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Hamiltonian

Aircraft markings, 71OTU RAF, 1944?

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I'm planning to build a model of a Hurricane IIB that my father might have flown while at 71OTU Ismailia in very late 1943 and early 1944. I don't have his log books, but I know the serial numbers of quite a few Hurricane IIB's that were in use by 71OTU at the time, and I know that pilots in training took up different aircraft (of the same type) almost every day.

I also have a single photograph taken at Ismailia in October 1943, which shows a Hurricane with squadron letters A-14, but no readable tail number.

Ismailia-Oct-43.jpg

I'm kind of resigned to building A-14 with a plausible but probably wrong tail number, but I'd be grateful for any guidance anyone can offer with regard to likely markings - in particular, the likely order of markings on the port side would be useful! I'm planning desert camo. scheme, but happy to be corrected on that, too. And of course better photos of other aircraft would be a great joy.

 

Edit: Photo caption

Ismailia-Oct-43-caption-e1498043125616.j

Edited by Hamiltonian
Added photo caption

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Have you seen this? 

https://jamesevansjenkins.wordpress.com/2012/01/08/dog-fights-and-spinning/

 

The blog writer's father was at 71OTU in 1942/3 and flew Hurricanes. There are scans of his father's log book which has serial numbers of the aircraft he flew, it might be worth doing some searches on them (if you haven't already).

 

I imagine there'll be someone on here with the answer,

 

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Alan Lake's Flying Units of the RAF has: "Hurricane I P3978, IIA Z4964, IIC BN541, IID HV663, X AF988"

 

Ray Sturtivant's Flying Training and Support Units since 1912 has: "Hurricane I,II,X (P3723)" "Codes: Individual numbers or letter/number combinations."

 

If that's any help, but doesn't sound any more than you already have (and no IIB).

Edited by Vicarage Vee

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Yes

4 hours ago, Beard said:

Have you seen this? 

https://jamesevansjenkins.wordpress.com/2012/01/08/dog-fights-and-spinning/

 

The blog writer's father was at 71OTU in 1942/3 and flew Hurricanes. There are scans of his father's log book which has serial numbers of the aircraft he flew, it might be worth doing some searches on them (if you haven't already).

 

I imagine there'll be someone on here with the answer,

 

Yes, thanks. It's a bit early for my time frame - these are all Hurricane Mark I, except for the IIB at the bottom of the page, which seems to have an error in its number, because H627 was assigned to a Sopwith Snipe, long previously!

 

I've also found a log-book for a course at Ismailia early in 1944, which is about right for me:

http://saafww2pilots.yolasite.com/albie-götze-log-book.php

Unfortunately the writing is a little difficult to read, but there are some potentially useful numbers in there, some of which I've checked against FK Mason's monograph, which is my other source for Hurricane IIB numbers that shipped to 71 OTU.

DSC05664.JPG.opt1816x1062o0,0s1816x1062.

Edited by Hamiltonian
typo

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except for the IIB at the bottom of the page, which seems to have an error in its number, because H627 was assigned to a Sopwith Snipe, long previously!

 

img_3567.jpg

 

Yes, not H267, but that's not a full serial for this era either

 

But a closer a look at the serial, (look at large version) and that may not be an 'H'  but an 'M' or 'N'  (compare the H and N in  Hurricane)

 

and BN627 is a legit Hurricane II serial

Quote
Block 6, Sixth Hawker Produced Block
Serial Range BD696 - BD745 (50), BD759 - BD793 (35), BD818 - BD837 (20), BD855 - BD899 (45), BD914 - BD963 (50), BD980 - BD986 (7), BE105 - BE117 (13), BE130 - BE174 (45), BE193 - BE242 (50), BE274 - BE308 (35), BE323 - BE372 (50), BE394 - BE428 (35), BE468 - BE517 (50), BE546 - BE590 (45), BE632 - BE651 (20), BE667 - BE716 (50), BM898 - BM936 (39), BM947 - BM996 (50), BN103 - BN142 (40), BN155 -BN189 (35), BN203 - BN242 (40), BN265 - BN298 (34), BN311 - BN337 (27), BN346 - BN389 (44), BN399 - BN435 (37), BN449 - BN497 (49), BN512 - BN547 (36), BN559 - BN603 (45), BN624 - BN654 (31), BN667 - BN705 (39), BN719 - BN759 (41), BN773 - BN802 (30), BN818 - BN846 (29), BN859 - BN882 (24), BN896 - BN940 (45), BN953 - BN987 (35), Total 1,350

The sixth production batch of aircraft producrd by Hawker Aircraft Limited, at Langley, and Brooklands. Powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engines. Aircraft were delivered between the 24th July, 1941 and the 18th March 1942. Average rate of production was 5-6 aircraft per day.

 

from

http://www.k5083.mistral.co.uk/APS.HTM

 

I've  not bothered to dig out Masons books (sorry, bit buried) but just a suggestion.

 

 

 

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Thanks for that. Another possibility.

Mason's book gives me a list of fifteen IIB trop. numbers from the 7th production run, and one (KZ138) from the eighth, delivered to 71 OTU.

Unfortunately, there's no overlap between those numbers and the planes in Albie Gotze's logbook from his time at 71 OTU in early 1944 (which I posted earlier), unless his "HV 73" is HV673, which is on Mason's list from the 7th run.

The planes in Gotze's logbook that I can match with Mason are listed as "Marks II and IV" from the eighth and ninth production runs, but with no specifics (these runs produced a mix of IIB, IIC and IV), and Gotze doesn't say if they're IIBs or IICs.

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I'd not take Mason as absolute gospel, while he's the best Hurricane historian so far, there are errors and omissions,  and the drawings in his later Hurricane book  are shockingly bad 

(this one https://www.amazon.co.uk/HAWKER-HURRICANE-MASON-FRANCIS-K/dp/0946627584 )

 

you might want to email the RAF Museum, and see  if they have  any information?   

 

You might find that you will get no definite answer,  as training units were not very glamorous and are poorly documented.

 

good luck with your quest, and also finding a decent IIB kit....  

cheers

T

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The RAF Museum sounds like a good idea - it would be great if they had some pictures of other aircraft from that unit. I hope to have the Operations Records for the first three months of 1944 from the National Archive, provided they're not charging an arm and a leg for copying, but that's not going to help me with markings.

 

I have a 1/48 Hasegawa IIB - not sure how people rate that. Their IIC seemed to be pretty good, to me.

Edited by Hamiltonian

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11 hours ago, Troy Smith said:

 

img_3567.jpg

 

Yes, not H267, but that's not a full serial for this era either

 

But a closer a look at the serial, (look at large version) and that may not be an 'H'  but an 'M' or 'N'  (compare the H and N in  Hurricane)

 

 

Or the even more obvious possibility that it is meant to be "Z4627" as was the previous entry?  That 'H' could be a '4'.  I concede that the way of rendering '4' differs from the prior entries, but it is possible that he was re-copying from another ledger, and may have fallen victim of someone else's writing or error.  And before anybody tells me that logbooks were always slavishly kept up to date, I've met a Spitfire test pilot who showed me the summary sheets from which he got his flight information, and Jeffrey Quill's logs show entries that could not have been done in "real time".  Note also the date error, as if he had accidentally skipped a line and then realized his mistake, or something like that.

Edited by gingerbob

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I think I can just make out the last 3 of the serial of A-14 as 839.  Would that fit for a Hurri IIb?  Mind you, I might look at it again in 15 mins and see it as something else.

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Good possibilities, thanks. I'm distant from Mason's list at present, but I'll take a look when I get back to it.

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A much better source than Mason would be the Air Britain series of books covering all RAF serials.  If you restricted yourself to serial blocks including Hurricane Mk.IIs that would make it more accessible - still quite a few, though.  Perhaps your local library could help, as I'm not sure that all are still in print?

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On 24/05/2017 at 2:10 PM, Graham Boak said:

A much better source than Mason would be the Air Britain series of books covering all RAF serials.  If you restricted yourself to serial blocks including Hurricane Mk.IIs that would make it more accessible - still quite a few, though.  Perhaps your local library could help, as I'm not sure that all are still in print?

Thanks for the suggestion. I'm not familiar with these. Do they list anything more than broad category of aircraft? There are a few web tools available, but they seem to do no more than say something like "Hawker Hurricane".

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 the Air Britain  are by date listing of British aircraft serials,  given the way the serials were assigned,  each volume will have other types apart from Hurricanes.

Some entries are more comprehensive than other I think, I don't have any of the series.

AFAIK they are similar to the Spitfire production listing,now available online

see

http://www.airhistory.org.uk/spitfire/p001.html

sadly no  Hurricane list like this :( 

 

Graham does have the books, so hopefully he can clarify the details.

 

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The books lists the individual history (in terms of flying units, not MU movements) of every aircraft and its eventual fate, where known (it usually is, apart from those "Lost in France" or "Far East 1942 No further record" examples).  They are listed in their allocated blocks by aircraft type and variant - so in the case of the Hurricane there will be blocks of Mk.I and blocks of Mk.II, with the latter blocks having individual notes where the aircraft were Mk.IIA, IIB, IIC, IID or IV.  Each book deals with one or more alphabetic blocks: eg P1000 to P9999, ZAA100 to AZ999, BA100 to BZ999 etc.  And works its way through the sequence.  So they are by date of serial allocation, not date of flight - which can differ for different aircraft: adjacent blocks could be months if not years away from each other.  You will have to pick your way through them noting all those which include 71OTU.

 

839?  Mk.IIc HL839 is a possibility, as it served in the Western Desert and not struck off charge until January 1945.  It is not described as going to 71 OTU but there is likely to be a long gap between its listed service with 73 Sq and early 1945.  Histories of the other '839s from HA to KZ don't fit.

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A long, but possible, shot at tying up code and serial are the log books held at Hendon.  Mostly they don't record both, but you could get lucky.  They are indexed (or cross referenced) by unit so some will be appropriate.

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This is all good, thanks again.

I think for the time being I'll wait to see what I can get from the Operations Records at the National Archive - I was previously able to tie a serial number to a squadron letter from the records of 135 Sqn. Unfortunately the OTU records aren't digitized online, so I have to wait for a manual record search.

But you've given me some great other avenues to explore if the ORs turn up empty!

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I thought I'd let you all know that the Operations Records have arrived from the National Archive. Courtesy of Lt. Hanson (SAAF) I believe I've found a serial for a IIB that was at Ismailia during my time of interest.

On the 2nd February 1944. Lt. Hanson "whilst carrying out his cockpit check on the ground, selected undercarriage 'up', causing the aircraft, Hurricane BN.173, to collapse. The resultant damage was Cat.I to airframe."

Now, I find BN173 listed as a IIB/IIC, but I've found a fuzzy photo of it taxiing in the Western Desert while attached to 1 Sq. SAAF, in The Desert Air Force in World War II by Ken Delve, and I'm not getting the impression of a IIC's cannons. Ready to stand corrected, though.

I think this link will take you to the correct page in Google Books, although the relevant page has become corrupted in my browser: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=IoIlDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT207&lpg=PT207&dq=aircraft+bn173&source=bl&ots=9KOdFT9fd1&sig=-Vzgu9oZY4UAU5ZMXl5Lvl9QVeg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiZ6pWrxsXUAhVdF8AKHVlFCuQQ6AEIKTAB#v=onepage&q=aircraft bn173&f=false

 

it was never a dull moment at Ismailia during the three-month period I'm looking at. As well as a tragic number of deaths in training, I find:

Quote

SGT. F.R. KENNEDY, a pupil on 54 Course, hit an army lorry whilst carrying out low-flying exercise on the Palestine Road

(The pilot sustained "slight head injuries", and the vehicle suffered negligible damage.)

 

And

Quote

An outbreak of plague has occurred in Arayshia village, Ismailia. All cinemas are out of bounds until further notice with the exception of the Garrison Cinema.

 

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BN173 was a Mk.IIB recorded as being with 274 Sq,, struck off 31.5.45.  Again, quite a long gap without recorded use.  The BA-BZ book I have is one of the oldest of the sequence, and I believe it has been replaced so there may be more information in that edition.

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12 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

BN173 was a Mk.IIB recorded as being with 274 Sq,, struck off 31.5.45.  Again, quite a long gap without recorded use.  The BA-BZ book I have is one of the oldest of the sequence, and I believe it has been replaced so there may be more information in that edition.

Thanks for that. Delve's book (which I mentioned above) seems to suggest it went from 1 Sq. SAAF to "an OTU" - it certainly seems to have been in 71 OTU by Feb 1944. Might the aircraft have been transferred between 274 Sq. RAF and 1 Sq. SAAF in the Western Desert?

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Yes.  It does seem that a lot of the records were lost postwar, perhaps in the withdrawal from Empire, but the recording/survival of movements in the desert do seem to have erratic.  In Chris Shores' new series on the Mediterranean Air War he has a number of photos of Hurricanes in squadrons where their movement had not been recorded.  Or the record has not survived.

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21 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

BN173 was a Mk.IIB recorded as being with 274 Sq,, struck off 31.5.45.  Again, quite a long gap without recorded use.  The BA-BZ book I have is one of the oldest of the sequence, and I believe it has been replaced so there may be more information in that edition.

 

I have the more recent edition and there is!  BN173 274/1 SAAF/71 OTU.  SOC 31/5/45.

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32 minutes ago, Seahawk said:

 

I have the more recent edition and there is!  BN173 274/1 SAAF/71 OTU.  SOC 31/5/45.

Excellent, thanks. The SOC date corresponds to the winding down of 71OTU, with training stopped on 20th May, and disbanded on 11th June.

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I have quite a long list of Hurricanes assigned to 71 OTU but none ending in "839".

 

BN173 was coded "A-5" in late 1944.

 

I am unable to see the photo of "A-14" and I have sent a PM with my email address.

 

John Engelsted

Edited by Engelsted

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1 hour ago, Engelsted said:

I am unable to see the photo of "A-14"

 

Neither am I.  Could we have it back please?

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