ever since a new Thunderbirds children’s series was announced in February, I have been mulling over how a more mature Battlestar Galactica-esque gritty reboot could work. So far I’m juggling with space entrepreneurs, Mars colonisation, political and military corruption, ekranoplans, abandoned aircraft factories, ancient technologies - and deciding just how much to mess with the five iconic vehicles. I may bother you more with this later in the year..
"The Lamplough Orthopter, designed to operate on the principles of a bird’s flight moving with a swaying motion in a figure-of-eight between a pair of similar fixed wings. Price, £1,000 with guarantee of flight, 19th March 1909, Olympia Aero Show” (via)
"W T Warren Testing Helmet 1912" (via)
One of the constant issues to haunt the participants of the Second World War in the air was that of non-combat accidents.
One heartbreaking example that has always stood out for me are the deaths of Free French Air Force pilot Pierrot Degail and Acting Flight Lieutenant Douglas Walker of the Royal Air Force, seventy years ago on December 14th 1942.
Whilst on a training mission, Degail’s Supermarine Spitfire crashed on Cadair Berwyn, a mountain in North Wales. Walker was sent to search for Degail in a Westland Lysander, and crashed a few hundred yards from the Spitfire. Both pilots perished near their aircraft. (via)
"…One of our Belgian comrades’ Spitfires exploded in mid-air during an aerobatics practice. Two of our R.A.F. friends came into collision and were killed before our eyes. Then Pierrot Degail, one of the six Frenchman on the course, crashed one misty evening into an ice-covered hill-top. It took two days to reach the debris through the snow. His body was found in a kneeling position, his head in his arms, like a sleeping child, by the side of his Spitfire. Both his legs were broken and, unable to move, he must have died of cold during the night."
"On board a No 240 Squadron Catalina at Stranraer, March 1941. A WOp/AG (wireless operator/air gunner) poses with his twin Vickers ‘K’ guns at the starboard blister hatch, while being serenaded by the banjulele-playing navigator!” (via)
"Still from camera gun footage shot from a North American Mustang Mark III flown by Flying Officer J Butler of No. 65 Squadron RAF, as he shot down a Focke Wulf Fw 190D of II/JG26 which was attempting to attack an Avro Lancaster (banking, left), during a daylight raid by Bomber Command on the Gremberg railway yards at Cologne, Germany.” (via)
"Vertical photograph taken during the night attack on the German tank and lorry depot near Mailly-le-Camp, France, by 346 Avro Lancasters of Nos. 1 and 5 Groups. A Lancaster, silhouetted by the large explosion, clears the target area during the raid which, although successful in the destruction caused, was costly in terms of aircraft losses, 42 being shot down by Luftwaffe night fighters." (via)
"The R/T [Radio Telephone) discipline, I’m afraid to say, was bad. There were many skippers calling for the OK to go in and bomb; their language was fruity to say the least, the night sky was blue!! One pilot was heard to say that he was on fire and for the markers to “pull their fingers out”. An Australian voice came in reply “If you are going to die, die like a man – quietly."..
..In my diary, I record that a “scarecrow” exploded immediately beneath us. As previously mentioned, we are now sure that it was an actual aircraft blowing up. The bomb-aimer, who was lying down in the nose, saw the explosion and the blast and flames rising rapidly towards us. He had no time to say anything before the blast hit us. We were blown nearly completely upside down…
…When we became straight and level again, I checked the crew for injuries. All seemed OK until I checked with Taffy, Idris Arndell, the wireless operator. On hearing him call “Blood, Blood!” I looked back through the navigator’s curtain to see Taffy wiping his face and head. Little did I know that it was our “pee can” that had tipped over him in the mêlée…” (via Flight Lieutenant Russell “Rusty” Waughman, DFC, AFC)
“Bristol Beaufighters from Nos. 144 and 254 Squadrons RAF, No. 455 Squadron RAAF and No. 489 Squadron RNZAF attacking German ‘M’ class minesweepers escorting a convoy off the Dutch coast, north-west of Borkum, with rocket projectiles. Thirteen aircraft can be seen in the photograph, which was taken over the tail of a Beaufighter of No. 455 Squadron after delivering its attack.” (via)
"A Bristol Blenheim Mark IV, V5589, of No. 113 Squadron RAF based at Asansol, India, veers out of control as it is shot down by Japanese fighters while carrying out a low-level bombing attack on two Japanese merchant vessels moored at Akyab, Burma. The attack, comprising thirteen Blenheims drawn from Nos. 34, 60 and 113 Squadrons RAF, sank the two vessels and badly damaged the jetty for the loss of three Blenheims. The crew of V5589, Sergeants John Reid (pilot), Peter Wilson (navigator), and Len White (wireless operator/air gunner), were captured by the Japanese.” (via)