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70 OTU and Habbaniya, 1942

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70 OTU and Habbaniya, 1942

Old 13th Jan 2010, 14:08
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70 OTU and Habbaniya, 1942

I am doing some research on 2 of the smaller WWII units, 70 OTU at Nakuru, Kenya and the Iraq Comm Sqdn at Habbaniya. The dates I am looking at are from November 1941 to March 1942. 70 OTU operated the Blenheim I and IV, and I would like to know if anyone has a list of the serials of their aircraft at that time. I have a number already, and logbook references to others, either using the "last 4" (without the first letter) or even 2 digit serials, presumably codes. Anyone have anything on this, or know where I can get the data? I have tried Google, and not got far. Also I am looking at the fascinating Iraq Comm Sqd at Habbaniya. They had an amazing flight of museum pieces, even for that time, such as the Valentia, Gladiator and Audax, as well as a Tiger Moth or two. Any serial lists available? Again I have a number of "last 4"s.
Thanks

Laurence
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Old 13th Jan 2010, 14:34
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Are you aware of the Flying Training School (No 4 FTS) which was at Habbaniya at the time? The CO, a chap called Tony Dudgeon, wrote a book about it - not sure it has ac numbers but it is a good read.

The book is Amazon.co.uk: Used and New: The War That Never Was

Obituary: Air Vice-Marshal Tony Dudgeon - Telegraph
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Old 13th Jan 2010, 14:51
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Yes, they were the ones who fought in the Iraqi uprising at Habbaniya in May 1941, with some Valentia "bombers" from 244 I think, and an Audax or two I think! However, I cannot find the serial list I am looking for. I can make a few guesses, but just in case anyone has a list .....

Laurence
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Old 13th Jan 2010, 19:12
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Have you tried the RAF Habbaniya Association?

index
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Old 14th Jan 2010, 05:02
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Yes, I tried that. A good site but not quite what I want.
Thanks

Laurence
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Old 14th Jan 2010, 15:28
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70 OTU Blenheims

Herewith a list of Blenheims, of all three marks, used by 70 OTU which I think is 99% accurate. I'm sorry if it is a bit long but they had a lot of Blenheims and broke two thirds of them!

All the best,

L9172
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

70 OTU Blenheims

K7094 K7099 L1383 L1498 L1499 L1528 L1536 L4830 L4919 L4923 L6631 L6648 L6659 L6664 L8435 L8445 L8464 L8467 L8473 L8481 L8510 L8525 L8529 L9298 L9400 N6241 T2392 V5469 V5539 V5575 V5576 V5630 V5693 V5694 V5724 V5867 V5869 V5879 V5880 V5944 V5966 V6089 V6136 V6141 V6186 V6187 V6190 V6191 V6192 V6198 V6199 V6220 V6223 V6234 V6235 V6241 V6242 V6245 V6247 V6269 V6292 V6297 V6299 V6300 V6304 V6308 V6326 V6327 V6329 V6330 V6362 V6363 V6463 V6468 V6494 V6499 Z5884 Z6042 Z6070 Z6152 Z6154 Z6158 Z6159 Z6283 Z6366 Z6369 Z6380 Z6382 Z6424 Z6430 Z6435 Z6450 Z7505 Z7519 Z7621 Z7649 Z7679 Z7707 Z7762 Z7765 Z7777 Z7844 Z7850 Z7894 Z9587 Z9593 Z9610 Z9678 Z9680 Z9738 Z9744 Z9800 Z9804 AZ923 AZ926 AZ933 BA110 BA148 BA172 BA196 BA202 BA240 BA243 BA247 BA250 BA258 BA262 BA291 BA295 BA302 BA303 BA379 BA385 BA404 BA409 BA588 BA615 BA666 BA673 BA679 BA722


Losses
15/02/41 L8467
14/03/41 L6664
14/03/41 L8464
05/04/41 L8445
20/05/41 L4919
21/05/41 L8481
31/05/41 L8525
06/06/41 L1498
12/06/41 L4830
16/06/41 L8473
16/06/41 L8477
20/06/41 L1536
07/09/41 V6242
19/09/41 Z6424
28/09/41 Z6366
30/09/41 V5880
12/10/41 V5694
16/10/41 V5693
24/10/41 V6297
04/11/41 Z6159
17/11/41 Z7505
19/11/41 V6463
21/11/41 V6308
24/11/41 Z6158
26/11/41 V6299
06/12/41 V6494
10/12/41 L9298
15/12/41 V6190
18/12/41 V5576
21/12/41 Z6435
27/12/41 V6329
30/12/41 Z9610
07/01/42 V5539
23/01/42 V6292
06/02/42 Z7649
08/02/42 V6234
13/02/42 N6241
21/02/42 Z7777
26/02/42 V5879
27/02/42 L6659
04/03/42 V6235
29/03/42 V5575
02/04/42 V6191
08/04/42 T2392
23/04/42 V6245
07/05/42 V6296
11/05/42 V6220
11/05/42 V6326
15/05/42 Z6369
02/06/42 V5469
05/06/42 V6223
05/06/42 V6304
06/06/42 Z9800
20/06/42 Z7707
23/06/42 Z6042
24/06/42 V6330
06/07/42 Z7844
13/07/42 V5869
31/07/42 V6187
06/08/42 BA148
19/08/42 L8510
19/08/42 V6327
26/08/42 V5630
23/10/42 V5966
25/10/42 Z9678
31/10/42 V5867
04/11/42 Z6382
16/11/42 Z7621
23/11/42 Z7679
22/12/42 Z5884
26/12/42 BA172
28/12/42 BA615
06/01/43 BA243
08/01/43 BA240
12/01/43 BA385
04/02/43 BA262
18/02/43 BA247
11/03/43 BA291
27/03/43 BA145
17/04/43 AZ926
06/05/43 V5724
07/05/43 BA666
07/05/43 BA679
08/05/43 BA250
01/06/43 V6363
16/06/43 V6269
12/08/43 AZ933
25/09/43 Z9738
01/11/43 V6241
30/11/43 Z9587
10/12/43 Z7894
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Old 14th Jan 2010, 15:37
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Amazing L9172! Just what I want. I can now go through my last 4s and cross match them.
Did they carry "squadron" codes? Bowyer and Rawlings do not mention one for 70 OTU. I have logbook evidence of individual aircraft carrying codes between 1 and 72 in January 1942, mostly Mk IVs but number one was a Mk I it seems.

Thanks
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Old 14th Jan 2010, 15:44
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Very impressive L9172 - and you call yourself "a gentleman of leisure"!

Jack

PS Anything we ought to know about the origin of your monniker!
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Old 14th Jan 2010, 15:58
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L9172:
I just checked through the logbook of my friend. Everything tallies with your list, just needed the L, T, V, Z prefixes.
Except for one. He has "6634", a Mk I, as the first he flew at 70 OTU, on 16 and 17/11/1941. One to add to your list, or a misread?? I presume L6634.

I note that he flew some aircraft that were to be "lost" just a few days later!

Laurence
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Old 14th Jan 2010, 16:36
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70 OTU Blenheims

Hi Laurence,

Im glad the information was of use to you and thanks for the note about L6634. This aircraft was a Blenheim Mk I that, as far as I am aware, served only with 211 Squadron and was struck off charge in March 1944. However, 211 was disbanded in February 1942 to be reformed in August 1943 with Beaufighters. So where L6634 was between February 1942 and March 1944 I do not know, possibly stored at an MU. It is possible that it went to 70 OTU but I have no trace of it there. If you have any more information, I would be delighted to learn about it. On the other hand the log book entry could be a simple mistake and the aircraft could have been L6631.

70 OTU did not carry a unit code, individual aircraft carried only a numerical code. For instance Blenheim IV Z6152 was coded 47 and Blenheim V AZ938 was coded 52.
* * * * * * * * * *

Jack,

The moniker it was the serial of the Blenheim my father was killed in.

L9172
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Old 14th Jan 2010, 16:49
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Hello L9172 again. Sorry to hear of your father and that Blenheim.
I can ask my friend about "6634", but his entry is quite clear in the log book, and he flew it on two separate days. I think it must be genuine.
I must dig out my very old Air Britain books on the L series, but it is so wet and cold until the snow melts here that I am leaving them in their "shed".
I would very much like to tie up the aircraft codes with the serials.
I don't want to clutter up the site with too many numbers, although some of us like them! So if needed we can continue by PM or email.
However, the codes I am looking for are 1,2,4,21,24,26,29,30,35,41,42,44,48,49,62,73.
Cheers, Laurence
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Old 15th Jan 2010, 07:14
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For L9172

I wonder if you have details of the "losses" you recorded for the following in 70 OTU:
V6494 on 6/12/41, V6299 on 26/11/41, V5879 on 26/2/42. I found a report on L6659 having a tyre burst on takeoff on 27/2/42.
Thanks

Laurence
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Old 21st Jan 2010, 20:29
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70 OTU Blenheims

Hi Laurence,

Sorry about the delay, been rather busy. Here are short notes on the four Blenheims you queried specifically, I am still working on extracting from my lists the details of all the Blenheims lost at 70 OTU, and will send them to you by E-mail rather than clog up the PPRUNE site with lots of verbiage.

V6299 Mk IV. Served with 70 OTU. 26/11/41 with 70 OTU at Nakuru and crashed after hitting a tree near Kampiya Moto while on low flying practice. Sgt R.Hutton RAAF (flying solo) was killed and is buried in Nakuru North Cemetery.

V6494 Mk IV. Served with 70 OTU. 06/12/41 with 70 OTU at Nakuru and crashed in a forced landing at Engo Shura-Tembuki, 9 miles from Solat. Sgt Campbell was unhurt.

V5879 Mk IV. Served with 70 OTU. 26/02/42 with 70 OTU at Nakuru and crashed on take-off at base when the u/c collapsed.

L6659 Mk I. Served with 113, 55 Squadrons; 70 OTU. 27/02/42 with 70 OTU at Nakuru when a tyre burst on take-off at base, it swung and the u/c collapsed. P/O King (Instructor) and Sgt McDonald (Pupil) were unhurt.
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Old 22nd Jan 2010, 05:12
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Thanks for these extra details. Beautiful work

Laurence
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Old 14th Jan 2016, 17:25
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70 OTU

I have just registered with PPrune because I saw your interest in 70 OTU and the list of Blenheim registration numbers from 1942. Are you still interested in these? I have some from my father's log book which didn't make your list.
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Old 15th Jan 2016, 04:44
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Thanks for the offer pauldw. By all means publish your data.
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Old 15th Jan 2016, 14:08
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I believe Tony Dudgeon's son is a retired wg cdr, and either Vice Lord-Lieutenant or a Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London. Same entry as me at the Towers. He might have info.
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Old 15th Jan 2016, 17:28
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Please don't go underground

No - No - No ! Please don't take this awesome information exchange underground. Unless of course there's really private stuff.

These are not tedious or obscure cloggings. Information mining by you learned researchers is one of the the great attractions of Prune whether we bystanders have a personal interest or not.

Us amateurs who might aspire to occasionally offering something modestly useful or half accurate to these pages (see below for an example) iive in awe of threads such as this.

Here you have a respected and learned OP who appears to have exhausted this particular bit of research and within 24 hours, up comes the most comprehensive answer one might have wished for, plus what promises to be a further fertile source. It seems likely that neither source might have been "published" but for Laurence's original inquiry.

Two minor points to offer if I may - that may already have been covered or well known.

1. The National Archives at Kew appears to hold a file on 70 OTU - which you may well have tried http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...ails/r/C754446

2. An 'airframe number' (L1234 or PR123 etc) stays with the airframe during its entire life. Noting that 70 OTU appeared not to have a specific Unit ID Code (often a two letter code) the two digit 'side numbers' that in this case are used to identify different aircraft solely while on 70 OTU, would be painted on when the aircraft arrives on the unit and would be re-used when the aircraft leaves or is written off, crashed or SOC.

Thus it would be theoretically possible for L1234 with Side No 56, to be destroyed in the morning, replaced at lunchtime by L4321 from the MU on the other side of the field - painted No 56 in the afternoon and be on night flying as No 56, but as a completely different aircraft/airframe number. Thus it would be possible for Side No 56 to be written off and reused several times, though airframe L1234 could only be written off once and would not be reused except in exceptional circumstances.

Not all aircrew personal logbooks would show both the airframe and side number. Mine didn't because I couldn't write that small for the space provided, and because I didn't know any better at the time.

LFH

Last edited by Lordflasheart; 15th Jan 2016 at 17:43. Reason: clarification
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Old 15th Jan 2016, 19:48
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Please don't take this awesome information exchange underground

I concur that!

I've had great fun reading the long posting about 'The whistling wheelbarrow' and the one about transportation and on-site accomodation of military personel and their family.
Both is to imagine killed early by turning into personal messages but happily it didn't happen and I now know about Durbans 'Lady in White' and the multi-use of the Andover airlifting big loads!

Last edited by Flybiker7000; 15th Jan 2016 at 20:22.
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Old 16th Jan 2016, 12:17
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I worked in Kenya from 1968 to 1976 and had no idea that the OTU at Nakuru was such a busy place. For what it's worth the remains of a Blenheim were visible in Lake Nakuru during the dry season but before all you restorers dash out there I guess the fact that it's a soda lake won't have done it much good. There was a good article in Aeroplane Monthly about a "recovery" of a Blenheim that crashed on Mt Kenya.
On a lighter note I had a "I learnt about flying from that" moment taking off from Nakuru in a Cherokee 180, four up with full tanks in nil wind conditions at high(ish) altitude. I reckon breathing in on rotation was the only thing that got us airborne.
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