Aircraft Database update – Wellington & Stirling

nz300-cockpit

Cockpit view of Mark 1 Vickers Wellington, serial number NZ300. Note data plate behind the right-hand control column: “Type 403, No. NZ300. Built at Weybridge Works. Date April 1939 England”
From “The Aeroplane” archives, via the Aeroplane Illustrated publication, “Vickers Wellington – The Backbone of Bomber Command”, Key Publishing, 2013.

A huge thanks to Chris for a significant update to the Wellington and Stirling sectons of the Squadron AIrcraft database. Beginning when he received a copy of the Feltwell Flying Control log from some some time ago, Chris began to pour through the pages looking for anything that would give aircraft designators or even identify new aircraft with the Squadron.

Relatively recently a visit to the Archives New Zealand allowed Chris to gather a significant amount of material relating to the early days of the ‘Squadron’ regarding its strength and crews.

Very interestingly, on review it seems Chris has formulated a sensible interpretation on the ongoing chestnut of what the ‘the group of Wellingtons‘ was called. There has been a long debate over the titling – some say New Zealand Squadron, others say New Zealand Flight.

Chris postulates as follows – and I tend to agree with him:
“You will find that at least half of the doc’s I’ve seen refer to the New Zealand Flight, including  letters and comm’s from the Air Ministry, and the NZ Governor General.
 
In one case, a letter from the CO RAF Marham 17 Sep 39, to Buckley (while Buckley is still stationed on the same base as him)  addresses Buckley as “OC RNZAF Squadron, Marham”, and references a letter from the Air Ministry which calls it the New Zealand Flight!
 
Also found references in the official docs to “the Wellington flights”, and “1 Mobile Flight”.
 
Am forming the opinion that while officially gazetted and titled as the ‘New Zealand Squadron’, because it was only ever flight strength, and intended to be a ferry flight, that the men themselves more commonly used the term ‘Flight’.
 
Once the establishment of a proper squadron in the RAF became likely, the term “Flight” may have become more common, at all levels, as it would have helped with the distinction, ie., avoiding having to say “the Squadron is now to be a Squadron …”.
 
So I think this vindicates the journalists, ‘official’ histories such as “Return At Dawn”  for using the term – it appears in so many of these documents.”

In discussion with Chris, particularly while I was completing the Squadron database and he was going through the Feltwell documents, we inevitably came to the conclusion that our efforts had perhaps created more questions and queries than actually been answered. I am sure that Chris would agree with me that the database whilst now significantly expanded and refined since the last update still requires work and input – so of course as always, if anybody has any thoughts, please make them – we would love to hear form you!

Go to the Wellington database here.
GO to the Stirling database here.

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