Unframed Ensemble: $73
Silver Framed Ensemble: $112
Gun Metal Framed Ensemble: $112
(Overall size 17½” x 13½”)
Two of the RAF’s best known and most successful Mosquito pilots. After a successful start to night-fighting flying the Beaufighter, in January 1943 John ‘Cats Eyes’ Cunningham took command of 85 Squadron equipped with the high performance Mosquito. Ivor Broom, with his navigator Tommy Broom – known as the Flying Brooms – became legendary for their daring precision attacks.
Ivor Broom completed over 100 bombing missions including 22 attacks on Berlin, his daring raids including a low-level (50 feet) mining attack on the Dortmund-Ems canal and tossing a 4000lb bomb into the mouth of a rail tunnel in the Ardennes during the German offensive. John Cunningham, best known RAF night fighter pilot of the war, became chief test pilot at De Havilland in 1946 first flying the revolutionary Comet airliner.
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Read John Cunningham’s WWII biography Here
I joined No 604 County of Middlesex Squadron Auxiliary Air Force based at Hendon as a Pilot Officer in 1935.
I was taught to fly at Hendon in the Avro 504N and gained my wings in 1936. On completion of 50 hours flying in the Avro 504 I was given dual instruction in the Hawker Hart before flying the Hawker Demon – the 2- seater day and night fighter with which the squadron was equipped.
604 Squadron was mobilised at the time of the Czechoslovak crisis in 1938 and we moved to our war station at North Weald in our Demons. After the crisis was over we returned to Hendon and in late 1938 were reequipped with the Blenheim I Fighter. 604 Squadron was mobilised again on August 23rd 1939 and moved to North Weald at the end of August 1939.
The Squadron’s role as day convoy escort and night fighter was unrewarding with the Blenheim which was completely useless as a night fighter, not having any radar.
In the beginning of September 1940, now based at Middle Wallop, we received our first Beaufighter and in November 1940 with our new equipment and an effective, if unreliable radar, together with my radar operator, I achieved the Squadron’s first success during a night combat.
From November 1940 the numbers of night combats increased slowly until April 1941 when the Squadron’s now rapidly-growing successes confirmed that it led the way in the struggle to achieve success at night interception with radar.
The Squadron’s successes at night rapidly increased in 1941 and I was appointed to Command 604 Squadron in August 1941 as a Wing Commander. I completed my first operational tour at the end of July 1942 having destroyed 15 aircraft at night and one by day.
Together with my pre-war air gunner and radar operator for most of my combats, Jimmy Rawnsley, we were posted to H.Q. 81 Group-the Fighter Command Group responsible for the operational training units and in January 1943 I was posted to command No 85 Squadron equipped with Mosquitoes.
In May 1943 we moved from Hunsdon to West Mailing and with the Mosquito’s greater speed than the Beaufighter were able to intercept and shoot down Fw190’s at night.
On completion of my second tour of operations in March 1944, together with Jimmy Rawnsley as Squadron Leader, I was promoted to Group Captain and posted to HQ 11 Group to look after night operations to look after the 11 Group radar operators. My total score of aircraft destroyed at the end of the war was 19 by night and one by day.
I flew the following aircraft in combat: Blenheim I and IV, Beaufighter, Mosquito. The Beaufighter was the first aircraft that made night fighting possible with it’s 4 x 20 mm cannons and a radar set. It was a very fine war machine with air-cooled engines but by 1943 it lacked the speed necessary to catch the enemy bombers.
The Mosquito had the high performance, guns and radar necessary for a night fighter from 1942 onwards. It was a delight to fly and inevitably became my favourite.
604 Squadron always meant a lot to me. It was disbanded in 1945 in France however I had the honour of reforming the Squadron at Hendon in 1946 as a single-seater Fighter Squadron with Spitfires.
I was demobilised as a Group Captain in November 1945 and returned to the De Havilland Aircraft Co. at Hatfield becoming Chief Test Pilot in 1946. I retired from British Aerospace in 1980.
Read Sir Ivor Broom’s WWII biography Here
Sir IVOR BROOM KCB, CBE, DSO, DFC, AFC
I joined the Royal Air Force in 1940 and eleven months later left my operational conversion unit as a sergeant pilot to join my first operational squadron, No. 114 Squadron, flying Blenheims.
After 12 operations, mostly at low level against shipping off the Dutch coast, and against targets in Northern France, my crew and I were posted to the Middle East – but never reached there! On arrival at Malta we – with other transit crews – were immediately allocated to No. 105 Squadron who were on the last week of a three week detachment at Malta. We were then transferred to the remaining Blenheim Squadron at Malta, No. 107 Squadron, and stayed with them until a relief squadron arrived in January 1942.
I was commissioned at Malta when 107 Squadron had lost all their officers, and for a short time was the only officer, other than the CO, in that Squadron. I completed 45 operational sorties, mostly low level attacks against shipping taking supplies to Rommel’s armies in North Africa, and was awarded the DFC at the end of that tour of duty.
Early in 1943, I became one of the first three Mosquito instructors in the Pathfinder Force and eventually moved into the Light Night Striking Force with No. 571 Squadron. A short term as flight commander of No. 128 Squadron was followed by promotion to acting Wing Commander to form No. 163 Squadron. I was awarded the first bar to my DFC for a low level moonlight mining attack from 50ft on the Dortmund-Ems Canal and a second bar to my DFC for tossing a 4000lb bomb into the mouth of a railway tunnel during the final German Ardennes offensive. I completed in all 103 bombing missions including 22 attacks on Berlin and at the end of World War II was awarded the DSO. Throughout my time on Mosquitos my navigator was Tommy Broom (no relation) and the “Flying Brooms” were an inseparable combination.
I remained in the Royal Air Force after World War II, and in common with many other young Wing Commanders was reduced in rank, first to Squadron Leader and finally in 1949 to Flight Lieutenant, in accordance with peace time rules for the much smaller Royal Air Force. The climb back started in 1950 and I was promoted to Air Marshal in 1974 to become the first serving officer to be appointed to the Board of the Civil Aviation Authority. I retired from the Royal Air Force in 1977.
I served in six Squadrons during World War II, but No. 107 Squadron at Malta sticks out most vividly in my mind. The Squadron went there for a three week detachment, but remained in Malta without relief for nearly 5 months. Very few of the original crews survived the detachment, The Blenheim was the only aircraft available in 1941 to carry out low level precision attacks on shipping carrying supplies across the Mediterranean to Rommel’s troops in North Africa. Our losses were high – an average of one crew per ship left sinking or damaged – yet none ever questioned the job we had to do. I recall one Australian pilot with his aircraft damaged and on fire and bound to crash, deliberately flying his crippled aircraft into the side of the ship he was attacking. Such was the calibre of the Blenheim crews.
Notes on Aircraft flown in Combat, 1939-45
My 103 operational sorties were confined to Blenheims and Mosquito bomber aircraft. The Blenheim was obsolescent at the time, but the all-wooden and unarmed Mosquito was probably the most advanced and flexible aircraft of its time. Berlin and back took only four hours and the Mosquito was thus able to operate when poor weather forecasts prohibited lengthy flights by slower aircraft. At one period in 1944/45 Mosquitos attacked Berlin for 25 nights running. At 25,000-28,000ft the German fighters couldn’t touch us at night. A remarkable aircraft – a great credit to the designers and manufacturers.
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JOHN CUNNINGHAM/IVOR BROOM ENSEMBLE (RAF: DeHavilland Mosquito: Night Fighter:)@vbader.com