Wingleader Magazine - Issue 8

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For all those1 who still run to the window when something flies over...



IN THIS ISSUE Interview with Piotr Forkasiewicz Managing Director: Simon Parry (Co-Founder) Editor and Design Director: Mark Postlethwaite (Co-Founder) Technical Director: Wesley Cornell (Co-Founder) Contributors to this issue: Andrew Thomas Simon Parry Piotr Forkasiewicz Geoff Leach

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Testing with ‘T’ Flight Photo Archive - Handley Page Heyford


elcome to issue 8 of Wingleader Magazine. In this issue we feature another one of our very popular aviation art interviews, this time with Piotr Forkasiewicz, an old friend of mine who many (including me) think is the best digital aviation artist in the business.

On the cover: ‘Towards the Inferno’ by Piotr Forkasiewicz.

We also continue the story of the early RAF jets and end with a ‘photo archive’ feature on the wonderful Handley Page Heyford.

You’ll notice that we continue to use full page photos wherever possible to maximise the unique format of Wingleader Magazine. Our photo archive has thousands of high-res images just like these and we love having the ability to display them like this, in detail never seen before in any other publication.

We are now in a position where can accept a limited amount of advertising in this digital magazine. If you or your company would like to support our project and reach a fresh and vibrant new audience of aviation enthusiasts, please contact us for our Media Pack.

Next month we’re running a Battle of Britain Special Edition, so if you’d like to advertise in that one please get in touch as soon as possible, it should prove very popular!

We can offer some very generous introductory rates for those who get in early.

Mark Postlethwaite. August 2019





Wellington of 300 (Polish) Squadron - commissioned artwork for private collector.



Piotr Forkasiewicz is widely regarded as one of the best digital aviation artists in the world, with his work appearing on box-art as well as in magazines and books. Editor Mark Postlethwaite took the train to Częstochowa in central Poland to meet Piotr and find out how he produces his wonderfully atmospheric images.

SCHRAGE MUSIK - artwork for a book about Lancaster crew lost over England during Operation Gisela.


MP Well here we are in Częstochowa which is the Polish equivalent of Lourdes I guess, with thousands of pilgrims visiting every year. How did you end up in this city?

MP You grew up in the Communist era, a totally different world to that which Nick and Jim my previous interviewees grew up in. Can you describe what it was like?

PF I studied here and then found work in the city after graduating. Unfortunately, Częstochowa is very different from Opole, (my wonderful home town 100km away). Crowded, rushed and noisy, it represents the opposite of what I would call my place on Earth, but after almost 20 years I’m used to its specific ‘character’!

PF I was born in 1978 so during the first 11 years of my life I grew up in a peculiar world where ordinary people were condemned to live in a false reality that could hardly be understood in the West. Fortunately I was just a kid and thanks to my beloved family that filled my childhood with love and a sense of security, I enjoyed those

AVIATION ART “$5 WITH BREAKFAST” Boxart for Hong Kong Models Co. Ltd.



days, oblivious of the political and economic situation. Yes, at school we had to learn songs about building socialism and every year we took part in May Day parades but for me who didn’t know another world, it was just fun. We couldn’t afford most of the toys I dreamed of but thanks to creativity I wasn’t bored either. As I got older, I started to understand the reality or at least noticed the barriers that limited us. The Communist regime tried to keep its citizens away from everything that could make them realize the world abroad offered much more than the one they were forced to live in. It was frustrating and filled people with an inferiority complex, (that many still carry with them). Although the window on the world was barely half-opened it was wide enough to inspire people. Through “Free Europe” radio, western movies, TV shows and the stories of those few who had been lucky enough to travel to the West, we knew how underdeveloped Poland was. When I bring back those days in my memory I just can’t believe how different Communist reality was to the world we all live in now.

MP What were your interests at that time and was it hard to develop them? PF I was fascinated with technology, planes, trains, cars and trucks. I couldn’t even count the number of chewing gums I bought just to have the stickers with photos of American cars! I also loved reading books. Although, as I remember, there was little non-fiction, I read many great novels written by pilots based on their war memoirs. I spent long hours in libraries or antiquarian bookshops looking for something that could expand my knowledge and imagination.

Below: A “PZL - 37 Los” - One of those few models available during the communist era in Poland.

Below: One of Piotr’s thumbnail sketches based on the novel “Bomber” by Len Deighton.

From my point of view the greatest disadvantage of Poland’s isolation was lack of good sources that could expand my knowledge of military history. The Communist regime was usually focused on the eastern perspective. Everything about the East was good, everything about the West bad, wrong and not worth mentioning. So you could find many books about Migs, Yaks and Ilyushins as well as a few poor quality scale models that my friends and I used to assemble just to be burned in simulated air battles on the football field.

MP So after leaving school you went to University to study as an Art Teacher, is that a career that you wanted to do or did you have other ideas at the time? Were you painting or drawing at this time? PF I just knew I would be the happiest if I could do what I love. To earn some money for my hobbies I was working seasonally on construction sites, and I spent a summer in the USA working in an Italian restaurant. Both jobs made me appreciate the value of work and taught me to always put 100% into everything I did. I still follow that ethos which I hope is reflected in my work to this day.

MP I quess after 1989 it was easier to find western literature and models? PF Yes, after years of permanent hunger for western culture we were flooded with high quality books and scale models, the only problem was we still couldn’t afford them!

Right: An early self-portrait.



Above: Concept sketches of scenes from the “Bomber” novel.

PF No I never taught at all. During my studies I worked hard between the classes to develop my skills and to create an impressive portfolio, which helped me find a job in a design studio just a few days after I graduated. I became part of team of fantastic, creative people who I’m friends with to this day. We were designing visual information systems, brands, logos, website designs etc. Even though I worked as a 2D designer I always tried

I chose Art Education to develop my skills in painting, drawing and sculpting. I didn’t have a particular ambition to become a teacher but at that time it was the best option. I hoped that even if I became a teacher I would still have time to enjoy my hobbies.

MP So after five years of study you graduated with an MA in art teaching, did you go then and teach? 7

Above: Piotr spent years producing highly realistic architectural visuals like these which provided great training for producing all types of 3D artwork.


Above: HELLCAT. Cover illustration for Aerojournal magazine. Left: . One of the dozens of illustrations done for Red Kite’s Battle of Britain Combat Archive series.

to find a way to get into that third dimension. The problem was no one I knew could then afford 3D software. When I finally got a job as a 3D artist I was the happiest man on Earth. That was an interesting time. I was working with my friend, the amazing 3D artist Piotr Najwer who became my master and from whom I learnt professional 3D skills. The main scope of our activity was 3D architectural visuals but our work soon got noticed and we got a chance to try ourselves in the visual effects industry too. We worked with the famous Platige Image company (run by


Oscar Nominee director Tomasz Bagiński) on animated movies, game cinematics and others.

MP And during this time I presume you started producing your aviation art and 3D models, how and where did that start? PF It started much earlier, around the age of 10. After I watched the “Battle of Britain” movie on TV I fell deeply in love with aviation. It became my obsession. Movies like “Battle of Britain”, “Memphis Belle”, “Flight of the Intruder” and others had a huge impact on me


THE PEENEMUNDE RAID - an illustration for The Memorial Flight Magazine. The illustration shows an interception over Peenemunde - the Nazi V-weapons research centre on 17 August 1943. The FW190 fighters hunted using Wilde Sau tactics during this raid.


AVIATION ART and changed my world forever. I was spending hours talking about those films, analysing the scenes and even drawing still frames from them. Around that time I read an article about James Dietz in one Polish magazine and the art world exploded to me. Aviation Art became to me the completely new way of visual storytelling. Because I was (and still am) a huge fan of Star Wars and movie special effects I found

PF In 2013 my wife had to choose whether to stay at home or go back to work after maternity leave. I worked out that I could become self-employed and work from home, allowing me to look after our two sons (Mikolaj started school that year) whilst Agnieszka returned to work. Looking back, I can see that it was one of the best decisions I ever made. At that time military illustration wasn’t the main subject of my business activity. I was

the computer a great tool that could help me turn my pencil drawings into more realistic renderings. I couldn’t imagine then that this could be my job in the future.

MP So like all of us you slowly built up this hobby of illustrating aircraft until you decided to take the plunge and leave your job to become a full time aviation artist. When did you do this and was it a big risk? 10

Above: NORMANDY SPITFIRES - Eduard Model Accesories box-art.


Major Lanoe Hawker VC in his last fight against Ltn Manfred von Richthofen. Illustration for Memorial Flight Magazine.



still doing some 2D designs and mostly 3D architecture visuals. From time to time I was doing military illustrations, mainly naval stuff (working with my friend Waldemar GĂłralski). Eventually, over the past few years, the balance of work has been changing and now I can say that I work as a military illustrator only. So there was never a big leap into the unknown, it was a very gradual process.

MP So as a full time artist what work do you mainly do nowadays? PF Thanks to many fantastic people who gave me a chance and believed in me, I now work with many companies and magazines around the world. I mainly do box-art for scale model manufacturers, (like Eduard Model Accessories or HK Models), magazine covers, (like Aerojournal), and commissions for collectors and families of veterans. I have also recently worked on animations but that is something extremely time consuming for just one artist and since the quality I achieve doesn’t satisfy myself I try to avoid that subject. I also sell prints of my work which provides a welcome extra income.

Left: 6 JUNE 1944 - SWORD BEACH. Cover and Spread image for Britain at War Magazine.



MP Which artists have influenced you the most in your career? PF There are so many of them! When I started my activity I had to learn most techniques by myself. The internet wasn’t a good source of tutorials then so the only thing I could do was to look at the work of famous artists and analyze what made their art so beautiful and unique in my eyes. That way

Nicholas Trudgian for his extraordinary lighting and sense of detail, James Dietz for his amazing style and storytelling (that makes his painting like a novel to be read), Jarosław Wróbel for his gorgeous compositions and finally yours Mark, absolutely unique atmosphere that can be found in all your paintings. I must mention here the greatest honour I experienced when in 2017 during the E-day scale model event in Prague, (organised every

I learnt everything I know about composition, colours, lighting and atmosphere. As a teenager I collected box-art by Jaroslaw Velc (Kovozávody Prostějov models) and Roy Huxley (Matchbox) who created a beautiful balance between the detail of the main subject and an impressionistic background. I love this style which is also delivered by my other favourites Michael Turner and Darryl Legg. Of course that is not all. I am huge fan of


Above: Lancaster QO-U over the target.

year by Eduard Model Accessories company), I was asked to join a print signing session and sat next to Jaroslaw Velc who I had admired since I was a kid. We were both signing our box-art representing two generations of artists, two distant technologies but one great passion for aviation. Absolutely unique experience.


In the digital field, I really admire Gareth Hector and Wiek Luijken for their unique poetic style, Ronnie Olsthoorn and Marek Ryś for their huge knowledge and attention to detail and finally my friend Adam Tooby who brought Airfix into the 21st Century by recreating Roy Cross’s unique style in the digital format for their box-art.

MP I asked Nick Trudgian and Jim Dietz about their thoughts on digital art, they were very impressed with what’s being produced. Where do you see digital aviation art in the market? PF First of all I don’t see digital art as a threat to traditional painting. Real paint will never lose its value no matter how good the CGI will be. Traditional art has that one unique feature - mystery hidden in the brush strokes. Something I will never achieve with digital art. CGI artworks are almost always super sharp and definite. There is no mystery there, no place for imagination. Maybe that’s why I often use painted elements, (like smoke, fire etc), or hide my subjects in fog and clouds so there is at least a touch of mystery. I think the admiration for digital art will eventually fade and turn to painting poetry again. However, please remember that digital art means it was created with digital tools and not by a computer. The spirit within still comes from the creator.

Left: Cover illustration for Aerojournal magazine showing B-17 bombers under attack by FW190’s.



MP I think you’re being a bit pessimistic there, although paint on canvas will always look better hanging on a wall with its richness of texture and brush strokes, I firmly believe that digital art is already better than paint for things like book covers and model box art – in the hands of the right artist of course! The reason I gave up doing jets for book covers was the impossibility of painting the small stencilling on these aircraft on a 15” x 11” piece of board. With digital, the art is crystal clear and you can introduce speed and movement at the click of a button. PF From my point of view that desire for more and more detail has its dark side too. Clients are more and more demanding and to match their expectations is sometimes really hard. We are now expected to be accurate down to the last rivet. But that’s the style I chose so I really can’t complain now! MP I think a lot of readers would be interested to know how you create your incredible illustrations, can you talk us through the process? PF Everything starts in my head. I really see the image with its mood and colouring at first. I am very happy that even though I’ve been doing illustrations for many years I am still full of ideas. I think we all have the same ability. It is like when you read a book. When you see letters, words and sentences your imagination constantly makes visions to help you understand what you read about. As a teenager I read Len Deighton’s novel “Bomber”. My first thought was that’s perfect to be visually told. Despite being a fictional story, the author’s vivid descriptions made me almost see the scenes in my imagination. I think that because I am quite a sensitive

Above: Bristol Blenheims during operation “LEG” the dropping of an artificial limb for Douglas Bader after his capture - Britain at War Magazine cover image.


AVIATION ART “BROTHERHOOD” - commissioned artwork.



person the books like “Bomber” or reading reports of 8th Air Force aircrews who experienced horror over deadly German skies make me almost feel their pain. Maybe that’s why I see clearly the scenes I am going to show very early in the process. I remember I couldn’t sleep after I read about the USAAF’s “Black Thursday”. Such emotions accompany me every time I need to show some dramatic event.

MP That’s interesting as that’s the approach of an artist not an illustrator. I imagine many of the other digital artists’ first thought is what background photo they can Photoshop their aircraft onto! PF I’m not sure what others want to express. I know I would like to tell some story or show some scene I have in my mind. At this stage I don’t think about backgrounds too much as I need to capture the mood, emotions and colours. What I learnt from movie studies is that a well chosen set of colours helps a lot in storytelling. If You look at Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” you see precisely how changing the colour palette helps in the depiction of such different moods and locations like the Shire idyll or the Mordor inferno.

A breakdown of “Riders of the Storm” artwork. It shows the simplicity of meshes against the complexity of final artwork including all the textures and background elements.

MP OK so you have your colour, light and atmosphere sorted, what’s next? PF Next is to find or make the 3D model of the aircraft that I need. Building the model is the most time consuming part of the job (at least for me). To achieve a good effect in final image I need to build a highly detailed and accurate 3d model. I spend long days, sometimes weeks (or even years) to achieve the model that I know will work. But it is worth


AVIATION ART spending that time since it pays off later when I want to create further artworks. Sometimes it is not necessary to build a complex mesh but good textures are essential. See the breakdown of my most recent B-29 image (on the previous page). The model is reasonably simple but the textures really make it look complex. Panels, bolts, rivets, bumps, reflections, scratches and dirt all come from textures. When the model is complete I move around it in 3D space, change camera focal lengths and lenses to find its best angles that reflect the

machine’s unique form and power. Sometimes it is hard when the client wants to show some specific part of the plane, (usually where code letters are), and the angle isn’t the best. And of course sometimes planes are simply ugly and no matter how much work I put into an image the final effect will be bad. I love that part of the job but I also feel strange when I realise those machines had been designed as weapons, but the sense of aesthetics forces me to see their beauty first. I feel like Jim Graham from the “Empire of


the Sun” novel/movie who sees and waves to silver P-51’s devastating a Japanese airfield. They are flying, shooting, dropping bombs but in the same moment they are embodiment of absolute beauty and power. I must admit that emotion is probably the greatest motivation. I just can’t get rid of the fascination of those beautiful machines. Anyway after the model is ready I need to prepare the scene and lighting. Sometimes it is just a matter of lighting only and the subject is rendered against grey solid colour that later

Above: The B-29 model with full details. Piotr usually renders the model against a solid colour that will then be replaced with a matte painting.

will be replaced with a matte painting. Although I could prepare the whole scene in 3D I much prefer to have the elements rendered separately to still have freedom of creation when I decide something can be rearranged or removed. Besides, I like to add “hand painted” elements to make the whole artwork less digital.


MP Fascinating stuff, how long does a typical illustration take from start to finish? PF When the model is ready I work on the matte painting that will be used for background. It usually consists of several photographs and painted elements that composed together can emphasize the main subject. That usually takes 1-3 days and files usually consist of 100-300 layers. At the end I use my custom sets of filters that usually help to achieve the emotional final effect I had in my mind from the very beginning. MP I understand that you’re also producing film footage as well for various projects? PF Indeed. I had the luck to cooperate with Callum and Andrew Burns to produce visual effects for the “Lancaster Skies” film and for the past few years I have worked with producer and director Andrew Panton to visually show the memoirs of veterans. We are in the middle of our biggest and most complex project now - “Attack on Sorpe Dam” cooperating with the most well known veteran in the UK – the legendary George “Johnny” Johnson. That is the greatest honour I have ever experienced. The work goes slowly since I am the only artist on the project and almost all of the several hundreds shots are done in CGI. The rest of the shots are actors filmed against a green screen that I later need to remove and switch with my matte paintings. That is huge amount of work for one person.

Right: TOWARDS THE INFERNO II - commissioned artwork showing a Lancaster over Essen.


MP How about the future, do you imagine yourself returning to paint and canvas, or teaching or getting into VR etc?


“Britain at War” Magazine cover image showing a Battle of Britain dogfight.

PF I do really hope I will finally find time to return to paint and canvas since I remember how great fun that was. On the other hand, I’m currently learning game engines to enable me to produce VR films and presentations since I see those being installed in every museum of the future. MP

Well I think whatever path you choose, your work will stand out because it’s created with a passion and sensitivity for the subject.

me. My friends: Wojciech Niewęgłowski, Sławomir Ostrowicki, Marek Ryś, Waldemar Góralski and Adam Tooby who let me use their models in my artworks and also my family, especially my wife and sons, mum and dad for their great patience and support.

MP Piotr it’s been a pleasure to sit here and chat on the Aleja Najświętszej Maryi Panny, I don’t think Częstochowa is so bad! PF Ha, just wait until the tens of thousands of pilgrims arrive in August!

PF Well I have to thank all those people who gave me a chance in the past to show my creativity, all those who motivated and inspired

For more information about Piotr and his work please visit his website:



Early Jet Aircraft Trials at RAE Farnborough



As a follow up to last month’s article about the development of the first jet engines, Andrew Thomas and Simon Parry look at the work done at the RAE Farnborough to get the first British jet engines into the sky.


rom July 1943 to October 1945, Sqn Ldr B H Moloney was the Officer Commanding ‘T’ Flight at Royal Aircraft Establishment Farnborough. The ‘T’ stood for Turbine and the Flight was responsible for the then highly novel, and very secret, jet powered aircraft at RAE. In addition to the experimental Gloster E28/39, during his period in command, Moloney’s pilots also conducted evaluations on all the wartime Allied jet aircraft.

Sqn Ldr Brian Moloney lifts Gloster W4041 off Farnborough’s runway for another compressibility test flight in 1944.


Britain’s first jet powered aircraft, the Gloster E28/39 had flown for the first time from Cranwell on 15 May 1941 powered by one of Frank Whittle’s W. 1 turbojets of 850 lb thrust. Over the next 18 months it enabled the concepts of jet power and the development of a jet powered fighter to be evaluated. Both the Gloster E28/39s, W4041 and W4046, were sent to Farnborough during 1943 for continued development work on jet engines, but they were used mainly for aerodynamic testing, in particular investigating the phenomena of compressibility. The Director of the RAE, W S (later Sir William) Farren and others also saw the possibility of reaching the speed of sound in an aircraft without a propeller, as the


propeller was viewed by aerodynamicists as the critical limiting factor. Thus ‘T’ Flight was formed at Farnborough under command of Sqn Ldr Douglas Davie and was housed in the well-guarded Robin hangar. The Flight formed part of the Experimental Flying Department under the Chief of Experimental Flying, Gp Capt A Hards who had Wg Cdr H J ‘Willie’ Wilson (and later Wg Cdr Roly Falk) as Chief Test Pilot. The other flights were the Structural and

Mechanical Engineering Flight (SME) and the Flight and Aerodynamics Flight. However, the test programme suffered a setback on 30 July when W4046 flown by Sqn Ldr Davie suffered jammed ailerons at 33,000 feet as a result of the low temperatures. As the aircraft became uncontrollable he was ejected from the cockpit wearing only his shirt and trousers. He was fortunate that his parachute opened and he survived this traumatic experience, albeit

injured and suffering from frostbite after the long descent. It was as a result of this accident that Sqn Ldr Moloney was posted in as his replacement.

British and US jets Between 1933 and 1936, Brian Moloney studied Mechanical Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge where his tutor had been one W


The RAF and civilian groundcrew of ‘T’ Flight in 1944. In the front row, fourth from left, is Flight Sergeant Hastings who as “Chiefy” was the NCO in charge of the groundcrew. Squadron Leader Brian Moloney is next to him, fifth from left.


S Farren. Co-incidentally, at this same time, Frank Whittle had been at Peterhouse College also reading the same subject, though the two never met. Whilst at Cambridge, Brian Moloney learned to fly at Duxford with the Cambridge University Air Squadron and then joined the Auxiliary Air Force, serving with 604 (County of Middlesex) Squadron flying Hawker Demons at Hendon. Shortly after war broke out, Moloney joined the 12 Group Pool (later 5 Operational Training Unit) at Aston Down serving as an instructor until December 1941. He then flew

the Turbinlite Havoc before converting to night fighter Beaufighters. Soon afterwards, on being posted back to instructional duties, he wrote to his former tutor who arranged for his appointment to Farnborough. There, over the next couple of years, Brian Moloney flew the full range of Allied jet powered aircraft from the original Gloster E28/39, the Gloster F9/40 and the Meteor Mk.I to the unconventional looking de Havilland DH 100 (later named Vampire) and the first American jet - the Bell YP-59A Airacomet.

The pilots and the RAF and civilian ground staff were kept busy making up to 60 flights a month on a wide variety of tests. The main type used was the F9/40 Meteor prototypes and some of the early production Meteors. Brian Moloney flew only one F9/40, the Halford H 1 engined DG206, the engine of 1500 lb thrust being the forerunner of the successful DH Goblin. Other Meteors flown by T Flight were the early production Mk.Is EE210, EE211, EE212, EE216 and EE219 used for, amongst other things, intensive night flying and further

Gloster Meteor F9/40 DG206/G was the fifth prototype but became the first to fly on 5 March 1943 from Cranwell. The prototypes flew with a variety of early jet engines as British engine manufacturers tried to refine the jet engine concept into a practical and efficient design. DG206 was fitted with de Havilland Halford H 1 engines.


tests into the effects of compressibility. The best speed recorded by Brian Moloney was 0.83 Mach in the W.2B/23 Welland engined Meteor EE211. This speed may have been helped by its elongated engine nacelles of the type later fitted to the Meteor F.4. Eventually he flew over 79 hours on Meteors at RAE. In contrast the he flew the DH 100 prototype MP838 only three occasions totalling 1 hr 50 min, his first flight being on March 8 1944. The following day Brian Moloney flew the surviving E28/39 for the first time. Although primarily


Meteor F 1 EE211 was the second production aircraft and was fitted with W.2B/23 Welland engines. It had lengthened nacelle intakes and tail jet pipes that were later used on the Meteor F 4. During high speed tests this aircraft achieved a speed of 0.83 Mach.


WORLD WAR II concerned with jet flying, the T Flight pilots also tested several unusual piston engined types such as the Northrop P-61 Black Widow night fighter in late April 1944. In exchange for the first production Meteor, EE210, sent to the USA for evaluation, Britain received 42-108773, the third prototype of the first American jet fighter design, the Bell YP59A Airacomet. After shipping to Britain it was assembled by Glosters at Moreton Vallance

where it was repainted in RAF grey/green/ yellow colours and markings and given the British serial number RJ362/G. The YP-59 was flown for the first time in the UK on September 28 1943 with Bell’s test pilot Frank H Kelley Jr at the controls. On 5 November it was transferred to the RAE, being flown to Farnborough by Wg Cdr Wilson, the Chief Test Pilot. The US jet was powered by a pair of General Electric Type 1.A.2 engines (similar to the Whittle W.2B engine) of 1360 lb thrust and was first flown by


Brian Moloney on 14 January 1944. The YP-59 made only 20 flights with the RAE as spares were difficult to come by, Moloney flying it nine times totalling 6 hrs 5 min. The RAE flights were mainly to evaluate its handling - stalls, climbs and dives. As part of the evaluation, half way through the test programme the engines were removed for a bench strip-down by Power Jets Ltd as details of the findings were required by the USAAF. After reinstallation, the YP-59 resumed its test programme, with

The first American jet design was the Bell YP-59A Airacomet one of which was sent to the RAE for evaluation. Serialled RJ362/G, it wore British markings and made some 20 flights at RAE.

Greatest affection Brian Moloney reserves his greatest affection for the diminutive Gloster E28/39 that he described as ‘…the nicest I have flown’. In all, from March 1944 he made a total of 26 flights

in W4041, totalling 13 hrs 15 min. The flying was mainly in connection with investigations into compressibility and as the Gloster had a very short endurance and the high-speed dives to reach high Mach numbers started at 40,000 feet, it was not possible to make more than one dive per flight. The lack of endurance meant that it was best to fly in clear weather so as not to lose sight of the airfield. However, during a flight in August, cloud suddenly appeared and the Gloster was forced to land at Westcott. There, for security reasons it was covered with a tarpaulin until fuel could be

sent and the aircraft returned to Farnborough. Despite the understandable paranoia about security, shortly afterwards a horrified Gp Capt Hards saw a very close copy of the E28/39 in a toy shop in Farnborough town made by a small boy who regularly walked along a footpath near the airfield, unsuspected by security personnel! However, in the attempt to approach the speed of sound, the E28/39 was unsuccessful as the aircraft had been designed and built to prove and test Whittle’s jet engines and not


Brian Moloney flew the prototype DH 100 MP838 for the first time on 8 March 1944 making three flights in total in this unconventional but successful design. (Peter Green Collection)


Moloney making his last flight in it on April 26. Overall the YP-59 was assessed as having a modest performance - 10% less than the Meteors then entering RAF service - and of having moderate handling. The aircraft was later returned to the US.


for high speed. Sqn Ldr Martindale of the Aero Flight had achieved 0.9 Mach in a Spitfire, though this aircraft was badly damaged, while on one occasion the E28/39’s photo records showed a speed of 0.95 Mach. This understandably created great excitement until it was found that a pinched hose had given a false reading. The best speed that was achieved by the stubby little Gloster was Mach 0.81 at which speed Brian Moloney said that: “ behaved like a dog coming out of water, or, from the pilot’s view, like being the die in a giant’s dice shaker”. Otherwise, the E28/39 was regarded as a well-behaved aircraft, though on

the two occasions it suffered engine failure, Moloney was able to make a straight forward dead stick landing. W4041 flew for the last time with Sqn Ldr Moloney at the controls at 12.15 on 29 February 1945, during which he made a dive to Mach 0.81 from 35,000 feet. This small but highly significant little aircraft then entered honourable retirement, being taken by the Science Museum in London where it may be seen to this day.

Sqn Ldr Moloney sits in Gloster E.28/39 W4041 of ‘T’ Flight at RAE Farnborough in 1944.

Rare flying view of E28/39 W4041 during a high speed pass. The maximum speed achieved in a dive was 0.81 Mach


Gloster E.28/39 W4046. Pilot’s Statement S/Ldr W D B S ‘Douglas’ Davie AFC, RAE Turbine Flight Test Pilot I have the honour to report that at 16.30 hours on 30.7.43 I took off in Gloster E.28/39 aircraft W4046. The object of the test was to carry out a ceiling climb taking auto observer readings of engine conditions at various heights as well as sundry independent pilot observations. I was also requested to note the deterioration or otherwise of the aileron control circuit at altitude, as stiffness had been encountered previously. At 17.10 hours I had reached 35,000 feet and no abnormality in the ailerons was apparent. The engine revs had been reduced at 15,500 feet and no surging had been experienced. As I still had some 30 gallons of fuel left I continued climbing slowly and at approximately 17.15 hours had reached 37,100 feet. At this point I first noticed that the aileron movement was restricted to about half the full travel. On the middle portion of the movement there was no undue heaviness, the stick forces being considerably lighter than I had previously experienced in this aeroplane at high altitude. However, the usual circuit backlash of about one inch movement on the top of the control column was apparent. cont/



THE CRASH OF GLOSTER E.28/39 W4046 - 30 JULY 1943


In order to check that the movement really was restricted before coming down I moved the control column gently first to port and then to starboard. Again the control seemed to come against a mechanical stop at about half the movement but this time the stick, without warning, jammed hard at the position I had placed it, i.e. half aileron starboard. The sequence of events that then took place was so rapid that it is difficult to be certain of the exact order. However, the following is as near as I can remember what happened: A/

The aeroplane rolled on to its back and then stalled as I had

been flying very slowly when I applied the aileron (110 m.p.h. I.A.S.). B/

It then became completely cut of control and the airspeed rose

rapidly and I realised that as the stick was still jammed my only chance was to get out quickly. C/

I opened the hood but for some reason could only get it about

half open. D/

I pulled my emergency oxygen release.


At one point I found the aeroplane diving steeply on its

side and pulled back on the stick to try and bring it out, the only noticeable result was terrific buffeting. F/

I pulled the pin out of my Sutton harness.


Immediately after pulling this pin there was a terrific crack

and I was simultaneously hurled of the aeroplane, presumably through the space left by the partially opened hood. This was the last I saw of the aeroplane. All the above events which take some time to describe actually only took a few split seconds. After being ejected from the aeroplane I found. myself spinning head downwards. I watched my boots fly off. I then


wondered if I had left my parachute behind as I had come out so fast I thought I had better wait a bit before pulling the rip cord as I was still going pretty fast but then remembering that I might pass out due to anoxia pulled it. There was a faint jerk as the chute opened and I found myself swaying around in comparative comfort and silence. I then heard the oxygen escaping from my emergency supply tube and discovered that my helmet and mask had disappeared and also my left glove. Fortunately the supply line had become detached at the mask fitting and I therefore put this end in my mouth and sucked it on the way down. The time of descent was 20 to 25 minutes. It was exceedingly uncomfortable as I was intensely cold and kept trying to vomit which in turn hurt a bruise I had sustained in my groin. I was conscious throughout the descent although pretty dopey at times. The landing was gentle and I was quickly despatched to hospital by the C.D. Services, the police and sundry spectators. I requested the first policeman who arrived to get in touch with Farnborough and to send out a guard to the aircraft impressing on him the importance of keeping people away from it. After being admitted to hospital I started shivering considerably, due I am told to shock, if any further details are required by the physiologists, no doubt the M.O. at the hospital will be glad to supply them. In this report I have described at some length the sensations during the parachute jump in the hope that it may be of use to the physiological department.



but was re-assured by feeling it still there when I put my hands up.


Conclusions: 1.

The emergency oxygen set undoubtedly proved its value and

operated adequately in spite of the fact that both my mask and helmet were torn off and that I had stupidly forgotten to remove the safety pin from the cock. 2.

In future it is most desirable that jettison hoods be fitted

whenever possible. The chances of getting out safely in a hurry are increased enormously with this device fitted. S/Ldr W D B S ‘Douglas’ Davie AFC, RAE Turbine Flight Test Pilot


Below: A rare photo of W4046. Nearly all photos of the Gloster E.28/39 show the other prototype W4041.

such a tremendous height, it came to earth relatively undamaged in some trees behind the Rushet Post Office, Bramley. The wreck was taken back to Farnborough where it was concluded that the ailerons had jammed due to icing.



S/Ldr Davie was interviewed in Guildford Hospital and it was believed that he had been thrown out of the aircraft at about 30,000 feet and landed on Chinthurst Hill, between Shalford and Wonersh, Surrey, about three miles from where the aircraft crashed. Remarkably for an aircraft that had fallen from



Squadron Leader Davie’s luck did not hold out. Five months later on 4 January 1944 he was testing Gloster F.9/40 DG204/G - a prototype Meteor – at Farnborough when its port Metropolitan Vickers, Metro-Vick F-2 engine exploded due to turbine failure. He was 20,000 feet over the airfield when the aircraft broke up. When he tried to open the cockpit canopy his left arm was somehow ripped off. The early Meteors had a sideways hinged canopy which was totally unsuitable for high speed flight. Davie had commented about

exactly this problem in his crash report on the E.28/39 and had recommended the urgent introduction of jettison hoods to enable a quick escape in an emergency. Whether he jumped or was thrown out of the cockpit is uncertain, but he managed to get out, only to be killed when he struck the tailplane. Ironically, his body with an unopened parachute fell through the roof of the parachute packing building at Farnborough where his own had been packed earlier.

Below: The ill fated Meteor DG204/G which crashed on 4 January 1944.


WORLD WAR II The severed tail section of DG204/G lying on the roof of a building at Farnborough after the aircraft disintegrated over the airfield at 20,000ft.




DG204 was very distinctive in appearance due to the engines being underslung beneath the wings like the Me262. All other Meteors had the engines mounted through the wing section.



The wrecked fuselage of DG204 lying in a field near Farnborough. The nearest (starboard) engine was the one that exploded causing the loss of the pilot and aircraft.




DG206 seen in the two photos below, was the first Meteor to fly on 5 March 1943. If you look at the inset photo, this shows DG206 in her original form with the early design of the tail section. The main photo shows the aircraft with the addition of the ‘acorn’ fairing forward of the fin and tailplane junction. This fairing had the effect of removing the airflow ‘hotspot’ at the leading edge junction of the fin and tailplane. This hotspot was where the airflow ‘exploded’ in four different directions causing potential instability at high speeds. The acorn smoothly broke up the airflow before it hit the tail, allowing for a much smoother ride. This modification, (also seen on the Whirlwind), was retained for all Meteor variants from this point.


Note how the use of different coloured filters on the two photos drastically affects the interpretation of the camouflage and markings.



Although the earliest of the prototypes by serial number, problems with the Whittle engines meant that it didn’t take its first flight until July 1943 some four months after DG206’s first flight. This photo shows the original tail section without the ‘acorn’ but with cannon bulges fitted. Note also that the rear of the cockpit has a solid fairing.



DG202 was powered by two Rover W2.B/23 engines which were based on the original Frank Whittle designs. You can see that these engine nacelles are not as fat as those on DG206 on the previous page which housed the de Havilland Halford H.1 engine.


Like DG202, DG208 was powered by two Rover W2.B/23 Whittle engines. Note the different rudder design and the straighter forward edge to the fin. By this time DG208 had also been fitted with the four 20mm cannon bulges in the nose.



Photo Archive: Handley Page Heyford 41


The glorious Handley Page Heyford looked like something designed to carry Dastardly and Muttley, with its poor pilot perched 17ft off the ground and both props spinning just inches away from his ears, all in an open cockpit! Despite this, a dozen RAF squadrons operated the type as part of RAF Bomber Command’s main force during the mid-1930s. This selection of photos desperately searches for the Heyford’s best angle... see if you can find it!


andley Page had a long-standing background in heavy bomber design and its Hyderabads and Hinaidis equipped the RAF in the 1920s. In the years after World War 1 it was clear to the RAF that it had to keep pace with technology and updated its specifications for bombers. In 1927 Specification B.19/27 was issued by the RAF to Britain’s aircraft manufacturers for a new night bomber. The design proposals of Avro, Bristol, Fairey and Hawker were stillborn, while Vickers produced and flew the Type 255 ‘Vannock’. Handley Page won the order and the Chief Designer Mr George Volkert saw the prototype HP.38 J9130 fly in 1930. The RAF approved the basic design and commissioned Specification B.23/32 which became the HP.50 Heyford Mk.1 K3489 that made its maiden flight on 21 June 1933. 125 aircraft were built between 1933 and 1936 of four marks, equipping twelve squadrons.


This is the prototype Handley Page HP.38 J9130 which went into production as the HP.50 Heyford. The type changed little in appearance during its production, the most noticeable development was probably the change from two bladed props to four bladed.

The Heyford began to be phased-out of service in 1937 with the arrival of the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, but forty soldiered on as bombing and gunnery trainers until August 1940. The last survivors of the type were being used as tugs for Hotspur gliders in May 1941 and one might have still been flying as late as 1944.



One of the big ‘selling points’ of the Heyford was its rapid turnaround time on the ground. Groundcrews could work around the aircraft with the engines running without fear of being sliced by the props. The bomb bay was easily accessible in the sturdy centre section of the lower wing, in fact the entire central bomb rack was detachable so that it could be prepared and loaded away from the aircraft and simply winched into place. Fuel and oil filler caps were also placed either side of the wheel spats for ease of access.


The old and the new! Here the prototype J9130 is seen at Radlett in June 1930 in front of a Handley Page Hinaidi, the type it replaced in service. From this point of view, the Heyford really was a step forward, with a fair bit of streamlining, fewer struts and twice the bomb-load.



Prototype J9130 again, this time at the Hendon Air Display in June 1932 being flown by Major Cordes who was Handley Page’s chief test pilot for the type. Note the extended wheel spats and shorter exhaust pipes compared to the previous photo. These mods were subsequently incorporated into the production aircraft.



Two photos of the first production Heyford K3489. The inset photo was taken on 23 June 1933 with the aircraft still fitted with the original exhausts. The photo below was taken later that year on 25 November and shows the newer exhaust arrangement.


H. P. Heyford Serial Blocks Mk. 1 Serials K3489-K3902 Mk. 1A Serials K4021-K4043 Mk. II Serials K4863-K4878 Mk. III Serials K5180-K5199 and K6857-K6906



The sole MkII Heyford prototype K3503 which was fitted with Rolls-Royce Kestrel VI engines, which gave them a more streamlined appearance. Note also the enclosed cockpit which was not featured in later versions.


The first squadron to receive the Heyford was 99 Squadron based at Upper Heyford with deliveries commencing in November 1933. Some believe that this is where the Heyford name came from as previous Handley Page bombers like the Hinaidi and Hyderabad had also been named after RAF airfields, (and it began with H...) In the photo below, 99 Squadron crews are preparing for a night bombing exercise at Mildenhall in 1935. Note the electrically heated flying suits that the crews are wearing. Despite its height, access to the fuselage was quite easy via steps on the V struts fixed to the trailing edge centre section of the lower wing. Above them was a trapdoor hatch into the underside of the fuselage, from which was a short uphill walk to the cockpit!


PHOTO ARCHIVE 10 Squadron also received the Heyford with deliveries starting in August 1934. Here a 10 Squadron aircraft drops a few practice bombs for the benefit of the press photographer. Surprisingly perhaps, the Heyford was quite sprightly and was looped on several occasions at air shows in the 1930s!



A nice topside view of a 10 Squadron Heyford. This squadron can be identified by the drop shadowed lettering on the fuselage and the squadron crest on the nose.



A glorious close-up of a 10 Squadron Heyford’s nose which as you can see was of metal construction. The frame next to the pilot’s ear was the propeller guard; as if the pilot needed reminding that the huge four bladed prop tips were literally just four inches away from the fuselage! The brave photographer is clearly standing upon a very large ladder...



This night study of a 10 Squadron Heyford highlights a lot of nice detail for the modellers including the underwing bomb racks and engine radiator assembly.




Above: IX Squadron had its bat motif on the wheel spat, just visible behind the airmen.

Above: A 7 Squadron Heyford with the unit emblem on the nose just forward of the window.

Below: 102 Squadron had a shield with 102 written on it on the forward part of the nose.

Below: 166 Squadron was one of the last units to operate the type, right up until 1939.


PHOTO ARCHIVE A moody study to end with. The Heyford may have been painted with the ugly brush, but it was certainly full of character and somehow epitomises the end of an era when big complicated constructions gave way to streamlining and speed. Just a few years after the Heyford was retired from service, jet fighters were taking to the skies.


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