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Dambusters Bomb Sight Replicated at BCMC

By John Chalmers

A unique project of the Bomber Command Museum of Canada at Nanton, Alberta, has seen the making of 30 copies of the simple wooden bomb sight used by the Royal Air Force 617 Squadron in the famous “Dambusters” bombing raid of the legendary Operation Chastise in May 1943.

01 Karl Kjarsgaard

Karl Kjarsgaard, a director of the Bomber Command Museum, is seen with the prototype bomb sight replica which was duplicated in 30 copies. (Chalmers photo)

Created as a fund raising project to support the museum’s expansion, the bomb sights were made as part of the museum’s commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the famous raid on  the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams on rivers of the Ruhr valley in Germany in the Second World War.

02 Dambuster bomb sight

Meticulous work by volunteers at the museum has produced replicas of the original, exact in every detail. In January 2015, an original bomb sight used in the 1943 raid sold in England for £41,000 – equal to nearly $72,000 Canadian today! (Chalmers photo)

“Of the 133 air crew members who served in the Dambusters raid, 30 were Canadians, so each one of our replicas commemorates one of those men,” says Karl Kjarsgaard. “The replicas are being made available to collectors, museums and individuals who wish to acquire a significant artefact and symbol of the bombing operation.”

Each replica bomb sight is signed on a sighting-arm component by S/L (Ret.) George Leonard “Johnny” Johnson MBE, DFM. Johnny was a bomb aimer on the Dambusters raid and is the last living member of RAF 617 Squadron. He flew on the crew of RCAF W/C Joe McCarthy, DSO, DFC, CD.

The bomb sights are available direct from BCMC. Contact the museum at or call 403-646-2270. A donation of $500 or more will reward you with a numbered and limited edition bomb sight, letter of authenticity, information package and a charitable donation receipt for income tax deduction.

03 Components

04 Components

The two photos above show the various components used in making the bomb sights. The small piece with the hole in it is the eyepiece used by the bomb aimer. (Kjarsgaard photos)

“Great assistance in our BCMC bombsight project came from Bob Mehi, a historian in Ontario,” says Karl Kjarsgaard. “Bob researched and built a prototype of the Dambuster bombsight for our museum, which was sent to us in early May 2018. We have built the replica dam sights as part of our tribute to the Dambusters this summer.” The bomb sight replicas were built by volunteers at BCMC, spearheaded by Ken Hill, and assisted by Karl, Rick Everett, and Brian Wynker.

In addition to producing the bomb sights, the Bomber Command Museum recognizes the participation of Canadians by placing the markings of a Lancaster on which three Canadians flew in the raid. During the summer, the museum’s Lancaster will bear the call letters AJ-M of 617 Squadron Lancaster ED925, piloted on the raid by F/L John Hopgood DFC.

05 Lancater at BCMC

The Lancaster at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada is seen on June 3 with all engines running in the visit of CAHS members to the museum during the 2018 annual convention. The bomb doors have been removed so that a bouncing bomb replica can be displayed beneath the aircraft this summer. (Chalmers photo)

For more info about the Dambusters, click here. A search on the internet for Dambusters will bring up many references and videos. For info on the dam sight itself, click here or likewise search the internet.

For details about the August 24-25 commemorative weekend at the Bomber Command Museum, click here. Run-ups of the Lancaster engines, a Fleet Fawn engine run-up, and engine run of a Bristol Hercules engine of a Halifax bomber will be among the attractions at the museum’s annual big August weekend. Ted Barris, author of The Dambusters: Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid Against Nazi Germany, will be the featured speaker and again the RCAF 4 Wing Band from Cold Lake AB will be performing.


The Canadian Aviation Moments were submitted by Dennis Casper from the Roland Groome (Regina) Chapter of the CAHS. Spoiler alert - if you read any further than each question, you will find the answer to the questions directly below. Good luck and have fun!

The Canadian Aviation Moments questions and answers for July are:

Question: How many Lancasters returned to Canada following the war? How many were remustered into service and for what reason? What were some of the tasks that the Lancasters were used for?

Answer: “Of the 288 Lancasters that returned to Canada following the war, approximately 100 were re-mustered for post-war service with the RCAF. Changes on the international stage and the dawn of the Cold War generated a renewed need for the legendary bomber. “We needed something to cover our borders and our coastlines, so Lancasters were pressed back into service. They were converted to perform various different roles.”

Source: Airforce Revue – Vol 32/No 3– Page 37

Question: September 2008 marked the 50th anniversary of which Canadian Military Aviation’s first solo aerobatics display? How many years was the act active? How many appearances at how many locations did this act make?

Answer: THE RED KNIGHT “September 2008 marked the first “official” public appearance. That display, part of the Canadian International Air Show (CIAS), took place during the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto. The act, which would become Training Command’s solo aerobatics display, continued for the next 12 years making over 600 appearances at more than 300 locations throughout Canada and the United States. This achievement ranks second only to the Snowbirds for Canadian military aerobatics display.”

Source: Airforce Revue – Vol 32/No. 3 – Page 12

Question: Why did the bombing of Berlin by the RAF in 1940 start and why did it end the Luftwaffe’s best chance to prevail in the Battle of Britain?

Answer: “The bombing of Berlin began with a mistake - a Luftwaffe mistake. On the night of Aug. 23, 1940, a segment of a German bombing formation that had been dispatched to strike at aircraft factories and oil tanks outside London drifted off course and launched a ferocious attack on the English capital itself. Britain’s new Prime Minister, Winston S. Churchill, was only too happy to use the incident as an incentive to remind Hitler about British will power. “The War Cabinet were much in the mood to hit back, to raise the stakes, and to defy the enemy,” Churchill later wrote. “I was sure they were right.” “A force of 81 RAF bombers hit Berlin on the night of Aug 25, 1940.” “On Sept. 4, 1940, Hitler announced his plan for retaliation. “When they declare that they will increase their attacks on our cities, then we will raze their cities to the ground,” Hitler said. The fateful decision took pressure off the beleaguered airfields and forces of the RAF, and none too soon. The shift to attacks on London ended the Luftwaffe’s best chance to prevail in the Battle of Britain.”

Source: RUSI Warning Order – Sept-Oct 2010 Page 1


Commemorating Airmail History

Story and photos by John Chalmers,
CAHS Membership Secretary

On July 9, 2018, history was repeated for the second time when western Canada’s first air mail flight of July 9, 1918, was re-enacted with a WestJet flight using a Bombardier Q400 aircraft. One hundred years ago, an American pilot, Katherine Stinson, flew a mailbag containing 259 specially stamped letters from Calgary to Edmonton. She landed on the infield at the racetrack of the Edmonton Exhibition grounds, welcomed by a huge crowd.

01 Stinson painting by Jim Bruce 545

This splendid painting by eminent aviation artist, Jim Bruce, depicts Katherine Stinson’s historic flight of July 9, 1918, as she followed the CPR line from Calgary to Edmonton. Jim donated the painting to the Alberta Aviation Museum. Jim has contributed his work to CAHS calendars, including images for May 2018 and September 2019.

An earlier re-enactment was done on June 9, 2006, when the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society (CAS), arranged to fly 259 letters to Edmonton in a Cessna 172. Upon arrival of the mail, the exact replica of Stinson’s one-of-a-kind Curtiss Special biplane was rolled out to meet a large crowd at the Alberta Aviation Museum. Pilot at that time was Audrey Kahovec, then a flying instructor with the Edmonton Flying Club.

02 Stinson display 545

The Curtiss Special display at the Alberta Aviation Museum. Backdrop for the display is a huge enlargement of the painting by Jim Bruce.

03 Waterhouse cover 545

The envelope of the 1918 “Waterhouse letter” that has now flown a second time from Calgary to Edmonton, exactly 100 years after its first flight.

On July 9, 2018, 259 “covers” or letters, specially stamped for the occasion, were carried in the same mailbag used in 2006. Added to the bag was an original letter in its original envelope that was carried on the 1918 flight, as shown above. The letter was acquired by CAS project organizer and CAHS member, Gordon Mallet of Kelowna BC. He acquired the letter from a man in Texas who is a grandson of Henry Waterhouse, who wrote it to his wife, Arabella, visiting a relative in Edmonton at the time.

04 Gordon and passenger 545

Gord Mallett, left, hands a special cover letter to a WestJet passenger as he leaves the departure gate to board the commemorative flight. All passengers were given a cover of the mail to be posted.

05 WestJet pilots 545

In 2018, two WestJet captains, Athenia Jansen, left, and Janna Breker Kettner, flew the mailbag in the Q400 cockpit. Upon landing in Edmonton, the mail was backstamped, then delivered to a Canada Post outlet for distribution.

The mailbag carried a personal letter from Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi to Edmonton mayor, Don Iveson. In 1918, acting mayor Frank Freeze in Calgary had mailed a letter to his counterpart, Harry Evans, in the capital city.

06 John and Don 545

I had the privilege of handing Mayor Nenshi’s letter to Mayor Iveson at his office. Presenting the letter provided a fine conclusion to recognizing the historic flight, both for its air mail delivery, and as the first flight between two major centres in western Canada. I didn’t fully realize how tall my mayor is until I saw the photo of us!

On Saturday, June 7, prior to the centennial re-enactment flight, the Alberta Aviation Museum presented a mini-drama recognizing the historic flight of 1918. University summer student employee, Viola Bolik, played the part of Katherine Stinson. She wore a tailor-made replica of the leather coat worn by Stinson when flying. The coat, made from simulated leather fabric, was created by Geri Dittrich, the Head of Wardrobe for Walterdale Theatre, an amateur theatre company in Edmonton. A pattern for the coat was made by studying photos of Katherine wearing the long coat.

07 Viola and Beckett 545

Viola Bolik, standing in for Katherine Stinson, is handed the mailbag by a mail clerk played by air cadet Beckett MacKay, in a dramatic presentation at the Alberta Aviation Museum.

In late 1918, Katherine Stinson went overseas, hoping to fly in the First World War. She wasn’t allowed to do that. Instead, she drove an ambulance for the Red Cross, for which she was a strong supporter and fund raiser. Sadly, in November 1918 she contracted influenza, which developed into tuberculosis. After returning to the United States, she spent six years in a sanitarium and never flew again.

08 Katherine Stinson 545

Born in Alabama in 1891, Katherine Stinson died in 1977 at 86 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she and her husband, Miguel Otero, are buried. A pioneer pilot and heroine, Katherine Stinson still occupies a special chapter in Canadian aviation. To learn more about Katherine, see Tony Cashman’s cover story, “The Katherine Stinson Special,” in the Vol. 44, No. 1, Spring 2006 issue of the CAHS Journal.

To see the 1918 letter from Calgary to the Edmonton mayor, click here. To see the 2018 letter from Mayor Nenshi to Mayor Iveson, click here.


An impressive Golden Hawks monument

Sarnia, site of the 2018 Ontario Group RCAFA AGM hosted by 403 Wing May 18-20, proudly displays a Canadair Sabre in Golden Hawks colours at Germaine Park. Sabre Mark V, Serial #23164, is one of the original aircraft that flew with the famous demonstration team from 1959 to 1964.

The memorial Sabre was originally placed on display in 1973. It withstood 40 years of wear and tear until a group of dedicated volunteers led by COPA (Canadian Owners and Pilots Association) Flight 7 members and aviation enthusiasts, began a major restoration in 2012.

After two years and 4,800 hours of work, supported by 403 Wing along with generous donations from many businesses, industries and individuals, the Sabre was brought back to its full beauty in its place of honour. A rededication ceremony was held on May 31, 2015 at Germain Park. Colonel (Ret’d) Chris Hadfield, former Canadian astronaut and fighter pilot who hails from Sarnia, was among the notables in attendance along with former Golden Hawks team leaders LCol (Ret’d) Fern Villeneuve and LCol (Ret’d) Dan Dempsey.

The monument is dedicated to the memory of the Air Force colleagues of the Golden Hawks, past and present, and reflects a strong commitment to preserving history and keeping that memory alive. Solid materials that are meant to withstand the test of time were used in the restoration and Sarnia’s Sabre is a tribute to teamwork.

As Dan Dempsey said recently, “The Sarnia team did a magnificent job of restoring the aircraft.” Amen.

--- report and photos by Gord McNulty

Golden Hawks Sabre V 23164 at Germain Park in Sarnia May 18 2018

Golden Hawks Sabre V #23164 at Germain Park in Sarnia, May 18, 2018.

403 Wing Sarnia RCAFA members advocated and supported the restoration of Golden Hawks Sabre V 23164 at Germain Park

403 Wing Sarnia RCAFA members advocated and supported the restoration of Golden Hawks Sabre V #23164 at Germain Park.


Avro Museum Arrow II project at Springbank Airport

One of Canada’s more ambitious aviation projects, a 60 per cent scale piloted flying replica of the Avro Arrow, is starting to take shape in the Avro Museum hangar at Springbank Airport, 26 kilometres west of downtown Calgary.

The Arrow II, as it’s known, has involved 21 years of planning, engineering and hard work by volunteers. Paul Gies, president of the museum, outlined the scope of the project in a presentation to the 2018 CAHS Convention in Calgary in June.

The Arrow II fuselage will be built of fibreglass, with the wing and fin consisting of carbon fibre, composite fuel tanks and touchscreen/autopilot instruments. Two Pratt and Whitney JT-15D-4 turbo fan engines of 2,500 pounds of thrust each will power the Arrow II. It’s the same powerplant used in the Cessna Citation II. Plans call for the Arrow II to be built within the limitations of Canadian recreational aircraft legislation.

The aircraft originally began as the Arrow 2000 project in a building on Ogden Road in Calgary. Plans called for a 2/3 scale replica of the legendary Avro Arrow. The Arrow 2000 project evolved into the Avro Museum, registered in 1997. Volunteers have devoted thousands of hours planning the engineering and design of the aircraft. Research and development during the initial eight years included the building of one-fifth scale replica models of the Arrow and the Avro Jetliner. Construction of the Arrow II began in 2007.

The Avro Museum moved to its current location in Springbank about three years ago in order to find space for the size of the equipment and room to build the aircraft. Designed to accommodate a pilot and a passenger, the Arrow II will be 46.7 feet long, with a wing span of 30 feet and height of 12.7 feet.

The group has so far spent close to $700,000 in donations. Once complete, the final price tag of the project is expected to be around $1 million.

The museum hopes to complete the aircraft for static display at the Springbank Air Show in 2019. A three-year program of taxi trials is then planned, with the first flight targeted for five years from now.

A group of convention attendees enjoyed a visit to the Avro Museum and its collection of artifacts after the convention closed on June 3. The museum has made a simulator of their aircraft and Paul used it to fly the Arrow II in a low pass over the Calgary downtown area.

The Avro Museum is open for visitors on the second Sunday of each month, from 12 to 3 p.m., at Springbank Airport. It is well worth a visit.

--- Gord McNulty, CAHS Vice President

Avro shop 545

A group of CAHS 2018 Convention attendees enjoyed a visit to the Avro Museum shop, hosted by museum president Paul Gies. (J. Chalmers photo)

 McNulty1 545

A view from the front of the underside of the Arrow II fuselage. (G. McNulty photo)

 McNulty 2 545

A simulator of the Arrow II is a popular attraction at the Avro Museum. (G. McNulty photo)

 McNulty 3 545

A view from the rear of the underside of the Arrow II fuselage. (G. McNulty photo)

McNulty 4 545 

One-fifth scale models of Arrow RL201 and the Avro Jetliner are displayed at the Avro Museum. (G. McNulty photo)

Paul Gies 545 

Paul Gies, Avro Museum president, hosted an informative tour for a group of CAHS members after the convention, and is seen here with the three-screen simulator developed for the Arrow II. (J. Chalmers photo)


Avro Museum profile of the 'Arrow II' project at Springbank Airport, Alberta.


Air Force Day proves popular at Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum

Blue skies provided perfect conditions for the 2018 edition of Air Force Day --- Past, Present & Future --- at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum on July 7.

A good crowd enjoyed an opportunity to see a wide range of RCAF aircraft including a CC-150 Polaris; a CC-177 Globemaster II; two Hercules --- a CC-130J and a CC-130H; two CH-146 Griffons equipped for search and rescue; and a CF-188D Hornet. Two colourful jet trainers were flown in by the Waterloo Warbirds: a D.H 115 Vampire Mk 55, an ex-Swiss Air Force aircraft in RCAF markings, and a Canadair CT-133 Silver Star in ‘Mako Shark’ markings.

The Great War Flying Museum flew their Sopwith 1½ Strutter and Nieuport 28 First World War replicas. The CASARA Cessna 337G was also on display.

A collection of paintings from Canadian aviation artists, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the forming of 400 Squadron and commemorating important events throughout the squadron’s history, was also on display. Carl Mills, 400 Squadron Historian, was in attendance to discuss the importance of this outstanding exhibit.

A portion of admission funds from Air Force Day was donated to the Military Families Fund. It provides emergency financial assistance to military families faced with unforeseen and often immediate needs that have resulted due to conditions of service.

--- report and photos by Gord McNulty

Waterloo Warbirds DH 115 Vampire Mk 55 C FJRH in RCAF colours at CWHM Air Force Day July 7 2018 G McNulty

Waterloo Warbirds D.H. 115 Vampire Mk 55 C-FJRH in RCAF colours at CWHM Air Force Day, July 7, 2018.

Airbus CC 150 Polaris RCAF 15002 at CWH Air Force Day July 7 2018 G McNulty

Airbus CC-150 Polaris RCAF 15002 at CWH Air Force Day, July 7, 2018.

 CH 146 Griffon RCAF 424 Squadron 146432 at CWH Air Force Day July 7 2018 G McNulty

CH-146 Griffon RCAF 424 Squadron #146432 at CWH Air Force Day, July 7, 2018.

Lockheed CC 130J Hercules RCAF 130610 arrives at CWH Air Force Day July 7 2018 G McNulty

Lockheed CC-130J Hercules RCAF 130610 arrives at CWH Air Force Day, July 7, 2018.


Honorary Colonel (Ret’d) Art Adams was affectionately known as “The Brick Bomber”

Art Adams Dec 30 1923 Apr 1 2018

A large gathering filled the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum hangar on May 5 to bid farewell to Honorary Colonel (Ret’d) Art Adams and remember his outstanding military and business accomplishments. Art died in his 95th year at St. Joseph’s Villa in Dundas on April 1, surrounded by his loving wife Sonja, family and friends. A member of 447 Wing, he served 436 Squadron with distinction in the Second World War and was honorary colonel of the 436 at CFB Trenton from 2004 and 2007.

It was especially impressive that an RCAF contingent from the 436 flew in to the CWHM from Trenton to attend the Celebration and Service. BGen Colin Kiever, Commanding Officer of the 436 from 2010 to 2012 and 8 Wing Trenton Commander from 2015 to 2017, was among the speakers who paid tribute to Art’s wartime RCAF service in Burma where 436 and 435 Squadrons flying Dakotas were known as “Canucks Unlimited.”

As the eulogists recalled, difficult conditions in the Far East were exemplified by forbidding jungle warfare, deadly snakes and “near misses.” Art served as an airframe mechanic and kicker for 10 months in 1944-45. Kickers, as the name suggests, kicked loads of supplies, food and ammunition equipped with parachutes out of open cargo doors to the troops below. Also known as loadmasters, they were often shot by enemy soldiers and completed their jobs, usually without the comfort of a safety harness.

Whatever the danger, Adams told the Flamborough Review in a 2010 interview that he got use to being shot at. “I enjoyed flying so whenever I had a chance to go on a trip, I would go,” he said. “There were (bullet) holes in the airplane when we came back, but we were never shot down.”

Art’s famous “Brick Bomber” incident occurred aboard a Dakota that was flying down the Burmese coast to Ramree Island, to maintain supplies to the British 14th Army which was advancing on the Japanese. Ramree had been shelled and extensively damaged. S/L Dick Denison was instructed to fly a load of bricks to Ramree so the cooks could build ovens to serve the squadron’s messing needs.

A Dakota piloted by Denison was transporting the bricks and couldn’t gain altitude, due to being overloaded. Just as this became apparent, L.A.C. Adams spotted a Japanese seaplane that had been beached on a small island. Someone shouted, “Let’s get rid of some bricks!” The paradrop bell and lights came on, the signal to “Do the drop.” During a few low passes, Adams pushed out as many bricks as he could. It’s believed to be the only bombing raid in the Second World War done with bricks. Denison later landed the Dak like a feather. It had been overloaded by 2000 pounds! Decades later, a Japanese wartime photo surfaced showing a badly damaged seaplane surrounded by bricks.

In 2010, Art was among three Canadian vets who, on the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, were recognized for their selfless contributions to the war effort with a commendation from Veterans Affairs Canada at a special ceremony in Ottawa. Art was moved that the federal government had recognized the sometimes overlooked service of as many as 10,000 Canadians who served in the Far East, including more than 500 who died there.

As a longtime friend of the CWHM, Art enjoyed a close association with the museum’s “Canucks Unlimited” DC-3 that is flown at air shows across Ontario and beyond. For more than 50 years, he chaired the 435-436 Burma Squadrons Association.

It was typical of Art that in June, 2010, he launched the Art Adams Kicker Cup at CFB Trenton to honour those who make parachute drops of supplies to the troops on the ground. He decided to donate the trophy of bronzed boots because he felt it was time to remember those who played key roles in the Burma conflict. The recipient of the inaugural cup was a Canadian loadmaster serving in Afghanistan.

During the service, presided over by Bill McBride of the CWHM, the eulogists included dear friends of Art, Dave Robertson and Kevin MacLeod. While Art was honoured with many medals and decorations for military service, he was also known as an energetic and accomplished businessman. He founded numerous businesses and served as President of CEO of the Credit Bureau of Southern Ontario, ClearNeed Information Systems and Software Authors into his nineties. His community service, kindness and example to others spoke volumes.

His wife, Sonja, wrote a kind farewell to Art for the service. She wrote, in part: “Those who knew Art will remember the caring and kind-hearted man with a zest for life. Well known for his wonderful sense of humour; he prized pranks and puns delivered with pluck, panache and pizzazz!...We will miss him but fondly remember him through his kind acts and generous nature.”
Art was laid to rest at a graveside service on May 12 at Maple Grove Cemetery in Havelock, ON

--- with files by Gord McNulty



436 Squadron members arrived in a Hercules from Trenton for the celebration of Art Adams life at CWHM May 5 Gord McNulty photo

436 Squadron members arrived in a Hercules from Trenton for the celebration of Art Adams life at CWHM, May 5. G. McNulty photo

CWHM DC 3 in Canucks Unlimited colours of Dakotas flown by RCAF No 435 and 436 Sqdns fires up at Flyfest June 16 2018 G McNulty

CWHM DC-3 in Canucks Unlimited colours of Dakotas flown by RCAF No. 435 and 436 Sqdns. fires up at CWH Flyfest June 16, 2018. G. McNulty photo

Bricks Away b Lance Russwurm

Bricks Away by Lance Russwurm