The first of October 2018 saw the debut of my new N gauge diorama Oily End in the Bushey Area. This was at a public presentation night organised by Gloucester Film Makers at St George’s Centre, Brockworth.
Oily End in the Bushey Area was prompted by a desire to display 1/144 scale model aircraft alongside N gauge railways from the 1940s onwards rather than just being limited to 21st Century trains with a separate airport hard standing as is the case with my earlier layout Runport St Nicola.
Similarly, being more modular in nature, Oily End in the Bushey Area’s constituent parts can be deployed as a simple test track for N gauge trains or as non-scale specific scenic backgrounds for other models. At the heart of the new diorama though was an oil tank farm made from components from my previous layout Church Hislop. This provided a focal point for the custom built and numbered oil tank wagon rakes that I had acquired for the now-defunct Yorkshire based “roundie” as well as a number of other 1960s locomotives, wagons and other rolling stock. Crucially though, Oily End in the Bushey Area is much easier to store albeit more limited in the number of trains it can handle. However, with a dextrous operator at both controllers, two trains at once can move from one hidden track through the central scenic area to the opposite off-stage area.
From a construction point of view, Oily End in the Bushey Area represents my first attempt at a “three box” N gauge layout and the first one to use a forested cutting rather than man made structures to define the scenic section. This idea was inspired both by other people’s exhibition layouts and the views of the Severn Valley Railway from the balcony of The Engine House at Highley. The forested cutting walls were made from scrap wood armatures filled out with Gorilla and PVA glue before being covered with grass effect scatter material, bushes and trees. The sky background, removable oil tank farm base, airfield concrete apron and ballasted track base structure were made of thin MDF strips.
Having discussed the Oily End part of the diorama name, the Bushey Area came from rural Hertfordshire, which is close to both the Hatfield works of de Havilland aircraft and the similar factory at Radlett which was once home to the company founded by Cheltenham born Sir Frederick Handley Page.
Although there was never an actual RAF Bushey aerodrome to be served by a branch or secondary cross country railway from either the Midland, London & North Western or even Great Northern main lines, the northern Home Counties were full of airfields used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Force during and after World War 2.
Could it not be beyond the realms of possibility then that at least one of these aerodromes survived as an emergency landing ground and fuel stop for cross country training journeys? Just think of the aircraft that could have visited! And Oily End could have been a location on a cross country railway line linking Bushey with Radlett and Hatfield by way of the general aviation field at Elstree. This would have run south of the real branch line between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey.
This possible joint line could even have survived into the epoch of second generation diesel hydraulic multiple units and Airbuses, although only with trains short enough to be hidden by the civil engineering. Indeed, such is the lack of space in the two boxes on either side of the scenic area that the best haulage for even a short tank wagon rake attached to a brake van is a short diesel locomotive. This avoids the need for extra barrier wagons between a steam locomotive and high octane fuel and in my experience a Bo-Bo is usually a more sure – footed choice than even a simple 0-6-0.
In fact there was a non flying RAF Bushey Park near Watford during the Second World War. Established at a private golf club only a few miles from RAF Bentley Priory at Stanmore in Middlesex, it was used as a headquarters facility for the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force in the United Kingdom. Also known as USAAF Station 341. In 1955, the facility was returned to civil control. It is now Bushey Hall Golf Club and Lincolnsfields Children’s Centre.
Of even greater fame nearby – to cineastes at least – was RAF Bovington. Since being relinquished by both the USAAF and RAF it has been the location of such films as “633 Squadron”, “The Battle of Britain” and most recently “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
FIRSTEST WITH THE MOSTEST
Given that Oily End in the Bushey Area could host all sorts of British, American and European aircraft – which should land on first? To hand from the Jet Age Reserve Model Collection were a number of historic military transport types, description of which would form a logical extension to other articles on this website about the role of transport in war.
In April 1923, aircraft of the Royal Air Force’s Iraq Command flew 280 Sikh troops from Kingarban to Kirkuk in the first British air trooping operation. This organised delivery of personnel and associated equipment was over a short distance to a very specific point, thus being tactical rather than strategic. However, in 1929 the RAF conducted its first long-range non-combat air evacuation of British diplomatic staff from Afghanistan to India using a Vickers Victoria aircraft as part of the wider Kabul Airlift.
The world’s first long-range combat airlift took place from July to October 1936 when German Ju52 (pictured) and Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM81 were used by Spanish Nationalists to transport troops from Spanish Morocco to Spain at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.
Airlifts became practical during World War 2 as aircraft became large and sophisticated enough to handle large cargo demands. The United States Army Air Forces’s Air Transport Command began the largest and longest-sustained airlift of the conflict in May 1942, delivering more than half a million tons of material from India to China over the Himalayas by November 1945.
Depending on the situation, airlifted supplies can be delivered by a variety of means.
When the destination and surrounding airspace is considered secure, aircraft can land at an appropriate airfield to have its cargo unloaded on the ground. When landing the craft, or distributing the supplies to a certain area from a landing zone by surface transportation is not an option, the cargo aircraft can drop them in mid-flight using parachutes. When there is a broad area available where the intended receivers have control without fear of the enemy interfering with collection and/or stealing the goods, the planes can maintain a normal flight altitude and simply drop the supplies down and let them parachute to the ground. However, when the area is too small for this method, as with an isolated base, and/or is too dangerous to land in, a low altitude parachute extraction system can be used.
As well as participating in purely combat operations, military transport aircraft can be used to intervene during disasters and other crises, airlifts are used to support or replace other transport methods to relieve beleaguered civilian populations.
The largest of these was the Berlin Airlift. Lasting from June 1948 to September 1949, this American, British and French operation thwarted the blockading of the city of Berlin by the Soviet Union and heavily featured both the twin engined Douglas DC3 Dakota and the four engined Avro York
In the early 1930s the commercial transport field was dominated by The Netherlands and Germany. The Fokker F.XVIII was matched by the Junkers Ju52/3M, both three engined designs with fixed undercarriages. February 1933 however, saw the first flight of the 10 passenger Boeing 247, followed in July 1933 by the 12 passenger Douglas DC1 and the 8 passenger Lockheed Electra in February 1934. All were streamlined low wing metal monoplanes with retractable undercarriages and two well cowled engines. Only one DC1 was built before Douglas moved on to the improved 14 passenger DC2. A DC2 of Dutch airline KLM, carrying three fare paying passengers, came second to the specially designed de Havilland Comet racer in the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race between England and Australia. A Boeing 247 was placed third and another de Havilland Comet fourth. The 21 seat DC3 first flew in December 1935 and was carrying the bulk of America’s internal air traffic by the end of 1938. The militarised version of the DC3, known as the Douglas Dakota by the RAF, took Allied armies into battle all over the World between 1939 and 1945 and “de-mobbed” Dakotas formed the basis of many post-War small airlines. Despite modern EU Health and Safety regulations, a number of DC3s and Dakotas are still in flying condition.
The Avro York, in contrast, shared the same wings, undercarriage and Rolls Royce Merlin engines as Roy Chadwick’s earlier Lancaster bomber but had a fuselage with twice the cubic capacity. Although first flown on 5 July 1942, the first RAF Yorks – MW100 and MW101 – were not delivered to the RAF until October 1943 as Lancaster production had been given priority.
The York saw service in both military and civilian roles with various operators between 1943 and 1964. British South American Airways and BOAC were the largest civilian operators while the York’s most famous moment came during the Berlin Airlift.
Avro Yorks were also popular as personal transports. Winston Churchill’s LV633 “Ascalon”- the third prototype York and the first of the type with triple fins – had square windows instead of the usual round ones. It was allocated – but never carried – the civil registration G-AGFT. Other Avro Yorks became the transports of Lord Louis Mountbatten ( MW102 ), Field Marshall Smuts ( MW 107 ) and HRH The Duke of Gloucester ( MW 140 ) LV633 Ascalon was to have been fitted with a special pressurised “egg” so that VIP passengers could be carried without their having to use an oxygen mask. Made of aluminium alloy, the enclosure had eight perspex windows as well as a telephone, an instrument panel, drinking facilities and an ashtray with room for cigars, a thermos flask, newspapers and books. Although testing at RAE Farnborough found the “egg” to work satisfactorily, Avro were too busy developing the Lincoln bomber to install it in Churchill’s own York. Similarly, Armstrong Whitworth found it impractical to fit aboard a Douglas C-54B successor aircraft and the whole project was shelved. The fate of “Churchill’s Egg” is still unknown.
The 1/144 scale model of a Blackburn Beverley transport in the Jet Age Museum’s Reserve Model Collection is a rarity from the collection of the late Ron Firth of Sheffield: a Yorkshire built model of a Yorkshire built aircraft named after a Yorkshire town. Another local connection was that the B-101 Beverley was a piston powered descendant of General Aircraft Limited’s wartime Hamilcar glider, the big brother of the Airspeed Horsa which had cockpit sections for it built at H.H. Martyn’s Sunningend Works in Cheltenham. A replica Horsa cockpit is also currently under construction at Jet Age Museum.
General Aircraft Limited (GAL) merged with Blackburn Aircraft in 1949 although the joint title of Blackburn and General Aircraft Limited only lasted until 1958, after which Blackburn Aircraft Limited became part of the Hawker Siddeley group of companies in 1960 and the Blackburn name was finally dropped in 1963.
In fact the prototype of what would become the Beverley, the GAL 60 Universal Freighter, was built GAL’s Feltham, Middlesex, factory and then dismantled for transport to Blackburn’s Brough factory airfield, where it first flew on 20 June 1950. Brough had previously been the birthplace of the Blackburn Shark and Skua naval aircraft and would later produce the Blackburn Buccaneer
The second development aircraft – designated GAL 65 – featured rear clamshell doors in place of the GAL 60’s combined door and ramp as well as 36 seats in the tail boom. It was also powered by Bristol Centaurus engines in place of the earlier Bristol Hercules and these new prime movers were also fitted with reverse pitch propeller, allowing the GAL 65 to land in 310 yards while its fully laden take off run was 790 yards.
The first RAF order for what would be termed by them the C Mk 1 Beverley came in 1952, the Brough factory building all 49 examples of what Blackburn and General Aircraft designated the B-101. The fixed undercarriage Beverley could carry a bulky item such as the fuselage of an English Electric Canberra bomber in its hold or have it filled with 94 extra paratroops, who would then jump from a hatch in the floor of the boom just ahead of the leading edge of the tailplane. Unfortunately this hatch was adjacent to the aircraft’s toilets and after an airman leaving the toilet fell twenty feet to his death through a hatch he did not realise was open the design of that part of the Beverley was modified.
The first RAF Beverley C1 joined 47 Squadron at Abingdon on 12 March 1956 and the type served extensively in the Middle and Far East until retirement in October 1967. By then, nine aircraft had been lost to accidents or enemy action and of the forty survivors three were initially preserved. XH124 and XB261 were kept outside at the RAF Museum, Hendon and the Southend Historic Aviation Museum respectively but both deteriorated and were ultimately scrapped, although part of the the cockpit of XB261 is now indoors at Newark Air Museum, Nottingham. Former Blackburn development aircraft XB259 (G-AOAI) however remains complete at Fort Paull near Hull having previously been on display at the now-closed Museum of Army Transport in Beverley, East Yorkshire.
Surrounding the model Blackburn Beverley are the Oxford Die Cast RAF Land Rover and a Scammell Scarab with a fully loaded flatbed trailer.
In the late 1920’s the railway companies were looking for a suitable vehicle to use on their town parcels delivery traffic, which was predominately horse drawn. The London Midland & Scottish Railway experimented with various ideas and in late 1930 announced, jointly with Karrier Motors, a tractor unit for this purpose. The vehicle, the Karrier Cob, was powered by a twin cylinder Jowett engine and utilized a mechanism to couple existing horse trailers to the tractor unit.
Meanwhile the London and North Eastern Railway had approached Napier’s, the quality car and aero-engine makers for an answer to the same problem. They came up with some ideas, but didn’t wish to develop the concept and sold the project to Scammell Lorries. Their designer, O. D. North, refined and further developed the concept of the three wheel tractor unit which automatically coupled and un-coupled trailers, and in 1934 announced the introduction of the Mechanical Horse.
The Mechanical Horse was a very simple and sturdy vehicle which was constructed on a steel channel frame and fitted with a wooden cab, the early versions having canvas doors. The Mechanical Horse came in two sizes, capable of carrying loads of three tons and six tons. These were powered by Scammell’s own side valve petrol engine of 1125cc (3-ton) and 2043cc (6-ton), the engine being offset to the left of the cab. The vehicles are very manoeuverable (with a 16 foot trailer they can turn through 360O in 19 feet), have a road speed of about 20 mph, and do between 10 and 20 mpg. In addition to the railway companies, they were also used by quite a number of private companies and the armed forces, who used them in stores and on aircraft carriers. The 6-ton coupling was also fitted to popular makes of light trucks such as Bedfords.
First flown in 1949, the British-made Comet was the world’s first jet airliner to go into regular service. It was designed to give Great Britain a definite edge in post-World War II transport and it was an immediate success. Other commercial aircraft of the period, such as Douglas’s DC-6, could not compete with the technological and performance superiority of the Comet. However, tragedy struck. Two deadly crashes within 16 weeks of each other revealed a design flaw that would eventually ground the original Comets for good. By the time that the square windows had been replaced by round ones and the new Comet 4C had been produced, de Havilland’s had lost its jet lead to the Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8.
The Royal Air Force was the largest military de Havilland Comet operator, with the C Mark 4 variant of the Comet being operated by 216 Squadron from February 1962. All five examples, including XR397 modelled here by Corgi, first complemented and then continued on from 216 Squadron’s earlier Mark 2 Comets which were retired in April 1967. XR397 was first flown on 18 January 1962, delivered on 15 February 1962 and later became G-BDIV of Dan Air before being scrapped at Lasham in July 1985. The other four Comet C4s were also transferred to Dan Air ownership.
The new aircraft carried over twice as many passengers at a higher speed, and for a greater distance. Although not able to land at small, rough airfields like the Beverley or later Lockheed C-130 Hercules, long range military jet transports like the Comet and later Vickers VC10 changed the way wars and foreign policy were conducted by Britain. The same ability was also gifted to the United States by such larger Lockheed aircraft as the Starlifter and Galaxy.
On 2 February 1951, the USAF issued a General Operational Requirement for an aircraft to replace its large fleets of Curtiss C-46, and Fairchild C-82 and C-119 piston-engined transports. Lockheed responded with its L-206 turboprop design, which the USAF chose as the winning contender on 2 July 1951, ordering two YC-130A prototypes based on the proposal.
The first production C-130A Hercules entered service in December 1956 and Lockheed went on to create a bewildering array of variants and subvariants for the US and foreign militaries, and civilian market. After the Armstrong Whitworth AW681 vertical take-off transport had been abandoned on the drawing board, the RAF found itself needing to replace its piston-engined Blackburn Beverley and Handley Page Hastings transports, while augmenting the Armstrong Whitworth Argosy turboprop. Sixty-six Hercules were therefore ordered, essentially to C-130H standard, but designated C-130K for export to the UK.
Known to the RAF as Hercules C.Mk 1 (the C-130K designation only came into regular use as a differentiator after the C-130J entered service), the first aircraft completed its maiden flight on 19 October 1966. The type entered service in 1967, but defence cuts in 1975 saw 13 Hercules aircraft withdrawn and two squadrons disbanded.
Even in this reduced state, the Hercules fleet was crucial to UK operations, a fact emphasised by the 1982 Falklands War. It very quickly became apparent that the Hercules would be required to mount non-stop return sorties to the Falklands from Ascension Island and a crash programme of inflight-refuelling probe installation began. Modified aircraft were designated C.Mk 1P; the first refuelling contact occurred on 3 May 1982, with a Handley Page Victor tanker, and the first combat mission on the 16th.
With the VC10 tanker conversion programme yet to gather pace and the heavy Victor commitment in the South Atlantic, the versatile Hercules was also selected for conversion as a tanker, six aircraft receiving hose drum units (HDUs) and refuelling probes. The first completed its maiden and delivery flights on 5 July 1982. In the conflict’s immediate aftermath, the C.Mk 1K took a vital role supporting RAF BAe Harriers and, subsequently, McDonnell Douglas Phantoms providing Falkland Islands air defence.
Meanwhile, in 1978 a conversion programme had begun to produce 30 Hercules C.Mk 3 aircraft by stretching the fuselage of the C1 to achieve a dramatic increase in cabin capacity. Lockheed produced the initial C3, flying it for the first time on 3 December 1979, but Marshall produced the remainder. Indeed, the Cambridge-based company has been instrumental in the Hercules programme since its inception, the first RAF Hercules having been delivered direct to Marshall, which subsequently performed all the major fleet conversion work and continues to support the C-130J. Later, 29 C3s received inflight-refuelling probes to become C.Mk 3P aircraft.
A December 1993 MoD requirement identified the need for a Hercules replacement and although the European FLA was considered, the only substitute for a Hercules turned out to be a Hercules, in the shape of the more powerful Lockheed C-130J, a next-generation machine then under development and featuring the latest avionics systems.
The December 1994 order comprised ten standard C-130J aircraft and 15 of the longer C-130J-30, with first delivery (of a J-30) in August 1998. The initial operational example reached RAF Lyneham, then the RAF’s Hercules base, on November 21, 1999.
Designated Hercules C.Mk 4 in service, the C-130J-30 is just a little shorter than the C3, while the Hercules C.Mk 5 has the same fuselage length as the C1. Inflight-refuelling probes are installed as standard, while the type’s improved range enables most sorties to be flown without the characteristic underwing fuel tanks of the legacy versions.
Having worked intensively during Operations Telic and Herrick alongside the legacy Hercules fleet, the C-130J has accumulated flying hours rather more rapidly than had been projected. It was identified in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review for withdrawal from service in 2022, a decade earlier than originally planned, while the C-130K was retired on 28 October 2013 after almost five decades on the frontline.
By now the A400M programme was well advanced. The Atlas was always earmarked to replace the Hercules and although its tactical capability is likely to have expanded dramatically by 2022, the C-130J clearly had an important tactical role to play until the A400M was fully established. The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review reflected this thinking, with the announcement that 14 Hercules C4s will remain in service until 2030, with funding allocated not only for their operations, but also for upgrading and life extension.
Lockheed Hercules XV294 was originally a USAF machine numbered 66-13537. It was delivered to the RAF on 29/02/1968 and was eventually scrapped on 23 February 2012.
Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company’s DEL176 became British Railways Southern Region’s D6572 in October 1961. First allocated to Hither Green depot, the Type 3 Crompton was renumbered 33 054 under TOPS in February 1974. After a June 1982 overhaul at Eastleigh Works 33 054 was finally withdrawn in February 1986 and cut up in August 1987. More information on Berry Wiggins and its wagons can be found elsewhere on this website
Vulcan Foundry built English Electric Type 1 Bo-Bo 3615/D1014 was first given the British Railways number D8144 in July 1966 when it was allocated to London Midland Region’s Nottingham Division. It was renumbered as 20 144 in March 1974 and withdrawn from Thornaby depot in January 1990. More about Regent Petrol and its wagons can be found elsewhere on this website
D5038 was one of several Class 24s to receive the two-tone green livery more often associated with Classes 25 & 47. After about half a dozen were repainted at Derby in 1965 the paintshop returned to painting the Class 24s in the solid Brunswick green. The sixteen year ten month career of 5038 ( later 24 037) saw allocations to Eastern Region & London Midland Region depots. D5038 was one of a large batch built at Crewe Works and intended for the dieselisation program in East Anglia. D5038’s first allocation was to March (32B) during August 1959.