54 -eskader (RAF): Tweede Wêreldoorlog

54 -eskader (RAF): Tweede Wêreldoorlog

54 -eskader (RAF) tydens die Tweede Wêreldoorlog

Vliegtuie - Plekke - Groep en plig - Boeke

No 54 -eskader het die hele Tweede Wêreldoorlog deur die Supermarine Spitfire gehardloop. Gedurende 1940 het dit gehelp om die ontruimings van Duinkerken te beskerm en het dit deelgeneem aan die Slag van Brittanje, voordat dit in die somer van 1942 na Australië verhuis het nadat dit die ergste van die Japannese aanvalle was.

No.54 Squadron is hervorm as 'n vegvliegtuig eskader in 1930, met 'n reeks tweedraaiers totdat dit in Maart 1939 sy eerste Spitfires ontvang het. Die Spitfire -eskaders is as te kosbaar beskou om na Frankryk te stuur, en daarom het nr.54 die eerste paar maande van die oorlog die verdedigingspatrollies deurgebring.

Dit was 'n ernstige gevegsdebuut tydens die ontruiming van Duinkerke, toe 'n aansienlike deel van die RAF se Spitfire -eskaders gebruik is om te keer dat Duitse bomwerpers die strande bereik. Die eskader speel toe 'n groot rol in die eerste helfte van die Slag om Brittanje, en moes uiteindelik in September noordwaarts na Yorkshire verskuif word om te herstel. Die eskader het in Februarie 1941 na die suidkus teruggekeer en tot November deelgeneem aan die duur vegvliegtuie oor Noord -Frankryk.

In Junie 1942, na 'n onderbreking van ses maande in Skotland, vertrek No.54 -eskader na Australië, as deel van 'n Spitfire -vleuel wat gestuur is om die noordkus teen Japannese aanvalle te beskerm. Alhoewel die eskader teen Augustus in plek was, is sy vliegtuie voortdurend na die Midde -Ooste herlei, en nr. 54 het eers in Januarie 1943 teruggekeer om te veg. Teen hierdie tyd het die dreigement van Japannese aanval teruggekeer, en die aanvalle het in Julie gestop. , maar die eskader het tot aan die einde van die oorlog in Australië gebly.

Vliegtuie
Maart 1939-Februarie 1941: Supermarine Spitfire I
Februarie-Mei 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA
Mei-Augustus 1941: Supermarine Spitfire VA
Augustus 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA
Junie-November 1941: Supermarine Spitfire VB
November 1941-Maart 1942: Supermarine Spitfire IIB
Maart-Mei 1942: Supermarine Spitfire VB
September 1942-Mei 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VC
Maart 1944-September 1945: Supermarine Spitfire VIII

Ligging
Junie 1931-Mei 1940: Hornchurch
Oktober 1939-Maart 1940: Afdelings na Rochford
Mei-Junie 1940: Catterick
Junie 1940: Hornchurch
Junie-Julie 1940: Rochford
Julie 1940: Hornchurch
Julie-Augustus 1940: Catterick
Augustus-September 1940: Hornchurch
September 1940-Februarie 1941: Catterick
Februarie-Maart 1941: Hornchurch
Maart-Mei 1941: Southend
Mei-Junie 1941: Hornchurch
Junie 1941: Debden
Junie-Augustus 1941: Hornchurch
Augustus 1941: Martlesham Heath
Augustus-November 1941: Hornchurch
November 1941-Junie 1942: Castletown
Junie 1942: Wellingore

Augustus 1942-Januarie 1943: Richmond (Australië)
Januarie 1943-Junie 1944: Darwin
Junie-Oktober 1944: Livingstone
Oktober 1944-September 1945: Darwin
September-Oktober 1945: Melbourne

Eskader kodes: KL, DL

Plig
1939-1942: Fighter Command
1942-1945: Fighter Wing, Australië

Boeke

Boekmerk die bladsy: Heerlik Facebook Struikel


Hornchurch Aerodrome Historical Trust

Die jaar 1939 begin rustig genoeg met 'n besoek aan die vliegveld deur twee-en-twintig offisiere van die 2de infanteriedivisie van die Aldershot-bevel van die Britse leër. Hulle het op die Imperial Airways -voering 'Hannibal' aangekom om na 'n taktiese oefening te kyk.
Gedurende die volgende paar maande het Hornchurch beide Franse en Roemeense missies vermaak, sowel as 'n Siamese militêre kontingent om die bestuur van 'n Britse RAF -vegstasie aan te toon.
Die 'Home Defense Exercise' het vroeg in Augustus plaasgevind as 'n voorspel van die komende dinge.

Die volgende is 'n uittreksel uit die stasiedagboek vir einde Augustus en begin September1939:

22.8.39 Instruksies ontvang om alle offisiere bo die rang van vliegluitenant te herroep.
23.8.39 Alle gewone personeel word uit verlof herroep.
24.8.39 Stasie -verdedigingskema in werking gestel en alle vliegtuie van eskaders het posisies ingeneem by verspreidingspunte. Camouflage van alle geboue wat deur Works and Buildings begin is, met die operasiekamer wat deurlopend beman is met 'n geraamte.
25.8.39 vyftien offisiere het opgedaag vir oorlogsafsprake.
26.8.39 Sekere oorlogvoertuie wat van Wembley afgehaal is.
27.8.39 Klas E- en vrywilligersreservaatpersoneel begin opdaag.
28.8.39 het een offisier en vier-en-veertig man van die National Defense Guard aangekom om die personeel van die stasie te versterk.
31.8.39 Splintervaste bokse wat deur werke en geboue in die hangvensters geplaas is.
1.9.39 Operasionele kamer word deurlopend beman met volledige personeel.
2.9.39 Algemene mobilisering van die Royal Air Force, insluitend die hulplugmag en reserwes.

'N Baie seldsame gesig op die vliegveld van Hornchurch, 'n Hawker Hurricane wat op die voorskoot geparkeer was met 'n Miles Magister -vliegtuig op die agtergrond, hierdie foto is vroeg in 1939 geneem.Foto bron, Percy Morfill.

Op 1 Augustus 1939 het 250 kadette van die Office Training Corps Air Section aangekom om rond te kyk na die vliegveld. Toe hulle die geleentheid kry om die nuwe Spitfires van 54 eskader, vooroorlogse DL-kode, te sien, toon hulle almal 'n baie groot belangstelling in die nuwe masjiene.Foto bron, Keystone.

Alhoewel daar nou oorlog verklaar is met Duitsland, was die vliegveld gasheer vir 'n filmspan van die London Film Productions, wat 'n paar vliegreekse met B 'vlug van 74 eskader geskiet het, maar die semi -dokumentêre film draai om die lewe in vegter en bomwerpers en was getiteld 'The Lion Has Wings' met Merle Oberon en Ralph Richardson.

Slegs drie dae na die oorlog, op die oggend van 6 September 1939, is 'n enkele vliegtuig wat van patrollie oor die Engelse Kanaal teruggekeer is deur die 11 groepsbeheerders by Uxbridge, die Hurricanes van 56 Squadron, gebaseer by RAF North, beplan Weald, is geskarrel om die aanvaller te onderskep. Nie een van die betrokke vlieëniers het nog ooit gevegte gesien nie en byna seker nie een van hulle het nog nooit 'n vyandelike vliegtuig in hierdie vroeë stadium van die oorlog gesien nie.

Hierdie foto wys vlieëniers voor die oorlog neem 'n blaaskans buite die hoofhanger by Hornchurch tussen die vliegoefening op 1 Augustus 1939, net 'n maand voordat vyandelikhede begin het. Foto bron, Getty Images.

'N Informele groep geskiet van 65 eskadervlieëniers in Hornchurch in 1939. Foto bron, die Australiese Oorlogsmonument. 'N Uitsig oor die oostelike grens van die vliegveld op 3 September 1939, die dag waarop oorlog verklaar is. Kloktente is opgerig deur 65 eskader wat tydens die verspreiding versprei is, gereed vir die volgende stap van die Duitsers. Foto bron, Percy Morfill.

Die orkane van 56 eskader het verdeeld geraak in hul soektog na die sogenaamde 'indringer', en op hul beurt is hierdie vliegtuie as '8216hostile' en '8217 geplant en kort voor lank het die Ops Room-tafel in Uxbridge deurmekaar geraak met ‘hostile ’ erwe. As gevolg hiervan is verdere eskaders geskarrel om ondersoek in te stel en Spitfires van 54, 65 en 74 eskaders uit Hornchurch is uitgestuur.

Toe die Spitfires van 74 Squadron's A ’ Flight, onder leiding van ‘ Matroos ’ Malan een van hierdie verdagte komplotte sien, beveel Malan 'Tally Ho' oor die radio, wat die universele sein was om aan te val. Byna sodra hy die bevel gegee het, het hy besef dat hy 'n fout gemaak het en dat die ‘hostile ’ vliegtuie eintlik twee van die Hurricanes van 56 eskader was. In die daaropvolgende geveg is albei orkane neergeskiet en hoewel die een vlieënier veilig gebal het, het die ander 26-jarige vlieënierkantoor Montague Hulton-Harrop die ongelukkige onderskeid gehad dat dit die eerste RAF-vlieënier was wat oor Engeland neergeskiet en vermoor is. tydens die Tweede Wêreldoorlog, hoewel aan sy kant.

Koning George VI wens Flight Lieutenant Alan Deere van 54 eskader geluk met sy toekenning van die Distinguished Flying Cross wat by RAF Hornchurch oorhandig is. Hoofbevelvoerder van die lugoffisier, vegterkommando. Foto bron, Imperial War Museum.

Pilot Officer Johnny Allen van 54 Squadron ontvang die DFC van King George VI in Hornchurch op 27 Junie 1940. Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding Air Officer Commander-in-Chief, Fighter Command, wat in die middel staan, net agter die koning met sy hande agter sy rug vasgemaak. Foto bron, Imperial War Museum.

Byrne en Freeborn by die terugkeer by Hornchurch is in hegtenis geneem en vinnig voor 'n krygshof gebring. Gelukkig is albei mans vrygespreek, want dit het duidelik geword dat in die deurmekaar atmosfeer wat op die dag heers, dit onmoontlik was om die skuld toe te ken. Hierdie hele aangeleentheid het egter in sommige oorde tot aansienlike ongesteldheid gelei. Malan het in die krygsraad vir die vervolging verskyn en Freeborn daarvan beskuldig dat hy onverantwoordelik was en dat hy bevele geïgnoreer het. Freeborn, aan die ander kant, het geglo dat Malan sy eie rug bedek, en inderdaad tydens die hofverrigtinge het Freeborn se advokaat, sir Patrick Hastings, Malan daarvan beskuldig dat hy 'n leuenaar was. ' nadat die krygsraad opgehou het, het die twee mans saam in die 74 -eskader diens gedoen, hoewel die verhoudings tussen die twee nie verbasend herstel het nie.

Die voorval het bekend geword as die 'Battle of Barking Creek', hoewel die aksie plaasgevind het op die platteland van Essex, nie naby Barking Creek nie, maar omdat hierdie onaantreklike kenmerk van Oos -Londen die agterkant was van verskeie musiekhokke van die tyd, was dit waarskynlik onvermydelik dat hierdie misverstand sou dus gedoop word deur die rang en akte van die RAF, wat soos altyd humor in teëspoed getoon het.

Koning George VI skud hande met Flight Lieutenant Dickie Lee nadat hy sy DSO- en DFC -medaljes aan hom oorhandig het. Foto bron, Imperial War Museum.

Flight Lieutenant Dickie Lee, nadat hy die DSO en DFC toegeken is, en die vlieënde offisier Kenneth Blair, nadat hy die DFC toegeken is, deur koning George VI by RAF Hornchurch. Die toekennings is toegeken vir hul uitstekende diens as vegvlieëniers met 85 eskader oor Frankryk tydens die ontruimings in Duinkerken. Foto bron, Imperial War Museum.

Dus, na die dramatiese begin van September, het dinge in 'n lang tydperk van onaktiwiteit vir die Hornchurch-eskaders begin sak, aangesien hul dagboekinskrywings die daaropvolgende weke van die anti-klimaks toon in 'n wagspel vir die vyand om sy volgende skuif. Daar is gedurende Oktober en selfs vroeg in 1940 geen kontak gemaak nie, 'n tydperk wat bekend sou staan ​​as die 'Phoney War'.

Teen Mei 1940 marsjeer die Duitse oorlogsmasjien oor die Nederlandse, Belgiese en Franse grensmanne wat die Britse ekspedisiemag na die kus agtervolg en die Britte binne enkele weke op die strande van Duinkerken verdryf, omring deur die Duitse leër. Terwyl 'Operation Dynamo' in Engeland in werking gestel is, het die plan om soveel troepe as moontlik onder die neuse van die Duitsers te ontruim met behulp van 'n vloot van klein bote en vlootoorlogskepe met lugondersteuning deur eskaders wat veral vlieg van RAF Hornchurch. Hierdie lugfoto was 'n voorspel vir die komende dinge; dit sou ook huishoudelike name maak van baie van die jong vlieëniers wat hierdie gevaarlike uitstappies vlieg.

'N Uittreksel uit die toespraak van premier Winston Churchill wat op 18 Junie 1940 by die Laerhuis gelewer is, wat ons hierdie nou beroemde woorde gegee het. 'Wat generaal Weygand die Slag van Frankryk genoem het, is verby. Ek verwag dat die Slag van Brittanje op die punt staan ​​om te begin. Op hierdie stryd hang die voortbestaan ​​van die Christelike beskawing af. Daarop hang ons eie Britse lewe en die lang kontinuïteit van ons instellings en ons ryk af '. 'Laat ons ons dus toewy aan ons pligte, en so moet ons ons gedra dat as die Britse Ryk en sy Statebond duisend jaar duur, mense steeds sal sê', 'Dit was hul beste uur.'

Na 'n prysuitdeling in Hornchurch, juig die versierde vlieëniers koning George VI. Hulle is, (van links na regs): vlieëniersoffisier Johnny Allen, vliegluitenant Robert Stanford Tuck, vliegluitenant Alan Deere, vlugluitenant Adolph Malan, eskaderleier James Leathart en 'n RAF -afwerper. Foto bron, Imperial War Museum.

54 -eskader (RAF): Tweede Wêreldoorlog - Geskiedenis

DIE GESKIEDENIS VAN RAF AKROTIRI 1955 - 2005

Die geskiedenis van RAF Akrotiri het op 1 Julie 1 1955 begin toe die eerste 30 personeellede wat by die 'eenheid' gepos is, hulself gevestig het in die plat, droë, rotsagtige struikgewas op die winderige Akrotiri -skiereiland. Die lughawe van Nicosia is tydelik gesluit as gevolg van terreuraktiwiteite, en die hantering van die burgerlike lugvaart op die eiland is na Akrotiri herlei - met 'n tente 'ontvangsentrum vir burgerlike lughawens'. 'N RAF Regiment Light Anti-Aircraft Wing is ook ingebring. Einde Augustus 1956 het die krag van die stasie 260 offisiere en 2864 ander geledere bereik: 'n massiewe toename in 12 maande. Dit het 1430 personeel op die daaglikse siekteparade meegebring, hoofsaaklik as gevolg van die oorvol en onhigiëniese toestande, aangesien konstruksie agtergebly het op die onvoorsiene vraag na verblyf. Vanaf die rowwe begin met karavane en modderpaadjies is die stasie aangelê, paaie gemaak, hangars en 'n paar permanente geboue gebou. Drie nuwe kaserneblokke is oopgemaak sodat nog 32 gesinne op die stasie in die voorheen wanbestande huwelike kon woon.

'N Klein teaterklub bestaan, en langs Ladies' Mile is die seilklub gestig. In sy eerste 12 maande as 'n funksionerende operasionele vliegveld, het RAF Akrotiri nie net oorleef nie, maar uitgebrei en floreer. Alhoewel dit voortdurend op die een of ander manier deur die EOKA -probleme geraak word en met meer as 'n kwart van die jaar op 'n volle oorlogsposisie vir die Suez -krisis deurgebring is, was die moreel hoog en was die pioniersgees nog sterk.

Met Kersfees 1963 was die stasie nog 'n keer gereed vir die eerste probleme tussen die Grieks en die Turks-Cypriotiese gemeenskappe, wat skaars drie jaar nadat die Republiek sy onafhanklikheid verkry het, plaasgevind het. Die volgende jaar sou nog 'n verandering wees. Raketbewapende, all-weather-vegters, bekend as Javelins, het aangekom om die bestaande lugverdedigingsvermoë uit te brei, met weerlig-onderskeppers om dit te versterk.
Geen vlug van 1563 het met Whirlwind-helikopters aangekom vir kommunikasie en soek-en-reddingspligte nie. RAF Transport Command het die burgerlike troepeverbintenis tussen die Verenigde Koninkryk en Ciprus oorgeneem en besluit om RAF Akrotiri as die terminale vliegveld te gebruik in plaas van Nicosia.

In Januarie 1969 is die Canberra -bomwerpers uit diens geneem en die vier eskaders van Akrotiri is ontbind. In hul plek kom 2 eskaders Vulcan Bombers uit die VK om die CENTO Strike Force te onderhou.

Dit was 'n besige jaar by RAF Akrotiri en die Stasie sien uit na 'n meer ontspanne somer. Maar toe kom 2 Augustus 1990 en die stasie bevind hom in die middel van die Golfoorlog -aktiwiteite. Operasie Granby was aan die gang. Die jaar was reeds vol aktiwiteite vir RAF Akrotiri. 'N Volledige program van bewapeningskampe (APC's) was bedek met 'n reeks ander intensiewe operasionele en opleidingsafdelings, wat uitloop op ons gebruik as ontvangsvliegveld en Forward Mounting Base for Exercise Purple Venture 90. Hierdie volskaalse Command Post Oefening het ongeveer 600 personeellede by die oprigting van 'n twee-ster-gewrig behels. Force HQ Akrotiri vir die veronderstelde ontplooiing van 'n tweebrigade-mag buite die gebied. RAF Akrotiri sien uit na Augustus wanneer 'n skerp afname in beplande aktiwiteite personeel die geleentheid sou gee om asem te haal en kort te ontspan - toe kom 2 Augustus. Toe die stasie by hierdie geleentheid gevra is om die behoefte aan versterkingspersoneel om 24-uur-operasies te onderhou, te bevestig, was die stasie nie te opgewonde nie. Toe die eerste van hierdie versterkings binne 96 uur aankom, bevestig dit wat almal destyds besef het - dit was geen roetine -beplanning nie, maar die eerste stappe in wat bekend sou staan ​​as Operations GRANBY, DESERT STORM, DESERT SHIELD, BESKIK COMFORT en HET. Gelyktydig met die versoek om versterkingsvereistes te hersien, het 'n stroom ander bevele en instruksies vanaf MOD en HQ Strike Command begin aankom.

Die belangrikste was die bevel om die omskakeling van die APC-eskader, wat toe in die trein was tussen die Tornado F3-toegeruste nr. 5 en nr. 29-eskaders, te vries. Na woelige voorbereidings het 12 vliegtuie en 20 bemannings op 11 Augustus na Dhahran ontplooi. Binne 2 uur na hul aankoms in die teater het sommige van hierdie vliegtuie Air Defense (AD) patrollies gemonteer en sodoende die eerste Britse eenhede geword wat aangekom het. Terug by Akrotiri, op 11/12 Augustus, het die vervoer van 12 Jaguars vanaf No 54 -eskader onderweg na Thumrait, terwyl RAF Germany Phantoms, op 17 Augustus 6, afkomstig van nommer 19 en 92 -eskaders, opgedaag het om 'n belangrike element van ons eie te wees ontluikende AD -stelsel. Dit is verder versterk deur die aankoms van No 20 Squadron RAF Regiment toegerus met Blindfire Rapier SAM's. Besoekende personeel van die Air Defense Ground Environment uit die Verenigde Koninkryk, wat saam met personeel van die hoofkantoor British Forces Cyprus en 280 Signals Unit werk, het vinnig 'n uitgebreide AD -organisasie ontwikkel, terwyl plaaslike operasionele personeel vliegtuigverspreiding en plaaslike lugverdedigingsplanne opgestel het. Teen die einde van die maand het 'n verdere ontplooiing van F11's van die 11 -eskader deur Akrotiri gegaan om vliegtuie en bemannings te vervang uit die oorspronklike Dhahran -afdeling, wat daarna via Ciprus na die Verenigde Koninkryk herstel het. Augustus het ook die vervoer van Nimrod Maritime Patrol Aircraft onderweg na Seeb geneem, terwyl ander Nimrods aangekom het om vanaf Akrotiri te werk. Baie van hierdie operasies behels Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) -ondersteuning, en gedurende hierdie ontplooiingsfase het 'n konstante stroom Tri-Star-, VC10- en Victor-tenkwaens deur Ciprus gegaan. Intussen het die Air Transport (AT) -mag van Tri-Star, VC10 en Hercules intensiewe glipoperasies deur Akrotiri begin. Die AT -poging, wat verder aangevul is deur 'n groot verskeidenheid burgerlike handves en lugvervoervliegtuie van 'n ander land, was om die belangrikste patroon van lugoperasies by Akrotiri te bepaal. Op verskillende vlakke van intensiteit het AT-operasies voortgegaan vanaf die aanvanklike ontplooiingsfase deur middel van embargo-operasies tot militêre opbou, ondersteuning vir vyandelikhede, onttrekking en uiteindelik hulp aan Koerdiese vlugtelinge in Noord-Irak en Turkye.

Sommige statistieke van hierdie enorme taak kan die impak daarvan op Akrotiri illustreer. Byvoorbeeld, in April 1990 het 84 AT -bewegings plaasgevind, terwyl Oktober 1460 meegebring het. Totale vliegtuigbewegings in Oktober op 3162 was die hoogste sedert die konflik in Ciprus in 1974. So 'n toename in aktiwiteitsvlakke het 'n uitwerking op elke element by RAF Akrotiri gehad. Terwyl die personeel van die stasie die swaarste gedra het om die vliegveld na 24 uur-operasies te bring, het die koms en integrasie van versterkingspersoneel beteken dat die meeste afdelings na ongeveer 2 weke volhoubare werkpatrone in drie skofte kon aanneem. Gekonfronteer met die toestroming van versterkings en losmaakplekke en die groot deurvoer van spanne, het bestuur van akkommodasie iets van 'n deurlopende nagmerrie geword. Stapelbeddegoed en kamerverdeling soms met tot 16 mense in standaardkamers het die norm geword, en sommige onwaarskynlike gebiede is in gebruik geneem, met matrasse op die vloere, om as noodverblyf te dien. Die stelsel was erg uitgerek, maar die stasie hoef nooit na tente te gaan nie, en hoewel baie kliënte moontlik nie gemaklik was nie, het niemand sonder 'n bed gegaan nie. Die voorsiening vir sulke getalle op 24-uur basis het ook groot probleme opgelewer, waarop rekordvrae vir maaltye tydens die vlug oorgelê is. Rekeningkunde ten opsigte van mannekrag en geld het ook nuwe uitdagings meegebring. Terwyl hulle die intensiewe vliegveldbedrywighede ondersteun, het ingenieurs- en verskaffingspersoneel hul eie berge gehad om op te klim. In 'n baie kort tydsbestek het die Armourers hulself beheer oor een van die grootste bomhope in die RAF - vinnig herwin uit die gebruik van vredestyd deur die pogings van 'n plaaslik gebaseerde eskader van Royal Engineers and Property Services Agency. By die in- en uitlaai van die stortingsterreine was al drie dienste betrokke by intensiewe werk wat ondersteuning vir die aanvalsvliegtuie verseker het. Die Joint Supply Unit het die groot uitdaging aangegaan om rekordhoeveelhede vliegtuigbrandstof te ontvang, op te slaan en te bestuur, terwyl sy voortgesette toevoertake voortgegaan het.
Die normale weeklikse uitgawe van AVGAS is 960 kubieke meter in Granby, dit het gestyg tot 'n weeklikse gemiddelde van 4715 kubieke meter. Tussen 1 - 27 Januarie 1991 is meer brandstof uitgegee as in die hele 1989. Namate die moontlikheid van vyandelikhede al hoe nader toegeneem het en Britse landmagte toegewy was aan die multi -nasionale mag van die VN wat Irak in die gesig staar, is planne ontwikkel om moontlike ongevalle te hanteer. . 'N Komplekse ontploffingstelsel is ingestel en mediese dienste en fasiliteite by Akrotiri is ten volle toegewy. Die Princess Mary's RAF-hospitaal (TPMH) het uitgebrei van die normale kapasiteit van 60 beddens tot die volle kapasiteit van 200 beddens deur die normale slaapplekke weer te aktiveer en toe te rus. Britse en Belgiese mediese spanne het TPMH -personeel versterk. Terselfdertyd is 'n 300-bed Low Care Transit Facility (LCTF) in 'n groot stoorgebou langs die vliegveld opgerig om daagliks tot 300 pasiënte te vervoer wat in die C130-vliegtuie van die Golf af oorgaan en na burgerlike Boeing 737's by Akrotiri.

Die Stasie Mediese Sentrum is versterk om dekking te bied vir die groot toename in die Akrotiri -bevolking, en ook om die SMO die fokuspunt te kon word vir die bestuur van al die verskillende aspekte van die lugtaak. Dit het gewissel van die opleiding van plaaslike weermag- en RAF -personeel as draagbaars, tot die bestuur van die 150 lugdienspersoneel wat na Akrotiri ontplooi is om mediese dekking vir vlugte na en van die Golf en die Verenigde Koninkryk te bied, tot die opstel van die nodige dokumentasiesel. Akrotiri was die enigste skakel in die vliegmediese ketting waar 'n 100% -kontrole op die pasiënte se manifeste op vliegtuie gedoen kon word om die mediese ontruimingsel van die Britse landmagte in staat te stel Britse bestemmingshospitale aan te wys. Ongeveer 800 pasiënte het tydens die Granby deur die ketting gegaan, die werklike slagoffers was genadiglik min, en dit was met groot verligting dat die mediese fasiliteite vinnig ontbind is nadat die vyandigheid gestaak is. Die LCTF, wat ongeveer 17000 voorraaditems benodig het, is binne 24 uur omskep in die lokaal vir Akrotiri se oorwinningspartytjie! RAF Akrotiri, in gemeen met alle ander fasiliteite van die Britse magte, het 'n hoë waarskuwing van die Internal Security (IS) aangeneem.

Die destydse inwoner 34-eskader-RAF-regiment en RAF-polisiepersoneel het operasies in 'n hoër profiel uitgevoer; dit behels die bemanning van ekstra waarnemingsposte, 'n vinnige ontplooiing van kontrolepunte en patrollies deur die inwoner Wessex van No 84 Squadron. Daar is ook 'n groter patrolleer van alle benaderings, insluitend ons uitgebreide kuslyn. Die 'professionele' IS -magte is aangevul deur elemente van die Station Guard Force (SGF), 'n spesiaal opgeleide groep wat in totaal ongeveer 100 personeellede uit alle afdelings en eenhede regoor die stasie getrek het. SGF -ontplooiing het aansienlike ekstra mannekragvereistes aan reeds uitgerekte eenhede gestel, maar die gebruik daarvan tydens die operasie het die defensiewe houding aansienlik verbeter. IS-operasies was verder ingewikkeld toe, soos geklimatiseerde troepe, No 34-eskader in gereedheid gebring is om in twee groepe van die half-eskader na die Golf gestuur te word. Met verloop van tyd is hulle by Akrotiri vervang deur RAF Regiment No 2 Squadron, en begin September is die eerste van No 34 Squadron -elemente wat na Bahrein ontplooi is om die weermag vir die RAF -afdeling in Muharraq te vorm. Die tweede element is vroeg in Oktober in Dhahran ontplooi, waar hulle deel geword het van 'n drie-nasionale Saoedi-Amerikaanse, Amerikaanse/Britse magte wat die lugbasis en akkommodasieverbindings verdedig het. Geen 34-eskader het na Akrotiri teruggekeer en na 'n kort tydjie verlof die verantwoordelikheid vir die eksterne verdediging van Akrotiri, IS, middel Desember hervat.

Die uitbreek van die Golfoorlog op 16 Januarie 16 1991 het gelei tot 'n verdere toename in die veiligheidstate van Ciprus en weereens was alle weermagte sterk verbind tot die IS -taak. In die besonder het die Wessex van No 84 Squadron 'n styging van 50% in vliegkoerse en 'n viervoudige toename in aantal vliegtuie op bystand onderneem, insluitend vliegtuie wat na ander belangrike plekke in die Sovereign Base Areas losgemaak is. Die see-verdediging is versterk deur die aankoms van drie snelpatrolliebote van die RN Attacker-klas, wie se hoë profiel-patrollering van SBA-waters, tesame met die bedrywighede van die aangehegte Nimrod MPA, maritieme afskrikvermoëns aansienlik verhoog het. Die einde van die vyandelikhede bring 'n welkome terugkeer na meer normale operasies vir die IS -magte. Die herstel van magte uit die Golf en die daaropvolgende operasies vir Koerdiese verligting en afskrikking van verdere Irakse aggressie, het egter beteken dat die vliegveld 'n geruime tyd na die konflik 24 uur operasies ondersteun het. Die bestaan ​​van die Ciprus-basisse en hul onmiddellike beskikbaarheid om grootskaalse ontplooiings na die Midde-Ooste te ondersteun, was kritieke faktore om Brittanje in staat te stel om vinnig militêre hulp te verleen aan VN-operasies in die Golfkonflik.

Teen die einde van 2002 lyk dit asof die Midde -Ooste weer eens in die media se kollig sou wees. Die dreigement van die gebruik van wapens van massavernietiging (WMD) deur Irakse magte onder die diktatuur van Saddam Hussein het bewys dat die Amerikaanse departement van verdediging en die Britse ministerie van verdediging dit nodig ag om planne op te stel vir 'n moontlike Golfoorlog II. Dit was glad nie 'n verrassing vir die inwoners van RAF Akrotiri dat hierdie eensame eiland in die ooste van die Middellandse See grootliks in hierdie planne sou neerkom nie.
Hierdie planne het werklikheid geword, operasie IRAQI FREEDOM het begin met Britse magte wat onder die kodenaam Operasie TELIC werk.
In Januarie 2003 is nog geen besluit geneem oor die komende oorlog met Irak nie. VN -inspekteurs in die land doen nog steeds 'n beroep op Saddam Hussein om te voldoen aan resolusies rakende WMD's. Op 7 Januarie beveel die regering die grootste ontplooiing van troepe sedert die eerste Golfoorlog. RAF Akrotiri het 24 uur begin met die operasie waarmee 2 Gp -vliegtuie konstante vervoer na en van die Midde -Ooste moontlik gemaak het. Met die verwagte getalle en die verskeidenheid vliegtuie was baie werk nodig om die vliegveld geskik te maak, en dit het gou 'n bouperseel geword. Verspreidings is bygevoeg en bestaande is vergroot. Die vliegveld het 'n baie kort tydjie gehad om hom gereed te maak vir 'n paar van die grootste vliegtuie ter wêreld om deur te gaan. Die stasie het vinnig baie besiger geword en daar was 'n onheilspellende teken vir die toekoms, aangesien die weer ook sy rol gespeel het. Die omstandighede was so dat 'n tornado net langs die kus ontstaan ​​het en dreig om verwoesting oor die stasie te veroorsaak. Met vinnige stralers in die lug en buite gevaar en 'n paar nabye gemis vir die nuut ingewone Royal Navy Task Group, het RAF Akrotiri egter 'n noue ontkoming gehad. Namate die tornado noordwaarts beweeg het, was Limassol nie so gelukkig nie en groot stormskade is aangerig.
In Februarie 2003 begin die groot toeloop van USAF -personeel hoofsaaklik om die groot tenkskipvloot wat by RAF Akrotiri gaan woon, te ondersteun. Dit was ver van 'n basis wat gebruik is om slegs 'n handjievol vliegtuie op 'n slag op die vliegveld te hê, asook af en toe gewapende oefenkampe (APC). Langs die tenkvloot was 'n hele rits verskillende roterende en vaste vlerkvliegtuie. Dit was 'n ware legkaart om almal op hierdie klein skiereiland te plaas, met vliegtuie wat gereeld taxi's as parkeerplek gebruik. Die maand was daar nog baie interessante aankomste in die streek, twee van die grootste was die Amerikaanse vliegdekskip USS Harry Truman en USS Theodore Roosevelt en hul gepaardgaande taak -eenhede. Die logistiek wat nodig was om die draergroepe te ondersteun, was enorm. RAF Akrotiri ondersteun die konstante vlugte van skip tot kus wat brandstof, voorraad en pos aan die 36 000 matrose verskaf.

In Februarie was daar ook nog 'n voorbeeld van Mother Natures se hulp met die tweede natste maand sedert 1956 toe 'n totaal van 152,8 mm reën in 'n maand geval het. Dit is gemiddeld net 66,1 mm.

In Maart 2003 was daar 'n beduidende toename in aktiwiteit, gepaard met gerugte dat 'n oorlog met Irak op hande was. Die konstruksie van die ekstra verspreiding was voltooi, en RAF Akrotiri kon spog met ekstra 11 hektaar verspreidingsruimte vir vliegtuie om te parkeer. Die vliegveld was propvol vliegtuie en personeel. In meer as 200 ekstra Amerikaanse troepe was nou op die basis gevestig, maar die atmosfeer was vol verwagting. Teen die einde van die maand het die eerste Aeromed -vlugte vanaf die Midde -Ooste vir TPMH begin aankom. Die duidelike werklikheid wat gebeur het was naby aan almal se gedagtes en het gegee! 'n insig in wat sou kom. Veiligheidsbewustheid rondom die basis het aansienlik toegeneem nadat oorlogsbetogers daarin geslaag het om toegang tot die basis te kry. Sommige is gearresteer weens hul oortreding, maar baie het net buite die omtrek gebly en vreedsaam protesteer. Die brandweer en reddingsdiens van die stasie het versterkings gekry toe 20 brandweermanne van die USAF by hulle aangesluit het. Vir die eerste keer in die RAF -geskiedenis. Die brandweer van die Verenigde Koninkryk en die USAF werk langs mekaar. Die vennootskap het gewerk en 67 vliegtuie se noodgevalle is suksesvol hanteer. Op 20 Maart 2003 begin die oorlog. In die vroeë oggendure het 'n kombinasie van F-117 Stealth Fighters en F-16-vliegtuie, saam met ongeveer 40 langafstand-missiele gerig op geboue diep in Bagdad, aan die werk. 'n wenk van die intelligensie, sommige rakette het Saddam Hussein self geteiken. Die Irakse leier het nouliks ontsnap, maar die oorlog was stewig aan die gang.

'N Aantal soorte vlugte is diep in Irak gevlieg, met meer as 130 verskillende vliegtuigtipes wat oor die lug van Irak vlieg. Die nuwe tenkskipvloot van Akrotiri het 'n intense vliegperiode begin. 'N Totaal van 5 myl ekstra brandstofpype was nodig om die lughawe te suig !!

Op 13 April 2003 het Amerikaanse troepe wat beheer oor Bagdad gehad het toe die Irakse regime in duie gestort het. As gevolg hiervan moes minder missies na die Golfgebied gevlieg word, en dit het 'n uitwerking op RAF Akrotiri gehad. Teen die einde van April het die eerste snelvliegtuigspanne deur Akrotiri op pad terug huis toe na die Verenigde Koninkryk gegaan. Terselfdertyd vertrek 'n USAF C-17 om te land in die hartjie van Bagdad, vol humanitêre voorrade.

Op 1 Mei 2003 verklaar president George W. Bush die oorlog amptelik verby en 'n groot oorwinning oor die Irakse regime. Operasie TELIC is egter nog lank nie verby nie, en terwyl troepe in Irak bly, sal Akrotiri steeds sy rol speel in die skakel van die Midde -Ooste na die Weste.

RAF Akrotiri was 'n waardevolle bate vir bedrywighede tydens die Golfoorlog II. Elke afdeling is tot die uiterste gestrek om 24 uur se operasies vir 'n lang tydperk te handhaaf en 'n besige vliegveld te onderhou as die Luton -lughawe. Dit is dus opmerklik dat slegs 500 ekstra personeel na Akrotiri gestuur is, en as u na die statistieke kyk, is dit ongelooflik hoeveel daar bereik is met so 'n klein toename in mannekrag. Tussen Januarie en Mei was daar meer as 15 000 vliegtuigbewegings.

Over 12,000 troops transitted through RAF Akrotiri.
In 3 weeks Cyprus communications unit airfield section installed over 200 telephones and 30,000 metres of cable were connected
Over 14,000 personnel movements were processed by personal management clerks.
Air Movements squadron dealt with between 25,000 and 56,000 kgs of air cargo each month.
Over 10,000 kgs of classified mail and 31,000 kgs of air mail were processed.
E-blueys rose from single figures to over 11,000 messages.
Operation TELIC Clerks - handled over 1000 additional enquiries.
- dealt with over 1000 air movements.
- processed 3600 in-theatre flight bookings.

The end of official hostilities did not bring an immediate end to Operation TELIC however: The presence of US and UK forces in the region maintaining security meant that Akrotiri continued to play its role long after President Bushes' speech. The conflict once again proved the worth of RAF Akrotiri as a base. With its strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean it continues to provide a crucial stepping stone for forces operating in the area and wil no doubt continue to do so for many years to come.


Eagle Squadron Memories

In September 1939, as war winds buffeted Europe, Americans watched warily while the German blitzkrieg swept across Poland. Despite the United States’ official policy of neutrality, many realized it was just a matter of time before America was drawn into the conflict, especially after the invasion of France and the Low Countries in May 1940 made Nazi intentions clear.

Some Americans, not wanting to wait for an official declaration of war, sought to enlist wherever they could. To young pilots and would-be airmen, the early tales of aerial battles lent a romantic allure to combat flying. Adding to the excitement was the recent development of sleek new fighter aircraft such as the Supermarine Spitfire, capable of flying at well over 350 mph.

As Britain’s Royal Air Force faced off against Germany’s Luftwaffe, the need for competent pilots became increasingly apparent. Famed World War I Canadian ace Billy Bishop suggested that recruiters look to the United States for a promising source of new pilots and air crewmen. Despite the unfavorable legal climate created by America’s Neutrality Acts, the Clayton Knight Committee was set up to recruit pretty much anyone who was interested in flying.

Clayton Knight was a World War I pilot veteran with connections, and along with Bishop and another WWI pilot, Homer Smith, he worked out a recruiting plan. Knight approached the chief of the U.S. Army Air Corps, Maj. Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, who was happy to supply a list of recent Air Corps washouts—the first targets of the recruiting efforts. Many possessed good flying skills but were a little too unruly for the Army Air Corps. About 300 were signed up by May 1940. Eventually more recruiters spread out across the country, seeking volunteers with some aviation experience. The new recruits were actually signing up with the Dominion Aeronautical Association, a supposed civil aeronautics firm that just happened to have its main office located next-door to the Royal Canadian Air Force headquarters in Ottawa. By the fall of 1941, more than 3,000 Americans had been successfully recruited, and by the end of the year that number had swelled to 6,700.

Among the Americans attracted by the prospect of flying Spitfires against the Germans were John “Red” Campbell, Art Roscoe, John Brown, Bill Geiger, Gene Fetrow and Spiro “Steve” Pisanos. Each signed up when the RAF recruiters toured the United States, and all eventually became members of the American Eagle Squadrons in the RAF’s Fighter Command. A total of 244 U.S. pilots eventually joined the three new Eagle Squadrons that had been formed. Roscoe and Geiger were assigned to No. 71 Squadron—the first to form up, on September 19, 1940—while Brown, Campbell and Fetrow were in No. 121 Squadron. Pisanos would later join 71 Squadron. The final Eagle Squadron was No. 133.

JOHN CAMPBELL, who had been flying since age 15, traveled from National City, near San Diego, to Hollywood to enlist in the RAF. The British turned him down because he was only 18, but three days later—having just turned 19 and carrying a letter from his parents—he came back.

“I arrived as a wet-behind-the-ears 19-year-old,” Campbell later recalled. “The British assumed we were there to do a job, and expected we would do it. This was quite different from the United States Army Air Forces, which assumed you couldn’t do it, unless you proved otherwise.”

Campbell already had significant flying experience when he joined up, and had also formed a picture of aerial warfare from the pulp magazines of the day. The popular magazines were instrumental as a recruiting tool, since many stories concentrated on the seemingly glamorous life of a fighter pilot. Campbell credited those magazines as the real reason he signed up. “I thought that every time you went up, you shot down five,” he said. He would learn that aerial combat was quite different in real life.

After flight training in the U.S. and Canada, he joined a convoy bound for England. At his assigned base, Campbell then checked out in a Miles Master. With the Battle of Britain already raging, he got three weeks of training in Spitfires, about 25-30 total hours, with no time on instruments.

“I only flew two ops in them, and they were enjoyable to fly,” he recalled. The Spitfire training started with “sitting for a half-hour in the cockpit with a flying sergeant putting me through cockpit drills.” The next morning he would check out a parachute, show the instructor he knew the cockpit drills and then taxi out, open up the throttle and take off.

Campbell then got to spend five weeks in Hawker Hurricanes—a total of about 54 hours—and, as he recalled, that was “more than most guys.” They flew two or three times daily, but the Eagle Squadron members were initially given old beat-up Hurricane Mark Is. Eventually the Americans received Hurricane IIb models, which they used on fighter sweeps through Belgium and northern France. Campbell felt the greatest difficulty in flying both the Spitfire and Hurricane was having to change hands from throttle to stick, and to the gear and flap controls.

Campbell really took to the Hurricane, and lamented the fact that the press largely overlooked it during the Battle of Britain. He noted that the “Hurricane got 80 percent of the kills, while the Spitfire got 100 percent of the credit. You never ran into a German pilot that was shot down by a Hurricane—they always said it was a Spitfire.”

He felt the Hurricane made a better gun platform, as it was more stable, and was best used against the German bombers. Spitfires were deployed at higher altitudes, and were more likely to engage enemy fighters. Campbell considered the Hurricane easier to land, stating,“It did not float like the Spitfire, you just flare to land, and it lands.”

In comparison to the German Messerschmitt Me-109E, Campbell said the Hurricane “lost most to the 109 at low level, where the 109 was faster, so we had to use tactics.” But he added that “at altitude, the Hurricane was faster, could turn better and had a better gunsight.”

Campbell also flew Hurricane IIcs at Gibraltar, which he described as “the first of the four-cannon-equipped models designed for tank busting.” He was later assigned to the Far East campaign, went to Port Sudan on an aircraft carrier, and took off from there for Java and Singapore. Stationed at Ceylon when the Japanese attacked, Campbell claimed “they got such a bloody nose that they didn’t try it again.”

Campbell believed that the “Hurricane could out-turn both the Mitsubishi A6M Zero and the Nakajima Ki.43 Oscar. In the slow, turning battles the Spitfire got eaten up, so Hurricanes remained in production until the end of the war.” He fought against both the Zero and the Oscar, and “got shot down twice, and I shot down two each of them.” The first time he went down, he made it back to his base after 21⁄2 days—to find all his personal effects gone. “I saw my wingman sleeping, and said, ‘Boo, this is the ghost of Red Campbell and where is my stuff?’ That woke him up in a hurry.”

After he was shot down the last time, over Java, Campbell became a prisoner of war for the duration of the conflict. Sent to a disease-plagued labor camp, he weighed only 98 pounds when the camp was finally liberated.

ART ROSCOE took his first flight at age 13, and from that point on always wanted to work in the aviation field. He got a job with Douglas Aircraft, and it was there that an RAF recruiter caught up with him in February 1941.

Roscoe recalled: “I had about 30-40 hours of flight time, and went out to Pomona to see how to get in [the RAF]. They told me to buy another 30 hours of flight time, and come back to see them then. I went back, took the flight test, and they let me know a couple of days later.” He went to flight school at Glendale, Calif., for another 75 hours, and then took a train to Nova Scotia to catch a steamer for England. His British flight training was in Spitfires at Landau with No. 53 Operational Training Unit.

“My Spitfire was never in really good shape, but you couldn’t get hurt in it if you stayed on top of it,” he remembered. “It could outturn practically anything you could turn on a dime and have nine cents left.”

The No. 71 Squadron pilots were often tasked with escorting Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses on bombing missions, and frequently ran into Focke Wulf Fw-190As that had been lurking above them. The German fighters would typically make one pass, diving down on the bombers, while the Spitfires performed a split-S and went after them through the cloud cover. The Spits only had 15 seconds of .303-caliber ammo and six seconds of 20mm cannon rounds, so the pilots tried to make every round count. Roscoe recalled one particular B-17 escort mission to the Bay of Biscay, during which two Fw-190s attacked his flight: “The fellow in back of me got a cannon hit in his radio, so I was lucky.” He shot down his first enemy aircraft on October 2, 1941—an Me-109 over France.

In June 1942, Roscoe volunteered to help defend the island of Malta. He arrived at Malta on August 11 via the carrier HMS Woedend, which was carrying a load of 35 Spitfires. The plan was to launch seven flights of five planes each, and just as Roscoe’s flight was taking off, the carrier Eagle was torpedoed and sunk while alongside Woedend.

For the trip to Malta, they were given the Spitfire Vc, equipped with a tropical air filter. The planes carried only 90 gallons of fuel, mainly to assist in keeping their weight down for takeoff. Since the flaps had only full up and down positions, a wood block was inserted to hold the flaps at 15 degrees to assist in getting off the carrier. Once airborne, the pilots lowered their flaps, allowing the wood blocks to fall out, then raised them again.

“We were told ‘no crash landings,’ and if we got into trouble we were to head to Vichy French–held North Africa and hope for the best,” Roscoe recalled. All the members of his group made it to Malta. When they got there, the newcomers joined No. 229 Squadron, and found a lot of Battle of Britain veterans already fighting the Germans.

Roscoe said Malta was “a fighter pilot’s paradise—you went for the bombers first, had one crack at them, and then the fighters would be on your tail.” It didn’t last long, as most of the aerial fighting ended in October 1942, and they were restationed by the next month. Just before the fighting ended, Roscoe was severely wounded in a dogfight. Four cannon rounds from an Me-109 crashed through his cockpit, but only one hit him—in the shoulder. His plane was on fire, and the German pilot pulled up alongside for a look. Roscoe managed to kick his rudder, swerve behind the 109, and fire his cannons, shooting his tormentor down. He then crash-landed his Spitfire, as he was too weak to bail out.

Like many other Eagle Squadron members, Roscoe transferred into the USAAF when he was given the opportunity. “I had asked for [North American P-51] Mustangs, but ended up with the [Republic] P-47 [Thunderbolt]. It could out-dive practically anything—like a streamlined brick coming down,” he related. He ended the war as a squadron commander, with four confirmed victories, and another three probables.

JOHN I. BROWN III started out with Hurricanes, recalling that “of course everyone who signed up wanted to fly fighters, but we weren’t even guaranteed to fly. Some went to fighters, some to bombers and some to transports.” He quickly moved on to Spitfires.

“The Spit was very unforgiving you had to fly with an iron hand and a silk glove,” Brown remembered. He also lamented having only 78 rounds of cannon ammunition, but said the 1,300-round-per-minute rate of fire for the .303 machine guns “could cause damage—chunks would fly off enemy planes—it could be very effective.”

Most of the missions were rather short, as his Spitfire had about two hours and 45 minutes’ flight time before it would be running on fumes. “We got about 90 miles into France, a very limited range, and coming back we had to land at the [British] coastal airfields,” he said.

“If you had your wings, it was assumed by the RAF that you could fly anything,” Brown stated.“I flew things I had never seen before. The attitude was that if you were going to get killed, do it in training. Don’t waste a plane on an operational mission.”

While at Duxford, Brown joined the USAAF and switched to the P-47. He recalled that the Thunderbolt “was one hell of an aircraft in combat, as it could take a lot of punishment.” In November 1944, he made another switch, this time to P-51s until the end of the war.

While flying the Mustang, Brown got some experience fighting against the new German jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me-262 Schwalbe. He remembered that if a pilot called out “jet in the area,” everyone went down fast, like “a funnel to a beehive.” His group eventually claimed 22 of the Me-262s.

“Only the Mustang would try anything against them,” Brown recalled, noting the P-51 could do “600 mph in a dive, and could catch up with the 262.” Using that tactic, Brown and his flight leader went after a Me-262 that was on the deck, heading home. The German jets only had about 45 minutes of fuel. “My leader got it as it passed over the airfield, needing to land,” he recalled.

BILL GEIGER didn’t get to experience much combat during World War II. He did fly some bomber escort missions, recalling that in the summer of 1941, “we never lost a bomber to any fighters.” Shortly thereafter, he was shot down over the English Channel near Dunkirk while flying a Spitfire. German fighters had picked him off at about 15,000 feet over the Channel. He said:“My plane was on fire, and wouldn’t fly anymore. I banged on the cockpit [canopy]—it was supposed to slide but nothing happened. I beat on it with everything I had, then bent out a corner and let the slipstream grab it, and off it went. I popped out of the cockpit, and pulled the ripcord. I felt very much alone, but when I realized I was going to survive, the fear went away.”

A German boat picked up Geiger after he spent five hours in the water. Since it was still early in the war, the Eagle Squadron members were not supposed to wear their insignia, an order that Geiger had chosen not to obey. He recalled, “Not only was I wearing my insignia, I also had extras in my pocket.” Geiger realized he was in big trouble, and fully expected to be shot.

“I was led away by a German officer with a two-man squad, and I thought about running,” he remembered. The officer recognized Geiger’s Brooklyn accent, since the German had been a truck driver in New York before the war. It turned out that he had never become a U.S. citizen, and when Adolf Hitler urged all Germans to return to the fatherland, he went back. “He asked me if I was an American, and when I admitted it he told me that I was going to be all right,” Geiger recalled. It was the start of 31⁄2 years in a POW camp for Geiger—and the end of his war.

GENE FETROW was working at Douglas Aircraft’s Santa Monica plant when the war in Europe broke out, serving as an inspector for A-20 Havocs. Hearing from a friend that an RAF recruiter was at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, Fetrow went to see him.

“I told him I had been flying since I was 15 years old, mostly Fleet biplanes,” Fetrow recalled, “but he asked how many hours I had. I only had about 35, so he told me to get more time.” He signed up with a local flying school, and put in another 35 hours as quickly as possible.

Returning to the recruiter, Fetrow took a flight test in a Waco biplane and was told they would let him know if he was accepted. A few days later a confirming telegram arrived. They still wanted him to get more training before heading overseas, however, so Fetrow spent an additional 75 hours in Stearman, Ryan STS, Vultee BT-13 and North American AT-6 Texan trainers.

Arriving in England on a transport ship, Fetrow reported for fighter training. Flying Spitfire Mark Is and IIs, he accumulated about 70 more hours of valuable flight time.

Fetrow served in No. 121 Squadron, flying mostly the Spitfire Mark Vb equipped with two cannons and four .303 machine guns. He flew about 120 missions from England, and was part of the ill-fated August 19, 1942, Dieppe Raid, in which his aircraft was shot up pretty badly. The Dieppe Raid turned out to be the only operation of the war that involved all three of the American Eagle Squadrons. Fetrow supported the mission by providing low cover, one of a flight of four Mark Vbs that ran into trouble shortly after crossing the harbor at Dieppe.

As Fetrow told it: “I saw several Fw-190s to my right and down below strafing our people on the beach. I thought our top cover would take care of some of them, so I started taking my flight down. A 190 then came down on me and put a 20mm deflection shot through my wing and another into my radiator. I wasn’t hurt, but the engine was hurt—my oil cooler blew apart. The engine seized up over the Channel, I rolled upside down, but the canopy wouldn’t eject—it only rolled back about six inches. I had to beat it with my elbows to get out, and my cockpit was filling with smoke. Once I was out, it got real quiet, and I saw my Spit hit the water.”

Fetrow had managed to send out a Mayday call over his radio, and the Air-Sea Rescue team came out to retrieve him while he was still in his dinghy. But by the time he got back to base, the RAF had already listed him as missing in action. “All my stuff had already been divided—my camera, cigarettes and shoes—and it took about a week to get everything straightened out,” he recalled.“We really took a beating that day, but we got about as many of them as they did of us— about 100 shot down.”

Fetrow eventually was transferred to serve in the Italian campaign. In May 1944, he was flying with the RAF’s 1st Tactical Air Force, usually on one of two main missions. The fighters would escort Consolidated B-24 Liberators and Martin B-26 Marauders out of Sardinia on missions to destroy German lines of communication and transport, or they would conduct ground-strafing missions against anything that moved.

“I once saw an old donkey and peasant farmer pulling a cart of hay,” Fetrow related. “I put a couple of slugs into it, and it went sky-high. It had been full of ammo for the German troops.”

He recalled another time when they saw some Tiger tanks: “We couldn’t do much against them, as they were camped in a dry riverbed in the woods. I left two Spitfires up as top cover, and the rest dove down, with one pilot managing to hit their fuel dump. I dove down too fast and steep—very poor manner, a classic case of pilot error. I realized I was in trouble, and pulled back on the stick. I blacked out, the plane did a snap roll, and I came to while flying upside down through a dry wash. My wings were bent, rivets had popped, instruments were broken, but I nursed it back up to 3,000 feet.”

Fetrow managed to get the Spitfire back to Corsica, where he was amazed when the wheels came down. He made a fairly normal landing, but his aircraft was subsequently pushed into the scrap heap. Ground crews managed to salvage only the prop, engine, wheels, tires and radio. That experience was enough, however, to convince Fetrow of the aircraft’s structural integrity.

“The Spitfire was hard to land, but it had great brakes,” he remembered. “I got three Fw-190s while in Spitfires, so it was my favorite plane.”He also had some experience with the P-47 after transferring to the USAAF 335th Fighter Squadron later in the war, and served as a test pilot for many other aircraft.

Another problem with the Spitfire was in retracting the landing gear—“you had to change hands to do it,” Fetrow recalled. He also said the fuel tanks were poorly placed, especially the one in front of the instrument panel. “I lost a friend when that tank was hit, exploding into a fireball, which rapidly consumed the cockpit area.”

STEVE PISANOS was another guy who couldn’t wait to fight the Germans and signed up with an Eagle Squadron recruiter before the United States entered the war. Technically, he wasn’t officially an American. Pisanos had come to the States from Greece in the summer of 1938, and shortly afterward had taken basic flying lessons on his own. He had renounced his Greek citizenship, but it wasn’t until May 1943 that he became a naturalized citizen—while he was in London, of all places. Of that momentous event, he remarked: “Uncle Sam and I are best friends, and I felt nothing but gratitude. I was the first to become a citizen outside of the U.S.”

After advanced training, Pisanos shipped out to England in February 1942. He received instruction in tactics before joining an operational training unit, flying Miles Masters, Hurricanes, P-40E Kittyhawks and P-51A Mustangs during his final training phase. He was assigned to the 268th Army Co-operation Fighter Squadron, and began flying combat missions over Holland in the P-51A. Known to his fellow pilots as the “Flying Greek,” he came to the attention of Squadron Leader Chesley Peterson in No. 71 Squadron, and was officially transferred in early September 1942.

In his one month with No. 71, he flew Spitfires and Hurricanes before transferring into the 334th Squadron, 4th Fighter Group, VIII Fighter Command, at the end of September, when the Eagle Squadrons were disbanded. Pisanos noted that the American Eagle Squadron pilots were heavily recruited by the USAAF, as “in reality we had Ph.D. degrees in fighting—we had experience.” The recruiter said, “You come with us—you are an American, would you accept a second lieutenant [commission] in the Air Corps?” Once he was with the 334th, Pisanos flew the P-47 and briefly the P-51 again.

“The Spitfire was a great aircraft, but it was limited because it had no fuel capacity to go great distances,” Pisanos recalled. He also rated the P-47 in the same fashion, as it “could not stay with the bombers on long-distance missions, and the Luftwaffe would just wait there for the fighters to turn back.”

As for the P-51, Pisanos emphasized, “That was it!” He participated in the first escorted Berlin mission with the 4th Fighter Group on March 4, 1944, and when the Germans saw the P-51 escorting the bombers, he said they knew they had lost the war.

Pisanos wound up his combat career in spectacular fashion. On March 5, he shot down two German aircraft, giving him a total of 10 victories in the space of 110 missions spanning 300 combat hours. On the way home, his engine failed and he was forced to crash-land in France. Evading capture, Pisanos managed to join up with members of the French Resistance, and was based in Paris until it was liberated in August of the same year. Because he knew too much about the Resistance, Pisanos was permanently grounded for combat and sent back to the States, spending the rest of the war as a test pilot at Wright Field in Ohio.

The ranks of Eagle Squadron members have greatly dwindled over the past few years. In 2006 they held their last official reunion. Of the 17 living members at the time, only five were well enough to attend. John Brown, Gene Fetrow, Bill Geiger and Art Roscoe have already made their final flight. Steve Pisanos has finished his book of memoirs, which was released in December 2007.

Frank Lorey III is a federal- and state-registered historian with more than 340 articles and several books to his credit. He has appeared many times on the History Channel and does historical archeology work on military plane crash sites. For further reading, he recommends: The Eagle Squadrons, by Vern Haugland and The Flying Greek: An Immigrant Fighter Ace’s WW II Odyssey With the RAF, USAAF, and French Resistance, by Colonel Steve N. Pisanos.

Originally published in the March 2008 issue of Lugvaartgeskiedenis. Klik hier om in te teken.


RAF squadron strength

Plaas deur maxs75 » 24 Oct 2006, 17:03

Hi there,
I'd like to know what was the estabilished strength of a RAF fighter squadron during WW2, and if there were some differences through different theater and periods.
I know that there were differences for the actual strength anyway.

Plaas deur gjkennedy » 26 Oct 2006, 01:53

From memory, I think the basic strength was twelve at the start of the war, increased to sixteen during the conflict?

Plaas deur maxs75 » 26 Oct 2006, 20:11

It is possible that it was raised from 12 to 16, but do you know if it was raised even more later? I've read about bomber squadrons with 24 or more planes, but I don't know if it was just a field strength higher than the estabilished strength. Usually smaller planes (fighter vs bombers) were in larger numbers on each squadron in other air forces.

Plaas deur gjkennedy » 27 Oct 2006, 19:11

It's a long time since I looked at WW2 airforces and aircraft (been too busy with ground troops for years now!).

I had a quick check in the US Army handbook on British forces. They note that a fighter squadron had sixteen aircraft plus two in reserve, and that both medium and heavy bomber squadrons had sixteen machines (no mention of reserves). The handbook was printed in September 1942, so the info should be accurate for that period into early 1943. My instinct is that sixteen was about the maximum for a RAF squadron, but as I said, I haven't done any serious delving into the subject.

Plaas deur maxs75 » 01 Nov 2006, 21:17

Dankie.
I know that the bomber squadrons were to have 16 planes, but there were some exceptions. Maybe it was the same for fighters. Anyway I asked in other forum and I got the same answer (16 per sqn).

Plaas deur RichTO90 » 01 Nov 2006, 22:24

maxs75 wrote: Thank you.
I know that the bomber squadrons were to have 16 planes, but there were some exceptions. Maybe it was the same for fighters. Anyway I asked in other forum and I got the same answer (16 per sqn).

Actually this is the fighter organization adopted sometime in 1942 IIRC. Through the Battle of Britain the Fighter Squadron consisted of 12 aircraft, divided into two six-aircraft ‘Flights’ and each in turn into two three-aircraft ‘Sections’ (Blue, Red, Green, and Yellow, typically with Blue and Red in A Flight and Green and Yellow in B Flight). Nominally there was also a reserve of 4 aircraft, but IIRC that was reduced to 2 later on.

By 1942 the tactical reforms instituted by Sailor Malan and others resulted in the 16-aircraft squadron, organized still in two flights, but each of two "finger-fours". The 2-aircraft reserve was also retained.


Kyk die video: الحرب العالمية الثانية. قصة صعود هتلر و الحزب النازي - الجزء الأول