Did any RAF aircrew fly Spitfires or Lancasters in WW2 and retire on Tornados?

#1
Random question - would it have been possible for an RAF pilot to have flown in WW2 on Spitfires or Lancaster Bombers and then stayed on in the service long enough as active aircrew to fly the Tornado operationally?

This is linked to a book I'm reading about WW2 bombing campaign and got me thinking on corporate memory and length of service - we have a corporate memory of about 40 years, so its likely we still have got people serving who served under WW2 veterans. I was just curious though about when the last WW2 veterans stopped serving in HM Forces.

I'm struck that we saw a period of enormous revolution and technological change in the mid 20th century and I'm curious how many people went through it first hand.

(And before the inevitable smart alec posts, yes I know about the BBMF so no need to post about that!)
 

_Chimurenga_

LE
Gallery Guru
#2
Did Eric "Winkle" Brown ever have any time on a Tornado?
 
#3
I left the RAF in 71 and served with several ex aircrew from WW 2 but mostly in ground jobs. I did know one ex B of B Hurricane pilot who was CFI at a civvy flying school in 1976.


CFB.
 
#4
Assuming that the individual was 18 in 1945, they'd reach the hard stop of 55 in 1982.

Essentially the veterans of the Normandy landings would have timed out before the landings at San Carlos.

IIRC we had 17yos fighting in 82. Their 55th will be around 2020.
 
#5
@jim30: whilst I can't say definitively, one of my father's (flew '52 to '64'; aged 18 to 30) peers in FEAF based in Malaya went from flying WW2 era aircraft (e.g. Mosquito, Meteor) to Phantoms and finally Jaguars, his last flight in active service being in the latter, aged 56, when he had to bang out; this would have been in about 1980. Given the Tornado came into service in the early '80s, I suspect that the answer to your question would be 'no'.
 
#6
Not strictly on topic, but I knew a mechanical type (can't remember his exact trade) who started on Spitfires and finished on VC10's in the mid-1970's
 
#7
I was thinking at least Roland Beamont of test pilot fame may have got in there, but he was responisble for the international testing of the MRCA and (by the looks of it) not a test pilot on it: Roland Beamont - Wikipedia
OK, not operational, but I think that's as close as it could possibly get.
 
#8
I served in 1984 with a paymaster (RAPC in those days) who had been an infantryman in WW2, and had the medals to prove it. I think he was on some form of extended service to age 60 and he retired a couple of years later.

Wiki tells me Tornado first flew in 1974 and entered sqn service in 1979 so I guess it's just about possible.
 
#9
I'll chat to some lads later this week.
I know one saffer (late) WW2 vet was still flying combat in ~1988, in Impalas, having been in Korea flying P-51s and Sabres with the Flying Cheetahs as well.
Still a LtCol - he was in the Airforce to fly, not fly a desk.
 
#10
Assuming that the individual was 18 in 1945, they'd reach the hard stop of 55 in 1982.
RAF Spec Aircrew, could (and did) fly to 60, pushing that 'hard stop' to 87 - serving on a wide array of a/c types.

Not sure when the TTT formed at Cottesmore, but possible, although unlikely, that Jim's weird old man in a growbag fetish became reality.

However, Sir Micheal Beetham (the RAF's last 5*?) was a Lancaster Bomber pilot over Germany in WW2 and was responsible for the Vulcan Black Buck over the FI. He was still cutting around in uniform into the late 90's. He was an absolutely top bloke and still sharp as you like into his 90's.
 
#11
Highly unlikely. Even if the goal posts were moved slightly and the net was cast over the Seafire (RN version of Spitfire), that beast was withdrawn from service in 1951. Thus a (very young) FAA pilot, who caught the first bit of the Korean War as a Seafire pilot would still have been pushing it to climb aboard a Tornado even when that airframe was in the development stage.

Again, move the goal posts and include the Lincoln (a development of the Lanc) and was finally retired from RAF use in 1963: so, it's just possible that such a train of service could be achieved.

Again, highly unlikely, IMO.

Of interest, Sir Michael Beetham, who was CAS from 1977 and was an ex-Lanc pilot in WWII, would certainly have had a second seat in one simply 'cos it was his train set for a while!
 
#12
RAF Spec Aircrew, could (and did) fly to 60, pushing that 'hard stop' to 87 - serving on a wide array of a/c types.

Not sure when the TTT formed at Cottesmore, but possible, although unlikely, that Jim's weird old man in a growbag fetish became reality.

However, Sir Micheal Beetham (the RAF's last 5*?) was a Lancaster Bomber pilot over Germany in WW2 and was responsible for the Vulcan Black Buck over the FI. He was still cutting around in uniform into the late 90's. He was an absolutely top bloke and still sharp as you like into his 90's.

There was a Warrant officer in 1987 with an AG brevet and two rows of medals.
Was 60 and had started on Lanc's

When I was at Wittering they were practising Battle of Britain 50
The airfield at Wittering is the same length as the mall so they practise the run in over Buck House
The Spitfires came racing in very low

There was talk that they were being flown by senior officers who had all flown them many years ago.

The last offensive roles by Spitfires were in 1951 in Malaya by 60 Sqn
 
#13
I was thinking at least Roland Beamont of test pilot fame may have got in there, but he was responisble for the international testing of the MRCA and (by the looks of it) not a test pilot on it: Roland Beamont - Wikipedia
OK, not operational, but I think that's as close as it could possibly get.

seems like a good lad

"although he was court-martialled for transporting a WAAF to a dance at another RAF station in his single-seat Hurricane, and was severely admonished"
 
#14
Given the RAF seems to let people stop promotion but stay flying (e.g. 50yr old Flt Lts), I wonder whether many people chose that option.

Fascinating to see how long some of the WW2 vets hung around for!
 

_Chimurenga_

LE
Gallery Guru
#15
From what I've found on a quick google search, Air Marshal Sir Michael Beetham was the pilot of a Victor K2 which re-fueled a Tornado GR1 during a training sortie from RAF Marham in 1978.
 
#16
I served in 1984 with a paymaster (RAPC in those days) who had been an infantryman in WW2, and had the medals to prove it. I think he was on some form of extended service to age 60 and he retired a couple of years later.

Wiki tells me Tornado first flew in 1974 and entered sqn service in 1979 so I guess it's just about possible.
As a Space Cadet in 1979 I went flying chipmunks and the Pilots were both WW2 vets.

As space cadets we had to memorise the size of the wingspan and other bits on "modern" aircraft.

One of the old pilots threw me a question during one flight.

"What is the wingspan of a Vulcan?"

30,33 and 36 Meters Sir.

Well done, but you don't need that kind of rubbish nowadays, we did back in 44 shooting Messerschmitt's down though.

Have another 1/2 hour flight for getting the answer correct.

"You have control".
 
#18
My father was a Pilot on aircraft varying from Beaufighters to Lancasters during and after the war, he continued flying up to 1960, and became a Master Pilot Warrant Officer, before commissioning. He had no desire to retrain from propellor driven aircraft to Jet Powered so went on to do other things. He left the RAF in 1974, as a Catering Officer. He did have a number of Aircrew friends who had served on Lancasters and were flying faster things (Vulcans and VC10 crew). His RAF Career was from 1939 to 1974, flying from end of 1942 to 1960.
 
#19
Not RAF, but at least one WW2 veteran took part in San Carlos - Sam Dunlop, captain of Fort Austin as a Commodore RFA, who served in the Merchant Navy during the world war.
 
#20
Not RAF, but at least one WW2 veteran took part in San Carlos - Sam Dunlop, captain of Fort Austin as a Commodore RFA, who served in the Merchant Navy during the world war.
A guy I work with, his Grandad was coxswain of the QE2 when it went 'down South' in 1982, it was his last trip before retirement. His first trip out in the MN was in an arctic convoy to Murmansk!
 

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