these airfields had been constructed in the 1930’s depression era with funds provided by the United States Works Progress Administration and the Public Work Administration. Three of these airfields became the main Hurricane aircraft ferry route from Alberta to the West Coastal RCAF Stations which were being constructed in 1941-1942.

Felts Field, Spokane, was constructed in 1927, home to the Air National Guard/116th Observation Squadron. It was named in honor of pilot Buell Felts, killed 30 May 1927. During WWII the airfield served as a Civilian Pilots Training Program and provided the USAAF with thousands of pilots. It also became the first ferry fuel stop for RCAF aircraft [No. 135 Bulldogs and No. 133 Falcon] leaving Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, for Sea Island and boundary Bay, B.C.

McAllister Flying School, Yakima, Washington was cleared of sagebrush in 1926 by Charles McAllister and the first building was completed in 1928, which still survives today. Above is the Yakima Air Terminal in 1940, the same sight the Hurricane pilots of No. 133 Squadron saw on 5 October 1942. This became the second important ferry flight fuel stop for RCAF aircraft, and during WWII the base was part of the Civilian Pilot Training Program.

Bellingham Army Airfield was constructed in 1936, the runway was paved in 1940, and it officially opened on 7 December 1941, the same day the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor. On 10 December 1941, the U. S. Army moved in and constructed 38 new hangars and buildings, expanded and constructed two more runways, making a major facility for bombers and fighter aircraft. This became the main American base for the protection and defending of Puget Sound area, shared by No. 133 Squadron of the RCAF north at Boundary Bay, B. C. The Daily Operations Record for No. 133 Squadron record many flights in and out of Bellingham Army Airfield, including that of Hurricane fighter 5389.

On 5 October 1942, this Army Airfield provided an emergency stop over for the ferry flight of No. 133 Squadron 16 Hurricane fighters and 4 Harvard trainer aircraft. No RCAF ferry aircraft were required to land at Bellingham Army Airfield. On landing [Boundary Bay] Hurricane 5399, pilot F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie, makes a hard landing [the runways are still under construction] and the aircraft is damaged as Cat. “C” crash.

Two of the squadron Hurricane 5391 and 5392 were left at Lethbridge as they required new Merlin engines, which were being shipped from Fort William. October 12th, Wing Commander Gray and Flight Lt. Assheton arrived at Boundary Bay at 17:25 hrs in Hurricane 5391 and 5392.

The Squadron diary notes –

Housing condition was very poor and inadequate. The Senior NCO’s and airmen were placed in various uncomfortable sections of the station. Civilian construction personnel occupying 2 H-huts and Airmen’s Mess. One hangar is remodeled and at once lectures, physical training and organized sports are started while ground crews attempt their normal duties. The Squadron consists of 29 pilots, 27 trained for overseas duty, 17 Hurricane aircraft and 2 Harvard ready for instrument training. Due to the fact the runways are still under construction no hours of actual flight training are allowed.

The No. 133 Squadron Operations Record [below] states – NOTE –

We submit a “Nil Report” for this period, Oct. 1st to Oct. 26th, 1942, inclusive as the runways at this station are under construction.

The first Hurricane to officially take to the air at Boundary Bay, B.C. was recorded as Hurricane 5389, pilot F/O F. H. Sproule, Practice Scramble, 11:00 to 11:20 hrs, 27 October 1942 [20 minutes].

1 November 1942, strength of unit is :

RCAF Officers [Aircrew] 7,

Ground Crew Officers 2,

Airmen Aircrew 18 and Ground crew 173.

RAF Officers – 4.

Aircraft service ability

Hurricane 12,

Harvard 2.

Duties – Local flying of Sector Reconnaissance, Hurricane Scrambles, and Instrument flying in Harvard aircraft. Each month, five qualified fighter pilots will be posted overseas and replaced by five new graduates from Service Flying Training Schools in Canada.

This RCAF pilot training produced new Canadian fighter pilots for mostly England and gave coastal protection for Canadian Home War Establishment against possible Japanese attack. Only 14 flights had taken place in the month of October and now November would prove to be the break-in period for No. 133 [F] Squadron RCAF.

The total number of flights, date, and pilot name, are now listed for RCAF Hurricane [Calgary] 5389.

November 1942

Hurricane 5389 will make 17 flights in the month of November, which totals 13:25 hrs.

1 November 1942 Sgt. Millar G. G. 9:20 to 10:20 hrs Sector Reconnaissance
1 November 1942 F/Sgt. Curtis W. S. 10:35 to 11:30 hrs Sector Recon.
7 November 1942 P/O D. C. Laubman 15:40 to 16:45 hrs Formation Training
8 November 1942 F/Sgt. Tomlinson C. J 09:40 to 10:40 hrs Formation Training
8 November 1942 P/O D. C. Laubman 15:40 to 1645 hrs Formation Training
10 November 1942 F/Sgt. Walton N. R. 11:10 to 12:10 hrs Practice Scramble
13 November 1942 F/Sgt. McGowan J. G. 10:50 to 11:35 hrs Formation Flying
13 November 1942 Sgt. Costello G. A. 10:20 to 11:20 hrs Formation Flying
15 November 1942 Sgt. Monypenny E. B. 10:55 to 11:55 hrs Formation Flying
18 November 1942 P/O L. R. Brooks 15:10 to 15:40 hrs Scramble
19 November 1942 F/O F. H. Sproule 12:00 to 12:15 hrs Scramble
23 November 1942 Sgt. Young F. B. 13:25 to 13:40 hrs Scramble
24 November 1942 Sgt. Costello G. A. 11:30 to 12:20 hrs Scramble
24 November 1942 F/O R. M. Tracy 15:15 to 15:30 hrs Aircraft Test
27 November 1942 P/O L. R. Allman 16:15 to 17:05 hrs Air Test
28 November 1942 F/Sgt. Walton N. R. 09:35 to 10:35 hrs Squadron drill
28 November 1942 F/ Sgt. R. F. Gainforth 14:00 to 14:40 hrs Squadron Drill

December 1942

1 December 1942, 17 Hurricanes on strength and 5389 will make 13 flights.
1 December 1942 P/O L.R. Allman
1 December 1942 F/Sgt. McGowan J. G.
13 December 1942 P/O L. R. Allman
13 December 1942 P/O G. S. Sargent
14 December 1942 P/O G. S. Sargent
20 December 1942 F/Sgt. Shavalier R.
22 December 1942 F/Sgt. Le Gear F. S.
23 December 1942 P/O D. C. Laubman
30 December 1942 F/Sgt. Law R. R.
30 December 1942 Sgt. Dalsell D. J.
30 December 1942 F/O R. N. Gull
31 December 1942 F/O F. H. Sproule
31 December 1942 Sgt. Gaskin R. A.

January 1943

1 January 1943, 15 Hurricanes on strength and 5389 will make 11 flights.
3 January 1943 Sgt. Young F. B.
4 January 1943 F/Lt. R. W. Mc Nair [DFC] local formation flying.
7 January 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
7 January 1943 F/O G. S. Sargent
11 January 1943 S/L W. T. Breeks
14 January 1943 P/O D. C. Laubman
27 January 1943 F/Sgt. Walton N. R.
28 January 1943 Sgt. Dalzell D. J.
29 January 1943 P/O R. M. Tracy
30 January 1943 F/Sgt. Law R.R.
31 January 1943 F/Sgt. R. F. Gainforth.

February 1943

1 February 1943, 17 Hurricanes on strength 5389 assigned 31 flights
2 February 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
2 February 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
3 February 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
3 February 1943 F/Sgt. R. F. Gainforth

On 4 February 1943, Pilot Officer G. S. Sargent is assigned to fly Hurricane 5398, “March of Dimes” presentation fighter, on a routine map reading night-time exercise. The aircraft never arrives at Patricia Bay, and next morning a search is conducted. The body of pilot Sargent is found.

Mayne, Saturna and North and South Pinder Islands were used by No. 133 squadron for many training flights, conducted between home base at Boundary Bay and Patricia Bay, on Vancouver Island. A number of Hurricane fighters crashed into the waters around these islands, in 1943, 1944 and 1945.

 

6 February 1943 F/Sgt. A. J. Ness

11 February 1943 F/O R. N. Gull
11 February 1943 F/Sgt A J. Ness
11 February 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
12 February 1943 F/ Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
12 February 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
16 February 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
19 February 1943 F/L E. H. Treleaven
19 February 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
20 February 1943 Sgt. F. B. Young
20 February 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
21 February 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
21 February 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
22 February 1943 Sgt. Gaskin R. A.
22 February 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
22 February 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
23 February 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
23 February 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
23 February 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
25 February 1943 Sgt. F. B. Young
25 February 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
27 February 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
27 February 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
27 February 1943 F/Sgt J. A. Leslie
28 February 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
28 February 1943 Sgt. F. B. Young.

March 1943

1 March 1943, 17 Hurricane on strength, 5389 assigned 34 flights
2 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
3 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
5 March 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
5 March 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
7 March 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
7 March 1943 F/Sgt. A. J. Ness
7 March 1943 P/O G. G. Millar
9 March 1943 F/Sgt/ R. A. Gaskin
10 March 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
10 March 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
11 March 1943 F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie
11 March 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
13 March 1943 F/Sgt. R. Shavalier
15 March 1943 P/O D. C. Laubman
16 March 1943 F/Sgt. W.S. Curtis
16 March 1943 F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie
17 March 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
17 March 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
17 March 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
19 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
19 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
20 March 1943 F/Sgt. G. A. Costello
20 March 1943 F/Sgt. G. A. Costello
25 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
25 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
25 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
25 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
25 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
26 March 1943 P/O G. G. Millar
28 March 1943 F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie
28 March 1943 F/Sgt. F. B. Young
29 March 1943 F/Sgt. N. R. Walton
29 March 1943 F/Sgt. W.S. Curtis
29 March 1943 F/Sgt. E. B. Monypenny

April 1943

1 April 1943, 16 Hurricanes on strength, 5389 assigned 35 flights
1 April 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
2 April 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
2 April 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
3 April 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
4 April 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
4 April 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
4 April 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
5 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
5 April 1943 Sgt. E. E. Allman
6 April 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
8 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
9 April 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
10 April 1943 F/Sgt. R. F. Gainforth
11 April 1943 F/Sgt. G. A. Costello
11 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
12 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
13 April 1943 F/O J. M. Ingalls
13 April 1943 F/O J. M. Ingalls
14 April 1943 F/Sgt. F. B. Young
14 April 1943 F/Sgt. F. B. Young
15 April 1943 F/Sgt. E. B. Monypenny
15 April 1943 F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie
15 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
18 April 1943 P/O J. G. McGowan
18 April 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
18 April 1943 F/O J. M. Ingalls
18 April 1943 F/Sgt. F. B. Young
18 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
19 April 1943 F/O J. M. Ingalls
19 April 1943 F/Sgt. F. B. Young
19 April 1943 F/O R. W. Ferguson
19 April 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
21 April 1943 F/Sgt. E. B. Monypenny
28 April 1943 F/O D. C. Laubman
29 April 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis.

May 1943

1 May 1943, 6 Officers and 17 Airmen, 19 Hurricanes on strength, 5389 assigned 49 flights.
2 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
2 May 1943 F/Lt. J. B. McCall
2 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
2 May 1943 F/O L. R. Allman
3 May 1943 F/O D. C. Laubman
5 May 1943 F/Sgt. R. F. Gainforth
5 May 1943 F/Sgt. G. J. Tomlinson
6 May 1943 P/O R.R. Law
6 May 1943 P/O R. R. Law
6 May 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
7 May 1943 F/O R. W. Ferguson
8 May 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
8 May 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. le Gear
8 May 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
9 May 1943 P/O J. G. McGowan
9 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
9 May 1943 F/Lt. J. B. McCall
9 May 1943 P/O J. G. McGowan
9 May 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
10 May 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
10 May 1943 F/Lt. J. B. Deek

On 11 May 1943, two new pilots reported to No. 133 squadron, P/O T. W. Wann and Sgt. Gordon M. Hill. The next day, 12 May, F/Sgt. Monypenny was killed flying Hurricane 5383.

Source Facebook page Boundary Bay 1941-1945 

14 May 1943 F/Sgt. R. Shavalier
14 May 1943 F/Sgt. L. R. Allman

15 May 1943 Sgt. Gordon M. Hill [R14282] first flight in Hurricane 5389.

Gordon M. Hill Course #65, continued his pilot training in fall of 1942, No. 13 S. F. T. S. St. Hubert, Quebec. He graduated and received his “Wings” on 22 January 1943, posted to No. 1 Operational Training Unit at Bagotville, Quebec, training Hurricane pilots. Course #8 began on 30 January 1943 and 29 pupils graduated as Hurricane pilots on 23 April 1943. Two pilots were posted to Eastern Air Command of Home War Establishment, while P/O Wann and Sgt. Hill were posted to Western Air Command, No. 133 Squadron at Boundary Bay. B.C.

Graduation photo – 22 January 1943

The full RCAF career of pilot F/O Gordon Hill will be covered in two complete chapters, with over 400 unpublished photos, and new art work.

15 May 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
16 May 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
17 May 1943 F/Sgt. R. Shavalier
18 May 1943 P/O T. W. Wann
18 May 1943 P/O T. W. Wann
18 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
19 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
20 May 1943 P/O R. R. Law
20 May 1943 P/O R. R. Law
20 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
20 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
23 May 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
23 May 1943 Sgt. G. M. Hill
23 May 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
24 May 1943 F/O L. R. Allman
24 May 1943 F/O L. R. Allman
25 May 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
25 May 1943 P/O J. M. Ingalls
25 May 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
26 May 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
26 May 1943 F/Sgt. R. Shavalier
28 May 1943 P/O T. W. Wann
31 May 1943 Sgt. G. M. Hill
31 May 1943 P/O R. R. Law
31 May 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule

June 1943

1 June 1943, 15 Hurricane on strength, 5389 assigned 47 flights.
1 June 1943 Sgt. G. M. Hill
1 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall
1 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall
1 June 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
2 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall
3 June 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
4 June 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
4 June 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
5 June 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
5 June 1943 F/Sgt. N.F. Wakeman
5 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
6 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
6 June 1943 WO2 W. S. Curtis
6 June 1943 Sgt. G. M. Hill [13:00) to 14:00 hrs – submarine search]
6 June 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
7 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall
7 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
7 June 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
7 June 1943 F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie
7 June 1943 W02 W.S. Curtis
7 June 1943 W02 W. S. Curtis
8 June 1943 W02 W. S. Curtis
8 June 1943 W02 W. S. Curtis
9 June 1943 P/O R. R. Law
9 June 1943 W02 W. S. Curtis
9 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
10 June 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
11 June 1943 W02 A. J. Ness
12 June 1943 W02 A. J. Ness
13 June 1943 W02 R. F. Gainforth
13 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
13 June 1943 W02 R. F. Gainforth
13 June 1943 W02 R. F. Gainforth
17 June 1943 W02 F. S. LeGear
18 June 1943 F/O T. W. Wann
18 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
19 June 1943 F/O L. R. Allman
21 June 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
22 June 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
22 June 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
22 June 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
23 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
23 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall
23 June 1943 F/O L. R. Allman
24 June 1943 W02 R. W. Ferguson
27 June 1943 W02 A. J. Ness
28 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall

 

The last scramble at Boundry Bay, B.C. is recorded on 30 June 1943, 08:00 to 08:50 hrs when two Hurricane aircraft 5395 and 5397 complete a sea patrol. The squadron now prepare for the movement to Tofino, B.C.

Fourteen Hurricane Mk. XII fighter aircraft and two Harvard Mk. IIB aircraft fly to the new base at Tofino, B. C. Hurricane 5389 is piloted by F/O R. W. Ferguson and his flight time is 15:45 to 17:00 hrs.

July 1943

The squadron begin operations on 5 July and Hurricane 5389 will make 19 flights in the month of July 1943.

5 July 1943 W02 A. J. Ness
5 July 1943 F/O J. M. Ingalls
6 July 1943 P/O J. G. McGowan
6 July 1943 W02 J. A. Leslie
9 July 1943 W02 W.S. Curtis
9 July 1943 W02 W. S. Curtis
9 July 1943 Sgt. G. M. Hill Formation Attack – 14:10 to 15:00 hrs.
10 July 1943 F/O V. J. Le Gear
11 July 1943 F/Sgt. J. V. Burke
11 July 1943 W02 J. A. Leslie
11 July 1943 F/O T. W. Wann
12 July 1943 W02 J. A. Leslie
12 July 1943 W02 J. A. Leslie
12 July 1943 W02 J. A. Leslie
12 July 1943 W/C C. N. Greenway
13 July 1943 F/Sgt. J. V. Burke
13 July 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
14 July 1943 P/O R. H. Brown
14 July 1943 P/O F. D. Hague 15:05 to 16:15 hrs., – “Crashed” Cat. “B”.

 

On 22 July 1943, Hurricane 5389 is loaded onto a ship and transported to No. 13 Aeronautical Inspection District, Vancouver, B. C. [Coates Ltd.] for repairs. Hurricane 5389 remained at No. 13 A.I.D. until 15 March 1944.

In the fall of 1938, the RCAF decided to create repair units close to major aircraft companies in Canada. This allowed technically experienced civilian personnel to assist aircraft contractors and report back to the RCAF Headquarters on how repair work was being carried out as well as inspections on the quality of repair work. These new units were designated as RCAF Technical Detachments and given numbers. No. 11 T.D. – Montreal, Quebec, No. 12 T.D. – Toronto, Ontario, No. 13 T.D. – Vancouver, B. C., No. 14 T. D. – Ottawa, Ontario, No. 15 T. D. – Winnipeg, Manitoba, No. 16 T. D. – Edmonton, Alberta, and No. 17 T. D. at Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1940, these units were re-designated as RCAF Aeronautical Inspection Districts and formerly No. 13 Technical Detachment became No. 13 A.I.D. at Vancouver, B.C. also called “Coates Ltd” for the civilian company. In July 1943, a significant number of RCAF aircraft required repair work and to assist this high demand a priority system was established. The Canadian built Hurricane fighters were no longer a front line aircraft and they took a backseat to repair of other important aircraft. Hurricane 5389 would remain [parked] under repair when time permitted, at No. 13 A.I.D. Vancouver, B. C. for the next eight months.

No. 133 [Falcon] Fighter Squadron continued to fly Hurricane aircraft on West Coast air defence from Tofino, B. C., until 9 March 1944, when they were transferred to Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C. This became part of what many historians call the “RCAF musical chairs” when complete squadrons moved from base to base and switched aircraft from squadron to squadron.

This has caused many problems for Internet historians and fogged over the true history of Hurricane 5389. Fortunately, the wartime Daily Diaries of both No. 133 and 135 squadrons are very detailed and contain a wealth of information on what in fact took place.

On 10 March 1944, [above record Daily Diary] No. 133 Squadron ferried 17 of their original Hurricane Mk. XII fighters from Tofino, to Patricia Bay, and then to Sea Island, [Vancouver, B.C. F/O Gordon Hill flew Hurricane 5378 to Sea Island, Vancouver, B. C. These Hurricanes are now parked [Vancouver] and No. 133 Squadron will receive 18 Kittyhawk fighters, Mk. I, [11] Mk. IA, [2] and Mk. III [5] aircraft transferred from No. 163 Squadron, which will be disbanded at Patricia Bay, B. C. on 15 March 1944.

To add to this confusion, we have 16 ex-135 Hurricane fighters parked at Terrace, B.C.
No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron began to ferry their 16 Hurricane fighters [plus two Harvard trainers] from Annette Island, Alaska, [U. S. Command] to Terrace, B.C. on 17 November 1943. They flew patrols from Terrace until 29 February 1944 when they stood down until 11 March 1944, pending a move to Patricia Bay, B.C. They left their original Hurricane aircraft at Terrace, B.C. and the pilots were ferried to Patricia Bay. B. C. on 12 March 1944. No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron began moving the 16 Hurricanes fighters to Patricia Bay on 31 March 1944. The last #5579 arrived at Patricia Bay, B.C. 31 January 1945.

The No. 135 Squadron Daily Diary for 12 March 1944 records – “Arrived Vancouver, Sunday Morning at 10:00 hrs. The party split at C.N.R. Depot and 18 pilots led by S/L Smith [Sqdn. O. C.] proceeding to Sea Island to ferry Hurricane aircraft which formerly operated by No. 133 [F] Squadron. Upon arrival at Sea Island it was discovered only 15 Hurricanes were available, and three Harvard. The party under S/L Smith, piloted the Hurricanes over to Patricia Bay and arrived at 12:00 hrs.

These 15 original No. 133 Squadron Hurricane aircraft are now transferred to No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron and flown from Sea Island, [Vancouver] to Patricia Bay. B. C. on 12 March 1944. Hurricane 5394 [original No. 133 Sqn. fighter] and 5413 [original No. 135 Sqn. fighter] were not serviceable and after repairs, will join No. 135 Squadron at Patricia Bay on 22 April 1944.

Thanks to this confusion of RCAF Hurricane fighters being switched [musical chairs] from No. 133 Squadron to No. 135 Squadron, the location of Hurricane 5389 has been lost by many historians. The Daily Diary of No. 13 Aeronautical Inspection [Coates Ltd. Vancouver] contains the facts on [Calgary] Hurricane 5389.

On 15 March 1944, No. 13 Aeronautical Inspection District, [Coates Ltd. Vancouver] notify No. 133 Squadron that Hurricane 5389 has been repaired and is ready for return to their squadron. P/O R. A. Gaskin [No. 133 Sqn.] picks up Hurricane 5389 at 10:10 hrs and flies it to No. 135 Squadron in Patricia Bay, arriving at 10:40 hrs. Hurricane 5389 will become the 17th ex-No. 133 Squadron fighter aircraft to be transferred to No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron and for the second time in her career, 5389 will now fly with the ‘Bulldogs’ stationed at Patricia Bay, B. C.

Remember, Hurricane 5389 began her RCAF career training No. 135 pilots at Mossbank, Saskatchewan, from 8-26 July 1942, and now she will end her career with No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron at Patricia Bay, B.C.

 

No. 133 Squadron will fly the Curtiss Kittyhawk from mid-March 1944 to July 1945.

The No. 135 Daily Diary reports on 10 May 1944 all pilots have soloed on the new Kittyhawk fighters, with the exception of two pilots on leave. The old ex-No. 133 Squadron Hurricane fighters are only flown for airframe and engine tests, preparing them for upcoming ferry flights.
Hurricane 5389 is last flown in No. 135 Squadron on 22 May 1944, pilot P/O Hodgins B. H., 15:15 to 16:15 hrs airframe and engine testing.

The next chapter in Hurricane 5389 is about to begin, and this involves the ferrying of thousands of war surplus aircraft across Canada.

In early December 1943, the Ottawa Supervisory Board began discussing the need to expand the BCATP in Canada, beyond the 31 March 1945 termination date which had been agreed upon in 1942. In early February 1944, Harold Balfour, British Under Secretary of State for Air and Air Marshal Sir Peter Drummond, RAF Air Member for Training arrived in Ottawa for meetings with Canadian Air Minister C. G. Power. On 16 February, Power officially explained to the Canadian House of Commons the need for a cutback in BCATP aircrew training. The reduction would be forty per cent and this involved the closing of 33 aircrew training schools out of a total of eight-two currently in operation.

At the request of the British government, Canada had agreed to close the 26 RAF schools first, and this began on 14 January 1944, when No. 33 [RAF] Elementary Flying Training School at Caron, Saskatchewan was closed. No. 41 [RAF] Service Flying Training School, Weyburn, Sask., was closed on 22 January 44, followed by No. 35 [RAF] S.F.T.S. North Battleford, Sask., on 25 February 1944, then No. 37 S.F.T.S. [RAF H.Q.] at Calgary, Alberta, 10 March 1944, and so on.
By the end of November 1944, all but two British RAF Schools in Canada had closed, including 13 schools located in No. 4 and No. 2 Air Training Commands in Western Canada. With the closing of these BCATP airfields, the Canadian Government began to plan for the end of hostilities and the future plans for these abandoned military airfields.

The first priority became the huge storage of surplus military equipment, including thousands of unwanted vehicles, supplies, and ex-wartime aircraft. To move this vast amount of military aircraft to the new storage holding units a new ferry squadron of RCAF pilots was required. On 1 March 1944, No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron was formed at Winnipeg, Manitoba, using RCAF personnel from the Western Detachment of No. 124 [Ferry] Squadron. This new squadron was assigned the task of ferrying over 5,000 training and operational aircraft in Western Canada, including the old Hurricane fighters used by No. 163, No. 135, and No. 133 Squadrons in the air defense of the West Coast.

On 26 May 1944, No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron pilots arrived at No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron Patricia Bay, and ferry out the first two Hurricane aircraft, 5379 and 5425. Hurricane 5379 was an original No. 133 Squadron Hurricane fighter [16 June 1942] and 5425 was an original No. 135 Squadron fighter [18 June 1942]. Hurricane 5425 was ferried from Terrace, B. C. to Patricia Bay, B. C. on 3 October 1944.

On 27 May 44, No. 170 ferry pilots arrive at No. 135 Squadron and ferry out 5394 and 5413. Again, Hurricane 5394 is an original No. 133 Sqn. fighter [30 June 1942] and 5413 is an original No. 135 Sqn. fighter [23 July 1942]. Hurricane 5413 was ferried from Terrace, B. C. to Patricia Bay, on 31 March 1944.

On 1 June 1944, No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron have 13 Hurricane fighters on strength but not in use. These 13 fighters are all ex-No. 133 Squadron aircraft which now includes [Calgary] Hurricane 5389. On 21 June 44, No. 170 [Ferry] squadron pilots begin the movement of Hurricanes from Patricia Bay, B. C. to Yakima and Spokane, Washington, USA, to Lethbridge detachment in southern Alberta. The last flight of a Hurricane by No. 135 Squadron took place at Patricia Bay on 25 June 1944, W02 Connor J. W. flew Hurricane 5377 from 16:30 to 17:00 hrs on engine test. This became the last Hurricane to leave No. 135 Squadron for Lethbridge that same date. The exact date that Hurricane 5389 was ferried to Lethbridge, Alberta, was never recorded in the Daily Diary of No. 135 Squadron or by No. 170 [Ferry] squadron, who only recorded the number of aircraft ferried on each date. On 24 June 44, No. 170 Sqn. ferried six Hurricanes from Patricia Bay, B. C. to Lethbridge Detachment, Alberta, and I believe that was the date Hurricane 5389 arrived at Lethbridge, Alberta. It appears the Hurricane fighters remained at Lethbridge for at least five months. No. 32 SFTS [RAF] Moose Jaw, Sask., closed on 17 October 1944, and No. 4 Training Command ceased to exist on 1 December 1944, replaced by No. 2 Air Command.

On 2 December 1944, the old RAF base became No. 2 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit, RCAF, Moose Jaw, Sask. The first “Forty-Two” storage aircraft arrived on 5 December 1944, and were placed into hangars. The very last RAF personnel are repatriated back to the United Kingdom on 2 January 1945. In the next few weeks No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron pilots will fly eleven Hurricane fighters for “Reserve Storage” at Moose Jaw, Sask.

One of them is 5389, today Calgary Flight Hangar Museum.

On 1 July 1944, the Canadian Government began to plan and create Surplus Equipment Holding Units at the abandoned WWII British Commonwealth Air Training Plan bases across Canada. No. 170 [Ferry] squadron which had been formed on 1 March 1944, were now responsible for the ferrying of all surplus RCAF aircraft to these vacant training bases. The RCAF had on strength 12,000 surplus aircraft, and many, like the Avro Ansons, were just set on fire and destroyed. Others, including the Hurricanes Mk. XIIs, were flown to an “Aircraft Holding Unit” where they were stored and maintained in flying condition, and could be flown out on short notice.
On 1 December 1944, a total reorganization and re-naming of the storage units took place. The name was changed to “RESERVE EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE UNITS” with a Headquarters and reserve satellite units located in the old training bases. On this date No. 4 and No. 2 [WWII] Training Commands ceased to exist and were replaced by No. 2 Air Command. On record cards, it appears that aircraft were moved, however only the Air Force Command names were changed.

No. 1 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit was established at Lethbridge, Alberta, on 15 December 1944, ex-No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School. Under its command were three Satellite Units, No. 101 at Macleod, Alberta, No. 102 at Pearce, Alberta, and No. 103 at Vulcan, Alberta.

No. 2 Reserve E. M. U. was located at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, on 2 December 1944, [Ex-RAF 32 SFTS] and under it were formed four Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite Units. No. 201 at Dafoe, Sask., No. 202 at Mossbank, Sask., No. 203 at Caron, Sask., No. 204 at Assiniboia, Sask., and No. 205 at Davidson, Saskatchewan.

At least eleven Hurricane fighters were held in storage at units under command of No. 2 Reserved Equipment Maintenance Unit, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Their serial numbers appear in the Daily Diary of various units, when they were flown during some special event. They were just a group of old WWII fighters, which were outdated, ready for scrapping and of no further use to the Air Force. That all changed in early November 1944, and saved them from being scrapped. The confirmed Hurricane serial numbers are – 5377, 5389 [Calgary], 5393, 5418 [Wetaskiwin], 5414, 5424 [fake serial in England], 5447, 5584 [Ottawa], and 5588. The two unidentified Hurricane fighters are possibly – 5395 and 5478.

Beginning on 3 November 1944, and continuing until late June 1945, Japan launched between 9,000 and 10,000 incendiary balloons from their home islands. This history can be found on many websites and in numerous publications, which does not need to be repeated. The first line of defence for the RCAF became the West Coast of Canada, and this involved de Havilland F.B. Mk. 26 Mosquito fighters flown by No. 133 Squadron. The RCAF Mosquito aircraft were the only West Coast fighters to attain the speed and altitude to possibly intercept the Japanese balloons, travelling at 125 m.p.h. at over 35,000 feet.

In January 1945, a ‘secret’ second line of defence was being established by the RCAF and this involved old Hurricanes based in the Prairies, to track and possibly shoot-down the Fu-go weapons. In February 1945, Air Commodore B. F. Johnson, No. 2 Air Command, [Winnipeg] ordered a number of Hawker Hurricane fighters be removed from reserve storage at [No. 2 R.E.M.U.] Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, flown to No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, and made ready for flying Fu-go [Japanese Fire-Balloon] interception duties. Historians record the number of Hurricane fighters at five, however my research indicates six or possibly seven Hurricane aircraft were involved in these patrols for balloons. The proof is there, in Ottawa, if you take time to research it, page by page.

These Hurricane fighter serial numbers first appear recorded in the Daily Diary for No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, Manitoba, dated 2 February 1945. Hurricane 5418 arrives for a new Merlin 29 engine, from No. 2 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The fighter is stored in hangar #4, awaiting a new engine and other parts. A Merlin 29-233 engine is installed, and completed on 17 February 1945, the fighter is returned to storage at No. 2 R.E.H.U, by a pilot from 170 [Ferry] Squadron.

This rare fighter survives today in the world class aviation museum at Wetaskiwin, Alberta, today run by Alberta Culture and Community Spirit Heritage, with Byron Reynolds, AME, Honorary Curator of the Aviation Program.

Movement of Airframe and Aero Engines for month of February 1944, No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Hurricane 5418 is one of the first five fighters selected for duty in Saskatchewan. It is flown to No. 8 Repair Depot for minor engine repairs on 2 February 1945, and requires a new Merlin engine, which is installed by 17 February 1945. This Merlin 29 remains in the fighter today.
In 1986, I met Bryon Reynolds, at the then titled “Reynolds Museum Ltd” Wetaskiwin, Alberta. In 1998, I was invited, and gave two lectures on my subject of WWII aircraft nose art. On 27 December 2000, I received a phone call from Bryon, and he ask if I would paint the replica No. 135 “Bulldog” on the nose of Hurricane 5418. He knew my answer, but made it very clear, the nose art must be as close to the original as possible, and that including counting the aircraft rivets. Working with Byron was very professional and followed the same standard as that in the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C., USA.

This was the original pattern ‘nose art’ Bulldog approved by Bryon Reynolds. I spent six hours with Bryon and obtained as much history on Hurricane 5418 as I could. I was in for a big surprise, involving a rare part of unknown RCAF “Fu-go” nose art. This complete new history, with paintings, will appear next year [2018] on my Blog. Here is a small part of that story.

The Reynolds-Alberta Museum Hurricane 5418, ex-No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron, was obtained by Stan Reynolds from a Saskatchewan farmer in November 1960.

Byron Reynolds – March 2001

When Hurricane 5418 arrived at No. 4 S.F.T.S. at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on 15 June 1945, it still contained the original image of the 135 Bulldog nose art. This was over-painted and a new nose art image appeared over the section where the Bulldog had been painted. This “Beautifull Balloon” nose art was still on the Hurricane engine cowling when it arrived at Wetaskiwin in November 1960. Bryon Reynolds copied the image and my replica painting is being shown for the first time.

The only WWII RCAF “Fu-go” nose art in the world. [Complete history coming in 2018]

Yes, that is the correct spelling for Hurricane 5418 nose art, painted in June 1945.

On 22 February 1945, Hurricane 5588 arrives at No. 8 Repair Depot for modification. This is completed on 9 April, and No. 170 [Ferry] squadron fly 5588 to No. 23 E.F.T.S. at Yorkton, Saskatchewan. The Daily Diary records one Hurricane taken on charge, no pilot name, no report of balloon sightings, and no scramble of the fighter. It appears there was total censorship by the C.O. at Yorkton, Sask.

On 12 March 1945, Hurricane, 5377, 5584, [Ottawa] and 5389 [Calgary] are flown in by No. 170 [Ferry] Sqdn. pilots for modification. When these three aircraft were placed into “Reserve Storage” [No. 2 R.E.M.U.] Moose Jaw, Sask., the radio, all armour plating, and the twelve .303 Cal. Browning machine guns were removed. The modification at Winnipeg involved replacing the radio and one .303 machine gun, for shooting at the Japanese balloons. Hurricane 5389, [Calgary] is completed on 14 March 1945, and flown to No. 23 EFTS at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, joining Hurricane 5588.

On 17 March 1945, Hurricane 5393 arrives for modification [below] and leaves the same date, flown by 170 [Ferry] Squadron to No. 4 SFTS at Saskatoon, Sask.

Hurricane 5393 completes patrols with no balloon sightings, or records appearing, until 8 June 1945, at 21:55 hrs.

Hurricane 5584 arrives at Winnipeg on 12 March 1945, and departs (No. 170 [Ferry] Sqn.) 19 March 1945, for No. 32 SFTS at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. [seen with records of Hurricane 5393, 17 March 1945] Hurricane 5377, which arrived with 5584 [Ottawa] and 5389 [Calgary] was never modified or assigned to any RCAF Station. It was prepared for being inhibited, 30 May 1945, and returned to No 3 S.E.H.U at Swift Current, Sask.

5377 remained at Swift Current, Sask., where it was sold on 13 July 1946.

Hurricane 5418 arrived at No. 8 Repair Depot on 7 May 1945, for modification of radio and machine gun.

Hurricane 5418, was taken on charge at No. 4 S.F.T.S at Saskatoon, Sask. 15 June 1945 and joins 5393 in patrols. Its first action is recorded on 21 June 1945, over Climax, Sask.

Thanks to these No. 8 Repair Depot records and base RCAF Daily Diary reports, the number and location of the RCAF Hurricane “Fu-go” fighters can be confirmed. There were five original Hurricanes, which No. 2 Air Command stationed at Saskatoon, [two] Yorkton, [two] and Moose Jaw, [one] Saskatchewan, beginning on 14 March 1945 and then removed, one by one, ending on 12 July 1945.

The Government assigned the Canadian Army as the chief agency to find, and most of all transport bomb disposal experts to the crash site. This same operation is going on today, as these 1944-1945 fire balloon bombs are still being discovered, the latest at Lumby, B.C., in October 2014.

The five RCAF Hurricane fighters were given the task of shooting down the balloons, then the RCAF would transport Army experts to the site, and last, the recovered material was flown by RCAF transport to Ottawa. The Canadian Government feared the balloons were transporting biological weapons of war, and total censorship was applied. This lack of records and no newspaper reporting has affected the true research and history to present day. The use of old RCAF Daily Diary for the period has released many hidden facts.

The peak Japanese balloon-launching months were February, March, and April 1945. Only four RCAF Hurricane fighters were on patrol during these three months. #5389 on 14 March 1945, #5393 on 17 March 1945, #5584 on 19 March 1945, and #5588 on 10 April 1945. Hurricane 5418 arrived on 15 June, near the end of the patrol period. A sixth [and last] Hurricane #5447, arrived at Yorkton, Sask., on 6 June 1945, but never taken on strength, [two Hurricanes appear in Daily Diary for end of June, 5588-5389] after twenty days, 5447 was flown to No. 3 S.E.H.U. at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, 26-27 June, and inhibited by 1 October 1945. Hurricane 5447, never appears in the Daily Diary and only two Hurricanes are ever shown taken on strength at Yorkton, Sask., for the month of June 1945. I believe 5447 was assigned to Moose Jaw, then during delivery the patrols were cancelled, and 5447 ended up at Yorkton, for twenty days and one photo was taken. [Photo on Vintage Wings site]

Hurricane 5447 was being ferried by P/O Ramsay of No. 124 [Ferry] Squadron, Rockcliffe, Ontario, on 4 September 1942. It had a category “A” crash one-half mile north-west of Porquis Junction, Ontario. It was salvaged and transported back to Fort William for a completed rebuild. Taken on strength RCAF No. 1 Training Command, it served with Home War Establishment at Nova Scotia from 2 October 1942 to 5 July 1943. It was sent to No. 3 Training Command for repairs and placed into storage 29 November 1944. On 4 June 1945, it was taken out of storage and flown to No. 2 Air Command at Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

There are no records of modification for Hurricane 5447 at No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, and it appears no machine gun was ever installed. No. 8 R.D. had a fleet of mobile panel trucks with mechanics who drove to RCAF Stations for minor aircraft repairs. On 24 June 1945, Winnipeg, No. 8 R.D. mobile party [five workers] did a special inspection [M.5] on Hurricane 5389 and 5447 at No. 23 E.F.T.S., Yorkton, Sask. This proves the Hurricane was at the station, but never shows up in any other records. I believe this was to prepare the two fighters for storage [inhibited], and they were next flown to No. 3 Surplus Equipment Holding Unit at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, between 12 and 18 July. No. 5447 was recorded ready for disposal on 12 July 1945, inhibited in October, with 312:40 hrs airframe flying time. Sold on 28 August 1946.

On 28 August 1946, #5447 was sold to a Regina farmer and years later re-sold to Harry Whereatt of Assiniboia, Sask. in 1988. The aircraft came with nose art name “Star Dust” and large yellow 71 painted on the original engine cowling. It was slowly being restored to flying condition by Harry until he became ill [stroke] and sold it to Vintage Wings of Canada, 23 August 2006. It is still under restoration at V.W. in Ottawa, and will appear as the famous fighter of Calgary’s Willie McKnight. Vintage Wings have many highly qualified research experts, and I’m sure the full history of #5447 will appear on their website. I am interested to see if my amateur research is at all close.

Swift Current, Saskatchewan

No. 39 Service Flying Training School. Swift Current, Saskatchewan, was a British R.A.F. school, one of 26 that operated in Canada during WWII. The last class of trainees, Course #63, began on 29 November 1943 and 55 graduated on 24 March 1944. That is the same date the British school was disbanded. On 1 April 44, a new school re-opened by the RCAF as No. 402 Aircraft Holding Unit. It was unique in RCAF history, as it was never fully established when it was disbanded at 23:59 hrs, 21 May 1944. It had a staff of six officers, 51 airmen and 42 civilians, plus temporary personnel of 103. It was formed to store and maintain RCAF surplus aircraft in flying condition, then the RCAF senior command began to restructure aircraft holding units, and it became RCAF Station, Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

On 1 May 1945, RCAF Swift Current re-opened as No. 3 Surplus Equipment Holding Unit, Swift Current. By the end of the month they had 432 aircraft in storage, including two Hurricane Mk. XII fighters. The Daily Diary for May 1945, contains only one Hurricane serial number, #5414 which had been on a Victory Loan Drive from 11 April 1945. This is an ex-135 [Bulldog] fighter which records her tire being repaired on 4 August 1945, at No. 3 S.E.H.U. 5414 was inhibited in October 1945, and sold on 20 August 1946.

From early June to 18 July 1945, eight Hurricane fighters arrive for storage and the following day [19] one more Hurricane arrives. That brings the total to 11 Hurricanes on strength. This is recorded in the Daily Diary for 31 July 1945, and they also have 205 Avro Anson trainers in storage. A good number of these will be set on fire and destroyed.

Five of these Hurricane Mk. XII fighters were ex- “Fu-go” Japanese Balloon fighters, which were taken on charge at Yorkton, Moose Jaw, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The following history was found in a number of RCAF Daily Diary records, giving a much clearer picture of what took place in after June 1945.
1. #5389 [ex-133 Sqn.] returned 26 June 1945, Inhibited 15 November 1945. Sold 20 August 1946.
2. #5393 [ex-133 Sqn.] returned 18 July 1945. Sold 20 August 1946.
3. #5418 [ex-135 Sqn.] returned 18 July 1945, flown to Air show at Winnipeg, 4 August, and returned 22 August 1945. Inhibited in October 1945. Sold 20 August 1946.
4. #5447 (No. 170 [Ferry] Sqn.) arrived 26-27 June 1945. Inhibited in October. Sold 28 August 1946.
5. #5584 [ex-163- 135] [at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, in Ottawa, today] arrived 22 August 1945, picked up by F/O Saidler, 13 June 1946, flew in Winnipeg airshow 12-13th July and then Edmonton 26 July 46. F/L Anderson was the Edmonton pilot, then the Hurricane had engine problems and could not fly. 28 July 1946, flown to Winnipeg. Never sold, saved for display and today in Ottawa, still owned by Canadian Government. Flown only 196:55 hrs.

6. #5588 [ex-163 Sqn.] arrived early June 1945. Picked up by F/O Dibnah R.H. at Swift Current, on 13 June 1946, and flown in Airshow at Winnipeg, by F/O Saidler D. 12-13 July 46. Flown in Edmonton Airshow by F/L Anderson on 26 July 65. Suffered a flat tire at Suffield, Alberta, 28 July 46. Inhibited at unknown location, and not sold until 22 October 1953.

The mystery Hurricane #5424. [Possibly flew in Manitoba]

This Hurricane 5424, was an original No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron fighter which was stored at No. 18 Staging Unit, Terrace, B.C. on 12 March 1944. The ferrying of 15 Bulldog stored Hurricanes from Terrace to Patricia Bay, B.C. began on 31 March 44, when No. 170 [Ferry] squadron pilots departed with #5413 and #5414. They completed a second record flight for the RCAF, when they returned using the little known “Internal British Columbia Staging Route” with airfields at RCAF Vanderhoof, RCAF Quesnel, RCAF Williams Lake and the most important RCAF Dog Creek.

When No. 135 Squadron flew to join the Americans in their Alaskan Command [RCAF “Y” Wing, Annette, Alaska] on 16 August 1943, they were the first RCAF squadron to fly this interior route, which was still under construction. Now they became the first to return to Patricia Bay, using the same interior route. On 7 September 1944, Lodestar 555 delivered six 170 ferry pilots to Terrace, B.C. at 15:30 hrs. They were assigned Hurricane #5407, #5411, #5418, #5421, #5424 [above] and #5589, departing Terrace, B.C. at 18:00 hrs. The remote RCAF Station Dog Creek had just been installed with night time landing lights, due to the fact it was a most important 24-hour fueling point. [In 1944-1945, this RCAF Station saved the lives of many Canadian and American fuel-starved aircraft] Today it is gone from sight and totally forgotten. Just before midnight, 7 Sept. 1944, the six Hurricane aircraft arrived for fuel, and became the first night-time landing and take-off at RCAF Station Dog Creek. Hurricane 5424 was now flown to Patricia Bay, and next ferried back to Lethbridge, Alberta, by No. 170 Squadron, possibly in November 1944. Possibly placed into storage at No. 2 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit, Moose Jaw, Sask., on 5 December 1945. Forty-two aircraft arrived on that date. I cannot find any serial record in any RCAF unit Daily Diary.

No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School at MacDonald, Manitoba, did not close until 17 February 1945. On 13 September 1944, they had on charge two Hawker Hurricane fighters and received three more on that date, total now five. No serial numbers are listed.

On the 19 September 1945, Hurricane 5424 arrives at No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, for minor repairs. It is next flown to No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School, Macdonald, Manitoba, for storage.

Eight months later, spring of 1946, Hurricane #5424 is found in storage at No. 3 S.E.H.U. at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, where it is sold on 15 August 1946. It was later obtained by Lynn Garrison and moved to Calgary, along with Hurricane 5389. 5424 is leased, without any approval by owner Lynn Garrison, to a man in Saskatchewan, where it is secretly sold to a millionaire in U.K. It arrives in England, then it is reported ‘stolen’ to Calgary Police, and nothing can be done. It sits for five years in U.K. with no serial number, then it is registered with a false number. It is sold, and then appears with a new serial number, again false, and now the owners are attempting to flog it to anyone with over two million bucks to thrown away on a false fighter, with a false history. A pure crime of Canadian and British greed, caused by money, which can only be solved by more money. Buy it, return it to Canada, and paint it correctly as 5424.

Hurricane 5424 is the ninth confirmed WWII Canadian Mk. XII Hurricane, out of a total of eleven, which were in storage at No. 3 S.E.H.U. at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, June 1945 to July-August 1946. For many years, it has been rumored this Hurricane flew patrols against the Japanese Fu-go Balloons, however this history is still a mystery. Rivers, Manitoba, had one Spitfire and one Mosquito for tracking balloons drifting that far East.

Thanks to the Japanese Fu-go Balloons, the five [original] Hurricanes assigned to shoot them down, remained protected and stored in Western Canada. That protected them from being scrapped, and three [5389, 5418 and 5447] were purchased by Saskatchewan farmers, preserving our RCAF past, and now they are found in Calgary, Wetaskiwin, and [Vintage Wings of Canada] Ottawa.

The fourth Hurricane 5584 can be found in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, sitting beside our Lancaster Mk. X which has been painted incorrectly for the past fifty years.

Collection Pierre Lagacé 2015

Collection Pierre Lagacé 2015

Collection Pierre Lagacé 2015

Collection Pierre Lagacé 2015

Such a beautiful Canadian built Mk. XII Hurricane fighter, with almost no historical information. It flew with No. 163 Squadron, and was placed into “Reserve Storage” a number of times, available for disposal 12 July 1945. On 18 April 1946, retained by RCAF for purpose of display. To the average visitor of “our” Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, this is not a very important or interesting WWII fighter aircraft. But wait, it is most important, provided it receives the correct historical information, and they remove the British spinner from the nose.

The Ottawa Hurricane [today] is displayed with a “Canadian” manufactured spinner, which the average person has no idea about. So, visitors just think it is “British”, and that’s the point I am attempting to make.

Here is a photo which shows a first Canadian spinner, appearing in No. 133 Squadron at Tofino, B.C., March 1944.

Collection Gordon Hill

Only a few Hurricanes received this spinner, as the aircraft was obsolete by 1944, and being replaced by the Kittyhawks. The photo was taken at Tofino, B.C. before the move to Sea Island, Vancouver, on 10 March 1944. This was Hurricane #5377 [“S”] of S/L W.C. Connell, the C.O., and possibly the only one to received this Canadian spinner.

No. 163 [Army Co-operation] Squadron was formed at Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C. on 1 March 1943. They flew obsolete Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft on West Coast photographic assignments, and the North American Harvard Mk. II, in close support of Army troops in ground training exercises at Camp Wainwright, Alberta. In late June 1943, the squadron was converted to fly the Hurricane Mk. XII fighter and the first two arrived on 5 July 1943. Hurricane #5584 was not only the first to arrive, it became the very first to fly on 11 July 1943, F/L Wilson. 5584 will complete 22 patrols from Sea Island, until end of July 1943, and continue patrols until 13 November 1943.

No. 163 is re-designated a Fighter Squadron on 14 October 1943, and ordered to re-equip with the modern Curtiss Kittyhawk aircraft on 28 November 1943. The last flight of 5584 is on 13 November 1943, F/Sgt. Senecal. By 19 November, the complete squadron has converted to Kittyhawk fighters. Hurricane 5584, 5586 and 5590 are now flown from Sea Island to No. 133 Squadron at Tofino, B.C., on 4 December 1943, and placed into Command Reserve. The squadron is over-strength with fighters and they remain in reserve, never flown, until 4 August 1944. Hurricane 5584 is now returned to No. 2 Training Command, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and placed into storage at an “Aircraft Holding Unit” possibly No. 401 at Swift Current, Sask.

On 1 December 1944, No. 2 Training Command becomes No. 2 Air Command, and 5584 remains in storage. In early March 1945, #5584, #5377, and 5389, are removed from storage and flown to No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, Manitoba, arriving 12 March 1945. Modification with radio and one 303 Browning machine gun is completed on Hurricane 5584 and 5389, 19 March 1945. They are now flown by No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron pilots to assigned Japanese Fu-go patrol units, and 5389 is assigned Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

On 15 March 1945, F/O W.A. Doyle, #J22160 arrives from Winnipeg, assigned No. 2 R.E.M.U. at Moose Jaw, Sask., a new Hurricane “Fu-go” fighter pilot. Hurricane 5584 arrives on 20 March 1945, and is flown to Rivers, Manitoba, by pilot Doyle on 29 March, [reason unknown] returning to Moose Jaw on 2 April 1945. RCAF Station Rivers Manitoba, had on strength one Spitfire and one Mosquito for tracking Japanese Balloons, and 5584 was possibly involved in training with these fighters.

Hurricane 5584 is air tested on 27 May by pilot Doyle. No Balloons sighted.

Hurricane 5584 is scrambled at 16:00 hrs as a “Crabapple” is sighted 5 miles south of climax, Saskatchewan. This is the first use of the RCAF code word for Japanese Balloons, “CRABAPPLE.”

On 22 August 1945, F/O Hanneson G. J47498 returns Hurricane 5584 to No. 3 S.E.H.U., RCAF, Swift Current, Sask. The fighter is inhibited in November and remains in hangar storage until June 1946.

On 8 December 1945, the RCAF form No. 2 Air Command [H.Q. “K” Composite Flight] at Winnipeg, Manitoba. Assigned aircraft are used for communication, target towing, practice flying, including Canadian “Airshow” flying. On 13 June 1946, F/L Dibnah R.H. and F/O Saidler D. arrive at No. 3 S.E.H.U. Swift Current where they pick up Hurricane 5588 and 5584, flying both back to Winnipeg. On 12-13 July, the two Hurricanes appear in a Winnipeg airshow. On 29 July, both 5588 and 5584 are test flown and head off for an airshow in Edmonton, Alberta. The airshow is held on 26 July 1946, and during an engine run-up, pilot F/O Saidler encounters problems and cannot take part in the airshow. Hurricane 5584 is returned to No 8 Repair Depot on 28 July 1946, for repairs and placed into stored reserve in Manitoba.

In 1960, the new National Aeronautical Museum in Ottawa begins looking for RCAF aircraft to preserve. Hurricane 5584 is discovered in Mountain View, Ontario, where it will soon be scrapped. It is saved and flown to RCAF Uplands, Ottawa, in August 1962, and repainted for public display. This is the most original preserved Canadian built Hurricane Mk. XII in the world, and has always remained property of the taxpayer [Government] of Canada. On 6 February 1964, it went on public display, where it remains today, wearing a British nose spinner.

Today, the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, have on display an original “Crabapple” Japanese Fu-go bottom [bomb-sand bag] section, without Balloon. Now, if they [Ottawa] could just get this WWII rare artifact together with the Canadian built Hurricane Mk. XII that hunted “Crabapples”, Wow!

Left is part of a “crabapple” recovered at Provost, Alberta, 7 February 1945, and [right] the one recovered at Minton, Saskatchewan, 12 January 1945, and now in the Canadian War Museum Ottawa.

Hurricane 5584 is powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Most visitors to the museum take for granted, it was the best engine, and it was British made. Not true, it was the best, but produced in the United States of America!

In 1939, the Canadian Government was in such a rush to support Britain, it signed a contract to produce training aircraft, and in their eagerness forgot about fighter aircraft and protection of Canada. On 9 March 1941, the Canadian Chief of the Air Staff submitted a proposal for the increased of Hurricane fighters for the Defence of Canada, in the Home War Establishment. Canada had no aero-engine industry and they suddenly realized, the American and British produced all front-line combat aircraft engines, and the real shocker was they also controlled the allocation of engines needed for the airframes built in Canada. In brief, there were chronic shortages of aircraft, aero-engines, and spare parts for the war in Europe 1940-41. Up until 7 December 1941, the British and Americans together opposed the allocation of any Canadian built fighters, with American engines, for the protection of Canada. The events in Washington, D.C., after the attack on Pearl Harbor, changed both the British and American thinking, as fighters were now needed for the protected of the West Coast of both Canada and United States.

In September 1940, the American Packard Motor Company, Detroit, Michigan, signed a multi-million-dollar contract to build the British Rolls-Royce Merlin engine for both the American and British Governments. The first American Packard original Merlin 28 was built with the designation V-1650-1 and shown to the American public on 2 August 1941. Canadian Car and Foundry Co. Ltd. also signed a contract with the British Ministry of Aircraft Production for the manufacture of Canadian Hawker Hurricanes for the R.A.F. The first Canadian built Hurricane began flying trials in January 1940, and were delivered to England in the following month. All this history can be found on many websites.

By October 1941, the Packard-built Merlin engines were in full production at Detroit, [Many on the production line were young American ladies] and the second production engine became the Merlin 29. These new engines were shipped from Detroit, to the Can. Car and Foundry plant at Fort William, Ontario, [Now-Thunder Bay] and installed in the Hurricane Mk. XII fighters. The Merlin 29 was a 1,300 h.p. engine manufactured with splined airscrew shaft, fitted with an American built Nash-Kelvinator Hamilton Standard propeller. This American propeller could not accommodate the British made Hurricane spinners, and thus ‘our’ fighters gained a special “Canadian” built-in trademark. They flew without any spinners.

Pilot F/O Gordon Hill began his Hurricane training at No. 1 Operational Training Unit, Bagotville, Quebec, Course #8, on 30 January 1943. His course was delayed by a two-day snow fall, which can be seen in this image, taken around 3 February 1943. This is what Hurricane “Y” looked like, and how Hurricane 5584 should be displayed in Ottawa. England is full of ‘their’ Hurricane fighters, with British spinners. 5584 is the best original Canadian built Hurricane fighter, but to many, a spinner confuses it with a British production aircraft. The original “Crabapple” Hurricane Mk. XII, 5418, in Reynolds Alberta Museum, is displayed correctly, with an American Packard-Rolls-Royce engine displayed beside it.


Canadian Army reports dated 28 March 1945, claim a Japanese Balloon was intercepted and shot down at Strathmore, Alberta. No verified records can be found in any RCAF unit of Station Daily Diary. Two Mitchell B-25 bombers were stationed at Suffield, Alberta, again no record can be found. Tight press censorship was applied to all newspapers, but at times the government allowed some “fake” news to leak out. On 28 May 1945, a Japanese Balloon landed intact at High River, Alberta, just south of Calgary. A reporter for the Calgary Albertan [Calgary Sun today] obtained these photos, but he could not publish until 23 June 1945, and only without revealing location, date, or time.

Fu-Go Balloons in Canada

Released in Japan, during normal winter wind conditions, the Japanese Fire Balloons took approximately 70 hours to reach the west coast of Canada. As would be expected, most balloons with positive identification landed in British Columbia, with 39 found, the last in October 2014. Once they crossed the Rocky Mountains, Alberta discovered 17, then 9 in Saskatchewan, and 5 in Manitoba. It is estimated that 1,000 balloons reached North America and combined, Canadian and American authorities only found, [or reported] 285. That means around 600 are still out there someplace.

This is a list of the positive known balloons [or parts] that were found in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, from 1 January 1945 to 15 June 45. March was clearly the month most balloons appeared over the Prairies, and when four Hurricane fighter were flying patrols.
1 January 1945 Stony Rapids, Sask.
12 January 1945 Minton, Sask.
7 February 1945 Provost, Alberta.
9 February 1945 Moose Jaw, Sask.
22 February 1945 Manyberries [Lethbridge] Alberta.
22 February 1945 Porcupine Plains, Sask.
10 March 1945 Nelson House, Manitoba.
11 March 1945 Edson, Alberta.
12 March 1945 Oxford House, Manitoba.
13 March 1945 Baril Lake, Alberta.
14 March 1945 Hay Lake, Alberta.
19 March 1945 Marie Lake, Manitoba.
20 March 1945 Fort Chipewyn, Alberta.
20 March 1945 William Lake, Manitoba.
20 March 1945 Olds, Alberta.
20 March 1945 Wimborne, Alberta.
21 March 1945 Delburne, Alberta.
21 March 1945 Camsell Portage, Sask.
23 March 1945 Athabasca, Alberta.
23 March 1945 Delburne, Alberta.
24 March 1945 Medicine Hat, Alberta.
28 March 1945 Strathmore, Alberta.
29 March 1945 Medicine Hat, Alberta.
30 March 1945 Consul, Sask.
30 March 1945 Waterton Lake, Manitoba.
31 March 1945 Ituna, Sask.
1 April 1945 Yorkton, Sask.
5 May 1945 Stettler, Alberta.
15 May 1945 Kelvington, Sask.
23 May 1945 Milo, Alberta.
28 May 1945 High River, Alberta. Reported in newspaper 23 June 1945.
15 June 1945 Whitecourt, Alberta.

Alberta had two aircraft stationed at RCAF Detachment, Suffield, Alberta. Very little has been recorded or researched on their operation. One B-25 Mitchell bomber KJ641, was on strength in February 1945, and reported in articles, as used to track Japanese Balloons. It appears in the Daily Dairy with a number of different pilots, conducting what they called ‘Local 104” or “Local 101” and other numbers. A Boston Bomber BE410 was also used for camera work, and that’s about all I can make out.

On 7 February 1945, a single Mosquito fighter arrived at 17:00 hrs, with a No. 170 ferry pilot and navigator. They returned to No. 1 R.E.H.U. at Lethbridge, Alberta. The Mosquito was flown by different crews and did special tests called F.E. 291 or F.E. 293, and other code numbers. The tests were conducted at 30,000 feet and recorded on film by the Boston Bomber. The Mosquito remained on strength until 4 April 1945, and then left for Regina, Sask. I believe this was all top secret, involving the Japanese Balloons, during the same time period 22 Balloons were found in the three Prairies provinces. Canadian Government officials were very concerned the balloons were being used to carry a biological war to Canada.

About the Mosquito

I have attached here the RCAF Suffield Daily Diary 7 Feb, and end of month 28 Feb. 45. I believe this RCAF Mosquito worked with the five Hurricanes in Saskatchewan, but I have no further proof.

I think releasing this information is a good time and place.

The known balloons to land in Canada up until 28 August 1945, was 88, which includes N.W.T, and Yukon. Historians report the Japanese stopped releasing balloons in early April 1945, and that is not correct. The High River balloon arrived on 28 May 45, and it was intact, after releasing incendiary bombs and anti-personnel bomb, possibly over the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. The self-destruct bomb mechanism failed to work, and the bomb came down in a farmers field, bouncing along until it hit a fence. This Japanese Fu-Go balloon was launched around 23-24 May, then 70-80 hours later was recovered and flown to Ottawa. One more balloon would be found in Alberta in June 45, and two in Yukon. In July 45, six balloons were found in B.C. and one in Yukon. In August 45, three balloons were found in B.C.

Born and raised on a farm in Southern Alberta, I fully understand the winds that seem to always blow in Alberta. That is the reason many balloons were blown north from United Sates and landed in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Right in the middle of this was the location of RCAF Detachment, Suffield, Alberta, today a British Army [restricted] training area. The truth may never be fully released.


The last original “Crabapple” Hurricane fighter 5389

The last original “Crabapple” Hurricane fighter 5389, has been stored outside, lost, forgotten, and almost given away to another millionaire in England. This fighter is truly a survivor, in more ways than I could ever describe.

Hurricane 5389, [in Calgary today] was taken out of No. 2 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit, RCAF, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in March 1945. It was flown to No. 8 Repair Depot, at Winnipeg, Manitoba, 12 March 1945, along with #5377 and #5584. [in Ottawa today] The modification of radio and one .303 Browning machine gun was completed on 14 March, and No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron flew 5389 to No. 23 E.F.T.S. at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, where it is taken on strength, Daily Diary, [15 March 1945]. No. 23 EFTS did not close until 15 September 1945, and records of all activities appear in Daily Diary, however there is no record of Hurricane pilot, any scramble or sightings of Japanese Balloon, just one Hurricane taken on strength. A second Hurricane 5588 arrived on 10 April 1945, and again is only shown taken on charge. On 24 June 1945, a mobile repair party of five, from No. 8 Repair Depot, complete an M.5 inspection of Hurricane 5389 at Yorkton, Sask. The machine gun is removed and No. 170 [Ferry] squadron fly the fighter back to storage at No. 3 S.E.H.U. Swift Current, Sask. The Daily Diary at Swift Current record shows Hurricane 5389 is inhibited in a hangar on 15 November 1946. In the spring of 1946, the Hurricane is ready for disposal, taken off strength by RCAF and sold by War Assets Corporation on 20 August 1946. The new owner is Mr. Robert R. Hamilton, 3915 Montague St. Regina, Saskatchewan. The Hurricane is placed on a farm outside Regina and forgotten.

During his flying days with No. 403 Squadron in Calgary, Lynn Garrison befriended a young 15-year-old who wanted to be a fighter pilot, Joe E. McGoldrick. Lynn would take him to the airport and left him sit in the Mustangs and Harvard aircraft. When he was old enough, Joe joined the RCAF, but they made him a navigator, so he dropped out, as he wanted to be a pilot. He returned to Calgary and began a concerted effort to become a pilot. He obtained his licence, spent many hours as a flight instructor and was finally accepted by Pacific Western Airlines. During the early days Garrison was forming the Alberta Aviation Museum, Joe was a student pilot in training for navigator, at RCAF Station Winnipeg. On weekends Joe would drive around and locate WWII aircraft. He learned that Hurricane 5389 was for sale and Calgary mechanic Ed Fleming purchased 5389 and 5424 from the farmer owners in Regina, Saskatchewan. Later in 1962, Lynn Garrison was looking for Hurricane fighters and Ed was doing a rebuild of a WWII P-51 Mustang. Lynn Garrison traded a set of Mustang wings, one Packard Merlin 29 engine and a Mustang propeller to Ed Fleming for the two Hurricane fighters, 5424 and 5389. The two Hurricanes were transported to Calgary courtesy of Wolton Lumber Company, and placed in the Shell Oil Pipeline storage yard on Edmonton Trail, Calgary. If you are still interested, more details can be found on the website of The Calgary Mosquito Society.

On 21 December 2011, the City of Calgary awards the restoration of “Crabapple” Hurricane fighter 5389 to the Calgary Mosquito Society. The fighter is moved to Historic Aviation Services in Wetaskiwin on 27 October 2012, for restoration to taxi condition. The restoration is expected to be completed a year from now, summer 2018. Today [September 2017] only three RCAF original “Crabapple” Hurricane fighters survive, and two are back together at Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

Next Chapter – The WWII pilot who flew Hurricane 5389, 94-year-old F/O Gordon Hill, from Calgary, Alberta.

Message from Clarence

Clarence sent me this message… It’s from Lynn Garrison.

Garrison 1

Since 1983, I have operated the Haitian Children’s Fund from my personal resources, with some effect. Throughout those years, I have studiously avoided any mention of my colorful past, since the charity operations here are mostly “Faith Based,” which might find me, in their minds, “marching to a different drummer.”

Recently, I was contacted by Biafrans who thought I was dead. They have held an annual memorial service for me since 1969, saluting me for what I did 50 years ago. I was surprised that anyone remembered me, since I did everything possible to remain unnoticed.

So now, the gloves are off! I am going to make a thrust for support, throughout the aviation community. Each month theHaitian Children’s Fund site will have a short story, under our section – HIGH FLIGHT that recounts an adventure from a somewhat adventursome past – all with an aviation focus. The first tells of my involvement with the Ferry Flights of ex-RCAF Mustangs during the sixties. A follow to this could be one about the 1969 Football War, in El Salvador….. my film projects…

Many people donate each year, most times to charities they know little about. I am hoping the aviation people will look at us as a recipient. We don’t have any overhead, and a dollar/pound/peso in is 100% on target.

Like a “chain letter- with a purpose,” I would hope that each of you sees fit to pass this message along to your personal e-mail list of contacts.

If anyone wants to communicate with me, via e-mail, I will respond to each contact, personally.

Some Haitian kids lives depend on this, literally. I am running as fast as I can but children – and adults – are actually dying of starvation, at this moment in Haiti’s Northwest, – unremarked – 623 nautical from where we can launch missions to the moon.

Take a look at our site and see the HIGH FLIGHT segment.

My small friends need help!

Regards,

Lynn Garrison

haitipro@bellsouth.net

http://www.haitian-childrens-fund.org

Update – P/O Eli M. Rosenbaum

A comment about a research done by Clarence Simonsen 

I am really glad I found your blog and this story. I am the grandson of F/L Horace Hillcoat who flew with Eli Ross and eventually was lost on 15 December 1944. I was wondering if you had any contact with Eli’s family and if they had anything that would provide more information about my grandfather and the type of person he was. My mother was very young when this incident occurred. She doesn’t remember much of her dad, other than the smell of his pipe. His wife, my grandmother, has given us view; but it would be interesting to learn more about him in his career. I am just taking a shot in the dark to see if there was anything recorded by Eli, but who knows? Any help you could give, would be greatly appreciated.


In January 2015, this story appeared on Lest We Forget, a blog that I created in 2009 with the idea of paying homage to my wife’s uncle who was a sailor aboard HMCS Athabaskan G07.

Little did I know back then that I would virtually meet Clarence Simonsen thanks to another blog I had created to pay homage to RCAF 128 Squadron. People might consider Clarence as a amateur historian.

I don’t. This is why I had created Preserving the Past to share Clarence’s impressive research.

Clarence is always afraid I might get tired posting his stories. This will never happen. So without further ado, here is the story that was posted in 2015.

The original is here: https://athabaskang07.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/a-real-survivor-po-eli-ross/

Except this picture shared on a Facebook group page…

Canadian Military Aircraft Crashes, Wrecks, Relics, Retired & Displays

I could not resist colorising it to show my appreciation for Clarence.


Another impressive research from Clarence Simonsen

During WWII the Canadian Jewish Congress published four comic style books recording the history of Jewish Heroes.

comic book

The Jewish WWII Decorations speak for themselves.

decorations won by Canadian Jews

One of the RCAF officers who never appeared in the comic style honor book was P/O Eli M. Rosenbaum, [Air Force Cross] from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He cheated death flying in a RCAF B-17 on three different occasions.

Eli Maximillian Rosenbaum

P/O Eli Maximillian Rosenbaum #J27043, 1943 [Rosenbaum collection]

This story begins in the fall of 1943, when a very serious Canadian political and military problem had developed, slow mail delivery to our Canadian troops in England and the new Mediterranean war zone. For the first three years of the Second World War, the Canadian Government had largely relied on the British and Americans to deliver our military mail to the battle front. With thousands of Canadians now serving in the air and ground forces in North Africa, the mail was not getting to the fighting man, and with Christmas quickly approaching the Government was feeling the heat, both from home and the war front. At once official pressure was applied and RCAF activity began on 17 October 1943, when Wing Commander R.B. Middleton was ordered to disband his present squadron and form a new squadron in his Hangar #66 at Rockcliffe, Ontario. The next day, official RCAF authorization was received for forming No. 168 [Heavy Transport] Squadron, under No. 9 [Transport] Command, Air Force Headquarters, Rockcliffe, Ontario. That same afternoon three Lodestars arrived from No. 164 Squadron, sub-detachment at Edmonton, Alberta. By the end of October, a total of eleven Lockheed Lodestars were on strength at 168 Squadron and training began on 9 November 43. The non-stop direct training flights were flown from Rockcliffe to Edmonton, Alberta, the approximate same distance as an Atlantic crossing from Rockcliffe to Scotland. It soon became obvious to all squadron members the Lodestars were not suitable for long-range flights and due to extra fuel could carry very little mail cargo.

On 2 November 43, the new Commanding Officer W/C Middleton and two other officers left for the USAAF B-17 instructional school at Lockbourne Army Air Base, Columbus, Ohio. The Canadian Government had purchased six veteran aging B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, which had previously been used to train USAAF crews, and now arrangements were made for delivery to Rockcliffe plus the training of new RCAF aircrew at Lockbourne Army Air Base.

Eli Maximillian Rosenbaum was born in the Jewish section of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and joined the RCAF in 1942. He attended No. 2 Initial Training School at Regina, Saskatchewan, trained at No. 8 EFTS, Vancouver, B.C. and earned his wings at No. 7 SFTS Fort Macleod, Alberta. I made mail and phone contact with Eli in 1993, during which time he informed me he never used his full surname and always went by the name Eli Ross, even during WWII. Due to his nationality, he was instructed he would remain in Canada, posted to the newly formed No. 168 [HT] Squadron which was in the rushed temporary building stage. He first reported to Dorval for instructions on transatlantic operations and briefings from RAF instructors who came from No. 31 RAF Radio Direction Finding School at Clinton, Ontario. This B.C.A.T.P. school was run by the RAF and became the only one of its kind in all North America, training American, British and Canadians. It was taken over by the RCAF in July 1943 [in paper only] and became No. 5 Radio School, still manned by original RAF instructors, who instructed co-pilot Eli Ross.

On 26 November 43, Eli Ross was one of six RCAF Officers selected for training at the American B-17 Training Base at Lockbourne, Ohio. Two Canadian pilots, two co-pilots, and two wireless operators joined the Americans in the class room, when the USAAF instructor’s allowed the RCAF personnel to interrupt their normal training. While Eli was in training, the very first American B-17F arrived at Rockcliffe airfield 4 December 43, during a heavy snowfall, which proved the American pilot with poor runway conditions and limited visibility. Unfamiliar with Canadian winter conditions the USAAF pilot continued to fly overhead again and again, waiting for the snow conditions to clear. After the runway was plowed, he made his successful landing and turned the first USAAF B-17F [42-3160] over to W/C Middleton.

newspaper photo of unknown American

The newspaper photo of unknown American who delivered the first B-17F to Rockcliffe in the Canadian snow storm

[PL23191]

With the arrival of B-17F [Douglas] serial 42-3160 on 4 December 1943, the RCAF began their Fortress serial numbers with 9202. It is interesting to see the runway had been cleared of snow and in the background are the Lockheed Lodestars used for early training. The following day B-17F, serial 42-6101 [Vega] arrived and received RCAF serial #9203. On the 8 December B-17F [Douglas] serial 42-3360 arrived and took serial 9204.

With the arrival of the first three B-17s, a great amount of RCAF pressure was applied to get the first Christmas mail to England as soon as possible. Fortress #9202 was prepared for the flight, loaded with mail and prepared for take-off on 14 December 1943. During the run-up, one engine developed an engine gear failure which required the entire replacement. An overnight change of aircraft was hurried into effect and the next morning Fortress #9204 was ready for take-off.

The RCAF officer in command was W/C Middleton, the pilot was F/L B.G. Smith, co-pilot P/O Eli Rosenbaum, F/O F. B. Labrish navigator, F/O C.A. Dickson wireless operator, with passengers W/C Z.L. Leigh Air Force H.Q., Ottawa, F/O J. F. Irvine, technical officer and F/O S. Tingley, H.Q. staff Ottawa. In total 189 mail bags were placed on board and combined with the RCAF brass a total weight of 5,502 was recorded.

The crew of the first flight of the RCAF Overseas Airmail Service

The crew of the first flight of the RCAF Overseas Airmail Service [Mailcan]
on 15 December 1943

Left to right P/O Eli Rosenbaum, [co-pilot Winnipeg]; F/L B. G. Smith, [pilot American- Nebraska]; F/O C. A. Dickson, [wireless Edmonton]; and F/O F.B. Labrish, [navigator Montreal]. The background B-17F is 42-6101 which became #9203 and arrived on 5 December 1943, the same date three RCAF crews had their official photo taken in front of the Fortress.

The pre-flight farewell ceremony

The pre-flight farewell ceremony held before the take-off of Fortress 9204, 15 December 1943. [Eli Ross collection]

The above photo came from Eli Ross [center under over-painted American white star and bars] who can be seen looking over the shoulder of civilian [Post Master General of Canada]. Three of the RCAF crew members [far left] are seen chatting with the young lady, possibly a secretary to a senior officer. The special guests included the Minister of National Defence for Air, the Deputy Minister of DND for Air, Deputy Post Master General and other senior RCAF officials. After the official ceremony the B-17F with passengers and crew departed to Dorval for the overnight stay, then on to Gander where they were delayed three days with gas leaks in self-sealing tanks.

Take-off from Rockcliffe on 15 December 1943

Take-off from Rockcliffe on 15 December 1943, Fortress 9204
heads to Dorval for the overnight stay. [PL23408]

On 20 December 1943, [just after midnight] the crew and passengers of B-17F #9204 departed Gander, Newfoundland for Prestwick, Scotland. At 20,000 feet they broke free of clouds and navigator Labrish took a star fix. At this point they discovered the fortress had a tail wind of 60 knots, and then they settled in for the long trans-Atlantic flight. As the Eastern sunrise climbed into the morning sky, pilot Smitty switched to the auxiliary fuel tanks and in turn each engine quit. Due to the [jet-stream] tail wind the aircraft made a landing at RCAF No. 422 Squadron, flying boat [Sutherland] base at St. Angelo in Northern Ireland, with twenty minutes of fuel in the main tanks. When the ground crew checked the fuel lines they found the Americans had clamped off the auxiliary tanks, which were not required for training flights. In the rush to get the Christmas mail to Scotland, the Fortress had not been properly checked, and this almost cost the lives of all the crew and senior RCAF Officers. No blame was directed at the ground crews as the senior officers realized they had in fact caused the problem. Official report – “It is not possible to lay on an important transport operation with second-hand aircraft in a hurry, without taking serious chances.”

Co-pilot Eli Ross fully understood that the 60 knots tail wind and pure luck had saved all of their lives, and lady luck would ride with him two more times and save his life again and again.

At Rockcliffe, two more B-17E aircraft had arrived and joined the growing fleet. On 15 December 43, USAAF serial 41-9142 arrived and took RCAF #9205, followed by B-17E, serial 41-2438 on 21 December, which took RCAF #9206.

9202

mailbag

The No. 168 engineering officer S/L W. H. Lewis looks on as the squadron artist LAC Freemantle paints a Canadian Mail bag for each operation flown. Ground crew LAC Murray admires his art work. RCAF Fortress #9202 was the first to return to Rockcliffe on 10 January 1944, with 1,400,000 Christmas letters. The near tragedy of this first flight was not reported to the public, while the Canadian Government took the occasion to give it considerable publicity, which pleased the greater majority of Canadian families with sons and daughters at war overseas.

By the middle of January 1944, the five B-17s of No. 168 Squadron were providing regular overseas airmail delivery from Rockcliffe to Preswick, Scotland. During the spring of 1944, LAC Freemantle created and painted a special nose art insignia for the B-17 aircraft and it first appeared on the nose of B-17F serial 42-3369, RCAF #9204, featuring an American Eagle in full flight carrying one Canadian mail bag in each claw.

Eli Ross photo showing the first RCAF B-17 nose art

Eli Ross photo showing the first RCAF B-17 nose art on #9204, spring 1944

nose art

The same nose art would later appear on Boeing built Fortress B-17E, serial 41-9142, RCAF 9205. Please note these two nose art insignia featured a full white tail on the American bald Eagle. This was painted in honor of P/O Eli Ross and donated to the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg, March 2009. This nose art resulted from the following story.

On the night of 23 January 1944, the very first airmail flight took place from Prestwick, Scotland to Italy with a fuel stop at Gibraltar. The crew would fly together for the first time with new pilot F/O H. B. Hillcoat, co-pilot Eli Ross, F/O Freddie B. Labrish, navigator, F/O Cec A. Dickson, wireless, and Cpl. Al de Marco as crewmember. They departed Scotland in Fortress #9205 for Gibraltar, flying just below the freezing level of 5,000 feet. Some ninety miles south of Brest there was a sudden tremendous impact with another aircraft, which they later learned was a Vickers Wellington of RAF Coastal Command. The Fortress lost two engines, the nose was bent, the complete under side was damaged, and they only had one supercharger in operation. For the next two hours pilot Hillcoat and Eli Ross fought the damaged controls, with the shuddering aircraft flying near stalling speed. Near the coast of Cornwall they began to call for help and received a reply from RAF Station Predannack, where they landed. For their heroic actions and exceptional airmanship, Hillcoat, Rosenbaum, Labrish and Dickson were awarded the Air Force Cross, while de Marco received the Air Force Medal. For the second time lady luck had saved the lives of Eli Ross, Labrish and Dickson. [At this point in the war the RAF had advocated all aircraft on the Gibraltar to England flights be allotted different heights of flight, but nothing had been officially done]. Shortly after this RCAF Fortress and Wellington head-on collision the new rules came into effect, saving future air force lives.

Eli Ross images of damage to RCAF Fortress

Eli Ross images of damage to RCAF Fortress #9205

Due to the shortage of four engine aircraft Fortress #9205 was completely rebuilt, striped of camouflage paint and give an unglazed silver fabric nose cone. The American Bald Eagle with solid white tail appeared as nose art on the new natural metal skin. The much delayed sixth and final Fortress B-17E, [Boeing] serial 41-2581, arrived on 1 February 1944 and became RCAF #9207. Her life was very shot when she crashed on take-off from Prestwick, Scotland, on 2 April 1944, all killed. This was caused by shifting of mail cargo during take-off, causing the aircraft to stall and spin in. The aircraft was not installed with proper strapping to prevent the movement of mail bags in flight and was carrying a heavier than normal load.

No. 168 Squadron took delivery of its first Dakota [DC-3] aircraft in late January 1944, and the first two flew overseas on 21 and 22 February 1944. These aircraft carried a new modified nose art insignia created by LAC Freemantle, and each featured a solid black tail on the American Eagle.

Simonsen replica painted Dakota nose art

This Simonsen replica painted Dakota nose art is in the private collection of Richard de Boer, Calgary, Alberta

On 17 September 1944, Fortress #9204 was landing at Rockcliffe when the undercarriage was accidently retracted, and damage was so severe it was written off. [Second B-17 lost]

Eli Ross photo collection

Eli Ross photo collection

New B-24 Liberator aircraft which had been converted to transports began to arrive in Mid-October and the first flight took place on the 19th of the month.

On 15 December 1944 [one year to the date of the first mail flight] Eli Ross was on leave when his normal aircrew of pilot F/L Horace Hillcoat AFC,AFM, navigator F/L Fred Labrish, AFC, and wireless F/O Cecil Dickson, AFC, depart Rabat Sale, Morocco, in Fortress 9203. Eli had been replaced by co-pilot F/L Alfred Ruttleledge, DFC, and bar. Twenty minutes before they were due to land at the French Morocco base in Azores, they called in for landing instructions. The B-17 and crew were never seen again and only a few mail bags were found floating in the Ocean. A South African Ventura was dispatched to the area and this aircraft also went missing. It was believed a German U-boat shot down both aircraft.

This would mark the third time Eli Ross had escaped death.

By mid-February 1945, the squadron had on strength nine Liberators, ten Dakotas, one Hudson and three B-17 Fortress aircraft. For the new B-24 Liberators LAC Freemantle created the same nose art insignia as painted on the B-17s however each one had a solid black tail.

RCAF 578

This is RCAF 578, “QN” USAAF 44-10581, 27 July 44 to 7 July 1947

RCAF QK

F/L John Harding, DFC, standing in front of RCAF “QK” #575 USAAF serial 44-10592,
27 July 1944 to 7 July 1947

John Harding was born in London, Ontario, in 1919, and joined the RCAF in 1941. He served in RAF Bomber Command as a navigator with the rank of Sgt. and after his first tour with No. 130 Squadron was promoted to Flight Lt. He flew 30 operations in Lancaster bombers with 130 RAF Squadron and completed another 20 operations in Lancasters with No. 550 Squadron RAF. He painted his Lancaster serial #4901 in 130 squadron with nose art of a Red Devil under the pilot cockpit area for his skipper Sid Burton, RAF.

After two tours with the RAF, F/L John Harding, DFC, arrived in Ottawa, posted to No. 168 Squadron for his third tour, flying in Liberators beginning early August 1944. He was not alone as other members of the squadron wore decorations and also had completed one or two operations overseas. Another famous WWII pilot F/O Johnny Bourassa, DFC, had completed 43 operations with No. 635 Pathfinder squadron, which was unheard of at that time due to the low survival rate. He later became a well known bush pilot who became lost on 18 May 1951, returning from Bathurst Inlet in North West Territories, and force landed on a northern lake. He left a note in his aircraft and departed on foot at 14:30 hrs 23 May 1951, but has never been found. His aircraft crash site was located on 15 September 1951, by an American B-17 Fortress flying to Edmonton, Alberta. I have a copy of his log book and for his third RCAF tour. He flew Dakota aircraft with No. 168 Squadron all over Europe, Biggin Hill, Brussels, Minden, Germany, Naples, Italy, Cairo, Egypt, Benghazi, Libya, Apeldoorn, Holland, Hengelo, Holland, and Bückeburg, Germany.

John Harding also related to me how No. 168 Mail Squadron had two pilots who came from rich families living in the Ottawa area, and they had used political power to have their sons posted to the much safer mail squadron. Some of the WWII veterans took a dislike to these pilots, including John Harding who refused to fly with one, which possibly saved his life. John was assigned to navigate the new Liberators, [first week in November 1944] while the pilot he did not respect was later killed, flying with his crew in the older B-17 Fortress aircraft.

The end of the war in Europe, 8 May 1945, did very little to change the daily operation of No. 168 Squadron, as the mail must still go through. The new Liberators had taken over the major work load, which included an increase in senior RCAF and civilian VIP passengers. Liberator 574 was extensively modified and became Canada’s first VIP official transport aircraft, flying the Prime Minister, Governor General and other cabinet ministers to meetings.

The RCAF Fortress would have one last moment of glory when #9205 and #9202 were rushed into a special delivery of penicillin from Canada to Warsaw, Poland in October 1945. Due to the increasing Cold War pressure the Russians had to first grant flying permission to the RCAF which they did. On 4 November 1945, Fortress #9202 hit a mountain near Muenster, Germany, and all five crew were killed.

B-17 9202

F/L John Harding, DFC, flew his last operation as navigator in Fortress #9202 on 14 October 1944, and took this image at Gibraltar. The B-17 had completed thirteen compete round-trips, and was half-way to her next little mail bag painting.

Eli Ross photo collection 2

Eli Ross collection

Loading the much needed miracle drug of penicillin into the fold-down nose cap of Fortress #9205, showing the solid white tail of the American Eagle “mail Squadron” insignia.

With the birth of another new year, 1946 would mark the end of No. 168 [H.T.] RCAF Squadron. On 3 March 46, the very last flight took place when Liberator #575 switched her engines off at Rockcliffe. When you look at the squadron records it shows the Liberators completed the most mail trips with an impressive three hundred and thirty-two, however the six B-17 Fortress aircraft were the trail blazers and completed two hundred and forty trips.

From 15 December 1943 to 21 April 1946, No. 168 [H.T.] Squadron delivered 9,125,000 pieces of Canadian service air mail, lost five aircraft and eighteen personnel killed in action. From the very beginning the six old American B-17 Fortress aircraft carried the work load, after they had already served a hard and useful American life, thus they required constant maintenance just to keep them flying. In the end, four B-17s would crash and their casualty list reached fifteen RCAF killed in action.

  1. B-17F RCAF #9203, lost at sea 5 December 1943. [Five killed]
  2. B-17E RCAF #9207, crashed Scotland, 2 April 1944. [Five killed]
  3. B-17F RCAF #9204, damaged beyond repair, Rockcliffe, 17 September 1944.
  4. B-17F RCAF #9202, hit mountain Muenster, Germany, 4 November 1945. [Five killed]

The two remaining B-17E surviving aircraft were #9205 and # 9206, which were sold by War Assets to a pilot in Argentina, where they both arrived on 12 April 1948. After a brief period of flying cargo, both were parked on the field at Moron, Argentina, where they were dismantled and hauled away for scrap in 1964.

Born in the family farm house, located six miles east of the small village of Acme, Alberta, on 24 March 1944, I grew up with the love of aviation and comic books. At age three, I saw a pattern for making a child’s uniform based on the RCAF uniform of WWII, and I wanted it. From the magazine pattern my mother made the uniform which I proudly wore on our train trip to Vancouver, B.C. in the summer of 1947. On my very first train trip, I met my very first girlfriend named Patsy Gibson, and had no idea that girls and uniforms would form a major part of my future aviation research.

Oh, the power of a pilot uniform.

children

The photo back reads – “Twenty minute train stop at Revelstoke, B.C.,
1 June 1947, girlfriend Patsy Isabel Gibson.

Growing up on our mixed farm of cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, turkeys, was constant day to day work, which gave me very little time for my love of drawing and painting airplanes, most of all the American B-17 Flying Fortress. Due to the fact all comics were American, I became an artistic expert on the Fortress, and dreamed of what it would be like to fly in such a famous aircraft. I grew up in a world with no electricity, no in-door plumbing and my entertainment became newspapers, comics, and radio programs. Unlike today’s computer generated fantasy world of super monster heroes, I had to use my imagination, which involved hours of flying in the B-17. In 1962, I jointed the Canadian Army Military [Provost] Corps and learned firsthand the impact of cartoons and art in the Armed Forces. This led directly to my future research and painting of WWII Aviation nose art, which began with the B-24 and B-17 aircraft of the 8th Air Force in England. In 1980, I joined the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, while I was busy editing my own column of the nose art used by the American who flew in England during WWII. I was learning what it was like to be a pilot in a B-17 during WWII, from the very veteran aircrews and making contact with the men who painted the Fortress nose art. This became the best part of my B-17 nose art research as I fully understood, I would never be able to fly in a real Fortress.

By 1990, I was completely consumed by nose art, working on an American nose art book with Jeffery Ethell, plus interviewing and recording as much as I could on the RCAF WWII nose art and artist. I learned the full history of the Calgary Lancaster FM136, a proud bomber that had marked the entrance to the Calgary Airport until 13 October 1977, when the new airport opened further north. The Lancaster was now exposed to vandals and pigeons, which left years of droppings inside the bomber. On 10 March 1992, a special committee was formed to move the Lancaster to a safer location. On 23 April 1992, the WWII Lancaster was removed from her pedestal where she had been placed on 11 April 1961. The original pedestal contained 140,000 pounds of cement and 8,000 pounds of steel which was secured inside the bomber fuselage attached to the main spar. Almost half of the bomb bay door was cut and removed for the cement base to fit inside the aircraft. This large section of bomb bay boor needed to be replaced for the new restoration.

In 1993, I spend two days with No. 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron at CFB Namao, Edmonton. I was researching the full history of Lancaster Mk. X, serial KB994, which Neil Menzies had donated to the squadron in July 1984. This bomber was donated for restoration but the new C.O. Lt. Col. Lee was an Army pilot and he strictly forbade any work to be completed towards the restoration. Frustrated the Air Force members returned the bomber to Menzies, who sold KB994 to Charles Church in England, which he planned to mate with KB976.

Lancasters

The two Lancaster aircraft owned by Charles Church in England,
date unknown, after 1988.

For some reason the two bomb bays doors from KB994 were never shipped to Charles Church in England and they remained near a storage fence in Edmonton. I photographed the doors on my visit in summer of 1993 and then informed 408 Helicopter Squadron that the Aero Space Museum of Calgary required two bomb bay doors.

bomb bay doors

In 1994, the original KB994 bomb bay doors were donated to the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, and restored into the Calgary Lancaster FM136. I obtained the scrap sections that remained for future nose art replica paintings. Then in the spring of 1996, I learned that the owner [Gordon Laing] of Sunwest Aviation in Calgary airport was bringing the B-17G “Sentimental Journey” to Calgary for a five day visit. It is not possible to describe my feelings at that moment.

The General Manager of the Aero Space Museum of Calgary was Mr. Everett Bunnell, an ex-WWII Flying Instructor, Mosquito postwar pilot, CF-100 jet pilot and British Bristol Air pilot. He was not an overly friendly person and ran ‘his’ museum like the wartime Air Force, he was top brass and did not speak to the “Erks.” I had been a museum volunteer for the past 16 years and wanted to welcome the Confederate Air Force and their B-17 and German He-111 to the City of Calgary. This was a no brainer for the WWII connection and the warm hospitality shown by the people of Calgary, so I approached Mr. Bunnell in his office for the one and only time. I wanted to know what the Aero Space Museum had planned to do and I wished to be involved, if possible. The reply from Mr. Bunnell was very upsetting, shocking, and totally unexpected. He informed me ” I don’t want a thing to do with the Yanks or their damn B-17 aircraft, period.”

I next approached Richard de Boer who was the third in charge at the time and we both expressed outrage over the remarks of Manager Bunnell, but he was boss and nothing could be done to change him. During my life, I found I do some of my best work when people tell me “no” or “you can’t do that, you’re not good enough.” I informed Richard I would paint a WWII nose art replica and present it to the CAF from myself, Richard de Boer, and the Aero Space Museum of Calgary.

I had just made contact with Eli Ross [1993] and learned the full history of the six B-17’s that flew with the RCAF during WWII, and that triggered my nose art idea. I would paint the American Bald Eagle insignia that flew on the two RCAF B-17’s that hauled mail to England. From the bomb bay section of skin I saved from Lancaster KB994, I stripped the original paint, hand polished to a bright shine, and then painted the replica insignia of the RCAF WWII, B-17E, #9205 mail squadron.

9205

The 1996 presentation to the Confederate Air Force, Arizona Wing, painted on original WWII Lancaster skin from bomb bay of KB994.

The two WWII aircraft of the Confederate Air Force, Arizona, Wing, arrived at Calgary International Airport on 28 July 1996 and the pilots were presented with white hats from the City of Calgary. I then approached the pilot of the B-17G, Sentimental Journey and presented him with the replica nose art of the WWII RCAF Mail Squadron. He was most pleased and ask me to tell him more about the use of the American B-17 by the RCAF during WWII, as he had no idea Canada flew any Fortress aircraft. After a brief history conversation, the pilot invited me to arrive at the airport the next morning at 5 am, and I would be taken for a ride in their B-17G. I didn’t sleep much that night as the excitement was running very high, plus it was such an impossible dream, now coming true.

The next morning I was taken onto the wing of the B-17, shown how they checked the oil on each engine and then I did my own pull through on one engine. You had to turn the props on each engine, five or six times to get the oil to coat the cylinders. [That may not be the correct terms but it is close]

Clarence

This photo taken by the B-17G pilot is out of focus, however it captures the moment.

I was next instructed I could go anyplace in the bomber once we had reached our altitude of 6,000 ft, just be careful and hang on. We would be doing a pilot check ride and it would last for the next two hours. I was then introduced to the new pilot, who had in fact flown B-17s with the 15th Air Force during WWII, just amazing. Then came the start and warming of the four engines, while we sat between the two hangars at Sunwest Aviation.

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In 1996, regulations did not allow the landing or take-off of any aircraft until 7 am, and then the Calgary Tower gave the visiting B-17 priority for first take-off. We proudly taxied past all the airliners waiting in line for take-off clearance.

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This is what you see from the nose blister of a WWII B-17G during take-off from the Calgary International Airport, 29 July 1996.

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Coming in to land with a few bugs on the nose. [Just think the pilot
and co-pilot are sitting eight feet behind you]

Even after the passage of almost twenty years, it is still hard to imagine what occurred in the next two hours of flying over southern Alberta. Twice the pilot shut down two engines, first the two inner, then restarted each, and then the two outer, then restated. Next came shutting down two engines on each wing, and for the first time I could imagine what it had been like for Eli Ross and crew to fly back to England on one and one/half engines. We then did three touch and go landings at the Calgary Airport, but the best was still to come. In the last hour we flew over my home town of Acme, Alberta, the very farm land I worked, hunted, and played on including the old farm house where I was born on 24 March 1944. This still ranks as the most touching aviation event I have experienced in my 70 years of life. All because of my one nose art painting.

To the Arizona Wing of the Confederate Air Force, now named the Commemorative Air Force, “Thank You.”