(Last updated: 22.01.13)
The Actual Aircraft
This section covers photographs and evidence of the actual aircraft that Ken flew. The evidence includes enhanced original photographs as well as entries from Ken's Log-book.
The aircraft covered are as follows...
- Avro Anson
- Lockheed Hudson
- Flying Fortress (I, II and IIa)
- Miles Magister
The photograph below is of Ken's Anson that he used in Canada, Prince Edward Island in March 1941 for Navigation exercises. The Anson had a wind down carriage and the gun turret was on top of the plane, this was known as the 'Glass House'.
I know Ken actually flew the Anson below because you can see the serial number is:
This exact serial number was in Ken's Log-book 6 times (see the scan below). On this basis and the fact Ken has marked the photograph with 'March' we can guess the photograph was taken on either the 3rd or 6th of March.
Ken used a Hudson similar to the one below whilst in the 206 Squadron in Aldergrove. He used it mainly for escorting convoys and sweeps. The Hudson photographed below has the code...
Although this initially matches 11 of the Hudsons in Ken's Log-book in terms of the 'V' (see the scan below) a visitor to the site Dave Cotterill confirmed it was actually the Hudson flown by his uncle (Jim Steel - His story is in the 'Memoirs' section) who was in 206 Squadron from May 1940 to 15th October 1940. I was saddened to hear Jim was killed whilst on patrol in this Hudson, the photo above was a postcard owned by Margaret (Gran) but was taken originally by a 'Flight' magazine photographer on the 3rd of September 1940. Dave has all the photos and the magazine article, the aircraft serial number is T9303. Thanks to Dave for this added information.
In July 2007 Simon Nelson had contacted me about his dad (Lawrence Nelson - His story is in the 'Memoirs' section). He had a great photograph of one of the Hudsons Lawrence flew, it turns out to be the same one Ken flew on 7 occasions, 3 times on 2nd October 1941, once on the 9th and 22nd March, 9th June, 28th July 1942.
In August 2008 Simon Nelson contacted me again with a couple of photographs of 2 more Hudsons from his dad's collection, here's the details and how they link to Ken
Simon believes these photographs were taken by his dad although he was never recorded as flying AM706, this incident happened on the 5th February 1942 and appears in the books 'Naught Escape Us' by Peter Gunn and 'Lockheed Hudson in World War II' by Andrew Hendrie. They both state the following...
"AM706 crashed on overshoot, Aldergrove 5.2.42"
Ken 's logbook has a record of him flying this Hudson as 2nd Pilot on the 31st August 1941 on an A/S Escort to convoy (extract above). This was just 5 months before the accident.
P5155 'J' was a Hudson that Lawrence Nelson had been piloting during his time at No. 1 OTU in Silloth before joining 206 Squadron, he was there at the same time as Ken. On the 1st August 1941 he had been on an night navigation exercise from Silloth via the Mull of Kintyre and Chicken Rock. When landing back at Silloth the Hudson ran off the edge of the runway and the port undercarriage leg collapsed resulting in minor damage and no injuries. His logbook was signed off by Wing Commander R.A.B Stone "Accident due to inexperience". Lawrence had spoken to Simon about it explaining that there were green lights on the dashboard that showed the wheels were down, they were really bright especially at night so it was common practice to place a cloth over them to avoid being blinded. On this occasion the cloth fell away blinding him at a crucial moment of the landing phase. To top things off when the Ground Crew were recovering the Hudson they somehow managed to set fire to it (possibly a discarded fag) and the aircraft was completely burnt out.
This incident also appears in the books 'Naught Escape Us' by Peter Gunn and 'Lockheed Hudson in World War II' by Andrew Hendrie. They both state the following...
"P5155 Swung on landing, u/c collapsed, Silloth, 2.8.41"
Ken's logbook has a record of him flying this Hudson as 2nd Pilot on the 28th July 1941 Turret Firing (extract above). This was just 5 days before the accident!
Boeing Flying Fortresses (B-17's)
There were 3 main types of B-17 Flying Fortress in the RAF, they were the Fortress I, Fortress II and the Fortress IIA.
I have been able to gather lot of information on the RAF Flying Fortress courtesy of 2 main sources, firstly Robert Stitt, who is in the 'Memoirs' section. Secondly Bryan Yates who contacted me in March 2008, he's a researcher of the RAF Flying Fortress and supplied me with a list of Fortresses that he believes were used in 206 Squadron during WWII. I have cross referenced them with the 206 Squadron book 'Naught Escape Us' and with Ken's log-book and produced the table below...
37 = Total Aircraft
19 = Number flown by Ken
Table of 206 Squadron Flying Fortresses
Flown by Ken
Taken on Charge (TOC)
Struck Off Charge (SOC)
Crashed in sea off Carnero Point attempting to land at
Missing 14/12/42: See the stories of John Owen & Eric Crowe
Stalled avoiding another aircraft & crashed in sea, Benbecula 06/10/42
Ditched in N.Atlantic 11/06/43 - Photographed below
Missing on patrol 06/01/44
Flying Fortress I
The Fortress I was the RAF version of the B-17C of which a handful were used in 206 Squadron as trainer aircrafts ready for the Fortress IIA's. Prior to the 206 they were with 220 Squadron as trainers and a couple were used in Ops. The Fortress I's had markings like AN519, AN520.
I have checked Ken's log-book and he flew in AN520 twice on the 7th January 1943 that was piloted by Squadron Leader Patrick.
Flying Fortress II
The Fortress II was the RAF version of the B-17F of which there were 19 aircraft with markings of FA695 to FA713. Ken flew in 4 of the 19 different FA aircraft. The main external differences were the nose cone, on the Fortress II it had a one piece blown Perspex nose cone and broader propeller blades.
This was definitely my most exciting find! Margaret (Gran) had always told me that Ken was actually piloting the Flying Fortress II in the photograph, by looking into the Log-book I was able to confirm 100% that it was true.
To confirm 100% I enhanced the photograph and zoomed in on the serial number. From this image I was able to see the serial number was:
Fortress II: 'FA702' 'P'...
By matching up the serial number to the entries in Ken's Log-book we get an exact match on 6 occasions in 1943:
May 9th / 11th /18th
July 10th / 11th / 30th
Ken had marked the photograph with the date of the 11th May 1943, this matches up with the Log-book and from that we can establish who was in the Flying Fortress II at the time the photograph was taken!
In September 2008 I was contacted by Maurice McIlwrick as he had spotted the name McIlwrick on this website, we quickly established that his older brother Eric McIlwrick was actually the same person that is mentioned in Ken's logbook for this flight! I was able to chat to Eric about this and Maurice supplied me with the photograph below of Eric
Kenneth Bass Bill Morgan Kenneth Roberts
Hunt Mcilwrick Justice
(no photograph available)