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Catalina I  AH531 [Royal Air Force Aircraft Serial and Image Database]

 Catalina I  AH531

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Bismarck sightingMalcolm ,et al, further to my earlier posting to this thread i can now add the following , All means available were utilised to find the BISMARK once the intelligence reports of her departure had been confirmed .Shortly before 06.00 hrs on the 24th May 41, the Bismark was engaged by the battle cruiser HMS HOOD in the Denmark stait .The German naval gunners swiftly found their mark and with it ,it is believed , the defensive weakness in the deck armour of the Hood .with a massive explosion the magazines devasted the ship ,killing 92 officers and over 1,400 crew .Only 3 ratings survived . Aircraft of coastal command were involvedin the search that followed for the German battlegroup.Weather conditions were in the Germans favour with high winds and extensive cloud cover . Three Catalinas of No 210 sqd took off from OBAN at 13.45 hrs on the 25th MAY with orders to provide a search search pattern to cover any possible break by the Bismark back to Norway.South of ICELAND ABOUT 0120HRS ,on the 26th May ,Catalina "A", AH531 ,flown by F/L BARRY AIKMAN ,reported flying over the wake of a major vessel at position 5403N .2750W,ON A COURSE OF 150 DEGREES. The ship did not respond to any recognition signals despite the aircraft circling at 500ft .Lack of fuel prevented this unknown ship being shadowed until dawn and its identity was not establisheduntil well after the successful conclusion of the hunt for the German raider.(HMS NORFOLK). Against all the odds of finding a capital ship in the vastness of the ATLANTIC, the Bismarkwas found again, much further South than had been expected and under full steam for BREST.The aircraft responsible was Catalina "Z-ZEBRA" of 209 sqd then based at LOUGH NEAGH ,Piloted by P/O Denis Alfred Briggs. The a/c had emerged from cloud at a height of 2,000 ft, and found itself engaged by accurate aircraft fire from a large capital shipwas was unmistakeably the Bismark .W/op Alan Martin then transmitted the signal indicating the discovery immediately , as the crew fully expected to be shot from the skies at any moment. The estimated position of the German vessel was 690 miles from Brest on the French coast . The avoiding action taken by "Z-ZEBRA" Meant that the BISMARK was again lost , this time for 2 hours ,Briggs came across another searching CATALINA "M",OF 240 SQD and signalled to its pilot ,F/O GOOLDEN , by gesture only , the last known course of the german unit .The 240 sqd a/c, again made contact with the Bismark and continued to shadow her whilst BRIGGS returned to LOUGH NEAGH . Swordfish of the FLEET AIR ARM ,then relieved GOOLDENS a/c respectfully keeping just out of range of the ships flak. It is interesting to note that on board both of the CATALINA Aircraft mentioned the second pilots were both UNITED STATES NAVY VOLUNTEERS . FIVE A/C from 210 sqd were despatched to shadow the BISMARK. Catalina W8416 flown by F/L PERCY HATFIELD , made contact with the Bismark at 2350 hrs from a height of 4,000 ft,a ....Read More.phill jones on 3rd October 2010 04:35:30
Bismarck sighting[QUOTE=Resmoroh;54584]A number of Googled sites disagree! From It was not until 1010 on 26 May [1941] that British luck changed. A British Catalina aircraft of No. 209 Squadron [Castle Archdale], piloted by US Navy observer Ensign Leonard B. Smith, USNR (US Naval Reserve), spotted Bismarck at a range of about eight miles. While Ensign Smith flew the aircraft and evaded accurate German antiaircraft fire, his British copilot radioed a report of the enemy warship's location. See also and The plot thickens!! Who was in the left-hand seat up the Front Office? Also (and this is a minor neutrality point), from Lough Erne (in N Ireland) the shortest route to the N Atlantic was across c. 5 miles of Irish (Eire) territory! Every time an RAF Catalina transgressed did the Irish Govt send 'stiff note' of complaint - and the UK Foreign Office send a voluminous apology!! And everybody got on with what they had been doing before??!!! And what, one might ask, was Lt L B Smith, USNR, doing in a belligerent a/c a few months before his Boss had included the USA in WW2 subsequent to Pearl Harbour (7 Dec 41)?!!! The Kreigsmarine could have called an international foul!, and demanded a replay! HTH Peter Davies[/QUOTE] An old posting that, hopefully, somebody is still follow. FYI, the source provided above does not have the correct details on the American naval pilot in the aircraft - the internet is wrong - oh my God! Ensign Smith was regular navy (USN), not a reserve officer (USNR) and "B" is his complete middle name. There were several other USN aviators flying in aircraft that were hunting for Bismarck. As mention below, all were part of the USN technical team instructing the RAF Coastal Command flight crews in proper operations with the new planes. The group consisted of seventeen (17) men, all of whom were regular navy. The others that flew operational sorties patrols during the hunt included: Lt. George Ervin Hughes, USNA32 [Catalina AH547: DA-H/210 Squadron, F/O Southwell] Lt. Robert John Costley Maulsby, USNA32 [Catalina AH531: DA-A/210 Squadron, F/Lt Aikman, DFC] Ens. Joseph Lee Hall, USN [Catalina W8416: DA-O/210 Squadron, P/O Powell] Ens. Leonard B Smith, USN [Catalina AH545: WQ-Z/209 Squadron, F/O Briggs] Ens. Carl Ward Rinehart, USN [Catalina W8416: DA-O/210 Squadron, F/Lt Hatfield - (VLR, endurance 32 hrs)] Lt. Johnson USN [Catalina AH546: BN-M/240 Squadron, P/O H. Godden - I need to look up Johnson's details and verify the rank is correct.] Of course, the RAF had no rank of Ensign, and as regular officers they were universally referred to "Lieutenants" and written up as such in the ORBs. Correct ranks and complete names come from USN records. Mark E. Horan ....Read More.CharlesRollinsWare on 14th March 2012 11:17:19

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