Category Archives: RAF

From one to five, new historical discoveries

I’d hoped to uncover evidence of other Tiger Moths that may have flown with the 312 Squadron during WWII, and my wish just came true!  Thanks to a friend in Czech Republic, I now have the identities and histories of 5 Tiger Moths that were assigned to the squadron from 1942 to 1945.  I’ve translated the original documentation from Czech to English, and then I searched out as much as I could about where these aircraft might be today, or what might finally have happened to them (in red).

312 Squadron

Tiger Moth II DE379.  Duration of use: 9-28-1942 to 7-4-1943.  Replaced Magister V1014, which was sent away on 10-8-1942. – c/n 85401, fate unknown

Tiger Moth II DE373.  Duration of use: 6-29-1943 to 4-14-1944. – c/n 85395, delivered to the Royal Navy as A2127, possibly still exists as a static example in the collection of the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton, making inquiries.

Tiger Moth II AX783.  Duration of use: 8-6-1944 to 10-3-1944.  Forwarded to 313 Squadron. – c/n 3793, registered as G-AFMC before the war, a gale blew it into a hangar in Bradwell Bay on January 1, 1945, destroyed.

Tiger Moth II T8254.  Duration of use: 11-9-1944 to 11-25-1944.  Taken from 611 Squadron, whose code “FY” it wore.  However, the machine used by 312 Squadron before registration in the state.  Witness the accident F/Sgt. A. Štance on 10-10-1944.  When scrolling to start a test flight in Bradwell Bay -Neuhlídal- direction and crashed into a parked Spitfire IX ML214 5J-K from 126 Squadron, which belonged to Ian Smith – later Prime Minister of Rhodesia.  Other damage suffered engine t.r., November 25 when it crashed with Sgt. K. Hruška.  Nothing although it did not, but the rate of damage to the wings and nose “Tiger” has led to a write-off. – c/n 84527, written off, modern source says “tipped up in forced landing while lost in bad visibility Abberton Essex 11-25-1944.”

Tiger Moth II DE676.  Duration of use: 12-1-1944 to 4-20-1945.  The aircraft was slightly damaged on 12-23-1944 flight from Coltishall to Bradwell Bay for an emergency landing.  Pilot F/Sgt. J. Prokopec came out unhurt. – c/n 85617, survived the war and sold off charge, registered G-AITD, crashed near Yeadon on 7-7-1959 and was destroyed.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find some parts of one of these, or to locate DE373 intact?

Historical Hack

Historic Flight Foundation Spitfire sm - credit to Liz MatzelleLast fall I traveled to the UK to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.  One of the reasons why I couldn’t pass up the opportunity was that the Spitfire from Historic Flight (where I volunteer) was also overseas for the same reason.  Conducting research into the past life of our Spitfire is one of my favorite hobbies, and in the course of doing so I’ve developed quite a strong affinity for the men of 312 (Czech) Squadron, RAF, in which it first served.  Today it is restored to the colors it wore while flying in the Czechoslovakian Air Force immediately following WWII, in the hands of many 312 Squadron veterans such as Karel Posta.

Daydreaming about what paint jobs might be appropriate for this Tiger Moth project, I wished that I could track down an original Tiger Moth with some tie to 312 Squadron.  Either one belonging to a training unit they passed through, or one that would have shared the airfield with them at some point.  In the end, I stumbled upon one better.

As it turns out, most aviation squadrons were usually granted one or two “spare” aircraft for utility purposes.  These could be used for ferrying personnel or supplies, recurrent training, or simply as an enjoyable diversion from missions against the enemy.  The aircraft are commonly referred to as the squadron’s “hacks.”  Sometimes they would be old tired aircraft of the type flown by the squadron but retired from combat duty, but more often they would be of a completely different type.  Transport, utility, or training aircraft most commonly.  I came across a plastic model kit released many years ago depicting a de Havilland Tiger Moth belonging to the 312 Squadron during 1944!

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This ‘Moth had been in service with a different squadron beforehand, and so it wore an FY squadron code rather than the DU of 312 Squadron.  It is also known to have crashed and been destroyed after only a few months with 312.  But it still fits the bill.  And, I hope, if they had one Tiger Moth they may have had others.  I have sent off an inquiry to an excellent Czech aviation researcher hoping for more information, but if you know of any other Tiger Moths that might have served in 312 Squadron, please do let me know!