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Thread: Tracing the history of a specific aircraft

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    Default Tracing the history of a specific aircraft

    Continuing with my researches into 149 squadron Stirling III, LK383 OJ-A, I am wondering whether there is any way of tracing the actual history of this aircraft.

    I do know that this particular aircraft had not been at 149 Squadron very long before it was lost on 6th August, 1944. An earlier OJ-A had been lost in early June, and this one was brought in as a replacement. According to the footnote in Chorley, this particular plane entered service at 90 Squadron on 9th October, 1943, and was passed onto 149 Squadron on 10th June 1944. "Apart from one spell of repairs, this Stirling appears to have had a trouble free life and when lost had flown 346.00 hours."

    I am curious to know if the spell of repairs was due to a crash or incident on operations, and if so what the circumstances were; and whether it was following the repairs that it was sent to 149 Squadron, or whether 90 Squadron was just getting rid of its Stirlings as part of the general phase out of this aircraft. Am I right in thinking that 346 hours makes it rather an elderly plane?

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    The Stirling Story by M.J.F. Bowyer has this on LK 383:
    XY-W/90 SQN 13.10.43, FB Accident 26.3.44, A/149 SQN 14.6.44, FTR 6/7.8.44 mining off Brest, crashed at sea.
    I believe that FB indicates battle damage but am no expert in damage codes although I am sure there are some out there who can give an exact answer.
    Dave Wallace

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    Thanks, David. I infer that the dates in the Stirling Story book are the first record of the plane being flown, and that the dates in Chorley refer to the date of its arrival at the Squadron. If anyone else can decipher the codes and offer further information I would appreciate it.

    I did do a bit of hunting about and it seems 90 Squadron converted completely to Lancasters around May/June of 1944, so suspect that the plane was sent to 149 Squadron for this reason -- it was about the last Stirling squadron at this time, and it too had converted to Lancasters by the end of August. It would, however, be interesting to know what the "accident" was and how serious, and whether it indeed resulted from "battle damage" (F=flak perhaps?). Also I am curious know whether the plane went back to 90 Squadron after its repairs, or whether it was reassigned straight to 149 Squadron. I have read somewhere that planes sometimes swapped squadrons after someone was killed in them, lest they gain a reputation as "unlucky", and have wondered whether this was the case here.

    I look forward to some further suggestions from the knowledgeable amongst us.
    Last edited by Natalie; 16th January 2009 at 06:41.

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    Hi Natalie,

    You need to use a combination of records.

    First contact DoRIS at RAF Museum, Hendon and ask for a copy the Form 78, Movement Card for the aircraft serial number.

    This is a small double sided card, approx A5 in size. It lists a number of details including a summary of all unit transfers (TOC and SOC) along with dates. Usually it also includes the reason for a transfer to a MU or on site repair. The details in the Stirling File are a summary of these.

    Once you have your hands on the card look for the dates of damage (Cat A, B, C etc) and then return to DoRIS and ask for copies of the Form 1180, Accident Card for that aircraft, date and unit. This is a summary of the accident.

    Finally have a look at the relevant ORBs at Kew (Squadron and Station) for more details on crew, operation, circumstances etc.

    MU ORBs do not contain details of individual aircraft, only monthly stats.

    FB is just a shorthand for what caused the damage, not the category.
    FB - Flying, Battle
    FA - Flying. Accident

    For a rough estimate assume 5 hrs per op - 346 hrs - approx 70 ops - take off 50 hrs or so for airtests - 60 ops tops. Tour for crew is approx 30 ops so aircraft was not too long in the tooth and if non op training duties taken into account could be considered to have carried out about one and a half tours.

    Regards
    Ross
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    Ross,

    Thanks for this detailed advice. Obviously I am going to have to do this by correspondence or phone call as I am not in the UK. Do you know if they are agreeable to this? Also, for the benefit of the ignorant could you please decode DoRIS as first of all I thought the librarian must be called Doris!

    Natalie

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    Unfortunately looking into the history of one specific aircraft does entail reference to original documentation held in national archives.

    If you go to the RAF Museum web pages and do a search on DoRIS it brings up the contact details and an overview of archive.

    DoRIS stands for Department of Research and Information Services but sending an email FAO DoRIS or asking for DoRIS on the telephone will get you immediately through to the correct extension.

    A word of caution DoRIS will not carry out detailed personal research hence I suggested getting the Form 78 first then asking for specific Form 1180s as I suspect a blanket request for all accidents listed on Form 78 may be declined.

    For Kew, it probably would be lowest cost to employ a researcher for a day who knows their way round the archives rather than online ordering of a range of pages from the ORBs. PM me if you want more details on this option.

    Regards
    Ross
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