RAFMAF 'Spirit of the Battle of Britain' Banquet 2018

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‘Spirit of the Battle of Britain’ Banquet Thursday October 11, 2018 The Mayflower Hotel, Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C.

Celebrating the Pioneering Women of the Air Transport Auxiliary and the Women Airforce Service Pilots


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Contents 4 6 7







WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION Major General (Ret) Frederick F. Roggero USAF, President, RAFMAF AIR MARSHAL STUART ATHA CB DFC ADC RAF Deputy Commander Operations, RAF


THE AIR TRANSPORT AUXILIARY The story of the female pilots that flew for this remarkable organisation during the Second World War


THE WASP REMEMBERED The Women Airforce Service Pilots made a vital contribution to the US war effort – but their story was untold for decades


NELL STEVENSON BRIGHT Women Airforce Service Pilot

CHRISTINE MAU Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) USAF


MARY ELLIS Air Transport Auxiliary Pilot JO SALTER Honorary Group Captain, 601 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force


THE 617 SQUADRON STORY Looking at the history of the recently reformed RAF squadron, stretching back 75 years to the famous ‘Dambusters’ mission for which it was created PROJECT PREDATOR: FROM CREECH TO HENDON – VIA NELLIS AND BRIZE NORTON Recalling the transatlantic journey of a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, now on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SERVICE AND SACRIFICE How the RAF Museum has transformed its London site for the Service’s centenary THE ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM AMERICAN FOUNDATION SWORDS OF HONOR Recognizing the most outstanding RAF and USAF officers on exchange this year SWORDS OF HONOR 2018 CITATIONS Squadron Leader Benjamin Durham MSc RAF and Lieutenant Colonel T Gwyddon Owen USAF ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Cover: Four Women Airforce Service Pilots and their aircraft, ‘Pistol Packin’ Mama’, at the four-engine school at Lockbourne AAF, Ohio, circa 1944 – (left to right) Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn (Photo: U.S. Air Force) Produced by Harfield Media Edited by Barry Davies Designed by Herita MacDonald RAF MUSEUM AMERICAN FOUNDATION



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Welcome and introduction Major General (Ret) Frederick F. Roggero, USAF President, Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM AMERICAN Foundation (RAFMAF) is honored and proud to host the Spirit of the Battle of Britain Annual Dinner and would like to thank Air Marshal Stuart Atha CB DFC ADC for his, and the Royal Air Force’s, continued help in our support of the RAF Museum. We are also delighted to welcome General Stephen W. Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force (USAF), to help us honor the outstanding service of the top RAF and USAF exchange officers of 2018. This year it is our great privilege to honor the pioneering women of aviation from the Second World War in the form of the lady pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary and the Women’s Air Service Pilots – the WASP. By their tenacity, love of flying and bravery they created pathways for the women of our modern air forces to follow, forging careers in aviation. You will read more about how the inspiring pilots of these two organizations flew their aircraft across, and between, their two nations, freeing up valuable flying hours for their male counterparts for combat. It is also an honor for the Foundation to recognize the continued close association between our servicemen by presenting two ceremonial Swords of Honor to the RAF and USAF Exchange Officers whose contributions have most reflected the values that our veterans, and the Foundation, share: Service, Excellence, Integrity and Courage. It is these values that we honor in our young serving women and men of today, and encourage in the young people of tomorrow. As we look back on what has happened within the Foundation over the past year, I must report the sad news that our guest veteran of two years ago, Wing Commander Tom Neil, passed away in

July, shortly after the formal RAF centenary celebrations in the UK. His passing was closely followed by that of his Battle of Britain fellow officer, Geoffrey Wellum, and then by that of Mary Ellis, one of the last surviving ATA pilots, whose story you will hear tonight. In January, members of the Foundation’s Board joined representatives from the RAF and the USAF to support, celebrate and commemorate the relationship between the airmen of the UK and US militaries by laying a wreath at a grave within Arlington National Cemetery, containing both British and American airmen. The wreckage of their aircraft wasn’t discovered until 1995 – nearly 50 years after it went down in Queensland, Australia – and the officers’ remains were interred together in Arlington on September 29, 1995. In pursuing its mission, RAFMAF has also been focused on education by supporting key exhibits within the RAF Museum. We were delighted, in this RAF centenary year, to facilitate the USAF’s loan of a retired MQ-1 Predator Remote Piloted Aircraft, made by General Atomics, to the RAF Museum in London, and it was finally installed just days before the Museum’s formal relaunch at the end of June. The story of the Predator’s journey can be found on page 22 of this book. The Foundation was also pleased to make a significant donation to the Museum’s centenary program and funded a 601 Squadron Trail, displaying memorabilia from the squadron’s history. This includes a ‘Gate Guardian’ in the form of a Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI in the 601 Squadron livery that welcomes visitors to the Museum. The squadron’s battle honors most notably include the Battle of Britain, and the first Americans to fly in the Second World War.




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We have also established an annual Learning Fund to ensure that the shared aviation heritage of the US and UK air forces is kept alive, by celebrating the shared values of the fighting airmen and airwomen of the past, present and future. The selection of a project will be decided by the Chief Executive Officer of the Museum, and the selected work or project will directly pertain to, and reflect, the enduring joint relationship between the USAF and the RAF, both in war and in peace.

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Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation board

members joined representatives of the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force for a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery

With the help of our sponsors, the Foundation will continue to keep our combined and shared histories of air power alive. Thank you for attending tonight and for your continued support of RAFMAF and the RAF Museum.




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Air Marshal Stuart Atha CB DFC ADC RAF Deputy Commander Operations, Royal Air Force

I AM ENORMOUSLY GRATEFUL TO BE invited to the annual ‘Spirit of the Battle of Britain’ dinner of the Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation (RAFMAF). In this the centenary year of the Royal Air Force, the critical importance of the Foundation to the Royal Air Force Museum has yet again been underlined, whether through the generous funds raised in support of the Museum’s centenary program or through its continuing good work to deepen the bond between our nations and our air forces. This relationship is vital insurance against a world that continues to be troubled and uncertain. But the dinner is an opportunity to reflect on our shared history with pride and look forward to the future with optimism and confidence. For the spirit of the Battle of Britain, which was instilled at the inception of both our air forces and exemplified by the Few, carries on in the brave men and women who continue to fly in close formation in the service of both our nations. Tonight we celebrate, in particular, the role of women in aviation and will hear from two women I know well: Mary Ellis and Jo Salter. Drawn from different generations, they have common character. They were both female pioneers in the air and possessed the spirit, grit, talent, courage and determination to succeed in a hitherto male-dominated world. Jo was the first female operational fighter pilot in the RAF and Mary served with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War, delivering all types of aircraft, fighter and bombers, from the factories to the airfields, mostly with nothing more than a compass and a map. Nell Bright, a WASP veteran, and Christine Mau, the first female combat F-35 pilot, will also be here tonight, reflecting

the contribution and advancement of women in American aviation. Together, the Atagirls and the WASP made a crucial contribution to the war effort, which General ‘Hap’ Arnold recognized in 1944 when he said: “We will not again look upon a woman flying as an experiment.” As the RAF moves into its second century, we are inspired by the examples of Mary and Jo. In 2017, the RAF became the first UK Service to open all combat roles to women. But we have much more to do to ensure that opportunity is available to all. We will continue to push back the barriers and overcome the hurdles in the way. The ambition for RAF100 is to inspire the next generation of airmen and airwomen. To realise this, we will be guided by the words of King George VI, a founding member of the RAF, who said: “Per Ardua ad Astra is what inspires each and every member of the Royal Air Force – the spirit that seeks and attains the stars, however hard the way may be.” I am hugely thankful to RAFMAF for its enduring support and for how the Foundation has helped us along the way.



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During the years of the Second World War a short-lived, but remarkable, organization existed

The Air Transport Auxiliary THE AIR TRANSPORT AUXILIARY (ATA) was a civilian service that was tasked with the delivery of aircraft from factories to the squadrons of the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, and the delivery of supplies. Comprising pilots exempt from wartime service owing to health, age and gender, the ATA gained a reputation for being able to take anything to anywhere.

With access to the list of civil pilots, Sir Gerard d’Erlanger (Commodore, Air Transport Auxiliary), was able to choose staff to suit the needs of his new organization. Twenty-three pilots were appointed to the ATA at its inception. They came from a cross section of society – from journalists, patent engineers and motorcycle racers to innkeepers, antique dealers and furniture-makers.



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Only a few had more than 1,000 hours’ experience in the air, but the one thing they all had in common was a love of flying. In September 1939, the ATA was attached to RAF Reserve Command and formally took on the role of ferrying operational aircraft for the Services. In the following December, Pauline Gower was appointed as the leader of the new women’s section of the ATA. As aircraft production increased to meet demand, so did the need for the ATA’s ferrying service, and the decision was made to allow women to fly operational aircraft. On July 19, 1941 a Hurricane landed at Hatfield. Women could finally fly fighters! With the bombing offensive against Germany in full swing, there was an increase in the number of four-engine bombers to deliver. In September 1942, while based at White Waltham, Lettice Curtis was put forward to train on these aircraft, passing the tests in February 1943. Joan Hughes soon followed and, by the end of the war, 11 women had been cleared to fly heavy bombers. From D-Day onward, ATA personnel knew that soon it would all be over. The demand for their ferrying and air taxi services decreased and eventually came to an end. After VE Day, ATA pilots started returning to their peacetime jobs, foreign nationals went home and the pools closed. On September 29, 1945, 12,000 people attended the ATA pageant at White Waltham, which included a flying display. This was only time the public ever had the opportunity to see the work of the ATA.

Two ATA pilots walk to the aircraft they have been

assigned to deliver 

ATA personnel receive technical instruction

(l to r) ATA pilots Lettice Curtis, Jenny Broad, Wendy

Sale-Barker, Gabrielle Patterson and Pauline Gower

Reproduced by permission of David Higham and RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises RAF MUSEUM AMERICAN FOUNDATION


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FROM ANYWHERE, TO ANYWHERE The ATA gained a reputation of being willing and able to fly anything ‘from anywhere, to anywhere.’ ATA pilots delivered new aircraft straight from factories, and aircraft in need of repair were taken to and from Maintenance Units. They also ensured that the RAF and Fleet Air Arm had aircraft as and when needed. The ATA divided aircraft types into six classes. If you could fly a specific type you were authorised to fly any aircraft in the same class.



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The WASP remembered The Women Airforce Service Pilots made a vital contribution to the US war effort – but their role wasn’t recognized until decades later

WITHIN MONTHS OF THE JAPANESE attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US Army Air Forces, faced with an acute shortage of male pilots, decided to deploy women in domestic aviation to relieve their male counterparts for combat. On August 5, 1943, the Women Airforce Service Pilots was formed, with its pilots known as WASP, and pilot training for women became the same as for their male counterparts. This was a first for the military. The WASP pilot training program produced 1,074 graduates and, with the original 28 pilots from the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), they ferried over 50% of the combat aircraft within the United States during the war years. WASP flew at 126 bases, where they also towed targets for gunnery training and served as instrument instructors for the Eastern Flying Training Command. Thirty-eight of these women died in their service – 11 in training and 27 during missions. As they had served as civilian pilots, they received no military benefits nor a flag for their casket. In 1944, when Army Air Forces (AAF) commander General ‘Hap’ Arnold planned to commission women pilots as Second Lieutenants, he encountered great opposition in the media and in Congress, where high-profile hearings of the House Committee on Military Affairs questioned the continued need for women pilots. Ironically, just as the military situation of 1942 had brought about the argument for women pilots, the situation in 1944 generated increased opposition as the emphasis was on a ground assault, resulting in the scaling back of male pilots. The men affected by this policy began a letter-writing campaign to their Congress members and to the RAF MUSEUM AMERICAN FOUNDATION


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Women Airforce Service Pilots sit on the wing of

a bomber. Female aviators ferried over 50% of the combat aircraft within the US during the war years



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A WASP squadron, photographed in

Oklahoma on November 29, 1944 

A WASP points out the pilots’

official mascot, Miss Fifinella – a female gremlin designed by Walt Disney

media, accusing Arnold of trying to supplant male pilots with women. As a result, Congress rejected a WASP militarization bill on June 21, 1944, and Arnold himself came to believe that the crisis that had created the need for women pilots had passed. On December 20 that year, Arnold sent all WASP a letter of thanks, explaining the disbanding of the program. At the graduation ceremony for the final class of pilots, General Arnold said, “We of the AAF are proud of you; we will never forget our debt to you.” But after the war ended, the WASP were, in fact, forgotten. Their records were classified and sealed from the public. When, in the 1970s, the US Air Force announced that it would begin to accept women for pilot training, the media

The WASP Congressional Gold Medal

WASP members pose for a group photo

reported the story as if this would be the first time that women could fly for the US military. The WASP then rose up to demand the recognition they deserved and, despite opposition by the American Legion and other veterans’ groups, in November 1977 President Carter signed a Public Law granting WASP veteran status with limited benefits. This coincided with the graduation of the first female Air Force pilots. More recognition followed in future years and, in 2009, a Senate bill providing the Congressional Gold Medal to the WASP was signed into law. Many of the surviving women pilots, accompanied by women aviators in current service, accepted these medals at a ceremony at the Capitol on March 10, 2010.



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Boeing is proud to serve our Armed Forces. We are honored to mark 100 years of the Royal Air Force and look forward to a new century of partnership.

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Nell Stevenson Bright Wartime service soon beckoned for an aspiring aviator who commenced pilot training in 1940 while still a teenager

NELL STEVENSON BRIGHT STARTED flying at the age of 19 after graduating from West Texas A&M with a BS Degree in English and Economics. By the end of 1942, Nell had secured her Private License and 75 hours of flying. Whilst waiting to fly one day at English Field, Nell read about Jacqueline Cochran, who was interviewing women pilots to train in the Army Air Corps. She wrote to the address listed and received a letter back to come to Fort Worth, Texas, for an interview with Cochran. All the women pilots received the same training as the male cadets. After receiving her wings, she was sent to B-25 Transition School, along with 19 of her classmates, to Mather Field, California. There they logged approximately 165 hours in the B-25 and received first pilot rating, as well as additional instrument rating. In February 1944, 10 of them, including Nell, were sent to Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas, to the 6th Tow Target Squadron, where she flew the B-25, B26, AT-7, AT-11, A-24, A-25, and P-47. Nell also towed targets, flew strafing

missions and other missions, training ground-toair soldiers from Fort Bliss, Texas. After deactivation in December 1944, Nell ferried surplus planes for a while before moving to Phoenix, Arizona, where she picked up her economics studies and became one of the first women stockbrokers. From the time of their deactivation in 1944, it took the women pilots of the Second World War 30 years to receive Veteran Status, which was achieved with the help of Senator Barry Goldwater in 1977. Nell is a member of The 99s – the International Organisation of Women Pilots and Women Military Aviators – as well as the Women in Aviation International Order of Daedalians (Military Pilots). In March 2010, Nell received the Congressional Gold Medal for service to her country, which was followed, in June 2014, with the Minute Man Award from Utah National Guard and Honorary Colonels Corps for service to her country and the community. In November 2014, Nell was awarded the Leadership and Excellence Award from Brigham Young Univ. ROTC.




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Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Christine Mau USAF A true female aviation pioneer, the first US woman to pilot the F-35 fighter became a squadron commander and pilot instructor

LIEUTENANT COLONEL CHRISTINE MAU led the first combat mission planned, briefed, launched, and flown entirely by women in 2011, while flying the F-15E. She is also the first and one of only four women to pilot the Department of Defense’s newest fighter, the F-35. She served for 20 years in the US Air Force (USAF), a period that culminated with becoming Deputy Commander, 33rd Operations Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Originally from Thousand Oaks, California, Christine entered the Air Force in May 1997 after graduating from the USAF Academy with a degree in biology. Having completed Euro-NATO joint Jet Pilot Training in 1999 as a Distinguished Graduate, she flew the F-15E at RAF Lakenheath and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (AFB). Christine then helped stand up the first Air Defense Aggressor Squadron and served as an Instructor Aggressor at Nellis AFB. She then served as the 366th Fighter Wing Director of Staff and Director of Operations for the Royal Singaporean Air Force 428th Fighter Squadron at Mountain Home AFB. Prior to her final assignment, she served as Commander of the 4th Operations Support Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB, where she led 285 airmen in the Air Force’s most diverse squadron. As the 33rd Operations Group Deputy Commander, she assisted the commander in leading a 390-personnel group responsible for F-35 formal training. Christine was an instructor and evaluator pilot with more than 2,800 flight hours and has

flown more than 500 combat hours in Operations Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. She currently works as a F-35 Contract Instructor Pilot for Lockheed Martin at Eglin AFB, teaching simulator and academics to F-35A and F-35C pilots.




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Mary Ellis An early attraction to flying led to an extraordinary period of wartime service and a career as an airport commandant

MARY ELLIS’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH FLYING started before the war when her father took her to an air show at Hendon, and she obtained her flying licence at the age of 16. In 1941, after hearing an appeal by the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) for women pilots, she applied and was accepted after taking a flying test. Following her basic training, Mary began to fly from aircraft factories to airfields anywhere in Britain and, over the course of the war, flew more than 1,000 planes of 76 different types, including Harvards, Hurricanes, Spitfires and Wellington bombers. After the war, she was one of only two women to fly a Meteor jet,

when her sole briefing for the flight was a warning that the fuel would run out in 45 minutes! The ATA pilots’ job was dangerous – the only navigational aids they had were maps, a compass and a stopwatch. Flying planes from factories to Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm airfields in open cockpits was cold and extremely uncomfortable and, with no radio facilities, the pilots couldn’t be told about a change in the weather or warned where the balloon barrages were to be raised, popping up all over the sky in poor weather. Mary flew continually for all the war years, and though the ‘Atagirls’, as they were called, were entitled to two days off after a stretch of 14 days’ flying, Mary didn’t want the time off – she wanted to fly. After the ATA was disbanded, Mary was seconded to RAF 41 Group. She continued to ferry aircraft with the RAF and flew as a personal pilot until, in 1950, she was appointed Managing Director of Sandown Airport on the Isle of Wight, which she managed for 20 years – the only female commandant of an airport in Europe. Mary Ellis, who had become known as the ‘Spitfire Girl’, died at her home in Sandown on 24 July 2018, at the age of 101. Aa far as Mary was concerned, the ATA pilots had the best of both worlds by being “civilians in the forces.” Called ‘the legion of the air’, the ATA was years ahead of its time in its attitude towards women and, by embracing sexual equality, became unique in wartime Britain.




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Honorary Group Captain Jo Salter, 601 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force The UK’s first female combat-ready pilot was a member of the famous 617 Squadron – the ‘Dambusters’ – flying the Tornado GR1 JO SALTER JOINED THE RAF AT THE AGE of 18 to become an Engineering Officer and, as part of her engineering training, she studied for a degree in Electronic Systems Engineering at the Royal Military College of Science. In 1989, after the UK Government announced that women would be allowed to fly in the RAF, Jo successfully applied to become a pilot and was awarded her fast-jet wings in April 1992. She was subsequently posted to 617 Squadron – the ‘Dambusters’ – flying the Tornado GR1. She became the country’s first female combat-ready pilot – one of only five female fast-jet pilots in the world at that time. Jo was the first woman to be an operational Tornado pilot, flying from both Turkey and Saudi Arabia in protection of the no-fly zone over Iraq. In addition, she qualified as a tactics instructor on the Hawk and has been fortunate to have back-seat rides with the Red Arrows and in a Jaguar, Harrier and Dutch F16. After 12 years’ full-time service, and following the birth of her first daughter, Jo left the military. Once her family was complete, she rejoined the RAF Volunteer Reserves to fly Air Cadets on Air Experience flights, and has spent a further 12 years on reserve service. She is currently in the process of joining 601 Squadron, an Auxiliary squadron with a role of providing specialist support to the Chief of the Air Staff and RAF.

Jo is the Chief of Staff to the UK’s head of Technology and Investment at PwC. She has a proven theoretical knowledge, based on over 17 years of lecturing for one of the UK’s leading business schools on managing people, organisations and finance. Jo holds an MBA, which complements her substantial experience of strategic planning, transformation and running high-performing teams. Her military training has engendered a passion for diversity and human performance, leading her to strive to encourage people to be the best they can.




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The 617 Squadron story Nicknamed after their most famous mission, the ‘Dambusters’ have regularly served at the UK’s frontline for 75 years

PERHAPS THE MOST FAMOUS RAF squadron, 617 Squadron was formed at RAF Scampton on March 23, 1943, specifically to undertake one operation – Operation Chastise – the breaching of dams vital to the German war effort. The squadron’s Commanding Officer, Wing Commander (Wg Cdr) Guy Gibson, was given freedom to choose the crews he thought could best undertake the mission. For weeks, not even Gibson was told of the unit’s task, only that low-level flying over water was essential, and training was undertaken around the dams and reservoirs of Derbyshire. Chastise called for the breaching of three enormous dams in the Ruhr – the heart of German industrial production – by dropping a specially designed mine at exactly 60 feet and at a speed of 220mph. Sixteen carefully selected pilots, led by Gibson, took part in the attack, two of whom had American connections. The pair were among more than 9,000 Americans to serve in the RAF during the Second World War.

When asked by Gibson to join 617 Squadron, both these pilots – Flight Lieutenant Joseph ‘Big Joe’ McCarthy DSO DFC and Squadron Leader Henry Melvin Young DFC & Bar – had no hesitation in volunteering. Nineteen specially modified Lancasters carried out the attack during the night of May 16-17, 1943, successfully breaching the Mohne and Eder dams. Wg Cdr Gibson repeatedly flew over these two dams to draw fire away from the attacking aircraft, and was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry. Thirty-two other members of the Squadron were also decorated, but eight aircraft and their crews (56 men in total) were lost during the night – including Squadron Leader Young. Following this success, 617 Squadron was retained as a specialist bombing unit. In September 1943, command passed to Wg Cdr Leonard Cheshire. Under his leadership, the squadron mounted precision raids on targets in occupied territory, using 12,000lb blast bombs.



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Wing Commander Guy Gibson leads the way as

Precision attacks continued with the 12,000lb “Tallboy” deep-penetration bomb, targeting railway tunnels, U-boat pens and large V-weapon sites. After completing his 100th operation, Wg Cdr Cheshire relinquished his command to Wg Cdr “Willie” Tait. The autumn of 1944 saw attention turn to the German battleship Tirpitz, finally sunk after three operations, of which one was mounted from Russia. The spring of 1945 saw an addition to 617 Squadron’s arsenal – the 22,000lb Grand Slam bomb. Under the command of Group Captain John Fauquier RCAF, the squadron’s specialist skills and weapons were exploited against railway viaducts and naval targets, culminating in a final operation against Hitler’s Berchtesgaden Bavarian retreat, which took place on April 25, 1945. In May 1946, the squadron was returned to the UK from India to commence re-equipment with Avro Lincolns. The following year saw a goodwill tour of the United States, involving the first direct crossing of the Atlantic by an RAF squadron. January 1952 saw the squadron re-equip once again with Canberras.

he and his crew board their Avro Lancaster for the mission to destroy the Ruhr dams on May 16-17, 1943 

(left) The undercarriage of Gibson’s Lancaster,

showing the mine designed for the Dams Raid; (right) an Avro Lincoln B.2, during 617 Squadron’s 1947 US visit 

An Avro Vulcan B.2 of 617 Squadron, carrying the

Blue Steel nuclear stand-off missile, circa 1962



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On March 21, 2003, exactly 60 years after its formation, 617 Squadron again had the honour of introducing into operational use the RAF’s latest weapon – Storm Shadow – a conventionally armed stand-off missile capable of long-range precision targeting. From 2004 until the squadron was again disbanded in 2014, it was in active service in Iraq and Afghanistan. 617 Squadron was first formed for a very special purpose, and 75 years later, in the RAF’s 100th year, the squadron has been re-formed once again – bringing stealth from the F-35B Lightning into the UK’s frontline capabilities. Made up of 42% Royal Navy and 58% Royal Air Force personnel, the squadron is a joint unit, bringing the very best of both Services together to increase fighting potency. F-35B Lightning will be in the UK inventory for many years to come, flying off the decks of the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, and 617 Squadron will be at the forefront of this capability throughout. The US and UK have worked in harmony on the F-35 program, training, developing and furthering the combined effectiveness of the aircraft. In 1943, technical ingenuity, determination and professionalism proved decisive; it is equally the case today. In this, the RAF’s centenary year, 617 Squadron is opening a new chapter in history by bringing the F-35 into frontline operational service, ready to strike anywhere, at any time, from land and sea.

A Tornado GR1B of 617 Squadron with Sea Eagle

missiles. This aircraft is on display at the RAF Museum 

617 Squadron reformed in April to fly the F-35B

617 Squadron disbanded at the end of 1955, re-forming on May 1, 1958, again at RAF Scampton, with the Avro Vulcan. As part of the UK’s V-Force, the squadron’s capability was enhanced in 1963 when it was the first to become operational with the Blue Steel nuclear missile. Reverting to a conventional role during the 1970s, the Vulcans continued to be a familiar sight until 617 Squadron disbanded in December 1981. Reformed as a Tornado unit at RAF Marham in 1983, the squadron soon re-confirmed its precision bombing capabilities and, in 1984, became the first non-American unit to win both the Le May and Meyer trophies in competition with American counterparts. In 1990, 617 Squadron sent detachments to the Middle East for what was to become the Gulf War, where it introduced Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator (TIALD) guidance. Following the ceasefire, the squadron’s crews continued to serve in this theatre, patrolling the Southern no-fly zone. The onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 saw 617 Squadron become operational again, under the command of Wg Cdr David Robertson.



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For more than 80 years, Pratt & Whitney has been proud to power the Royal Air Force fleet. From the iconic Wasp engine that powered the T-6 Harvard to today’s game changing F135 propulsion system for the F-35 Lightning II, our engines bring cutting-edge technology to address the complex and diverse needs of the Royal Air Force. Pratt & Whitney is proud to commemorate this historic milestone with the Royal Air Force.

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Project Predator: from Creech to Hendon – via Nellis and Brize Norton The RAF Museum had long sought the acquisition of a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle – an ambition realised earlier this year

“HERE ARE THE KEYS AND THE METER IS running” – these were the words of General Stephen W. Wilson at the RAF Museum American Foundation (RAFMAF) banquet in October 2017, when he handed the ‘keys’ of a General Atomics MQ-1B Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, who accepted it on behalf of the RAF Museum. Visitors to the Museum’s new exhibition, entitled ‘The RAF in an Age of Uncertainty’, cannot fail to be impressed by this most recent acquisition, which has been loaned by the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF) under the terms of its Heritage Outreach Program. This arrangement marked the end of a long journey to acquire an example of this significant aircraft for the RAF Museum – a journey that has involved many players along the way, all dedicated to seeing this unique object on public display at Hendon. The RAF Museum made initial enquiries to obtain a Predator back in 2013, but no suitable examples were available at that time. However, thanks to the invaluable support of RAFMAF President Fred Roggero, Group Captain Blythe Crawford, RAF Exchange Officer in the CSAF Strategic Studies Group, and James ‘Snake’ Clark, Director, ISR Modernization & Infrastructure

at the Pentagon, things began to move forward; in August 2017, it was confirmed that two of the 11 MQ-1Bs scheduled for retirement would be allocated to the RAF Museum and to the Imperial War Museum. Over the following three months the RAF Museum liaised with the NMUSAF over the loan, and plans were prepared to suspend Predator at Hendon as a centrepiece in the RAF Centenary Programme exhibition. This particular airframe, USAF tail number 03-3119, has amassed some 17,050 flying hours and is a true combat veteran, having flown 1,023 sorties during tours of duty with the USAF over Iraq. Originally constructed in April 2005, 03-3119 made its final flight in June 2016 at Creech Air Force Base before being placed in long-term storage. Having been assigned the Predator, the next hurdle was transporting it to Hendon in readiness for the opening of the RAF Centenary development at Hendon in June, which was going to be challenging! The Predator, which was located at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada (along with its sister aircraft, 03-3120, destined for the Imperial War Museum), was relocated to nearby Nellis Air Force Base in readiness for the first available RAF Boeing C-17 flight home. This took off in early April for Brize Norton, from where it started its journey to Hendon the following day.




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General Atomics

MQ-1B Predator 03-3119, pictured shortly before leaving Cheech Air Force Base, Nevada, for its journey to the RAF Museum in Hendon 

General Stephen W.

Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff, USAF, presents the ‘keys’ of MQ-1B Predator 03-3119 to Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, RAF, and Maggie Appleton, Chief Executive Officer of the RAF Museum RAF MUSEUM AMERICAN FOUNDATION



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Packed carefully for its transatlantic journey,

the Predator finally arrives at the RAF Museum 

Visitors can learn facts about the aircraft from the

informative display below the suspended exhibit 

Karen Whitting, Director of Content and Programmes,

RAF Museum; HRH The Earl of Wessex; Maggie Appleton; RAF Museum Chair of Trustees Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy; and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier look up at the new Predator exhibit during the official opening of the RAF Museum following its recent transformation

The suspension of the Predator presented further challenges, mainly due to the composite airframe structure, which is significantly different to that previously encountered by the RAF Museum’s Conservation Centre team at Cosford, who are more used to working with traditional materials, such as wood and aluminium. With the help of General Atomics, which guided the suspension team in drawing up a rigging scheme, the Predator was finally suspended in the roof of Hangar 6 on Thursday June 21, 2018, just eight days before the launch of ‘The RAF in an Age of Uncertainty’ exhibition. The long journey was finally complete … RAF MUSEUM AMERICAN FOUNDATION



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One hundred years of service and sacrifice As the Royal Air Force marks its centenary, the RAF Museum has transformed to celebrate the people behind 100 years of history

The progress and innovation made by the RAF during its proud history has been truly astonishing, not least in seeing us graduate from wooden biplanes to the most advanced stealth fighter in the world, all within the space of just 100 years Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB CBE DFC ADC MA RAF Chief of the Air Staff

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM TELLS THE story of the RAF and its impact on the world though its people and collections. The Museum ensures that the Royal Air Force story endures and enriches future generations. Established in 1968 as the legacy of the Royal Air Force’s 50th anniversary, the RAF Museum is a National Museum attracting more than 700,000 visitors a year across two public sites. The Museum’s world-class and unique collection of aircraft, personal archives and historic aviation sites inspire its audiences to discover the stories of the men and women who have played a vital role in establishing the RAF as the world’s leading air force. The Museum’s Cosford site in the West Midlands was an important Battle of Britain aerodrome, delivering Spitfires to the front line. Today, RAF Cosford is still an operational airbase that performs a vital training role. The Museum’s London site was once the London Aerodrome, the birthplace of aviation in the UK. The first airmail, parachute jump,

night flight and aerial defence of a city all took place there. It was a major centre of First World War aircraft production and later became RAF Hendon, playing a key role in the Battle of Britain, before acquiring hard runways and becoming a transport base. The RAF Museum’s RAF Centenary Programme was designed to commemorate 100 years of service and sacrifice, courage and honor, while celebrating the spirit and values of the people who have contributed to the RAF story. This includes the many nations that have partnered, supported and been supported by the RAF since its formation. Engineers, pilots, ground crew, explorers, entrepreneurs, medical staff and many others have played their role in building this most respected service. The Museum’s RAF Centenary Programme has celebrated their achievements, inspiring a new generation of pioneers, inventors and leaders. These stories are of ordinary men and women whose extraordinary spirit and values




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have upheld the RAF motto, Per Ardua Ad Astra (Through Adversity to the Stars), both through the theatre of war and in establishing and maintaining peace. Three new, innovative galleries, which explore the first 100 years of the RAF and its roles today, now invite visitors to imagine its future contribution and technology. RAF Stories: The First Hundred Years tells the story of the RAF from its creation in 1918 as the world’s first independent air force, capturing the many roles it has undertaken, including the momentous events of the Second World War, the Cold War and more recent contemporary operations. It covers the significant advances in technology and aircraft design that underpin the RAF’s capability. RAF – First to the Future invites visitors to explore the work of today’s RAF and how the service is preparing for the future. Focusing on the people and skills behind the technology, the highly interactive displays inspire young people to take up STEM-related careers. The RAF in an Age of Uncertainty tells the story of the RAF’s service since the end of the Cold War, including the liberation of the Falkland Islands, Operation Desert Storm in Iraq and the liberation of Kuwait, and operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya. RAF Stories Online is a new digital sharing project that promotes conversation with a global audience and helps connect people to the RAF story. It can be explored at rafstories.org

Visitors explore the aircraft exhibited in Hangar 6

at the RAF Museum in Hendon 

Sir Glenn Torpy, HRH The Earl of Wessex, Karen

Whitting and Maggie Appleton view a new exhibit, as Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier looks on 

The Museum’s new ‘Gate Guardian’ is a Supermarine

Spitfire Mk XVI, liveried in the colours of 601 Squadron 

A family enjoys one of the new interactive displays




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ROYAL APPOINTMENT After six years of research, planning and countless hours of hard work, the transformed RAF Museum London was officially reopened by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex on 29 June. The Earl was given a guided tour of the new ‘The RAF in an Age of Uncertainty: 1980-Today’ exhibition before being shown the impressive redeveloped grounds. He was then invited to view inside Hangar 1, the impressive new visitor entrance, with its two new exhibitions: ‘RAF Stories: The First Hundred Years’ and ‘RAF – First to the Future’. Along the way, members of the Museum staff, volunteers, sponsors and contractors were presented to the Earl, who took a great interest in people’s roles within the project team. He also spent time examining the exhibits and was given a demonstration of the interactive debating table in ‘RAF – First to the Future’. The Earl’s visit concluded with the unveiling of a special commemorative plaque.

601 SQUADRON TRAIL A new ‘Gate Guardian’ welcomes visitors to the Museum – a Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI, liveried in colours of 601 Squadron, which was based intermittently at Hendon. A new digital trail tells the story of the ‘Millionaires Squadron’ of volunteers, including some Americans who flew with the RAF in the Second World War. For more information, please visit rafm.tours

To plan your visit, please go to: www.rafmuseum.org




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Swords of Honor Each year, the RAF Museum American Foundation recognizes the contributions of Exchange Officers from either side of the Atlantic

IN 2009, THE FOUNDATION INSTITUTED the Sword of Honor, to be presented annually to the Royal Air Force (RAF) Officer on exchange with the United States Air Forces (USAF) who has contributed most in the previous year to relations between our two great nations and their air forces. In 2012, another Sword was added to recognize the most outstanding USAF officer on exchange with the RAF. The Swords, donated by RAFMAF Board member Tim Manna, are an embodiment of the Foundation’s mission to strengthen and educate present and future generations about the importance of the special UK/US relationship within the field of aviation. They symbolize the excellent work of Exchange Officers on both sides of the Atlantic. The original Sword is the same as that of a Royal Air Force Officer, made by British specialist Pooley’s Swords. It has a single-edged straight blade with a gold-plated brass hilt, white fish-skin grip, and a brass pommel in the form of an eagle. A stamped, gold-plated brass cartouche bears the bird emblem of the RAF. The Sword also bears the inscription: “Oh, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand”, a line from Francis Scott Key’s 1814 poem, The Star-Spangled Banner. It was flown from England to Everett, Washington, by RAFMAF Board member John Sessions in his Consolidated B-25 Mitchell Grumpy (which is particularly relevant this year, being an aircraft flown by so many WASP). This sword now hangs in the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. The second Sword, displayed in the Pentagon, is an exact duplicate, apart from the inscription

At last year’s banquet, 2017 Sword of Honor winners

Squadron Leader Wesley Pead RAF and Major James Rodgers USAF (centre) were presented with their awards by General Stephen W. Wilson (left), Vice Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier (right), Chief of the Air Staff, RAF

from Winston Churchill regarding the RAF pilots who came from many nations, including the United States, to fly in the Battle of Britain. It reads, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Each winner of the Sword receives a miniature replica. Last year’s RAF Sword recipient was Squadron Leader Wesley Pead, who was, amongst other roles, a B-2 Instructor Pilot based at Whiteman Air Force Base. The USAF Sword was awarded to Major James Rodgers, a Haw Mark T1 pilot based at RAF Valley and RAF Leeming.



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Squadron Leader Benjamin Durham MSc RAF 2018 Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation RAF Sword of Honor Recipient

FLIGHT LIEUTENANT BEN DURHAM arrived at Joint Base Langley-Eustis on April 6, 2015 and, on completion of training, was awarded ‘Top Performer’ in the Wing annual tactics competition of the 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Operations Group and, within a year, was rated as an Above Average F-22 pilot and Mission Commander. Promoted to Squadron Leader in November 2015, Durham’s natural leadership was quickly evident and he was selected as Director of Operations, a Lieutenant Colonel position, and demonstrated exceptional operational leadership, maturity and vision in leading his USAF peers. The highlight of Durham’s final year was his pivotal role in delivering the Squadron’s Operation Inherent Resolve deployment. After orchestrating a comprehensive training program for the squadron, he deployed on the advance team and led many of the squadron’s early missions. Flying a variety of Defensive Counter Air, Deliberate Strike and Close Air Support missions, he repeatedly demonstrated expert decision-making, a comprehensive understanding of the CFACC’s intent and a superb tactical

ability when solving myriad complex problems in an extremely dynamic theatre. His innovative aircraft utilisation program led to a sustainable improvement in F-22 availability, which increased F-22 ATO sorties by 50%, earning him direct praise from the CFACC and a rating of #2 out of 108 O4s from the 1* EAW Commander. In July 2018, Squadron Leader Durham returned to the UK, where he is currently a staff officer at the Air Warfare Centre with responsibility for the RAF’s F-35B. In sum, Squadron Leader Durham excelled in his role as Director of Operations of the 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Operations Group. Whether at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, on exercise in the United States or on deployed operations in the Middle East, he consistently delivered outstanding results. He has been a superb ambassador for both the Royal Air Force and the wider United Kingdom Defence endeavor. In recognition of his efforts over the past 12 months, Squadron Leader Durham has been selected as the RAF winner of the 2018 Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation RAF Sword of Honor.

Sponsored by



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Lieutenant Colonel T Gwyddon Owen USAF 2018 Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation USAF Sword of Honor Recipient

LIEUTENANT COLONEL T GWYDDON OWEN, a US Air Force Exchange Officer, was posted to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (DSTL) in May 2016 as a Military Advisor. In this selectively manned position, Lt Col Owen directly aided the UK’s joint readiness by helping to build a multinational mission assurance team. This team led the assessment and identification of solutions to protect air, land and naval military equipment from cyber attacks. Lt Col Owen led a three-nation team to analyse the F-35’s logistics system, finding and prescribing fixes for cyber weaknesses. He also engaged with subject-matter experts involved in the selection of the Challenger II main battle tank Lifecycle Extension Program, and exposed ways in which new technology could be turned against the British Army by a clever adversary and proposed mitigation solutions. In the maritime domain, he advised on how to harden the new Tide-class naval tankers, as well as in-service anti-submarine helicopters, from cyber attack. These and other efforts resulted in greater safety for the servicemen and women using these platforms, whilst simultaneously increasing their combat effectiveness.

Lt Col Owen led 280 joint personnel in the UK’s largest-ever cyber exercise as the Director of Operations for the Opposing Forces. He developed the exercise training objectives, designed exercise injects and integrated the efforts of a diverse set of subject-matter experts. This £500 million exercise culminated in 13 cyber defence teams from 18 units spanning the UK, US and Australia getting realworld experience in defending against cyber attacks. Finally, Lt Col Owen was instrumental in the design, development and testing of a nextgeneration MOD capability. This revolutionary system is a core tenet of the UK’s National Offensive Cyber Program, which will dramatically increase the flexibility of special operations forces, the survivability of aircraft, effective combat range of naval warships and capabilities of land units. Lt Col Owen is an outstanding officer and personifies the spirit and purpose of the Exchange Program. His seamless integration into the MOD helped join the ties between our two nations. He has strengthened our shared role in building the readiness capacity of our allies in an evolving strategic environment. In recognition of his efforts, Lt Col Owen has been selected as the 2018 winner of the RAF Museum American Foundation Sword of Honor.

Sponsored by



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Acknowledgments The Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation would like to thank: Texas Woman’s University for providing WASP Photos www.twu.edu The Maidenhead Heritage Centre for providing ATA photos www.maidenheadheritage.org.uk TMB Art Metal Christopher.Bennett@TMBArtMetal.com EthemMedia (producer of the film Secret Spitfires) for the video of Mary Ellis




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Board of directors CHAIRMAN John C. Michaelson Managing Partner, Michaelson Capital; Honorary Group Captain, 601 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force PRESIDENT Major General (Ret) Frederick F. Roggero USAF President and CEO, Resilient Solutions Ltd VICE-PRESIDENT Stuart K. Archer Director, Army Executive Travel, Headquarters Department of the Army

Kevin W. Billings Chief Executive, Legation Strategies; Honorary Group Captain, 601 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force Gary L. Halbert Partner, Holland & Knight LLP; Colonel (Ret) USAF

DIRECTORS Matt Keegan Senior Vice President, SELEX Galileo Tim Manna Craig McVay Vice President, Defense Relations, Rolls-Royce North America, Inc Sir Stuart Matthews Fellow, Royal Aeronautical Society

Charles S. Scaperotto Director, Boeing John Sessions Chairman, Historic Flight Foundation Scott Thompson Partner, Assurance Leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Angela M. Coleman MRAeS DIRECTORS EMERITUS Alan Spence Robert Tullius EX-OFFICIO DIRECTOR Air Commodore James E. Linter OBE RAF Air Attaché, British Embassy




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The Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation One Metro Center, 700 12th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 Tel: +1 (202) 558 5121 Email: usfoundation@rafmuseum.org Web: www.rafmaf.com

Our supporters


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