Jump to content

Coastal Command Flying Boats mystery


Recommended Posts

A recent rediscovered photo I bought a long time ago has posed a question.

 

In the picture below are 5 different flying boats, the description on the press release it was used for is the second photo.

 

IMG_3537

 

IMG_3536

 

 

According to Wikipedia the flying boat at the bottom was consigned to end its days at a flying training school a year earlier yet here it is alive and well. Did all these different types actually see active service or is this photo a PR stunt from 1939.

 

cheers Pat

 

PS, I didn't tell you the names of the different flying boats deliberately so you can look them up as I had to :tease:

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello, Pat

I would not put to much trust into Wikipedia. The first book about Coastal Command I opened mentions that another of types on the photo had been phased out of squadron service by the end of December 1937, which was confirmed after a quick browse through the second one. I saw no point in looking any further. Cheers

Jure

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Jure Miljevic said:

Hello, Pat

I would not put to much trust into Wikipedia. The first book about Coastal Command I opened mentions that another of types on the photo had been phased out of squadron service by the end of December 1937, which was confirmed after a quick browse through the second one. I saw no point in looking any further. Cheers

Jure

 

Thanks Jure

Do you think the photo was staged especially for the press ?

regards Pat

Link to post
Share on other sites

The furthest boat is carrying pre-30s tail stripes.  I suspect it was added to the photo later.    As for it being a staged photo, surely there can be no doubt of this - it certainly isn't an in-squadron-service one.  Possibly such a formation could have been flown to demonstrate the number of types under test at one time - from Calshott?  It would then become a standard shot to be hauled out as desired later, as in this case.

 

I'm not sure quite who it would have impressed...

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello

I believe it was either staged or doctored. The photo looks much like that late 1939 film news about RAF aircraft (and among them Battles) flying standing air defence patrols around the clock. I have no idea whom was that suppose to impress either ... Cheers

Jure

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

If doctored its high quality; the doctor got the shadows consistent. 

 

My money is on a staged photo. I don't know enough about RAF flying boats to recognize them or their makers, but it isn't unheard of to get a piccy of the types currently on the go...either in a unit, depot or manufacturer. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

As Graham suggests the most likely place to see these type together would be at a test establishment such as the Maritime Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Felixstowe.

 

The Singapore appears to be K4577. According to the Air Britain boook "The K File" K4577 spent time at MAEE from June to September 1935 after which time it left for the Middle East where it remained for the rest of its career before being SOC in 1940.

 

The London looks like it might be K3560. Again, according to the Air Britain book, K3560 was at MAEE from July 1935 onwards.  That would suggest the photos could have been taken some time in mid-1935 at Felixstowe.

Edited by rod mcq
spelling error
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

There are other sources that state the Knuckledutser was retired in 1938.  My hunch is the the date of the press release doesn't necessarily reflect the date the photo was taken.

 

Also, I would guess this as a Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment Felixstow arranged formation.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got a London at front left as we look at it Dave, by rear I'm meaning  middle furthest from camera, the fins looked wrong for a London to me but close for a Scapa but hard to tell it it had inline or radial engines. The engines appear to have a long structure behind them, something like this.

Steve.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve's correct - the rear most flying boat is most certainly a Supermarine Scapa. The in-line engine nacelles extend back to the training edge of the top wing.

What's got me stumped is the last line of the caption which says that "Recently, one of these boats rescued the crew of a torpedoed Steamer".

A comment like this would have to place this (caption at least) somewhere later than September 1939. 

 

I reckon we are seeing some early signs of photoshop here!! I have no idea what the lower flying boat is, however do not beleive it was ever operated by the RAF.

It appears to have a Short Singapore nose, however the rear could be of Sikorsky appearance. It's a hybrid of some sort IMO.

 

Cheers... Dave

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm guessing that its a stock photo being used to illustrate a later incident. Both Londons & Stranraers serviced into war years around the UK & the caption could refer to either of them. The lower boat is a Short S.18, aka the Knuckleduster. A prototype for the same spec that gave us the London & Stranraer, though it was the only one to use the specified engines, namely RR Goshawks. With a couple of Peggies, it might well have been a different story. Info from it was apparently useful in the genesis of the Sunderland & Empire boats. I'd probably even buy a decent vac form of that & do a whif Knucklduster in wartime camo scheme. :)

Steve.

Edited by stevehnz
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Rabbit Leader said:

I reckon we are seeing some early signs of photoshop here!! I have no idea what the lower flying boat is, however do not beleive it was ever operated by the RAF.

It appears to have a Short Singapore nose, however the rear could be of Sikorsky appearance. It's a hybrid of some sort IMO.

 

Cheers... Dave

It's a genuine picture, just usual press release not necessarily coinciding with date of picture, I would go with Rod in that pic is c'1935.

The lower flying boat is the Short Knuckleduster.

 

Left to right, Saro London, Short Knuckleduster, Supermarine Scapa, Short Singapore III & Supermarine Stranraer.

All these types served with the MAEE, and some with the RAF.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, stevehnz said:

I've got a London at front left as we look at it Dave, by rear I'm meaning  middle furthest from camera, the fins looked wrong for a London to me but close for a Scapa but hard to tell it it had inline or radial engines. The engines appear to have a long structure behind them, something like this.

Steve.

 

Aha, and I was thinking rear of the formation!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

"British Navy Coastal Patrol"?!?!?!?!?   Once again the press fail to let accuracy get in the way of a piece of badly-researched, inaccurate tosh.  I know that, if this does indeed relate to a late 1939- early 1940 torpedoing, we weren't going to give away free information to Gerry, but I'm also pretty sure that their intelligence service would know of the existence of Coastal Command, the FAA and the types of aircraft that both were operating.

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Rabbit Leader said:

Steve's correct - the rear most flying boat is most certainly a Supermarine Scapa. The in-line engine nacelles extend back to the training edge of the top wing.

What's got me stumped is the last line of the caption which says that "Recently, one of these boats rescued the crew of a torpedoed Steamer".

A comment like this would have to place this (caption at least) somewhere later than September 1939. 

 

Unless the incident occurred during the Spanish Civil War? https://www.raf.mod.uk/history/210squadron.cfm - "In September 1935 No.210 converted to Rangoons and moved to Gibraltar during the Ethiopian crisis, returning in August 1936 to re-equip with Singapores. In September 1937 it was detached to Algeria as part of an Anglo-French force assembled to counter the activities of submarines attacking neutral shipping during the Spanish Civil War, returning in December".

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello

Well, I do not recall reading about anything similar but then again I am not an expert on maritime aspect of Spanish Civil war to put it mildly. I vaguely remember that Republican bombers damaged one of German pocket battleships (possibly Deutschland) on one of her so called neutrality patrols, but that is about it. However, caption of the photo (˝somewhere in Great Britain˝) suggest it had been released to public after the war had been declared. Spanish Civil war ended on 1st April 1939 so mentioned rescue could theoretically still be considered as recent. Still, by early 1939 it was more than a year since Scapa had been phased out of active service so the photo must have been either taken earlier or doctored to suit the occasion. Cheers

Jure

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks very much everyone, I hadn't anticipated this level of interest.

 

I would go with James on the different types of aircraft, all available from Contrail except the Short S.18 Knuckleduster !

 

My best guess is the use of an old photo of aircraft based at Felixstowe flying together. The image being used to reassure the American public that we had the means of rescuing any crew from ships transporting goods to the UK, despite the Uboat threat. If the  date is to be believed on the text on the back, the only aircraft likely to have been actually in service would be a Stranraer.

 

I hadn't appreciated how simular the London, Scapa and Stranraer were till you see them together.

 

I wonder what aircraft they took the picture from ?

 

cheers Pat

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello

As I said previously I do not know much about it and precious little knowledge I accumulated is mostly in some way connected to aviation. I suspect the most of the action went on in Mediterranean Sea, as I doubt Republicans would venture to Atlantic to intercept ships supplying materiel for Nationalists via Portugal ports. Also, in Mediterranean Menorca remained loyal to Republica, while Nationalist held Majorca and the rest of the Baleares. German and Italian surface ships on non-interventional patrols conducted maritime blockade of Republican ports along with Italian submarines, which I understand sunk several Republican and neutral blockade runners. I know that one of Deutschland class pocket battleships had been bombed by Republican bombers more than once and suffered not so insignificant losses. Also, Czech Avia 101 light bombers, used by Nationalist, were captured along with Republican merchant ship which hauled them. There must have been more, but unfortunately my knowledge ends here. Cheers

Jure

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd suggest that the photograph could be from a practice done for an RAF display.

 

For example: Flight, 5 July 1934, has a photo (taken from a Blackburn Perth) which you can see at the bottom of this linked page - over Felixstowe, preparing for that year's Hendon display. Now, of course, the Display contained flying boats anyway, but although my Dutch isn't brilliant, but this looks awfully familiar... from 1934

 

The above appears to have confused its Singapores and Sarafands, but the translation button suggests that the photograph of the formation is taken from the Sarafand. my guess would be that the photograph in the original post relates to the 1934 display, and the caption is misleading.

 

As an even wilder guess, the rescue referred to in the caption relates to that of the crew of SS Kensington Court, which was sunk in September 1939, with 34 crewmembers recovered by a couple of Sunderlands.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

It makes one wonder if there was really a need for so many variations on a theme!  I suppose the same could be said for fighters, etc etc.

 

Interesting photo, and analysis- thanks for sharing!

 

bob

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...