Mighty Atom Lancaster 35 Missions

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Sgt Pilot Bernard Henson RAFVR, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    No need for me.... but 576 may want it
  2. Hi Harry, PD363 did indeed fly that number of operations: her first was on 14 Oct 44 to Duisberg and her final fateful op was Dessau on 07/08 Mar 45. Initially coded UL-Y2 (4 ops), she was re-coded UL-K2 and flew a further 41 ops. So the photo must be after her 35th op to Kleve on 07/08 Feb.
    The regular crew for 363 at that time were:
    Fg Off G H Paley - Plt
    Sgt R Beales - FE
    Sgt R Potter - AB
    Sgt R P Belshaw - N
    Sgt G B Burns - WOp
    Sgt R Black - MUG
    Sgt C S Mason - RG

    Hope that helps!

  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I think Kevin's explanation for PD 363 being named "The Mighty Atom" is most likely.

    Until the dropping of the atom bombs in August 1945,the term "atom" was not in regular language currency outside scientific research.I doubt that the public at large would be aware of the work of Rutherford and the Cavendish Laboratory in the atomic research taking place in the 1930s unless they had a scientific background. In addition,I would say that there was no information in the public domain relating to the heavy water raid and its association with the development of an atomic bomb..However the term atom or atome was referenced from the 16th century.

    Regarding the aircraft,I wonder what the circumstances were for the squadron aircraft identification to be changed from UL -Y2 to UL-K2. Could it be that UL-Y2 was u/s under repair and was replaced by a replacement aircraft which took its identification of UL-Y2. Then on return after repairs to the squadron, PD 363 was allocated the squadron aircraft identification of UL-K2. However it would have no bearing on the operational and maintenance history of PD 363 which would recorded as normal against an aircraft's serial number.

    Further as regards the squadron identification,the inclusion of "2" appears to be non standard,does it indicate a replacement aircraft after the previous one was lost to the squadron?.Aircraft losses were soon replenished and I have seen a reference that two aircraft were lost on a squadron in succession having the same squadron identity,in succession and the second replacement was quickly delivered to the squadron within days,making it three with the same squadron identity.

    In the absence of the original photograph,from the newly revealed operational data, the bomb symbols must have represented operations.I have tried to trace a photograph of PD 363 without success but from the evidence of Matt ,it would appear that the total aircraft ops amounted to 45.

    Back in August I was in St Clement of Rome Church,Fiskerton for a christening and found that there is quite an impressive dedicated section to those who served at RAF Fiskerton. Unfortunately I had to rely on a phone camera and the result was not as I would wished it to have been.A church, well worth visiting for its recording of the history of squadrons and individuals who served at RAF Fiskerton.

    D W Fell's website..www.northlincswebsite.net gives extensive information on No 576 Squadron crews and their ops.The Paley crew were lost on their 29th op and would have had the option of standing down after their 30th op.

    George H Paley and crew 576 Sqn
  4. Hi Harry and thanks for the interesting post!
    I’d like to plug my own www.576squadron.com which although in its infancy, will be a much more in-depth view of 576 than has been seen before. Also I have a membership of over 300 relatives in my Facebook group ‘576 Squadron’. My 576 archive now comprises over 40Gb of data including many logbooks, photographs, service records, documents, ORBs, op orders and reports, and profiles (eventually) of all 1,611 crews in 576’s two short years of service.
    Regarding the ‘squared’; because 103 were already based at Elsham, the second sqn (576) annotated their codes with a 2 to avoid radio confusion. This happened at most 2-Squadron stations. Interestingly, when 625 merged into 576 at Fiskerton, their aircraft were all given a ‘2’ and 576 reverted to just a single letter so that an ex625 aircraft would be UL-A2, the 576 Lanc would be UL-A.
    Aircraft changed their codes not infrequently but I cannot work out why either.
    My father was a pilot on 576 - his chariot was ND903 UL-R2 and he completed his tour earning a DFC on the way. I was a Nav on 100 Sqn in the 80s.
    The Mighty Atom was certainly taken from the boxer: I have his painting which I would assume was the influence behind PD363’s nose art. I have a fine collection of 576 nose art but the Mighty Atom still remains a mystery. How I’d love to see that photo!
  5. Incidentally I was at Fiskerton on Remembrance Sunday this year with a wonderful 576 veteran and we both laid wreaths for 576 at the memorial on the airfield. It’s a beautiful church indeed!
  6. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Would a potential explanation for the "squared" "2" code be where a Squadron had too many aircraft for the normal alphabet and had to then add the "2" to differentiate the duplicate letter? I could visualise situations where either a crew had an attachment either to the basic code or to a squared letter wanting to keep that code. Alternatively, if one Squadron was being "beefed up" to provide the nucleus for a new Squadron being formed on their station, then the extra aircraft would need the squared letter whilst the new Squadron was being formed, say from "C" Flight..... so the late alphabet letters would be most commonly "squared" before being given a separate Squadron code.

    But that's simply a theory, I haven't access to the way the Air Ministry decided things 70 odd years ago
  7. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Sorry but this is incorrect
    " "Atomic" was the big pre-WWII science fiction "handwavium," with atomic drives powering spaceships, atomic weapons fighting wars, and atomic energy fueling empires. When WWII ended, however, atomic was real."

    As a one time collector of popular SF I can confirm that 'atomic' was indeed used freely in magazines and books. For example in Air Wonder Stories published in 1929. Whilst nobody had much idea of how it would work it was seen as the wonder source of future energy. It wasn't just used in SF though - in 1918 the US Tank Board sent George Patton a copy of a proposal for a Hetherington type fighting vehicle with 100 ft wheels and naval guns and asked for his comments. He pointed out the diminutive size of the engine compartment and dryly asked who was providing the "atomic engine".
    Robert Heinlein's classic novella 'Blowups do happen' about the dangers of nuclear power appeared in the Sept 1940 edition of the very popular Astounding. (incidentally part of this appears to have been later nicked for the opening of a Star Trek film when the Klingons manage to cripple their own civilisation) Astounding was also distributed in Britain. Another American SF mag of the time published a somewhat grim story of the RAF bombing Germany with atomic weapons. Whilst these were more akin to dirty bombs than fission devices they were still referred to as atomic. I could go on (and on) but the point is that atomic was in current use.
  8. No mate it’s much more simple than that as I described above
  9. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Incidentally,I have one further source in the house to check for the ops and maintenance record of PD 363 and I cannot find it....the only record I have is from the "Lancaster... the story of a famous Bomber" by Bruce Robertson, a very good reference to the development and operational record of the Lancaster and its derivatives....an abundance of Lancaster aircraft,the majority identified but no photograph of PD 363.

    PD 363's record is shown simply as "576 Sqn Oct 44.Missing 7/8 Mar 45"

    Squadrons based at Elsham Wolds...there is a good external display at the Anglian Water Treatment Plant and offices which are located roughly at the western end threshold of the main runway.I have seen the airfield deteriorate from being in relatively good condition to what it is now.The deterioration started as I see, when the Humber Bridge was built and the A15 was driven through the east side of the airfield in front of the control tower and a Business Park was then constructed.

    Matt....navigator on No 100 Squadron.....was Blue Shadow fitted assuming your time was on the bomber version.?...remember the gear being introduced a very long time ago in Bomber Command

    Your website looks to be up and coming...good luck with it.
  10. Hi Harry, sadly no I was Canberras on 100... and thank you for your kind comments re the website! It’s a major undertaking!

    The museum at Elsham is wonderful and if I may I’d like to give a plug to the Elsham Wolds Association and Robin Lingard who does an outstanding job looking after the museum: it’s a real treasure trove!

    Sadly I have no documentation whatsoever on file for PD363 so she will remain a mystery for at least the time being. I hope that elusive photo turns up one day!
  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    There is no reference to atom or atomic in the OED apart from reference to scientific research, similar disciplines and the later colloquialism that covers the era from about 500 years ago to the present day .No examples are given where atom or atomic was used in relation to novels and comics etc.Your reference to the use of atom and atomic in novels and comics together with the dangers of nuclear power.(the term "nuclear power" was never used at the date you state),would have had its origin from the work of attempting to split the atom which editors may have had some awareness.

    However, a glance at Heinlein's work on science fiction does not reference atom or atomic terms, neither does it reference "nuclear power" in 1941.He would have greater knowledge of atomic theory, post 1945 when details of the devices were gradually made public.

    The use of atom or atomic in language currency only became prominent among the general public after the atomic offensive against the two Japanese targets.I am sure that any reference to atom or atomic by the public would have been related to world events and not to novels and comics.

    As to the Lancaster being named "The Mighty Atom".The nickname of the boxer, Jimmy WIlde would be well known among the public at a greater awareness level and again is the most likely source of the name of PD 363...the Wilde family would be able to confirm that.
  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Have you actually read any of the inter war SF? Including Heinlein's Blowups can happen? If not then you do not have very much credence.
  13. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I can only refer to your credence in the discussion relating to the B 29...Washington thread.

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