On This Day…February 18th
Grumman Avenger (VT-82, the ‘Devil’s Diplomats’) shows its mettle as she struggles to return to her carrier, USS Bennington, CV-20. The Avenger collided with another TBM in raids against picket shipping around Chichi Jima (pic 3, below).
On the same day and same theatre (‘Volcano Islands’) an F4U-1D Corsair makes a belly landing on the flight deck of the carrier USS Wasp (CV-18) – Chichi Jima, February 18, 1945
First flight of the Grumman XSB-F (also known to Grumman as G-14) was February 18th, 1936. It was developed right on the cusp of the birth of the monoplane and never went into production. This photo shows the only example.
On the 18th of February 1943, a crew from 61 squadron, RAF Syerston, England, had been on a long cross country training flight when, in darkness and poor weather after almost seven hours of flight, a con rod broke on number three engine, causing a catastrophic fire. The crew lost control and the Lancaster crashed.
All 7 crew members were killed and at 23 years of age the pilot, Thomas Herbert Warne (Saskatchewan, Canada) was the oldest and most experienced member of the crew despite only having 15 hours of night flying experience in heavy bombers. All the men except Warne are buried in their home towns, who is buried in the Newark War Cemetery.
The local villagers erected and tend to a specially commissioned memorial including a Lancaster propellor blade.
Source; Aeroplane, February 18th, 1949
RF-4C Phantom II destroyed during the enemy attack against Tan Son Nhut during the February 18 1968 rocket attack.
Operation ‘Jericho’ was conducted by the RAF with the goal of freeing the captives of the Nazi-held Amiens prison in France on 18 February 1944. The raid happened on and though it wasn’t a large-scale operation, its precision and accuracy meant that it contributed greatly to the war effort and helped to raise the morale of the French, living under Nazi occupation.
The attack group consisted of 18 Mosquito fighter planes and one Mosquito armed with a camera that was sent to film the entire raid, making it one of the few missions captured completely on film. The group was led by Captain Pickard, call sign “Freddie” who was assigned to bring up the rear of the second wave of the attack and to assess the operation’s success.
(My build of ‘F for Freddie’ I posted on iModeler some three years ago)
Amiens was a high-security Nazi prison, most prisoners being captured resistance fighters, political figures who railed against the Nazis, and other ‘strategic’ captives.
The official line held for some time (more of this later) was that British intelligence had information that the Germans were already carrying out systematic executions and that an mass execution was scheduled on 19 February 1944, for some 100 prisoners. The Jericho mission was initially planned for 10 February with the original group leader, Air Vice-Marshall Basil Embry, though he had to leave command to participate in the planning for D-Day. He was replaced by Captain Percy Charles Pickard, who was an experienced RAF pilot, but had little practice in low-level attacks.
The Mosquito was perfect for this mission since they did not need to destroy the prison, but needed speed and precision bombing to destroy two walls (the northern and eastern) so the prisoners could make good their escape. They were also instructed to bomb the German mess hall in the hope of achieving the maximum casualties and confusion among the guards.
The group took off into unfamiliar weather conditions with snow cover on the ground and low cloud. This led to several difficulties before they arrived at their target, when four Mosquitoes and several supporting Typhoons became separated from the main formation and contact with them was lost. One more Mosquito had an engine malfunction, and all five aircraft returned to base leaving only nine aircraft in the attack wing. Any margin for error was lost.
The remaining Mosquitos arrived at Amiens at noon, with the first bombers breaching the outer walls in the first attack. While they circled for another run, others targeted they nearby train station, giving the prisoners a fairer chance of escape.
The group flew as low as 50 feet (15 meters) above the ground and bombed it once again. In a second run, two of the Mosquitoes dropped 500 pounds (230 kg) of bombs on the main prison facility, killing and wounding many of the prison staff, including some of the inmates. At this point, the prisoners started to escape.
Pickard declared the mission was a success over the radio and ordered the squad to head home. By now, the Germans had their fighter planes from JG 26 above ground. A FW 190 shot the tail off the retreating Mosquito manned by Pickard and he crashed, dying instantly with his navigator. As an indication of how low the Mosquitos were flying, the only other casualties that day were flying aircraft MM404/SB-their wing clipped a lamppost in the first wave of attacks and crashed, killing F/Lt Richard Webb Sampson – navigator S\Ldr A Ian McRitchie was taken PoW.
Of 717 prisoners, 102 died during the raid, mostly at the hands of the prison guards who shot those trying to escape. The bombing of the railway station did give the prisoners a substantial lead before the search parties could be organized. Around 255 inmates managed to escape, including 79 verified resistance fighters. However, 182 were recaptured within the next 48 hours.
French historian Jean-Pierre Ducellier spent several years studying the Amiens Raid, judging that it was an “unnecessary effort and that the RAF’s official motives were not the real reason for the raid”. His reasons to think so were based on three verified facts:
• The French resistance did not request the bombing, nor did they transmit any information about the prison until asked for it by the British.
• There were no executions scheduled, nor expected. After the liberation of Amiens, the RAF Squadron Leader Edwin Houghton was sent to find the cause for Jericho, but he failed to find even the alleged list of executions to be carried out.
• Several of the prisoners to be liberated had not been captured when the operation was ordered.
It was never publicly established who ordered Operation Jericho since Maurice Buckmaster, who was the head of the SOE department in France disputed the claim that it was the SOE who had ordered the operation to be carried out. Buckmaster suggested that it was MI6 who green lighted the raid, but this claim was also never officially adopted.
Regardless, the bravery, dedication, and skills of the fliers carried out an audacious mission.
Collin Royal Bundara, Royal Australian Air Force, died on 18th February 1945, aged 26. He was inspecting a crashed Bf 109 when he tripped off a land mine. Although he was operated on and lost a leg, he didn’t survive the night, dying of shock.
B-17G 42-97636 of 401st BG after crash landing at Deenethorpe, England, February 18th, 1945. Suffered Category 3 damage as a result of a landing accident – Capt. Paul E. Campbell (615th Squadron Operations Officer) flying.
Aircraft repaired and brought back into service.
Fairly Albacore landing on the deck of HMS Glorious in Iceland, 18th February, 1942.
P-26 Peashooter fighters of USAAC 17th Pursuit Group at rest, March Field, California, United States, 18 Feb 1935