Nostalgia page 13
PORTSMOUTH MEMORIES
Pictures From Portsmouth Airport in the 40s,50s and 60s.
All pictures and captions kindly supplied by J.B."Tommy" Thompson,via Pete Pitman

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See also Tommy's memories of Viv Bellamy at Eastliegh in the 40s and 50s. Viv Bellamy was a well known figure in aviation in the south during the for many years.

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Portsmouth Airport ,which has now virtually disappeared under modern developments,was for forty one years (1932-1973),a busy airfield with manufacturing,airline services and general aviation activity.For a fuller history of the airfield look here.
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One man who flew a considerable number of aircraft from Portsmouth is J.B."Tommy" Thompson.He has provided the photos below ,along with the highly informative captions .In addition ,a brief summary of his very varied wartime flying career with the RAF may be found at the foot of the page.No doubt these pictures,all taken at Portsmouth, will bring back memories to many who remember Portsmouth Airfield in it's heyday.
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tommyron
Three Portsmouth-area aviators photographed sitting on the wall outside the Portsmouth Aero Club in 1948. On the right is Roy Curtin, a BOAC engineer. In the centre is Ron Clear, a test pilot for Airspeed (Oxford and Ambassador), de Havilland (Vampire, Venom, Sea Vixen and Comet) and Hawker Siddeley (Trident). On the left is Tommy Thompson whose logbooks contain 144 different types with over 100 as "P1". The wartime control tower- a hut on a brick-base built on an artificial grass mound with the large letter "C" on its roof denoting its status - is in evidence behind Roy's head.
Tommy and Ron both later worked for Hawker Siddeley at Hatfield and occasionally flew together on HS125 delivery and demonstration flights. Ron was also the Mosquito display pilot during the 70s and Tommy would often accompany him as navigator and general factotum. However, their waistlines had expanded somewhat during the 30 years since this photo was taken and both admit to their being just a little cramped in the Mosquito's "cosy" cockpit!
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The pictures above show(left):Ron Clear's Comper CL7 Swift, c/n 5.32/9, GACTF at Portsmouth on 10 August 1949. The wartime "tower" can be seen behind the aircraft.Right:A rather pensive J B "Tommy" Thompson standing in front of Stinson 105 Voyager, G-AGZW, c/n 7504, at Portsmouth in September 1949. He had flown this aircraft from Eastleigh to Portsmouth and back on 3 consecutive days - 6th, 7th and 8th September - to "run-in" a new engine for its then owner, V H Bellamy. Tommy's logbooks contain many rare types like the Stinson - for example, a couple of days before this photo was taken, he was flying a Zaunkoenig at Christchurch!
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Left:Fairchild F24W-42A Argus II, c/n 872, G-AJSP at Portsmouth in 1949. What appears to be a garden shed behind G-AJSP is actually the wartime "control tower". The signals square can be seen to the right of SP's starboard mainwheel. G-AJSP was transferred to the Dutch register as PH-NGY in 1957.Right:Miles M38 Messenger 2A, c/n 6699, G-AJWB at Portsmouth, date unknown. This aircraft was still airworthy in 2003.
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Left:Taylorcraft Auster 5, c/n 2057, G-AKYU photographed at Portsmouth in 1949. G-AKYU was transferred to the French register as F-DADS in 1954.Right:PA-23-160 Apache, c/n 23-1869, G-APZD at Portsmouth in the summer of 1966. This aircraft was destroyed 2 years later in a crash following an engine failure shortly after take-off from Abbotsinch
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Flt.Lt.J.B."Tommy" Thompson's war
Tommy Thompson started his flying career with the RAF at Stoke on Trent  in August 
1940  with No.5 EFTS on Magisters .In October he went to 14FTS at Cranfield  to continue 
his training on Oxfords.This was followed by  some time at  2 School of Air Navigation
  Specialist Air Nav Course for prospective Hampden co-pilots.(Jan-March 1941) and then
 the Blenheim OTU (April - July 41).
Then to operations with 18 Squadron at Oulton and later to Horsham St Faith (Norwich City 
airport now)  for  Low level shipping strikes and High level Circus Raids until 
21/8/41.He was then posted to Overseas Aircraft Departure Unit Watton to collect new
 aircraft to ferry to the  Middle East Blenheim Unit.
On 27th August 1941 he suffered a forced landing at Aviero in Portugal but
escaped with R.N. assistance to Gibraltar and returned UK 8/10/41.( for those who aren't 
aware - Portugal was a Neutral country during WW2).
On his return to the UK he was posted to  the Test Flight at  13 M.U.Henlow. He  flew 
Hampdens and Hurricanes on test , Hind,  Prefects and   Magisters on communication flights.
Whitleys II and, very occasionally, Virginias drop testing parachutes.
On the 18th March 1942 he switched posting to 7 Air Gunnery School at  Stormy 
Down ,Porthcawl.He  flew Whitleys Mk I-V for Air gunnery training,   Lysanders for
drogue towing,   Ansons for A.G.training,  Lysander for Air Sea Rescue in  theBristol Channel
 and Blenheims and Master I on local test flights
A change of scene  on 27th August 1943 when  he was posted to 15 M.U. at Wroughton for
 Horsa Glider towing training with Whitley Vs, then on to 9 M.U.Cosford glider Delivery 
unit on 15/9/43.The unit delivered Horsas all over England and Scotland for build up for
 D-Day .
He remained with  the GDU until 8th May 1944 when he was posted to ATA  FTS Thame for 
refresher flying on fast singles. Tommy  completed  13 hrs on Harvards, 3 hrs on 
Hurricanes  and 3 hrs on Spitfire  V before moving on to 33 M.U. Lyneham on the 21st May.
 Whilst here he  flew on test Spitfires Mk.1, 2, 4, 5, 5a, 5b, 7, 8, 9, 12, 14, 16, and 
21.  Also Seafires Mk.3, 15, and 17. In addition he flew Oxfords and Ansons on 
communication work.
His last posting was to Westland Aircraft Ltd at  Yeovil on 25/3/45.Here he flew Seafires
 Mk.3, 15, 17.   Spitfire Mk.9 ,  Welkin,   Dominie , Auster V  and a Miles Falcon ( AV973)
 for Comms flying.Also   the Westland Widgeon G-AAGH for fun. From Westlands Yeovilton 
factory  he flew Spitfire 9s.
The total number of Spitfires  flown  was 476   and Seafires -  294 
On the 7th August 1945 Tommy was demobilised ,leaving the RAF with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

The images on this page remain the copyright of J.B.Thompson

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