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Swordfish MkII with Invasion stripes


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I am looking to paint my Swordfish with invasion stripes, possibly another one than the NF243 red S. I stumbled on NF117, black S, of 811 Sqn. Airfix has it in it's 1/72 kit. However I cannot find any picture or reference to the effect that NF117 belonged to 811 let alone partiicpated in D-Day. I also stumbled on red F in scale modelling now but could not find background either.

 

Would anyone know if the red S and F with invasion were for real ?

 

Thanks

Eric

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Naval aircraft aren't really my thing but MJF Bowyer in Aircraft for the Many lists the Swordfish squadrons involved in D-Day as 816, 819 and 838. These may be just ones that were under RAF control and there may have been more under Navy control, that's not clear from the book.

 

There is a photo of 3 in formation with stripes and rockets, letters K, S & Q with the serial of S quoted as NF249.

 

In the Airfile book on Overlord there is a 3-view drawing of NF211 Q of 816 Squadron based at St.Merryn with stries and rockets. No source reference is given so the usual caveats for drawings apply.

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From Sturtivant's FAA Aircraft 1939-45: NF117 delivered 30.12.43; ? Sqn ditched in Irish Sea 31.1.44 (S/L JE Helfrich rescued).  So lost long before D-Day.

 

The D-Day stripes on Swordfish were most commonly seen on 816 Sq Mk.IIs, detached to RAF Perranporth in Cornwall on anti E- and R-boat duties during the period 20 April 1944 (arrived Perranporth) to 1 August 1944 (unit disbanded).  The other 2 squadrons at Perranporth on similar duties were 849 anf 850 Squadrons with Avengers.  If you want to avoid 811 Sq's NF243/S, other aircraft operated by 816 during this period were NF245 (crashed into the sea 23 May 44 during anti-submarine bombing practice) and NF235 (lost 18 mi off Perranporth 23 July 1944): no info on codes.

 

The commonly-seen photo of NF243 S shows her in company with aircraft K but the latter's serial is illegible - in fact I couldn't swear it and the usual ROYAL NAVY titles are even present.  I'm can't recall seeing another photo of invasion-striped Swordfish which is not to say they aren't out there.

 

According to Sturtivant's British Naval Aviation 838 Sqn, also with Swordfish, was based at RAF Harrowbeer in Devon on similar duties and would also have been a candidate for D-Day markings: again evidence is lacking (AFAIK).

 

816 Sq operated under 15 Group RAF control based at RNAS Limavady, Northern ireland, from 10 Jun to 14 July 44 and from 25 Aug to 30 Sep .  The intervening period and the time immediately before D-Day was spent embarked in HMS Biter, which was supporting Gibraltar convoys.  Passing through the general Western Approaches area may have require the application of invasion stripes but I don't have evidence to prove it.

 

 

Edited by Seahawk
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On 12/6/2023 at 10:13 AM, rossm said:

Naval aircraft aren't really my thing but MJF Bowyer in Aircraft for the Many lists the Swordfish squadrons involved in D-Day as 816, 819 and 838.

838 Sq were based at Manston over the D-Day period, presumably doing the same thing for the eastern flank of the D-Day area as 816 and 819 were doing for the western flank.

 

On 12/6/2023 at 10:13 AM, rossm said:

There is a photo of 3 in formation with stripes and rockets, letters K, S & Q with the serial of S quoted as NF249

Interesting that the same photo is cropped differently in various books to show 1, 2 and 3 aircraft.  This is the only one I've seen showing Q, so good spot.  As for S's identity, I'll see your MJF Bowyer and raise you Ray Sturtivant (FAA Aircraft 1939-45) and Peter London (In Cornish Skies), who agree on NF243.

 

On 12/6/2023 at 10:13 AM, rossm said:

Naval aircraft aren't really my thing but MJF Bowyer in Aircraft for the Many lists the Swordfish squadrons involved in D-Day as 816, 819 and 838. These may be just ones that were under RAF control and there may have been more under Navy control, that's not clear from the book.

 

There is a photo of 3 in formation with stripes and rockets, letters K, S & Q with the serial of S quoted as NF249.

 

In the Airfile book on Overlord there is a 3-view drawing of NF211 Q of 816 Squadron based at St.Merryn with stries and rockets. No source reference is given so the usual caveats for drawings apply.

Airfile not my reference of choice but Sturtivant confirms NF211 as present with 816 during the D-Day period but is silent on her code.

 

Given the general scarcity of photos of invasion-striped Swordfish, I thought I'd point out an excellent view of a Swordfish peeling off on p.44 of FRA Andrew's The History of RAF Perranporth 1941-1945.  The photo credit is to the same CF Motley, who get the credit for the other photo, so it probably shows K, S or Q.  The wing invasion stripes look to be of standard width.  The upper wing ones start immediately inboard of the upper surface roundels and are at right angles to the swept wing leading edge.  The lower wing ones are further outboard, starting where the wing leading edge starts curving round to the wingtip and ending at the outer edge of the rocket racks.  They too are perpendicular to the wing leading edge, so not at the same angle as the upper wing ones. 

 

Actually, now I look more closely, a photo on p.94 of Bill Harrison's Crowood Swordfish book shows 3 Swordfish of 816 Sq from above: one may be N or R.  [Correction: we now know it's K.]  They all have the lower wing invasion stripes in slightly different positions!

Edited by Seahawk
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30 minutes ago, rossm said:

Some searching of the IWM:-

 

 

  • If the 1 Aug date is correct, the first three are staged on the day of 816's disbandment.  NB the first photo shows that, on at least one aircraft, the lower underwing stripes extended under the rocket racks.
  • The 3rd one is interesting in showing that, on at least one aircraft, the stripes on the underside of the upper wing were narrower than standard.
  • NB in photos 1 and 3 the aerials (?) along the leading edge of the upper centre section.  Anyone know what they are for?
  • The 4th one is the one from the Harrison book I refer to in the post above.
  • The 5th one, cropped, is the one in the Andrew book referred to above.
  • The 6th one is the Urquelle for the photo most commonly published to demonstrate D-Day markings on Swordfish: select 1, 2 or 3 aircraft to taste!

 

Edited by Seahawk
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51 minutes ago, Seahawk said:

As for S's identity, I'll see your MJF Bowyer and raise you Ray Sturtivant (FAA Aircraft 1939-45) and Peter London (In Cornish Skies), who agree on NF243.

 

2 sources that agree are a good bet 😄

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52 minutes ago, Seahawk said:

NB in photos 1 and 3 the aerials (?) along the leading edge of the upper centre section.  Anyone know what they are for?

It's the transmitting aerial for the ASV radar, the receiving aerials are the Yagi aerials on the wing struts

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5 hours ago, rossm said:

In the Airfile book on Overlord there is a 3-view drawing of NF211 Q of 816 Squadron based at St.Merryn with stries and rockets. No source reference is given so the usual caveats for drawings apply.

Similarly, in the Airfile book on the Swordfish, there is a 3-view drawing of NF243 S of 816 NAS based at St.Merryn with stripes and rockets. No source reference is given so the usual caveats for drawings apply. There is a nice big photo of three such aircraft, next to it. This is the fourth IWM photo linked to above https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205016145.  

 

There is also a side profile of a striped machine NE932 A of 819 NAS based at Manston.  Apart from the white element of the stripes and aircraft letter, the entire aircraft is black for night ops.

Edited by detail is everything
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3 minutes ago, detail is everything said:

There is also a side profile of a striped machine NE932 A of 819 NAS based at Manston.  Apart from the white element of the stripes and aircraft letter, the entire aircraft is black for night ops.

there is a photograph of this machine in the 'From The Cockpit' book on the Swordfish. As is the same photo of the three 816 NAS aircraft

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So, does it look that in the case of  "K" machine from 816 Sq the serial is not known, but also it is not on display, so no problem in fact? The character  "K" -  is it red or grey?

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4 hours ago, JWM said:

So, does it look that in the case of  "K" machine from 816 Sq the serial is not known, but also it is not on display, so no problem in fact? The character  "K" -  is it red or grey?

 

Having had the chance to examine Ross's 6th IWM photo under magnification, I judge that it and the ROYAL NAVY titles are in fact present, just a bit faint.  I see no reason why the aircraft code would not be in red.

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 I have prints of several of these photos.  

 

A partial crop of the three in flight, scanned at high res.  "K"  looks to have had the serial and RN legend painted over. I agree that the ID letter is probably red, but it has a thin outline.  Both of these also show that the dinghy has been inflated and resealed into the upper mainplane with what I assume is red dope.

 

The black horizontal line running lengthways on the fuselage is also curious. 

 

img049

 

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It almost feels like that after painting the stripes on “K”, they realized Royal Navy and serial were partially covered. Wanting to avoid the “Q” situation, they simply painted over what was left.

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10 hours ago, JWM said:

One more detail - here Swordfish from 816 Sq has black most of central part of upper wing

https://www.worldwarphotos.info/wp-content/gallery/uk/raf/swordfish/Swordfish_816_aug44.jpg

Cheers

J-W

Looking at Ian’s photo, it seems to me that the top of the fuselage forward of the pilot and the cowling top are in black too.  They certainly look darker than the TSS on the wing upper surfaces.

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2 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

I'm not familiar with the radar aerials on the leading edge of the upper wing,   Are they normal for Swordfish?

Standard ASV III fit, horizontal transmitting aerial on the upper wing leading edge and outward canted yagi receiver aerials on each outboard forward wing strut.

If anyone has any idea where the plan position indicator (or any of the other boxes) was located in the rear cockpit I'd love to know!

 

Sorry, ASV MkII, not III, see my earlier thread

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Is the landing light here blinded? large-000000.jpg

Here it is only on left wing, and looks blinded, usually Swordfish has lights on both wings, at least mk 1. How it is with mk ii?

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On 12/9/2023 at 9:57 AM, Dave Swindell said:

Standard ASV III fit, horizontal transmitting aerial on the upper wing leading edge and outward canted yagi receiver aerials on each outboard forward wing strut.

If anyone has any idea where the plan position indicator (or any of the other boxes) was located in the rear cockpit I'd love to know!

 

Sorry, ASV MkII, not III, see my earlier thread

 

Dave,  I tried to find an old thread where Tony O and I, among others, discussed the Swordfish PPI, but my search was futile.  As I recall, it is in the observer's area for the gunner to look down into it.  I remember finding a cockpit photo in a Swordfish paperback; the one with the color photo of a restored plane on the cover, which I don't have to hand right now....As usual, not much help.

Maybe the powers that be here can make it easier to find your own posts....

 

Jim

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