Returning to the theme of unusual aeroplanes in off-the-beaten-track locations, a recent week's work in Belgrade provided the opportunity to visit the Aeronautical Museum Belgrade, which proved to be a real treasure trove. It appears that the museum is struggling for funds and this is apparent by the general decay of the external exhibits and infrastructure (beware of tripping on broken steps!), but the aeroplanes preserved here demonstrate both the rich aeronautical heritage of the Balkan region and evidence of the turbulent times experienced since the break up of the former Yugoslavia.
Fordaire Aviation of Seething is Finest Hour’s key engineering partner. Fordaire is run by Rex Ford, who has maintained CAP10B G-BXFE for many years, is nearing completion of the restoration of our second CAP10, co-owns the Percival Q6 with us and will soon embark on the restoration of our Tiger Moth, G-ADGT. Rex has spent his life in aviation but his family’s aviation history goes back further. Specifically, his father, Flying Officer John Ford DFC was a wartime pilot who became a VIP and airline pilot during the early post-war years.
75 years ago today, on 10 May 1940, German forces began co-ordinated attacks on The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. Allied strategy was in the hands of the French High Command, itself divided as to how to best counter a German attack. The Netherlands were overrun by 17 May, Belgium surrendered on 28 May and France signed its armistice on 22 June. British Air Forces in France were commanded by Air Marshal ‘Ugly’ Barratt and comprised 2 elements: the Air Component of the British Expeditionary Force and the Advanced Air Striking Force. The many acts of bravery in the air by fighter and bomber crews during the Battle are well-documented as are the devastating losses suffered by the RAF’s Fairey Battle Squadrons and the impressive tally of Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed by the RAF Hurricane squadrons based in France. What is perhaps less well known is the contribution of unarmed communication aeroplanes and their crews during this period.