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History :: 1426 EAC Flight - the RAFWaffe

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Updated: 1 Oct 13

Brief History of The Rafwaffe (Flight 1426)

In late 1941, the RAF set up a Flight of German aircraft to assist military personnel in recognition and to study the aircraft under operational conditions. During the 3 years and 2 months the Flight was in existence, it met with many maintenance difficulties, due to the lack of spares and maintenance details. Tools and equipment had to be specially made and all engine and airframe spares had to be obtained from crashed and unserviceable aircraft. It was also necessary to assemble aircraft that had never previously been in Great Britain and about which little was known from a maintenance point of view.

The unit was formed at RAF Station Duxford on 21st November 1941 when 4 pilots were posted from AFDU to which they had been attached for eleven days for flying experience on German aircraft. All the pilots had been in 41 Group as Maintenance unit test pilots.

The aircraft were allotted to the flight early in December, first the Heinkel 111 on the 7th, then the Messerschmitt 109 and the Junkers 88 on the 11th. A Monospar was delivered to the flight on 17 Dec 1941 for communication purposes and collecting spares. Maintenance personnel began to arrive on the 22 Dec 1941.

The first tour of RAF stations commenced on 11 Feb 1942 and the flying demonstrations were carried out at RAF Stations Lakenheath, Watton, Coltishall, Bircham Newton, Docking, Sutton Bridge and Wittering and returned to Duxford on 27 Feb.

In March, a Me-110 was transfered taken over from RNAFDU. The Me110 and He111 were flown for recognition photographs, a demonstration for the Army at Travellers Hill, and some sound recordings for the RAF Film Unit.

A second tour commenced on 1 Apr 42 and flying demonstrations were carried out at RAF Stations North Luffenham, Cottesmore, Saltby, Cranwell, Digby, Waddington, Hemswell, Kirton-in-Lindsey, North Coates and Snaith and returned to Duxford on 18 Apr. A further 6 tours followed up to Dec 42 visiting different regions of the UK and the unit was also employed in a number of films.

During the month of January, the ME110 was flown on a ‘ground strafing’ exercise for the RAF Regiment.

After further tours and photographic duties, the Flight proceeded to RAF Station Digby on 27 May 1943 and were inspected by Their Majesties The King and Queen.

The tenth tour commenced on 6 Nov 43 and visited USAAF Stations Goxhill and Grafton Underwood and arrived at Polebrook on 10th of November. Whilst landing at Polebrook, the HeIII crashed killing the pilot F/O Barr and six members of the ground crew, and injuring four other ground crew who were travelling as passengers on the aircraft. The tour was then cancelled and the flight returned to Collyweston.

On 20 Feb 1944, a party from the Nettlefold film unit visited the flight to take some shots to be used in the film ‘Fighter Room’.

On the 9th of May, the flight moved to RAF Station Thorney Island for five weeks attachment to the RAF and USAAF Air Circus for recognition exercises over the invasion fleet on the South Coast.

On 21 Jan 1945, official notification was received of the disbandment of No. 1426 (EAC) Flight with effect from 17th January 1945.

The RAFWaffe aircraft may have been stored after the war at RAF Manby - see the story of the catering officer's son who saw them

This page is partly derived from an article contributed by by sally_bennett to WW2 People's War on the BBC site.

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