Stirling I, Serial No: EF361
The Stirling was the first British four-engined bomber of World War II. This Stirling I four-engined bomber built by Short Brothers Ltd was delivered to RAF 7 Squadron on 6 Apr 1943. It bore the X1D (Identification) of MG-B and was powered by Bristol Hercules XI engines.
The Stirling was very agile and praised for its ability to out-turn enemy night fighters and for its good handling characteristics. It was popular with crew because it was much quieter inside than Lancasters but its relative poor altitude ceiling was often a subject of criticism. When Stirlings were on operations with other RAF bombers which could fly higher, the Luftwaffe tended to concentrate on the Stirlings.
This photograph was provided by a relative of one of the crew who perished when MG-B crashed. The serial number EF361 can be seen behind the crew access hatch at the rear of the aircraft. Added to the serial number is
'G' which indicates that the plane was be guarded when on the ground . This suggests it was fitted with secret or sensitive equipment in its role as one of the PFF (Pathfinder Force) aircraft, but it was not one of the 'Practice Y' aircraft fitted with the new H2S radar system, as all of these aircraft are known to have returned safely from the Düsseldorf raid.
MG-B carried a nose emblem 'ALE ITLER' and glass of beer motif (below). The two bomb symbols indicate that the aircraft had completed two bombing missions at the time of the photograph.
The colourised crew photograph below shows (left to right): Walter Denham | William Hills | Noel Lagna | Joseph Berthiaume | Alwyn Brotherton | Albert Fisher | Eric Broadhead
EF361 had taken off from Oakington at 23.57 on 25 May 1943 on a bombing mission to Düsseldorf, when it was caught in the blast from Halifax bomber KN-D at an approximate height of 4700 metres (15,400ft) and crashed 2km south of Jülich. German sources indicate that the wreckage of the aircraft was discovered on the L253 Jülich to Aachen Highway near the old manor house at Lorsbeck and the Jülich Railway Ausbesserungswerk (Repair Works). The building with the chimneys seen just to the right of the tailfin in the image below may be part of the Railway Works.
RAF 7 Squadron based in May 1943 at Oakington
If you want to know what it was like to fly in MG-B, you can download a repainted version of Microsoft Flight Simulator's Short Stirling bomber, specially commissioned from programmer Jan Kees Blom by Albert Fisher's great nephew Ron. You can download it here. Important note: you will need to install MSFS Virtavia Short Stirling Package first, which can be downloaded here.