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...

THE WICKENBY NEWSLETTER ~ JUNE

Last month, we introduced a new series: the Wickenby Register Newsletter.  The newsletters were printed twice yearly; they include information about 12 Squadron RAF, memories of service men and women, the occasional recipe, stories of times past… But perhaps the thing that spoke to both Mel and me was the inclusion of a poem on the back of each issue. Noel Coward‘s poem, written in 1943 ~     I’d also like to share a recipe for “Kidneys Garibaldi”.  It was introduced with the words, “This article will, hopefully, stimulate those among our number who lay claim to some degree of expertise in the grub-stakes department…”  Let us know what you think of the footnote!              ...

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...

BC HISTORICAL FEDERATION AWARD WINNER!

The Comox Air Force Museum Association is proud to announce that our Volunteer Coordinator and Programme Manager, Jon Ambler, recently received an award from the British Columbia Historical Federation.  Jon was selected for his exemplary work as Program manager and Volunteer Coordinator for the Comox Air Force Museum and his involvement in researching and promoting BC’s aviation history.   Under the leadership of our former Board of Directors’ president, Bill Cuell, the board placed Jon’s name in nomination for a Service Award.  In addition to his work as programme Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, Jon is involved in all things related to aviation history here in the Comox Valley and BC as a whole.  Our nomination letter included a number of of his contributions.  “In addition to performing his normal duties, Jon worked tirelessly over the past years to ensure that the Museum is front and center at many local cultural and historical events including the Cumberland Heritage Faire, the “Snowbirds” annual autograph signing session, the School District 71 Heritage Fair, numerous Meet and Greet events for the school district History and Social Studies teachers, the Battle of Britain ceremony and the associated heritage stone dedication ceremony, Empire Days activities in Cumberland, Comox Maritime Days in Comox, and the annual Canada Day parade in Courtenay.  Had it not been for his vision, diligence, commitment and extensive work with numerous staff, volunteers and the various local government representatives, the successful display of West Coast aviation history at these events would not be a reality. He expends an incredible amount of personal time on program development, creating and promoting programs and displays within the museum that...

WHO WAS THE MAN BEHIND THE DAM BUSTERS’ BOUNCING BOMB?

  Sir Barnes Neville Wallis CBE, FRS, RDI, FRAeS was an English scientist, engineer, and inventor.  Perhaps he was best known for inventing the bouncing bomb that was used by the Royal Air Force in Operation Chastise.  However, among other achievements, Wallis was known for his invention of the geodetic airframe and the earthquake bomb. Educated in London, Wallis left school at the age of 17 to start work at Thames Engineering Works; he then changed his apprenticeship to J. Samuel White’s, shipbuilders based on the Isle of Wight.  He first trained as a marine engineer and took a degree in engineering through the University of London External Programme (1922).  When an opportunity came for him to work on airship design and then aircraft design, he left J. Samuel White’s.  He worked for Vickers, later part of Vickers-Armstrongs, and then part of the British Aircraft Corporation.   Among his many achievements was the first use of geodetic design in engineering and the gasbag wiring of Vickers’ R100; at this time (1930), it was the largest airship ever designed.  Along with John Edwin Temple, he pioneered the use of light alloy and production engineering in the structural design of the R100.   At the Vickers aircraft factory at the Brooklands motor circuit and aerodrome in Surrey, he worked on pre-war aircraft designs with Rex Pierson; the Wellesley, the Wellington, and the later Warwick and Windsor employed Wallis’ geodetic design in the fuselage and wing structures.  It was considered one of the most robust airframes developed; pictures of the Wellington skeleton mostly shot away, was still sound enough to bring the crew...

“TWO BY MOONLIGHT”

You might recall a previous post in which I shared the unveiling of the K.O. Moore exhibit in our Main Gallery.   Wing Commander K.O. Moore DSO was certainly a hero of World War Two, earning an immediate Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and the US Silver Star by destroying two U-Boats in a 22 minute span.  The combat took place at night as he and his No 224 Squadron RAF crew, in a Very Long Range Liberator, were tasked with keeping NAZI U-Boats away from the D Day invasion fleet.  The U-Boats put up a hail of machine gun and cannon fire that he had to fly right through to complete his attack; he did so without flinching or failing.  His crew sent the enemy contact message: ‘ saw two subs, sunk same’!  He survived the war and went on to become an important RCAF leader in the post-War period. Recently, Dave O’Malley wrote the amazing story for Vintage Wings of Canada.  I thought you might like to read it on the Vintage Wings of Canada website.  Special thanks to Dave for his permission to share!  We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did here at the...

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