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771 Sq Havoc II AH507: request for info (or even speculation!)


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In late 1943-1944 771 Squadron FAA based at Twatt in the Shetlands, was issued with a number of Boston and Havoc aircraft, mostly Turbinlites, for use on radar calibration and target simulation purposes for Home Fleet units preparing to deploy to the Pacific.

 

One of these was Havoc II AH507 "T8A" (Sturtivant calls it a Boston II but I think he is wrong on that).  Air Britain does not record it as one of the many aircraft from that particular Havoc batch converted to Turbinlite configuration and it had previously served with 85 Sq so I conclude it was one of the aircraft fitted with the Martin-Baker 12-gun nose.  In Sturtivant's FAA Aircraft there is a photo of this aircraft, taken from the starboard rear quarter, after running off the runway into mud on 8 November 1943.  It is very useful for many details, including the nacelle configuration, but the nose is not visible.

 

Question 1: is anyone aware of any other photos of this incident, preferable showing the aircraft nose.  I am assuming that the redundant AI radar has been removed (it clearly has been from the less camera-shy Turbinlite aircraft) but am unclear whether the gun muzzles would have been left open, doped over but still visible or plugged.  

Question 2: since the chances of a positive answer to q.1 seem very slim, is anyone prepared to speculate on the most likely option?  Are there any photos of other 12-gun Havocs on second -line duties late in the war?  My inclination is to think that on an aircraft operating from one of the wettest places known to man any superfluous orifices would have been securely plugged against the all-pervasive damp.  For me it would be easiest for fill all the gun apertures but my hair-shirt mode says I ought to drill all 12 of them out.

 

Any leads/thoughts?

Edited by Seahawk
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Yes, great shot and helpful that some serial/code correlations are given in the caption, even if they are possibly quarried from Sturtivant.  However AH507 is not among them: they are all Turbinlites (even though the unit also has some straight Boston bombers) and none of them is in the Medium Sea Grey/Dark Green scheme worn by AH507.

 

PS Author Hayward rather than Nesbitt or is there another book with the same title out there?

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DK Decals have done three 771 NAS Boston/Havoc`s on this recent decal sheets including a 12 gun aircraft wearing Med. Sea Grey/Dk. Green camo.

 

72065_Havoc_NF_1.jpg

 

Cheers,

           Tony

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Yes, I'm currently building both the non-black aircraft: I have photographic confirmation of both schemes.  I thought I detected the influence of Tony O'Toole in getting these "bonuses" included on the sheet: if so, many thanks!

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11 hours ago, Seahawk said:

Yes, great shot and helpful that some serial/code correlations are given in the caption, even if they are possibly quarried from Sturtivant.  However AH507 is not among them: they are all Turbinlites (even though the unit also has some straight Boston bombers) and none of them is in the Medium Sea Grey/Dark Green scheme worn by AH507.

 

PS Author Hayward rather than Nesbitt or is there another book with the same title out there?

 

Yes, Hayward rather than Nesbit, sorry, was working from memory - Nesbit wrote the companion RAF volumes.

Edited by Dave Fleming
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4 hours ago, Dave Fleming said:

I do have a photo of AW396 in the all black scheme at Twatt and it looks like the guns are plugged

Very useful and more than I was expecting: thanks.  Is that plugged so as to give a completely smooth nose or are the patches over the gun muzzles visible?

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15 hours ago, Seahawk said:

Yes, I'm currently building both the non-black aircraft: I have photographic confirmation of both schemes.  I thought I detected the influence of Tony O'Toole in getting these "bonuses" included on the sheet: if so, many thanks!

I did help with the DK Boston/Havoc sheets and I think that Franta did a great job on them. The only photos that I have of a black 771 NAS aircraft is of AW396, T8C, seen at Twatt with 771 NAS in August 1943, looks to have the standard bomber glazing overpainted and possibly a disruptive camouflage scheme on the upper surfaces?;

f21331fb-2639-4575-badc-f1000efe78eb.jpg

 

I`m not sure whether these pics of 85 Sqn Havocs are of any use?;

d0f36eb1-ddd5-42a7-ab1b-850ea2593290.jpg

0d674cb9-f13a-4503-b226-7a9ba9869356.jpg 

 

Here are some interesting Turbinlite pics too, depicting RAF/Polish aircraft too;

 

6cfc1d84-3412-4e36-92a5-b9eaf3c3e389.jpg

7673888e-84d8-440f-aa53-d755617b8ec9.jpg

 

538 Sqn (ex 1459 Turbinlite) Flight personnel;

cef3625e-345b-4fcc-9ee6-d1d92fa5d406.jpg

 

5dc71c61-386e-44ec-94e8-9202e7ff075b.jpg

b901172e-dd4e-4611-978f-52c9e320a530.jpg

 

 

 

All the best,

                   Tony

 

Edited by tonyot
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13 hours ago, tonyot said:

The only photos that I have of a black 771 NAS aircraft is of AW396, T8C, seen at Twatt with 771 NAS in August 1943, looks to have the standard bomber glazing overpainted and possibly a disruptive camouflage scheme on the upper surfaces?;

f21331fb-2639-4575-badc-f1000efe78eb.jpg

 

 

Thanks for that.  I can certainly see why you speculate about an overpainted standard bomber nose: it looks oddly foreshortened compared with the 12 gun nose of the Havoc II in your immediately following photo.  However AW396 is a Havoc I which had only an 8-gun nose: from reading the old Ducimus Camouflage & Markings 10 Boston/Havoc (still IMHO the best source for the intricacies of the Boston/Havoc saga) I gather it was shorter and less streamlined than the 12-gun nose of the later Havoc II.  I can't really see the point of replacing the gun nose with a glass nose, only to then overpaint it, 

 

I'm not seeing a disruptive upper surface camouflage scheme: once the confusion caused by the hangar roof immediately behind is removed, it looks like a worn overall black scheme possibly with a bit of repair work to the top of the nose.

 

Thanks also for generously sharing your selection of Havoc photos, not least because they show that use of the later Medium Sea Grey/Dark Green scheme on these aircraft was more common than I at least had thought.  C&M 10 says "some of the Boston III (Intruders) and a few of the surviving Havoc I (Intruders) and nightfighters were reported as being repainted in the new scheme but, unfortunately, no photographs exist which can provide confirmation of this": we now know better!

 

Thanks everyone for your contributions which have taken me much further forward than I really expected.  I'm especially pleased to see a photo of AW396.  I shall now rush upstairs to start eliminating the gun muzzles on AH507!

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On 4/6/2019 at 2:29 PM, AndyL said:

Nice 85 Squadron Havoc photos Tony. Wonder where they came from :)

Oh crikey Andy,.......jeez I forgot,..........I`ll gladly delete them mate! Thats what you get for posting late at night when you are tired!!! 

 

Sorry pal,

             Tony

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5 hours ago, tonyot said:

Oh crikey Andy,.......jeez I forgot,..........I`ll gladly delete them mate! Thats what you get for posting late at night when you are tired!!! 

 

Sorry pal,

             Tony

Not a problem,  comment was very tongue in cheek  :)

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5 hours ago, AndyL said:

Not a problem,  comment was very tongue in cheek  :)

I though that it might Andy, but it still doesn`t forgive me,....... I was tired and bursting for a pee,....... something told me not to post them,......but I`d totally forgotten that you`d sent them to me! I can only apologise again mate,

Cheers

         Tony

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