Book News

Speaker Series at Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum

Hello, friends.

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking about and signing copies of Eagles over Husky at one of the premier aviation museums in North America: Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Mount Hope, Ontario! Books will be available for purchase. Admission to the presentation is free.

Date: Saturday, May 16th, 2020

Time: 1pm

Place: Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, 9280 Airport Road
Mount Hope, Ontario.

Book News

Book Talk at the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Hello, friends.

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking about and signing copies of Eagles over Husky at one of my favourite places in the world: The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum in London, Ontario! Books will be available for purchase ($40). Admission to the museum is by donation and “tickets” will be “sold” on Eventbrite (there is limited seating).

Date: Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

Time: 6pm

Place: The RCR Museum, 701 Oxford St E, London, ON

I’ve included a list of the entire speaker series below. There are a lot of great historians involved and I’m told that the museum will be producing a podcast featuring the series for those who can’t make it to the events. You can also download a copy of the full brochure here.

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Warplane Wednesday

Warplane Wednesday: Martin Baltimore

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The Martin Baltimore was an American design ordered by the French in May 1940, just as the Battle of France took shape. The French armistice with Nazi Germany forced the Glen L. Martin Company to look for another buyer. They found a willing customer in the Royal Air Force.

The RAF only used these aircraft operationally in North Africa and the Mediterranean. They were used as light attack bombers with the Desert Air Force, which later became part of the Northwest African Tactical Air Force for campaigns in Tunisia and Sicily. By this time, the Tactical Air Force included more advanced bombers like the Douglas Boston. Nevertheless, three squadrons (one of which was South African) continued to operate the Baltimore. These units were a common sight above the British 8th Army, attacking Axis lines of communication, artillery, and troop concentrations.

The Baltimore also served as a maritime reconnaissance, search and rescue, and anti-submarine aircraft. Two squadrons, one with the Northwest African Coastal Air Force and another with Air Headquarters Malta, served in maritime aviation roles during Operation Husky.


Specifications (Baltimore V)

Type: four-seat light bomber

Powerplant: two 1268kW (1700hp) Wright GR-2600-A5B geared radial engines

Performance: maximum speed 488km/h (305mph); range 1577km (980 miles)

Weights: empty 7253kg (15,991lb); loaded 10,900kg (23,185lb)

Wingspan: 18.7m (61ft 4in)

Length: 14.8m (48ft 6in)

Height: 4.32m (14ft 2in)

Armament: four wing-mounted 7.62mm (0.30in) fixed, forward-firing machine guns in the leading edges of the wing, two to four 7.7mm (0.303in) trainable rearward-firing machine guns in the dorsal turret, two 7.7mm (0.303in) machine guns in the ventral positions, plus an internal bomb load of 910kg (2000lb)  


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The following Mediterranean Air Command units flew the Martin Baltimore during Operation HUSKY:

Northwest African Coastal Air Force

  • No. 52 Squadron RAF

Northwest African Tactical Air Force

  • No. 21 Squadron SAAF
  • No. 55 Squadron RAF
  • No. 223 Squadron RAF

Air Headquarters Malta

  • No. 69 Squadron RAF
Book News

Book Signing at the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

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Hello, friends.

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be signing copies of Eagles over Husky at one of my favourite places in the world: The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum in London, Ontario!

I’m only a small part of what is sure to be a wonderful event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily in the Second World War. The Royal Canadian Regiment landed in Pachino, Sicily on 10 July 1943 as part of the spearhead of the liberation of Europe.

Guests will hear from dignitaries, including:

  • Major-General (Ret.) Ivan Fenton, Colonel of the Royal Canadian Regiment
  • Flight Lieutenant (Ret.) Tom Hennessy, RAF veteran of Operation Husky
  • Captain (Ret.) Sheridan Atkinson, RCR veteran of Operation Husky
  • Gordon Joice (son of veteran Lieutenant J.E. Joice, who served in the RCR during Operation Husky)

All are invited for the book signing and to preview the museum’s Second World War section of the permanent gallery. The museum is hard at work revamping this gallery, and guests at this event will get a sneak peak of what is in store.

Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Time: 11am to 12:30pm

Place: The RCR Museum, 701 Oxford St E, London, ON

Dress: Regimental/Air Force Association blazer (or summer dress as the temperatures may be), no medals, or civilian equivalent.

Warplane Wednesday

Warplane Wednesday: Supermarine Walrus

Beyond Courage (Book Cover, Grub St)
The rescue of W/C W. G. G. Duncan Smith DSO DFC by a Walrus of 284 Squadron, 2 September 1943, off the Italian coast, whilst being attacked by Me109s of JG 52 (Barry Weekly)

The Supermarine Walrus owes its existence to R.J. Mitchell, the same aeronautical engineer who designed the Spitfire in its early stages.

In the early days of the Second World War in the Mediterranean, the Royal Air Force’s air-sea rescue (ASR) capabilities were small. The air fighting above Malta was serviced by motor launches, while most of the air fighting in the Western Desert occurred over land. That all changed with Operation Torch and Operation Husky.

In February 1943, No. 283 Squadron became the first RAF ASR squadron in the western Mediterranean. In anticipation of the invasion of Sicily, No. 284 Squadron formed in the United Kingdom and transited to Malta just in time for the assault. Both units flew the Walrus. With Allied aircraft flying to targets in Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy from North Africa, Malta, and Pantelleria, these ASR crews would be busy during the campaign.

In fact, according to Beyond Courage, aviation historian Norman Franks’s book on Walrus squadrons in the Mediterranean, these squadrons made 36 rescues (of Allied and Axis aircrews) between the end of fighting in North African and the end of fighting in Sicily. It must have given Allied aircrews some confidence to know that if they went down over water there was a chance of rescue.


Specifications

Type: 3-4 seat amphibious reconnaissance aircraft

Powerplant: one 510kW (680hp) Bristol Pegasus VI radial engine

Performance: maximum speed 215km/h (135mph) at 1450m (4750ft); range 965km (600 miles); service ceiling 5650m (18,500ft); rate of climb 318 meters per minute (1050ft per minute)

Weights: empty 2220kg (4900lb); maximum take-off 3650kg (8050lb)

Wingspan: 14m (45ft 10in)

Length: 11.45m (36ft 7in)

Height: 4.6m (15ft 3in)

Armament: two or three 7.7mm (0.303in) Vickers K machine guns, plus 600lbs of wing-mounted equipment.


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The following Northwest African Coastal Air Force units used the Supermarine Walrus in the invasion of Sicily:

  • No. 283 Squadron RAF
  • No. 284 Squadron RAF

 

Warplane Wednesday

Warplane Wednesday: Hawker Hurricane

The Hawker Hurricane, famous for its service in 1940 during the Battle of Britain, was obsolescent by 1943. Another famous use of this aircraft was as a fighter-bomber with the Desert Air Force in 1941-1942. The Hurricane IIC had a four 20mm cannons, but this was not enough firepower to destroy enemy tanks. The Hurricane IID swapped its 20mm cannons for a pair of 40mm cannons. This new “Hurribomber” quickly earned a reputation as a tank buster; the first IID-equipped squadron became known as the “Flying Can Openers”.  

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The Vintage Wings of Canada Donald “Bunny” McLarty Hawker Hurricane Mk IV in the colours of No. 6 Squadron RAF (Photo: Eric Dumigan)

For Operation HUSKY, the Hawker Hurricane saw very limited action. Most Hurricane squadrons would eventually swap these aircraft for Supermarine Spitfires. One notable use of the Hurricane in support of the Sicilian invasion was in the intruder role. A detachment of Hurricanes at Malta flew around the coast of Sicily at night shooting out Axis searchlights in support of Allied night bombers and the airborne landings. Some Hurricanes also remained in service as fast courier aircraft.


Specifications (Hawker Hurricane IID)

Type: single-seat tank buster

Powerplant: one 1088.5kW (1460hp) Rolls-Royce Merlin XX 12-cylinder Vee engine

Performance: maximum speed 518km/h (322mph); climb to 6095m (20,000ft) in 12 minutes 24 seconds; service ceiling of 9785m (32,100ft); range 1448km (900 miles)

Weights: empty 2586kg (5700lb); normal take-off 3493kg (7700lb); maximum take-off 3674kg (8100lb)

Wingspan: 12.19m (40ft)

Length: 9.81m (32ft 3in)

Height: 3.98m (13ft 1in)

Armament: two 40mm (1.57in) fixed forward-firing cannon under the wing, and two 7.7mm (0.303in) fixed forward-firing machine guns in the leading edges of the wing typically armed with tracer ammunition


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The following Mediterranean Air Command units flew the Hawker Hurricane:

Northwest African Coastal Air Force

  • No. 253 Squadron RAF
  • No. 32 Squadron RAF
  • No. 87 Squadron RAF

Northwest African Tactical Air Force

  • No. 6 Squadron RAF
  • No. 241 Squadron RAF

Air Headquarters Malta

  • No. 73 Squadron RAF
Warplane Wednesday

Warplane Wednesday: Douglas A-20 Havoc / Boston

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In an interesting combined operation, RAF Boston light bombers acted as pathfinders on the night of 17/18 July for a US B-25 Mitchell attack [against Naples] because the USAAF was a day bombing force.

– Excerpt from Eagles over Husky

The Douglas A-20 Havoc (or Boston for Commonwealth aircrews) was a light bomber that served with the Northwest African Tactical Air Force’s tactical bomber force. Targets for these aircraft included Axis gun positions, lines of communication, and troop concentrations. In particular, these tactical bombers. On rare occasions, Boston crews with night flying training and experience served as pathfinders for USAAF medium bomber crews who had limited experience operating at night.  


Specifications (A-20B Havoc/DB-7B Boston III)

Type: four-seat light attack bomber

Powerplant: two 1193kW (1600hp) Wright GR-2600-A5B Double Cyclone radial engines

Performance: maximum speed 515km/h (320mph); initial climb rate 609m (2000ft) per minute; service ceiling 7470m (24,500ft); range 1996km (1240 miles) with reduced bomb load

Weights: empty 5534kg (12,200lb); normal take-off 8959kg (19,750lb); maximum take-off 9789kg (21,580lb)

Wingspan: 18.69m (61 ft 4in)

Length: 14.48m (47ft 6in)

Height: 6.36m (17ft 7in)

Armament: four 7.7mm (0.303in) fixed forward-firing machine guns on the sides of the forward fuselage, two 7.7mm (0.303in) trainable machine guns in the dorsal position and one 7.7mm (0.303in) trainable machine guns in the ventral position, plus an internal bomb load of 907kg (2000lb)


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The following Mediterranean Air Command units flew the Havoc/Boston light bomber. Notice the South African Air Force (SAAF) squadrons:

Northwest African Tactical Air Force

  • No. 12 Squadron SAAF (Boston III)
  • No. 24 Squadron SAAF (Boston III)
  • No. 18 Squadron RAF (Boston III)
  • No. 114 Squadron RAF (Boston III)
  • US 84th Bombardment Squadron (A-20B)
  • US 85th Bombardment Squadron (A-20B)
  • US 86th Bombardment Squadron (A-20B)
  • US 97th Bombardment Squadron (A-20B)