Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Serial Num search

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    Posts
    2
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Serial Num search

    Greetings,
    I am helping a friend go through his Dads log book and he has in there the Typhoons he flew for 83GSU, 174SQ and 245SQ, but he has the Large serials logged, ie RB328, XP-D, MR-B etc. Is there was to cross reference those markings with the actual serial numbers and be able to see the history, if it exists, of those airframes?
    Thanks a bunch in advance,
    Bret in the US

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    268
    Thanks
    17
    Thanked 45 Times in 41 Posts

    Default Re: Serial Num search

    Aircraft on RAF charge were allotted Air Ministry serials at manufacture and were already on the aircraft on delivery to a unit.
    An aircraft always displayed its serial no which remained the same throughout the airframe's service (with some technical exceptions).
    Commonly on the rear fuselage near the tailplane. You show one such in your examples:

    RB328 (a Typhoon 1B, stuck off charge on 31 Jan 1946, no other history recorded).

    Identities in that form (aannn) are Air Ministry serials.
    The other examples you showed are all Squadron id letter/aircraft call letter combinations. Commonly these are referred to as Squadron codes.
    A Squadron only changed its id (code) letters if a service-wide Air Ministry Order was issued.
    The allocation of Squadron letters (codes) was altered more than once in the course of the war and there are sources listing these by Squadron and period.

    So for example, while XP was allotted to No. 174 Squadron RAF (174 Sqn for short) from Mar 1942 to Sep 1945 (Typhoon 1B Jan 1943 to Aug 1945), at other times it was used by No 457 Squadron RAAF and by No 318 (Polish) Squadron.

    Likewise MR was allotted to No 245 Squadron RAF (245 Sqn for short) from Jan 1941 onwards (Typhoon 1B Apr 1943 to Sep 1945) and at other times to No 186 Squadron RAF and to No 97 Squadron RAF.

    The allocation of call-letters was a Squadron or Unit matter.
    Usually a single letter, voiced as the phonetics list of the day: A-Able eg.
    Occasional variants incl eg a subscript or superscript numeral (forget which but say A2 eg) and other characters: a large ? is known, eg. How voiced I know not.

    It is entirely possible for the same aircraft to carry a different call letter at different dates.
    A-Able may become J-Jig, while A-Able may well be given to successive aircraft on the same Squadron over time, for obvious reasons.
    In service, depending on location, ops tempo, and so on, an aircraft might have
    Squadron and aircraft letters, usually either side of the fuselage roundels
    Only Squadron id letters
    Only Aircraft call letter
    No letters at all.

    In short, aircraft histories are available by AM Serial, not by Squadron/aircraft letters.

    His Flying Log Book will record which Squadrons and other Units the pilot was posted to and when.
    In the case of Squadrons, in the current pandemic, the UK National Archives is closed and has given free access to on-line Squadron RAF Operations Record Books in digitised form.
    Free to view (watermarked) or (after registering) to download, unmarked.

    There you can match the Flying Log Book dates to the Squadron diary (Form 540, Summary of events) and sortie/operation records (Form 541 Record of events).
    These may or may not give the serials v aircraft letters which you can then look up elsewhere for aircraft history.

    The overall reference for Squadron Operations Record Books is AIR 27 and for Squadron Combat Reports, AIR 50.
    All these are digitised and available for both Squadrons, see

    174 Sqn
    Combat reports AIR 50/71 1944 Sept.-1945 Feb. See http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...ils/r/C1912600 and browse from there.
    Operations Record Books AIR 27/1108 and AIR 27/1109 See http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...e/r/h/C2503747 and browse from there.

    245 Sqn
    Combat reports AIR 50/94: 1940 May - 1945 May See http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...e/r/h/C1912623
    Operations Record Books AIR 27/1482: 1944 Jan - 1945 Dec See http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...ils/r/C2504124

    Aircraft detail is often variable in these records: serial no (complete or truncated), a/c letter, both letter & no are all possible. So too is blank.
    So for 245 sqn Jan 1944 Record of events no aircraft serials were listed at all, just pilot names and brief op details.
    Note, sorties and operations are the terms, please.
    Combat reports are fascinating but do not record either AM serial or a/c call-letter.

    Squadron letters: two good sources
    Halley Squadrons of the Royal Air Force and Commonwealth 1918-1988 with Squadron by Squadron summaries
    Flintham and Thomas Combat Codes which has thorough coverage and date details.
    Readily available and someone here may look up the relevant dates for other Sqn or Unit codes of interest for you.

    Where you have serials, these can be looked up in the Air Britain RAF Aircraft series - for the example above I used
    Royal Air Force Aircraft PA100-RZ999 JJ Halley, Air Britain 1992.
    The level of detail recorded is again variable. There was a war on, after all.



    -----------------------------Appendix: Source Records---------------------------------------------------------
    I left detail of underlying source records out of my summary above, considering OP location, access etc.
    However for completeness and future ref, original records for individual RAF aircraft do exist.

    Held by RAF Museum.
    At best the Research Service there is hard pressed.
    More so in Covid-time - plus the current UK lock down.

    The principal holdings are
    Air Ministry Form 78: Aircraft movements card
    Air Ministry Form 1180 Accident Record Card
    Bomber Command Aircraft Loss Cards

    To make use of these, aircraft (AM) serial no is essential.
    Summary of records held: https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/researc...t-records.aspx
    Advice on access: https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/researc...enquiries.aspx

    For Bomber Command aircraft types only, digitised on-line sets exist. See
    Form 78 https://www.lancasterbombers.net/for...ovement-cards/
    Form 1180 https://www.lancasterbombers.net/for...-record-cards/
    Aircraft loss cards https://www.lancasterbombers.net/loss-cards/

    If there are other aircraft type sets on-line, I've not seen them, others may know more.
    As far I know, for these a request must be made to the RAF Museum, as noted.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 14th November 2020 at 02:35. Reason: 1. Addnl material on single call letters 2. Appendix 0n Source records
    Toujours propos

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    268
    Thanks
    17
    Thanked 45 Times in 41 Posts

    Default Re: Serial Num search

    Additional: 83 GSU

    83 GSU should be No 83 Ground Support Unit at Dunsfold, an element of the Second Tactical Air Force (2 TAF for short, later British Air Forces of Occupation BAFO from mid 1945 )
    There are several on-line mentions, easily found, some incl pilots, some aircraft. These indicate 3 GSU work incl necessary aircraft modifications (and hence need for pilots to carry out air tests post-mod).

    If there are records in The National Archives UK, I could not get Discovery http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ to show them: possibly within or under some other 2 TAF element/title.

    Perhaps for a similar reason 83 GSU seems not to be mentioned in Sturtivant RAF Flying Training and Support Units Since 1942 (Air Britain 2007), under it's own title or among the several 2 TAF entries.

    With 2 TAF units and work, I'm now well out of my ground. Others may well have more to offer.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 13th November 2020 at 22:43.
    Toujours propos

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Bristol, England
    Posts
    1,384
    Thanks
    15
    Thanked 15 Times in 14 Posts

    Default Re: Serial Num search

    Don

    For "Ground Support Unit" read "Group Support Unit" , page 161 in FT & SU since 1912, 2007 edition

    DaveW

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    137
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Default Re: Serial Num search

    Bret, further to Don's detailed explanation of the RAF's system, I can add that RB328 did have a service history; it does not appear in, for example, the Air-Britain serial registers as it spent its active service life with 83 Group Support Unit which many researchers do not count it as a flying unit.

    The GSUs were part of the 2nd TAF and were units responsible for supplying aircraft, ready for operations, to the squadrons within the parent Group. However, they were also responsible for keeping a pool of replacement pilots to replace losses on the squadrons and therefore ran a Training Flight for continuation or conversion training. 83 GSU had Typhoons, Tempests, Mustangs and Spitfires which carried '7S' code letters.

    RB328 was one of these machines which is recorded with that unit from 7 January 1945 to 21 January 1946, although it will probably have been inactive for the last few months of that period, as in August 1945 the GSUs were renamed Group Disbandment Centres and were mainly involved with the disposal of aircraft brought back from Germany.

    I have collected serial/code combinations for Typhoons for longer than I care to remember. However I only have two candidates for your XP-D and five for MR-B. Whether they are the aircraft you seek will depend on the dates they were flown, if you can supply them.
    Chris

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    268
    Thanks
    17
    Thanked 45 Times in 41 Posts

    Default Re: Serial Num search

    Dave, Chris, wonderful stuff!

    And what a blunder!
    Not only misread the GSU abbreviation for some dim reason but also missed the 83 Group Support entry on a careful (!) riffle through all Sturtivant's G... listings.

    TNA: 83 Group Support Unit AIR 29/823/2
    http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...ils/r/C7161638
    As an AIR 29 record, not digitised. In COVID-time lockdown inaccessible and otherwise only by Kew visit.

    Sturtivant/RAF FT&SU:
    "No.83 GROUP SUPPORT UNIT
    Formed 1.3.44 from Nos. 403, 405, 409, 410 & 419 Aircraft Repair Flights at REDHILL to maintain an immediate reserve of pilots and aircraft for No.83 Group squadrons and to prepare reserve aircraft to operational standard, a holding of 3 aircraft per squadron being maintained, having a Reserve Aircraft Section with an establishment of 90+0 operational aircraft, a Training Section with 2+1 Mustang III, 3+1 Typhoon IB, 2+1 Mustang l/ll and 8+2 Spitfire, and a Communication Section vith 2+0 Auster I/III; 25.6.44 BOGNOR (due to the V-1 threat, taking over the function of No.1310 Flt); 25.9.44 THORNEY ISLAND: 3.11.44 WESTHAMPNETT; 21.11.44 LASHAM; [Training Section planned Tangmere to Dunsfold 7.1.45]; 8.2.45 THORNEY ISLAND; 22.2.45 DUNSFOLD; Became No.83 Group Disbandment Centre 1.8.45. Aircraft: Mosquito FB.VI (LR402); Spitfire IX, XIV, XVI (NH175 7S-0); Martinet TT.l (EM701); Mustang I, III (AM102); Typhoon lb (MN135 7S-Q); Tempest V (EJ760 7S-H); Anson I, X, XI, XII (NL179); Tiger Moth II (T7471); Oxford (AB650); Auster III, V(MZ195). Code: 7S."

    Covered in ashes must be time for a cuppa on a late Spring morning.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 13th November 2020 at 23:39.
    Toujours propos

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    167
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 13 Times in 13 Posts

    Default Re: Serial Num search

    Hi all,

    You may not find the ORB for 83 GSU all that helpful in identifying individual aircraft. ORBs are dependent on the officer writing them up, but some years ago I looked at the ORB for 84 GSU, and unless you were either a notable personage or something important (usually catastrophic) had happened, there was no mention of individual pilots or aircraft. I can't post an image, but a typical example might read:

    "W/C Booth, R.C. Chaplain, visited the unit. P/O XXXX killed in Typhoon accident near (place). Pilots in 3, out 7. Aircraft in 8, out 6."

    As you can see, as well as the Staff pilots there was a huge turnover in pilots to be posted and aircraft for repair and distribution. I wasn't successful in finding records below this level (the ORB is only a 'Summary of Events'), but I would expect that individual flights including pilot and aircraft serial would have been recorded in a Flight Authorisation Log, all of which would have been disposed of long ago. That leaves individual pilot's log books - or the extensive detective work that Chris has undertaken.

    Good luck with your search.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    268
    Thanks
    17
    Thanked 45 Times in 41 Posts

    Default Re: Serial Num search

    All too common, the variable detail and accuracy of war-time and pre-war Squadron & other unit Operations Record Books.

    Still perhaps there'll be something of use here to the OP if he returns.
    Toujours propos

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    Posts
    2
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Re: Serial Num search

    All,
    Thank you very much for the wonderful information provided. I will dig through your responses and see where these threads lead.
    Cheers,
    Bret

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •