On This Day…November 26th.
P51 D Mustang assigned to 2SF, 8th Air Force which crash landed at RAF Steeple Morden, Cambridgeshire on 26th November, 1944. Pilot Lt Marvin H Castleberry survived the hard landing. Any landing you walk away from…
A Bf 109 E from JG 26. France, November 26th, 1939.
Fairey Firefly returning from a mission against German shipping in Norwegian waters, November 26th, 1944. This photo clearly shows the limited room for manoeuvre on that flight deck, highlighting the skill and courage needed to operate from a carrier, especially in any kind of adverse weather conditions.
November 26th 1929 saw the first flight of the Vickers Type 143, the ‘Bolivian Scout’. It was an all-metal, single-seat, biplane with single-bay wings, a development of the earlier Type 141. The limited run of six aircraft were deployed in Bolivia in their war against Paraguay.
The cover of ‘Life’ magazine on November 26th, 1965…
Newly minted batch of D.XXI’s in the Fokker factories in Amsterdam, November 26th, 1938.
The HMT Rohna, an eight and a half thousand ton, coal-burning vessel, was certainly not built for the military. The British nonetheless pressed it into service during World War II as a troop transport. On Thanksgiving 1943, the Rohna and five other troop carriers left the port of Oran, Algeria, to join a convoy in the middle of its journey from Britain to the Panama Canal. Survivors of the Rohna disaster later recalled that their Thanksgiving meal consisted mainly of “watery canned chicken and weevil-filled bread”.
The following late afternoon, 26th November, as the convoy sailed just off the North African coast, about 30 German Heinkel 177’s attacked. The ships responded by opening fire, putting up the usual thick smoke screen and attempting to electronically jam the Nazis’ bomb frequencies. With the assistance of Allied fighter aircraft, they destroyed several German bombers while initially suffering little damage of their own. During the second wave of the attack, however, a German aircraft dropped a Henschel Hs 293 remote-controlled glider bomb—an early ‘drone’, into the Rohna just above the waterline. The explosion started a perfect storm of catastrophic events that ripped the Rohna apart.
The Henschel Hs 293 Guided Missile (above). After it was dropped, the rocket motor started and propelled it forward at speeds of up to 580 mph. Five flares in the missile tail allowed the operator to keep track of it and guide it to the target using a joystick.
1,015 American GI’s, 120 British and Indian crew, 11 gunners and three Red Cross workers died. No other U.S. Army military disaster at sea has ever been deadlier and only the Arizona, at Pearl, could claim to have lost more American men.
In order to prevent the Germans from learning about the success of their cutting-edge remote-controlled bomb, the U.S. government allowed only vague details about the incident to be known at the time, a secret that stayed in place following the war.