A Black Monster called “The Babe”

Research by Clarence Simonsen

PDF link below

A Black Monster called The Babe


The RCAF Operational Training Unit was where every rookie airman ceased to be an individual and began to work and think as part of his newly formed crew. After ‘crewing-up’ the five members became a band of brothers or comrades training for the dangerous world of operational flying in the British twin-engine old veteran Wellington ex-combat bombers. The final stop in the training process became the RCAF Heavy Conversion Unit [HCU] where two new members [Mid-upper gunner and RAF Flight engineer] joined the aircrew, who now graduated to flying the four-engine heavy bomber Halifax and by late 1943, the Lancaster.

This was where the sprog [rookie] aircrews flew various exercises designed to prepare themselves for the real dangers of operational flying, with many “Bulls-eye” trips over British cities and “Nickle” operations over France and even Germany. In many cases, the first impression of the Handley Page Halifax left the aircrew shocked at the size, and some Canadians called their veteran trainer “The Black Monster.”

Text version

A Black Monster called “The Babe”

The RCAF Operational Training Unit was where every rookie airman ceased to be an individual and began to work and think as part of his newly formed crew. After ‘crewing-up’ the five members became a band of brothers or comrades training for the dangerous world of operational flying in the British twin-engine old veteran Wellington ex-combat bombers. The final stop in the training process became the RCAF Heavy Conversion Unit [HCU] where two new members [Mid-upper gunner and RAF Flight engineer] joined the aircrew, who now graduated to flying the four-engine heavy bomber Halifax and by late 1943, the Lancaster.

This was where the sprog [rookie] aircrews flew various exercises designed to prepare themselves for the real dangers of operational flying, with many “Bulls-eye” trips over British cities and “Nickle” operations over France and even Germany. In many cases, the first impression of the Handley Page Halifax left the aircrew shocked at the size, and some Canadians called their veteran trainer “The Black Monster.”

The actual construction of the British Halifax aircraft [Black Monster] was undertaken by a production group consisting of Handley Page Limited which was based in Cricklewood, London, [where 1,592 aircraft were built,] and their airport at Park Street and Colney Street, Radlett, Hertfordshire, [where the aircraft were assembled and test flown]. Manufacturer: Handley Page Ltd. were the Headquarters which also acted as the technical consultants and advisors for the total construction of the Handley Page bomber. The other major constructors in the production group were the English Electric Company of Preston, Lancashire, with aircraft assembly at Samlesbury [2,145 built], the London Passenger Company Transport Board [710 built], Rootes Securities Limited of Spekes [1,070 built], and the Fairey Aviation Company Limited of Stockport [661 built]. By 1943, this group comprised 41 factories and over 600 sub-contractors which produced one complete Black Monster aircraft every hour.

On 1 August 1944, Handley Page Ltd [Cricklewood and Radlett] began a production order of 46 Halifax B. Mk. VII aircraft serial numbers NP736 to NP781, which ended on 9 September 1944. The total production order of 157 Halifax aircraft is recorded below, which was completed by mid-December 1944.

From the Batch serial NP736 to NP781, seven Halifax Mk. VII bombers were assigned to No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron at East Moor. [NP736, NP738, NP755, NP759, NP774, NP778 and NP779. This complete Handley Page Ltd. production order of 46 Halifax Mk. VII aircraft follows.

The new Halifax Mk. VII ‘Black Monster” would be flown to the assigned RAF/RCAF Squadron base somewhere in the United Kingdom, and flight training would begin. During this peak period of Bomber Operations, for every 100 RCAF airmen who began operational training, only 24 would survive and return to Canada, a changed person forever. [Fifty-one would be killed on operations over Europe, nine killed in aircraft accidents, twelve would survive to become prisoners of war, three would be injured so badly they could never return to operations, and one would evade capture by the Germans and return to England]. Both the RAF and RCAF promoted aircrews to that of the elite with ‘Award Parades’ and the presentation of flying badges, decorations, and achievement awards. The grim realities of air combat bomber casualties soon dispelled the glamourous awards and the airmen were only really concerned about reaching their thirty operations, the magic number for a completed tour of duty, and return to Canada. Most aircraft carried some form of painted bombs for completed operations as part of their individual bomber nose art, with “The Babe” flying one clean diaper for each combat operation.

The largest percentage of WWII RCAF aircraft nose art was painted and recorded by members of the ground crews and preserved on mostly Kodak film. Kodak introduced color slide 35 mm film in 1944, however, it was too expensive for Canadians and only American color nose art was saved and preserved.

LAC Russell Beach No. 432 ground crew collection, taken 29-31 October 1944.

Halifax Mk. VII serial NP736 was painted with the nose art titled – “The Babe” – the exact date of the painting is not known, likely during the first ten operations, 4 to 26 August 1944.

With the completion of each RCAF No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron operation, a new clean Baby Diaper was painted on a Canadian clothes line. The photo records 28 Diapers, which would be around 29-31 October 1944, the 29th Op. was flown 1/2 November, to Oberhausen, Germany.

It is believed [author] the Halifax nose art originated from Canadian Newspaper cover art in 1943-44, when many “Baby” paintings were released urging Canadians to enlist. Above was one of eleven [known] covers created by American postcard artist, [known for his funny Chubby-cheeked children] Charles Twelvetrees [1872-1948] for Canadian Star Weekly magazine. His little dog also appeared in most children’s magazines and postcard illustrations.

Charles Twelvetrees was born in New York in 1872, and died [natural causes] in his New York City Hotel bathtub on 7 April 1948. Four of his Canadian Star Weekly covers were published after his death, 24 July and 20 November 1948, 13 August and 3 September 1949. He was a very “shadowy” elusive artist, with much mystery, producing thousands of “Twelvetrees Kiddies” in postcards, calendars, posters, and magazine covers during both world wars. His United States 1915 “Quit Your Fighting” is a classic. [Google and enjoy much more]

1943 Star Weekly covers – 27 Feb., 30 Oct., and 31 December 1943. Right – 3 Feb. 1945.

Canadian artist William Arthur Winter was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1909 and moved to Toronto in 1937. His cover art of babies [possibly influenced by Twelvetrees] also appeared in Maclean’s magazine as seen above. His original Canadian cover art is very rare and hard to locate, possibly lost in time.

Another Canadian W.A. Winter cover painting for 1 January 1944.

Full page RCAF recruiting ad for 1 October 1943, age 17 1/2 to 33 years of age.

The General view of the pilot’s cabin in the [Black Monster] Halifax bomber. Bearing enormous loads of bombs, [10,000 pounds] and 2,000 gallons of high octane aviation fuel, each member of the crew awaited take-off, knowing the loss of one engine would result in a fiery death. Once the Black Monster became safely airborne, it slowly began a compass course climb and headed for the selected target in Europe. The air speed at best reached 180 knots and each RCAF crew member fully understood the British .303 calibre machine-guns were always outshot and completely outranged by the cannon-equipped German night-fighters. Once engaged in an attack, the Halifax only had the “Corkscrew” manoeuvre to attempt to evade the German night-fighters, with little chance of escape, only pure luck and the dark of night could save the Black Monster. The majority of RCAF Halifax bomber losses came from German night fighters; however, the real total will never be known.

The first operation for “The Babe” came on 5 August 1944, a Day trip attacking the German V-1 Flying Bomb sites around St-Leu d’Esserent, France.


5 August 1944

230 aircraft attacked Bois de Cassan, France, one was shot down, P/O D. Frost J86102 and crew became the first to fly Halifax NP736.


7/8 August 1944

133 attacked La Hogue, France, one was shot down. P/O Frost.


9/10 August 1944

161 attacked Forêt de Nieppe, France, P/O Frost.


10/11 August 1944

130 attacked La Pallice, France, P/O Frost.


12 August 1944 [day]

99 attacked La Pallice, France, F/O W. Saye.


14 August 1944 [day]

214 attacked Bons Tassilly, France, P/O Frost.


15 August 1944 [day]

101 attacked Brussels, one shot down, P/O Frost.


16/17 August 1944

138 attacked Brussels, three were shot down, P/O Frost.


18/19 August 1944

99 attacked Kiel, F/O D.C. Best.


25/26 August 1944

27 attacked Brest, F/O F. Jeffrey J29068.


27/28 August 1944

35 attacked Brest, F/Sgt. N. Franko.


28/29 August 1944

23 attacked Oeuf-en-Ternois, P/O Frost.

With a total of twelve operations completed in August 1944, the aircrew of P/O D. Frost J86102 have flown ‘their’ aircraft eight times, and for that reason, it would appear they named and selected the nose art “The Babe” painted by LAC Glen Inch, the squadron artist.


6 September 44

139 attacked Emden, P/O Frost.


9 September 1944

104 attacked Le Havre, P/O Frost.


10 September 1944

207 attacked Le Havre, F/O J. Mills J27545.


11 September 1944

25 attacked Le Havre, F/O Mills.


12 September 1944

106 attacked Castrop Rauxel, F/O Mills.


13 September 1944

98 attacked Osnabruck, F/O G. Stunden J26456.


15/16 September 1944

190 attacked Kiel, F/O J. Gault J29071.


17 September 1944

197 attacked Boulogne, one lost, F/O Gault.


26 September 1944

161 attacked Calais, F/L W. Tobias J18651.


6 October 1944

273 attacked Dortmund, two shot down, F/O W. Saye.


12 October 1944

105 attacked Wanne-Eickel, one shot down, F/O W. Saye.


14/15 October 1944

225 attacked Duisburg, one shot down, F/L D. Speller J12262.


17 October 1944

129 attacked Wilhelmshaven, three lost, F/O F. Eilertsen J16229.


23/24 October 1944

251 attacked Essen, two lost, F/O W. Saye J27647.


25 October 1944

45 attack Essen, one lost, F/O Frost.


28 October 1944

151 attacked Cologne, one lost, F/O Stunden.


1/2 November 1944

239 attacked Oberhausen, six lost, F/O D. McKinnon. [photo]


2/3 November 1944

209 attack Dusseldorf, six lost, F/L F. Horan.


4/5 November 1944

204 attack Bochum, five lost, F/L J. Sales.


16 November 1944

193 attacked Julich, F/O Frost.


18 November 1944

196 attack Munster, F/O Frost. [13th Op. in “Babe”]

During the operation to Munster, Germany, the weather [heavy cloud with rain] at East Moor became extremely poor, and the fourteen RCAF Halifax aircraft were diverted north to land at RCAF Croft. During the night landing at this new base, [RCAF Croft] NP736 was struck by Halifax NP755 and both were damaged.

The report of the night landing accident at RCAF Croft on 19 November 1944, from “Babe” pilot F/O Frost.

The RCAF aircrews were in fact “Babes” joining at age 17 ½ years, a war veteran at 20!

Due to the extent of damage to Halifax NP736 and the fact it had to be repaired at Croft before return to East Moor, operations [#34] did not resume until 13/14 January 1945, when F/O G.E. Peaker J35687 flew her to Saarbucken, Germany.


28/29 January 1945

158 attacked Stuttgart, four lost, J89817 P/O J. Kinniburg.


4/5 February 1945

97 attacked Osterfeld, J87336 F/O G.T. Sharlock.


7/8 February 1945

48 attacked Goch, J90510 P/O J.M. Bain.


13/14 February 1945

110 attacked Bohlen, J93119 P/O R.Y. Bradley.


14/15 February 1945

112 attacked Chemnitz, P/O Bradley.

March 1945


2 March 1945

177 attacked Cologne, one lost, F/O L.W.E, Loppe.


5/6 March 1945

170 attacked Chemnitz, six lost, J87336 F/O Sharlock.


7/8 March 1945

78 attacked Dessau, three lost, J91181 P/O Harold E. Kearl.


8/9 March 1945

82 attacked Hamburg, one lost, R189599 F/Sgt. P.C. Neville.


12 March 1945

191 attacked Dortmund, J91181 H. E. Kearl.


13 March 1945

97 attacked Wuppertal, J90510 P/O J.K. Bain.


14/15 March 1945

192 attacked Zweibrucken, J90505 P/O S.J. Allen.


22 March 45

80 attacked Rheine, P/O Allen.


24 March 45

96 attacked Dorsten, P/O Allen.


31 March 45

189 attacked Hamburg, eight lost, R189667 W/C W.J. Gelineau.

April 1945


4/5 April 1945

89 attacked Harburg-Rhenania, P/O Allen.


8/9 April 1945

184 attacked Hamburg, one lost, P/O Allen.


10 April 1945

188 attacked Leipzig, two lost, P/O Allen.


13/14 April 1945

204 attacked Kiel, two lost, P/O Allen.


18 April 1945

108 attacked Heligoland, two lost, P/O Allen.


22 April 1945

200 to Bremen, aborted target, P/O Allen.


25 April 45

184 attacked Wangerooge, four lost, J89817 F/Lt. J. Kinniburgh and his aircrew in NP736 “The Babe” became the very last Halifax in No. 432 Squadron to drop bombs in WWII.

The coastal batteries target on Wangerooge were obscured by smoke when the Halifax arrived [17:19 Hrs.] and they were ordered to “bomb on the edge of the smoke.” Some bombs hit a Catholic Church, a holiday resort and two children’s holiday homes, killing over 300 German civilians, and the tragic end of WWII bombing causalities.

Long before the age of the computer, RCAF HQ at Allerton Hall [Castle Dismal] had special large scale maps drawn after each operation. These were shown to Senior RCAF Officers giving the before and after position [gaggle formation] of each RCAF aircraft taken from each aircraft navigator logged position at a set time.

This is the navigational position of Halifax NP736 “the Babe” leaving the target, after dropping the last bombs from No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron in World War Two.

A number of rookie RCAF [Sprog] aircrew were given the opportunity to fly one operation in WWII and this decision became a tragic error in Senior RCAF judgement. Approaching the target one inexperienced pilot, F/L A.B. Ely, flying Halifax NP769, No. 408 Squadron, hit the slipstream of another bomber and lost control, his aircraft lurched into Halifax NP820, WO2 J.C. Tuplin, and in seconds the two bombers had become tangled and fell flaming into the Sea. Ten minutes later, the exact same thing took place when Lancaster KB831, F/O B. Emmett, No. 431 Squadron was thrown sideways and collided with Lancaster “W” KB822, F/O B.G. Baker. Nine parachutes were sighted, [the water was ice cold] in total twenty-eight Canadians needlessly died, in the final operation of World War Two. The last RCAF bomber [Lancaster D-Dog] flown by F/O D.R. Walsh, No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron landed at 2036 hours and the costly killing air war in Europe had ended. The veteran Black Monster painted with “The Babe” had survived 56 operations and now she was just another useless British war machine waiting to be scrapped.

The official RCAF report [just the bloody facts] on the four RCAF aircraft lost on 25 April 1945.

Air shot of RAF Clifton Airfield taken 29 April 1942. The British Ministry of Aircraft Production established a Civilian Halifax Repair Depot [C.R.U.] at Clifton in early 1941. The runways and buildings were expanded in 1942, with one large hangar located on the west side near the village of Rawcliffe, the second was built on Water Tower Lane, on the far south side. As soon as WWII in Europe came to an end, [8 May 1945] the Halifax Repair Depot at Clifton was closed and transferred to RAF No. 43 [Maintenance] Salvage Group, for the scrapping of over 1,000 veteran Halifax aircraft. This became a huge aircraft graveyard where most of the RCAF flown Halifax Mk. III and Mk. VII bombers completed their final journey.

The Halifax aircraft in No. 432 Squadron were only a twenty-minute flight south to RAF Clifton.

Beginning on 7 October 1940, operational control of all RAF salvage was administered by No. 43 [Maintenance] Group, H.Q., situated at the Morris Motor Works in Cowley, Oxfordshire, shared by [No. 50 Civilian Maintenance Unit] which also managed the salvage and repair of all crashed aircraft in U.K, including German. On 11 March 1941, British War Artist Paul Nash painted a most famous moonlight scene of the wrecked German graveyard at Cowley, Oxfordshire, with the German title “Totes Meer” for Dead Sea. The painting in Oil is 40 by 60 inches and records the hundreds of Nazi planes which had been shot down over England. “A sort of rigor mortis, quite dead and still” – Nash’s own description of his painting. Only a single white night owl [right on horizon] glides slowly over the German Luftwaffe wrecks looking for rats or voles, [field mice].

In June 1941, No. 43 Group H.Q. moved to Magdalen College, Oxford. Officially called No. 43 [Salvage] they had thirty-five units spread around the United Kingdom, with the largest located at the ex-Halifax Repair Depot at Clifton, [Rawcliffe] Yorkshire, from May 1945 to January 1947. This is where Halifax NP736 “The Babe” was flown, parked and waited her turn at the chopping block.

RCAF photo Ottawa [1946] 35 mm negative RE77-79.

This image was taken at No. 43 [Salvage] Group Rawcliffe in early June 1945 by RCAF Officer Harold Lindsay, also recorded and marked for return to Canada in 1946. Cowan’s’ Cowards was flown in and parked on the side of the runway joining a row of other veteran Halifax aircraft. This RCAF aircraft was a Halifax Mk. VII, serial NP740 and she had completed over sixty operations with No. 426 until 31 July 1944. The aircraft was made ready for disposal on 17 May 1945 and flown to No. 43 Group, Rawcliffe, for breakdown on 24 of May. [From Lindsay RCAF aircraft file card] Cut up for scrap by the end of June, this Canadian nose art was not saved and only these RCAF photos [63 in total, 54 being RCAF Halifax nose art] survive in Ottawa, Canada, preserving their nose art past. While the images were taken for preserving Canadian nose art past, each photo also helps preserve the surrounding area at No. 43 Group [Rawcliffe] in May and June 1945. It’s all British housing development today 2022.

RCAF photo Ottawa, [1946] 35 mm negative RE77-77.

By January 1947, 1,359 Halifax aircraft had been scrapped and most met their fate at the ex- Handley Repair Depot at No. 43 Group Rawcliffe. This is another photo taken by F/L Harold Lindsay in early June 1945, showing the old veteran RCAF bombers were parked nose to tail. The total scrapping of Halifax aircraft – Mk. II, [114], Mk. III, [533], Mk. V, [164], Mk. VI, [391], Mk. VII, [103], and Mk. VIII, [54]. “Little Lulu” was a Halifax Mk. III, serial MZ425, flew with No. 433 Squadron until 18 September 1944, when they converted to British Lancaster aircraft, LuLu was transferred to No. 425 Squadron on 7 January 1945, made ready for disposal on 26 May 45, then flown to Rawcliffe on 30 May 45 for scrapping. The scrapping began at once, with the engines, wings and tail sections chopped off leaving only the fuselage standing on her three wheels. These wingless old birds were then pushed together and left waiting for the final chopping to begin.

This photo of Halifax Mk. III, serial LL575, was the ninth image taken [35 mm Roll #2, Print #2] by RCAF F/L Harold Lindsay in late May 1945, at No. 43 Group Rawcliffe. Assigned to No. 415 [Swordfish] Squadron on 14 July 1944, she completed 42 operations until 3 November 44, then was transferred to No. 1666 Heavy Conversion Unit, involved in an accident on 10 December 1944, and after repairs arrived at No. 1664 H.C.U. A second training accident took place on 21 February 1945, and the repairs can be seen in the Lindsay photo. Made ready for disposal on 15 April 1945, the aircraft was flown to No. 43 Group at Rawcliffe, 15 May 45, with the above photo taken on 24 May 1945. The fuselage of seven RCAF veteran Halifax wingless birds can be seen in this photo, and it’s possible “The Babe” was parked close by. The nose art and bomb total of “Archie the Archer” was saved and arrived in Ottawa, May 1946, today it’s on display at the Canadian War Museum at Ottawa, Canada.

On Saturday, 10 December 2022, between 1 and 4 pm, over 200 friends and relatives of Harold Kearl came to celebrate his 100th birthday, at Crescent Road Mormon Church at Calgary, Alberta.

Two days later, Mr. Robert Barrett [Film Director Maverick Media] spent an afternoon interviewing and filming Harold Kearl in regards to his RCAF career during WWII. Mr. Barrett is producing the official Canadian Government film which honours the RCAF on their 100th Birthday, 1 April 2024.

Harold Kearl flew “The Babe” twice in WWII.

From Clarence Simonsen’s collection

Updated from the original version with this comment and Clarence Simonsen’s reply…

Hi, Couple of things regarding entry for Spook N Droop. 427 Squadron code letters were ZL ( not KW). Lancaster ME501 was coded ZL-T. 427 flew Halifax until 3rd week of Feb 1945, then transitioned to Lancaster I and III. Commenced operations in the Lancaster March 11 1945. Most of Dad’s ( F/O FD Kaye) Ops were in ZL-T including Exodus and sightseeing flights with Leeming base staff and ground crew over France and Germany. Their final flight June 1 1945 over Dingle Ireland. ( dates from pilot’s log) 10 days later they were on a ship. When I saw the images on this page I immediately remembered seeing this as a child- I think as a drawing, not a photo. ( Should I find anything concrete I will share) A Germanic speaker relates that the context of « Spook ‘n Droop » could be best explained as a « Haunting from Above »

Clarence Simonsen’s reply

Nos. 427 and 429 were both formed in RAF No. 4 Group on 7th November 1942, located at RAF Stations Croft and East Moor respectively.

On 10 August 1943, the two squadrons came together when No. 429 moved to RCAF Station Leeming, where No. 427 was based. This was where they both similarly re-equipped with Halifax B. Mk. III aircraft. Later, on 19 February 1945, both squadrons again re-equipped with the British built Lancaster Mk. I and Mk. III aircraft. Both squadrons would again be disbanded together on 31 May 1946.

F/O F.D. Kaye J37990 was posted to No. 427 [Lion] Squadron on 14 January 1945 and began flying Halifax aircraft on 2/3 February 1945, Halifax “U” serial LW130. They flew this same Halifax on 4 Feb. and 13/14 Feb. 45. Next came Halifax “G” serial RG347, then “Q” LV942 on 20/21 Feb. and “R” MZ755 on the last operation #6 on 21 February 1945. The Kaye crew now trained and converted to the British Lancaster aircraft and flew first two operations in “R” serial NX555 on 11 March [day trip] and night trip on 14/15 March. Their third operation was in Lancaster ZL-T which was serial ME501. [This was not SNOOP ‘N DROOP] Never, never, never.

In No. 429 [Bison] Squadron J36547 H.A.M. Humphries was assigned to fly Halifax Mk. III, serial LV860 squadron code AL-T on 28/29 January 1945. This Halifax was painted with the original SPOOK ‘N DROOP nose art and they would fly nine operations with the twin Death-Heads. In early April Humphries crew were training and converting to the new British Mk. III Lancaster, and they were assigned squadron code AL-T, serial NN701. By the third operation on 10 April to bomb Leipzig, Germany, they had the local nose artist paint the same Halifax nose art on their new British aircraft. 

The attached photo shows Lancaster Mk. III serial NN701, with the new nose art and the three bombs. This photo and the other [in the article] with F/O Humphries in the cockpit, were both obtained from his son at Calgary, Alberta, in 1999. 

My history is very clear, and takes tons of research. 

Regards – Clarence

Original post

Everything on Preserving the Past II is to preserve the past for future generations. With this in mind, Preserving the Past II is the sequel to Preserving the Past which was originally created to help Clarence Simonsen publish his research mostly on nose art. Little did I know then was how much research Clarence had […]

From Clarence Simonsen’s collection

The Stampede Sabre Saga

Updated 9 September 2022 with these comments

A fantastic piece and very timely with the SPAADS reunion in Montreal taking place this week.

One note- correction;

North American Aviation used an Inglewood, Ca. mailing address.

The actual plant(s) were in El Segundo, California. About ¼ of El Segundo was taken up with aviation plants, and still is. Boeing, Grumman, Raytheon & etc.

Part of NAA was North of Imperial Highway, and thus in City of Los Angeles, adjacent to what we know as LAX

Having lived in Los Angeles area ( including Inglewood), I am somewhat aware of the role aviation played in the growth of LA especially the South Bay area From Douglas in Santa Monica …to Douglas in Long Beach with Hughes, Boeing McDonnell, Grumman and a million smaller shops in between.

Cheers, Mike

A second comment as the location in a photo of the 413 Sq is not on station at Zweibrucken Germany but at Volkel Holland while on Exercise “Lucifer”, late August/ Early September 1954. My Dad is just to the left in 23139

RCAF/ DND has a number of great pictures taken at this time.

Thank you both for this fantastic work !

I have F/O Kaye’s log here if I can look up or help with any information. Dad was also involved in transporting MKII’s to Turkey and training pilots in July 1954

Mike Kaye

Research by Clarence Simonsen

The Stampede Sabre Jet

Click on the link above.

Text version with the images found in the PDF document)

The Stampede Sabre Saga

Each year in July, the City of Calgary, Alberta, holds an annual ten-day rodeo billed as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” This exhibition, festival, and rodeo attracts over one million visitors per year and a large number are Americans. American cowboy promoter Guy Weadick organized the first Calgary Stampede in 1912, and this is widely advertised to our American visitors. During Stampede days, many visitors from around the world also visit the local museum’s, including the Hangar Flight Museum located beside the International Airport. Upon arrival you are greeted with a large mural image of one F-86 jet fighter aircraft wearing RCAF markings, however the markings are false, and this American aircraft never flew with the RCAF. The true hidden history of this rare Sabre aircraft is 100% American construction, and flight testing, which also involves a famous American test pilot named Chuck Yeager. Unlike American cowboy Guy Weadick, the Calgary Sabre is a fictional RCAF marked aircraft with a rare forgotten USAF historical past. The original P-86A production fighter contained German Me 262 jet slat locks and tracks which flew over Rogers Lake, California, piloted by test pilots who partied with a woman named Pancho Barnes and her “Happy bottom” girls.

The original design studies on the project that created the F-86 configuration began by North American Aviation Inc., in August 1944, when Ed Horkey went to Langley Field to study wing design at high Mach speeds. The first proposed design [MX-673] featured a straight wing and fell well short of the USAF’s specification for a 600 mph fighter aircraft. In September 1945, chief engineer, Ray Rice, made the vital decision to switch from the conventional straight-wing to a 35-degree sweepback wing design fighter. The new wing thickness was also reduced to 11% at the root and 10% at the wing tips. This decision was based on new research material in captured German test data obtained on Messerschmitt 262 jet fighter testing, called “Pfeilflugel” or wing of the arrow, which featured a new 35-degree wing version. On 18 August 1945, North American received a grant to build a swept wing XP-86 wind tunnel model. The tests were satisfactory, and on 1 November 1945, General Bill Craigle [Wright Field Research and Development officer] gave North American the go ahead to build three XP-86 test models. The first XP-86 jet fighter [General Electric J35-C-3 engine] was completed on 8 August 1947, with first flight [below] on 1 October 1947. [Free domain image]

During the first XP-86 wing design, North American engineers had an entire German Me-262 wing flown to the Inglewood plant in California. N. A. engineers disassembled the German slats and modified the slat track mechanism to fit the XP-86 wing, using the Me-262 slat lock and control switch. The first seven P-86 aircraft constructed, all utilised German Me-262 slat locks and tracks, including serial 47-606 [Calgary]. NAA [North American Aviation] test pilot George “Wheaties” Welch [Pearl Harbor hero] flies’ serial 45-59597, 1 October 1947.

Company designation was NA-140 for the three constructed, serial 45-59598 and 45-59599 both flew in early 1948. The first three XP-86 test aircraft were all different from each other. XP-86 #1, PU-597 [45-59597] was the only aircraft with rear-opening speed brakes and one under fuselage speed brake. This first prototype flew 241 test hours and was destroyed at Nevada Nuclear Test site May 1952.  The second XP-86 [Experimental Pursuit] aircraft 45-59598, flew 202 test hours and was retired in April 1953, used as a ground target aircraft in Aberdeen Proving Grounds, May 1953. The third XP-86 serial 45-59599 flew 75 hours testing the first Sperry Mk. 18 gunsight, gun ports, gun doors, and the only prototype with full armament testing. Retired in April 1953, used in nuclear testing and reduced to scrap. North American Aviation now received an USAF order for thirty-three P-86A aircraft on 20 November 1946, eleven months before the first XP-86 prototype was flown. The P-86A [P for pursuit] was outwardly similar to the XP-86, with very slight external changes. The most important difference in the P-86A was the introduction of a new General Electric J47-GE-1 [TG-190] jet engine with 4850 lbs. trust. The first production block began on 16 October 1947, known as the P-86A-1-NA and recorded on NAA company records as designation NA-151. No official YP-86 service testing aircraft were constructed, and the initial thirty-three production aircraft served as NAA test models, and never entered regular USAF service. The first production P-86A-1-NA, serial 47-605, code PU-605, flew for the first time on 20 May 1948.

The first [47-605] and second production [Calgary 47-606] were both officially accepted by the USAF on 28 May 1948, however both aircraft remained at the Inglewood, California, North American plant used for early production development work. Many new changes were being incorporated in the P-86A aircraft from test results obtained in the three XP-86 prototype aircraft, ejection seat, gun sight, gun doors, and speed brakes. The Calgary P-86A [fifth built P-86 airframe] became a North American Aviation Inc. first production development testing aircraft. The first production P-86A, serial 47-605 survives today at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

In September 1947, North American Aviation Test Flight air crews numbered sixteen pilots, seen above at Muroc Army Air Test Base. Photo from August 1997 article by Larry Davis titled Sabre Jet – “XP-86 Swept Wing Development. It is known that many of these test pilots flew F-86-A-1 serial 47-605 and 47-606 [Calgary] at both the North American Inglewood factory and the flight test base at Muroc Army Air Base, Rogers Dry Lake, California. I’m positive many of these test pilots also attended wild parties by Pancho Barnes, in her famous ranch hotel complex.

10 November 1948 – Aviation Week magazine

Public domain North American Aviation cutaway drawing
of first P-86A test development aircraft.

While the author cannot obtain the NAA company records [lost classified data] on testing conducted by P-86A serial 47-606 aircraft, the testing modifications have been well documented in many publications. The first two production P-86A aircraft became the test bed for .50 cal. machine guns in the nose, which fired 1100 rounds per minute. Each gun was fed by an ammunition canister in the lower fuselage, which could be opened and doubled as the pilot first step into the cockpit. The new T-4E-1 ejection seat was tested and approved. The front-opening speed brakes on the fuselage sides were moved back and became rear-opening air brakes, and the underside original speed brake was no longer required and removed. The aircraft underwing hardpoints were tested and could carry four rocket launchers, a pair of 1000-lb. bombs, or two 206 US gallon fuel drop tanks.

During this testing period [11 June 1948] a major American military designation took place when the USAF P-for-pursuit classification was changed to F-for-fighter and the new F-86A was reborn. All aircraft code lettering was now changed from PU-606 to FU-606 and testing carried on per normal.

On 20 August 1948, F-86A serial 47-606, [Calgary] was transferred to USAF 2759th Experimental Wing located at the secret test facility at Muroc Lake, California. Free domain 1945 image.

Clifford Corum and wife Effie were the original homesteaders at Rogers Dry Lake in 1910. They constructed a general store [at their Santa Fe Railway stop] and opened the first Post Office which required an official U.S. government approved name. Their name “Corum” was rejected by the U.S. Postal Service [another town had the name] so, the family then reversed the letters and resubmitted the name Muroc, which was approved. Muroc Lake Post Office was born and the location became American Aviation Military Test Site history. The Military arrived in 1933, and Muroc was named Material Flight Test Site in February 1942, then became Muroc Army Air Field on 8 November 1943, and Muroc Army Test Base in 1948. The above image [free domain] was taken in 1945, showing a good view of where F-86A serial 47-606 arrived around 20 August 1948.  The full Muroc base history can be found online and in a number of well-researched publications.

This 1949 map shows the original Santa Fe Railway Line and the location of the Corum General Store and Post Office. The test base was officially renamed Edwards Air Force Base on 8 December 1949, and the new Flight Test Center Insignia [above] was also created. The base was named for [Canadian-born] Major Glen Walter Edwards who was killed on 5 June 1948 while flying as co-pilot to Major Daniel Forbes testing the Northrop huge Flying Wing aircraft. The Flying Wing YRB-49A [jet-engines] #42-102376] broke apart in the area called “North Base” and a crew of five were killed.

The original XB-35 prototype #42-13603, first flew on 25 June 1946, seen above, test pilot Max R. Stanley.

Free domain original test film from the Paramount Pictures film “The War of the Worlds.”

This original Northrop color test film of the prototype YRB-49A aircraft, with six Allison J-35 jet engines, [serial 42-102376] flown by Capt. Glen Walter Edwards, was taken in 1947 and can be seen in the 1953 film called “The War of the World’s” by Paramount pictures.  When filming began in 1950, both prototype Flying Wing test aircraft had been destroyed, however the cameo original color test film [YRB-49A jet-engines] will forever be preserved in the film adaptation of the powerful 1898 novel by H.G. Wells. Captain Edwards was Canadian born [5 March 1916] at Medicine Hat, Alberta, and the family immigrated to California in August 1932. Glen enlisted in USAAF 15 July 1941 and became a Muroc Army Air Test pilot in 1945. The Calgary F-86A Sabre [47-606] arrived at Muroc Army Air Test Base in August 1948, just two months after [co-pilot] Capt. Glenn Edwards and crew [pilot Major Daniel Forbes] were killed [5 June 1948] when their YRB-49A broke apart north of Muroc Base, and today this test Sabre survives in Glen Edwards birth Province of Alberta, Canada.

The XP-80A serial A.A.F. 44-83021 “Gray Ghost” prototype tail marking #01, flying over Muroc Flight Test Base in early 1945. This first jet test aircraft crashed on 20 March 1945, pilot Anthony W. Le Vier baled out and survived. This gives a clear view of the test base at Muroc Lake in early 1945.

In July 1945, 2nd Lt. Chuck Yeager was assigned to a six-month test pilot training program at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. In August 1947, Yeager flew two different P-80 Shooting Star test aircraft at Muroc Army Air Field test base.

The first public history of the “Shooting Star” [bottom photos serial 48-5004] was published on 6 August 1945 in Aviation Week magazine and 13 August 1945 issue of Life magazine with photos of pilot Milo Burcham and Lockheed designer Kelly Johnson. [page 48]. Production test pilot Milo Burcham was hired in 1938 and made the 1st test flight of an XP-80A on 1 January 1944. Burcham was killed in a test flight of the second YP-80 on 20 October 1944.

Capt. Charles Yeager’s top speed of 700 mph at 43,000 feet was not released until 1948. It was also possible that two German jet pilots [Heini Dittmar, 6 July 1944 and Hans Guido Mutke, 9 April 1945] both exceeded the speed of sound before Capt. Chuck Yeager, but no official German records were possible, just eye witness reports.

NACA [National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics], Dryden Flight Research, were a flight test operation at Muroc Army Air Base, with a speed system which tracked Yeager in the Bell XS-1. NACA director, Walt Williams, agreed to track George Welch in a XP-86 pattern test dive on 19 October 1947, and test pilot Welch hit a reading of Mach 1.02, five days after Yeager’s record flight. Test pilot George Welsh had been performing these same pattern drive flights before 14 October 1947, and it was possible he exceeded the speed of sound in XP-86 [45-5997] on the 1 and or 14 October 1947. All people involved in the testing program were immediately sworn to secrecy in regards to the XP-86 unofficial test dive record flight. Phase II of the XP-86 testing began in December 1947, flown for the first time by Army Air Force pilots headed by Major Ken Chilstrom.  The first two production P-86A aircraft [47-605 and 47-606] came off the assembly line in March and in May 1948, when the world was informed George Welch had exceeded the Mach 1.0 in a XP-86 aircraft. The correct date was 26 April 1948, and the pilot was not American George Welch but a British born NAA [North American Aviation] test expert named Edward Horkey.

Edward J. Horkey was a British Aerodynamicist [expert in movement of air and the primary forces of lift and drag on aircraft] and a test pilot for NAA, who came to Muroc to check out the XP-86 aircraft. He was told about the phenomenon he would encounter if he broke the speed of sound, and the American secrecy restrictions involved in the program.  Unfortunately, pilot Horkey had an open radio channel and all the local towers picked up his conversation when he exceeded the speed of sound in XP-86 serial 45-59597. The story soon became common knowledge and spread through the aviation industry. In May 1948, it was released to the public that George Welch had broken the sound bearer in the XP-86 test aircraft. The story was next published in the 14 June 1948 issue of Aviation Week, which announced the XP-86 had gone supersonic.

The intriguing question still remains, did George Welch fly faster than the speed of sound during the Phase One testing, before Chuck Yeager? The author would also ask, did George Welch ever fly P-86A serial 47-606 on test flights at Muroc Army Air Test Base? I believe the answer is “Yes” to both questions. Capt. Yeager in the Bell XS-1 flew faster than the speed of sound in a straight line and George Welch flew faster than the speed of sound in a P-86A ‘unofficial’ test dive. I first learned about George Welch and his first breaking of the sound bearer history from Dan Bragg of the old Aero Space Museum at Calgary, in 1996.

Publications state test pilot 2nd Lt. “Chuck” Yeager frequently flew F-86A ‘chase’ aircraft that were based at Muroc Air Force Base, however the aircraft serial numbers were never recorded in his log book. Day to day chase [F-86A] flights weren’t considered of any national importance and were not even recorded or saved in USAF archives. On 20 August 1948, USAF 2759th Experimental Wing was formed at Muroc Air Force Test Base, and the Calgary Sabre 47-606 flew in the Wing.  Photo taken Los Angeles Airport 21 January 1949, with F-86A aircraft.

The official aircraft name “Sabre” was picked in a contest held by the USAF 1st Fighter Group, [flying the F-86A] February 1949, the name became official on 4 March 1949.

At least two known photos [possibly more] were taken with Second Lieutenant Chuck Yeager and three F-86A aircraft on 21 January 1949, but the serial numbers are never shown. It is believed the Calgary Sabre [47-606] was possibly one of these test aircraft.

This NASA photo was taken 15 August 1951, after Navy D-558-2 Skyrocket 37974 set a world speed record. Capt. Chuck Yeager is flying the modified EF-86E Sabre chase aircraft which was serial 50-606 [built Sept. 1950] and has been confused as being the Calgary F-86A serial 47-606.

F-86A [original P-86A] serial 47-606 as it appears today. Note – The F-86 panel with Chuck Yeager face was placed on the fighter by the author just for the photo shoot, 16 August 2022.

The Calgary aircraft F-86A-1-NA, serial 47-00606 was manufactured as construction #151-38433, and first flew 21 May 1948, as a P-86A-1-NA with company designation NA-151. It was accepted by the USAF on 28 May 1948, but remained at the North American factory in Inglewood, California, used for early production development testing. On 11 June 1948, the P-86 was predesignated F-86 when the “P” for pursuit was replaced by “F” for fighter.  The USAF 2759th Experimental Wing was formed at [Rogers Dry Lake] Muroc Army Flight Testing Base on 20 August 1948, and F-86A #47-606 joined the test fleet. On 25 June 1951, USAF 3077th Experiment Group was formed at renamed Edwards Air Force Base test area, and #47-606 now joined their ranks. In March 1955, the veteran test Sabre was sent to Fresno California Air Facility where it was reconditioned and reassigned to the 146th Fighter Interceptor Wing of the Air National Guard, as a pilot flight trainer aircraft. The 146th F.I. Wing were assigned to the air defense of the Los Angeles, California, area from 1955 to 1958 flying the last F-86-A-5 models which had been withdrawn from Korea, then painted with new [Van Nuys] nose art. This rare California Sabre “A” model jet art was well documented in 1974 by James H. Farmer in his article titled “Art and the Airman.” This F-86A nose art also appeared in the 1991 book “The History of Aircraft Nose Art” by Jeffrey Ethell and the author.

The 1955-58 Sabre unofficial nose artist [CM Sgt. Michael Jacobbauski] originally painted B-24H and B-17F bombers in the Mighty 8th Air Force, 34th Bombardment Group, based at Mendelsham, England, April 1944. Sabre nose art photos from Jacobbasuski collection in 1989.

Activated on 15 January 1941, the 34th B.G.  trained in B-17F bombers and flew anti-submarine patrols on the eastern seaboard until May 1942. Moved to Geiger Field, Washington, where they became a replacement training unit in B-17F Flying Fortress aircraft. Many new members were transferred to build new groups in the 8th Air Force, England. Sgt. Jacobbauski trained as a B-17G waist gunner and with his artistic talents painted many aircraft in training units. On 5 January 1944, the group began training in B-24 bombers for overseas duty and arrived in England 1 April 1944. They were the oldest USAAF bomb group in the 8th Air Force and flew 170 missions until the end of the war.  Ten years later, this rare F-86A Sabre nose art of Jake Jacobbauski decorated the Van Nuys based aircraft with many unique designs.

F-86A-5 Sabre, assigned 146th Fighter Interceptor Wing, 115th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 21 May 1955, painted by Jake Jacobbauski.

Sabre 49-1046 survives today at the entrance to Channel Islands Air National Guard Station at Point Mugu, California, sadly painted without her record setting nose art markings.

USAF 146 Wing Sabre “California Boomerang” serial 49-1046, the most famous jet nose art painted by WWII veteran Jacobbauski, and Sabre pilot Lt. John M. Conroy who set the record from Los Angeles to New York and return to Los Angeles. LIFE magazine image.

The Calgary F-86A-1 [47-606] served as a pilot flight trainer aircraft in the 146th Fighter Interceptor Wing at Van Nuys, California until 1960. It is possible 47-606 also received “Jacobbauski” nose art but no record can be found. Due to their outstanding Korean war combat record the Sabre fighters continued to display their pilot nose art in the post-war era and today many are preserved in American museums.

In 1966, F-86A-1 serial 47-606 was sold to Reedley Joint High School, Redley California and registered as N7793C. Resold to Mr. Ben W. Hall in Seattle, Washington, in 1972, it was registered as N57965. Airframe parts from the [Calgary] Sabre were now used in the restoration of his flying Sabre 48-178, and the remains of the airframe were donated to the Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA, in 1989. Sabre 48-178 was shipped to the United Kingdom in March 1992, and today is displayed in the Imperial War Museum, American Air Museum, at Duxford Airfield, Cambridgeshire, U.K.

Flew in U.K. 2011 to 2014 with ‘fake’ nose art markings and Sabre markings on wings and tail. Reported sold to the USA in 2015, but not confirmed. This aircraft flies thanks to parts taken from Calgary F-86A, 47-606.

Internet Aerial Visions

The F-86 Sabre series was produced in five countries, [9,860 total] including two American plants, one in Los Angeles and the other in Columbus, Ohio. In Canada the Canadair Division of General Dynamics built 1,815 Sabre fighters at Montreal, Quebec. The full history of the RCAF Sabre aircraft can be found on many excellent websites and publications. SPAADS [Sabre Pilots Association of Air Division Squadrons] was formed by Canadian pilots who flew the F-86 Sabre in the RCAF with NATO in Europe 1951-1963. In 1995, two retired senior RCAF ex-Sabre pilots were in charge of the old named [Aero Space Museum of Calgary] and they were looking for a Sabre jet to restore for the 75th Anniversary of the RCAF in 1999. The author had been a member of the museum in Calgary since 1980, and learned they [SPAADS] had purchased the airframe of F-86A-1 serial 47-606, from the Museum of Flight in Seattle, for $20,000 [US] funds. [This cost has never been confirmed] In 1996, the sections of Sabre serial 47-606 began arriving in Calgary Aero Space Museum by truck from Seattle, Washington, and the author began his research into the new Sabre aircraft. When I learned the Calgary Sabre was the second oldest airframe [original P-86A-1-NA] in the world and had been test flown at Muroc Army Test Airfield by none other than pilot Chuck Yeager, it was like a living part of American Aviation history [1979 book “The Right Stuff”] had arrived at Calgary, Alberta. When the Sabre was laid out for assembly, it was found a few sections of the original airframe were missing, as they had been placed into Sabre 48-178. As an “Erk” volunteer of the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, I was involved in lifting and assisting with the rebuild of Sabre 47-606. It was in fact reconstructed on the cement floor in the WWII 1941 Royal Air Force drill hall, where it is displayed today [2022]. The author has been involved in aircraft nose art research since 1967, and began editing my own nose art column in the 8th Air Force Journal beginning in 1978. This gave the author access to the address of many famous American WWII bomber and fighter aircrew members. In 1985, I wrote to the address of Glennis F. Yeager, the wife of Chuck Yeager, asking for her autograph as well as that of husband Charles E Yeager.

The name Glen and Glennis will forever be preserved in American Aviation nose art history.

During the 1980s, the author used a nose art letterhead which featured a light printing of the B-17G nose art “A Bit O’ Lace” with the permission of the original American 447th B.G. artist Corporal Nick Fingelly. This blank letterhead was mailed to many American WWII veterans asking they sign and please return. Attached is my letterhead returned by Glennis and Chuck Yeager, 26 March 1986. Ten years later, I am assisting in the reconstruction of a Sabre jet flown by Chuck Yeager, at Muroc Army Test Field, [today Edwards A.F. B.] however nobody in Calgary really understood the nose art connection or really cared.

During the reconstruction months, I asked for two original F-86 Sabre panels and painted each with replica No. 421 [Red Indian] Squadron Sabre 1951-63 nose art insignia. These two panels were sold at a public auction to help raise money for the cost of the Calgary Sabre fighter. Two of many forgotten volunteers who did all the hard work in reconstructing the F-86 fighter in 1997-99. The ex-Sabre pilots [SPAADS] liked this replica art on original Sabre skin and asked if two more panels could be painted and displayed at each of their reunions across Canada.

Dan Bragg, editor of the Aero Space Museum Journal in 1997, was the man who suggested the painting of SPAADS reunion skin panels art. Dan [now deceased] was never a pilot, however he understood every part of the F-86 Sabre and was present each day for the reconstruction.

The author and his SPAADS reunion art panels in August 1997.

The panel on the left was based on the famous World War Two [Fictional Pilot] Prune P. Pilot Officer #89008 of the Royal Air Force. This modern RCAF F/O Prune Jr. [SPAADS] pilot has just crashed his Sabre jet somewhere in Europe while flying with NATO 1951-63. This humorous RCAF panel would be displayed at each S.P.A.A.D.S. reunion held in different cities across Canada. A second panel was painted with the SPAADS badge and this would travel to each reunion where original Sabre RCAF pilots would sign the original F-86A skin panel. When the last reunion is held, the two panels will be donated to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. The last SPAADS reunion [#16] will be held this fall in Montreal, Quebec, 8-11 September 2022.  I have no idea if the two SPAADS reunion panels still survive.

If this original F-86 Canadair Sabre panel survives, it should be full of original RCAF Sabre pilot signatures.

From 1950 to 1958, Canadair built 1,815 CL-13 Sabre aircraft in six different versions, Mk I to 6.

The first Canadair CL-13 prototype, serial 19101 was constructed at plant # 2 in Montreal in 1949, [photo below] from parts shipped from North American in California. This Canadian Mk. I Sabre was identical to the American F-86A [Calgary #47-606] and today is preserved in the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Alberta. At present [August 2022] the City of Edmonton is attempting to dump their wonderful aviation museum and the only double-wide WWII hangar in all of Canada. This is one of many rare Canadian aircraft which could be lost if brighter heads do not soon prevail.

Canadair CL-13 in late fall of 1949, before it was painted. [internet]

Only one Canadair Sabre Mk. 3 was constructed, the 100th aircraft built with serial #19200. This Sabre was fitted with the Canadian built Orenda 3 engine and became the Prototype with registration A613. Jackie Cochran first flew this Canadian Sabre on 12 May 1953, and it’s possible Chuck Yeager also flew this complete Canadian built test aircraft.


On 18 May 1953, Miss Cochrane exceeded the speed of sound twice [652 mph] in this one-of-a-kind Canadian “unmarked” Sabre [red tracking nose section] with an Avro Canada Orenda 3 turbojet engine.

18 May 1953, Jackie Cochrane talks with Chuck Yeager in Canadair Mk. III, serial 19200. This rare “Canadian” Sabre [only Mk. 3] can be seen at the Reynolds/Alberta Museum collection at Wetaskwin, Alberta, sadly sitting outdoors. The red nose should extend a further two feet.

The Orenda 3 engine first flew 10 February 1949, and made world history with Jackie Cochrane and Chuck Yeager in a chase Sabre.

This author painting of Lt. Colonel Charles E. Yeager was taken from a May 1955 photo when he became Commander of 417th Night Fighter Squadron, flying F-86 Sabres at Hahn, Germany. The aircraft skin is an original Canadair F-86 manufactured in Montreal, Canada.


Eighteen Canadair CL-13 Sabre aircraft survive in the world today [2022] with sixteen in Canada, one airworthy.

DND RCAF photo. Never again, will the RCAF fly the best fighter in the world, built in Canada with an Avro Canadian engine. The 1959 Conservative government scrapping of the Avro Arrow ended all future aviation in Canada, forever.

Today the Aero Space Museum of Calgary is called The Hangar Flight Museum, and many Presidents, Directors, Executive Directors and other titles have passed through the WWII Royal Air Force Drill Hall doors. Few, if any, have any knowledge of the fictional marked F-86A-1 Sabre aircraft which sits in their museum, or the American rare aircraft history which has never been displayed for Canadians or visitors.

When the SPAADS Sabre pilots purchased F-86A serial 47-606 from the Museum of Flight in Seattle Washington in 1996, they intended to restore the aircraft to static display, to honour every RCAF pilot who flew the Sabre from 1951-1963. The markings were finished as a factory finished RCAF Sabre aircraft which flew with No. 1 [Fighter] Operational Training Unit at Chatham, New Brunswick. The false Sabre “Memorial” serial number was selected to honour all RCAF Sabre pilots. The first two numbers “23” were assigned to all Canadair built Mk. 5 and Mk. 6 aircraft. The number “1” denotes No. 1 Air Division of RCAF NATO and the “75” stands for the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force in the year 1999, the year the Calgary Memorial Sabre was unveiled.

DND RCAF photo showing Sabre Mk. 5 serial 23178 and 23180 in correct markings No. 3 [F.W.] No. 413 [Tusker] Squadron, Germany, 1954.

The Calgary Memorial fictional RCAF Sabre #47-606 [American built] should never be confused with the original CL-13 RCAF Sabre Mk. 5 serial 23175 [Canadair built] which was assigned to No. 413 [Tusker] Squadron and flew in Germany from 18 March 1954 until September 1955, struck off strength 26 May 1960. Formed as a Fighter Squadron at Bagotville, Quebec, 1 August 1951, No. 413 flew the Vampire and Sabre aircraft. On 7 April 1953, No. 413 [Tusker] Squadron joined No. 3 [Fighter Wing] at Zweibrucken, Germany, returning to Bagotville, Quebec, 1 May 1957.

Canadair also constructed the T-36 [Trainer-Transport] for the USAF.

RCAF CL-13 Sabre Mk. 5 serial #23175 was a real Canadian built RCAF fighter that flew in Germany from June 1954 until September 1955.

The Calgary Sabre was manufactured as a P-86A-1-NA [with German Me-262 slats and slat runners] plus the cockpit windscreen and tail fin are different from that of the Canadian Manufactured Mk. 5 and Mk. 6 Sabre jets. Visitors to the Hangar Flight Museum of Calgary are still confused in regards to the true history of their Memorial RCAF Sabre aircraft on display.

As the famous American radio announcer Paul Harvey would say – “Now you know, the Rest of the Story.”

During the 1997-98 rebuild of the American [P-86A] F-86A Sabre it was estimated the aircraft was 90% original North American aircraft skins, etc. The missing sections were mated with original F-86 skins which had been manufactured in Montreal by Canadair. In 1999, after the F-86 had been reconstructed, the author was given five unused skins, four of which still remain in original condition. The above skin was painted showing the original P-86A in flight 1948 era, the face of Chuck Yeager in May 1955, and the official 417th Fighter/Bomber squadron badge of a Ghost guiding a rocket.

Over the past fifty plus years the author has become acquainted with hundreds of pilots, including retired members of the USAF. Sometimes, when an unknown Canadian historian attempts to seek out American Aviation history, a door is slammed in his face. The famous saying goes – “When one door closes, another door opens” and that other door is my friend Mack Parkhill. [above]

Mack began his primary Air Force pilot training at two bases in Texas. He flew the T-34 and T-28 at Moore Air Base in Mission, Texas, [lower Rio Grande Valley] and completed his basic flight training at Reece, AFB in Lubbock, Texas, flying the B-25 bomber. The base commander presented Mack with his wings and his name was Colonel Travis Hoover, the pilot of the second B-25 which flew off the deck of the USS Hornet on 18 April 1942. In 1999, the Doolittle Raider reunion was held at Wright Patterson AFB and Mack was seated for dinner beside Col. Hoover and Mrs. Ellen Lawson, the widow of Ted Lawson who authored the book “Thirty seconds Over Tokyo.” That evening aviation history came alive and over the years Mack has shared many of these good stories with the author in Canada. For seventeen years Mack Parkhill was a docent at the 8th A.F. control tower and Nissen Hut displays at the National Museum at Wright Patterson AFB.

During my F-86 research, I mentioned to Mack, I wish I could locate the log books of Chuck Yeager, and Mack replied, “his logs are all stored at the flight test wing at Edwards Air Force Base, leave it with me.” Mack took his time and effort to locate the Yeager log books, however the serial numbers of the Sabre jets he flew were never recorded.  Thank you Mack Parkhill.

I wish to also thank USAF [retired] Lt. Colonel Steve Crane for explaining the function of leading edge slats, flaps, and early swept-wing jet aircraft problems during take-off and landings.

Greek Mythology “Icarus” and Third Reich Insignia

Updated 12 August 2022

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Link to the PDF file below.

Greek Mythology


This 5th Century Greek Athenian Oil Flask [Terracotta Lekythos] is believed to contain the painted figure of the most famous story in Greek Mythology, the myth of Icarus and his father Daedalus. The identity of the winged figure is not recorded but the contorted position of the man and the diving bird [father – Daedalus] suggests to Greek experts it was the beginning of the end for Icarus, as the scorching heat of the sun melts his wings made of wax and feathers and Icarus falls into the sea and drowns.

Despite its small place in the vast repertoire of Greek Mythology, the myth of Icarus is still well known today in the 21st Century. Icarus was not a God, but a simple mortal who died because he didn’t listen to his wise father’s advice not to fly too close to the sun. This Icarus phenomenon warns mankind of the dangers of power and still teaches and haunts males in the transition from boyhood to manhood. This same changing power struggle from boyhood to manhood was used with great success by the German Third Reich during the original formation of the German Air Sports Association in March 1933.

In 1925, as Adolf Hitler and his Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei [Nazi Party] began their rise to power in Germany, they promoted sports organizations as a way to attract youth for the future of the National Socialist movement. These early Hitler Youth children were cultivated by way of sports events and judged on individual team work, initiative, and leadership qualities. These German children were outfitted with Nazi uniforms and attended summer camps where they took part in physical exercises for both camaraderie and paramilitary training. They were also judged on each person’s ability to perform physical tests and meet prescribed paramilitary criteria, then presented with awards and promotions. Paramilitary Nazi propaganda was also directed at German children age six to ten years in posters and postcards, painted waving [and wearing] the New Nazi Sports Flag Emblem, with the Swastika flying in the background. [Internet public domain]

Text version (images seen in the PDF version to be added later)

Greek Mythology “Icarus” and Third Reich Insignia

This 5th Century Greek Athenian Oil Flask [Terracotta Lekythos] is believed to contain the painted figure of the most famous story in Greek Mythology, the myth of Icarus and his father Daedalus. The identity of the winged figure is not recorded but the contorted position of the man and the diving bird [father – Daedalus] suggests to Greek experts it was the beginning of the end for Icarus, as the scorching heat of the sun melts his wings made of wax and feathers and Icarus falls into the sea and drowns.

Despite its small place in the vast repertoire of Greek Mythology, the myth of Icarus is still well known today in the 21st Century. Icarus was not a God, but a simple mortal who died because he didn’t listen to his wise father’s advice not to fly too close to the sun. This Icarus phenomenon warns mankind of the dangers of power and still teaches and haunts males in the transition from boyhood to manhood. This same changing power struggle from boyhood to manhood was used with great success by the German Third Reich during the original formation of the German Air Sports Association in March 1933.

In 1925, as Adolf Hitler and his Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei [Nazi Party] began their rise to power in Germany, they promoted sports organizations as a way to attract youth for the future of the National Socialist movement. These early Hitler Youth children were cultivated by way of sports events and judged on individual team work, initiative, and leadership qualities. These German children were outfitted with Nazi uniforms and attended summer camps where they took part in physical exercises for both camaraderie and paramilitary training. They were also judged on each person’s ability to perform physical tests and meet prescribed paramilitary criteria, then presented with awards and promotions. Paramilitary Nazi propaganda was also directed at German children age six to ten years in posters and postcards, painted waving [and wearing] the New Nazi Sports Flag Emblem, with the Swastika flying in the background. [Internet public domain]

German boys aged 10 to 18 joined the Hitler Youth and wore a short-pants version of the S.A. [Storm Troopers] Sturmabteilung uniform. Girls aged 10 to 21 joined the League of German Girls and wore a navy blue skirt with white blouse, which identified them as future mothers of the Third Reich. Created in 1930, Hitler Youth was mandatory by 1936. Internet image

Nazi ideology placed great importance on Aryan health and physical strength. This was forced on young German women to make themselves fit and strong to become healthy mothers of large “Aryan” families for the Reich. On 12 December 1935, Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler, created the Lebensborn Program, [Fountain of Life] dedicated to producing a master Aryan race for the new Germany. Maternity homes were created throughout greater Germany, some were resort hotels, health spas, and villas which had been confiscated from the Jewish owners. The League of German girls were thoroughly indoctrinated in their duty to bear children for the Reich, in or out of wedlock. The SS men became the stud Bulls at these arranged sports camps and large scale Nazi rallies. It is well documented that over 100,000 Hitler Youth attended the Nuremberg Rally in 1936, and over 900 League of German Girls age 14 to 18 years returned home pregnant. These young women were also urged to mate with Aryan or Nordic pedigree men such as members of the Luftwaffe and they did not have to get married. The new baby ‘parcel’ was raised in the maternity home by preteen student nurses called “little blond sister.”

The little blond sisters were learning their role in Reich motherhood and they also had to fulfill their duty to the Third Reich and get pregnant. This became a marvelous time for the radical elite German male as all women, married or single, were encouraged to produce children for the Fuhrer as ‘their’ sacred duty. LIFE magazine image.

For the past fifty-five years the author has researched, collected, and painted replica aircraft nose art, badges, and unit insignia, including the Luftwaffe in WWII. It is a fact that from the first days of the Luftwaffe in March 1935, Germany had organized and painted the best and most colourful aircraft markings and emblems flying in the world. During WWII the Luftwaffe created unit emblems and badges that possibly reached 1,800 different designs. The Luftwaffe placed great value in the origin, design, and display of unit insignia, yet anything and everything seemed to be a source of inspiration for the unit artist. The only exception to this rule was the non-appearance of nude or even clothed women on aircraft or in unit insignia or emblems. The reason for this is very understandable as the Nazi Party placed the German female in her special role of producing children for the Fuhrer and the new Aryan race.

In March 1933, the new Luftwaffe requested a battlefield observation aircraft and the Henschel Hs-122B was born, first flight spring 1936. This model was redesigned and became the Hs-126B in early 1938. It flew in Spain, France, North Africa, and Russia. In the late fall of 1942, a few flew front-line duties as night harassment aircraft in the Balkans. The unit insignia of 2./NSGr-12 featured a rare nude German female thumbing her nose at the enemy.

The pioneering research and publication of Luftwaffe markings by Karl Ries in June 1963 gave the world the first data and look at identifying WWII German aircraft emblems and insignia. His work has been republished, with more photos, replica paintings, knowledge, and every year the internet seems to find more lost Luftwaffe photos of insignia. Other than a few nude witches, it appears the German nude lady riding the red and black hornet was possibly the only insignia to break the Nazi ideology on WWII aircraft markings. Personal Luftwaffe pilot aircraft markings were not rare, however, the author can only find one which featured a nude German lady or girl.

Internet free domain

Fighter pilot Gunther Scholz was a Luftwaffe veteran who flew in the Spanish Civil War, Polish Campaign, Battle of France, Battle of Britain, Operation Barbarossa, Norway and Northern Finland. He was one of only a few to fly in every major Luftwaffe operation and survive the Second World War air battles. He died on 24 October 2014, at the age of 102 years.

The history of Gunther Scholz and his aircraft markings can be found on at least three websites and just as many modeling publications. The history of his personal fuselage art is unknown, however the use of any form of German female nudity was very much “Verboten” [forbidden] by the Nazi Third Reich.

Full scale replica in colour by author

If you take years of research, then analyze and repaint the combined Nazi art design incorporated in around three thousand badges, emblems, plus the insignia used on U-boats and Luftwaffe aircraft of the Wehrmacht [Nazi German United Forces – Heer “ARMY” – Kriegsmarine “NAVY” – Luftwaffe – “AIR FORCE”] they all contained the same mass production of the Nazi Swastika and Iron Cross. You will also find that German Nazi ideology controlled and prevented the use of the German female image in any nude form other than sports, health, or giving birth to the new Aryan race. In short, the Nazi party turned Germany into one huge legal “Aryan” brothel and at the same time protected and prevented the use of the female form on any military emblem, insignia or personal art, unlike Allied Forces in WWII who painted thousands of Pin-up girls. All of Germany was controlled by this strong Nazi ideology except a secret rocket research and test sight situated on the North Baltic Coast called Peenemunde, Germany.

In my pre-teens, the author found this rocket tail art image on a captured WWII German A/4 rocket which was about to be test fired at White Sands, New Mexico, 10 May 1946. On and off, for the next fifty years the author researched, repainted, and with luck found the German artist [Gerd Wilhelm Luera de Beek] who painted this rare nude lady insignia art in the United States of America. [White Sands Missile Test Range – U.S. Army B.M.A. photo]

Author replica “American” A/4 rocket insignia painted in Mexico City, 2 October 2012

From 23 March 1942 until 18 August 1943, at least fifty-four A/4 test rockets [Aggregat] had been constructed at Peenemunde, Germany, and thirty-eight received special individual tail art paintings. The historical background on these rockets, with launch date and performance, were all recorded in a large German photo album called Helmet [home] Artillerie [artillery] Park II [HAP-11 BILD with numbers] which also contained each tail art painting in black and white images. When Dr. von Braun, his English speaking brother Magnus, and 150 top German rocket personnel surrendered to the American Army, this became the most important date in American Space development history. The Americans soon learned and located 14 tons of documents which von Braun had hidden in a tunnel in the selected British sector of Germany. These were stolen under the nose of the British and trucked to Paris, then to the United States. [this caused major Allied problems between U.S. and England] The Americans next salvaged everything they found in the underground factory in the Hartz mountains, all German launching vehicles, including A/4 rockets and shipped all to the U.S. The U.S. reaped the biggest harvest from the dismantling of the Nazi German missile establishment, which jump-started the new American Space program. When the Russian troops arrived at Peenemunde, 200 remaining German rocket scientists, and what was left behind by the Americans, were loaded onto trains for Moscow. And from these Nazi German ashes the American/Russian Space Race began.

As American intelligence [Fort Eustis] began to photograph and analyze the 14 tons of German A/4 rocket research from 1923 onwards, they also discovered the HAP-11 BILD Peenemunde photo album, with 1,458 pages, which contained 5,178 images of each launch and the tail art painted or glued on each rocket before launch. The tail art paintings gave an identifier to each rocket and for a short time [4 to 90 seconds] captured in the human mind of the Germans each special test event. The A/4 tail art was then destroyed when the rocket exploded or crashed into the Baltic after each test launch, only the black and white photos remained. At this same time, Dr. Wernher von Braun [33 years of age, born 23 March 1912] and his top test team of A/4 rocket experts and scientists were beginning to reshape the course of the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency, the future American Space Program, and America’s approach to landing Americans on the Moon. The American government and press also began publishing stories in which von Braun was shown as being much more interested in space exploration than war rockets, and he was opposed to his V-2s being used against England. The author has many such publications from 1962-1969, and one titled “Moonslaught” states von Braun wished to escape to England and give his rocket secrets to the British, which was pure American Space Race propaganda.

As the American authorities analyzed the A/4 records it soon became apparent the German rocket art painted at Peenemunde was not the normal Third Reich emblems, badges and Swastika insignia, but a different art form. In fact, not one Swastika or Iron Cross appeared on any of the A/4 rockets, however nude German females appeared a good number of times.

Peenemunde rocket launch #10 took place on 17 February 1943, and this rocket had two tail art V12 images painted by technical artist Gerd de Beek. The full nude painting of a lady with sword, riding a fiery Wolf to the Moon is shown on the prelaunch photos HAP-11, Peenemunde Album sheet 35, photo #B44/43. This rocket suffered steam generator problems and the flight lasted 61 seconds, travelled 196 kilometers.

This art is very close to the nude pin-up art painted by Allied Nations during WWII, however it would never be allowed under the Third Reich in Germany. German scientists under control of Dr. von Braun were allowed to paint and fly German fully nude females on the A/4 test rockets fired at Peenemunde.

One original page from the Peenemunde HAP-11 photo album, showing tail art and launch of V3 on 16 August 1942. The “V” stood for Versuchsmuster [test model] and should not be confused with the title V-2 Hitler called all these rockets. From this date on each rocket received a launch number V3 to V50 incorporated into each A/4 rocket tail art painting by de Beek.

The first fifteen A/4 rockets manufactured at Peenemunde were prototype models used to simplify and improve on the original rocket design for mass production. Artist Gerd de Beek became the head graphic designer in charge of TB/D4 Group at Peenemunde in 1939. In November 1941, field testing of the new A/4 rocket began and the first V1 test was made ready for flight on 18 March 1942. During the static test the rocket exploded. During the early test phase each rocket was painted in a contrasting black and white paint scheme so observation devices and film could track the rocket in flight. These test rockets’ paint tracking schemes changed and in the first four launches, four different paint designs were used. The first two rockets [V1 and V2] were both painted in the same checkerboard tracking paint scheme No. 1. [the complete 360-degree rocket pattern can be found on the internet]

It is important to note the third A/4 rocket was painted in a new ‘striped’ tracking paint scheme No. 2 seen below on V3 prelaunch.

The Peenemunde album contained four different images of the A/4 “Witch” rocket tail art paintings. V3 – Gluckliche Reise – meaning Bon Voyage. Painted in striped body tracking rocket scheme No. 2. [this complete 360-degree rocket paint scheme can also be found on the internet]

The fourth A/4 rocket test on 3 October 1942, contained a full nude German lady, which was painted in the original checkered tracking scheme but a different pattern No. 3. RAL 9010 clear white and RAL 9011 Graphite Black. [again, this 360-degree tracking paint scheme is found on internet]

The most world famous Space Rocket art created by Gerd de Beek in September 1942, and it is almost unknown. This fully nude German lady should never appear in Nazi Germany, but she did. The original A/4 rocket [V4] and possibly even this tail art could survive in the Baltic today. Are any underwater deep-sea diving producers looking for a famous part of WWII history?

The launch of V4 on 3 October 1942 became the very first historic flight which achieved a maximum speed of 2,998 mph and a maximum altitude of 52.8 miles. Today the restored A/4 rocket at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is painted in this German V4 rocket 360-degree tracing scheme No. 3 test colours. You will not find the nude lady painted on the rocket tail and it’s not because they are a family museum, as they like to tell the visiting public.


By 1947, the American government soon discovered three Peenemunde rockets carried tail art showing their use as weapons of mass destruction by Nazi Germany in WWII. These images could possibly embarrass the United States, Dr. von Braun and the Space Race. In 1957, the original HAP-11 photo album was returned by the U.S. to Deutsches Museum at Munich Germany, and forgotten. The original Peenemunde full collection [5,178 images] and much more, remains protected in Germany today.

These two V tail art photos [and one sketch V50] were found in the HAP-II photo album dated July 1943, and V41 clearly shows the rocket being used to destroy England in a mass of flames. V41 was launched on 9 July 43 and V47 was being prepared for one of the next test flights. V47 shows the rising might of the German Eagle which could also be connected with the power of the Third Reich, [Eagle head looking forward] however it was never launched and it is believed this art was destroyed in the RAF attack on 17/18 August 1943. The 50th rocket contained special anniversary images of past test rockets and it is unknown if it was ever painted. These last known A/4 tail art images leave a very strong image in the human brain and the author leaves it up to the reader to decide if they show any signs of the German rocket being constructed for just Space travel.

The third A/4 tail art image was painted for launch 23 test of V29 which took place on 11 June 1943. This painting was approved by Dr. von Braun and just four years later American authorities were looking at this image in the United States. The rocket [bowling ball V29] will destroy the Soviet Union, United Kingdom and the United States of America. [National Flags]

In late May 1943, Dr. von Braun approved this A/4 rocket tail art in Peenemunde, Germany. The only known image of the flag of the United States used on Nazi Germany A/4 rocket art. Not a good image to expose to the American public or Russians during the Cold War Space Race.

Dr. von Braun also approved the use of political art as P.M. Churchill appeared on two A/4 rockets in a very drunken condition. V19 was launch #14 which flew on 25 March 1943. V40 was launch #29 which flew on 29 June 1943.

HAP-11, Karlshagen – BLD-Archiv 1943. V19 image B385/43 BSM and writing B382/43 BSM.

This rare writing appeared on the rocket base of V19 [Drunken P.M. Churchill] photographed and glued to Blatt [Sheet] 50, March 1943. In April 1943, Arthur Rudolph endorsed the use of prisoner-of-war forced labor in the production of the A/4 rockets being constructed at Peenemunde. Ostarbeiter was the German name given to foreign slave workers from Poland, Soviet Union and Ukraine Soviet subjects. This rocket drawing displayed the Soviet Union Hammer and Sickle with the Jewish most recognizable six-pointed Star of David symbol. Why did the center symbol of the Israeli Flag appear on a Nazi rocket in Peenemunde, Germany, March 1943? The words Rot-Front [forward] are clear but the remaining writing is hard to understand. Nerden [Nerds], Gott – [God], Der – [The] and Dunken – [Dunking]. Was this writing made by a Soviet-Jewish “Ostarbeiter” used as slave labor by Dr. von Braun?

For the past seventy years the A/4 rocket art painted in Peenemunde Germany has been hidden and kept from the public eye by the Government of the United States, and ignored by historians at the U.S. Rocket and Space Museum in Huntsville, Alabama, and even the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. In July 2016, the full research by the author was published in eleven chapters on the internet by my close friend Pierre Lagace.

Preserving the Past – Table of Contents

Today [2022] the Simonsen replica A/4 rocket tail art colour paintings and original black and white photos by Gerd de Beek are on display at the Historisch-Technisches Museum Peenemunde, Germany, where the original art was created in 1942-43. A book titled Art and Weapons, [Kunst und Waffen] has also been published by Philipp Aumann and Thomas Kohler in Peenemunde. Finally, this missing [hidden] collection of WWII Third Reich A/4 rocket art can and should be further analyzed and inspected by historical experts. I fully understand it is a shock to some Americans born in Huntsville, Alabama, however it is also world rocket history and the world’s first space art which in fact later flew under the flag of the United States of America in 1946.


The research and test rocket establishment at Peenemunde contained no known emblem, badge, or official insignia, unlike the rest of the German Third Reich. The secret ‘hidden’ rocket motto could have been a “Pig with Wings?”


13 June 1942, engineer Hans Huter and the “rocket/engine-man” himself, Walter Thiel [right]. A/4 rocket with a smiling pig in background, between rocket fin #1 and #2.

The famous phrase “When Pigs Fly” originated in a Latin-English dictionary in 1616, defined as being used by writers to express disbelief.

Dr. von Braun was obviously very proud of the smiling pig rocket tail painting with disbelief motto – “When Pigs Fly. This became the first ‘known’ recorded A/4 rocket tail art painted by de Beek at Peenemunde, early June 1942, on tracking paint scheme No. 2.

HAP-11 photo album image taken on 1 August 1942, showing pre launch work being conducted on A/4 rocket prototype V3, [rocket tracking paint scheme No.2] which will be test fired in fifteen days. The German is working on the rocket engine between fin #1 [left] and fin #2 [right], just below the area where the smiling Pig art was originally painted.


Known facts:

The first smiling pig A/4 tail art appears in Peenemunde photo album #92, dated 13 June 1942.

This A/4 rocket is painted in the colour scheme No. 2 which first appeared on the third constructed prototype test rocket launch V3, constructed and painted in June 1942.

Pre Launch preparations 1 August 1942, on V3 showing new test scheme colours, but no tail marking.

Photo dated 13 June 1942, and position it was painted on rocket tail.

Author image of smiling pig tail painting.

The July 1942 HAP-11 Peenemunde photo album contains two close-up images of the prelaunch work on A/4 rocket V3 showing the new tail art with a witch. It also contains the above image of Walter Theil [pipe] and fellow A/4 rocket engineers in front of V3 with tracking paint scheme No. 2. I believe the original smiling pig art was painted over, [with witch] and it possibly never flew on a test rocket. The July 2021 publication “Art and Weapons” by Philipp Aumann and Thomas Kohler, credits the pig art as flying on the second built prototype rocket V2 which was launched on 13 June 1942. These first two prototype rockets were both painted in a checkerboard tail tracking scheme, which is very confusing, as the smiling pig art photo appeared on the second striped tracking paint scheme No. 2, first appearing on test rocket V3 in June 1942.


The first A/4 prototype rocket [left A] V1 was painted in a black and white checkerboard scheme for tracking purposes. During the first test firing on 16 March 1942, the engine and tail section exploded. The second prototype A/4 [right B] V2 was also painted in the same test tracking scheme, [the middle section of white is ice which has formed around the rocket body as liquid oxygen is pumped into the tanks] 16 August 1942, achieved lift-off but crashed into the Baltic covering only .81 miles. It is important to note the first two rockets tested at Peenemunde [V1 and V2] were both painted in the same black and white checkerboard tracking design. This black and white tracking design would change with the third constructed prototype A/4 [V3] in July 1942.


It now seems probable the very first A/4 rocket tail art in Peenemunde became this modified painting of the original ‘smiling pig’ design. This modified “Flying Pig with wings and jet exhaust” is found in one photo #93 [top of page] of the Peenemunde photo album, dated 1942. The big unanswered question being – did this A/4 tail art ever fly on a test rocket?

This A/4 rocket art was also recorded at Peenemunde, Germany, in 1942 on prelaunch German 16mm film. The little flying Pig also appears in twelve frames along with the tail section of the rocket [seven frames] painted in V3 launch tail markings. This [American copied] German captured Peenemunde film can be purchased on the Critical Past website for $190.00 [US].



This hidden Peenemunde rocket A/4 tail art is a continuing research process, and without the proper files located in Germany and the United States of America, it remains a lot of guesswork. It is still impossible to state the little smiling pig with wings ever flew at Peenemunde on an A/4 test rocket. The HAP-II photo album and captured German Peenemunde 16 mm test film show the tail art painted on prototype number three which was launched on 16 August 1942. This launch is well recorded showing the de Beek tail art of a flying witch with turned up nose HAP-11 Album # BLD-Nr. B476/42 BSM.

I believe the original pig art [with wings and jet exhaust] was painted over and replaced with the [above] witch tail art. This space vehicle became the first rocket to break the sound barrier, and after 194 seconds of flight broke apart in mid-air. From this date on all Gerd de Beek tail art contained the V [Versuchsmuster] and launch number in each of his paintings.


The Luftwaffe test section located at West Peenemunde used their official Eagle badge as identification, and one unofficial [fake] rocket belt bucket badge was offered for sale on the internet in 2014, however the real “unofficial” motto and badge had to be the little smiling pig with wings and jet exhaust. A third and last flying pig tail art appeared on V17, launched 3 April 1943. Official or not, I feel the “Flying Pig” became a most powerful art insignia at Peenemunde, Germany, and was only for Space exploration.

The Nazi Party [Parteiadler] used a black eagle with a stylised oak wreath, with a swastika at the center, which was created by Adolf Hitler on 5 November 1935. This Eagle was looking over his ‘left’ shoulder or wings.

On 7 March 1936, the Fuhrer created the national emblem of the German Reich [seen above] which used the same design, but the head of the Eagle was turned to his right shoulder or wings. This is possibly the same style Eagle art which was painted for rocket V47 at Peenemunde. Above is the magazine cover of Der Adler [The Eagle] which was published in English for the United States and sold for 8 cents, 14 January 1941. This English version was created to encourage isolation and keep the U.S. out of WWII. It also contains the badge of the Luftwaffe which was possibly the third most powerful Nazi badge during WWII.


The German National Socialist Flying Corps created another very powerful Nazi badge and this was hijacked from the Greek myth of Icarus.

With the ending of WWI, Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, and it stated Germany had no right to possess an Air Force of powered flight. [Gliders and rockets were never included] In the following years a highly organized civilian aviation network appeared all over Germany using balloons and gliders.

This early glider design by aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal flew on 1 May 1930.

Few of these early gliders carried any form of identification and the first markings carried the capital letter D [for Deutschland] followed by the name of the manufacturing company. The lettering was black in capitals and could appear on the nose or fuselage of the gliders. Photos also record some gliders carrying an aircraft name painted in white on the nose. Two standard markings used in early 1930 were [D-MOAZAGOTL or D-MUSTERLE]

This excellent image from the Bundesarchiv collection shows German Glider Pioneer Wolfram Kurt Erhard Hirth and the markings of his glider on 1 June 1931. The glider is a H2-PL Musterle which also contains the insignia of his private flying school. In March 1933, the German Nazi Party created Deutscher Luftsportverband [DLV] German Air Sports Association. The DLV was a secret cover organization for the future German Air Force the Luftwaffe, and their chairman became the future Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe Hermann Goring and vice-chair Ernest Rohm. The real purpose of the DLV was to channel and develop all air-mined German youth and to hire and rally the veteran pilots from WWI for Nazi propaganda aims. Veteran heroes such as Bruno Lorzer and Ernet Udet joined and played a very significant role in the secret forming of the new Luftwaffe. Hermann Goering next created a cloth emblem for the DLV and a special Aircrew Badge [Fliegerschaftsabzeichen] which was the first German military decoration to be awarded to official DLV civilians who trained in gliders for the future Luftwaffe. The badge was made of silver and featured the German national eagle clutching a Nazi swastika surrounded by a wreath, which would be worn on the left breast pocket by pilots and observers.

[Internet image] This simple DLV German Air Sports Association badge became the first qualification badge [pilot/observer] recognized by the newly formed Luftwaffe on 19 January 1935. On orders of Hermann Goering the original badge was retired and replaced in November 1935. Today this rare DLV badge is not only hard to find for collectors, it is considered to be the first official badge of the secret Nazi Luftwaffe formation in 1933.

The March 1933 German Air Sports Association, [DLV] cloth emblem is also very high on collectors lists.



On occasion, you will find the March 1933 German Air Sports Association aircrew cloth badge also appearing on the nose of early German DLV training aircraft, such as the Klemm L25 successful training monoplane. Developed by German Hanns Klemm in 1928, this low wing, fixed landing gear aircraft, was designed as a leisure and sport aircraft. It was produced in over 600 airframes in thirty different versions, and also manufactured under license in the United Kingdom and the United States. The above Klemm L25d trainer is still wearing the badge in 1938, although the DLV was dissolved and replaced by the NSFK on 15 April 1937.

Hitler’s rise to power was completed in August 1934 when President Paul von Hindenburg died and Adolf soon became the Fuhrer of Germany. On 1 March 1935, Adolf Hitler authorized the founding of the Reich Luftwaffe, the new Air-Arm of the German Wehrmacht. This new Air Force organization soon grew in size and purpose as the Nazis began to take full control of all existing civilian aviation clubs and organizations in Germany.

In the summer of 1935, the United States top aviation magazine was able to visit Germany and report on the new German air power. The articles appeared in three issues and can be read free online.


American Aeronautical Engineer Edmund T. Allen reported in 1935 Germany was the new land of paradise and fulfillment, as that is what he was shown and appeared on the surface. The new German Air Force was being constructed as the first line of defense for the new Germany. He then reported on the glider camps which were training 4-5 thousand German pilots per year, but nobody in the Western World was reading or learning the complete truth.


On 18 June 1963, the collection, research, and preserved archives of Karl Ries were published under the title “Markings and Camouflage Systems of Luftwaffe Aircraft in WWII.” Today aviation historians owe a great deal of thanks to his skill and endeavours to preserve these lost and destroyed aircraft markings. These are his words in describing the early Luftwaffe training markings in Nazi Germany 1934-35.




The German Air Sports League [DLV] continued to operate after the Luftwaffe was formed, but slowly began to lose members to the regular military and power was slipping away. The main core of the DLV senior members were staunch Nazi party members which gave the new Luftwaffe a very strong Nazi ideological base, and this must be protected. On 15 April 1937, the DLV was dissolved by Hermann Goering and replaced by a new organization called “National -sozialistisches Fliegerkorps.” The new National Socialist Flying Corps [NSFK] was partly financed by voluntary contributions, private Nazi party individuals and of course the Luftwaffe. Under the Third Reich Nazi Regime the National Flying Corps [NSFK] instructed the new Aviation Hitler Youth in all aspects of Balloon, Glider, and early powered aircraft flight. Closely related to the Luftwaffe and the Nazi Party, the new organization was male-dominated but a few females were allowed membership and it is reported they in fact had female aircrew, but little else is known. This was partly due to the strong Nazi party ideology that wives and mothers of all soldiers were not used in combat and would never appear in any badge, insignia, or other party identification. The NSFK organization was formed on other German military units such as the National Socialist Workers Party – SA, [Strom Troops – Brown Shirts] Hitler’s Protection Squadron – SS, [Schutzstaffel] and the National Socialist Motor Corps – NSKK, comprising Rotten [Squadrons], Sturmen [Companies], Sturmbannen [Batteries], Standarten [Regiments], and Gruppen [Divisions]. The new German Flying Corps [NSFK] would be used to channel energy, to explore the German youth in training and technical support of the Luftwaffe, and most of all maintain a reserve of young aviation troops in active glider and powered aircraft training. As a Nazi paramilitary group the NSFK were issued with new uniforms and followed the same rank structure as the SA, SS, and NSKK. The NSFK now received their own distinctive Nazi insignia which came from the Greek Mythology featuring the winged man figure of Icarus. The Luftwaffe put a much greater value on the design and creation of their unit insignia and the German Nazi Party introduced and hijacked many past military events and German heroes for use by the party. When the Luftwaffe was first revealed to the world in May 1935, early units were named for past military battles and WWI fighter aces, and the new badges were presented in elaborate military presentations. Favourite German themes painted as unit insignia were the Eagle and Lions combined with the natural forces of lightning and thunder in the sky. Norse and Greek mythology featured all of these elements and Icarus became a perfect fit for the silent Glider wings of the NSFK teaching young Hitler Youth German males to fly.





The new Third Reich NSFK badge of Icarus would appear on Flying Corps documents, handbook covers, flight magazines, postcards, insignia, flags, postcards, posters, plus the nose of training gliders and aircraft. The NSFK badge enticed German male youth into training, flying, and dying for both the Fuhrer and the Fatherland by creating an immense feeling of German pride.

The Backside of a German NSFK Postcard

The Postcard front, with powerful symbols of Icarus and a German Eagle, combined with the transition from boyhood to manhood was now building a mighty Nazi Third Reich Luftwaffe.


From Hitler’s Wartime Picture Magazine Signal, published March 1940. Today’s living record of Nazi propaganda and living under the Third Reich at war.

The new Nazi badge [Greek man Icarus] would exploit German male youth enthusiasm to train as potential Luftwaffe pilots, beginning at age fourteen years. Internet.

Another Nazi propaganda color page from Hitler’s Signal magazine March 1940

The Grunan Baby II was introduced in 1933, designed by Edmund Schneider, with 4,104 constructed between 1933-44. This was the most popular glider used by the NSFK and many carried the decal NSFK badge [top] under the pilot position [20” high] as seen in these photos.

Over 16,000 Gliders were constructed in Germany from 1933 – 1944, and the NSFK was a male-dominated flying association. Female glider members were rare but one became the most famous in the world. On 25 July 1938, Luftwaffe pilot Hanna Reitsch is seen wearing her NSFK Glider pilot badge and the larger Luftwaffe pilot badge.

Hanna Reitsch remained a National Socialist until her death and stated – “She should have died at the side of her Fuhrer in 1945.” It is speculated she took the cyanide capsule Hitler gave her 26 April 1945. Died Frankfurt, Germany, 24 August 1979.

If a German citizen donated money to the NSFK this gift certificate was signed, dated, [1 March 1939] and returned with thanks for the contribution. The two powered trainers are Heinkel He-51 fighter-trainer aircraft showing the growing early power of the Luftwaffe.


The Heinkel He-49 was a single-seat biplane which first flew in 1932, as an advanced trainer aircraft, but it fact was designed as a German Nazi fighter aircraft. The advanced He-51 aircraft was designed to replace the Arado AR65 and both also flew side by side as trainers. [Full details on the internet]

The Arado 68 was one of the early fighters produced by Germany when they began rearming in 1935, and entered service with the Luftwaffe in 1936. It was replaced by the Messerschmitt Bf 109 in 1938 and became an excellent fighter trainer aircraft. The NSFK powered-flight trainer aircraft had their own badge featuring the German Luftwaffe Eagle and Greek Icarus.

By 1938, the NSFK had trained seventy-eight thousand potential Luftwaffe pilots and continued to grow. Oberstleutnant Herman Adler’s assessment of the Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps stated “The work of the NSFK is bearing its fruits for the benefit of the Luftwaffe and thus for German air legitimacy, for the good of all German people and their future.” The top trainer aircraft is a Klemm KI 35 which carried many forms of aircraft markings from 1935 to 1944.

The Klemm KI 35 and Bucker Bu 133 training aircraft both appeared in NSFK Commemorative badge awards in 1938. They belonged to Gruppe 16 Sudwest, June 1938.

In 1920, Adolf Hitler took the Swastika, which was a good luck sign of the Aryan Nomads in India, and turned it into the most hated world-wide anti-Semitic symbol mankind has ever created. The Nazi Party then showered its eight million card carrying members with thousands of medals and insignia designed to enhance their German self esteem using the Swastika.

The main post card read – “Learn to Fly” and the NSFK badge could be found on just about everything from German stamps to their training gliders and powered aircraft as nose art. This strong male figure of “Icarus” became the most powerful Nazi emblem and decoration in the Luftwaffe, only the German Eagle displayed more power as a symbol.


The NSFK emblem exploited German male youth [14 years] to learn to fly and become potential Luftwaffe pilots for the new Germany. They learned the complete theory of flight, wireless communications and maintenance of gliders and powered aircraft. At the same time these young boys were taught the Nazi ideology, pro-Hitler songs, and printed anti-Semitic material in their magazine “German Air Watch.” As they matured and entered the Luftwaffe they had been totally “Nazified” in part by their NSFK god-like figure of Greek Icarus and his huge wings.

On 3 September 1939, war was declared, and the Luftwaffe had 373,000 members, which included 208,000 flying troops. British intelligence estimated 43% of these German Luftwaffe personnel had received pre-war flying training by the NSFK, and almost all had been totally Nazified as they went to war. Today the Greek symbol of Icarus appears in tens of thousands of paintings, drawings, and historical artifacts in world museums. Just as many images are carried on human skin as tattoos during their lifetime.

The death of the Greek mythological figure “Icarus” still survives today in many forms and collector items, including NSFK badges and emblems.

The Nazi “Icarus” NSFK emblem died on 8 May 1945, and ironically its demise came beside their very creator, the German Third Reich, who hijacked Icarus and encouraged German males to learn to fly under his powerful image.

Author painting on WWII RCAF Norseman aircraft skin. The bottom sketch replica was created in 1644 by Stefano della Bella, the death of Icarus.




Davis Wing with a Nose for Art – B-24 Liberator

Updated 22 June 2022

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Link to the PDF version below

Davis Wing with a Nose for Art

Text version with all images

Davis Wing with a nose for art – B-24 Liberator

In 1937, Mr. Reuben Hollis Fleet, president of Consolidated Aircraft, met with a freelance aeronautical engineer David R. Davis. Davis had attempted to join the U.S. Air Corps in WWI but was declined and served as a private in the infantry. Davis wished to design and build aircraft, but his poor eyesight directed him to drafting where he became a self-taught aerodynamics expert, with his primary interest in aircraft wing lift. Davis had a theory that a tear shaped leading wing edge would give greater lifting power and produce less drag. On 25 May 1931, Davis patented his unique idea for a new aircraft wing design called “Fluid Foil” and now he had to find a believer in his wing performance. Reuben Fleet was impressed, and his opinion was shared by Consolidated Chief Engineer, Mr. Isaac M. Laddon. A test model of the wing was constructed and wind tunnel flight testing took place at the California Institute of Technology. The test results were not just good, they were almost unbelievable, and the new “Davis Wing” first appeared on the Consolidated Model 31 seaplane.

The large seaplane boat hull, engine housings, and new Davis Wing design were a complete success, and President Reuben Fleet was convinced in its aircraft future. His new secret four-engine aircraft design, with the most beautiful graceful Davis Wing would be called the XB-24, and American Aviation history was being created. Davis never received his proper recognition for the Liberator wing design, and I’m sure that frustrated him in later years of his life.

Donald W. Douglas (on the left) and David R. Davis (on the right) who formed the Davis-Douglas Aircraft Company, the first builders of the Cloudster. Repository: San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive

In 1923, Reuben H. Fleet founded Consolidated Aircraft in Buffalo, New York. In March 1935, he transferred his entire company to a new factory in San Diego, California, and that is where the new B-24 aircraft was born. Fleet was a collector of all aviation magazines and newspaper clippings involving his aviation career, which he kept in three large scrap books, all with notes and dates of publication. In 1961, Fleet founded the San Diego Aerospace Museum, and that is where his vast collection of aviation was donated upon his death 29 October 1975. Today, [2022] the Fleet collection is free online for all historians to read, digest, and learn from his private past and his creation of the original forgotten B-24 Liberator bombers which first went to war with the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The following Fleet history is simply told by republishing the original online aviation and newspaper scrapbook collection of Mr. Reuben Hollis Fleet, the man who also created Fleet Aircraft of Canada at Bridgeburg, Fort Erie, Ontario, in 1929.

His biography published in Aeronautical magazine October 1929. [Reuben Fleet collection]

In 1919, Major Fleet was assigned to the U.S. Army Flight Testing Center at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio, as a business manager. From the vast experience he gained, he left the service in 1922, and began his most distinguished aviation career. In 1923, Fleet acquired the assets and engineering experience of Gallaudet Aircraft Corp. and Dayton-Wright Airplane Company, [obtaining their trainer aircraft designs] which he combined into a new firm called Consolidated Aircraft. In the leased ex-Gallaudet factory at Buffalo, N.Y., Fleet developed a very successful line of American training aircraft also based on the Dayton-Wright designs. Consolidated Husky Junior trainer [Became Fleet Model 1 in 1930] seen in his newspaper clipping, December 1928. [Reuben Fleet collection]

The Hall Aluminum Aircraft company was purchased by Reuben Fleet in 1930.

22 March 1929, Buffalo News.

By 1928, Consolidated [Board of Directors] ceased building light training aircraft and sold the rights to Brewster Aeronautical Corporation. Consolidated Aircraft turned to the development of great flying boats for the U.S. Navy and commercial “Commodore.” The 32 passenger Commodore [top] was displayed at the 25 March 1929 airshow in Buffalo, New York.
Reuben Fleet founded Fleet Aircraft of Canada at Fort Erie, Ontario, in late 1929, to acquire the foreign rights to the aircraft sold by Consolidated. Consolidated bought back Fleet Aircraft in 1929 and formed a separate division. The first Canadian Constructed Fleet Model 2 flew in April 1930, and thousands of RCAF WWII pilots would later learn to fly in Fleet Model trainer aircraft, with 3,978 built at Fort Erie, Ontario. The Reuben Fleet scrapbook records the very beginnings with Capt. Jack Sanderson who later became president of Fleet Aircraft Ltd. Canada. The name Fleet was removed from Consolidated Aircraft in 1939.

Aero Digest magazine September 1929

Aero Digest September 1929

In September 1929, after founding Fleet Aircraft of Canada, a subsidiary of American Consolidated, President Reuben Fleet was involved in an aircraft crash landing near St. Thomas, Ontario. Flying his assistant/private secretary [Mrs. Loretta Golem 31 years] back to Buffalo, N.Y. the aircraft engine quit, and a forced landing was made. Fleet was seriously injured and required seven weeks in hospital, Golem died the next day from a broken neck. William John “Jack” Sanderson was a flight instructor of the London Aero Club and he visited Fleet in the London Victoria hospital. Impressed by his kindness, Fleet hired this complete stranger as sales manager, who later became President of Fleet Aircraft of Canada.

Future President Jack Sanderson beside Consolidated Constructed Fleet Model 2, Canadian registration CF-AKC, which was first called a “Fleetester.”

The original plant was 120 by 60 feet, 7,500 feet in size, located across the Niagara River from the Buffalo, N.Y. factory. [22 March 1930 clipping] By 1938, the plant had been expanded to 72,000 feet, seen above in 1940 dated photo from Fort Erie History. [Internet]

In the first eight years [1930-38] Fleet Canada built 280 aircraft, the Fleet Model 1 to 6, [one each] Model 7, Model 10, Model 14, Model 17 “Sport”, Model 50K “freighter” and the Model 21, which was built for Canada, Mexico, and China.

This damaged but amazing photo from the Fort Erie Historical Archives was found on the internet. It has no date or information, however it is a Fleet Model 21 taken at Fort Erie, Ontario, in the winter months. The unknown pilot is about to test or deliver the new constructed Fleet trainer aircraft. Fleet built ten for Mexico under contract in 1937.

The Consolidated “Fleetster” Model 17 published as being built at Fort Erie, Canada.

Twenty-six “Fleetster” Model 17 aircraft were constructed and it was reported a number were built and assembled at Fort Erie, Ontario. [Needs more research]

Only one Fleet Model 17 [Special C-11] was constructed for the United States Army Air Corps, Secretary of War. This special painted model became the Flag Ship of the USAAC and the aircraft of Chief of Army Air Corps, Major General James E. Fechet, [photo below – 21 Aug. 1877 – 10 Feb. 1948] and was designated Y1C-11.

This rare drawing of the Fleet Model 17 [Special] was signed by Major General Fechet, sketch by most famous artist Clayton Knight. [Reuben Fleet magazine collection] This original is worth a few big bucks for collectors, and I hope it still survives.

In 1936, Fleet Aircraft of Canada began layout plans for a new float and land based bush plane. It’s not known if Reuben Fleet had any involvement with this new aircraft, called the Fleet Model 50K “Freighter” Bush-plane. Fleet President Jack Sanderson was involved from the start and later flew all of the five aircraft constructed, beginning 22 February 1938.

This article appeared on 1 May 1938 issue of Aviation Weekly magazine showing CF-BDX which crashed at Lower Post, B.C., [Liard River Indian Reserve] on 14 August 1938.

It’s possible CF-BDX was used as the model in this Jacobs Aircraft Engine ad which appeared in Maclean’s magazine 1 July 1943.

Aero Digest magazine August 1939. Showing CF-BJW, Dominion Skyways Ltd., Quebec.

Internet image, United Air Transport used CF-BJT.

Only five Fleet Model 50K Freighter Bush planes were constructed, first flew 22 February 1938.

The remains of three survive today in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa. The RCAF flew two, serial #799 and #800 seen above, from internet, Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum. RCAF #800 only flew 11 hours and 20 minutes. Now this is a rare Canadian model you will really have to build from scratch, I don’t believe a model kit was even issued. Experts state this aircraft was a very good bush work-horse and never received the credit it deserved. Neither did the Avro Arrow and only six were built, then all destroyed by the Canadian government.

Left – Reuben H, Fleet, president of Consolidated Aircraft, and the new pilot/owner of Fleet Aircraft of Canada Ltd., May 1930. Right – Portrait by famous artist Milton Caniff, when Reuben Fleet was enshrined in the Dayton Air Force National Hall of Fame in 1975.

Fleet Aircraft Canada Ltd was formed at a perfect time in RCAF history [May 1930] and contributed almost 3,000 trainer aircraft [2,925 totals vary] for the RCAF, RAF, USAAF and British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Walk into any Canadian museum and you will fine a Fleet model and a good number are still flying. Fleet Model 2 [1st production 203 constructed, Fleet Model 7C [Fleet Fawn] 71 constructed, Fleet Model 10 [Fleet Finch] 1,043 built, Fleet Model 16, [advanced Trainer] 404 built, Fleet Model 50K [Fleet Freighter] 5 built, Fleet Model 60K [Fleet Fort] 101 built. In 1940, the plant was enlarged for a third time, where they constructed 80 Handley-Page Hampton fuselages for the RAF training in Canada. Fleet also built 2,082 Fairchild PT-26 Primary Trainer aircraft as Cornell trainers for the RAF and RCAF.

Tens of thousands of RCAF aircrew trained in 2,138 Fleet aircraft during WWII. The above Sgt. Wireless Air Gunner trained in a Fleet Fort aircraft at Winnipeg or Calgary. Maclean’s Magazine 1 December 1942. [Author collection]

Breakdown of Fleet Aircraft of Canada trainers used by the RCAF before and during WWII.

One of three known Fleet Aircraft ads which appeared in Maclean’s Magazine. [Author Maclean’s collection] Fleet built 2,082 Fairchild M-62A-4 “Cornell” trainers and 1,736 were constructed as PT-26A primary RCAF trainers. The RCAF flew 541 Mk. I and 917 Mk. II Cornel aircraft, for a total of 1,555 Fleet built Cornell trainers.

In September 1942, Fleet also began production of Canadian Avro Lancaster Mk. X outer wing sections and other small bomber components. This resulted in another Fleet Aircraft advertising poster [Canadian Lancaster Mk. X] appearing in Maclean’s 15 September 1944.

The design and manufacture of the Canadian Lancaster Mk. X began at Victory Aircraft, Malton, Ontario, in September 1942. The first Canadian prototype Lancaster KB700, “Ruhr Express” incorporated 150 modifications from the master tooling model, British built Lancaster Mk. I, serial R5727, which was flown from England on 25 August 1942. Many Canadian companies produced sub-assembly sections for the production line of Lancaster Mk. X bombers, including Fleet Aircraft of Canada Ltd in Fort Erie, Ontario. This photo taken at Malton has been published many times but with little correct information. The Lancaster is believed to be KB700 and the date is still unknown, around christening ceremony date 6 August 1943. The Fairchild Cornell II, serial 10511 was built by Fleet Aircraft of Canada on 17 November 1942. It has been flown from No. 10 E.F.T.S. at Pendleton, Ontario, for the picture event. [the instructor in rear and student names are unknown] The image was used to advertise the fact Fleet Aircraft of Canada manufactured the complete Cornell trainer and the large outer wing panels on the Canadian Lancaster Mk. X bomber.

The 1935 Consolidated Aircraft Corp. move from Buffalo, New York to San Diego, California.

As large government contacts were signed, beginning in 1930, it became obvious Consolidated required a larger factory and with determination and courage Fleet moved his entire operation to San Diego, California in March 1935. That is where the B-24 Bomber was born, which is told using the collection from Reuben Fleet scrapbook.

The new Consolidated San Diego plant dedication Day was 19 October 1935.

The United States Army established an Aeronautical Division in their Signal Corps on 1 August 1907 and their first aircraft arrived in 1909. American Army aviators learned to fly, but were not organized into units for operations until 5 March 1913, when the first Aero Squadron was formed. The first American aviation unit to reach France in WWI was the 1st Aero Squadron, which arrived at Le Havre on 3 September 1917. Other new squadrons were organized in the U.S. and arrived overseas, and the U.S. War Department recognized the Army Air Service on 24 May 1918. In July 1918, the American Expeditionary Forces under General John J, Pershing, organized the first aviation wing, made up of the 2nd and 3rd Pursuit Groups and the 1st Day Bombardment Squadron. After the war the Army quickly demobilized almost all its air arm, wing, groups, and squadrons. New peacetime organizations were created and few had any connection with those who had seen active service during WWI. On 4 June 1920, an act of Congress created the Air Service as a combat arm in the United States Army, and the Air Corps was created by another act on 2 July 1926. The new U.S. Army Air Corps could not control their own combat units for training or combat operations, which both came under jurisdiction of Army ground forces. This organization of command had been based on principals of the air arm set by the War Department in 1920, and never updated. As a result, many senior Air Service officers and General Billy Mitchell condemned the organization and wanted a new air force under command of one airman. This most important change did not come until 1 March 1935, when the War Department established General Headquarters Air Force [GHQAF] under the command on one air force officer, to serve both air defence and air striking force.

The prewar battles to get the American heavy bomber, B-17 Flying Fortress, into the Army Air Corps was caused by senior Joint Board of Army and Navy officers who were very naïve and confused with the fast growth in the world of aviation. By June 1938, these same senior officers still concluded that the Army Air Corps did not require any reconnaissance or heavy bombardment aircraft other than the B-17. Some officers were still skeptical enough to believe that four-engine bombers were a total waste of more U.S. money. The world can give thanks to the President of the United States who fully understood the rapid growth of airpower. In early January 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to strengthen America’s air power, when he stated the present air force was “utterly inadequate.” Three weeks later, General Henry H. Arnold invited Consolidated, San Diego, to present a design study for a new American bomber which would be superior to the Boeing B-17. The bomber must exceed 300 miles per hour, have a range of over 3,000 miles and a ceiling of 35,000 feet. A contract was signed in March 1939, for the prototype Model 32, Army Air Force designated would be XB-24 bomber, delivery date was 31st of December 1939.

The B-24 history follows as told by the online newspaper scrapbook collection of Consolidated President Mr. Reuben Hollis Fleet. [San Diego Aerospace Museum]

17 July 1939, Model XB-24 [original serial 39-556] takes shape. [Reuben Fleet scrapbook]
On 29 December 1939, test pilot William B. Wheatley took the new XB-24 [serial 39-556] up for the first time. [Newspaper clippings from Reuben H. Fleet online scrapbook collection]

The original flight lasted 17 minutes, with Chief Test pilot William “Bill” Wheatley at the controls, co-pilot was George Newman and flight engineers Jack Kline and Robert Keith.

The full history with many photos was also published monthly in the company magazine called Consolidator, created in September 1936. [Reuben Fleet collection]


This company publication for their employees contains a gold mine of early Consolidated Aircraft Corp. photos, insignia, art, and company [Davis Wing] development beginning Sept. 1936. Many pages also contain rare 1936 Walt Disney advertisements for Standard Oil Company of California. [Ruben Fleet collection]

PBY-5 Catalina with the new Davis Wing design. [Ruben Fleet collection]

The Consolidated Model 32 [XB-24] heavy bomber “Davis Wing” familiar lines, tail, and cockpit design can clearly be seen [above] in the early Model 31 [NX21731] first flew 5 June 1939, the first use of the Davis Wing design by Consolidated in 1939-40. [Ruben Fleet collection]

As the world went to war in early September 1939, the United States remained a determined isolationist nation. Consolidated Chief Test pilot Bill Wheatley described his “Airboat” testing in 1939, as America prepares for Peace. [Consolidator magazine, Fleet collection]

The first flight of XB-24 serial #39-556 was well documented in their company magazine Consolidated for the next years, 1940-41.

In January 1941, the Model 32 or XB-24 was reworked to use R-1830-41 supercharged engines and self-sealing fuel tanks. The engine nacelles were redesigned to accommodate the four turbo-superchargers, and took on an oval shape with new prop spinners. The new Consolidated Model XB-24B serial number was revised from original 39-556 to 39-680 on 20 January 1941.

A Consolidated artist painted XB-24B nose art of test pilot [Wheatley] flashing the “V for Victory” sign. Chief test pilot William B. Wheatley is seen under ‘his’ nose art flashing his own “V for Victory” sign, taken after the first test flight on 1 February 1941.

The author believes his replica nose art was in fact test pilot William B. Wheatley [39 years “GRAN’PAPPY”] and the “V for Victory” sign stood for the new B-24 aircraft being flown to England. On 2 June 1941, Wheatley and three of his test crew members would be killed in the crash of Liberator II, serial AL503. The very first American B-24 nose art [#39-680] was removed and forgotten as the United States entered WWII. Bomber XB-24B was scrapped on 20 June 1946, and the first B-24 nose art was slowly lost with the passage of time. [Author painting]

The first country to order production LB-30A [LB meaning Land Bombardment] bombers [120] was France, however when they fell to Nazi Germany, [June 1940] the original order was transferred to the British, which was paid in cash before Lend-Lease arrangements.

These first six aircraft were built to British specifications for the Royal Air Force and even the name “Liberator” was British. The first production aircraft to roll out of San Diego was AM258, which flew in January 1941. They would be employed as RAF unarmed transport aircraft for Transatlantic Return Ferry Pilot Service [No. 45 Atlantic Group RAF] between Montreal, Canada, and Prestwick, Scotland, which was 3,000 miles.

The first three Model LB-30A bombers [AM258-259-260] departed for England on Monday 3 March 1941, which was witnessed by a large crowd of Americans. The Fort Worth Star Telegram Evening newspaper even hired an aircraft for their air-shot press coverage. [Fleet scrapbook]

LB-30A serial AM259 was the first aircraft to reach England, via New York and Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. [Free Press photo]

World Wide Photo – Bomber for Britain, LaGuardia Field, New York, 23 March 1941.
[Ruben Fleet scrapbook collection].

The first six production Model LB-30A aircraft were constructed outside the original San Diego plant and the first return Ferry Pilot Service began on 24 March 1941. Two aircraft crashed killing forty-four pilots in August, the remaining four aircraft carried on the important work with success. Press photo of early model LB-30A construction was taken on 30 November 1940.

RAF Ferry Command photo taken 29 July 1941, Imperial War Museum #CH3168, Public Domain.

The Liberator Mk. I, [LB-30A] was serial AM261, RAF No. 45 Atlantic Group Ferry Command, 29 July 1941, location Prestwick, Scotland. The Ferry Command aircraft is taking off bound for Canada with Prince George the Duke of Kent on board. This was the first time a member of the Royal Family had crossed the Atlantic to Canada by aircraft.

This RAF pre-boarding photo from I.W.M. is Public Domain. Prince George will visit his Uncle, “The Earl of Athlone” the Governor General of Canada, his visit was purely military, informal, and personal. Prince George will be killed on 25 August 1942, in the crash of an RAF Short Sunderland flying boat.

4 January 1941, the new location of the aircraft assembly plant and airport construction.
[Fleet collection]

Newspaper Fort Worth Press 18 January 1941.

The next twenty production aircraft were called Liberator Mk. I and these were the first to see combat operational service with No. 120 Squadron of the Royal Air Force. Arriving in England in June 1941, they gave Coastal Command a new range of 2,400 miles and closed off many very dangerous gaps in British sea lane defences. [Fleet collection]

23 January 1941, Press release photo. [Fleet scrapbook]

13 February 1941, Ruben Fleet collection

The Liberator Mk. II was constructed with a three-foot extended nose [66-foot 4-inch fuselage] and the British were expected to receive 140 of these new bombers. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, the fifty-one undelivered RAF aircraft [and twenty-four others under construction] were taken over by the U.S. Air Corps and renamed Model LB-30 bombers.

This Free Press photo dated 25 September 1941, records the first twelve Liberator Mk. II bombers as they prepare their flight to England. The twelve bombers were worth three million dollars and paid in full by American Lend-Lease agreement.

The first production Liberator II, serial AL503 crashed on 2 June 1941, killing Consolidated Chief test pilot William B. Wheatley and three of his test aircrew. Chief aircraft mechanic Lewis McCannon, 25 years, survived, but later died from his injuries.

First production Liberator II photo taken on the same day [2 June 1941] aircraft serial AL503 would crash during test flight. [Consolidated Aircraft Corp photo]

Chief Test Pilot William Wheatley was born 17 December 1902, and had been with Consolidated since February 1929. Flight Engineer Bruce K. Craig, 27 years, William H. Reiser, 23 years, and test pilot Allan T. Austin, 28 years, were trapped in the wreckage and drowned.

3 June 1941, San Diego Union Newspaper painting of the crash of Liberator II, serial AL503 in San Diego Bay. Eye witnesses reported the aircraft took off normal, then pulled into a vertical climb at 500 feet, stalled and pilot Wheatley had regained part control when the left wing hit the water. Evidence of sabotage was suspected as cause for the Liberator crash.

Beginning in 1937, the United States of America had a huge following [500,000] of American/German members who supported Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi “Bund” rise to power. This organization was controlled by American “Fuhrer” German immigrant Fritz Julius Kuhn. The full history can be read on the chapter titled [Hunting der Fuehrer’s in North America] Preserving the Past or just by entering the name Fritz Kuhn on Google. This is a sad part of North American past, however the same views were also shared in Canada, and needs to be restudied today, mostly south of the border by the Republican Party of the United States of America.

The second production Liberator II, serial AL504 would become the personnel transport of P.M. Winston Churchill, with nose art name “Commando” and possibly the first painted Liberator RAF nose art. [Internet free domain]

Imperial War Museum image with P. M. Churchill and close-up of the nose art on Liberator II, serial AL504. The flight crew below – Radio Holmes, Capt. Ruggles, Capt. Bill Vanderkloot, Williams and Afflec.

In June 1941, the U.S. Army Air Corps received their first Model RB-24A, serial 40-2369, one of nine assigned to the new formed U. S. Air Corps Ferrying Command, for the purpose of delivering aircraft from Montreal for movement to England. These first fifteen hand picked U.S. overseas pilots and ten special picked enlisted men came from the best of the Air Corps, with names Lt. Colonel Caleb Haynes and Major Curtis E. LeMay, who would later lead the 8th Air Force in England.

The first constructed B-24A, serial 40-2369 and the second known American aircraft nose art painted by a Consolidated plant artist in San Diego, California, June 1941. Two other aircraft were named “Arabian Nights” [40-2370, shot down 3 March 1942] and “Old Bag of Bolts” [40-2376, ditched 5 May 1942].

The B-24A Liberator U.S. Air Corps Ferry Routes before 7 December 1941.

The first neutral American markings on B-24A serial 40-2374 in July 1941. The RAF red, white, and blue fin flash has been painted over and the USAAF National Insignia is the Type I which was introduced 1 January 1921. [The red, white five-point star and blue cockade was 45” in diameter] The red center circle [meatball] was not replaced until 18 August 1942.

This boldly neutral American B-24 appeared in the Consolidated Company magazine “Plane Talk” April 1943, and carries the tail number 88. The first U.S. Air Corps Ferrying Command nine [B-24A] Liberators were serial 40-2369 to 40-2377, so the number 88 is confusing. The USAAF National Insignia is Type 4 which was introduced 17 September 1943, 45” in diameter. They flew with a crew of seven, and carried diplomatic passengers and U.S. priority mail from Washington D.C. to Prestwick, Scotland.

The looming Nazi Germany conflict in Europe during the 1930s was a world problem, however, to the average American it was not seen as one for them to help solve. Late American intervention into World War One was still viewed by many as a total waste in American lives and resources. While the average American remained and defined himself as an isolationist nation, President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not. He understood that America’s entry into WWII was inevitable, and now he had to walk a tight-rope in assisting Great Britain [Lend-Lease] and yet remaining natural in a world war. American playwright Clare Boothe, on a visit to the Consolidated plant, signed her name on a Liberator II tail fin for the “boys over there.”
[Fleet collection]

25 July 1941, Lord Halifax, British Ambassador to the U.S. signs another Liberator II tail fin. [Fleet collection]

By early 1941, the British Government Purchasing Commission had ordered 164 Liberator aircraft, but immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, seventy-five of these aircraft were taken over by the United States government and while the British serial numbers remained, they were now called LB-30s in U.S. service.

In the desperate days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, it suddenly became apparent to all Americans, their role in World War Two was to be an active one and all national state of denial was crushed by the Empire of Japan. The first requisitioned American LB-30s were going to war wearing British camouflage with RAF serial numbers, and 46 of these bombers flew active service with the U.S. Air Corps which became the USAAF in March 1942.

The RAF mechanics continued training at Consolidated and Liberator II serial AL578 has received the RAF nose art name “Marco Polo” at Dorval, Montreal, Canada. [RCAF archives]

The full list of USAAF repossessed LB-30 Liberator aircraft AL series can be found online.

In the second week of December 1941, three LB-30 aircraft were assigned for B-24 training, three were sent to Alaska, fifteen were sent to Java, eight were used in the transport role and seventeen were sent to the Panama Canal Zone as part of the 6th Bomb Group. Organized on 30 September 1919, they became a Bombardment Group in 1937, and the 6th [Heavy] Bomb Group in 1940. They flew the B-17, B-18, and LB-30 when the U.S. entered WWII, in the most unrewarding sea patrols in the first two years of the war. The impending Japanese attack never came and in May 1944, the eight surviving [nine were lost in accidents] LB-30 bombers were returned to Consolidated for C-87 configuration, where their photos were taken.

6th Bomb Group, LB-30 serial AL639 “Princess Sheila” before conversion to C-87 cargo aircraft. Scrapped Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, 1947.

6th B.G. serial AL632, “Lettie Jo” before conversion to C-87 cargo aircraft in May 1944. Scrapped Kingman, Arizona, 1947.

6th Bomb Group nude nose art “Jungle Queen” serial AL640, before May 1944 conversion to C-87. Ditched at sea 3 November 1945, 150 miles N.E. Hickam Field, Hawaii.

6th B.G. nose art “The Stud Duck” AL634, before C-87 conversion. Scrapped Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, 1947.

6th Bomb Group LB-30 serial AL637 Miss Behavin’ was the March 1944 Varga Pin-up Calendar girl. Her nose art life was short, paint removed and converted to a C-87 cargo/transport aircraft in May 1944. Scrapped Walnut Ridge, Arkansas in 1947.

LB-30 serial AL641 “Tiger Lady” before C-87 conversion.

Bull O’ the Woods was converted to a C-87 transport aircraft in May 1944, and survived the war, scrapped Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, [Below] AL628 “Blonde Blitz” scrapped Walnut Ridge.

These eight LB-30 combat Liberators [AL583, AL628, AL632, AL634, AL637, AL639, AL640, and AL641] were all converted to C-87 transport aircraft [see conversion below] and flew with Consairway Airlines.

In December 1941, the most widely used United States Air Corps [became USAAF 9 March 1942] heavy cargo aircraft was the C-47 Skytrain, which had a limited range and poor high altitude performance. One of the rarest American bomber aircraft converted to a heavy transport aircraft [1943] was the Boeing Model 294, serial XC-105, which became USAAF XB-15 with serial 35-277. This original B-17 prototype became the major transport aircraft for the 6th Bomb Group based at Albrook Field, in the Panama Zone during WWII. The huge aircraft also carried very rare nose art [both sides] of an elephant carrying a cargo crate marked “Supplies” with aircraft name “GRANDPAPPY.” In 1945, this rare bomber/transport aircraft was stripped of all usable parts and scrapped at Albrook Field, Panama, where the original fuselage remains buried today, under an industrial park.

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator has, for a number of reasons, always came second when compared to the famous Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. At times public opinion is not fair, but for the airmen stationed at Albrook Field in the Panama Zone, it was the converted Boeing B-15 Transport that kept bringing needed supplies to keep the seventeen Liberator LB-30 bombers flying patrols from their Panama base.

The U.S. Air Corps requirement for a long-range transport aircraft became apparent in the first few weeks of December 1941. When the 75 British built RAF Liberator II [LB-30] aircraft were requisitioned for the Air Corps, eight were hastily designed as cargo and troop transport aircraft. They flew with a crew of four or five and could ferry up to 25 passengers, cargo, aircraft engines, or both in a new wartime civilian airline called “Consairway.”

In the American pre-war days [before 7 December 1941] Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corp. pilots and navigators delivered aircraft to U.S. Army Air Corps military installations around the world including the South Pacific, [Clarke Field, Philippines] and returned to San Diego by ship. The Japanese changed all that when they invaded Manilla [10 December 1941] and captured one civilian Consolidated Vultee ferry crew, who were imprisoned for the remainder of the war. [P.O.W. for three years – John Nicholas, Thomas Terrill, George Messenger, and A.E. Kalakowsky.] To provide safe passage for their ferry crew members, “Consairway” Airlines was created on 23 April 1942, headquarters at Hamilton Air Force Base in San Francisco, under contract to the U.S.A.A.F. [Army Air Forces was created on 9 March 1942] The new wartime civilian Airline newsletter first issue was published in October 1943, with a contest to select a Consairway cover name.

The winners were Ray Day and co-pilot T.W. Anderson who both picked the title “Flight Deck.”
The new wartime civilian airline “Consairway” reached its peak in 1943, consisting of 80 flight crews [over 400 aircrew members] and seven Liberator LB-30 [Ex-R.A.F.] converted bombers and eleven new C-87 Transport Liberators. They delivered munitions, aircraft parts, and military personnel to combat locations from 1942 to 1945. Many flights were made to resupply troops on Guadalcanal and Tarawa during combat. The airline established bases at Hickham Field, Hawaii, Guam, Guadalcanal, Australia, and New Guinea. These non-military pilots and navigators began charting new territory and mapped hundreds of new South Pacific air routes, which was highly valued by USAAF Air Transport Command. For American and Allied South Pacific troops, they also flew USO entertainers such as Joe E. Brown and the famous Bob Hope, Eleanor Roosevelt [see photo next page] and also the staff of General Douglas MacArthur.

Under contract to the U.S.A.A.F. the Consairway LB-30 and C-87 cargo transport carried the Air Transport Command insignia, [40“] diameter. Below – Mrs. Roosevelt exits her C-87 transport aircraft in October 1943. [Plane Talk magazine]

The official Consairway Flight Badge was adapted from the cover page of Flight Magazine Vol. 1, #1, November 1943.

It’s very likely this Company airline badge was also painted as Liberator nose art, however, no images can be found. Photo C-87 take-off from Consolidate company magazine “Plane Talk.” This USAAF National Insignia Type 2 [minimum 20 “to 65” white star] was introduced 18 August 1942 and ordered replaced with Type 3 on 29 June 1943.

In April 1943, Reuben Fleet, president of Consolidated, began a company bi-monthly high-quality color magazine for his workers, titled “Plane Talk.” The first C-87 prototype was serial 41-11608 and this first cover page could be the same aircraft, but the serial is not shown. The magazine was full of excellent B-24 articles and hundreds of Liberator color photos. Just a few are published in this article. The National Star painted at San Diego was 65” in diameter.

The first C-87 prototype #41-11680 seen at the San Diego plant, 27 August 1942, hastily designed, 287 more would be delivered to the USAAF and other variants would be built at Fort Worth.

The glazed nose of the B-24 was replaced with a hinged cap to allow easy loading of the nose compartment. The cargo floor, running through the bomb bay was strengthened, and two cargo doors were added to the port side of the fuselage. In the next three years, various small modifications and markings would take place on the C-87 transport aircraft. The above C-87 has an orange triangle painted on the nose with the last three serial numbers in black.

The inside of a Liberator C-87 could hold 20 personnel in 1942. Some record breaking Australia to U.S. flights were 35 to 43 hours in total flight time. [Plane Talk magazine]

Flight Deck newsletter magazine – July 1943.

C-87 Liberator port side cargo loading door. [Plane Talk]

C-87 transport with the nose art name “Dysentery Special 17” which possibly was the truth.

The Flight Deck also contained very good Consairway flight crew cartoons.

The delivered cargo transport was not always an American truck or jeep.

The C-49 was a DC-3 [C-47] with Wright Cyclone powered engines. Douglas C-49 serial 41-7643 [above] was based at Hamilton Field in December 1941, then went to Australia. The red and white striped rudder were not official markings. It is unknown if the Consairway C-49 [Instrument trainer] carried nose art, but her name was “Ugly Duckling” serial number 43-2014. [Flight Deck magazine 1944]

The “Ugly Duckling” made the cover of Flight Deck on 19 July 1944. The nose cone and engine cowlings were painted white but no nose art name appeared on port side.

The April 1944 issue of Flight Deck contained history of the first two years of Consairway.

Many C-87 transport aircraft carried nose art names.

Type 2 National Insignia 65” diameter, used 18 August 1942 until 29 June 1943. [Plane Talk magazine April 1943]

“The Tail Cone” by P.L. Phillips comic cartoon appeared in each issue of Flight Deck.

A Consairway Airline poem even appeared in a few 1944 issues.

Liberator LB-30 serial AL570 “Broganelle Fireball” Red with white trim nose art.

Liberator RAF serial AL570 was the third LB-30 aircraft to arrive in the Philippines and first served with the 19th Bomb Group in Australia, named “Nipponese Nipper.” Nose Art displayed an American 500 lb. bomb striking a Japanese Green Dragon.

In the urgent need for more transport aircraft AL570 was stripped of armament and some war paint, modified as a transport in the 7th Bomb Group, 317th Troop Carrier Squadron, where it later received the name “Belle” and possibly carried a pin-up girl nose art. This modification of LB-30 serial AL570 took place in Hawaiian Air Depot.

[Internet B-24 website]

The Liberator served in Borneo, Java, and Australia, until 1944, then the war-weary LB-30 was flown to Fairfield, California, and on to Nashville where it would be converted to a C-87 Liberator Transport aircraft. The natural bare metal aircraft now flew with Consairway Airlines “Kangaroo Service” sporting the new nose art name “Broganelle Fireball.” This full nose art ceremony story [and cover photo] appeared in the Consairway magazine Flight Deck, 18 October 1944. Scrapped at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, 9 January 1946.

The 1945 issue of Plane Talk magazine contained the history of the first six ex-RAF aircraft requisitioned for the US Air Corps, assigned to the 7th Air Force, in February 1942. [AL589, AL611, AL617, AL626, AL633, called “Old Faithfull”, later became bare finish “Seventh Heaven”, [above] and serial FP685]. The background aircraft in this 1944 image captures the original [Black] markings on two ex-RAF LB-30 Liberators converted to cargo/troop transport aircraft.

Liberator LB-30 serial AL589 became the only original six ex-RAF bombers to go to war with the 7th Air Force. Assigned to the 5th Bomb Group Liberator AL589 went missing on a mission to bomb Midway on 7 June 1942. The other five LB-30 aircraft were regarded as not suitable for combat and were assigned to the 7th Air Force, 19th Troop Carrier Squadron, “Southern Cross Airways” as long-range cargo and troop transport aircraft, and each carried the same S.C.A. Nose Art, numbered 1 to 5. [Seen below] [Author replica nose art scale painting on original US Navy B-25 WWII aircraft skin]

The rare original “Southern Cross Airways” forgotten nose art was painted on LB-30 Liberators serial AL611, [#2] AL617, [#5] AL626, [#3] AL633, [#1] and FP685 [#4].

These original “5 Old Faithful’s” arrived at Pearl Harbor in late January 1942, and were assigned to the 7th Air Force in early February 1942. They were part of the U.S. Air Corps [formed 2 July 1926] and carried the National Insignia 65” cocarde of a dark blue circle with a white five-point star containing a bright red centre circle. [sometimes called a meatball] The five LB-30 bombers were stripped of guns and bomb racks and converted to a cargo/troop transport, assigned 19th Troop Carrier Squadron, Air Service Area Command, Hawaii. The original RAF camouflage pattern was retained on the upper aircraft surface, including splotched tail fins, which were never spray painted the same on any two aircraft. The aircraft original RAF serial numbers were painted in yellow on the tail fin, eight inches high by one-and-a-half inches in letter width. The complete under surface of the Liberator aircraft were painted overall in semi-gloss black, including the rear tail fins. In an Army reorganization on 9 March 1942, the Air Corps was replaced by the U.S. Army Air Forces, and the Type 1 National Insignia [meatball] was replaced by the Type 2 design on 18 August 1942. The Type 3 insignia was introduced 29 June 1943, white rectangles were added to each side of the cocarde, and the whole insignia was outlined with a two inch painted insignia red. On 17 September 1943, Type 4 insignia was introduced, which remained the same size and only replaced the 2” border from red to dark blue. [For model builders – It is possible the five LB-30 cargo transport aircraft never carried the 2” red outline Type 3 insignia, and went directly to the Type 4 insignia with 2” dark blue outline, as seen in the magazine photo]. The rare “Southern Cross Airways” aircraft nose art was also produced in a WWII color insignia unofficial badge. [above]

The Type 3 Insignia came into effect 29 June 1943, then three months later was replaced by Type 4, with Dark Blue outline. I feel few of the C-87 or LB-30 transport aircraft received the Type three [red outline] insignia.

The original name “Southern Cross Airways” was selected by Major-General Clarence I. Tinker, the first Commanding Officer of the 7th Air Force, who lost his life in the final stages of the Battle of Midway. General Tinker was instrumental in providing the first five ex-RAF Liberator LB-30 aircraft and converting them into cargo transport aircraft in his Air Service Area Command, based at Hickam Field, Oahu, Hawaii. These were the first five Liberators which really started their Pacific war reputation, and Tinker named them for the famous pioneering pilot Charles Kingsford Smith, who first flew the route from U.S. to Hawaii to Australia in 1928.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the Crux [Latin for Cross] is a constellation in the southern sky which is centered on four bright stars which form a cross, commonly called the “Southern Cross.” This Crux has been used by sailors for thousands of years, and has attained a high level of cultural significance, appearing on flags in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia. Pilot Charles Smith used the Crux for his most important navigation over the long distance of water in 1928 and named his Tri-motor aircraft Southern Cross. The five LB-30 Liberator 7th A.F., 19th Troop Carrier Squadron, cargo/ troop transport aircraft were now using the very same route and star fix to deliver supplies to Hawaii and connecting with early advance USAAF bases in the Pacific and Australia. The first LB-30 converted, serial AL633, received the new “Southern Cross Airways” nose art #1 and later was given the name “Old Faithfull” as she always brought ‘em back. This became the favorite aircraft of General Tinker and set a number of Liberator transport records in the first two years of Pacific war. AL633 became the first to fly the route from Oahu south to Christmas Island, then to Penrhyn Atoll, then to Aitutaki, Cook Islands, and to Tongatubu in the Tonga Islands. She was the first to land a wheel at Penrhyn and Aitutaki where these routes would later be used by U.S. Air Transport Command. When General Tinker was killed in action, he was replaced by Major General Willis H. Hale, who took over the same Liberator, [AL633] and she became the first to have her RAF camouflage and black paint removed in early 1944.

Replica scale nose art painted on original B-25 WWII U.S. Navy aircraft skin, 13” by 21” in size.

General Hale ordered Liberator AL633 to be hand polished by her ground crew and his Liberator became the 7th Air Force “Flag Ship” [Air Service Area Command] with the 7th A.F. insignia and name “Seventh Heaven” Central Pacific.

Thanks to the polished skin surface, General “Speed Ball” Hale was able to set two Liberator speed records. One trip from Washington, D.C. to the Hawaian Islands was 22 hours and 25 minutes. A second trip from the Hawiian Islands to the Marshall Islands, [2,400 miles] was made in 11 hours, 30 minutes. When General Hale became commander of all land-based aircraft in the Central Pacific, his next Liberator became serial AL611, which carried camouflage and “Southern Cross Airways” # 2 nose art, with name “Trader Horn.” Trader Horn established a record for high priority material when she delivered 5,000 pounds of wheat to Hawaii, used by Hawiian Air Depot for [wheat] sand-blasting to clean light metal aircraft parts. When the camouflage paint was removed the General renamed his aircraft “ComAirFwd” which became the first aircraft to land on Saipan after the capture from the Japanese. Liberator AL617 carried the “Southern Cross Airways” #5 nose art with name “Flight Chief”and once escorted a flight of night-figherters from Hawaii to New Guinea. In January 1944, Flight Chief was parked at Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands when the Japanese staged a bombing raid. She received 78 shrapel holes and had several control cables cut by the attack. When her camouflage was removed in 1944, she received the new name “Samoa.” The fifth LB-30 was serial FP685, painted with “Southern Cross Airways” No. 4 nose art and name “Gremlins’ Workshop.” This Liberator was the hard-luck aircraft in the squadron and always gave her aircrew a variety of problems. On a trip from Hawaii to San Francisco, she lost two engines and was still two hours away from the airport. With Colonel Stephen J. Roserta at the controls he faced a dilemma, as he had to clear the Golden Gate Bridge with two engines, which he succeeded in doing. These five “Old Faithfuls” all forgotten ex-RAF Liberator cargo/transport aircraft survived the war and were all scrapped by 1947.
Ex-RAF Liberator serial AL594 is seen parked at Kingman, Arizona, where she was chopped into small sections on 8 October 1946.

The original “unofficial” 19th Transport Squadron badge was used until 1948 by the 19th Troop Carrier Squadron, inactivated on 26 August. The 19th Airlift Squadron was activated on 10 June 1952 and the old WWII badge was made official on 5 June 1953. The WWII LB-30 Liberator aircraft was replaced by an all-white C-46 Commando Troop carrier aircraft, [with red nose and red tip of tail] used until they were disbanded [inactivated] 18 January 1955.

The last generation of the 19th Airlift Squadron was activated 1 August 1984, [with new Dragon badge] and re-designated 7th Airlift Squadron on 1 November 1993, inactivated on 30 September 1996.

Liberator AL637 was converted to a C-87 and was scrapped at Cincinnati, Ohio, 31 January 1946.

The 317th Troop Carrier Squadron was formed on 1 May 1944, under 2nd Air Commando Group, based at Tulihal, India. Due to a shortage of C-47 Troop Carrier aircraft, the 317th obtained an ex-RAF Liberator serial AL573, with call sign VHCBM. Given the nose art name “Gopher Gus” the Liberator operated from many different detachments in India, [Bikram, Myitkyina, Kalaikunda] and also Burma. Retired at Garbutt, Australia, in September 1944, the old cargo/troop aircraft was obtained by Consairway Airlines and converted to a C-87 transport.

Gopher Gus was a four-year-old veteran LB-30 bomber when she was converted to a C-87 transport aircraft at Nashville in September 1944. She now flew with the “Kangaroo Service” which completed four crossings to Australia per week.

Kangaroo Kate and Gopher Gus original WWII nose art before conversion to a C-87 transport.

14 March 1945, the four original civilian Consairway employees were returned to U.S. after serving three years as prisoners of war. Truly forgotten American Heroes who did not receive military status or veteran’s benefits until 1992.

Welcome home for heroes.

The last issue [3rd Anniversary] of Consairway Airline Magazine Flight Deck, 28 April 1945, the end of an era. Operating between Fairfield/Suisun, California, and the many South Pacific Bases, Consairway transports flew 100 million ton miles and 300 million passenger miles setting many operational records from 1942-45.

In late 1941, the B-24D became the first model produced in a large scale, 2,415 were constructed at San Diego, 303 at the new plant at Fort Worth, Texas, and ten at Tulsa, Oklahoma. [Sub-assembly shipped by rail from San Diego] This became the beginning of a mass production combat ready B-24 Liberator that went to war for the United States Army Air Forces, and this history has been published in hundreds of books and internet websites. The Liberator was the most produced American WWII combat bomber, 18,482 were constructed, and almost 15,000 aircrew trained from 1942 to 1945. The Liberators were flown by Air Forces of Canada, China, Australia, England, Holland, India, Poland, South Africa, South America, France, and the United States.

The complete Canadian [RCAF] Liberator history was published in 1975 by Carl Vincent titled “Canada’s Wings 2 – the Liberator and Fortress.” [ISBN 0-920002-01-3 publisher Canada’s Wings] This is the ultimate book on the Liberator in Canada, and a must for any aviation historian, containing hundreds or images, markings, serial numbers, and good nose art collection. This book belongs at the top of any rating scale, and is possibly still for purchase.

RCAF No. 10 [Dumbo] Squadron Liberator #3707 was decorated with the September 1941 “Petty Girl” from Esquire magazine.

No. 10 [Dumbo] Squadron RCAF was formed 5 September 1939, and flew Liberator aircraft on East Coast anti-submarine duty. [Gander, Newfoundland] Walt Disney artists created their ‘unofficial’ insignia and later in early 1942, the Americans arrived commanded by the President’s son Capt. Elliott Roosevelt. A second American “Dumbo” badge was created by Disney for the U.S.A.A.F. 6th Reconnaissance Group, Gander, Newfoundland.

In September 1944, Canadian War Artist F/O Cloutier spent two months at RCAF Gander painting the American and RCAF Liberator aircraft on the joint-base.

Few images from his RCAF WWII collection have been published due to the high cost charged for usage by the Canadian Government War Museum.

This powerful image painted by F/O Cloutier in 1944, shows the magic of his brush as he captures an RCAF No. 10 [Dumbo] Squadron Liberator bomber becoming airborne. This is free domain from the internet but the War Museum may wish to have it removed. The following second Cloutier painting was also taken from the internet and this shows the airbase at Gander, Newfoundland, in September/October 1944. The American and RCAF Liberator aircraft are taking off for their selected patrols. This is one amazing painting, capturing so much detail, aircraft landing lights, shadows cast on the runways, all from RCAF Station, Gander, Newfoundland in WWII. I wonder what the rest of his RCAF collection looks like?

Liberator night time take-off, Gander, Newfoundland, fall 1944. Below B-24J production line.

The B-24J model was the most produced aircraft with a total of 6,678 constructed. In 1944, the USAAF operational strength was 6,093 various models of the B-24, with a record 45 air groups flying Liberators in combat overseas.

For whatever reason, the B-24 has never enjoyed the postwar civilian or military image of the B-17, and they were declared obsolete by 1946, with the vast fleet scraped by 1950. Undoubtedly, the B-24 aircraft surpassed the famous B-17 in one area, the colorful large nose art, 8th Air Force Fuselage Assembly Ships with stripes, polka dots and checkerboard colours, and the huge schemes of coloured tail markings. The high Davis Wing, large tail fin and rudder assembly, combined with the large nose section gave the Liberator a one-of-a-kind look and it was constructed perfectly for the painting of show-board size nose art. Hundreds of talented artists decorated the noses of the Liberator bombers with their most impressive work on the largest aircraft canvas in WWII. This story is the forgotten history of the very first Liberator and nose art preserved in the vast aviation magazine and newspaper clippings collection of Reuben H. Fleet.
Out of tens of thousands of B-24 nose art images it seems impossible to pick a favorite painting. The author has one, a B-24J serial 44-40298, painted by Sgt. Duane Bryers in the 487th Bomb Group, before they departed for England, called “The Shack.”

The 487th Bomb Group completed training at Alamogordo Air Force Base, New Mexico, in early March 1944. Sgt. Duane Bryers painted impressive pin-up nose art on at least five B-24J bombers before the air echelon departed for England beginning 23 March 1944. On arrival in England, [Lavenham] the bombers were fitted with pilot and co-pilot protective armour plates, which were painted grey and covered most of the pin-up nose art body.

In July 1944, the 487th B.G. converted to B-17G aircraft and the veteran B-24 bombers were transferred to the 458th Bomb Group at Horsham St. Faiths, England. Colour image from Mark Brown 8th Air Force 35 mm slide collection obtained in 1982.

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator became the “Ugly Ducking’s” during WWII with their boxy, flat-sided fuselage, large twin tails and that is possibly the reason for the nose art name “The Shack.” The early LB-30 [ meaning Land Bombardment] aircraft were born into war as the ugliness of Nazi Germany began to spread across Europe. These first Liberator imports to Great Britain answered the war call and thousands more followed with the 8th Air Force in late 1942, and the huge bombing campaign against Germany. The Liberator came a long way from an unarmed RAF transport aircraft to a potent armoured bombing platform in five years. Today few survive [thirteen] and she is becoming a rare warbird, and Ugly or not, to thousands of WWII veterans the Liberator was more than a Shack. With the end of WWII, the armour plates were removed and the full B-24 pin-up art was at last exposed. The lady had flown across flak filled German skies fully protected just like the pilot’s who flew beside her.

Like a real living model, the little ladies’ pin-up legs and face had received a sunburn while flying combat missions over Germany.

This Reuben Fleet history is dedicated to the Consolidated test flight crew who were killed on 2 June 1941 flying RAF Liberator II serial AL503.
Pilot – William B. Wheatley
Pilot – Allen T. Austen
Flight Engineers – Bruce K. Craig, Lewis M. McCanson and William H. Reiser.

2 June 1941, killed in RAF Liberator II serial AL503 test crash. [R. Fleet collection]

In November 1988, the author spent the complete day touring the San Diego Aerospace Museum. This original painting hangs in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame, Balboa Park, San Diego, California. What a man, what a scrapbook.

Alouette – Halifax Mk. III “B for Bully Beef” PDF and text versions

Halifax III B for Bully Beef


Research by Clarence Simonsen with contribution by Pierre Lagacé

Bully Beef, also called corned beef in Canada, is a variety of preserved meat made from a fine mixed corned beef and small part of gelatin jelly. It is believed the name comes from the French word “bouilli” [boiled] and possibly the head of a bull depicted on the British Hereford brand of canned corned beef.

Bully Beef and hardtack biscuits were the main mix of British Army and RAF field rations during WWI and WWII. These canned tins had a very distinctive oblong shape and were opened with an attached key, manufactured in the U.K., France, Brazil, and Uruguay [Fray Bentos]. They were still used in British Armed Forces field rations until 2009, and the British loved their Corned Beef Hash mix, still do.

Text version 

Alouette – Halifax Mk. III “B for Bully Beef”

Research by Clarence Simonsen with contribution by Pierre Lagacé

Bully Beef, also called corned beef in Canada, is a variety of preserved meat made from a fine mixed corned beef and small part of gelatin jelly. It is believed the name comes from the French word “bouilli” [boiled] and possibly the head of a bull depicted on the British Hereford brand of canned corned beef.

Bully Beef and hardtack biscuits were the main mix of British Army and RAF field rations during WWI and WWII. These canned tins had a very distinctive oblong shape and were opened with an attached key, manufactured in the U.K., France, Brazil, and Uruguay [Fray Bentos]. They were still used in British Armed Forces field rations until 2009, and the British loved their Corned Beef Hash mix, still do.

No. 425 [Alouette] Squadron was a unique RCAF Bomber Command “French-Canadian” air and ground crew formation.

Group photo taken in September 1944 via Pierre Lagacé

425 Alouette Ground Crews “A” Flight collection Réal St-Amour via Pierre Lagacé

425 Alouette Ground Crews “B” Flight collection Réal St-Amour via Pierre Lagacé

From June to October 1943, they flew tropicalized Vickers Wellington Mk. X aircraft in North Africa in support of the invasion of Sicily and Italy.

Wellington Mk X taking off from Kairouan in Tunisia

Wing Commander William St. Pierre was then in command of 425 Alouette Squadron. In this YouTube video Wing Commander William St. Pierre is seen at 6:00 with Group Captain Dunlap.



Wing Commander William St. Pierre was decorated by General Carl Spaatz with an American DFC.

collection Réal St-Amour via Pierre Lagacé

We see more of Wing Commander William St. Pierre on this YouTube video starting at 26;37.


These next photos were taken in North Africa. They are part of the collection of Roly Leblanc via his son.





More photos of the collection are found here on Pierre Lagacé’s blog Lest We Forget…

Rememberance Week: Off to North Africa

Issued with RAF rations, the meat was always tinned Corned Beef, which was not loved that much by Canadians.

One 425 Squadron RCAF Wellington aircraft [HE522 “B”] was painted with nose art of a Bull Head and was called “Bully-Beef” by all air and ground crews.

I have no photos of KW-B, HE522.  This Wellington flew 39 missions from Kairouan, Tunisia between 25 June 1943 and 05 October 1943.

If there are official “PL” photos, they would probably be between PL-16000 and PL-19000 mixed with photos of all the other Canadian bomber, fighter, transport, etc. squadrons present in England, North Africa, Malta, etc.  The descriptive cards generally give the names of the airmen but not where the photo was taken or the letters of the aircraft.  There are exceptions such as “Blues in the Nite” and “Turtle”.

The squadron returned to England, embarking for the U.K. on 26 October 1943. It arrived 6 November 1943 to No. 61 [RCAF] Base at Dishforth, Yorkshire, where crews began to convert to new Handley Page Halifax B. Mk. III aircraft.


On 10 December 1943, the unit moved to No. 62 [RCAF] Base at Tholthorpe, Yorkshire, and a new Halifax bomber [LW381] arrived on 12 December and was taken on charge, assigned the code letter “B” for Bull or Bully.

Halifax Mk. III, serial LW381 was given the code letters KW-B and nicknamed “Bully-Beef” by the ground and aircrew who flew her.

The simple white outline RCAF nose art featured a large snorting Bull Head, and she was considered to be a very ‘lucky’ aircraft flying 59 operations, from 24/25 February to 2 November 1944. That photo was taken after Op. # sixteen 22/23 May 1944.

First assigned to the aircrew of F/Sgt. M. Bryson on 20 February 1944, they flew her on the first operation on 24/25 February. It is possible this crew picked the Bull Head nose art and the name B for Bully Beef. They flew Halifax LW381 the most operations [fifteen]

February 24/25,

March 6/7, 15/16,

April 21/22, 26/27, 27/28, 30,

May 1/2, 7/8, 9/10, 10/11, 22/23, 27/28,

June 2/3, 6/7.

Other aircrew flew the Halifax once

F/O Taylor J.R. [Op. #3]

F/O Taylor J.R. image via Pierre Lagacé

F/O would later die.

Killed in action

F/O Wilmet R.B. [Op. #5]

P/O Dupuis L.B. [Op. #6]

P/O Dupuis L.B. image via Pierre Lagacé

F/Sgt Thomson R.A. [Op. #8]

P/O Côté J. A. [OP. #18]

P/O Côté J. A. image via Pierre Lagacé

WO2 Vincent V.R. [Op. #20]

F/O Gregson H. H. [Op. #22]

P/O Mauger A.R. [Op. #23]

P/O Haché J. P. D. [Op. #24]

P/O Haché J. P. D. image via Pierre Lagacé

P/O Brooks L. B. [Op. #25]

P/O Brochu L. B. [Op. #26]

P/O Brochu L. B. image via Pierre Lagacé

F/O Jacobs S.H. [Op. #27]

F/O Langlois S.H. [Op. #27]

F/O Langlois S.H. image via Pierre Lagacé

WO R151123 Boyer {Op. #29]

J86106 P/O Taillon A.F. [Op. #30]

J27416 F/O Jacobs [Op. #31].

Assigned to the RCAF aircrew of J27638 F/O N. E. Streight, they flew her fourteen times,

July 15/16, 18, 18/19, 20, 24/25

25/26; F/O N. Streight and crew flying Halifax III LW-381 coded KW-B was attacked by a unidentified single engine enemy aircraft, some strikes were seen.

August 3, 15, 16/17, 18/19;

September 9, 10, 12, and 17.

More single aircrew were now assigned, S/L Phelan [Op. #51, 6 October]

 collection William Phelan via Pierre Lagacé

For more information about Squadron Leader Phelan, click on the link below.


F/O Beaulieu [Op. # 52, 14/15 October]

F/O Séguin [Op. #54, 23 October]

F/O Desmarais [Op. #57, 30 October]

 image via Pierre Lagacé

For more information (in French) on F/O Desmarais, click on the link below.

9 décembre 1944 – Desmarais… et Laurent Dubois

 image via Pierre Lagacé

P/O Corbett [Op. #58, 1 November]

 image via Pierre Lagacé part of Réal St-Amour’s collection

and the very last flight

F/L Hemphill [Op. #59, 2 November 1944].

F/Lt. R. Hemphill had the port inner explode and burst into flames just before the target. The Flt/engineer was able to put out the fire and they returned safely to base on 3 engines.

After repairs the veteran Halifax was transferred to No. 1666 H.C.U. at Wombleton on 12 November 1944.

On 1 December, again it was transferred to No. 1664 H.C.U. at Dishforth, Yorkshire, where she flew training operations until 7 April 1945, when No. 1664 H.C.U. was disbanded. On 20 April 45 it was flown to RAF No. 41 Group, arrived at 45 M.U. for scrapping on 23 April 1945.

Record card “Bulls Head” prepared by RCAF F/L Lindsay in late May 1945, who also took photo Roll 1 print 2.

Lindsay photo Roll 1 Print 2 May 1945

If this nose art was selected for preservation and shipping to Canada, it is not in the War Museum collection today. The bomb total painted is 62, however only 59 operations were recorded in the squadron records. It is possible that three bombs were painted on during her training, for “Bulls-Eye” bombing training operations over Germany late in the war.

This was a true RCAF Halifax bomber veteran that survived 59 operations, plus unknown number of Bulls-eye training flights, and two reported German fighter contacts, 15 July 1944 operation #32 and 25 July 44 operation #36.

RCAF Combat reports follow.

Painting by Clarence Simonsen

Epilogue (contribution by Pierre Lagacé)

31 May 1944

RCAF photo PL29958  image via Pierre Lagacé


Bombs provide a not-too-comfortable seat for the five veterans of the RCAF Alouette squadron pictured ABOVE. They are all armourers and all have been with the famed RCAF Bomber Group unit since its formation. Shown are (left to right) LAC Maurice Déry, 24 St. Patrick St., Quebec City; Cpl. G.J. Pitre, 148 St. Patrick St., Ottawa; LAC P. B. Giguère, Valley Junction, P.2.; Sgt. H. W. Barnes, 30 Walker St., Wrightville, P.Q.; Cpl. J.A.F. Geraghty, 76 Sudbury Ave. Quebec City.

Note on PL-29958,

That photo was taken about 31 May 1944, just east of the 425 shed on the north-west side of Tholthorpe, with the firing range visible in the background looking north.  What appears to be snow on the roof of this structure is sand in front of a cement wall (to stop bullets).

The Halifax on one of the 425’s hardstands is KW-B (Bull), LW381. 21 bombs for 21 sorties are painted on the fuselage.  It survived 61 missions with the 425 between 24 February 1944 and 02 November 1944. In order to better identify the 5 armourers in photo PL-29958, here is the first name(s) of each one and their serial number.

LAC Maurice Déry, R/55196

Cpl. G.J. Pitre = Cpl. J. Georges Pitre, R/53571

LAC P. B. Giguère = LAC P. Bruno Giguère, R/155087

Sgt.  H. W. Barnes = Sgt. Harry William Barnes, R/54057

Cpl. J.A.F. Geraghty = Cpl. J.A. Fred Geraghty, R/55137

About the nose art of KW-B


Newspaper clippings provided by a reader who commented on my blog dedicated to RCAF 425 Alouette Squadron

 image via Pierre Lagacé



One year overseas

Flying Corporal GEORGES PITRE, of Ottawa, 148 St. Patricks, is one year overseas today. He arrived overseas on February 23, 1942.

Le Droit d’Ottawa 17 juillet 1944

They probably have a lot to talk about, as they both come from the mining town of Sudbury, in Northern Ontario. On the left a C.A.R.C. correspondent, Sergeant Maurice LACOURCIERE, 10 East Elm Street, interviews his old friend Aurèle RICARD, 159 King Street, Sudbury, Ont. (C.A.R.C. Photo)

The three armourers pictured above appear to be pondering for a moment the destructive power of the bombs they are about to hang from the belly of the Halifax bomber in the background. But their death mission, they know very well, has been imposed on them by the megalomaniac in Berlin. It is up to Hitler and his accomplices to stop the avenging arm of the Allied power; it is unconditional surrender. These veterans of the famous “Alouette” squadron are, from left to right: Senior Airman Maurice DERY, 24 St-Patrice St., Quebec; Corporal J.-G. PITRE, 148 St-Patrice St., Ottawa; Sergeant H. Wagner, 24 St-Patrice Ave. Ottawa; Sergeant H. W. BARNES, 30 Walker Street, Wright City. 30. Walker Street, Wright City, Que.

(Photo R.C.A.F.)

Note: Wrightville is part of Hull, now Gatineau. Maurice Lacourcière, war correspondent, became a judge later in life.


Two sons of Mrs. Lausianna Pitre, of 414 St.atrice Street, are members of the C.A.R.C. On the left, Corporal GEORGES PITRE, 30 years old, enlisted since 1939, has been overseas for the past three years: he has been in Sicily and North Africa, and is now with the “Alouettes” squadron. An employee of Continental Paper, he was a popular softball player for the Continental club. Chief Airman ROGER PITRE, 26, enlisted in the air force in 1941 and was stationed in Newfoundland for two years. He has been in Iceland for a few months.



Corporal GEORGES PITRE. of the RCAF, 148 Clarence Street, arrived last night in a group of 300 repatriated airmen who disembarked about midnight at Union Station. He is the son of Mrs. Widow Laudiana Pitre, and has served three and a half years overseas. He belongs to the French-Canadian Alouette squadron.

Final note by Pierre Lagacé

Are there photos of KW-B? A reader sent me this note after I had asked him for some.

No, I have no photos of KW-B, HE522.  This Wellington flew 39 missions from Kairouan, Tunisia between 25 June 1943 and 5 October 1943.  If there are official “PL” photos, they would probably be between PL-16000 and PL-19000 mixed with photos of all the other Canadian bomber, fighter, transport, etc. squadrons present in England, North Africa, Malta, etc.  The descriptive cards generally give the names of the airmen but not where the photo was taken or the letters of the aircraft.  There are exceptions such as “Blues in the Nite” and “Turtle”.




Canada’s “Thunder-Gander” PDF and text version

Canada’s “Thunder-Gander” PDF and text version

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Canada’s Thunder-Gander


Robert B. Cornelius Noorduyn was born at Nijmegen, Holland, in 1893, and after receiving his formal education began his aviation career in Germany and England.

In 1926, he made his first trip to Canada, selling Fokker aircraft to the Canadian Government and Mr. James A. Richardson, the ‘father’ of Canada’s earliest airlines. [Richardson would be destroyed by the Canadian Government and dirty politics]

Noorduyn soon realized Canada was a virgin playing field filled with huge possibilities for air transport in the far frozen north. In 1933, Robert began on and off designs of a new ski/float-equipped aircraft, which could operate in the Canadian intense cold winter climate.

In 1934, he rented an office on the top floor of the Canada Cement Building on Philips Square in Montreal, Canada, where a full sized mock-up in wood was created.  His new concept was based on many years of experience with the design work on the Fokker Universal and Bellanca Skyrocket aircraft.

This in depth history can be found online and in many excellent published books. Noorduyn stated – “his new design, would have to be tough as a rhino, and water adaptable as a duck.”

Text version with images.

Canada’s “Thunder-Gander”


Robert B. Cornelius Noorduyn was born at Nijmegen, Holland, in 1893, and after receiving his formal education began his aviation career in Germany and England.

In 1926, he made his first trip to Canada, selling Fokker aircraft to the Canadian Government and Mr. James A. Richardson, the ‘father’ of Canada’s earliest airlines. [Richardson would be destroyed by the Canadian Government and dirty politics]

Noorduyn soon realized Canada was a virgin playing field filled with huge possibilities for air transport in the far frozen north. In 1933, Robert began on and off designs of a new ski/float-equipped aircraft, which could operate in the Canadian intense cold winter climate.

In 1934, he rented an office on the top floor of the Canada Cement Building on Philips Square in Montreal, Canada, where a full sized mock-up in wood was created.  His new concept was based on many years of experience with the design work on the Fokker Universal and Bellanca Skyrocket aircraft.

This in depth history can be found online and in many excellent published books. Noorduyn stated – “his new design, would have to be tough as a rhino, and water adaptable as a duck.”

In 1942, Robert Noorduyn was interviewed by a Montreal reporter Mr. Lawrence Earl, and one page is worth reading for Canadian Aviation history sake.

The 29th built Norseman Mk. IV #2456 was used for world-wide publication.

The 94th constructed Norseman Mk. IV aircraft was taken on strength by the RCAF on 9 September 1942, given the serial #494.

Photo Tony Jarvis – Edmonton

First assigned to No. 3 Training Command [Montreal, Quebec] it remained in storage until 8 January 1943, transferred to No. 1 O.T.U. [Operational training Unit] at RCAF Station Bagotville, Quebec, where the above photo was taken. On 8 November 1944, the aircraft was returned to reserve storage at Eastern Air Command, Montreal. On 18 October 1945, the Norseman was flown to RCAF Station Mount Pleasant, Prince Edward Island, and placed into long term storage. On 1 August 1946, the aircraft was taken off strength by the RCAF and transferred to War Assets for disposal. On 5 May 1947, Norseman 494 was sold to Associated Airways at Edmonton, Alberta, for one dollar, and registered as CF-EIH. It was re-sold to McDonald Aviation Company in Edmonton on 29 May 1947, and passed its Certificate of Airworthiness on 8 August 1947. Flown by Charter Airways Ltd of Yellowknife, N.W.T., the aircraft crashed at Allen Lake on the Cameron River, 25 August 1947. Damaged beyond repair CF-EIH remained on the shore line for the next 46 years, and most of the original parts and wing sections were removed by first nation people who put them to a new use. In 1993, the remains of the aircraft were recovered by members of the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, and slowly missing parts were located and restoration began.  The full history can be found in the archives of the Alberta Aviation Museum.

Cover from Alberta Aviation Museum Journal magazine 1998. – Tony Jarvis.

A well-known Alberta businessman, Mr. Sandy Mactaggart, and his U.K. based family donated $25,000 towards the restoration of CF-EIH and many missing parts were donated by Joe McBryan owner of Buffalo Airways, [“Ice Pilots”] fame]. After over 8,000 volunteer hours of labor the restored aircraft was unveiled on 18 April 1998, and dedicated to volunteer Chuck MacLaren.

Pilot Tony Jarvis [left] and author in front of “Thunder-Chicken” CF-EIH, 2013.

During the restoration of CF-EIH the remains of the original RCAF Norseman skins were not saved but thrown in the garbage. Pilot Tony Jarvis called the author and ask if I wanted them for my paintings and the answer was – Yes, Yes, please, Yes. I fully understood those were the original skins placed on the Norseman aircraft in Montreal, mid-August 1942, and not only flew the next three years with the RCAF, they also survived 46 years in the ice-cold waters of Allen Lake, N.W.T. That was just the type of original historical aircraft canvas I wanted for preserving my aviation paintings.

In 2010, the author retired and headed south to Mexico City, the birth place of my wife and where I had lived three or four weeks every year since 1990. The next four years would be spent living at many different locations where new relatives resided, both rich and poor. Two full years were spent a four-hour drive north of Mexico City, called San Miguel de Allende, in the state of Guanajuato. It has a small lake and a tiny beach, but it is truly a gem of the art world, and protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is best known as – “A Community of Artists” and it is a most special place which is still hidden from other tourist sites. Please Google the name and read, it is all true, and a hard place to leave, but always good memories.

It is impossible to describe and must be seen and enjoyed just once in your life, the streets are lined with mural art. The large main museum has every type of Mexican art in one huge street-like ex-factory complex, plus excellent food and drink.

My art room was bedroom size, where I painted four to six hours everyday and mixed Mexican true aviation with original Aztec and Maya history, which I had seen in person.


Mexican main building material is cement and stone of all shape, size, and colour. For the first time in my life, I was introduced to painting replica Maya art on original rock that dates back to ancient America, and you can really become immersed in all this skilled artistic past history. The above rock art was painted for a special day I experienced on 21 December 2012, the end of the Maya calendar known as the long count. This replica was the scene painted on the 14th century A.D. Codex which survives today in Dresden, Germany, [also survived WWII allied bombing] depicting the Maya sun and moon gods with a catastrophic flood. The Maya Long Count odometer turns over every 5,125.37 years, which was 21 December 2012, and there I stood with hundreds of Mexicans at the base of an ancient site and waited for the Apocalypse. Many Mexicans believed the end of the world was coming, with food offerings and prayers to their ancient gods. Nothing happened, the Gods were happy, no flood, so I went back to painting aircraft nose art.  We can all thank our Christian Gods for not naming an exact date of death and only stating in their Bible, the end will come on Judgement day. During my four years in Mexico, I had also t