Author Topic: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II  (Read 380 times)

Offline apophenia

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RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« on: June 07, 2022, 11:34:46 AM »
The Douglas B-18 Bolo in Canadian Service

The United States released a total of 40 Douglas Bolo bombers for use by the Royal Canadian Air Force during WW2. In 1940, Canada acquired 20 ex-Army Air Corps B-18As which entered RCAF service with No. 10 Squadron at Halifax, NS. Operated as a maritime patrol bomber, the aircraft was renamed the Douglas Digby - after a town on the southwestern coast of Nova Scotia. Negotiations were continued by the Canadian Air Purchasing Commission in Washington, DC, for a further tranche of Bolos to operate with RCAF Western Air Command.

In February 1941, the Dominion of Canada finally completed a sale agreement. However, this next batch of Bolos would be made up of the earlier, less-powerful B-18 model now considered surplus to USAAF requirements. [1] This complicated RCAF training and parts supply but was considered worthwhile since many of the superior Lockheed Hudson patrol aircraft ordered by Canada were being surrendered to the RAF whose need was greater. Another complication was the method of delivery.

To maintain US neutrality, the bombers could not be flown from American territory into Canada. Instead, the Army Air Corps crews delivered the B-18s to an airstrip at Sweetgrass, Montana, near the Canadian border. The bombers were then towed across the borderline by trucks driven by civilians. From a strip at Coutts, Alberta, the ex-B-18s were collected by Ferry Command crews which flew their charges the 275 km to Calgary. There, the Alberta branch of MacDonald Brothers Aircraft performed checks, overhauls, and installed RCAF-supplied equipment. [2]

Douglas Digby Mk.II into Active Service

The first refurbished Digby Mk.IIs were assigned to No. 13 (Operational Training) Squadron (although 'MK' squadron codes were never applied. As further Digby Mk.IIs arrived on the West Coast, they went to No. 8 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron at RCAF Station Sea Island. These Digbys remained on Sea Island in a patrol capacity while No. 8 (BR)'s Bolingbrokes deployed to Alaska as part of RCAF X Wing. In 1943, the squadron relocated to RCAF Station Patricia Bay on Vancouver Island. The Digbys continued coastal patrols - alongside Lockheed Venturas until No. 8 (BR) was disbanded on 25 May 1945.

Top Digby Mk.II of No. 8 (BR) Squadron based at RCAF Station Patrica Bay, just outside of Victoria, BC. Camouflage is identical to 'east coast' Digby Mk.Is but No. 8 (BR) Squadron aircraft carried no squadron codes at this point. Also notice that the roundels have been altered, US-style, to remove their red centres. The red of the fin flash has also been overpainted.

This aircraft has been experimentally fitted with a Mk.IV Magnetic Anomaly Detection tail 'stinger' on loan from the USAAF. Trials were inconclusive and this MAD kit was removed and returned to the US. [3]

By the beginning of August 1945, all West Coast Digbys had been returned to RCAF Station Claresholm for storage. However, their rest period was not to last. In the immediate postwar years, the RCAF on the West Coast continued to operate Venturas in the maritime patrol role. However, the Lockheeds had been provided under the Lend-Lease Agreement and either had to be paid for or returned to the US. Ottawa chose the latter option but this left Western Air Command without land-based patrol aircraft. Accordingly, it was decided to restore the Digbys to service.

The stored aircraft were given quick overhauls by RCAF personnel at Claresholm before being flown out to Sea Island, BC. There, the Digbys were collected by Boeing of Canada for restoration. After being stripped and inspected, the Digbys were fitted with Wright R-1820-G202A engines and cowlings from surplus RCAF Lockheed Hudson bombers. [4] Once refurbished, as Digby Mk.2MRs, these aircraft were sent across the Sea Island tarmac to serve with No. 442 'City of Vancouver' Squadron (Auxiliary).

Bottom Digby Mk.2MR of No. 442 Squadron. With all wartime paintwork stripped, postwar roundels were applied - including the short-lived RCAF Type 1 Roundels on the fuselage sides and upper wings. The No. 442 Squadron badge is worn above the flash on the vertical fin.

Note that this aircraft has been retrofitted with fore-and-aft 'High Probability Radar Early Warning' direction-finding receivers (AN/UPD-501 SHF DF Receiver 'cans'). Not visible here, Digby Mk.2MR 766 was also equipped with an AN/APS-4 (Air Search Homing) radar pod pod under its starboard wing.

______________________________

[1] The Army Air Corps had become the US Army Air Force (USAAF) in June 1941.

[2] The name Dixon (from BC's Dixon Entrance) was briefly mooted for the West Coast B-18s. However, RCAF HQ decided on Digby Mk.II instead to simply record-keeping

[3] USAAF B-18B Bolos equipped with the Mk.IV MAD were also fitted with the SCR-517-T-4 search radar. However, that ASV radar set was never fitted to Digby Mk.II 748.

[4] Unlike the larger Venturas, most RCAF Hudson Mk.IIIs had been purchased outright rather than falling under the Lend-Lease Agreement.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2022, 10:56:26 AM by apophenia »
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2022, 03:10:46 PM »
The top Digby looks oddly Australian, to me. ;) :smiley:
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Offline Jonesthetank

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2022, 04:27:53 PM »
 :smiley:

Always had a soft spot for the Digby, a vac-form kit still waits in my stash (mind you it's probably been waiting for the last 25 years!)

I agree with Old Wombat, the top one does have that RAAF Hudson scheme feel to it. 

Cheers

Mark

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2022, 01:53:41 AM »
 :smiley:
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Offline apophenia

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2022, 07:39:03 AM »
Interesting. I hadn't thought of an Australian connection but, I guess, the Digbys would have been painted in the same RAF camouflage scheme that the RAAF Hudsons were delivered in.

Always had a soft spot for the Digby, a vac-form kit still waits in my stash (mind you it's probably been waiting for the last 25 years!)...

Hmm, with the Special Hobby B-18A kit available, I wonder how your vacuform kit could be incorporated? Stretched, 4-engined 'B-18D' anyone?

Having brought up the RAAF, I checked to see how many USAAF B-18s ended up in Australia. There was, of course that B-18 flown by Australian National Airways on behalf of the USAAF. And at least two B-18s evacuated from Java ended up in Western Australia in March 1942. So, its not a huge stretch to imagine them being taken up by the RAAF.

I tried checking ADF-Serials but couldn't get a 'hand-shake'. So, I'm just guessing that no RW B-18s served with the RAAF. But there would seem to be room for three or four cast-offs from the Army Air Force. I've given them A20 serials as per DC-2s and DC-3s/C-47s (but wish I could have checked against ADF-Serials). Since the RAAF Hudsons were often needed as bombers, I made the Bolos pure maritime patrol aircraft.

Top Ex-USAAF B-18 Bolo of No. 68 Squadron based at RAAF Kojarena satellite aerodrome in Western Australia. All four RAAF Bolos were originally stationed at Kojarena, flying alongside Avro Ansons.

Note that Bolo A20-24 ('E') has been fitted with a Boulton-Paul turret taken from an RAAF Hudson. The camouflage scheme is the same as that applied to Hudsons. The former USAAF serial - 36-343 - has been applied to the nose.

Bottom A bit of a cheat ... this postwar Bolo (A20-23) is no longer a maritime patrol aircraft. Surplus to patrol needs, the surviving Bolos were transferred to a cargo-ferrying role. A20-23 is seen here - stripped of camouflage - serving with No. 86 Transport Wing RAAF in 1947.

(Edit: Forgot to mention, the postwar Bolo has had its wings and nacelles replaced with salvaged C-47 units from USAAF stocks.)
« Last Edit: June 08, 2022, 07:40:56 AM by apophenia »
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2022, 02:05:45 AM »
 :smiley:

We did touch on the RAAF angle here:  http://beyondthesprues.com/Forum/index.php?topic=965.125
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2022, 05:45:04 AM »
 From a strip at Coutts, Alberta, the ex-B-18s were collected by Ferry Command crews which flew their charges the 2754 km to Calgary.



Your distance is off by a factor of 10.
The distance between Coutts and Calgary is 274 km. The road distance is 317.8 km.



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Offline apophenia

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2022, 10:56:57 AM »
Thanks Chris ... typo fixed.
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Offline jcf

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2022, 03:54:05 AM »
Special Hobby also does a B-18, I have the USAAC Pre-war Service boxing in the stash.

Here's a build-up in a Barclay scheme.



http://modelingmadness.com/review/preww2/us/bomber/joyb18.htm

One of my favourite things about the B-18 is the funky retractable turret.

« Last Edit: June 10, 2022, 03:57:20 AM by jcf »
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2022, 01:33:42 AM »
Indeed:




BTW, getting back to the ASW variant, here's one showing the fitment of a nose radar:

« Last Edit: June 11, 2022, 01:35:48 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Offline apophenia

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2022, 09:32:10 AM »
Love that Barclay scheme!

Hmmm, there may be more Digbys coming ...  :o
"The trouble ... is that I am really doing it completely backward. Investigation is the only agenda I have. If people are asking for clarification, they will be out of luck." - William Gibson

Offline apophenia

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2022, 02:31:12 AM »
As threatened ...

I decided to plonk the radar nose onto 37-51 as a mod of the 75 mm gun installation trialled on that DB-1 prototype. Inflight firing of that modified M1898 gun revealed excessive vibration. It was also concluded that a smaller calibre but high-velocity cannon would have more utility against surfaced submarines and light craft.

Bottom Douglas B-18/75 (DB-1 prototype conversion) as envisioned fitted with a centimetric surface search radar in its nose. This planned upgrade was abandoned due to radar set unavailability and weapon firing vibration issues.

The chosen weapon was based upon the new 57 mm M1 anti-tank gun. When fitted with a longer 60-calibre barrel and a carousel auto-loader, this weapon was designated 57mm Gun T12E1 on Aircraft Mount T12E2. Initially, the planned 'platform' for the T12E1 was the smaller and lighter Lockheed A-28 Hudson. When the USAAF 57 mm 'gunned bomber' project was transferred to the US Navy, the platform was changed to the slightly larger and more powerful PV-1 Ventura.

Top Operational Lockheed PV-1C 'Ventura Cannoneer' showing its snub nose and belly-mounted 57mm Gun T12E. Due to weight concerns, the planned rear bomb-bay section was omitted. Due to speed reduction (compared with the base PV-1 patrol bomber), the Martin dorsal turret was also deleted.
"The trouble ... is that I am really doing it completely backward. Investigation is the only agenda I have. If people are asking for clarification, they will be out of luck." - William Gibson

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2022, 03:10:09 AM »
 :smiley:
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2022, 04:46:22 AM »
In case you're looking for some B-18 nose art, there's this:

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with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

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Re: RCAF Douglas Digby Mk.II
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2022, 12:52:29 AM »
 :smiley:
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.