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Barnstormers Logo ISSUE 454 - November 2016
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IWM - Imperial War Museum, Duxford, UK - Part II
By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Watford, Ontario, Canada
One of the American aircraft in the collection is the Consolidated B-24 Liberator.
This week we return to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire, England to look at more of the aircraft in the collection including the Avro Lancaster, Avro York and the Avro Vulcan.
The Avro Lancaster, left, was probably the most famous of the bombers designed & built in Britain. The "bouncing bomb," right, was used during Operation Chastise, more commonly known as the Dambusters raids, and was carried by Lancaster that had been modified to carry these uniquely shaped bombs.
One of the most well known and iconic of all British designed and built aircraft of World War II is the Avro Lancaster bomber, known for its ability to carry massive bomb loads including the Tallboy (12,000lbs), Grand Slam (22,000lbs) and the famous 'bouncing bomb' dropped by the famed Dambuster Squadron Lancasters. The bouncing bomb, developed by Barnes Wallis, was designed to bounce, or skip, across the surface of the water after having been dropped by the bomber, then come to rest against the side of its target before descending below the surface and exploding. It would detonate at a pre-determined depth where it was expected to cause the most amount of damage to its target. They were best known for their use in Operation Chastise, better known as the Dambusters raids, whereby British RAF Lancaster bombers flew into Germany at low level to attack 3 dams, the Mohne, Edersee and Sorpe, of which the first two were breached with the latter of the 3 only sustaining minor damage. There were 120 of the bomb type built with only 19 having been used operationally. Lancaster bombers were built in the UK and in Canada by Victory Aircraft in Malton. Of the 7,377 Lancasters built there are 17 survivors located around the globe, of which only 2 are currently airworthy, one in the UK with the RAF BBMF (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) and the other in Canada, owned and operated by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Mount Hope (Hamilton), Ontario.
The BAC TSR-2 was a radically designed aircraft that was expected to fly
as a Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft.
Another fabulous British aircraft was the BAC TSR-2, designed as a Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft for the RAF. It was designed in the late 1950s, early 1960s and first flew in September of 1964. It was designed to fly at low altitudes and at extremely high speeds, penetrating well-defended forward battle areas, then switch to "high-value" targets nearer the rear battle areas with either nuclear or conventional weapons. It could also be utilised as a high-speed, high-altitude photo-reconnaissance aircraft with side looking radar as well as using photographic imagery and signals intelligence. Sadly, due to increasing costs, an increase in aircraft weight due to design changes and inter-service squabbling the aircraft was scrapped in 1965 with only one airframe having ever been flown. The TSR-2 was expected to fly at speeds of Mach 2.35, with a cruise of Mach 2.05 at a ceiling of between 37,000' to 58,000'. In theory, it was thought that she could even reach speeds of Mach 3 in level flight, though that was never reached.
Westland Lysanders were effectively used for clandestine operations,
inserting and retrieving agents in Occupied France.
The Westland Lysander was designed & built in the early 1930s, first flying in June of 1936. It had excellent short-field performance as Lysanders were equipped with fully automatic wing slots and slotted flaps which gave it great STOL (Short Take-Off & Landing) characteristics. This made the aircraft suitable for clandestine missions flying into and out of small, unprepared airfields, behind enemy lines during World War II. The aircraft and pilot would deposit or retrieve agents/spies, most commonly in occupied France, utilising the assistance of the French Resistance. Lysanders were built in the UK and Canada and were flown by several air forces including the RAF, RCAF and RAAF as well as in British India, Egypt, Finland, Free France and Ireland. Several "Lizzies" still exist today with at least 3 flying examples, 2 in Canada and one in the UK.
The Westland Wessex was utilised as a small troop transport, Search & Rescue and VIP transport as well as in other roles with the Royal Navy and RAF.
The Westland Wessex is a British built, turbine-powered helicopter which was built under license & developed from the Sikorsky H-34, though the Sikorsky was built with a piston engine. The gas turbine engine powered Wessex was the first of its type to be built in large numbers. Though initially produced for the British Royal Navy, they were also utilised by the RAF and were used for anti-submarine warfare as well as a utility and SAR helicopter. Several Wessex were stationed and kept on permanent standby at locations within 40 miles or 15 minutes of the British coastline during the day and 60 minutes at night. Several Wessex helicopters were modified for use by the "Queen's Flight" for transporting VIPs and members of the British Royal Family with Prince Charles and Prince Philip, both trained Wessex pilots, sometimes performing as crew members. The Wessex entered operational service in 1961 and served some 40+ years in the UK before being retired.
Another helicopter at the museum is the Westland Whirlwind, the British version of the American Sikorsky S-55/H-19 Chickasaw, built under license by Westland.
The Westland Whirlwind was an American, Sikorsky designed helicopter built under license in the early 1950s. Though initially powered by the American Wasp or Cyclone engines, in the mid 1950s Westland began using the Alvis Leonides Major engines. Westland, built the HAS.7 version of the type which was the first British helicopter that was designed for use as an anti-submarine warfare helicopter, entering service in 1957. It could carry either a torpedo or dipping sonar which was used for detecting submarines, though it was not capable of carrying both simultaneously. They served with the Royal Navy, British Army and the Royal Airforce as well as with the French Navy. There were more than 400 Whirlwinds built with 1/4 of those having been exported to other countries. It could reach a ceiling of 13,000' with a range of 334 miles and a maximum speed of 109mph.
The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.8 is a 2-seat bomber and reconnaissance
aircraft from World War I.
The B.E.8 was designed and produced by the Royal Aircraft Factory as a replacement for the B.E.2 for the Royal Flying Corps. It was designed in 1915 and first flew in June of 1916, entering service with the RFC later that year. Though there were issues with the aircraft being considered as "unsafe," it was deemed as a satisfactory aircraft with the RFC, though was certainly not considered as an outstanding nor overly successful combat aircraft. Through to the end of World War I, it served the RFC as their standard artillery observation and reconnaissance aircraft. There were 3 variants including the B.E.8, B.E.8a and the B.E.9 with more than 4,000 having been built, serving in the Western Front as well as Italy, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Russia. They were operated by the Australian Flying Corps, Aviation Militaire Belge (Belgium), Estonian Air Force, Soviet Union and the Royal Flying Corps & Royal Air Force. There are still 2 original B.E.8s in existence today as well as an airworthy replica currently on static display at the RAF Museum, Hendon. The R.E.8 had a maximum speed of 103mph, a service ceiling of 13,500' and an endurance of up to 4:15.
The Avro York was developed from what famous British bomber?
The Avro York was designed in the early 1940s and first flew in July of 1942. It was developed from the very successful Avro Lancaster and has a similar look though has an additional vertical central "fin," a wider fuselage and was designed to carry passengers. The first prototype aircraft was outfitted with Bristol Hercules IV radial engines but a later decision was made to utilise the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines instead. The fourth Avro York prototype was designed to be a paratroop transport aircraft but it was found unsuitable as parachutes were drawn toward the non-retractable tailwheel by the aircraft's slipstream which meant potential entanglement of jumpers parachutes. The York was initially produced at a rate of only 3 aircraft per month due to the need for Avro Lancasters to be produced for the war effort. Post-war production was increased and an initial order for 200 aircraft was made by the RAF and an additional 100 were built as passenger/freighter configuration flying with airlines such as BOAC. Yorks flew with the RAF, RAAF, French Air Force and South African Air Force as well as with civilian operators in Aden, Argentina, Canada, Iran, Lebanon, South Africa and the UK. The York had a maximum speed of 298mph with a service ceiling of 23,000' and a range of 3,000 miles.
One of the most loved of all jet aircraft ever designed
and developed in the UK is the Avro Vulcan bomber.
Though Avro had no experience with designs of the flying wing, they developed the Avro Vulcan after two smaller, experimental aircraft known as the 707, a half scale model which was used for testing low-speed handling, and a larger, one-half scale model, known as the 710. However, the latter of the two, the 710, was cancelled due to time constraints and a smaller 707 high-speed variant was utilised instead. After a wing redesign, Avro prototype VX770 first flew in August of 1952. The second prototype, VX777, flew in September of 1953 with a lengthened fuselage allowing for a longer nose undercarriage, had a bomb-aimers blister fitted below the cockpit, and had its engines replaced with the Bristol Olympus 100 engines though, after a hard landing accident in July of 1954, the more powerful Olympus 101 engines were fitted to the aircraft. More changes were made to the aircraft before its display at Farnborough in 1955 whereby the pilot performed a barrel roll during one of the aircrafts flypasts. By delivery to the RAF in 1956, Vulcans were outfitted with even more powerful engines in the Olympus 102s and then 104s. Later variants were outfitted with even more powerful engines and, by 1963, their Olympus 301 engines offered upwards of 20,000lbs of thrust. There were a total of 136 built, with 6 variants in total. The Vulcan had a top speed of Mach 0.96 (645mph), a cruise speed of Mach 0.86 (567mph at 45,000'), a range of 2,607 miles and a service ceiling of 55,000'.
The SST (Super Sonic Transport) Concorde could fly from London
to New York in less than 3 hours.
The BAC Concorde was manufactured by a consortium between the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) and the French Aerospatiale under an Anglo-French treaty. The Concorde was a supersonic, turbojet powered jet airliner that had a top speed in excess of Mach 2.0 and allowed for passenger configurations of 92 to as many as 128. The first Concorde flew in March of 1969 and first entered service in 1976, flying in service until October of 2003. Though several airlines had expressed an interest in Concorde, even making initial orders, only two airlines operated the Concorde, British Airways and Air France. Despite Concorde having an excellent service record, they were removed from service roughly 3 years after the crash of an Air France Concorde after take off from the Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport on July 25, 2000, killing all on board. Concorde had a maximum speed of Mach 2.04 (1,354mph, cruise altitude), a range of 3,900 miles and a service ceiling of 60,000'.
The DH.9 was designed by de Havilland aircraft as a successor to its own DH.4.
The Airco/de Havilland DH.9 was designed by de Havilland in 1916 for the Aircraft Manufacturing Company and was meant to be the successor of the DH.4. Though designed to house the 'new' BHP/Galloway Adriatic engine, which was to offer the aircraft as much as 300hp, the aircraft proved to have worse performance than the aircraft it was replacing. Further changes to the aircraft, including the use of different engines, improved its performance and orders were placed for the RFC. The first of the aircraft ordered were delivered in November of 1917 which saw combat over France in March of 1918 with 108 Sqn, RFC. By July of 1918 there were nine squadrons using the DH.9 over the Western Front. Despite dismal losses, and in spite of its poor performance, DH.9s saw some successes and saw action in the Middle East against Turkish forces, being used as coastal patrol aircraft in deterrence of U-boat operations. They also saw service supporting the White Russian Army during the Russian Civil War in 1919 Russia. They last saw service in Somalia, flown by the RAF, flying against "Mad Mullah" (Mohammed Abdullah Hassan) in January - February of 1920. Not long afterward, the DH.9 was retired from service with the RAF. In 1922, the South African Air Force received 48 DH.9s, flying them against the Rand Revolt. Several were outfitted with the Bristol Jupiter radial engine and served until 1937. They flew with as many as 26 different air forces around the world and operated in the civilian market in 8 different countries.
The Handley Page Hastings was used by the RAF as a troop carrier and air transport.
The Hastings, designed and built by the Handley Page Aircraft Company, was a long-range, all-metal, low-wing aircraft with a circular fuselage which was suitable for aircraft pressurisation. It also had fully retractable landing gear, including the tailwheel, and was powered by four Bristol Hercules 101 radial engines. Depending on the configuration, the aircraft was crewed by 5 and would accommodate 50 fully loaded troops, as many as 32 stretchers with room for an additional 28 casualties, sitting, or 30 paratroopers. The RAF ordered 100 Hastings C1s of which the last six were built as a weather reconnaissance version known as the Hastings Met. Mk 1. Several others were converted to Hastings T5 trainers. Some Hastings were also modified further for use as VIP transports. In all, 151 aircraft were built of which 147 went to the RAF and 4 to the RNZAF. The Hastings had a maximum speed of 348mph, a cruise speed of 291mph, a range of almost 1,700 miles with a service ceiling of 26,500'.
The American built Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was well known for its use as a daylight bomber, used by American Forces over Europe.
The Boeing B-17 was first developed in the mid 1930s for the US Army Air Corps, outperforming and initially beating out its Douglas and Martin aircraft competitors. Due to the crash of the B-17 prototype, Boeing lost the contract however, the Air Corps placed an order for 13 aircraft for evaluation. The B-17 entered service in April of 1938 and was primarily used during World War II by the USAAF for its daylight bombing campaign against German forces, typically bombing industrial (factories, oil refineries, etc) and military targets (airfields, supply depots, etc). They were based at airfields across southern and central England as well as Italy. The B-17 was heavily armed and dropped more bombs than any other US aircraft during World War II. Though the B-17s main use was bombing, it was also utilised as an anti-submarine aircraft, search and rescue aircraft, and as a transport and drone controller. The B-17 had a maximum speed of 287mph, cruise speed of 182mph, a service ceiling of 35,600' and a range of over 2,000 miles. There were several variants with a total of 12,731 built. Several exist today both in static condition in museums as well as more than a dozen in flying condition in the US and UK.
The B-24 Liberator was one of three four-engine bombers
utilised by the USAAF during World War II.
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator served with every branch of the American military, as well as with several Allied militaries, and was utilised in every theatre of operations. They were used as long-range bombers, transports and on anti-submarine operations over the Atlantic. Liberators were produced in large numbers with almost 19,000 built of which more than 8,000 having been built by the Ford Motor Company. The B-24 holds the distinction of being the most-produced American built military aircraft, the most produced mutli-engine aircraft and the most produced heavy bomber in history. The Liberator was surpassed by more advanced, more modern aircraft types before the end of World War II though a derivative of the B-24, known as the PB4Y-2 Privateer, continued service post-World War II, serving with the US Navy in the Korean War. The B-24 had a maximum speed of 290mph, a cruise speed of 215mph, a service ceiling of 28,000' a range of 2,100 miles with a ferrying capability of 3,700 miles.
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was an extremely high-speed, supersonic jet aircraft most widely known for its use as a spy plane.
The SR-71 was developed through a request by the CIA for a high speed, undetectable and high altitude spy plane. The Blackbird, as it was named, was designed for flight in excess of Mach 3 and a cockpit crew of 2 sitting in tandem. The forward cockpit housed the pilot and the rear cockpit housed the RSO (Reconnaissance Systems Officer) who operated the aircraft's surveillance systems and equipment as well as being responsible for the navigational systems. The aircraft was also designed to have a minimal radar cross section and were painted in an extremely dark blue, almost black in colour, which lead to the name "Blackbird." All the features put into the design of the SR-71 offered it protection from enemy (Russian) missiles. Its high speed and high altitude meant that no other aircraft could reach it nor were the SAM missiles capable of reaching the SR-71. On the rare occasion one was launched early enough to be able reach the Blackbird, the aircraft would simply accelerate to outrun the threat or, in some cases, simply had to change course and altitude. In its history, no SR-71 aircraft were ever shot down. There were 32 Blackbirds built with the SR-71s being retired in 1989, though a single aircraft was retained for continued flights through 1989 and into 1990. Several of the remaining aircraft have been put on display at museums in the US and UK as well as several having been placed in storage. The SR-71s top speed is said to be Mach 3.3 (2200mph) with a maximum service ceiling of 85,000' and a ferrying range of 3,200.
The cockpit and nose section of the BOAC de Havilland Comet, left.
The iconic post-war de Havilland Tiger Moth, right.
The IWM, Duxford is a historic place to visit but make it at least a 2 day visit so you can take in the American Air Museum as well as all the displays located throughout the museum. If you are in London don't forget to visit the IWM London location as well as the Churchill War Rooms, HMS Belfast and, finally, IWM North in Manchester. Plan your day well so you can see more than just the aircraft but all the displays and the museum shop as well. Visit their website,, for more information.
Another look at the Westland Lysander.
Looking over the Avro Lancaster toward the Concorde.
In 1956, Handley Page test pilot, Johnny Allam, once flew a Victor through the speed of sound to Mach 1.1. He claimed that it was unintentional however, it was thought that Allam did this knowingly as a way of demonstrating the Victor's superior ability over other "V-bombers" of the time.
The de Havilland Mosquito target towing version, left. The Westland Whirlwind helicopter, right, served admirably in several roles during its tenure with the British military.


By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
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