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Help in identifying Thornton-Brown's Typhoon Mk. Ib


jonbius
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I am researching the Typhoon Mk. Ib of Squadron Leader Patric Glynn Thornton-Brown of 609 Squdron. On 21st December 1943 he was flying Hawker Typhoon R8845 and was shot down by USAAF P-47s and perished. Reports state that he was shot at and killed by German ground troops.

 

I know the serial of his aircraft (R8845), but I've had no luck in ascertaining his aircraft code, or if the aircraft was the car door or bubble top type. 

 

I'd appreciate any help in this research- and a photo would be especially helpful. I've searched Google now for quite a while, but other than the facts above, I've found nothing else regarding his aircraft markings.

Edited by jonbius
Correction of aircraft type
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Afraid neither of the standard Typhoon references, by Mason or Thomas/Shores, seem able to help.

 

R8825 and R8893, which bracket your serial no, both initially served as car-door (Feb 43 and Nov 42 photos respectively).  Whether they, and R8845, were still car-door in Dec 1943, is something you would need others more knowledgeable to opine on.

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A Mk.Ia in Dec '43?  Wow, that seems surprisingly late for that to be in service.  You are talking about the 12 gun wing, right?

 

Chris Thomas is your best bet- he'll probably be along, or you can send him a PM.

 

bob

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1 hour ago, Jon Kunac-Tabinor said:

Hi -  Jon

 

http://www.609wrsquadron.co.uk/Archives/Photo_Galleries/Manston.pdf

 

scroll down past the goats - pic of Tiffie with code H - and partially visible serial which looks a lot like xxx845

 

Hope this helps!

 

Jonners

That is of great help! Thank you!

 

Would it have been probable/possible that a car door type would have been converted to a bubble top?

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Yes, there was a program of "modernizing", but I'm not clear on the timing- end of '43 might be about right, or perhaps a wee bit early.  I can see I'll need to spend some time with that link Jon (the other one) provided!

 

bob

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33 minutes ago, jonbius said:

That is of great help! Thank you!

 

Would it have been probable/possible that a car door type would have been converted to a bubble top?

Hi Jon - from what I understand bubble top production only started in November 43, and while conversion kits were later issued in order to have as many car door airframes "bubble-topped" by D-Day,  given your airframe was shot down in December 43 - I'd say it was unlikely it ever got a conversion ( though never say never)

Looking at other pics on that link - it does appear as though it would have had the cannon barrel fairings.

 

On either thing I hadn't spotted before it that some aircraft have what looks like a yellow with black outlined  aircraft code on the inboard leading edge of their wings, over the top of the black/white ID stripes.

 

 

cheers Jonners - though Chris Thomas is your man really - so take everything I say with a big  "maybe"

Edited by Jon Kunac-Tabinor
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Hello boys

The very first Typhoons with sliding hood to enter squadron service were rebuilds, not new production aircraft. The first examples went to the top Typhoon fighter units and were usually flown by the COs, as per 609 Sqn.  Date was early September 1943; I'm away from my records at the moment but will be able to give a more precise reply tomorrow evening.

 

Incidentally the PR-H prang photo was an earlier aircraft, R7845 in October 1942.

Chris

 

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Hi Jon

If you click on the link below and scroll down to the 14th photo you will find an image with T-B's R8845 in the background. This is the only image of the aircraft that has come to light, as far as I know. 
 

http://www.609wrsquadron.co.uk/Archives/Photo_Galleries/Lympne,Matlaske.pdf

 

R8845 was built as a 'car-door' Typhoon and delivered to 20 MU at Aston Down on on before 19 April 1943, where it was stored like many other Typhoons, due to the acute shortage of serviceable Sabre engines.  By 31 August 1943 it was back with Gloster Aircraft for modifications which included the fitting of a sliding hood (aka bubble canopy) and returned to 20 MU by 8 September 1943. It is next reported at 403 ARF (Aircraft Reception Flight) which prepared aircraft for operational issue, and thence to 609 Sqn on 22 September.  Its arrival was noted in the squadron ORB as an aircraft with a sliding hood for use of the commanding officer.  Sqn Ldr Thornton-Brown first flew it on an operation on 26 September.  He flew it exclusively until 22 December and no other squadron pilots seemed to have 'borrowed' it.  I have yet to read the ORB (which quotes serials rather than code letters for individual sorties) in detail but I have not found any reference to the code it carried.

 

I thought I had a strong clue when I checked T-B's previous unit (56 Sqn which he had left at the end of August to command 609).  He often flew 'P', presumably P for Pat.  However during the time that R8845 was with the squadron there were at least two other Ps (sequentially JP750 and JP792). Other likely letters for the CO would be G, used by the 3 previous COs, or A, commonly used by unit commanders.  However a close look at the photo in the link seems to indicate that the individual code letter had a horizontal bar at the top i.e. E,F, T or Z.  I have a bit more digging to do to see if any other known 609 serials in the period carried those letters but at the moment by best guess is T for Thornton-Brown.

 

Note the spinner is two-tone as 609's Typhoons seem to have been throughout 1943 and early 44.  I know these are sometimes held to be in flight colour plus Sky but There are other photos which indicate Black/Sky. It had Typhoon identity stripes of course and very probably the earlier form of exhaust fairing. There does not seem to be any trace of the code being repeated on the inboard leading edge of the wing, but it could have been added later.  This was common on 609's Typhoons and was in yellow with a black outline.

 

I hope to get back to you on the E/F/T/Z situation over the weekend, tomorrow with a bit of luck.

 

Chris 

 

 

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8 hours ago, jonbius said:

Chris, thank you SO MUCH for this information! I am so very grateful for such thorough research! I look forward to anything else you find, and I am humbled by your generosity.

 

 

You are very welcome Jon. This is a topic which I'd been meaning to investigate but 'never found time'. Thanks for the nudge!

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Update: During the period R8845 was with 609 Sqn (nearly 3 months) 34 Typhoons are recorded in their Operations Record books.  Codes identified for 24 of them including one 'F', EK121, and one 'T', JP976, which just leaves us with E and Z as possibilities for R8845.  No obvious reason for T-B to choose E for his aircraft but Z seems a possibility.  Especially when you consider that two of his senior pilots, Johnny Baldwin and Mony Van Lierde both went on the command their own squadrons and both used 'Z' for their personal aircraft as squadron commanders.  PR-Z gets my vote.

Chris

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43 minutes ago, Chris Thomas said:

Update: During the period R8845 was with 609 Sqn (nearly 3 months) 34 Typhoons are recorded in their Operations Record books.  Codes identified for 24 of them including one 'F', EK121, and one 'T', JP976, which just leaves us with E and Z as possibilities for R8845.  No obvious reason for T-B to choose E for his aircraft but Z seems a possibility.  Especially when you consider that two of his senior pilots, Johnny Baldwin and Mony Van Lierde both went on the command their own squadrons and both used 'Z' for their personal aircraft as squadron commanders.  PR-Z gets my vote.

Chris

That's AWESOME Chris- thank you! I can't argue with your logic, as it makes perfect sense.

 

Of course, the minute I finish the model a photo will show up and show that it's something like a question mark- LOL!

 

Thanks again my friend!

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Update 2: Both Baldwin and Van Lierde had single non-operational flights in PR-Z within days of its arrival on 609 Sqn, namely on 1 and 8 October respectively, logged as 'local weather recco' and 'LFP' (local flying practice).  These seems to me as probably two of the senior pilots sampling the delights of the new canopy.

 

I enjoyed doing the research Jon, and it enabled me to discover a few more details about Typhoons in that period.  609 Sqn made some small scale experiments with RP at that time and if anyone is looking for a car-door Typhoon with RP I now know their first two RP Tiffies were EK136 PR-R and JR364 PR-G.  Both had car-doors, faired cannon, but JR364 had the later canopy with a whip aerial instead of a mast and the early form of exhaust fairing.

 

On 22 December 1943, the day after Thornton-Brown's loss, the squadron ORB also bemoaned the fact that the unit only possessed one Typhoon with a sliding hood (this would have been JR443 PR-M).  As they already had JR364, 375, 376, 378 on charge these must have had car-doors. Early in January they received JR379 which became PR-A and had a sliding hood (it was later re-coded PR-L). It has long been known that the first production Typhoon with the sliding hood was JR333 but no more had the new hood for a while (witness the well-known colour photo of TP-R JR371).  So it now looks likely that after JR333 there were no more sliders until JR379.  Wake up at the back!

CT

Edited by Chris Thomas
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  • 2 weeks later...

Chris, your logic was FLAWLESS- and here's the proof! :)

 

The fellow I'm building this model for found a remembrance posted after the war by his fitter, rigger, and armourer. And it specifies Z for Zebra! How cool is that?

 

screenshot_1479226471.jpg

Edited by jonbius
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On 6 November 2016 at 5:53 PM, Chris Thomas said:

On 22 December 1943, the day after Thornton-Brown's loss, the squadron ORB also bemoaned the fact that the unit only possessed one Typhoon with a sliding hood (this would have been JR443 PR-M).  As they already had JR364, 375, 376, 378 on charge these must have had car-doors. Early in January they received JR379 which became PR-A and had a sliding hood (it was later re-coded PR-L). It has long been known that the first production Typhoon with the sliding hood was JR333 but no more had the new hood for a while (witness the well-known colour photo of TP-R JR371).  So it now looks likely that after JR333 there were no more sliders until JR379.  Wake up at the back!

CT

 

Chris, is it feasible that Typhoons were issued to a MU (or similar) before dispatch to the Squadrons? I know this happened with other aircraft types for fitment of operational equipment etc. If so then we cannot be certain that there were no more sliders built from JR333 to JR379, all that demonstrates is that these were the first two issued to the Squadrons. 

 

Peter

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16 hours ago, jonbius said:

Chris, your logic was FLAWLESS- and here's the proof! :)

 

The fellow I'm building this model for found a remembrance posted after the war by his fitter, rigger, and armourer. And it's specifies Z for Zebra! How cool is that?

 

screenshot_1479226471.jpg

 

That is cool. Or perhaps we should say 'Wizard!'  The touching messages put it in perspective too; most appropriate so near to Remembrance Day.

CT

15 hours ago, dambuster said:

 

Chris, is it feasible that Typhoons were issued to a MU (or similar) before dispatch to the Squadrons? I know this happened with other aircraft types for fitment of operational equipment etc. If so then we cannot be certain that there were no more sliders built from JR333 to JR379, all that demonstrates is that these were the first two issued to the Squadrons. 

 

Peter

Yes indeed, at this period in the war, Typhoons were delivered from the makers (Gloster Aircraft) to an MU, usually No 20, Aston Down, or 51, Lichfield, for acceptance checks and preparation for operational use.  Those going to the newly formed 2nd TAF units went to a further unit, an Aircraft Reception Flight, before issue to a squadron (the ARFs were later amalgamated into Group Support Units).  609 Sqn was still in ADGB (previously Ftr Cmd) so they came straight from an MU.  However I don't see how this affects what I was trying to say.  

 

On 22 December 1943 the ORB states that the squadron now had just a single 'slider' (having just lost one).  And this was nearly three months after they had received their first.  The ORB shows that they were using JR364, 375, 376 and 378 before this date and the Form 78 movement cards for these aircraft confirm that they were with the unit before 22 Dec. The only aircraft in use with a later serial number was JR443, which therefore must have been their single aircraft with the new hood. In addition there is photo evidence that JR361, JR365 and JR371 all had car-door canopies originally (they were with 198 and 263 Sqns). 

 

So out of 24 Typhoons between JR333 and JR379 at least 7 had car-doors and I've found no evidence yet that any of the others had sliding canopies at that time.  Hence my remark 'it looks likely' etc.

CT

 

PS Note 'at that time' in the last sentence, as photos of JR336, 338, 367 and 368 with sliding hoods were all taken later in their careers. However, JR368's history shows no visit to a contractor for repairs or mods which means it could have been built with a sliding hood.  
 

Edited by Chris Thomas
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  • 3 months later...

Helping with the research for this model brought its own rewards ... which are now doubled with these views of the finished article. Excellent Jon.

 

Incidentally, Eduard's cardoor version of this kit, with the odd extra bit, should be available soon.

CT

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  • 3 months later...
On ‎06‎.‎11‎.‎2016 at 0:23 AM, Chris Thomas said:

Update: During the period R8845 was with 609 Sqn (nearly 3 months) 34 Typhoons are recorded in their Operations Record books.  Codes identified for 24 of them including one 'F', EK121, and one 'T', JP976, which just leaves us with E and Z as possibilities for R8845.  No obvious reason for T-B to choose E for his aircraft but Z seems a possibility.  Especially when you consider that two of his senior pilots, Johnny Baldwin and Mony Van Lierde both went on the command their own squadrons and both used 'Z' for their personal aircraft as squadron commanders.  PR-Z gets my vote.

Chris

yes, very likely.

S/L Erik Haabjoern used ZY-Z when with 247 Sqn.

Stein

Edited by Stein Meum
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