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MattG

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About MattG

  • Birthday 10/19/1976

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Australia
  • Interests
    WWII aviation (especially RAF/Luftwaffe 1939-41)

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  1. Thanks for that! I had come across this crew when looking into 235 Squadron a while back so appreciate the back story. I too have Coastal Dawn, and yes it is a good read. There are a couple of others along similar lines but specific to Beauforts - “An Expendable Squadron” by Roy Conyers Nesbit, and “The Last Torpedo Flyers” by Arthur Aldridge. Both are excellent. Matt
  2. Great choice to pay tribute to these brave airmen. I am looking forward to following this! Matt
  3. Thanks Mark! It certainly is fun researching all of this, and as you say gives an insight into how brave the crews were. I’m glad you’re finding it interesting.
  4. The Beaufort has continued to fall together quite quickly, although I've been concentrating just as much on researching a particular aircraft to build, which to me is a big part of the fun! Progress update First I've continued on with the forward part of the cockpit. You may remember that previously I replaced the pilot's seat with a PE one. I also did the same for the forward seat, which was quite delicate but I managed to bend the seat back to shape around a pen, which worked quite well. I've since closed the fuselage up: And test fitted the wings. And that's where she's up to now, starting to look like a Beaufort. Markings I've also been looking through Operations Record Books (ORBs) looking for particularly interesting crews from around 1940 to supplement by collection of Coastal Command Battle of Britain aircraft. Several stand out. One is Flt Lt R. P. M. Gibbs' crew from 22 Squadron. Gibbs would go on to become a driving force behind increasing attacks on Axis shipping using Beauforts based on Malta. I discarded this option but may well build one of his Malta aircraft later. Another was Sqn Ldr R. E. X. Mack of 22 Squadron, who, on 17 September 1940, led a six Beauforts on a night attack on Cherbourg Harbour in coordination with Blenheims of 59 Squadron. He later took part in Beaufighter operations with the North Coates wing. Again a very interesting subject. However, I've chosen another crew who participated in two particularly eventful operations in their aircraft, L4491/ "AW-R" of 42 Squadron, during 1940. The crew was captained by Plt Off (later Sqn Ldr) Gerald Sebastian Patrick Rooney. 21/6/1940: Dive-Bombing attack on the Scharnhorst: Plt Off G. S. P. Rooney, Fg Off Simmonds, Sgt. Little, Sgt. Knott The German battleship Scharnhorst was participating in Operation Weserübung, the German invasion of Denmark and Norway, and had previously famously sunk the aircraft carrier Glorious and the destroyers Ardent and Acasta; however damage forced the Scharnhorst to put in to Trondheim for repairs. These were complete by 20th June, which allowed Scharnhorst to proceed to Germany. En-route, the Scharnhorst was subjected to two air attacks, firstly by six Swordfish, and then by nine Beauforts of 42 Squadron, which dive-bombed the German battleship Scharnhorst off Norway, each with two 500lb bombs. The Scharnhorst was accompanied by six destroyers and one M.T.B., which put up an intense anti-aircraft barrage. Despite this, Plt Off Trigance (in Beaufort L9812) claimed a hit on Scharnhorst by No.1 turret, and Plt Off Rooney (Beaufort L4491) claimed a hit astern. Two pilots, Sqn Ldr Smith and Flt Lt Wright also claimed a near miss amidships. The Beauforts were then set upon by Messerschmitt Bf109s. LAC Begbie, air gunner in Sqn Ldr Smith's aircraft, claimed one shot down. However Fg Off Barrie Smith's aircraft was set on fire, the starboard undercarriage dropped and his aircraft plunged into the sea. Two others, piloted by Plt Off Rigg and Fg Off Seagrim, also failed to return, presumed shot down by the 109s. Rooney, Trigance and Smith were awarded D.F.C.s for their role in this action. Torpedo attack on Boulogne Harbour: Plt Off G. S. P. Rooney, Fg Off Simmonds, Sgt. Little, Sgt. Henry On 10 October 1940, two Beauforts, flown by Plt Off Rooney (L4491 again) and Flt Lt Hibberd (N1150), set out to attack Boulogne Harbour with torpedoes. 42 Squadron's ORB doesn't clarify this, but it was a coordinated attack also featuring three Blenheims of 59 Squadron. The ORB describes the action well: Set out to torpedo vessels reported lying off Boulogne Harbour. On arrival found vessels in harbour. Both aircraft dropped their torpedoes at the entrance to the harbour. F/Lt. Hibberd saw his explode before hitting any vessels. Intense Flak fire throughout the attack. Beaufort L4491 was attacked by 4 (four) Me109s. Their first burst of fire put the hydraulics and turret out of commission, so the pilot dived to sea level and carried out avoiding action, shaking off two of the enemy aircraft. Over Dover, F/Lt. Hibberd dived on the two remaining Me109s firing his front gun. The enemy aircraft sheered off although the front gun of N1150 had jammed. F/O. Rooney, who had received five shrapnel punctures and was faint, handed over the controls to F/O. Simmonds who had received a wound to his knee. F/O. Simmonds brought the aircraft and landed at their base with the undercarriage retracted. F/Os. Rooney and Simmonds ceased to be attached to Thorney Island on admittance to R.N. Hospital Haslar. Torpedo attack on heavy cruiser Lützow off Norway: Sqn Ldr G. S. P. Rooney, FSgt. Beach, Sgt. Knott, Flt Sgt Eason This is a little outside the scope of my intention to build a Battle of Britain era Beaufort, but another reason for building one of Rooney's aircraft. As if attacking the Scharnhorst wasn't enough, in 1941 Rooney, by then a Squadron Leader, led a torpedo attack on the heavy cruiser Lützow. On 12 June 1941 after a lengthy series of repairs, the Lützow sailed for commerce raiding operations in the Atlantic in company with the Admiral Scheer. Forewarned by deciphered Enigma signals, the battleship King George V and cruisers and destroyers of the home fleet set sail from Scapa Flow to intercept. Meanwhile five Beauforts of 22 Squadron and nine of 42 Squadron took off just before midnight on 12 June 1941 to also attack the Lützow. At 00.15 am, a 114 Squadron Blenheim sighted the Lützow and radioed her position. Two hours later, off Egersund, the Beauforts attacked. Rooney's crew no doubt performed a perfect attack but unfortunately their torpedo failed to release. However, other aircraft were more successful. One torpedo struck the Lützow on the port side, disabling her electrics and leaving her motionless, severely listing to port. The destroyer Friedrich Eckodt took the Lützow in tow to Kiel and was out of action for another six months of repairs. Rooney flew operationally until 30 August 1941 when his aircraft hit a hill after takeoff near Fife in Beaufort L9834 "AW-V", all crew members being killed. These were just a couple of examples of the Beauforts' role early in their career, and it has been fascinating and sobering to read through the ORBs (not to mention books such as "Coastal Dawn" by Andrew Bird and "An Expendable Squadron" by Roy Conyers Nesbit) and find out more about just what these crews went through. That's all for now, hopefully I'll get some more done in the coming days. Matt
  5. Please sign me up as well! I'm not sure what I'll build just yet, but my collection is short of Mosquitoes for starters. Matt
  6. Sign me up too please! I have lots of 1/48 fighters in the stash that would count, and there's no chance I'll get through them all before this starts! Matt
  7. I've now selected a Blenheim to represent, and as alluded to above and bearing in mind @tonyot and @Rabbit Leader's advice I've gone with an early Blenheim. As usual, I wanted to capture links to as many events as possible in the one build. The aircraft I've chosen is L9463, which was built by Rootes Securities and delivered to the R.A.F. some time between November 1939 and March 1940 ("Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000 to L1999", James J. Halley). I've chosen this aircraft as it was one of the Blenheims on patrol on 8th August 1940 over Convoy Peewit, against which the Luftwaffe mounted three large raids. This aircraft had a lengthy operational history. It flew at least twice during the Battle of France, both times on reconnaissance operations; 59 Squadron's Operations Record Book (ORB) lists L9463 as "TR-L" twice on these flights. Then references to the serial stop and the ORB lists aircraft only by their letter (e.g. "TR-L"). This is not very helpful as obviously some aircraft are shot down and replaced by a new aircraft with the same code. Even more difficult, some aircraft may be damaged and sent away for repair and returned to the same squadron, and assigned a different code. In any case, an aircraft coded "TR-L" is recorded as flying 34 times during the next few months. Flights were consistently spread out over that period, once every couple of days (so it's fairly safe to conclude it's the same aircraft, L9463). These flights include 21 bombing operations on targets including Cherbourg (six times) and the invasion ports attacks in early September 1940 (five times, one of which was a daring day attack on Boulogne). The remainder of the flights consisted of six "Moon" patrols of the English Channel, three patrols of areas coded "SA7" or "SA10" (anyone know what these are?), one reconnaissance of Le Havre - Cherbourg and several other sorties over the Channel searching for survivors. On 17 October 1940, entries stop with no explanation. We know from loss records that L9463 was lost on 30 November 1940, and 59 Squadron's ORB lists the aircraft as "TR-O" on this date. I suspect that this aircraft was briefly taken out of service (possibly damaged on a non-operational flight, or simply sent for servicing) and given a new squadron letter on its return, as a week after "TR-L" entries stopped, "TR-O" entries appear for the first time. This aircraft eventually crashed on takeoff on 30 November 1940. Its pilot, P/O. Christie, was injured, as was Sgt. Taverner, while its third crew member, Sg. Crout, was killed (source: ORB and "RAF Coastal Command Losses Vol.1)" by Ross McNeil). I'm continuing to research some of the pilots who flew this aircraft and will be sure to add this soon.
  8. A quick update with this week's progress. The tail is now on, so it's now looking very Blenheim-like. The wheel wells are also all pretty much done. This was a fairly easy process as the photo etch parts are (for a change) fairly large and easily bent to shape. At this point I decided to also start on the landing gear, just as it's easier to install before gluing the wing halves. I'm brush painting the camouflage, so the black and aluminium paint won't be affected when I do the Sky undersides. A small amount of filler will be needed under the forward fuselage but the rest looks like it will be ready for painting with only a small amount of sanding. I'll add some more in the next day or so, when I hope to present a bit of history on the particular aircraft I'm building, which I've had a lot of fun researching! Matt
  9. Magnificent work there Heather! It has been a pleasure following along with your build, and it turned out beautifully. Matt
  10. Actually you've helped out narrow down my choices - now I can represent a Blenheim that took part in the Battle of France and soldiered on right through the Battle of Britain. I think I've found one too. Working out its operational history will be a challenge due to the way Coastal Command squadrons record their data in ORBs, but I'll give it a go!
  11. Hi all, First, many thanks for your encouragement and comments @tonyot and @Rabbit Leader! I have looked into this cockpit glazing more and found the responses in this thread (started by Tony actually!) helpful. The "blisters" on Coastal Command Blenheims are from "Modification 473 dated 22/04/1940, Observation Panels, Port and Starboard". So, Blenheims from before late April 1940 wouldn't have had them, and after this date these would have been gradually fitted over time, presumably as each particular aircraft required servicing. From what I have seen, some Blenheims known to have flown operationally in Summer 1940 appear to have observation windows and some definitely don't, which fits in with this. Photos of Coastal Command Blenheims from 1940 are rare and some are taken at an angle that conveniently obscures the cockpit. The clearest I've seen (courtesy of a free preview in Google Books of Larry Donnelly's "The Other Few") shows flat side panels on one particular aircraft. This is a 53 Squadron aircraft in September 1940. The crew are P/O Muspratt, Sgt. Smart and Sgt Cole. The identity of the aircraft is unknown, as this crew flew in eight different Blenheims in September 1940 - 53 Squadron's Operations Record Book clearly shows that crews didn't have their "own" aircraft. 59 Squadron is the same. A clearer view is at the bottom left of the below photo (see the red arrow), showing that these panels can slide open, hence the colour variation. Compare this to a late Coastal Command Blenheim with observer's window. Maybe the below 59 Squadron Blenheim has one too? Hard to tell. Photo from Aircrew Remembered. So I am not sure there is clear evidence either way and I could go either way and be correct depending on the time period. I did look at buying the Alleycat windows but I could buy another Blenheim for the postage they were charging. So, for my build I'll leave the glazing as it is but will represent an early Blenheim (L, N, P and R series were all flying operationally by May 1940), safe in the knowledge that it would almost certainly would have looked like this early on and possibly even still in late 1940. And if someone can prove me wrong, bearing in mind I am not an expert on the subject, I will gladly stand corrected and build another Blenheim later! I hope this is useful to others too! Matt
  12. Hi Tony, Good point! This is something I was vaguely aware of but had forgotten about so I appreciate your taking the trouble to mention it. I will check my references before finishing the cockpit windows and may well do what you suggested. Thanks, Matt
  13. Hi Rob, That looks amazing! The sand-coloured weathering on the interior is very effective and really looks the part for a Malta Beaufort. I will have to remember to do this when I build any Malta based aircraft myself. Matt
  14. That look superb Steve, coming together really well! Matt
  15. The Blenheim has progressed a bit in the last few days despite my Beaufort getting most of my attention, so here's what I've been up to in the past few days. First, I added the side glazing to the fuselage sides, then mounted the cockpit assemblies. It sure looks nice and busy in there now. Here comes the test - do the fuselage halves still fit with the cockpit installed? Phew, yes they do. I did a bit of extra sanding first around the sides of the bulkheads just in case, but the joins look OK to me - a little cleaning up needed but no disastrous cracks! And now here's the top wing installed too. When building this kit with "side" fuselage halves rather than "front and back" halves as per the instructions, I've found it easier to mount the wing parts one at a time (this also helps align the trailing edge), so here it's just the top wing half installed. And here's the view underneath. I'm also planning to add PE detail to the wheel wells, which will be the next step. And that's where she's up to now. Thanks for looking - I'm sure enjoying seeing everyone else's builds coming along so well and am thoroughly enjoying this Group Build! Matt
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