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A Typhoon Awaits Take-off

by nick hudson

Contributed by 
nick hudson
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
27 August 2004

Waiting for take-off, 1940-41.

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Message 1 - A Typhoon Awaits Take-off

Posted on: 27 August 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Nick

Are you sure about the caption to the photo of this Typhoon "Waiting for take-offf at North Weald, around 1940-41." ?

According to John Rawlings, in his "Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft", No. 56 Squadron was at North Weald from December 1940 to June 1941, then at Martlesham Heath for a few days before moving to Duxford in June 1941.

The squadron received its first two Typhoons at Duxford on 11 September 1941, R7582 and R7583. Due to a whole series of problems they were not in action until May 1942 at which time No 56 Squadron was at Manston.

Kindest regards,



Message 2 - A Typhoon Awaits Take-off

Posted on: 30 August 2004 by Katherine-WW2 Team

Dear Peter,

Thanks so much for your comments and help on tracking down the context of this picture. Nick is very keen to find out more about the photos he has posted - his family have just discovered them among his late father's effects and would love to piece together the stories behind them. He is particularly interested to uncover the identities of the pilots whose photos he has posted -

...particularly the group shots, and has contacted North Weald airfield to see if they can shed any light. However, from what you say, Duxford and Manston could also help perhaps. Given your expertise in WW2 research, can you think of any other lines of enquiry he could pursue? He'd be particularly interested in finding the families of these pilots, so that the experiences of 56 Squadron can be detailed on the site.

All the best to you Peter, I hope things are good with you. Thanks as ever for all your contributions to the site,
Katherine, WW2 Team


Message 3 - A Typhoon Awaits Take-off

Posted on: 30 August 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Hi Katherine

I did identify one of the pilots, the middle one in the group of three captioned 'A Trio of Pilots': F1876886?thread=474549

As I said in that message, regarding the middle pilot(F/O Brian John Wicks), a photo of him, cropped from a copy of Nicks, appears at page 28 of Volume 1 of "Royal Air Force Fighter Command Losses" by Norman L. R. Franks (Midland Publishing). I am fairly certain that Mr Franks would be able to identify the other two pilots, and perhaps other pilots appearing in Nick's photos. The cropped print has 'author's collection' after the caption.

A letter to the author, via Midland Publishing, would be my starting point for detailed research. Either include scanned copies of the photos or simply send him the web address.



Message 4 - A Typhoon Awaits Take-off

Posted on: 30 August 2004 by Katherine-WW2 Team

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your prompt suggestion, that sounds like a very promising lead. I'm sure Nick will be delighted. It will be interesting to see how far we can get in identifying these pilots,

All the best,


Message 5 - A Typhoon Awaits Take-off

Posted on: 31 August 2004 by nick hudson

Hi Peter,

very many thanks for your research input. You are quite right about Duxford being the start of the Typhoon entry into the war. 56 Squadron were formed as an elite to fly this plane after their actions with hurricanes during the Battle Of Britain. My father was Adjutant with 56 Squadron from August/September 1940 to September 1943. They did seem to move around a lot so I'm gussing the earlier photos ( two pilots outside building with snooker cue) would have been at North Weald but I can't be sure. Maybe they were all taken at Duxford. Your spotting of Brian Wicks is also categorically right - I saw his photo on another site recently and he is also in the 56 Squadron group photo at the back along with Taffy Higginson (front row moustache)and Constable-Maxwell - both aces- back row. Wicks was shot down over Malta in 1941 after getting the DFC or DSO. The other two pilots in the photo I believe are P/O Harris and P/O Hagaar. These are the only pilots I can identify in all of the pictures although there is a possibility the man in the deckchair might be a pilot called Brooker during the Battle Of Britain. I have two more photos of groups of relaxing pilots that I am posting later today via catherine.Again no identification on any of them. By the way the originals of these pics have just been donated to the Imperial war Museum - they say they are extremely interesting because they are not official (apart from Wicks,harris and hagaar) and were obviously taken by another pilot or my father. thanks again and if you get any leads on the other group photos please let me know. Nick Hudson


Message 6 - A Typhoon Awaits Take-off

Posted on: 31 August 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Hi Nick

In the book I referred to earlier, Volume 1 of "Royal Air Force Fighter Command Losses" by Norman L. R. Franks (Midland Publishing), at page 120, there is a very clear photograph of the Sergeant Pilots of No. 56 Squadron. The eight are named as: Coombes, Elwell, Truhla, Carvill, Duego, Myall, Seaman, and Robinson. The photo was taken in either late 1940 or early 1941 at North Weald.

Carvill is Sgt Richard Douglas Carvill, shot down and killed on 17 June 1941 in Hurricane II Z3329.

Robinson is P/O Peter Ethelbert Merrick Robinson, promoted since the photo, killed the same day in Hurricane II Z2812; he is buried in Row 2, Grave 2, North Weald Bassett (St Andrew) Churchyard. Both were on Circus 14 and were shot down by an Me109.

These eight could well be in your main photo of 56 Squadron here A2951291. But your photo, as reproduced, is far too small for recognition of anyone. It might be best to repost it in two or more sections.



Message 7 - A Typhoon Awaits Take-off

Posted on: 31 August 2004 by nick hudson

Yes again thanks for that Peter. You and I have both come across similar pictures!The photo you refer to I think is also on the web site "What if the Heavens should fall" by Eric Clayton(Motto 56 Squadron) as is a short memorial piece from Flt Sgt Robinson's sister. I've only quickly looked at it so I will look again but i don't think any of the faces match. The problem is so many pilots were coming in and out of the Squadron and of course many were killed in that intense period 1940/41.I will contact the guy you suggested from Midlands Publishing. I'm beginning to think - as you suggested - that many of the other photos might have been taken at Duxford during Typhoon training but I don't know. It's those individual guys in the informal pictures I'm keen to try to identify. I know they were taken sometime between 1940 and 1943. I really appreciate your help on this. Nick

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