Flt Lt P.R. “Johnnie” Walker Q Alan Walker asks for details of the above pilot, his family background and subsequent career.
A Peter Caygill’s book In All Things First – No 1 Squadron at War 1939-1945 (Pen & Sword, 2009) says that Walker was a pre-war pilot and with 1 Sqn was part of the Air Component of the British Expeditionary Force in France during 1939 and early 1940. On returning from France he joined No 5 Operational Training Unit, Aston Down, as an instructor, later led 253 Sqn and in mid-1942 was Wing Leader at Tangmere, receiving a Distinguished Service Order for his role in the Dieppe Raid of August 1942. He later held a staff appointment at HQ No 11 Group before taking command of the Central Gunnery School at Sutton Bridge. Post-war Walker was Base Commander at Fassberg and retired in March 1946 as a Group Captain. He died in the early 1980s. Another book, Number One in War and Peace (Grub Street, 2000) by Norman Franks and Mike O’Connor, has a large number of references to Walker and his aircraft.
D.H. Albatross Q Harold Jeffries recalls a post-war cycle ride near Chipping Sodbury where the nose of a D.H. Albatross was found in a garage, and asks for details.
A Seven D.H.91s were built, two were written off at Reykjavik, G-AFDI was destroyed at Whitchurch in an air raid, ’FDJ and ’FDM were scrapped in September 1943, ’FDK crash-landed near Shannon on July 6, 1943, while ’FDL was similarly written-off near Pucklechurch, Glos, on October 6, 1940. Take your pick!
Short Sarafand S1589 in Short’s barge yard in August 1932.Short Sarafand Q Mike Fuller submits a photograph taken by his uncle in August 1942 at Short’s Rochester factory showing the only Short Sarafand, S1589, and asks about its Service life.
A The photograph shows the aircraft in the company’s barge yard where final assembly had been completed in June. The first flight was on June 30 and further flights and demonstrations followed in July. Powered by six 820 h.p. Rolls-Royce Buzzard engines mounted in tandem pairs, at the time it was the world’s second largest aircraft in power and weight, the first being the Dornier Do X. Spanning 120ft and having a loaded weight of 70,000lb, the Sarafand was an enlarged development of the Singapore and would have had a crew of ten. Trouble-free and viceless from the first, and with the best all-round performance of any large biplane flying-boat, it was scrapped at Felixstowe in 1936, overtaken by the upcoming monoplane flying-boats culminating in the Sunderland.