Stirlings in Egypt

Story by Yannis Trypitis

The following text is the result of cross-checked information from various sources including additional info and remarks supplied by G. Lombardi [thanks Giuseppe!].

STIRLING MK.V IN EGYPTIAN AIR FORCE SERVICE On July 28, 1948, the Egyptian A.F. received the first of their Stirling Mk.V transports [according to one source this was OO-XAE, which, on July 29th, performed circuits and bumps at Cairo with an Egyptian crew under instruction; one of Giuseppe’s sources though, suggests that it was not until September 1948, when the first Stirling arrived] . This, and 3 more, initially belonged to a batch of 12 [10 according to Mr. Geoffrey Allington] aircraft that had been purchased in May 1947 from the R.A.F. [out of 86 Stirlings in stock at RAF Polebrook] by Airtech Ltd., a British firm, which, after refurbishing 6 [5?] of them to cargo configuration and the rest for passengers, resold them to the Belgian Trans-Air of Melsbroeck. In 1948, the latter sold 5 of those Stirlings to Tangiers Charter Co. - a Belgian company too - the 4 of which then being sold to Egypt. According to the same source, 4 more Stirlings (Mk.?) were aquired by Egypt at a later date (not specifying where from) but another source states that totally 6 Stirlings were obtained, 4 from Tangiers Charter Co. and 2 straight from Trans-Air, bearing civil registrations OO-XAD (ex-R.A.F. s/n PK180), -XAE (ex-PK181), -XAH (ex-PJ900), -XAK (probably ex-PK136), -XAL (probably ex-PK182) and -XAS (ex-PK153). The aircraft became part of the No.8 Bomber Squadron and crew training began in due time. In the meantime, efforts were made to arm them for self-defence, one of them being eventually fitted with a gun turret from an old Anson. Regarding bombing devices, only two Stirlings are reported as being fitted with makeshift bomb racks built-up from ex-R.A.F. scrap for different aircraft [Initially the Egyptians made no attempts to fit bomb racks intending to drop the bombs from a lower escape hatch but they probably reconsidered that later]. On November 11, 1948, at Almaza air base, Wing Commander Muhammad Adli Kafafi accompanied by Squadron Leader Mustafa Sabri Abd al Hamid as co-pilot, took-off in a Stirling on a practice flight but, before the completion of a circuit, the aircraft blew up in mid air, killing both occupants instantly. The reason for the explosion was never discovered but, although sabotage was strongly suspected, in my opinion, the possibility of an accident of technical nature (i.e. a spark in a fuel tank caused by damaged insulation of a fuel-metering unit cable) should be equally considered. December 23, 1948. At 4.50’ a.m., a single Stirling carried out a predawn attack, from high altitude, on Tel Nof causing little damage (if any). December 25, 1948. Eight 250kgr. bombs were dropped from a Stirling within Mishmar Ha’ Emek area, next to the Israeli A.F. base of Megiddo, unfortunately killing a few civilians. Another (or the same) aircraft, later, bombed Tel Litvinski barracks, east of Tel Aviv. Another incident of the day concerned the bombing of Allenby bridge on river Jordan, east of Jericho, an area

controlled by the Transjordanians, being probably the result of a navigational error of the attackers; it is not quite clear if this raid was performed by a Stirling or a C-47. December 29, 1948. A single Stirling attacked, in daylight, an advancing Israeli column in the Abu Ageila area but, although the aircraft made six bombing runs over the enemy force, the inflicted damage was very little. December 30, 1948. One Stirling was dispatched in order to bomb Israeli army concentrations in the Abu Ageila and Al Auja areas but high altitude bombing proved very ineffective. January 2, 1949. At 19.45’ one Stirling bombed the outskirts of Israeli-held West Jerusalem. Around 22.30’ to 22.50’ bombs from an intruder aircraft (the type of which is not reported) exploded in the Old City of Jerusalem. During the night, Tel Nof was bombed by an - also unidentified - aircraft. The latter two attacks might had been performed by Stirlings. The Egyptian Stirlings’ fate is not clear. The British Air Attache in Cairo in his Annual Report  to the Foreign Office regarding the operational strength of the R.E.A.F., dated March 23, 1950, stated that in No.8 Squadron’ s strength there were 6 unservicable Stirlings. Air Attache’s Annual Report No.2, dated January 24, 1951, refered [probably incorrectly]to Stirling Mk IVs on strength (number of aircraft and condition not specified). Finally, Air Attache’s Annual Report No.2 of January 1952 that did not mention Stirlings at all, and the fact that during the July 1952 Free Officers’ coup, while Meteors, Vampires, Lancasters and Halifaxes flew over the Egyptian cities in a show of support, Stirlings were completely absent, indicate that, most probably, they had been scrapped sometime in 1951. Regarding the Stirlings’ appearance, they were either camouflaged in a manner like the Egyptian C-47s or were left in the bare metal finish as received since the Egyptians were eager to use them operationally not wasting time for painting; both cases stand. As for insignia and markings, according to the period practices, Egyptian roundels should been carried on top and bottom wing surfaces and fuselage sides. If arabic service numbers were carried on the fuselage sides, it is most probable that they were repeated on both left and right underwing surfaces in opposite directions, following the post-war R.A.F. practice. Up to date, I haven’t seen any photo of Stirlings in Egyptian markings. If anyone has one, or any additional information or correction, I would be more than greatful to share it with.

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