On This Day…February 9th
‘Black Friday’ – February 9th, 1945. A disastrous attack on German Destroyer Z-33 in a Norwegian Fiord saw the loss of nine Beaufighters, one P-51 Mustang, fourteen aircrew KIA, and four aircrew taken PoW, losses made more painful by the nearing end of hostilities in Europe.
The Beaufighters and their escorts of Mustang Mk III fighters from 65 Squadron RAF, were intercepted by twelve Fw 190s of Jagdgeschwader 5. The Allies lightly damaged at least two of the German ships for the loss of seven Beaufighters shot down by flak guns and two Beaus and a Mustang shot down by the Fw 190s, including that of the German ace Rudi Linz. The 190 flown by Rudi Linz during the battle is preserved at th e Military Aviation Museum, Pungo, Virginia…
After departing the Førde Fjord area, the surviving Beaufighters, many of which were damaged, returned to RAF Dallachy in Scotland. Several had difficulty making safe landings, and two were forced to land ‘wheels up’ due to damage (photo below) but no further aircraft were lost.
The air and ground crew were shocked by the scale of the losses, and the battle became known as ‘Black Friday’. The losses suffered by the Dallachy Wing on 9 February were the highest any of Coastal Command’s strike wings sustained in a single operation during the war. A memorial plaque is situated at the foot of the Fiord.
RAAF Flying Officer James Herbert Harper of 21 Squadron flying a ‘Wirraway’ aircraft over Laverton, Victoria, (Australia) on 9th February 1940.
With war looming, Australia needed a general purpose aircraft for manufacture by the newly-formed ‘Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’ (CAC). With European (especially the British, Australia’s main importer of hardware) manufacturers in full aircraft production, the North American NA-16 became the aircraft of choice for Australia. CAC created a modified version of this aircraft which came to be known as the Wirraway (Aboriginal for ‘challenge’).
The North American NA-16 was hugely popular for its role as an all-purpose trainer aircraft (I know several iModelers have cut their teeth on these) and became known as the ‘Texan’ in America and the ‘Harvard’ in Britain.
USS Maryland at Bremerton, Washington, United States 9 Feb 1942 after repairs from damage received in the attack on Pearl Harbor three months earlier. The photo below is the ‘Fighting Mary’ during the pearl attack, the capsized Oklahoma in the background.
Abandoned German ‘Marder III’ tank destroyer in North Africa, 9th February, 1943.
One of my favourite aircraft (don’t ask why, no idea), the F2A-2 Brewster Buffalo, here seen at rest, NACA Langley Research Center, Hampton Virginia, United States, 9th February 1943.
I had to get a Carrier in here. This is the USS Intrepid (by then CVA-11) in her shakedown after extensive refitting off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 9th February 1955; note F2H Banshee aircraft on flight deck.
In 9 February of 1952 Intrepid was recommissioned and went on to receive ‘SCB-27C’ modernisation followed by full SCB-125 (designed to allow Essex class Carriers to accommodate modern jet fighters). On 13th October, 1954, she became the first carrier to launch aircraft with American-built steam catapults. Two days later, the Intrepid became part of the Atlantic Fleet in full commission. The photos below compare the Intrepid before and after her ‘two-seven 125’ refit (right)
Described by Chuck Yeager as ‘The greatest pilot I ever saw’, ‘Bob’ Hoover was shot down on February 9, 1944, on his 59th mission, his malfunctioning Mark V Spitfire downed by a pilot of Jagdgeschwader 2 in a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 off the coast of Southern France. He was taken prisoner and spent the next spent 16 months at the German prison camp Stalag Luft 1 in Barth, Germany.
Hoover was inspired by Lindbergh and says of him, “I was just five years old,” he recalled. “I saw pictures of him and that plane, and started building models.”
Hoover became a bona-fide hero when the squadron he was attached to in Italy was offered a shot-up B-26 Martin Marauder, if someone could retrieve the plane from a short stretch of beach in the Straits of Messina. Nobody could get the plane airborne as it was in such a narrow, confined area.
The challenge intrigued Hoover and he flew with a mechanic in an L-4 plane to look at the bomber, which they found on a “1,000-foot crescent-shaped stretch of sand that had a 12-foot drop-off to the water at one end”.
“Hoover had studied manuals describing the plane’s capabilities and knew they would need to lighten the aircraft. Two days later, the mechanic and a crew of 10 men began removing the copilot’s seat, most of the instruments and everything else that wasn’t essential to fly the plane”.
“The recovery effort took more than a month. On takeoff, Hoover had less than 100 gallons of fuel. With about four feet of clearance on each side of 600 feet of steel matting now covering the sandy beach, and a 300-foot extension of chicken wire beyond that, he was able to lift the nose of the B-26 and head toward Palermo. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his effort”.
(Bob Hoover’s Spitfire Mk V in which he was shot down)
Back to Stag luft 1…
After a staged and well acted fight distracted guards and covered his escape from the prison camp, Hoover actually managed to steal a lightly damaged Fw 190 from the unguarded ‘recovery unit’ by the flak training field. It was the only flyable plane being kept there (for spare parts). He didn’t use the runway, just taking off straight from the field, and flew to safety, emergency landing the 190 in a field in the Netherlands.
(Bob Hoover and Chuck Yeager)
After the war, Hoover was assigned to flight-test duty at Wilbur Wright Field where he impressed and befriended Chuck Yeager. When Yeager was later asked whom he wanted for flight crew for the supersonic Bell X-1 flight, he named Hoover and Bob became Yeager’s backup pilot in the Bell X-1 program.
Bob died at the grand old age of 94 in 2016. From Wiki…
“A memorial service and celebration of life honoring Bob Hoover was held on November 18, 2016, hosted by aerobatic legend Sean D. Tucker and world renowned pilot Clay Lacy at the Van Nuys Airport.
Nearly 1,500 family and friends attended the memorial, with speakers such as Hollywood icon Harrison Ford, film producer David Ellison, Jonna Doolittle (granddaughter of Jimmy Doolittle) and many others. The event culminated with the United States Air Force Honor Guard presenting the American Flag to the family – which coincided with a three element fly-over.
The lead element featured a Rockwell Sabreliner similar to that which Hoover flew during airshows, along with two F-16s from the USAF Thunderbirds and a CT-114 from the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. The second element featured the USAF Heritage Flight with an F-22 Raptor and two F-86 Sabres, and the third and final installment featured a four-ship World War II warbird flight, with the P-51 Ole’ Yeller pulling up in the missing man formation on the final note of Taps”.
1 additional image. Click to enlarge.