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Old 21st January 2023, 13:54
Dan History Dan History is offline
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Lightbulb Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and 40 Boston bombers in 1942 – can serials be identified?

In early July 1942, Roosevelt and Churchill requested that Stalin release 40 A-20 Boston light bomber aircraft, which had been intended for transfer to the Soviet Union, in order to replenish the Boston squadrons of the Western Desert Air Force. Stalin, who at that time was seeking friendly relations with Roosevelt, agreed, and the bombers were transferred to the RAF. They were used by units of the South African Air Force (SAAF), and for this reason and others, their serials remain unknown to the present day. Can members help identify these 40 Bostons?

All I have been able to find is the following RAF document, dated 30 October 1942:

“we have received from C.O., R.A.F. Station, Shaibah (through A.H.Q. Iraq) copies of agreements signed on behalf of the U.S.S.R. and U.S.A. releasing 40 aircraft as below to the R.A.F.

3 Boston III, forming part of the British commitment to Russia, but not handed over to the Russians;

36 Boston A.20.C., forming part of American commitment to Russia

1 Boston A.20.C. forming part of American commitment to Russia and previously handed over to the Russians.

These agreements are merely receipts for the physical transfer of the aircraft under the Lease/Lend programme, and they include details of deficiencies of equipment. The originals of the agreements are being retained at Shaibah, attached to the C.R.Vs bringing the aircraft on R.A.F. charge.”

Two questions stem from the text above:

1. Is it known which specific unit at Shaibah oversaw the transfer of these aircraft, or was it perhaps the Station commander? I am seeking to understand which Operational Record Book (ORB) might contain the aircraft serials.

2. What were CRVs and might these documents still be available at The National Archives in Kew, or perhaps at another archive?


I have looked through the volumes of the excellent Mediterranean Air War book series in an attempt to identify some of these 40 Bostons among the aircraft lost by the SAAF squadrons. I would be grateful if members commented whether some or all of these individual aircraft belonged to this set of 40:

Sunday, 30 August 1942

24 SAAF Sqn Boston III AL787 off from LG. 99 to bomb Fuka-El Rahman road in early hours; shot down while strafing, probably by Flak; Capt J. P. Furstenburg and three KiA

Tuesday, 1 September 1942

24 SAAF Sqn Boston III AL674 off to attack MT at El Alamein. Tail blown off by Flak 15m S target at 1821. Observer, Lt A. B. Sluter baled out and PoW; Lt J. A. Pocock and two KiA


Thursday, 1 September 1942

24 SAAF Sqn Boston III AL723 ‘Z’ collided with Z2156 and damaged DBR, but returned; Lt F. A. L. de Marrilav and two safe, one injured

Sunday, 27 September 1942

24 SAAF Sqn Boston III AL785 ‘S’ one of nine off by night and one of four attacking LG. 13; shot down by Flak over target; Lt G. Cohen and one KiA, two PoW (Night)

Saturday, 24 October 1942

12 SAAF Sqn Boston IIIa 41-19402 leading formation hit by Flak over target and crashed 20km W El Alamein 0943; Lt. A. C. E. Glendinning and three PoW

Tuesday, 3 November 1942

12 SAAF Sqn Boston III AL270 ‘U’ off 0740 to attack Axis ground forces at El Alamein. Hit by Flak over target, burst into flames and spun into ground and exploded; pilot Lt W. B. Dalglish baled out WiA, but died on 7th as PoW, three crew KiA

Sunday, 21 March 1943

12 SAAF Sqn Boston III AL734 shot down by Flak and belly-landed in the desert


Some losses in the Mediterranean Air War books are not identified by serial, and of these a few cannot even be identified using the RAF Commands Aircraft Losses Database, based on the files of the late Henk Welting, at
https://www.rafcommands.com/database....php?crdb=Henk

Can members help and provide the missing Boston serial for the following loss? See below:

Thursday, 8 April 1943

24 SAAF Sqn Boston ‘R’ hit by Flak at 1030, crash-landed in Allied lines; Maj Margo and crew safe
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  #2  
Old 22nd January 2023, 02:19
Alex Smart Alex Smart is offline
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Re: Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and 40 Boston bombers in 1942 – can serials be identified?

From "Red Stars" vol 4. Page 199.
The first batch of 44 Boston's were shipped to Russia in late 1941.But only 3 arrived in Murmansk before the New Year,1942.
The rest were sent via the Middle East, arriving in Shuaibu(Iraq) in early 1942.
According to Contacts these aircraft were Boston III's intended for the RAF.
A-20C and DB-7B subtypes were however also observed by the Soviet inspectors.
AL263....502 were originally ordered for the Army de LaAir as the DB-7B and subsequently taken over by the RAF as Boston III's.While A-20C's of the range 41-19589 - 19728 were delivered simultaneously. Even a couple of Dutch DB-7C's originally ordered for the Dutch Air Force were included.
Some aircraft were re shipped from the UK, but most came from US factories.
According to British data, the 1st Middle East deliveries included 32 Boston III's in the AL265 - 330 range and another 45 in the AL675 to 832 range. All of which were originally intended for the RAF and French Air Force but were shipped directly from the USA.
44 specialy equipped Boston III's in transit to the USSR in 1943( in the HK869 - 972 range) were released by the Soviet Commission in Abadan for use by the RAF in the Middle East in exchange for Spitfires.
Known Boston deliveries to the USSR.
Boston III's: AL263 - 330; AL675 - 832.
A20C's: 41- 19589 - 19609; 41 - 19611 - 19631; 41-19645 - 19687; 41-19707 - 19724 (total 103).

From AB's "AA100 - AZ999"

Boston III's delivered by Boeing, Seattle between November 1941 and May 1942 to Contract F-672.

Of 56 delivered to the RAF of a batch of 240, the remainder diverted to the USAA and Russia.

The following were RAF sent to the USSR.

AL Serial range -
265, 267, 281, 282, 283, 287, 292, 294, 295, 297.

Of 240 Boston III's delivered by Boeing between October 1941 and October 1942 to Contract F-719.

74 diverted to USAAF before delivery.

The following were RAF sent to the USSR.

AL Serial range -
675, 695, 709, 732, 758, 764, 769, 772, 779, 784.
788, 789, 792, 793, 795, 796, 798, 799, 802, 803.
804, 806, 811, 813, 814, 815, 816, 817, 819, 820.
821, 822, 823, 824, 825, 826, 827, 828, 829, 830.
831, 832.

Total = 52.

Those in the HK Serial number range were -
Transferred from Russian deliveries in December 1942,
35 - HK869 to HK903 all to SAAF.
1 - HK912 to SAAF.
1 - HK918 to SAAF.
4 - HK921 to HK924 to SAAF.
2 - HK934, HK935 to SAAF.

Hope this is of some use
Alex

Last edited by Alex Smart; 23rd January 2023 at 00:57.
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Old 24th January 2023, 21:42
Dan History Dan History is offline
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Re: Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and 40 Boston bombers in 1942 – can serials be identified?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Smart View Post
From "Red Stars" vol 4. Page 199.
... Hope this is of some use
Alex
Alex, thank you for your response and for typing up the information from the very useful books by Carl-Fredrik Geust and the late James J. Halley MBE. This helps make my query more specific, as follows:

Of the 40 Bostons in question, three must have been DB-7B, Boston III aircraft from the serial range AL675 to 832

The other 37 must have been A-20C, Boston IIIA aircraft from the U.S. serial range 41-19589 - 19728.

Now, the crux of the matter is, how are these 40 aircraft to be identified? Does any forum member have access to SAAF documents which list the serials of aircraft taken on strength of 12 SAAF and 24 SAAF?
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Old 25th January 2023, 01:02
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and 40 Boston bombers in 1942 – can serials be identified?

Dan

To get any further I believe a good starting point is to get the relevant British AM 78 cards and the
corresponding US IARCs

And before you ask, no I don't have them either, even if I wish I did.....

Cheers
Stig
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Old 25th January 2023, 10:43
Dan History Dan History is offline
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Re: Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and 40 Boston bombers in 1942 – can serials be identified?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stig Jarlevik View Post
To get any further I believe a good starting point is to get the relevant British AM 78 cards and the
corresponding US IARCs
Stig,

Thank you for your message.

I have seen plenty of examples of the Air Ministry Form 78 (Aircraft Movement Card) and the USAAF Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC). I also have a copy of Robert A. Mann’s Aircraft Record Cards of the United States Air Force: How to Read the Codes. There is even a YouTube video on the subject, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et021XJDoes

None of that helps very much in identifying these 40 Bostons, because both the American and the British cards were intended to record the service of a particular aircraft within the USAAF or RAF. Transfers to other air forces are not recorded consistently, or with any clarity even in cases when these are in fact recorded. Since these Bostons were transferred initially from U.S. control to some RAF rear services unit and then to SAAF squadrons, it is not at all likely that the record cards will contain any relevant information. The place to look is either SAAF records, or else the records of the RAF rear services units in Iraq. Have any members of this forum looked at either of these sets of sources?

Kind regards,

Dan
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Old 25th January 2023, 11:56
Zoran Petek Zoran Petek is offline
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Re: Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and 40 Boston bombers in 1942 – can serials be identified?



Hello,
Above is one list published in the Warpaint series.
I also made different lists - by serial and/or code/sqn, mainly from orbs and losses lists, but my computer crashed (literally, in an earthquake), so it will take some time until I found copy of that file(s), on some flash drive or some backup cd.

Regards
Zoran
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Old 25th January 2023, 12:58
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and 40 Boston bombers in 1942 – can serials be identified?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan History View Post
None of that helps very much in identifying these 40 Bostons, because both the American and the British cards were intended to record the service of a particular aircraft within the USAAF or RAF. Transfers to other air forces are not recorded consistently, or with any clarity even in cases when these are in fact recorded. Since these Bostons were transferred initially from U.S. control to some RAF rear services unit and then to SAAF squadrons, it is not at all likely that the record cards will contain any relevant information. The place to look is either SAAF records, or else the records of the RAF rear services units in Iraq. Have any members of this forum looked at either of these sets of sources?
Kind regards,
Dan
Well Dan

All I am saying is that I believe that is the place you need to start. If you get lucky or not is something
I don't know.

Cheers
Stig

PS: The list provided by Zoran does not entirely fit the list in Brent's book on the SAAF aircraft.
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Old 25th January 2023, 13:30
Dan History Dan History is offline
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Re: Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and 40 Boston bombers in 1942 – can serials be identified?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoran Petek View Post
Above is one list published in the Warpaint series.
I also made different lists - by serial and/or code/sqn, mainly from orbs and losses lists, but my computer crashed (literally, in an earthquake), so it will take some time until I found copy of that file(s), on some flash drive or some backup cd.
Thank you very much, Zoran! Have you seen my private message?

The Warpaint list is an interesting one, though one which sadly casts no light on the fate of the aircraft with U.S. serials.

I am very sorry to hear about the problem you have had with your computer. The physical destruction of one's computer in an earthquake is perhaps an unusual cause of data loss, but no more pleasant than any other!

Happily, I have found one of your lists on this forum, at http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showpo...84&postcount=5 . From your list, it is clear that the RAF also used some Bostons with U.S. serials, though these A-20C-10 aircraft from the 42-33*** serial range were manufactured in late 1942, so were distinct from the 40 Bostons transferred in July of that year.

Kind regards,

Dan
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Old 25th January 2023, 13:33
Dan History Dan History is offline
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Re: Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and 40 Boston bombers in 1942 – can serials be identified?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stig Jarlevik View Post
The list provided by Zoran does not entirely fit the list in Brent's book on the SAAF aircraft.
Thank you for your further comment, Stig. Would it be possible to ask you for the list from Brent's book?

Here is a further twist to the tale. The following caption appears in Air Arsenal North America, by Phil Butler and Dan Hagedorn:

"Douglas Boston III 119406 coded ‘F’ of No.12 Squadron, SAAF, at Landing Ground ‘Z’ (Mahsma) in the Suez Canal area, about the time of the Battle of El Alamein. This was one of the forty Bostons intended for delivery to the USSR that was repossessed while en-route, for service with the RAF Desert Air Force. This one was allotted the RAF serial number HK899 locally by Air Headquarters in Cairo, although it is not known if that was ever painted on the aircraft.
IWM CM4682"

That is therefore an aircraft from Zoran's list, which I linked to above, "41-19406/F 12 Sqn SAAF, X.42-III.43." The Warpaint list that Zoran provided does indeed list serial HK899 as assigned to 12 SAAF. Yet, Alex has cited James J. Halley's Air Britain volume as assigning this serial to a batch of Bostons "Transferred from Russian deliveries in December 1942", in exchange for British Spitfires. Hence, it is not at all clear whether 41-19406 and HK899 were in fact one and the same aircraft, or two different ones.

Kind regards,

Dan
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  #10  
Old 25th January 2023, 16:14
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and 40 Boston bombers in 1942 – can serials be identified?

Hi Dan

I will be happy to send the pages from Brent's book.
Unfortunately he has used a printing company which, in my eyes, were second class, meaning the binding
has started to crack and I cannot scan the pages.
On the other hand I can use my phone and take pictures.

Please send me a PM with your e-mail address and I will get right to it.
FYI Brent lists no USAAF s/ns, only RAF ones. HK899 and not 119406. Since it was SOC in 1945 I am pretty
certain it was painted at some point as HK899

Cheers
Stig
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