South African Military History Society

September 1980 NEWSLETTER

Past meeting: Johannesburg

Despite the cold weather, 48 members and guests turned out on August 14th to hear Maj. Doug Tidy's lecture on the Museum's aircraft.

Before the start of the lecture, an unsigned painting comprising 53 First World War aircraft by the late James W. McDonald was presented to the Museum by Mrs McDonald. This is one of only two paintings featuring aviation subjects done by this artist and was not yet finished at the time of his death. Mrs H Winder finished the ornate border completing the painting.

As this was to be an "aircraft" evening, "Darrell's terror" slide show featured Sir Hubert Gough whose air connection was that he was at the receiving end of some bombs.

Maj. Doug Tidy, who is the Museum's curator in charge of aircraft, traced the history of both the type and individual aircraft owned at present by the Museum.

Doug started his talk by discussing the SE5A (Scouting Experimental 5A) which is one of 22 that was given to S. Africa during the 1920's as part of the Imperial Gift (A present from Britain of 110 aircraft to enable the UDF to establish an air force). This aircraft was regarded as the "Spitfirc of WW1" and altogether 5 000 were built. The next aircraft to be discussed was. the DH9, (this is one of 50 given in the Imperial gift), whose rigging was said to be so complex that if a canary could escape from within it, it was not rigged correctly. The final biplane featured in the talk was the Hawker Hartbees which can clearly be recognised to be the forerunner of the Hurricane. This particular aircraft was the 47th to be built at Voortrekkerhoogte and first flew in Sept 1938. It flew altogether 841 hours (the equivalent of 130 000 miles) and fought in East Africa in 1940-41.

The following aircraft to be discussed was the Hawker Hurricane 2C which is one of 4 700 of this type built. This particular aircraft is fitted with exhaust glare shields, which make it unique and indicate that it must have been used as a night fighter at some time. The Museum's aircraft is however incomplete in that it lacks a radiator.

The Museum's Spitfire is a Mk8F model and is 1 of 4 of this model left in the world. It was used in the high flying role as indicated by its pointed Universal Type E wings, reduced aileron surfaces and retractable tail wheel. The cockpit however is not pressurised.

The first German aircraft to be discussed was the MeBf1O9E which crashed off the coast of Sussex on 8/11/1940. The wreck was recovered from the sea and given to the Museum which even managed to trace the pilot. The Museum also has a MeBf1O9F2 (Tropicalised) in good order. This aircraft features special air filters and was captured in the desert. Another prize possession is the FW19O A6R6 "Formation Destroyer" which is in excellent condition and features a radial engine with bullet proof cowling.

The pride of place in the Museum's collection must surely go to the Me262BAU1 which is the only one known in the world to be fitted out as a night fighter and still capable of being flown. (Only 10 Me262s were modified as night fighters). This aircraft was fitted with an intercepter radar, tail warning radar, and even had a sort of computer on board which gave the pilot a printout of his and the enemies positions. This was the ultimate aircraft of WW2, but was produced too late to change the course of the war. The last few Me262s had to resort to operating from the autobahns.

The last Museum aircraft discussed was the Mosquito PR9 which was used as a photo-reconnaisance plane.The plane was built out of balsa wood on a "cottage industry" system and was assembled at Hatfield. It is well known for its role in the "Pathfinder" system. (Doug read an account of Col. Glynn Davis's flight in this aircraft from Cairo to Que Que at 32 000 ft and 360 mph).

Doug must be congratulated on presenting such an interesting talk which was illustrated with slides and tape recordings of the aircrafts' sounds,

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Future meetings:Johannesburg

4 Sept 20H00 Kmdt C.M.Bakkes - ,,Die Stryd aan die Grens deur die oë van die Gewone Manskap"

Die titel ,, Die stryd aan die Grens deur die oë van die Gewone Manskap" verduidelik egter nie dat dié manskappe geensins gewoon was nie! 'n Groep offisiere, insluitend Kmdt. Bakkes, hat hut range tydelik neergelê om vir 'n paar maande soos dienspligtiges aan die grens te lewe. Onder hulle was manne wat hulle basiese opleiding twintig tot dertig jare voorheen ondergaan het, en hulle skielik weer onder die bevel van 'n dienspligte korporaal bevind het. Die praatjie belowe om 'n besondere terugblik op die ervaringe van hierdie groep soldate te wees.

16th October 20H00 Mrs Sheila Henderson - "Alexander Biggar"

That's all ... Mike Marsh

[Handwritten PS. The Museum is showing the film "Battle of Britain" on the 15th and 17th Sept. Contact Maj Tidy for details.]

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