Richard Blackburn                 Louisa and Lloyd Richards.     Graham Mottram, Dave Morris,
Lloyd Richards. Eric Bond.                                                        and Klas Gjolmesli.
Derek Martin, Ron Skinner.                                                        At the Thursday dinner.

Friday Oct 27th WW2 crew from Blackburn Skua dive bombers reunited at the Fleet Air Arm Museum. The Blackburn Skua was the first British built dive bomber and the first aircraft to shoot down an enemy aircraft in WW2 (a Dornier flying boat on 26th Sept 1939)  The Blackburn Skua can claim several significant firsts to its name. It was the Fleet Air Arm's first stressed skin mono-plane aircraft and also the first British aircraft specifically designed for dive-bombing duties. Blackburn Skuas entered service with the Fleet Air Arm in November 1938, as a successful update and replacement for the Hawker Osprey and Nimrod biplane fighter aircraft, in service at the time. Shooting down the first enemy aircraft of World War II would be a notable achievement for any record, and this too can be claimed by a Blackburn Skua. On 26th September 1939, Lt. Cdr. B.S. McEwen RN (803 Naval Air Squadron) operating from H.M.S Ark Royal, shot down a German Dornier (Do18 Wk No 0731, coded 4M+MY from Kflg 506, pilot: Baron Von Richensteiner) flying boat, whilst Ark Royal was escorting the surfaced/damaged HMS Spearfish off Helgoland (North Sea) Blackburn Skuas were at the forefront of the Norwegian campaign, often operating at the extreme limit of their range and under grueling North Sea conditions. Despite these limiting factors, Skuas of No. 800 and 803 NAS, managed to successfully dive bomb and sink the German cruiser Konigsberg, in Bergen, Norway, on the 10th April 1940. No fewer than 3 front line (800/803 HMS Ark Royal, 801-HMS Furious) and 22 second line and training Fleet Air Arm squadrons operated Blackburn Skuas between 1938 and 1941. Attending at the reunion we had two pilots, Derek Martin and Richard Blackburn, with two Telegraphist Air Gunners, Lloyd Richards and Eric Bond, and an ARK ROYAL writer, Ron Skinner. The day came to be a day to remember as the WW2 veterans told their stories including how it was that Derek Martin was shot down in his Skua in 1940, and taken to Stalagluft 3, of the "Great Escape" film fame. The Telegraphist Air Gunner, Lloyd Richards was also presenting a photograph of him being taken as a POW. In addition to the WW2 veterans, a team from Bodo Aviation Museum in Norway was present. The team brought along a restored Skua cockpit section. (American Chronicle / AG Linsley / OL)

The stories told by attending WW2 veterans at the Reunion, were taped by Sketchfilm.

BLHF crew,  at the cockpit.       Sketchfilm crew                    The Partridge family.
                                                      and DTR Martin.

The Norwegians
at the local pub.

John Dell,
Matthew Willis,
and Ian Huntley.

Oh yes,
the press were there too.

Ready for going home.


Operation Skua: