NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ THE SPITFIRE

One of the most common questions asked of us is, “What happened with the Spitfire?”  We’re now happy to report that Vintage Wings sent an update: “Last week, Spitfire TE294, the Roseland Spitfire, made its first flight after nearly two decades of steady progress. Click on this link to enjoy the official photos and video of the event.” If you have a thirst for all things Spitfire, check out these books and others that can be found in our Museum’s Library:   Jeremy Flack wrote Spitfire.  The inside cover reads, “The Supermarine Spitfire is the most famous of all British fighters.  Designed by Reginald J. Mitchell at a time when all serving RAF fighter aircraft were canvas-covered biplanes, the prototype first flew on 5 March 1936.  Over 20,000 Spitfires were to be produced in over 40 variants and it was used as a fighter, in the ground-attack and photo-reconnaissance roles and even - as the Seafire - from aircraft carriers. By the early 1960s, just a handful of Spitfires remained in flying condition and it was the making of the film The Battle of Britain which was to turn the tide on the extinction of airworthy Spitfires.  Today nearly 50 can be seen flying including those of the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight…     Birth of a Legend - The Spitfire was written by Jeffrey Quill.  Quill’s book celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Spitfire’s first flight with this volume.  “The achievements of the fighter pilots ensured that the Spitfire became a legend in its own time.  No other aircraft has ever enjoyed quite the same charisma nor engendered the...
NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ THE LANCASTER

NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ THE LANCASTER

Did you know that our Museum Library has over 8500 books?  Our collection is used by our visitors, by folks coming into the Museum to do research, by volunteers, and by those of you looking for titles related to topics of interest.  If you’re not able to come into the Museum personally, perhaps your community library would have these titles, or perhaps you might like to purchase them from your favourite bookstore in order to have them in your home library. The titles I’m sharing with you this time are focussed on the Lancaster:   Written by Leo McKinstry, who also wrote Spitfire: Portrait of a Legend, Lancaster: The Second World War’s Greatest Bomber has a close look at the place of the Lancaster in air history.  “The Lancaster and the Spitfire were the RAF’s two weapons of victory in the Second World War.  But without the bomber, Britain would never have been able to take the fight to the German homeland.  Lancaster highlights the scale of the plane’s achievements, including the famous Dambusters attacks, and how it transformed the effectiveness of Bomber Command. With the first-hand accounts from surviving pilots, engineers and ground crews, this is a compelling saga which cements the plane’s special place in our history.”   FM159, The Lucky Lancaster was authored by Dave Birrell.  This is “one of 7377 Avro Lancasters built to wage war against the Nazis…now one of only four taxiable Lancasters in the world.  It has flown widely over the Pacific, the Atlantic, and to the northern-most point in Canada; has been only weeks away from being scrapped; was towed by a truck...

WHO WAS THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE DAM BUSTERS’ RAID?

Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson, VC, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, was the first commanding officer of the Royal Air Force’s No. 617 Squadron; he led the Dam Busters‘ raid (Operation Chastise) in 1943.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross, and in June 1943, became the most highly decorated serviceman in the country.  By the age of 26, he had completed over 170 operations. From an early age, Gibson wanted to fly; he kept a picture of his boyhood hero, Albert Ball, VC, the First World War flying ace, on his bedroom wall.  His ambition was to become a civilian test pilot so he wrote to Vickers asking for advice.  He received a reply from their chief test pilot, who told Gibson he should first learn to fly by joining the RAF on a short service commission.  Gibson applied to the RAF but was rejected after he failed the Medical Board (the probable reason is that his legs were too short).  However, he applied again and this time it was successful; his personal file included the remark ‘satisfactory leg length test carried out’.  And so he began a short service commission in November of 1936. Gibson began his flying training at the Bristol Flying School with No. 6 Flying Training Course.  After some leave, he moved to No. 24 (Training) Group at RAF Uxbridge for his RAF basic training.  He was commissioned with the rank of acting pilot officer effective January 31, 1937.  He underwent further training as a member of the junior section of No. 5 Flying Training course at 6 Flying Training School, RAF Netheravon, and...
NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ BUSH PILOTS

NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ BUSH PILOTS

Bush flying refers to aircraft operations carried out in the bush. Bush flying involves operations in rough terrain where there are often no prepared landing strips or runways, frequently necessitating that bush planes be equipped with abnormally large tires, floats or skis. Our Museum Library has a number of books related to bush pilots.  If you live locally, come in and have a look at the table display; if you have an interest in the topic, but don’t live near our Museum, you might want to see if these titles are available in your community library:   Pilots of the Purple Twilight is written by Philip Godsell.  The author begins his story “with the Junker that crash landed at Fort Simpson in 1921 and follows the lives of Canada’s first bush flyers, taking readers on a ride through the first three decades of bush flying…”  Included are stories of “lost planes and lost men, mercy flights, hermits and fur traders, prospectors and mounties, as well as the myth of the tropical medicine valley of the Nahannis.”         Peter Boer wrote Bush Pilots ~ Canada’s Wilderness Daredevils.  He recounts stories of adventurers who put their lives in danger to “bring supplies and civilization to isolated Canadian communities.  Some of these include: Wop May, a WWI ace who traded fire with the infamous Red Baron delivers emergency serum to an isolated village. Jack Caldwell was unable to pull out of a spin on a test flight and jumped out of his plane, becoming the first Canadian pilot to parachute to safety.   Chuck McAvoy mysteriously disappeared in a remote corner...

THE DAM BUSTERS ~ THE CANADIAN CONNECTION

As mentioned in my previous post, Canadians played a major role in the Dams Raid.  “Of the 133 airmen involved in the raid, 30 were Canadian.  Fourteen were killed during the raid; one became a prisoner of war.  Exactly 50% of the Canadians who took off didn’t return. Four who survived were later killed in action during the war.” (Bomber Command Museum).  I’m sharing just two of the many stories in this post.     One of the most well known of the Canadian group was not Canadian by birth.  This was Joe McCarthy.  Born in New York, he tried unsuccessfully tried to join the Army Air Corps. In May 1941, Joe’s friend Don Curtin, suggested they head to Canada to join the Royal Canadian Air Force.  They were sent to the Manning Depot in Toronto.  Joe trained in Goderich and Brantford, then received his commission in December 1941. After Christmas, he sailed from Halifax; eleven days later, he and his fellow aircrew arrived in Liverpool.  Further training took place with the No. 12 Advanced Flying Unit and the No. 14 Operational Training Unit.  In September of 1942, he was assigned to No. 97 Squadron RAF; it was here that he met W/C Gibson.  Just as McCarthy was completing his tour, he received a call from Gibson telling him that a new squadron was being formed and that he was inviting Joe and his crew to join.  They made their first flight with the new squadron in March of 1943.  After weeks of intensive and low level training, he and his crew almost failed to get airborne in the...

NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ THE DAM BUSTERS

  Operation Chastise was an attack on German dams carried out May 16 and 17, 1943 by the RAF Squadron No. 617; the squadron was later referred to as the “Dam Busters”.           Before WWII, the British Air Ministry had identified Germany’s industrialized the Ruhr Valley and specifically its dams as important strategic targets.  As well as providing hydro-electric power and pure water needed for steel making, the dams supplied drinking water and water for the canal transport system.  The methods chosen to attack the dams had been carefully selected.  Calculations indicated that repeated air strikes with large bombs could be effective, but this required a degree of accuracy Bomber Command had yet been unable to attain. A specially developed “bouncing bomb” that had been invented by Barnes Wallis was used for the attacks.  His idea was to use a drum-shaped bomb (a specially designed heavy depth charge).  It would spin backwards and would be dropped at a low altitude for the correct speed and release point, skipping for a distance over the surface of the water in a series of bounces before reaching the dam wall.  The residual spin would run the bomb down the side of the dam toward its underwater base.  Using a hydrostatic fuse, an accurate drop would bypass the dam’s defences, then enable the bomb to explode against the dam some distance below the surface of the water:         The Squadron was divided into 3 formations to attack. Formation No. 1’s mission was to attack the Mohne and then the Eder.  Following a successful attack on the Mohne,...

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