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Typhoon Pilots visit 17 Wing

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Wally Ward and Angus Scott try out the controls of the CC-130 Hercules.  Photo Credit: Sgt Bill McLeod Wally Ward and Angus Scott try out the controls of the CC-130 Hercules. Photo Credit: Sgt Bill McLeod

It was supposed to be a tour of the Wing put on for the benefit of five Second World War pilots and their families but it turned out to be as much a learning experience for the military members giving the tour as the veterans.

 

Harry Hardy, a recipient of both the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and the Canadian Forces’ Decoration (CD), Ted Smith, Wally Ward, Ken Hanna DFC, and Angus (The Beast) Scott toured 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, the 17 Wing Museum, 1 Canadian Air Division and the Garden of Memories on September 8, 2012.  Four of the five flew Hawker Typhoons, a single-seat fighter bomber known affectionately as the ‘Tiffy’, with 440 Squadron but Ken Hanna flew a rocket armed Typhoon with the Royal Air Force’s 181 Squadron.

 

440 Squadron is now part of 17 Wing and flies the Twin Otter out of Yellowknife, NT. Although the squadron has been equipped with everything over the years from biplanes to jet interceptors and has been stood up and disbanded a number of times, it presently acts as a transport squadron with a secondary role in Search and Rescue in the North.

 

The Hawker Typhoon was a single-seat fighter bomber originally designed to be a replacement for the Hawker Hurricane which came into it’s own as a ground attack aircraft. It was also the only aircraft capable of catching the German FW 190 at low altitudes.

 

The tour began at 435 Squadron in the morning on Saturday and moved on to the 17 Wing Museum, 1 Canadian Air Division, the Air Park, and the Garden of Memories after lunch.  The veteran pilots were very interested in 435 Squadron’s CC-130 Hercules, especially the cockpit and asked questions about the capabilities like take off and landing distances. 

 

Ted Smith paid a special compliment to the ground crew.  “Those guys used to be out there all night long making sure our planes were ready,” he said.  “My heart went out to them.”  435 Squadron technicians assured him that they still worked long hours to keep the CC-130 flying.

 

The former “Tiffy” pilots then toured the Search and Rescue section and shared a few stories of their service during war time while there.

 

“The army used to have a saying,” said Ken Hanna.  “Just whistle for a ‘Tiffy’.”  Hanna recalled an attack he participated in on an airfield where the German army had dug their tanks in at turret depth inside three hangars. From that position they were able to cover the entire open airfield and block the Canadian Army unit tasked with capturing it.

 

“I read the book Juno Beach and I still couldn’t figure out what unit I was supporting until I went to the Fort Garry Horse museum yesterday and found out it was them,” said Mr. Hanna.

 

Harry Hardy described how while training in Spitfires over England, his opponent ran right into his tail.  “The next thing I knew I was sitting there strapped into my seat but my airplane had blown up around me,” he said.  Hardy’s first Typhoon was named ‘Pulverizer’, whether by its first pilot or the ground crew, he was never quite sure, but after that he named his subsequent Typhoons Pulverizer as well.  The last one he flew was Pulverizer IV. 

 

Wally Ward described how as a member of one of the two Royal Canadian Air Force Squadrons put under American command to help defend Alaska he flew the Kittyhawk aircraft in the Aleutian Islands in a war that went for the most part unreported.  “They didn’t want people to know that the Japanese had invaded part of the United States,” he said.  “It would have been bad for morale at home.”

 

Captain Gregory Mendes of 435 Squadron thanked the veterans for their service and said it was hard to comprehend what they had done and gone through as young men before the tour broke for lunch and then moved on to 17 Wing Museum, 1 Canadian Air Division, the Air Park, and the Garden of Memories.

 

The veterans found the 17 Wing Museum interesting but lacking in Typhoon memorabilia which they plan to address.  Harry Hardy pointed out that a small scale model of a Typhoon with the ‘Pulverizer IV’ markings should be displayed the other way around because they only put nose art on the right side of the aircraft.

 

“You mount the Typhoon on the right, the opposite of a horse, so as a pilot you never noticed the left side,” he said.

 

Ted Smith was particularly interested in the 20 mm cannon display.  “I only ever saw the front two feet,” he said.

 

Master Corporal Mark Ejdrygiewicz, who was giving the tour, asked each man what it was like to fly the Typhoon and each man had a different story about the aircraft.

 

Despite the high spirits and the continual ribbing of each other, Ken Hanna pointed out a sobering fact.  Because the Typhoon was a ground attack fighter, 665 pilots and 23 ground crew were killed in action during the war.

 

 

For more information about 440 Squadron please visit:

http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/17w-17e/sqns-escs/page-eng.asp?id=413

 

For more information about the Typhoon please visit:

http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/v2/equip/hst/typhoon-eng.asp

 

For more information about the Distinguished Flying Crosses awarded to Ken Hanna and Harry Hardy please visit:

http://airforce.ca/uploads/airforce/2009/07/ALPHA-HA.01.html
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