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No. 1426 Flight RAF
A photograph of a single–engined and a larger, twin engined aircraft on the ground. Two men are working on the wing of the larger aircraft. The engine–covers have been removed from the smaller aircraft and four men are working on its engine
A Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and a Junkers Ju 88 of 1426 Flight undergoing maintenance by RAF ground crew at RAF Collyweston (February 1945)
Active 21 Nov 1941 – 17 Jan 1945
1 Jan 1956 - 31 Dec 1956[1]
Role Enemy aircraft evaluation and demonstration
Garrison/HQ RAF Duxford
RAF Collyweston
RAF Khormaksar
Equipment Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3/F-4/G-2/G-6/G-14
Messerschmitt Bf 110C-5
Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4
Heinkel He 111H-3
Junkers Ju 88A-5/A-6/G-1/R-1/S-1
Henschel Hs 129B-1
Avro Anson I
Airspeed Oxford II
General Aircraft Monospar ST-25
Avro Lincoln B.1[1]

No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight RAF, nicknamed "the Rafwaffe", was a Royal Air Force flight formed during the Second World War to evaluate captured enemy aircraft and demonstrate their characteristics to other Allied units. Several aircraft on charge with the RAE Farnborough section were also used by this unit. The RAE facilities at Farnborough were utilized for the flight testing of German and Italian aircraft during the war.

Many crash-landed airframes were brought to Farnborough for examination, testing and cannibalisation of spare parts to keep other airframes in serviceable condition. The main flight testing work was carried out by the Aerodynamics Flight of the Experimental Flying Department and the Wireless & Electrical Flight (W&EF), the latter responsible for evaluation and examination of radar-equipped aircraft later in the war.

History[edit | edit source]

No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight[edit | edit source]

The unit was established in November 1941 at RAF Duxford, made up of a small group of pilots who had previously been maintenance test pilots with No. 41 Group RAF.[2] Initially, it operated a Heinkel He 111 (AW177) that had been in British hands for two years, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 that had been captured during the Battle of France (AE479) and a Junkers Ju 88A-5 (HM509). The Ju 88 was a more recent British acquisition after the pilot landed at night at RAF Chivenor in the belief it was an airfield in France –the crew had made a navigational error after being deceived by a Meacon; decoy, navigational radio beacons set up by the British to mimic German ones.[3] A General Aircraft Monospar was also assigned to the unit for general communication tasks and collecting spare parts.

The Bf 110C-4 AX772

The aircraft in the unit changed throughout the war as further later marques came into the RAF's hands in various ways, including capture by Allied troops, forced or mistaken landings by German pilots, and defections. They were then passed to the Air Fighting Development Unit (RAF Duxford 1940-1943) where they were extensively tested before passing them on to the Flight. Several aircraft were lost to crashes, or damaged and then cannibalized for spare parts. Others were shipped to America for further evaluation. The unit later moved to RAF Collyweston.

The flight ceased operations at Collyweston on 17 January 1945.[2],,[4] reforming at RAF Tangmere on the same date, with unit codes EA, as the "Enemy Aircraft Flight" of the Central Fighter Establishment, which finally disbanded in December 1945.[1]

No. 1426 (Photographic Reconnaissance) Flight[edit | edit source]

Following disbandment of No. 7 Squadron RAF in December 1955, four crews and their aircraft were detached and sent to the Aden "troubles" to carry out patrols, as No. 1426 (Photographic Reconnaissance) Flight at RAF Khormaksar, Aden on 1 January 1956, and disbanded at Khormaksar on 31 December 1956, being the last time the Avro Lincoln flew operationally as a bomber.[1]

Aircraft operated, 1941–1945[edit | edit source]

Axis Aircraft[edit | edit source]

Note this list may be incomplete, and that not all Axis aircraft captured and allocated RAF serial numbers were flown by 1426 flight. Others were flown by the Air Fighting Development Unit (AFDU) and the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE).

Messerschmitt Bf 109[edit | edit source]

Model Werk Nr. German call-sign RAF Serial Circumstances of acquisition Fate
E-3 1304 White 1[5] AE479 Aircraft of 1./JG 76 flown by Fw. Karl Hier, captured by the French near Wœrth, 22 November 1939; handed over to the RAF 2 May 1940. Sent to the US in April 1942; crashed at Wright Field 3 November 42
E-4/B 4101[6] 'Black 12'[6] DG200 Damaged by a Spitfire of 66 Squadron, flown by Canadian ace George Christie; belly–landed at RAF Manston, pilot Wolfgang Teumer (of JG 51) taken prisoner, 27 November 1940.[6] Repaired using parts of other aircraft and tested by Rolls-Royce. In February 1942 passed to Research and Development at Hatfield for propeller tests then to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down before in March 1942 to No. 1426 Flight. In 1943, retired from RAF use as more recent Bf 109 models had been acquired and selected for long term preservation as a museum aircraft. It was eventually moved to the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon in 1978, where it is currently on display in the Battle of Britain Hall.[6]
F–2 12764 << + ES906 Originally of I./JG 26, flown by Gruppenkommandeur Hpt. Rolf Pingel, it was damaged by return fire while attacking Short Stirlings and belly–landed near Dover, 10 July 1941. Repaired by the RAE and evaluated by the AFDU in October 1941. Crashed near Fowlmere 20 October 1941 during test flight, killing Polish Air Force pilot F/O Marian J. Skalski.
F–4/B 7232 White 11[7] NN644[7] Originally flown by Uffz. Oswald Fischer of 10.(Jabo)/JG 26, was damaged by anti-aircraft fire during an attack on a Royal Navy corvette and belly–landed at Beachy Head, 20 May 1942[7] Flown until the end of the war.[7] - aircraft pictured in image at bottom of article
G-2/Trop 10639[8] Black 6[8] RN288[8] Formerly of 8./JG 27; found abandoned and in a damaged condition by No. 3 Squadron RAAF, at an airfield near Tobruk, Libya in November 1942. Repaired by 3 Sqn using parts from other aircraft. Repainted in a Desert Air Force scheme, given the squadron code "CV-V" and evaluated in North Africa. Transferred to 1426 Flight in late 1943.[8] Preserved in the RAF Museum[8]
G-6/U2 412951 White 16[9] TP814 Lt. Horst Prenzel, Staffelkapitan 1./JG 301, landed at RAF Manston by mistake after a Wilde Sau sortie over the invasion area against night-bombers on 21 July 1944. Another Bf 109 also attempted to land, but crashed[9] Written–off in a take-off accident at RAF Wittering, 23 Nov 1944[9]
G-6(trop.) ?? VX101 Captured in the Middle East in 1943 Written–off in a forced landing at Thorney Island 19 May 1944[9]

Focke Wulf Fw 190[edit | edit source]

Model Werk Nr. German call-sign RAF Serial Circumstances of acquisition Fate
A–3 135313 MP499[10] Oblt. Armin Faber, Gruppe Adjutant of III./JG 2 'Richthofen' became disoriented after shooting down an RAF Spitfire over Start Point, Devon. Attempting to return home, he accidentally flew north instead of south and landed at RAF Pembrey on 23 June 1942[11] Struck off charge, 18 Sept 1943[10]
A-5/U8 2596 White 6[12] PN999 Originally of I./SKG 10, flown by Uffz. Werner Ohne; landed in error at RAF Manston, 20 June 1943 Despatched to store at 47 MU Sealand in July 1946. Aircraft pictured in image at top of article
A-4/U8 7155 PE882 Originally H+ of II./SKG 10,flown by Uzz. Otto Bechtolder. Disorientated en route and running short of fuel, force-landed at RAF West Malling, 16 April 1943 Crashed 13 October 1944, killing F/L E.R. Lewendon, 1426 Flt.
A-4/U8 5843 Red 9 PM679 Originally of 2./SKG 10, flown by Uffz. Heinz Ehrhardt, accidentally landed at RAF Manston, Kent on 20 May 1943[12] Last flight was June 1944 when shortly after take off the aircraft suffered a major engine failure and force landed. Was used for spares for PE882 and PN999.

Junkers Ju 88[edit | edit source]

Model Werk Nr. German call-sign RAF Serial Circumstances of acquisition Fate
A-4 4D+DL EE205 Formerly of 3./KG 30, landed by mistake at RAF Lulsgate Bottom, after a night raid on Birkenhead on 23/24 July 1941.[13] Appeared in the 1943 film The Adventures of Tartu
A-5 6073 M2+MK HM509 Originally of KuFlGr.106, accidentally landed at RAF Chivenor, 26 Nov 1941 [3] Damaged by a ground loop on landing, 19 May 1944; although repairable, cannibalised for spare parts instead[3]
G-1 712273[14] 4R+UR[14] TP190[15] Night-fighter of III./NJG 2 flown by Obgfr. Maekle and equipped with FuG 220 'Lichtenstein' SN-2 radar and homing devices FuG 227 'Flensburg' and FuG 350 'Naxos'. Landed in error at RAF Woodbridge, Suffolk on 13 July 44[14] Scrapped, Oct 45[15]
R-1 360043[16] D5+EV PJ876[16] Lichtenstein BC radar-equipped night-fighter Junkers Ju-88 of 10./NJG 3 flown to RAF Dyce, Scotland by defecting crew, 9 May 1943[16] Preserved in the RAF Museum[16]
S-1 140604 RF+MT TS472 Captured at Vélizy-Villacoublay, near Paris, Sept. 1944[12] Aircraft pictured in image at top of article

Other types[edit | edit source]

Type Model Werk Nr. Axis call-sign RAF Serial Circumstances of acquisition Fate
Bf 110 C–4 2177 5F-CM AX772 Originally of 4.(F)/14 intercepted by RAF fighters while on a reconnaissance mission on 21 July 1940. Forced down near Goodwood Racecourse, Sussex.[17] Royal Aircraft Establishment repaired this aircraft and after handling trials, was flown to the Air Fighting Development Unit at Duxford in October 1941. In March 1942 AX772 was transferred to No. 1426 Flight[2] until moving to the Enemy Aircraft Flight of the Central Flying School at Tangmere in January 1945. It was stored at No. 47 Maintenance Unit (MU) Sealand in November 1945. Scrapped in 1947. Aircraft pictured in image above
Fiat CR42 Falco MM5701 13-95 BT474 Made a forced–landing on the beach at Orford Ness due to engine failure, 11 Nov 40[18] Preserved in the RAF Museum[18]
He 111 H-1 6853 1H+EN AW177 Originally of II./KG 26. Landed in a field near North Berwick on 9 February 1940 after being damaged by a Spitfire.[19] Crashed at RAF Polebrook on 10 November 1943 while carrying a number of 1426 Flight ground crew as passengers. The pilot, F/O Barr, and six others were killed, four were injured.[2]
Hs 129 B-1 0297 NF756 Of I./SG 2.Captured in North Africa.[20] Received by 1426 Flight in a dismantled state 7 July 43.[2] Struck off charge, August 1947.
Me 410 A–3 10259[21] F6+OK[22] TF209 This aircraft was formerly of 2(F)/122, which landed intact and was captured at Monte Corvino, Italy;[22] crew had become lost during a photo–reconnaissance mission in the Naples area.[21] Flown until 1946[22]

Support Aircraft[edit | edit source]

Support Aircraft operated by no. 1426 Flight RAF, data from[1]

Aircraft Serial number
Avro Anson Mk.I N9882
Airspeed Oxford Mk.II V3781
General Aircraft Monospar ST-25 K8308

The Bf 109F–4/B NN644 pictured at RAF Bassingbourn, 1943

Aircraft Operated, 1956[edit | edit source]

Avro Lincoln B.1

Survivors[edit | edit source]

Four of the aircraft operated by the flight still survive. The RAF Museum displays Bf 109 E-3 AE479, Bf 109 G2 RN228 (known as 'Black 6'), Fiat CR42 BT474 and Ju 88R-1 PJ876.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Lake (1999), p. 88.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Sally Bennett (10 January 2006). "Brief History of The Rafwaffe (Flight 1426)". People's War. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/82/a8404382.shtml. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Weal (2000), p. 70.
  4. The Rafwaffe, Peter Gosling, February 2003, Flight Journal.
  5. "Bf 109 E-3". www.bf-109.com. http://www.bf-109.com/display.php?lang=en&auth=e&name=version_display&fotonummer=123. Retrieved 12 December 2010. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Individual History MESSERSCHMITT Bf109E-4/B W/NR.4101/DG200/8477M" RAF Museum. Retrieved: 4 December 2010.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Weal (1999), p. 31.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 "Individual History Messerschmitt Bf109G-2/TROP W/NR.10639" RAF Museum. Retrieved: 4 December 2010.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Weal (1999), p. 75.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Weal (1996), p. 25.
  11. Weal (1996), p. 24.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "CH 15610 (photograph)". Imperial War Museum Collection Search. Imperial War Museum. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210730. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  13. "CH 15606 (photograph)". Imperial War Museum Collection Search. Imperial War Museum. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210729. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 British Air intelligence report PDF (44.4 KB) - German Ju 88 mistakenly lands at RAF Woodbridge
  15. 15.0 15.1 "No. 9335. Junkers Ju 88 G-1 (TP190 c/n 712273) Royal Air Force". 1000Aircraftphotos.com. 31 October 2009. http://1000aircraftphotos.com/Contributions/HornDavid/9335.htm. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 "Individual History Ju 88 R-1, Werk Nr. 360043" RAF Museum. Retrieved: 3 December 2010.
  17. "HU 93008 (photograph)". Imperial War Museum Collection Search. Imperial War Museum. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205211475. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Individual History FIAT CR42 `FALCO' MM5701/8468M" RAF Museum. Retrieved: 4 December 2010.
  19. North East Diary 1939-45 Retrieved 7 April 2012
  20. Powell, Hickman (July 1944). "The "Rafwaffe" Flies for Us". pp. 46A. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=3CEDAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&dq=Popular%20Science&pg=PA48-IA1#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 12 Dec 2010. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Aufkl. Gr. 122 Nov 1943". luftwaffedata.co.uk. http://www.luftwaffedata.co.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Aufkl._Gr._122_Nov_1943#_note-ftn276. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 "CH 15616 (photograph)". Imperial War Museum Collection Search. Imperial War Museum. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210731. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  23. Lake (1999), p. 175.

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