Beaufighter Revisited.

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We are always amazed by the interest and history that people bring when they visit us. During the last Volunteer day we had a visit from Janet Dye, who came to have a look at the Beaufighter. Here is her review of the day and an insight into the history of RAF Strubby:

“A visit to Duxford is always a joy, but my visit on the 26th Ocyober was one of research for a future project close to my heart.

I live near one of many “forgotten” airfields of WW2;  RAF Strubby sits on the east coast of Lincolnshire, and it was built during the second part of the war because of it’s proximity to Europe.  It was a Bomber Command station housing five squadrons, utilising  Lancaster Bombers as one of several types of aircraft stationed there. There were also two squadrons of Bristol Beaufighter Torpedo Bombers that made up what was to be called The Strubby Strike Wing;  these squadrons regularly joined up with other Beaufighter squadrons from nearby airfields, to mount attacks on German shipping in the Southern North Sea, and they were very successful.

For my project, I wanted to get a feel for these aircraft and what the young men who flew them had to deal with on a daily basis; hence the Duxford visit.  It houses one of the few Beaufighters left. This aircraft deserves it’s place in history, for it’s crews tenacity in the job they had to do.  It wasn’t an easy aircraft to fly, but men as young as 19 were tasked for this, and took to it well.

In particular, a young 19 year old called Peter Le Brocq, who lost his life in a Beaufighter on 21st July 1944. He was one of a contingent of aircraft getting ready to take off that summer evening.  As this aircraft left the ground, and climbed,  one of the engines failed.  He made  the decision to find a safe place to release the torpedo, and return to the airfield.

As he came in to land, his remaining engine failed, and the aircraft crashed onto the runway.  Many people saw what was happening and ran to assist the crew, before the aircraft caught fire, bearing in mind the tanks were full. They managed to get the navigator out, and were attempting to extract the pilot, when the aircraft burst into flame. Peter’s legs were trapped by crushed metal, but despite valiant attempts to release him – causing his rescuers severe burns – he couldn’t be saved. A tragic accident in terrible circumstances. As with any loss of a young life, this caused immense shock to all who were there.

 There is a small memorial just inside the main gates at Strubby, which has a plaque placed on it to commemorate his short life.  It is cared for by a small group of people who have come to know his remaining family. Phil Le Brocq, his nephew who lives in the Channel islands, instigated the placing of the plaque in the 1990’s, has become close to Peter’s airforce colleagues over the years, few of which are sadly left. Peter’s life will not be forgotten, and his memorial stands next to a striking new memorial built to honour ALL who flew and were lost from Strubby during those last terrible years of war.”

You can find out more about RAF Strubby in this Facebook Group, which is run by Janet: https://www.facebook.com/groups/475149302600348/

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Janet in front of our Beaufighter.

Christmas Inspiration

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Stuck for  Christmas presents this year?  We  might just have the answer.

Offer 1: We  have  arranged the  following  limited offer.  By  kind permission of the Chief Engineer we  have the  following offer.

This is  limited to the  first  40  orders

Buy a limited edition Flying Legends Volume 1 Book and receive an opportunity to join The Fighter  Collection behind the scenes  for a personal guided tour.  Your tour will be on a Sunday  between January and  May  excluding any IWM event days or airshows.*   Click HERE to take advantage  of this offer

Offer 2: Buy  an original Flying Legends  polo shirt and  Flying Legends  baseball cap and you will  receive a years subscription to Friends of the  Fighter  Collection for just £1.

Click HERE to order

 

*Date subject to agreement, availability and all the usual bits like that.

October Hangar Catch up

camera Gladiator, Grumman Bearcat, Mustang TF-51, staggerwing, TFC, Wildcat

With the winter drawing ever closer, the flying season is has drawn to a close and so the engineers set about servicing the aircraft. Currently the Gladiator is in in a rather revealing mode with a  chance to catch some interesting internal detail, elswhere the Hellcat and Wildcat now carry engine  inhibited warnings.

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Among other happenings this week  one of our long standing engineers (and previously a volunteer) , Fred, has left for pastures new. TFC wish him all the best for the future.

Here he is  in characteristically cheerful mood after a backseat experience in Miss Velma:

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Talking of Miss V,  today she  was the subject of attention from the TFC  volunteer team:

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We also had a quick hangar shuffle with the Staggerwing:

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Legends – the true meaning

admin corsair, Grumman Bearcat, Grumman Hellcat, hawk, Kittty Hawk P-40F

On Thursday we  had a visitor  to the  hangar. John Cronin was a Fleet Air Arm pilot in 1945, completed his flying training on the Cornell and Harvard before going on to the Martlet (Wildcat) He managed eight deck landings on an aircraft carrier with a collapsed oleo “on the wrong side” which made the take-off swing even worse than normal.

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He then was posted to Tambaran near Madras (now Chennai) to fly the Hellcat, in preparation for the invasion of Japan. Whilst there, however, the hostilities came to an end and John gratefully returned to the UK and his life as an insurance salesman. Now 89 years young, he is still active, driving himself and brother Tom to Duxford today and although not able to get into the Hellcat this time it was a great pleasure to welcome him again.

You  can see  our aircraft    Legends such as John   flew  below as the aircraft are   nearly as active as John (including the Hellcat). Video as  caught at the   Duxford September  show.

 

Gladiator in the prizes

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Gloster Gladiator II G-GLAD takes second place in the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation concours d’elegance at Goodwood Revival. Even after a through preparation by the boys and girls at TFC, and a flyaway crew to add show sparkle on arrival at Goodwood, we were narrowly beaten into the runner up spot by a superbly detailed Cessna 195 Business Liner. The competition attracts some of the best pre-1966 aircraft from the UK and Europe. The (other) star attraction was the Hiller UH-12E4 helicopter from the 007 movie ‘Goldfinger’ flown by Bond girl ‘Pussy Galore’ played by Honor Blackman.  The trophy was received on behalf of Stephen Grey by TFC Engineer Joe Kennedy who was presented with the award by Lady March.

Gladiator plus trophy

 

You can read more about this in the Daily Telegraph feature -here

 

Where to find us this weekend

admin Grumman Hellcat, Kittty Hawk P-40F

OK, The DCS guys are in the hangar with P40, P-51, Fw190 demos and more. Friends of TFC are out by hangar 3 in a marquee thingy with merchandise, goodys , membership renewals and people who like to talk about old aeroplanes. The Fighter Collection have a few aeroplanes in the display, you can check out some of the practice the displays from today below:

 

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