Saturday, April 11, 2009

AAF at Bassingbourn - Short Stirling Bomber

Here are six photographs found quite by chance among a set of 300 negatives discovered on a bottom shelf at a flea market.
Enjoy these. They are quite rare.

Negative files

Short Stirling Bomber 02

Would you like to see one of these Short Stirling Bomber up close? Well, you can't. There are none left in existence. None.

Built by Short brothers, the Stirling was a four engined bomber in use at the start of World War II. It had a relatively short service life as a bomber, from 1941 to 1943 when it was replaced by the Halifax and Lancaster. It was then used to spread chaff, mines and decoys. Here is a link to a page with some very interesting information about the Short Stirling Bomber.

Short Stirling Bomber 01

Short Stirling Bomber 04

It was late in the day.
Our photographer cast a long shadow.

Looks like the photographer took about ten paces to the right for the next two frames.

Our photographer took four photographs from almost the same spot.

Short Stirling Bomber 03

Short Stirling Bomber 05

Steve Birdsall on Flickr says: The B-17G in the background is LL T Tennessee Tess, 44-8357, from the 401st Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, a PFF aircraft with the group letter on the tail over-painted in black. Could the Stirling have been at Bassingbourn to demonstrate new or improved RAF blind-bombing equipment, provide training or to "compare notes" with their American counterparts . . . ?

anyjazz65 says: Thanks Steve! Well spotted! The B-17 data I’m sure will help date this photograph and this event what ever it was. I’ve read that the Short Stirling Bomber was cannibalized so much that there were none left at the end of the war.

It’s a good bet that the presence of the Avro York, the Lancaster and the Stirling in this set were part of some kind of cross training. There are twenty-one shots of the Avro, ten of the Lancaster and only six of the Stirling. Pictures of the Lancaster include shots on the ground and in the air. The photographer mentions in his negative file notes that four shots are the “Lancaster buzzing with two left props feathered.” The photographer mentions in his notes on five of the Lancaster shots that it is the “125 Mission Lancaster.” It was probably on some kind of exhibition tour.

Short Stirling Bomber 06

This set of seven photographs of this Short Stirling, a very rare aircraft indeed, is part of a book of negatives found at a flea market in 2008.

Included are
a P-61 Black Widow "Wabash Cannonball II,
a 125 mission Lancaster "S for Sugar",
the B-17 “Ack Ack Annie”,
and a bazooka equipped Piper Cub.

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  1. The Stirling EF403, is shown in 1660 conversion unit ( squadron code TV ), from Dec.11, 1943. Prior to that, it served in 214 squadron from July, 4, 1943 with aircraft letter H.

  2. Thanks very much for the added information. The story of these photographs is slowly developing.



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