Scale Trap­pings

RCN News - - News - By Jim Bates

Fleet Air Arm Pi­lots in the Bat­tle of Bri­tain

Seventy-five years af­ter the Bat­tle of Bri­tain, a small sub­set of pi­lots who fought in the crowded skies above Eng­land have al­most been for­got­ten. They are the Fleet Air Arm pi­lots, who took to the air, along with their Royal Air Force coun­ter­parts, to de­fend the Bri­tish Isles.

Dur­ing the Bat­tle, the Fleet Air Arm had one re­source that the RAF des­per­ately needed: pi­lots. While air­craft could be built rather quickly in fac­to­ries, it took time to train men. In the dark days of 1940, the FAA loaned a small group of pi­lots to the RAF for at­tach­ment to their ex­pand­ing com­ple­ment of fighter squadrons. Two of th­ese pi­lots, Sub Lieu­tenant Fran­cis Daw­son-Paul, who flew Spit­fires with 64 Squadron, and Sub Lieu­tenant Arthur “Ad­mi­ral” Blake, who flew Spit­fires with 19 Squadron, quickly be­came aces.

As al­ways, Cana­dian-born pi­lots were in­cluded in the mix. Two Cana­dian Fleet Air Arm pi­lots were to earn their Bat­tle of Bri­tain clasp with Fighter Com­mand.

Jack Con­way Car­pen­ter was born in Toronto, but as a young boy re­turned to his an­ces­tral Wales. He joined the Fleet Air Arm in 1939, but was at­tached to the RAF in June 1940. He joined 229 Squadron fly­ing Hur­ri­canes, but was quickly trans­ferred to 46 Squadron, which also flew Hur­ri­canes. While fly­ing with 46 Squadron, he downed a Bf-110 on Septem­ber 3, 1940, then shot down a Bf-109 on Septem­ber 5, 1940. Sadly, his short life ended just a few days later when he was shot down while fly­ing Hur­ri­cane P3201. He at­tempted to bail out of his stricken air­craft, but his parachute failed to open.

Roy Baker-Falkner, was born in Eng­land, but grew up in Bri­tish Columbia. He is bet­ter known for lead­ing at­tacks against the Tir­pitz dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Tung­sten in 1944, but was also in­volved in the Bat­tle of Bri­tain. Sadly, his con­tri­bu­tion to the Bat­tle with Fighter Com­mand is un­known, but he was awarded the Bat­tle of Bri­tain clasp for hav­ing flown at least one op­er­a­tional sor­tie with RAF Fighter Com­mand dur­ing the pe­riod of July 10, 1940 to Oc­to­ber 31, 1940. (There is no ques­tion that Baker-Falkner was fly­ing oper­a­tions with 812 Squadron dur­ing the Bat­tle of Bri­tain. This Fleet Air Arm unit, fly­ing Fairey Sword­fish, was at­tached to RAF Coastal Com­mand for lay­ing mines in Ger­man-held har­bors as well as bomb­ing sor­ties against Ger­man in­va­sion barges. How­ever, only pi­lots at­tached to Fighter Com­mand dur­ing the Bat­tle are el­i­gi­ble for the Bat­tle of Bri­tain clasp. While one can de­bate the merit of the de­ci­sion to leave out bomber and Coast Com­mand air­crew who served dur­ing the Bat­tle, it ap­pears pos­si­ble that Baker-Falkner was not ac­tu­ally el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive the clasp.)

A fur­ther Cana­dian con­nec­tion to the Bat­tle are the three Fleet Air Arm pi­lots at­tached to 242 (Cana­dian) Squadron. Os­ten­si­bly, a Cana­dian squadron, 242 Squadron al­ways had a com­ple­ment of non-Cana­dian pi­lots at­tached to the unit. Af­ter suf­fer­ing heavy losses in France, Mid­ship­man Peter Pat­ter­son, Sub Lieu­tenant Richard “Dickie” Cork, and Sub/Lt. Jimmy Gard­ner joined the Squadron in the sum­mer of 1940. While Pat­ter­son was killed in Septem­ber 1940, both Dickie Cork and Jimmy Gard­ner made ace while fly­ing with the Cana­di­ans of 242 Squadron. Dickie Cork flew as the wing­man for 242 Squadron’s fa­mous CO Dou­glas Bader, and was awarded the Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Cross for his “ex­em­plary courage and cool­ness in suc­cess­ful ac­tion against enemy bombers,” He later com­manded 880 Squadron fly­ing Sea Hur­ri­canes, but was killed in a Cor­sair crash in 1944. Jimmy Gard­ner sur­vived the Bat­tle and re­turned to fly with the Fleet Air Arm for the rest of the war. To re­tain their nau­ti­cal fla­vor dur­ing their time with the RAF, Cork and Garner wore naval uni­forms and Gard­ner painted Nel­son’s Trafal­gar "Eng­land Expects" sig­nal on the side of his Hur­ri­cane.

Air­fix 1/48 Hawker Hur­ri­cane Mk. I

Af­ter al­most col­laps­ing about 10 years ago, Air­fix goes from strength to strength with each release. They’ve re­cently is­sued what is prob­a­bly the best Hur­ri­cane in any scale. While Air­fix re­leased a 1/48 Hur­ri­cane in 1980 which was a very nice kit for its time, the new kit is thor­oughly mod­ern with loads of de­tail and some nice op­tions. Con­sist­ing of 127 parts in grey and clear plas­tic, the kit has a beau­ti­fully de­tailed cock­pit which in­cludes sep­a­rate fram­ing for the side­walls. A pi­lot is also in­cluded. About the only things miss­ing from the cock­pit are har­nesses for the pi­lot. The cock­pit and wheel wells de­tail is built around two wing spars that should al­low for good fuse­lage to wing align­ment. Gun bays are pro­vided for each wing, but the cov­ers in the top wings will need to be re­moved by the mod­eler. (I much pre­fer this, rather than sep­a­rate parts, as it makes it eas­ier for the mod­eler who wishes to build his wings “all closed up.”) Again, gun bay de­tail is ex­cel­lent. All fly­ing sur­faces are sep­a­rate and can be po­si­tioned by the mod­eler. Parts are in­cluded to model the Hur­ri­cane with the gear ex­tended or re­tracted and both the Ro­tor and de Hav­il­land pro­pel­lers and spin­ners are in­cluded. The clear parts are nicely done, though not quite as crys­tal clear as some in­dus­try lead­ers. De­cals are pro­vided for two Bat­tle of Bri­tain air­craft, one of which sur­vives to­day as a warbird. Over­all, this is an ex­cel­lent kit and I can’t wait to dig in and get build­ing.

Xtrade­cal has re­cently is­sued a de­cal sheet in 1/48 which in­cludes air­craft flown by Gard­ner and Cork. Sadly, there are some is­sues with the de­pic­tion of Gard­ner’s air­craft as they have in­cluded no se­rial num­ber, the air­craft is in­cor­rectly marked as LE-T, and they’ve in­cluded a spu­ri­ous flag sig­nal for the right side of the Hur­ri­cane. (LE-T was Hur­ri­cane V7203 in which Cana­dian Pi­lot Of­fice Joseph Latta went miss­ing on Jan­uary 1941.) Dickie Cork’s P2831 LE -K is much more ac­cu­rate and car­ries a RN style crown painted un­der the cock­pit.

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