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Southern Aircraft Ltd Q Peter Amos and Brian Buss are trying to trace the history of Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd, a small company that arrived at the airport in 1939 which maintained aircraft and sold second-hand examples. During the Second World War it grew rapidly and repaired RAF aircraft, employing some 2,000 people at its peak, but the history of its work has never been revealed. Does anyone have family or friends who worked there or photos of the 50-plus types of aircraft worked on and test flown, the Lease-Lend aircraft they assembled or long-range fuel tanks they designed, made and patented? Any details of the hangars the Ministry erected for the company close to Lowfield Heath village? The research is being carried out as part of the activities of the Horley Local History Society and any help would be appreciated.
Honningstad Finnmark Q Following the piece on the Finnmark in the October issue, I am grateful to Leslie Dickson who sent a photograph of it at Fornebu Airport, Oslo, in September 1958 in a red and white scheme and fitted with floats, presumably indicating that the sponsons were not sufficient. Does anyone have any knowledge of this? This is the first illustration I have seen with floats or any other colour than the original, and wearing the registration LN-BFF. It was registered on July 14, 1955, to Norsk Flygindustri A/S, Oslo, and operated by Vestlandske Luftfartsselskap A /S, Bergen. On May 31, 1958 it moved to AS/S Norrønafly, Oslo. Its Certificate of Airworthiness expired on November 22, 1961 when it was withdrawn from use. The registration was cancelled on March 28, 1966 and the aircraft was broken up.
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Blackbushe Lancasters Q In our October issue Francis Osborn asked for any information about a line of Avro Lancasters he remembers seeing at Blackbushe in 1959.
Lancaster NX739 was used by Eagle Aircraft Services at Blackbushe for aerial photography – was it used in this role for the film The Dam Busters?A Martin Brunning has submitted two photographs taken at Blackbushe during an SBAC Farnborough Air Show week, but does not identify the year. They include RF311 and SW283, while an individual view showed RF311, all from the School of Maritime Reconnaissance, St Mawgan, Cornwall, which retired its last Lancasters in October 1956, so these are probably not the ones referred to. While on the subject of Blackbushe Lancasters, Geoff Dobson logged NX739 there in 1956 and recalls that it had a large gap under the fuselage which he believedLancasters of the School of Maritime Reconnaissance, St Mawgan, lined up at Blackbushe, date unknown. was where the bouncing bomb in the film The Dam Busters was carried – there was a rumour it had been used in the film. It was operated by Eagle Air Services for some time on aerial photography until replaced by an Avro Lincoln. I photographed it at Blackbushe, date not recorded, but it was quite standard then.
Film Cone of Silence Q Maurice Wood asked in October about an aircraft in the above film.
Avro Ashton WB493 painted up for the film Cone of Silence. rolls-royce via roy tilleyA Roy Tilley has submitted a Rolls-Royce photograph which shows Avro Ashton WB493 painted up for the film. Alan Butler’s Olympus – the inside story published by the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust in 2007 relates that the story concerned a fictitious aircraft which suffered a number of accidents and the film makers approached Boeing for use of a 707. The request was turned down and a lawsuit was threatened if the aircraft bore any resemblance to a 707, hence the six-engined Ashton which was unique and became the “Phoenix”! All the aircraft sequences were filmed at Filton, complete with potted palms to give the impression of an exotic foreign location, while air-to-air shots were from a Consul.