Wings Over Malta - New Book Available!
You may have read our previous review on "Wings Over Summer" by former RAF pilot Ron Powell from the UK. Well, he's just penned another, building off the success of his epic novel of day to day life on the ground and in the air during the Battle of Britain. Ron's stories of how pilots had to adapt or die, told through the character's viewpoint. He paints a vivid image of what it must have been like. Now, with "Wings Over Malta" we get a glimpse into an equally desperate and pivotal air battle, with Malta being starved out entirely. Low on food, low on fuel, low on aircraft -- the allies hang on to a tiny but critical stronghold during the war.
Canadians have a special interest in the Malta air war as many Canadian pilots fought there, from George Beurling (RAF pilot with highest Malta success) to Irving Kennedy (who wrote a book later in life called "Black Crosses Off My Wing-tip" an excellent book) and many other Canadians.
The book "Wings Over Malta" is now available on Amazon (paper back or your e-reader), and here's a little extra on it ...
Ron Powell’s, new book, Wings Over ... read more ...
Yugoslavian Mystery surrounds Canadian Pilot
A Yugoslav (Croatia today - Yugoslavia in WWII) airplane modeler has a mystery on his hands that he hopes someone can assist with. This modeler / enthusiast began in earnest back in the 1980s, and, seems to choose aircraft which crashed in his neck of the woods, which for him is Makarska. He has interviewed many locals (even recently), and, seems to be interested in primarily one pilot's (Brodie) aircraft, while also posting and asking about a second. He has added dozens of photos for various aircraft that crashed in then Yugoslavia, along with pilot names, and, first person interviews with locals on the fate of the pilot. His English is not perfect, however, he did pen something for us to place in the blog here with respect to the particular aircraft he's researching. The attached the image (left) to his email, pilot #1 is Brodie.
He is looking for just one letter from the marking on an aircraft (ironically the first aircraft he started with back in the 1980s and 300 kits later, he's returning to his first for more information). The spitfire pilot is Canadian Flt/Lt John McAndrew Brodie. Anyone? Just log in and post a reply (question) ... read more ...
Although the site is new, children, grand-children, and, other relatives have been finding this site and posting pilot and aircraft content. It's very exciting to see family held content come alive with ground crew or pilot information related to the Spitfires their fathers flew or maintained. Here is some of the latest;
Spitfire MT856 Youthful mechanics moving a Spitfire in Burma or India, from the son in law of a pilot (see image top left).
Spitfire JF344 Question on Roundelle for this aircraft, and a new squadron image.
John Bendixson Recce Recce pilot whose son has posted some of his father's gripping sortie stories as comments to his father's page.
Sir Archiblad Foley The grand-daughter of Sir Archibald Foley from NZ (RNAZ) created his page, and, has linked his page to many (or every) Spitfire her Grandfather flew.
Henry Sprague Canadian Hurricane (B of B) and Spitfire pilot later POW Stalag Luft III (of Great Escape fame). Recently passed at close to 100 and new information added to his page.
It's very easy to add more information for a pilot. A user (any user) can log in, ... read more ...
Volunteer Effort / Sponsors
At present, we use Google Ads to help cover our hosting costs of this custom built site linking pilots to aircraft. This is a Laravel custom coded site with some new features (and probably a lot of bugs to iron out also), and, we hope to add many more features in time to keep Spitfire enthusiasts reading, and, also adding to the content that everyone enjoys.
So we'll run some Google ads from time to time in an attempt to hosting cover costs, please support us by visiting them. The site has no other goal (financially) than to ensure it's hosting costs are covered, and as yet (Dec 2016) about 1/3 of that cost is being covered by Google ads. As traffic grows the cost will be met. If there is anything left, it will be donated to warchild.org. The site is completely volunteer driven, that's software development, adding pilots or parsing donated databases, helping users add content, and, of course, bug fixing. If you have a request, send it along or comment here.
Kurt read more ...
500 Canadian Spitfire Pilots (KIA / FA) Added to Site!
Thanks to Mr. Halliday (Distinguished Canadian Military Historian) who provided a database of all Canadian (RCAF / RAF) pilots who died in WWII. Most were KIA (operational), but a large number died in flying accidents (FA). We have thus added 500 Spitfire pilots to the database. The database as provided included all aircraft types (I wrote some code to filter for Spitfire), and, each row in the database included a key piece of information we were after -- the aircraft serial number flown, along with name, rank, squadron, date, burial location, home province (there are some as USA -- Americans who joined via Canada), marital status, and, how this pilot was killed (e.g. KIA, FA).
(Photo: Photo by Department of National Defence, PMR 76-212).
Because of this import, others can come along and fill in even more information using our wiki, i.e. images, comments / questions (users can "follow" a pilot twitter style and get informed when a question is asked / answered), additional text, and, more. We'd love to know more about each pilot, their pre-war activity, their home-town, and more of their training and operational histories. These pilots and aircrew had their young lives interrupted and became warriors. ... read more ...
Featured Pilot Every Month
On our home page, we have a "FEATURED" link which currently features the pilot Laurie Whitbread added to this site by author and RAF veteran Ron Powell (and the book review is coming soon - it's begun). Wings Over Summer contrasts the recent book we reviewed ("Spitfire vs 109 : Decisive Duel") in that it's a more personal story following a pair of Spitfire RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain. I've only just started, but I am very much enjoying it. Wings Over Summer is a novel focusing on two characters, inspired by an RAF pilot whose grave Ron passed all the time as a child. Pilot Laurie Whitbread was graciously added to this site by Ron.
Our next featured pilot (image top left - will be featured on the home page in December) is reconnaissance pilot John Bendixson. John's son added his father's listing to this site, with images, links, squadron information, and, even Spitfire serial numbers flown. John's father was a photo reconnaissance pilot, and, his son just added an article / documentary based on ops records of a low level flight over Brest France. Eventually, we'll do a feature article on recon pilots, ... read more ...
Book Review: "The Decisive Duel: Spitfire vs 109"
From time to time, we'll feature a book that includes the Spitfire or Spitfire pilots. Any user is welcome to add comments to this post suggesting another good book, or, submit a review, or just wait until we read another and post the review here. I am currently reading "The Decisive Duel: Spitfire vs 109:" by David Isby. First, the overview from Amazon itself, then, the review below.
"London, 15 September 1940. In and out of the clouds above the British capital, one of the most decisive battles of the Second World War was taking place. The Luftwaffe's massive air assault aimed to force Britain to sue for peace or, by seizing air superiority, make possible the cross-Channel invasion Hitler's generals were planning. Churchill himself watched the climactic battle unfold from the RAF operations room in Uxbridge. He asked what reserves the British had in the battle over London: 'There are none', came the reply. Every available squadron was in the air.
The air battle over Britain shaped the course of the entire war. But the fight that day was itself shaped by the duel between the two most advanced types of warring fighter planes: the British Supermarine Spitfire and ... read more ...
Become a Contributor, Editor, or Board Member
We are looking for contributors, editors, and, board members to help guide the site, and, help shape the feature-set, research objectives, member engagement features, and content.
Anyone can apply, we're hoping to build a group from around the world, from the various countries that supplied pilots to fly the Spitfire (and other RAF types) during WWII.
Our goal is to support memorial projects, by honouring each and every Spitfire pilot. We're not just after the aces, we'd like to document all pilots, where they came from, their story, including their post-war story, if they survived. That will require content sources from museums, archives, family members and others - and that's where we need help. It will also require a fair bit of research.
For example (image top left), we just loaded Flt Lt H G Harwood (RCAF) to the site, and linked to his Spitfire via a serial number found in segment of book on 126 Wing on Amazon, based on the marking VZ-S in the image. From there, his page now links to the Spitfire page for the aircraft he flew on that day, which in turn gives the full history of the aircraft. This is one ... read more ...
390 Pilots added thanks to RAF Museum Archive Records
The RAF Museum maintains an archives with pilot log books. The story of how the RAF came to maintain the log books itself is fascinating, and in their words;
"When aircrew were reported missing their effects were collected together and held in a central depository. Whilst in most cases their property was later handed over to next of kin, unclaimed logbooks were retained by the Air Ministry. By 1959, these unclaimed logbooks covered some 6500 feet of shelving. It was decided that representative samples would be preserved in the Public Record Office and the remainder destroyed at the end of 1960. This decision was announced in the Press and a number of people claimed logbooks. But the vast majority were destroyed, ironically just a few years before the RAF Museum was founded."
Wow! At least some were preserved, but what did we lose? We (allspitfirepilots.org) were given an XML file containing summary information on these remaining log books. The file contains a record for each pilot log book in the collection, so there were some duplicates in the 500 records. We were able to successfully parse (using code) all of these records, and add 390 pilots to the site, with ... read more ...
Comments can now be added to Blog Entries - Use this Entry to post Bugs
We're still in BETA mode, and, a recent change allows comments to be posted on blog entries.
Eventually, we'll add the code to allow a user to "follow" a blog, or, other article types (or forums) we add in the future. At present, we're testing some new features, and, of course -- testing the software as users add pilots. This site is built with Laravel 5.0, a new platform that brings PHP into the Ruby on Rails style of construction. The relationships e.g. comments to blogs, aircraft serials to pilots, and, users to pilots are all custom. The site has a lot of potential to support both researcher and enthusiast goals.
Comments are welcome from users trying out the site, and, while we're at it, post any bug reports or feature requests here as well. Should we add plain old forums, or, is our "forum per pilot" the way for users to engage each other with the ability to follow a pilot. For questions (a form of comment) on a pilot or aircraft page, should we allow voting so the best answer floats to the top?
What do you want to see most, and what else can the site provide ... read more ...