The Unsung Heroes
I decided to create a series of paintings depicting some of the lesser celebrated RAF aircraft of the second world war. All of the aircraft depicted below had many well publicised shortcomings, but this should not diminish how we remember the bravery of their crews. I wanted to use the paintings as my own little tribute to the men who flew them. Of the aircraft featured, there are very few surviving examples and in some cases, none at all making it all the more difficult for their stories to be told. I hope that you enjoy the pictures and reading a little about the airmen associated with them.
Avro Manchester Mk.I L7427
L7427 was delivered to 83 Squadron early in 1941 and would be lost on a mission to Hamburg on 9th April 1942.
The most noticable difference between the Mk.I depicted here and the later Mk.Ia is the tail. The first 20 aircraft delivered featured a third vertical fin fixed to the rear fuselage due to poor directional stability. This issue was later addressed by enlarging the two outer tail fins / rudders thus negating the need for a thrid fin.
Issues with the Rolls-Royce Vulture engines being both underpowered and unreliable led to Manchester production being terminated in 1941. The airframe was however further developed and redesigned into a 4 engined heavy bomber using the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin and became the venerable Lancaster.
Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I N3437
The Defiant is rarely described as a successful aircraft, especially when considering that it entered service later than the Spitfire and Hurricane, owing mainly to its lack of any forward firing weapons. This initially worked in its favour when attacking enemies did not realise that the aircraft was equipped with a turrett. Great success during the early stages of the battle of France were quickly forgotten when the Luftwaffe realised that a Defiant would be completely defenceless against a head on attack.
They did however perform better as a night fighter, but would be withdrawn from frontline duties during 1942.
Flying N3437, pilot Sgt Kazimierz Jankoiak and gunner Sgt Lipinski would claim the first victory for 307 Squadron shooting down a Heinkel He111 on 12th April 1941.
Fairey Battle Mk.I K9271
The Fairey Battle was the first RAF aircraft to enter service utilising the Rolls-Royce Merlin in June 1937. The performance of the aircraft initially appeared very promising, but due to the rapid pace of aircraft development during the opening stages of the second world war, the Battle was quickly outclassed and would be considered obsolete by 1940.
Depicted here is Fairey Battle Mk.I K9271 of 103 Squadron. On 27th September 1939, this very aircraft would claim the first official victory for the RAF against the luftwaffe shooting down a Messerschmitt 109 over the Ardennes region of France. K9271 would itself sustain damage in the engagement resulting in the loss of observer Sgt. John Henry Vickers.