New coat for the Dak
Gary Parsons visits the BBMF to check out the Dakota's new paint scheme.
Dakota ZA947, workhorse of the BBMF, has recently been repainted in the colours of a Dakota serving with 267 Squadron of the Mediterranean campaign. A refreshing change from her previous olive drab markings, which while authentic were a photographer's nightmare, she will make for a stunning sight in the air with the Pegasus emblem (267's badge) displayed proudly on both sides of the front fuselage.
267 Squadron was formed at Calafrana, Malta on 27 September 1918, from Nos. 360, 361, 362 and 363 Flights based at the seaplane station. It flew anti-submarine patrols until the Armistice and remained as an operational squadron and aircraft holding unit until renumbered 481 Flight on 1 August 1923.
On 19 August 1940 267 Squadron reformed from the Communications Unit, Heliopolis, for local transport duties in Egypt. It used a variety of types for transporting passengers, mail and freight between Egypt and outlying bases. The pilots of 267 Squadron also performed a variety of special missions and one of their number, Flight Sergeant John Appleby, won a DFM for his part in the rescue of the Polish leader Thomasz Arciszewski, who was picked-up from an airstrip in German-occupied Poland. He was also awarded the Polish Cross of Valour for his troubles.
Larger aircraft were acquired and by August 1942 operations extended throughout the Mediterranean area and its role included the movement of personnel and equipment, casualty evacuation and occasional supply-dropping missions to guerilla bands in Italy and the Balkans. In November 1943, the squadron moved to Italy and in February 1945 was transferred to India, where it carried supplies during the 14th Army's final offensive that cleared Burma of the Japanese. After a period of general transport duties, the squadron disbanded on 30 June 1946, though it continued operations until 21 July.
267 Squadron reformed at Kuala Lumpur on 15 February 1954 as a transport and communications unit. It flew Pioneers, Pembrokes and Dakotas equipped with loud-speakers known as 'Voice Dakotas'. For four years three aircraft operated continuously on Voice Operations until the unit was re-numbered 209 Squadron on 1 November 1958. A 'Voice Operation' was a flight to a particular area for the purpose of broadcasting messages directly to a particular jungle target. Three aircraft had been specially modified for this work - KJ810, KJ955 and KP277. Slung under the mainplane were four loudspeakers delivering 500 watts of audio power, and in the main fuselage a large diesel engine was anchored to the floor with huge bolts and metal tie bars - this supplied the required 240v AC to the four amplifiers situated in each corner of the main cabin.
Four years passed before 267 Squadron was re-activated, as on 1 November 1962 it became an Argosy unit based at RAF Benson, near Wallingford. The era of the 'Whistling Wheelbarrow' was to last eight years until the final disbandment arrived on 30 June 1970.