MF628 is a Vickers Wellington Mk X
- The Dambusters
Used to represent BJ895/G.
Ordered from Vickers-Armstrong at Blackpool/Squires Gate on 28 May 1942, to contract 92429/40, to be fitted with Bristol Hercules XVI radial engines as a Wellington B.X aircraft - one of 3,804 Mk.10 aircraft; the most built of any Wellington variant – MF628 was flown for an initial 20 minute test flight at Blackpool, by Sqn Ldr Coton (pilot) and K Farnworth (passenger), on the morning of 9 May 1944.
11 May 1944, Flying Officer Taylor flew MF628 from Blackpool to RAF (No.18 Maintenance Unit at RAF Tinwald Downs, Dumfries) as a Wellington Mk.X, followed by a 35 minute flight between Northolt and Odiham by Flight Sergeant E.H. Johnson on 3 June 1944.[N 1] It is not known why the aircraft was there at the time, and shortly afterwards was presumably stored until 1948.
Between 9 and 28 March 1948, MF628 was converted to T.Mk.X standard by Boulton Paul at Wolverhampton. The front turret was removed and replaced by a fairing plus interior re-equipped for navigation training. The rear turret and bomb doors were retained.[N 2]
MF628 was allocated for service with No.1 Air Navigation School at RAF Hullavington, Wilts, on 13 April 1949, and used for navigation training and practice bombing over ranges at Donna Nook, nr Manby, Lincs and also near Swindon. During January and February 1950, MF628 was photographed serving with No.1 ANS bearing the fuselage code `FF-KB', with the `B' code repeated on the nose. The overall colour scheme was silver, with yellow fuselage band and black codes and serials-the standard RAF trainer colour scheme of the time. [N 3]
The navigator’s Flying log book of Officer Cadet NAV IV Dennis Robert Henry Hobbs (DoRIS Ref. X002-5402/006) records a 4.40 hours daylight training flight in MF628, taking off at 08.15. on 17 February 1950, followed by a flight at 1 ANS, with Plt Off Blair as pilot on 11 September 1950, recorded in the navigator’s Logbook of the late Flt Lt Geoffrey Leo Smith (DoRIS X003-7883/001/001).
On 14 December 1951, MF628 suffered Cat 4 accidental damage. (Damaged but repairable at MU or Contractors' Works), and was delivered to Brooklands Aviation Ltd, Sywell Aerodrome, Northants for repair, which possibly included the over-painting in silver of the rear turret. ([N 4]
Following the repairs, MF628 was dispatched to 19 MU at RAF St Athan, Glamorgan on 28 October 1952, since by then Varsity T.1 aircraft were replacing the Wellington T.X with 1 ANS for advanced training, which also operated Valetta T.3 for basic navigation training. [N 5]
On 8 January 1953, MF628 was placed on the `non-effective register' at St Athan, but kept airworthy. Later reports suggest that at this time disposal instructions were issued for the aircraft to be scrapped, but that these were ignored by a local engineering officer who recognised the aircraft's historical value.
MF628 participated at the RAeS `50 Years of Aviation' Garden Party at Hatfield Aerodrome on 14 June 1953, flown by Flt Lt W N Trimble from RAF Benson, In the most impressive style' according to `The Aeroplane'. The aircraft was photographed as part of the static display, with the photographs featuring in Air Enthusiast 66 (page.68). MF628 was returned to storage at St Athan on 16 June.
MF628 participated in Battle of Britain anniversary flying display at RAF St Athan, and also made a fly past at the BofB display at RAF Aston Down, Gloucester on 19 September 1953, reported thus in `Air Pictorial' "by this time the crowd had been worked into a state of enthusiasm over the promised arrival of what was definitely the very last Wellington. Eventually a T.10 MF628, appeared and flew past once at a little under a thousand feet, hardly a befitting end to the career of such a famous type". After the display the aircraft returned to storage at St Athan.
On 05 April 1954 MF628 - still in its overall silver colour scheme with yellow training bands - was flown from St Athan to RAF Hemswell for use in filming of `The Dambusters',. Attached to the Hemswell station flight, MF628 was used as a camera aircraft, particularly for close–up head-on front views of the Lancasters and appeared briefly in a take-off scene in the film.
Flights during `The Dambusters' FilmingEdit
Telecom with Mr Ken Souter 29 July 1993-Mr Souter led the flying for the Dambusters film. As Flight Lieutenant Kenneth P Souter he flew the RAFM Wellington on a number of occasions during the filming-the following data coming from his logbook. (All 1954). Mr Souter also visited Hendon 29 July 1999, adding further detail and leaving his logbooks for copying . He mentioned that during filming the Wellington was also flown by F/Lt ‘Butch’ Birch and a Czech pilot, Joe Kmiejic.
- 09 Jun: Scampton-Hemswell, 4 crew plus pilot. Flight time 15 minutes.
- 28 Jun: Air Test. 5 crew plus pilot. Flight time 25 minutes.
- 02 Jul: Hemswell-Scampton. Pilot plus one crew. Flight time 10 minutes.
- 19 Jul: Hemswell-Lindholme-Northolt. 2 crew. Flight time 1.15 hours.
- 19 Jul: Filming Lancaster - low flying - Anglesey area. 2 crew and 2 cameramen. Flight time 3 hours 5 minutes.
- 20 Jul: Filming Lancaster - low flying - Harwich. 2 crew and 2 cameramen. Flight time 1.35 hours.
- 21 Jul: Northolt-Lindholme-Hemswell. 2 crew. Flight time one hour.
- 02 Aug: Filming-Goole area-low flying.2 crew and 2 cameramen. Flight time 25 minutes.
- 04 Aug: Filming-low flying over Lake Windermere. 2 crew and 2 cameramen. Flight time 2 hours 45 minutes. Navigator Flying Officer Colin Batchelor.
- 04 Aug: Scampton - Hemswell 1 crew. Flight time 10 minutes.
- 06 Aug: Dual check - RAF pilot. Flight time 20 minutes. Navigator FO Batchelor.
- 07 Aug: Low flying for filming - Southwold. 2 crew. Flight time 1.35 hours. Navigator FO Batchelor.
- 14 Aug: Hemswell–Scampton – Pilot Ken Souter; Navigator FO Batchelor. Flight Time 10 minutes.
- 09 Sep: Dual circuits with Flt Lt Hingley. Flight time 30 minutes.
Returned to St Athan on 14 October 1954, the aircraft was grounded as a non-effective aircraft.
On 24 January 1955, MF628 was sold to Vickers Ltd, Weybridge and flown from St Athan to their airfield at Wisley, Surrey, the same day - probably the last Wellington flight ever. The crew for the last flight were F/S (Later Sqn Ldr) `Herbie' Marshall (pilot) and Jim C Pickersgill, AFC (Master Flight Engineer). After take-off and a couple of low-level flypasts (at 15-20ft) a camera crew from the Air Ministry filmed 628 from an Airspeed Oxford. ; flight time some 1 hour 10 minutes. The crew’s hopes of a hearty welcome were soon dashed: `We landed at Wisley, taxied to the hangars and found these firmly closed. One wee door then opened, and an overalled figure beckoned us forward, stop, switch off, then said "Chuck me the 700", caught it - and beat a rapid retreat back inside the warm hangar, closing the door behind him'. Three aircraft were lined up on the ground to greet them and uniformed staff saluted and civilians doffed their hats. And so ended 628s last flight, bought back by her makers for preservation. 
- ↑ This flight is recorded in the Navigator’s flying Log Book of Sergeant Sydney Alan Sharp of the Wellington XIII equipped No.69 Squadron, and seemingly confirmed by an entry in the flying logbook of Sgt Stan Hayward as second pilot (or passenger) on these two short flights.
- ↑ Boulton Paul modified a large number of Wellingtons to trainers at this time., converting 270 B.X Wellingtons to trainer standard between January 1946 and March 1952. They were stripped, overhauled and re-covered. .
- ↑ The photos: featured in Aeroplane Monthly (February 1996, page 47) and Air Enthusiast (Number 66 page 67).
- ↑ See P015243, RAFM Photo Collection); Aeroplane Monthly (February 1996 page.44) and Royal Air Force Flying Review (December 1953 page 30).
- ↑ 1 ANS retired their last Wellington, LP806, in Mar 1953-the last in normal RAF Service. However, two were later revived for film work; with the making of ‘Malta Story’. The aircraft were T10's (NB113 & HF626) & the filming was at Luqa & Ta Kal in November 1953. The RAF crews were also "extras" in the film
- ↑ DoRIS ref. X001-3536/023-025
- ↑ See Flying Logbook X003-8864/025.
- ↑ http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/documents/collections/69-A-171-Wellington-X-MF628.pdf