RAF Transport Command was a Royal Air Force command that controlled all transport aircraft of the RAF. It was established on 25th March 1943 by the renaming of the RAF Ferry Command, and was subsequently renamed RAF Air Support Command in 1967.
During the Second World War, it at first ferried aircraft from factories to operational units and performed air transport. Later it took over the job of dropping paratroops from Army Cooperation Command as well.
After the Second World War, it increased rapidly in size. It took part in several big operations, including the Berlin Airlift in 1948, which reinforced the need for a big RAF transport fleet. The Handley Page Hastings, a four-engined transport, was introduced during the Berlin Airlift and continued as a mainstay transport aircraft of the RAF for the next 15 years. In 1956, new aircraft designs became available, including the de Havilland Comet (the first operational jet transport), and the Blackburn Beverley. In 1959, the Bristol Britannia was introduced.
During the 1960s the command was divided into three different forces:-
Strategic Force which operated the Comets and Britannias.
Medium Range Force which operated Beverleys and Hastings.
Short Range Force which operated helicopters, Scottish Aviation Pioneers and Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneers.
The principal RAF Transport Command functions of this period were support operations involving the evacuation of military personnel from the Suez Canal Zone prior and after the Suez Crisis of October–November 1956; casualty evacuation from South Korea during the Korean War and from the Malaya during the Malayan Emergency; essential supplies to Woomera, South Australia, and ferrying personnel and supplies out to Christmas Island for the atomic bomb tests carried out by the UK. In addition, Transport Command ran scheduled routes to military staging posts and bases in the Indian Ocean region, Southeast Asia and the Far East, to maintain contact between the UK and military bases of strategic importance. It also carried out special flights worldwide covering all the continents bar Antarctica. Many varied tasks were undertaken during the 1950s.
The 1960s saw a reduction of the RAF and a loss of independence of the former functional commands. Transport Command was renamed Air Support Command in 1967.
Armstrong Whitworth Argosy
Consolidated B-24 Liberator (simply referred to as “Liberator” without the B-24 designation)
de Havilland Comet
de Havilland Devon
Handley Page Hastings
Hawker Siddeley Andover
Lockheed C-130 Hercules
Scottish Aviation Pioneer
Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer
British North Greenland expedition
The British North Greenland expedition was a British scientific mission, led by Commander James Simpson RN, which lasted from July 1952 to August 1954. A total of 30 men took part, though not all stayed for both years.
The purpose of BNGE was primarily to carry out scientific studies in glaciology, meteorology, geology and physiology. Gravimetric and seismological surveys were made, and radio wave propagation was also studied from their station codenamed “North Ice”. It also provided information useful to the Armed Forces about operating in Arctic environments, and the majority of the team were serving members. Travel over the icecap was either on foot, by dog sled, or by M29 Weasel tracked vehicles. Expedition members also made pioneering ascents in the Barth Mountains and Queen Louise Land.
In July 1952 the expedition sailed from Deptford aboard the former Norwegian sealer Tottan, while another cargo ship, loaded with four Weasel tracked vehicles, sailed from Hull. The expedition team consisted of 25 men; fifteen from the armed services and the merchant navy, nine civilian scientists, and a Danish army officer. After collecting sledge dogs in south-west Greenland, the two ships sailed to Young Sund in the north-east coast. From there RAF Short Sunderland flying-boats airlifted the expedition to the glacial lake Britannia Sø (named for the expedition) and set up a base camp. Commander Simpson then led a party on dog sleds to establish the North Ice station about 230 miles (370 km) to the west. The Weasels were landed on the coast and drove the 100 miles inland as far as the base camp.
Once the party arrived at the site of North Ice, their stores and equipment, more than 86 tons of it, were air-dropped from two RAF Handley Page Hastings transport aircraft, flying from Thule. During the supply operation, on 16th September 1952, Hastings No. WD492 of 47 Squadron, having already made a series of parachute drops, was making the second in series of free fall drops at an altitude of only 50 feet (15 m), when it was caught in a white-out, and made a forced belly landing. Three members of the crew were injured, and sheltered in the intact fuselage of the aircraft until air-lifted out by a Grumman HU-16 Albatross of the United States Air Force. The rest of the crew were recovered two days later by a rocket assisted USAF Douglas C-47.
In early 1953 glaciological studies began, while seismic and gravimetric teams worked between North Ice and Britannia Sø. Observations were continued throughout the second winter, and in 1954 a party traversed the ice cap from North Ice to Thule. Attempts to measure the thickness of the ice sheet by seismic soundings failed, but markers placed on the ice, enabled information about the movement of the ice sheet and the accumulation of snow to be gathered. At North Ice ice cores to a depth of 14 metres (46 ft) were recovered.
The expedition suffered its only fatality in 1953, when Captain H. A. Jensen of the Danish Army, a qualified surveyor, fell to his death on a steep snow slope.
In August 1953, the expedition was re-supplied by sea and air, and eight team members, who had signed on for only one year, left to be replaced by five more. The expedition returned to England by ship in August 1954.
The entire expedition team were awarded the Polar Medal in November 1954, while Commander Simpson was also presented with the Patron’s Medal from the Royal Geographical Society in 1955 and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) on 2nd January 1956.
Operation Becher’s Brook
Since the middle of 1952 over 300 Canadian-built Sabres were delivered to the R.A.F. They were flown across the Atlantic by No. 147 Squadron on a system similar to that employed in R.C.A.F. and U.S.A.F. ferrying operations. In the summer of 1952 it was decided that the best method of delivery was by air ferry. S/L. T. Stevenson, A.F.C., and two other pilots accordingly took part in the R.C.A.F.’s Operation Leapfrog II in order to gain experience of the route, and to deliver the first three Sabres for R.A.F. conversion training in England. On December 9th, 1952, the first R.A.F. Sabre ferry convoy, “Becher’s Brook 1,” left Quebec for the U.K. via Goose Bay, Bluie West One, Keflavik and Prestwick. In this operation, only eight of the 12 aircraft reached the U.K., and it was decided to develop a special long-range ferry technique based on lessons learned. The name of the unit was changed from No. 1 Long-Range Ferry Unit to No. 147 Squadron; and an organization was developed flexible enough to control aircraft and men spread over 2,000 miles in the face of frequent communications failures caused by magnetic storms. Pilots had to be trained in the techniques of long-range fighter delivery; administrative and technical support organizations were set up and Hastings aircraft were introduced to return ferry pilots to Canada and to shuttle servicing crews ahead of Sabre convoys.
Squadron strength was increased to 60 pilots, all of whom had 400 to 500 hours’ jet experience. Sabre conversion courses and comprehensive training for land and sea survival were given to all pilots. Survival equipment was modified in the light of experience and according to individual requirement. In addition, each man flew five hours on the particular aircraft he was to ferry. Ground crews were given technical courses on the Sabre and learned to service the aircraft in the particularly arduous conditions found along the route. “Becher’s Brook” operations were, whenever possible, co-ordinated with R.C.A.F. “Leapfrogs” and U.S.A.F. ferry flights. When ready aircraft took off in pairs, climbed on full power to 35.000ft and homed at pre-determined points along the track on signals transmitted by U.S.A.F. “Duckbutt” (Grumman SA-16) amphibians and Atlantic weather-ships. Serviced at staging points involved pumping 25,000 gallons of fuel through 250 fillers and topping up oil and oxygen on the 30-odd aircraft in each convoy. The duration of delivery flights varied between two days and three weeks, according to weather, though flying time was only 6 hours. On some occasions, 32 pilots ferried 64 aircraft, using a double shuttle system. No. 147 Squadron, commanded by S/L. Stevenson, was, in the latter stages of the war, a Transport Command squadron with a record of 98 per cent regularity on scheduled services.
New Oxford Diecast model arrivals.
The following Oxford Diecast models have just arrived at Flying Tigers. Please click on the images below to go straight to the model of your choice. Pre-ordered models will be shipped out over the next few days.
Please see previous Newsletter from last year for more details on the de Havilland Devon by clicking the image below.
Please see previous Newsletter from last year for more details on the de Henschel 123A by clicking the image below.
New Air Force One Model Announcement.
The following new model tooling has just been annnounced by Air Force One. Please click on the image below to go straight to the model page where it is available to pre-order.
More Offers of the Week !
Following last week’s very busy week on orders from the “Offers of the Week” section , Flying Tigers has been able to get just a few more models which are now available to order. I have also added some new models to this section… very limited stocks, so first come , first served as last week. Check out this section for further reductions. Please click on the model of your choice below or CLICK HERE to see them all.
That’s all for this week.