The Americans who flew unarmed Recce Spitfires into Germany

onetrack

Well-Known Member
#21
Seem to recall Wing Cdr Hughie Edwards and his mates flying 12 Blenheims so low on the Port of Essen bombing mission (Operation Wreckage) - in broad daylight - that they ended up with serious amounts of telegraph wires and power lines draped from the Blenheims wings.
They landed with wires still hanging from the wings. Hughie won a VC for the effort, but 4 Blenheims didn't make it back, due to ferocious AA fire. All the aircraft took serious hits, and Hughies aircraft was holed in no less than 20 places.
 

Marty_d

Well-Known Member
#25
A dream come true
It is noisy and rattles, but when that Merlin is run up on takeoff, you know you are in for a treat
I got to fly it as it is a dual control and it is as sensitive and smooth as everyone says
Flew along the thames valley and then back to Biggin Hill doing three victory rolls on the way
The whole flight from closing of cockpit canopy to leaving the aircraft was filmed from over my shoulder
I still watch it and am still in awe of the experience
I want to go back and do it again
I am proud to say that I have 30 minutes in G-BMSB in my logbook
Cheers
Bryon
You're a lucky man Bryon.
 
#28
Here's an interesting story about just one of the Americans who flew unarmed recconnaissance Spitfires into Germany during 1944, as preparatory work for D-Day.
The film-maker discovered quite a number of movie reels taken during this period by an American Doctor who was the photo recce Squadron doctor.

In one movie, a wheels-up crash landing is photographed by the Doctor. The movie makers found the pilot and showed him the movie footage, and the pilots response is pure amazement.
This pilot (John S Blyth) was a non-commissioned Sgt Pilot, who went on to become a Lt Colonel in the USAF. He did 51 missions over Germany in an unarmed recce Spitfire.
This American photo recce group took 3 million photos of Germany and provided a wealth of planning information for the D-Day invasion.

It's interesting to hear Blyth recount how the Spitfire was a better high altitude aircraft than the F-5 Lightning.
The F-5 had regular engine problems with the control valve for the turbo-supercharger freezing at high altitudes, thus causing engine failure.

SPITFIRE 944 - YouTube

14th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron | American Air Museum in Britain
Thank you for posting this video.

My father was the consumer of the photos the pilot took - he was on a military intelligence service photo interpretation team attached to the 30th Infantry Division. They analyzed the photos and used them to create large scale mosaics, artillery targeting information, and to brief troops before they went out on patrol or other large attacks.

Thanks again,

George
 

Old Koreelah

Well-Known Member
#29
The contribution made by photo interpretation people was vital, George. I studied a couple of units based on the skills they built up. As well as military info, they often identified long-forgotten historic features.
The current drought in Britain is turning up more ground patterns of ancient walls, forts, houses and roads.
Sadly, these analogue skills are fast being lost, as we become dependant on digital and GPS.
 
#30
The contribution made by photo interpretation people was vital, George. I studied a couple of units based on the skills they built up. As well as military info, they often identified long-forgotten historic features.
The current drought in Britain is turning up more ground patterns of ancient walls, forts, houses and roads.
Sadly, these analogue skills are fast being lost, as we become dependant on digital and GPS.
I've come to the conclusion the significant contributions made by the photo intelligence organization, from aerial camera to front line briefing, is one of the most unrecognized in WWII. It played a critical role in everything we did from D-Day onward. The 30th Infantry Division was named by SLA Marshall as the top American division of WWII, the Germans called it "FDR's SS", and the Division commanders documented the critical importance of photo intelligence in their operational success.

As I've researched the interpretation side so deeply, one thing in particular has jumped out at me. The American commanders in their post-WWII histories have gone to great lengths to thank, and provide recognition to, the British, Canadians, and Australians who created the US photo interpretation program; the strength of these commanders beliefs shown through their comments is evident.

My father talked about having to go up in observation planes to take pictures himself when necessary. I have the Kodak 35mm he used to do it still. The plane below is likely the actual one from the 30th ID that he flew in - I believe it's a Stinson L-5 Sentinel. From the stories I've found about the pilot, I'm guessing those recon flights were an adventure!

Piper Grasshopper.jpg
 

Bernie

Well-Known Member
#31
Great story's , my uncle who I'm named after was a photographer for the RAAF during WW2 , he was killed off Good enough Island in a air battle . Remnant's of the aircraft are still there , his son Malcolm , my cousin never met his Dad as he was born during the war . My Dad was a prisoner of war captured by the Germans in Egypt during this time . Bernie was his youngest brother .I have the letter my Dads Mum sent him to inform him of his brothers death...I still have emotional moments reading that letter , I don't know how it must have been for my Grand Mother to write it .
Bernie .
 
#32
Great story's , my uncle who I'm named after was a photographer for the RAAF during WW2 , he was killed off Good enough Island in a air battle . Remnant's of the aircraft are still there , his son Malcolm , my cousin never met his Dad as he was born during the war . My Dad was a prisoner of war captured by the Germans in Egypt during this time . Bernie was his youngest brother .I have the letter my Dads Mum sent him to inform him of his brothers death...I still have emotional moments reading that letter , I don't know how it must have been for my Grand Mother to write it .
Bernie .
That was a time of great sacrifice, and I think it's too bad so many people today no longer understand what our families went through. There was no such thing as selfish then.

A Perfect example is the RMS Queen Elizabeth's initial voyages as a troop ship. In 1941 the British gave her to us (US), she was then first used to take 5,000 Australian troops to North Africa to help the British around March 1941 (perhaps your father was one of them), at a time of great peril to Australia from Japan - so to help with that situation we sent 8,000 US troops back to Sydney in early 1942. Then we used her to transport a huge number of US troops to Britain 1943-45.

The Queen Elizabeth's voyages are a great example of good friends in the world.

George
 

eightyknots

1st Class Member: $50/year to support the site
First Class Member
#35
Our family of nations is important for so many reasons. Those unwavering bonds remain; we have a problem at the top on our end right now, but we're working hard to fix it and appreciate the support we've received as we do.
Yes, who is actually at the top end? You can't tell from one day to the next.
 
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