No. 75 SQUADRON
Australia's famous No 75 Squadron
had returned to Milne Bay in January 1943, re-equipped and regrouped after
valiantly fightning to exhaustion in the defence of Port Moresby and Milne
Bay during 1942. In the interim, the role of allied air forces had changed
from defensive to offensive and No. 75 Squadron now had an urgent need
for a photo reconnaissance capability. This need was met by borrowing
two F-4 Lightnings from the 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron,
USAAF and these two aircraft were delivered to 75 Sqn on 16th August 1943.
The 75 Squadron Operations Record Book records the events as follows:
Although the 75 Sqn ORB identifies
these two aircraft only as "
On 15th August there is a rather confusing entry in the logbook which records a flight in Lightning "2117" as "Mission Markham Valley. Missed scrap at Marilyian by 2 min. Saw fires of crashed kites near drome." This entry is confusing for two reasons. Firstly, it introduces a solitary flight in a third aeroplane and secondly the quoted serial 2117 relates to a
Any study of
Although there are numerous references to Lightnings by serial number, there is no mention of
"Sunday, August 15:
The great day has arrived. The RAAF pilots are ready to be checked out on a photo mission. Rennels and Southard took Squadron Leader Atherton to the Watut River area where a few photos were taken. All turned out o.k."
Sqn Ldr Atherton's last recorded Lightning flight was a photo recce to Buka in 2156 on 25th October. A summary of Sqn Ldr Atherton's Lightning flights can be viewed here.
Not only has Neville Rourke
provided useful logbook extracts, but he has also supplied several interesting
photographs from Geoff Atherton's personal albums. The photos purport
to record the delivery of two
Although most other USAAF Lightning
squadrons were allocated a contiguous block of callsigns for their aircraft,
the 8th PRS used the last two digits of the USAAF serial as a callsign. It
will be seen that "Malaria Mabel" carries the large number "30"
on the outboard engine cowls. The number is repeated in a smaller size
on the inboard cowls together with the letters "L" and "R"
to denote "Left" and "Right". This was common practice
on PR Lightnings as the inboard cowls usually appeared in oblique photographs
taken from the aircraft. These markings were also carried by Lightnings
of the RAAF's No 1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit. Closer examination of the
photo of the aircraft labelled as "Map Happy Pappy" reveals
the marking "L30" on the port inboard cowl, so clearly this
photo also depicts
As stated earlier, the top left photograph appears in several publications. By combining the captions from these publications it is possible to identify all of the personnel in the photo.
At this stage, the name
nose art on "Map! Happy Pappy"
WERE THERE ONLY TWO?
Something else to ponder
is the existence in the Australian War Memorial Photographic Database of two images
(Neg Numbers OG0566 & OG0569) of a photographic Lightning attached to 75 Sqn.
(Closer examination of Neg No OG0566 reveals the number "44" on the
nose of the aircraft, so this Lightning is evidently
LIZZIE" - MOVIE STAR
Packard, whose father served with the 8th PRS, advises that "Limping Lizzie"
|09SEP43||Test flight in unspecified Lightning (#20 according to ORB)|
|20OCT43||Recce flight to Talasea - Gasmata - Arawe in "Lightning F4-56"|
|25OCT43||Recce flight to Buka in "Lightning L-56"|
75 Sqn pilots known to have flown the Lightning are:
Wing Commander W.S.
shown above are those held at the time the Lightning was in service)
Lightning operations by 75 Sqn ended, according to the squadron's Operations Record Book, on 21st December 1943. What then became of the two Lightnings loaned to 75 Sqn?
Terry Geary in the United States
has searched the Aircraft History Cards of the two F-4s in question and these show that both aircraft
However, before "Limping Lizzie" was finally condemned, she was formally allotted to the RAAF for a brief period. In February 1944, when 1PRU were down to just one Lightning and there were no replacements in prospect, the Fifth Air Force were persuaded to allot three very tired F-4s to the RAAF. Two of these Lightnings were actually delivered to RAAF Amberley where they were found to be so badly deteriorated that they were rejected. One of these aircraft was 41-2156, the former "Limping Lizzie". The other was 41-2217, the aeroplane which Geoff Atherton probably flew on 15th August 1943.
The main RAAF operator of Lightnings was No 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit. For more information please see the page for 1PRU.
|These profiles of 41-2156 (top) and 41-2220 (bottom) were drawn by noted aviation artist, Juanita Franzi, for a book on No 75 Squadron RAAF. The profiles show the aeroplanes as they would have appeared at the time of their delivery to 75 Sqn. It is believed that the "Limping Lizzie" nose art was removed from 41-2156 prior to the delivery flight. Photographs suggest that 41-2220 was not carrying any nose art while with the 8th PRS. Photographs indicate that both aircraft carried roundels with bars outboard on the tail booms. Since the above profiles were prepared, it has emerged that both aircraft carried roundels without bars on both surfaces of both wings. The two aircraft were finished in Haze Paint as originally delivered to the 8th PRS. The above images are linked to larger versions.|
The best reference to the markings
carried by the 75 Sqn Lightnings is a poor quality air-to-air photograph
Subsequently, this very same photograph, along with two similar images, turned up in Geoff Atherton's photo album. Once again we are endebted to Neville Rourke for sharing these photos with us.
The above image is linked to a larger version.
Click here for an enlargement of the aircraft in the middle photo.
The caption to the first two
photos reads: "G/CPT Woof Arthur & self over New Britian (sic)".
The caption to the last photo reads "On the way home". Whilst
this latter caption may be construed to refer to the delivery flight (on
16 August 1943), it is clearly intended to mean "on the way home
from New Britain". At this time, 75 Sqn was based at Turnbull on
Milne Bay. New Britain is north of Turnbull and Port Moresby (from where
the aircraft were delivered) is west of Turnbull. Clearly these photographs
cannot have been taken on the delivery flight on 16 August 1943 if the
aircraft were over New Britain. To establish when these photos were taken,
we need to refer to Geoff Atherton's log book. Neville Rourke suggests
that the date could have been 20 October 1943 when Geoff Atherton flew
a 2 hour 45 minute mission on a photo recce to Talasea and Arawe Harbour
(both in New Britain). The log also records that "W/C Arthur took
56". Thus we have the correct match of aircraft, pilot and destination
to suggest that these three photos could have been taken on 20 October
1943 but we cannot eliminate other possibilities. If these photos were
taken in October 1943, they serve a useful purpose by proving that 41-2156
(at least) was still carrying a roundel with bars at the midpoint of its
four month service with 75 Squadron. The photos also demonstrate that
41-2220 carried a conventional roundel without bars on the upper surface
of the starboard wing. (Other photographs have since confirmed that both
aircraft carried roundels without bars on both surfaces of both wings).
Although the markings "56" are clearly visible on the cowlings and fin/rudder, it is not possible to discern any nose art. The most interesting feature of the markings is that the USAAF insignia has been overpainted with a blue and white roundel with bars! This suggests that the markings were altered by 8th PRS prior to the handover to 75 Sqn as the RAAF would not have painted the aircraft in this fashion. It is possible that any nose art may have been removed at the same time. (In the event that the 75 Sqn pilots, while training with 8th PRS, had become familiar with "their" aircraft by name, their subsequent delivery to 75 Sqn without nose art may have led to some confusion and mistaken identities). Close-up photographs of
It is known that the
Further information on photographic Lightnings can be found at the 34th PRS Website which also features an excellent treatment on Haze Paint. Special thanks to Rich Faulkner, the 34th PRS Webmaster, for sharing this material.
Special thanks also to Juanita Franzi
for her superb artwork
three of Juanita Franzi's Lightning profiles on one page.
If you can contribute
any additional information, please email the author:
Special thanks to Nev Rourke for Geoff Atherton's photos and logbook extracts.
Thanks also to:
Opening paragraph expanded.
Minor formatting changes to the list of pilots.
Several sources state that the 75 Sqn Lightning pilots included one "Spud" Jones but his full name and rank are not usually quoted. Neville Rourke has established that there was a Flying Officer Peter Jones flying Lightnings with 75 Sqn so it has been assumed that they are one and the same.
Added three more photographs from Geoff Atherton's photo album thanks to Neville Rourke.
Also made minor alterations to the order and ranks of 75 Sqn pilots known to have flown the Lightnings. The total number and names are unchanges although some first names or initails have been added.
This section has been greatly expanded with new material drawn from the files of RAAF Command HQ held in the National Archives of Australia Series A11093 Item 3081559. With thanks to Peter May. There are now separate pages for 1PRU and 75SQN.
Added further evidence to suggest that A55-3 was previously 41-2122. (This now appears on a separate page for 1PRU)
Added the full name for "Monty" Mountseer thanks to Tony who advises that his friend Graham Victor Mountseer passed away on 24th July 2001.
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