This entry is about the unit. For entries about the individual aircraft, please see the category page.

No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight RAF 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]

Heinkel He 111H, AW177 at RAF Duxford, prior to the establishment of 1426 Flight (Sept-Oct 1941)

Messerschmitt Bf 110C-4 AX772

The unit was established 21 November 1941[2] at RAF Duxford, made up of a small group of pilots who had previously been maintenance test pilots with No. 41 Group RAF.[3] Attached at first to No. 12 Group RAF, its mission was to demonstrate captured types to Allied personnel and expose them to "the appearance, performance, and even the sound" of hostile types. Initially, it operated a Heinkel He 111H (Werk Nr 6853/AW177) shot down in Scotland in February 1940, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 captured during the Battle of France (Werk Nr 1304/AE479]) (turned over from the Air Fighting Development Unit),[2] and a Junkers Ju 88A-5 (Werk Nr 6073/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.[4] A General Aircraft Monospar was also assigned to the unit for general communication tasks and collecting spare parts.

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. The flight co-operated with the RAF Film Unit, for which the usual British markings were removed and original German restored. Aircraft were then passed to the AFDU at (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. In March 1943, the unit moved to RAF Collyweston. Beginning in early 1944, the flight made a round of U.S. Army Air Force bases in Britain. After D-Day, the perceived need for the flight declined.[2]

The flight ceased operations at Collyweston on 17 January 1945.[3][5] 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 31 December 1945.[1][6]

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[7] AE479 Aircraft of 1./JG 76 flown by Feldwebel 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[8] 'Black 12'[8] DG200 Damaged by a Spitfire of No. 66 Squadron RAF, flown by Canadian ace George Christie; belly–landed at RAF Manston, pilot Wolfgang Teumer (of JG 51) taken prisoner, 27 November 1940.[8] Repaired using parts of other aircraft and tested by Rolls-Royce Limited. In February 1942 passed to Research and Development at Hatfield Aerodrome 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.[8]
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[9] NN644[9] 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[9] Flown until the end of the war.[9]
G-2/Trop 10639[10] Black 6[10] RN288[10] 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.[10] Preserved in the RAF Museum[10]
G-6/U2 412951 White 16[11] 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.[11] Written–off in a take-off accident at RAF Wittering, 23 Nov 1944.[11]
G-6(trop.) ?? VX101 Captured in the Middle East in 1943 Written–off in a forced landing at Thorney Island 19 May 1944.[11]

Focke-Wulf Fw 190[edit | edit source]

Model Werk Nr. German call-sign RAF Serial Circumstances of acquisition Fate
A–3 135313 MP499[12] Oblt. Armin Faber, Gruppe Adjutant of III./JG 2 'Richthofen' became disorientated 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.[13] Struck off charge, 18 Sept 1943[12]
A-5/U8 152596 White 6[14] 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.
A-4/U8 47155 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 45843 Red 9 PM679 Originally of 2./SKG 10, flown by Uffz. Heinz Ehrhardt, accidentally landed at RAF Manston, Kent on 20 May 1943[14] 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 (Now Bristol Airport), after a night raid on Birkenhead on 23/24 July 1941.[15] 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.[4] Damaged by a ground loop on landing, 19 May 1944; although repairable, cannibalised for spare parts instead.[4]
G-1 712273[16] 4R+UR[16] TP190[17] 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[16] Scrapped, Oct 45[17]
R-1 360043[18] D5+EV PJ876[18] Lichtenstein BC radar-equipped night-fighter of 10./NJG 3 flown to RAF Dyce, Scotland by defecting crew, 9 May 1943[18] Preserved in the RAF Museum[18]
S-1 140604 RF+MT TS472 Captured at Vélizy-Villacoublay, near Paris, Sept. 1944[14] 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
Messerschmitt 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.[19] 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[3] 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.
Fiat CR42 Falco MM5701 13-95 BT474 Made a forced–landing on the beach at Orford Ness due to engine failure, 11 Nov 40[20] Preserved in the RAF Museum[20]
Heinkel 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.[21] 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.[3]
Henschel Hs 129 B-1 0297 NF756 Of I./SG 2.Captured in North Africa.[22] Received by 1426 Flight in a dismantled state 7 July 43.[3] Struck off charge, August 1947.
Messerschmitt Me 410 A–3 10259[23] F6+OK[24] TF209 This aircraft was formerly of 2(F)/122, which landed intact and was captured at Monte Corvino], Italy;[24] crew had become lost during a photo–reconnaissance mission in the Naples area.[23] Flown until 1946[24]

Support Aircraft[edit | edit source]

Support Aircraft operated by no. 1426 Flight RAF.

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

Survivors[edit | edit source]

Four of the aircraft operated by the flight still survive, Bf 109 E-3 DG200, Bf 109 G2 RN228 (known as 'Black 6'), Fiat CR42 BT474 and Ju 88R-1 PJ876. All are currently displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum London.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Lake, Alan. Flying Units of the RAF: The Ancestry, Formation and Disbandment of All Flying Units from 1912 (http://books.google.com/books?id=5P5oAAAACAAJ) 1 February 1999. Airlife. ISBN 978-1-84037-086-7. Page 88.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Christopher, John. The Race for Hitler's X-Planes (The Mill, Gloucestershire: History Press, 2013), p.173. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Christopher P173" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Brief History of The Rafwaffe (Flight 1426) - Sally Bennett (10 January 2006) People's War
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Weal, John. Ju 88 Kampfgeschwader on the Western Front (http://books.google.com/books?id=SXV6weY__6oC) 25 June 2000. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-020-9. Page 70
  5. The Rafwaffe, Peter Gosling, February 2003, Flight Journal.
  6. Christopher, p.174.
  7. Bf 109 E-3 (www.bf-109.com)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Individual History MESSERSCHMITT Bf109E-4/B W/NR.4101/DG200/8477M" RAF Museum. Retrieved: 4 December 2010.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Weal, John. Bf 109 F/G/K Aces of the Western Front (http://books.google.com/books?id=gjzGb2ic6BkC) 1 December 1999. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-905-8. Page 31
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 "Individual History Messerschmitt Bf109G-2/TROP W/NR.10639" RAF Museum. Retrieved: 4 December 2010.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Weal, John. 1999. Page 75
  12. 12.0 12.1 Weal, John. Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Aces of the Western Front (http://books.google.com/books?id=iblZ2Nvdj1EC) 15 May 1996. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-595-1. Page 25
  13. Weal, John. 1996. Page 24
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 CH 15610 (photograph) - Imperial War Museum Collection Search
  15. CH 15606 (photograph) Imperial War Museum Collection Search
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 British Air intelligence report - German Ju 88 mistakenly lands at RAF Woodbridge
  17. 17.0 17.1 No. 9335. Junkers Ju 88 G-1 (TP190 c/n 712273) Royal Air Force (1000Aircraftphotos.com)
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 "Individual History Ju 88 R-1, Werk Nr. 360043" RAF Museum. Retrieved: 3 December 2010.
  19. HU 93008 (photograph) Imperial War Museum Collection Search
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Individual History FIAT CR42 `FALCO' MM5701/8468M" RAF Museum. Retrieved: 4 December 2010.
  21. North East Diary 1939-45 Retrieved 7 April 2012
  22. Powell, Hickman. The "Rafwaffe" Flies for Us (Popular Science - Vol 145 Issue 1 Page 46A. July 1944
  23. 23.0 23.1 Aufkl. Gr. 122 Nov 1943 (luftwaffedata.co.uk)
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 CH 15616 (photograph) Imperial War Museum Collection Search
  25. Flying Units of the RAF. Lake, Alan. 1999. p=175
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