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The Flypast

Iain Dick recalls a Flypast in 1949

In 1949 No. IV Squadron was chosen to take part in the Battle of Britain flypast over London – the last time the Mosquito FB VI was to participate in any ceremonial occasion before they were phased out. Eight aircraft were required to fly in two boxes of four – but we only had seven! The eighth had been appropriated by the then Station Commander at Wahn who had had the thing painted silver, the guns removed and the navigation fit changed from the ‘Gee’ that the rest carried, to ‘Oboe’. In consequence, we had to borrow an aircraft from No. 11 Squadron, the only other outfit with FB VIs. Naturally they lent us their most clapped out model…

The fly-past

The Boss decided that we had better tart up our aging machines and make them look reasonably presentable. At that time, out on the Continent, there were no such things as ‘Aircraft Finishers’ down at the sharp end so we said that we would do it ourselves. The colour scheme at the time was as follows: all upper surfaces and the fuselage down to mid-diameter were painted matt battleship grey and everything below that was matt black.

Paint was ‘found’ in all sorts of corners, black and white only, so for each aircraft a fresh mix was made to achieve the grey. Unfortunately, the mixes were not consistent especially when we got round to ‘D Dog’, the last one, as we were running out of black. Consequently when lined up, the colour schemes were certainly seen to vary with ‘D Dog’ a much paler shade of pale!

Finally, the spinners and Squadron letters were painted in high gloss Royal Blue with the Squadron letters outlined in yellow. They did look rather smart. The borrowed 11 Squadron one was left in its rather tatty black and grey with black spinners and plain white Squadron letters – we hoped no one would notice… We flew from our base at Wahn to West Malling and, on landing while we waited for Customs clearance, I, as Squadron Adjutant, was detailed to fly to Manston to change the currency from BAFVS to sterling. On my return I found the Customs almost dismantling our aircraft! Upon being assured that no one carried any contraband, the Customs operator had found something dutiable so off he went with screw driver and spanner! It was the aircraft of ‘B’ Flight Commander, Flt Lt Ernie Holmes, our tame Canadian, that he concentrated on but in the end Ernie managed to convince him that he personally was totally innocent! It was a most pleasant detachment, on return from which we flew to Celle, our new base.