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PostPosted: 12 Nov 2016, 00:13 
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Location: ILS RWY19, FACT (Cape Town)
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Mosquito NF Mk.II, DD744, Castel Benito, Libya, February 1943.

The squadron arrived at their new aerodrome in Castel Benito on the 4th February 1943, and in the early afternoon of the same day, they received their first Mosquitos. These were flown to Castel Benito from N°107 MU in Kasfareet, by the OC Major Davies and Lt. Martin. The two NF Mk.II's, DD743 and DD744, were undergoing climatic trials in the hot and humid conditions of the Middle East, before they were diverted to N°60 sqdn. They were modified for photographic work at the maintenance unit in Kasfareet, which had included the mounting of a Williamson F8 Mk.II camera with a 10" lens, in the bomb-bay. The four .303 Brownings, and the four 20mm cannons in the nose, were retained in the aircraft. A group of men, led by F/Sgt. Schoeman, and who all happened to be SAAF personel, which were stationed at N°107 MU, were sent to Castel Benito to give the ground crews instruction on operating these new aircraft. Due to the squadron never before operating with cannons, the loading of these was completed with the assistance of armourers from N°40 sqdn (SAAF). They were operating from Castel Benito with Hurricane Mk.II's, and also supplied the ammunition for the Mosquitos cannons. The colour scheme was ocean grey and dark green over medium sea grey, with the standard type C1 fuselage roundel.

After four days of sorting out minor snags, the first operational Mosquito sorties were attempted on the 8th February. Major Davies in DD743, and Lt. Martin in DD744, took off at 11:00, on a photographic survey sortie to the Foum Tatahouine area. Problems were however experienced with the R/T and oxygen system in DD744, and the two aircraft returned to Castel Benito. It is interesting to note that the first three operations, were flown with the aircraft operating as a pair. One aircraft would do the actual photographic sortie, and the second aircraft would operate as a "weaver". The role of the "weaver" was to fly patterns to the rear of the first aircraft and be on the lookout for air-attacks. On the last operation that the "weaver" tactics were used, Capt Bell in DD744 was flying the photographic sortie, and Lt. Fletcher in DD743 was "weaving". Lt. Fletcher heard gunfire over the R/T and gave a "Bandit" warning before diving his aircraft. His R/T then packed up and the confusion was such that the two aircraft were unable to get together again, and the operation was abandoned.

The aircraft were operated almost continuously for the next three months, during which they flew 62 photographic sorties. On the 12th May 1943, they were flown back to N°107 MU at Kasfareet, for further modifications. They were now fitted with one Fairchild K17 camera with a 12" lens, and two Williamson F8 oblique cameras with 20" lenses. The latter being tilted at 10°, allowing coverage to port and starboard. These cameras were all fitted to a hinged cradle in the bomb-bay. The cannon were now also removed, but the four .303 Brownings in the nose were retained to keep the weight distribution correct. They were also re-sprayed during this modification period, and given type B roundels, as the squadron ORB for the 9th June records: "... they looked very smart in midnight blue camouflage, but unfortunately the RAF at Kasfareet have painted RAF roundels on the machine - this is an omission that will be repaired in the near future!".

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Mosquito NF Mk.II, DD744, Sorman, Libya, June 1943.

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Image source: Michael Welchman (40 sqdn) via Tinus Le Roux

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Image source: Michael Welchman (40 sqdn) via Tinus Le Roux

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PostPosted: 12 Nov 2016, 18:30 
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Beautiful! =D>

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PostPosted: 16 Nov 2016, 16:10 
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Stunning!!

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PostPosted: 21 Nov 2016, 21:44 
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Location: ILS RWY19, FACT (Cape Town)
Thanks guys :smt023

I'm still going through the 60sqdn war diaries & there are fascinating stories to be told !! Here's one that resulted in the award of an American DFC to a SAAF pilot . ... just shout if the below text is too long winded :wink:

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Mosquito PR Mk.IX, LR411, Tunisia, August 1943.

After Lt. Parmentier and his observer, Lt. Jaques-Houssa, flying in the Mk.IV Mosquito, DZ553, had failed to return from a sortie to Northern Italy on the 27th July, the squadron was left without any aircraft to carry out photographic reconnaissance operations. A new PR Mk.IX Mosquito, LR411, landed at La Marsa on the 29th and was immediately taken on charge by N°682 sqdn (RAF). Left with no aircraft for operations, the OC Maj. Brierley interviewed Wng Cdr. Sevastupulo, where he must have put forward a convincing case, as the newly arrived Mk.IX was subsequently allocated to N°60 squadron. Later that same day an urgent request was received, for "B" flight to send two Mosquitos to Benghazi for a special mission. Not having two Mosquitos, they could only send the new Mk.IX, and this aircraft piloted by Lt. "Shorty" Miller with Lt. "Bill" Allison as observer, departed the following morning. They landed at Benina airfield in the afternoon, where they were met by Group Capt. Lewis from the RAF ME HQ. On the 31st, they were briefed on the mission which was to be a bomb damage assessment of the Romanian oil wells at Ploesti.

These oil refineries were to be bombed on the 1st August by B-24 Liberators. The bombing mission carried the code-name of operation "Tidal Wave", and the photographic assessment of this bomb damage would be done the day after the bombing attack. It was firstly decided to do a test flight in the Mosquito, enabling first-hand data to be obtained regarding the fuel consumption of this new aircraft. The 45 minute flight showed that the consumption was around 120 gallons per hour. The Mk.IX Mosquito carried 536 gallons in eight fuel tanks in the wings, 121 gallons in two overload tanks inside and above the bomb-bay, and 50 gallons in each of the two jettisonable drop tanks, giving a total of 757 gallons of fuel. Cruising at its most economical speed of 245mph, this would give the Mosquito a range of 2,150 miles, which translated to an endurance of around six hours and 20 minutes. The extreme flight distance however, from Derna across the Mediterranean to Ploesti, then back to Derna, meant that the crew had no safety margin and no room for error. An American B-25 Mitchell from the USAAF 12th photographic reconnaissance squadron, flew some of "B" flights ground crew and their equipment down to Benina airfield in Benghazi, to support the mission.

Using maps and models of the Ploesti refineries, further planning was carried out on the 1st August, where it was also decided that the best route to the targets would be to fly from Derna and cross over the Gulf of Argali. With the sortie planned for early the following morning, the crew took off in the afternoon and flew the aircraft to Derna. On this flight to Derna, even before the start of the actual Ploesti sortie, Lt. Miller's aircraft was struck by the first of many "gremlins" he would have the misfortune of suffering on these sorties. On take-off from Banghasi, the port engine boost control failed, and he virtually took off on one engine. The wheels had just left the ground, when a loud explosion was heard, and he was left battling the staggering aircraft over Benghazi harbour. The short 160 mile trip from Banghazi to Derna took an hour and 10 minutes to complete, where once safely on the ground, mechanics from N°680 sqdn (RAF) fixed the boost control.

The sortie to Ploesti had to be delayed when during take-off on the 2nd, engine trouble was again experienced with LR411. The "gremlins" had struck again, and once the aircraft was inspected, it was found that it needed a complete plug change. There was however, none available, which resulted in frantic signals being sent in an attempt to obtain the urgently needed plugs. A new set finally arrived in the evening and the sortie was re-scheduled for take-off at first light the following day. The mechanics of N°680 sqdn (RAF), again performed an outstanding job, working until 02:00 in the morning to complete the plug change and ready the aircraft for the early take-off.

Take off was at 06:40 and Lt. Miller set course for Ploesti. Unfortunately strong headwinds were encountered enroute, which resulted in Ploesti being reached in 3 hours 10 minutes, instead of the planned 2 hours 50 minutes. With no safety margin, this extra 20 minutes taken to reach Ploesti, was to play a critical role during the return flight. The visibility over the target area was not good and they were almost over Ploesti before they saw it. The mission was briefed to photograph seven refineries, five of these being around the town of Ploesti and designated White I-V. These five were the Romana Americana complex (White I), Concordia Vega (White II), Standard Petrol Block and Unirea Speranta refineries (White III), Astra Romana and Unirea Orion refineries (White IV), and the Colombia Acquilla refinery (White V). The remaining two were the Creditul Minier (Blue), which was around 5 miles to the south at Brazi, and the Steua Romana refinery (Red) at Campina, some 18 miles to the north. From an altitude of 28,000ft, three runs were made using the 36" vertical camera and the two split 14" cameras. These runs commenced at 10:00, and were completed by 10:25. The White I-V, and Blue targets had been successfully photographed and a course was set for the Red target at Campina. This refinery was however, not identified & completely missed on the first run owing to hazy conditions. Fuel was by now low and due to the poor visibilty, it was decided to abandon a second run over the Red target. Lt. Miller turned for home and with concerns over fuel, a direct course to Derna was plotted. The direct return flight would take them directly over the Luftwaffe airfields at Athens, but it was hoped that this would reduce some of the distance they needed to cover.

This hope however, was not realized, when some 50 miles from land the Mosquitos Merlin V12 engines began to splutter and cut out from fuel starvation. Lt. Miller banked the aircraft steeply, allowing the fuel to flow into the selector tank and into the feed pipes, which restarted the engines and the aircraft violently lurched forward. This was repeated over many miles until every last drop of fuel had been drained from the tanks. The inevitable finally happened and the Merlin engines went quiet for the last time, turning the powerful Mosquito into a silent glider. Ground control had given them a bearing to Derna which was now only some 20 miles away, but the two crew had made preparations to bale out from the aircraft. Lt. Miller however, felt that the "gremlins" were now with him and he continued piloting the gliding Mosquito. With no room for error, he judged the descent and approach to the Derna airfield perfectly, and made a safe unpowered landing. A feat which was unheard of in a Mosquito. The landing at 13:10 in the afternoon, gave them a flight time of six hours 30 minutes, which was 10 minutes longer than their calculated endurance. In June 1944, Lt. Miller was awarded the American DFC for this extraordinary achievement. He was sadly never to know about this award, when in March 1944, he and his observer Lt. Allison, failed to return from a photographic sortie to Turin.

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Mosquito PR Mk.IX, LR411, 1943.

Quote:
ALLISTAIR M . MILLER, 205831-V, Lieutenant, 60th Squadron South African Air Force, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight on 3 August 1943, in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. Lieutenant Miller flew the first reconnaissance sortie to obtain photographs of the bomb damage of the celebrated Ploesti Refinery raid. Beset by aggravating mechanical and weather difficulties, this flight was the third in as many days. Flying in a Mosquito type aircraft, Lieutenant Miller, with great courage and devotion to duty, flew more than 900 miles to the target area, obtained excellent photographic coverage and headed for home. With fuel dangerously low, he flew straight over hotly defended Athens, Greece, in an attempt to save precious mileage. Fifty miles from land, his engines began to sputter, but by skillful handling , alternately banking his aircraft, the last drops of fuel were utilized and another thirty miles of flight obtained. Preparations were then made to abandon the aircraft. Undaunted, Lieutenant Miller remained at the controls and with superior airmanship landed in friendly territory with his motors dead. This example of courage and skill in performing a vital military assignment reflects great credit on Lieutenant Miller and to the South African Air Force.
DFC citation extracted from the N°60 sqdn ORB.

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PostPosted: 22 Nov 2016, 09:19 
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Stunning!!! I just started a 1/48 Mosquito Mk IV B.


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PostPosted: 22 Nov 2016, 11:20 
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Location: ILS RWY19, FACT (Cape Town)
Thanks Drifter !!

What colour scheme you going to do?


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PostPosted: 23 Nov 2016, 06:41 
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Kremlin wrote:
Thanks Drifter !!

What colour scheme you going to do?


Still have to decide, busy with the cockpit now. Probably the night fighter version.


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