Handley Page Hampden, AE436, PL-J.....

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Lucky13, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    I didn't know this....

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    Although the Hampden will be best remembered for its Bomber Command operations, the type
    also served in Coastal Command with 144 examples being converted to torpedo carrying TB.I standard. AE436 was one such conversion on strength with 144 Squadron Royal Air Force based at Leuchars, wearing the code PL-J.

    As added protection for the Arctic conveys heading to the Murmansk region, 144 and 455 Squadrons were ordered to prepare for operations in northern Russia. During the evening of 4th September 1942 AE436 and its crew departed from their forward airfield at Sumburgh in the Shetland Islands for Afrikaner, a Russian airfield located near to the Finnish border. A total of 16 Hampdens from 144 Squadron took off for their transit of some 1200 miles, but due to a storm front AE436 went slightly off course over Sweden and struck Tsata mountain, 130 km WNW of Jokkmokk, during the early hours of the 5th September.With a crew of five onboard, the impact is thought to have instantly killed Pilot Officer Bowler and Sergeants Jewett and Campbell, with Pilot Officer Evans and Corporal Sowerby miraculously surviving the impact to be briefly interned by the Swedish military. To avoid a lengthy internment in Sweden, the two survivors told Swedish authorities that they had in fact crashed in Norway, some 15 miles from the Swedish border as a result of an attack by German aircraft. Evans and Sowerby went on to claim that they were initially captured by Norwegian and German soldiers, but after a night in custody they managed to escape along a mountain valley and into Sweden. It would appear the claims were believed as both survivors avoided internment in Sweden and were back in the United Kingdom by 21stSeptember.

    AE436 was not 144 Squadron’s only Hampden casualty during the lengthy transit flight. P1344, P1273 and AT138 were shot down, AE310 force landed due to fuel shortage and AE356 was accidently shot down by a Russian Hurricane. 455 Squadron’s 16 aircraft fared little better during their transit flight, with AT109 P5323 running out of fuel and crash landing; a third aircraft, P5304, also crashed in Sweden. After completing their mission in Russia, crews from both Squadrons returned home, however their 23 surviving Hampdens remained behind to serve with the Soviet Air Force.

    The wreckage of AE436 lay on the mountainside until rediscovered in 1976 by the Västernorrland Historical Society. Following a funeral for the three deceased crew members at Kviberg Cemetery Göteborg, the wreckage was salvaged by the Swedish Air Force and returned to the United Kingdom. Initially the crated remains were stored at RAF Henlow until discovered in June 1987 by the late Brian Nicholls, a serving member of the Royal Air Force who was looking for a suitable restoration project. Having discounted restorations of ‘extinct’ types such as the Whitley and Stirling as unfeasible, Brian settled on bringing a Hampden back to life. The crated remains of AE436 were delivered to RAF Coningsby where the contents were examined, prior to the project making the short journey to East Kirkby where restoration started in earnest during 1989...
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    See also my RAF Museum Cosford Conservation thread. One of the other aircraft lost from 144 Squadron is now being totally re-built at Cosford.
     
  3. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Have done so old boy and again, bl**dy brilliant photos!
     
  4. pattle

    pattle Member

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    If you find the Story of the RAF Hampdens in Russia then you may also find the story of 151 Wings Hurricanes interesting.
     
  5. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #5 nuuumannn, Nov 17, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2013
    Thanks for the info Lucky; here's a couple of pictures of Russian TB.1s; I've been doing some research into the TB variant of the Hampden; aside from 144 Sqn, 455 (RAAF) and 489 (NZ) Squadrons also received these aircraft and used them effectively against shipping until the arrival of Beaufighters.

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    Here is a 489 Sqn example.

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    There is some debate over how the TB was modified and in Terry's thread at Cosford I've described the modifications to the lower gun position, but what is often questioned is how the torpedo mounted in the bay. There has been conjecture that the floor of the bomb bay was raised, but this is a drastic modification and I doubt this happened. What I do know is that the ventral gun cupola was raised by 12 inches to enable clearance for the fitting of stabilising fins to the torpedo. Look at the second Russian Hampden image above with fins fitted. This meant the aircraft had to fly with the bomb bay doors open with these fitted. The debate also focusses on how the bomb bay doors were modified. Some state that they were deepened, but others dispute this, claiming that the lower line of the doors being visible below the gun cupola is due to the raising of the floor of the gun cupola, which is more likely; take a look at the 489 Sqn image above, also visible is the second rectangular window in the gunner's cupola. I have read that there were skirts fitted to the bomb bay doors to enable them to fit the torpedo inside, but I have no real confirmation of this. Here is the clearest image I can find of a Hampden being loaded with a torpedo; no fins fitted.

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    Led by a New Zealander, no less; Wg Cdr H. Ramsbottom-Isherwood received the Order of Lenin for his exploits:

    When Britain aided the Soviet Union in World War Two - Telegraph

    (Sorry for hijacking your thread, lucky...)
     
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  6. RCAFson

    RCAFson Well-Known Member

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  7. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Interesting stuff gentlemen! :thumbright:
     
  8. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Hi RCAFson, that's unique in that it is the only 'complete Hampden in the world, although it's a bit like Elvington's (Yorkshire Air Museum) Halifax; it incorporates real Hampden bits but is largely a wooden frame covered in sheet metal to resemble a Hampden. It looks good though and is a testament to the guys who built it and their tribute to an extinct (complete) aircraft - apart from Hendon's, which is yet complete.
     
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