BoB piloot overleed vorige maand,

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Roel R.
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Lid geworden op: 21 sep 2003, 01:50

BoB piloot overleed vorige maand,

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From the Daily Telegraph
Squadron Leader Mike Cooper-Slipper
(Filed: 19/03/2004)

Squadron Leader Mike Cooper-Slipper, who has died aged 83, was a 19-year-old fighter pilot whose most spectacular "kill" during the Battle of Britain occurred when his ammunition ran out.

On September 15 1940, he was flying a Hurricane during an engagement with a wave of German bombers and fighters.

As he broke away, he saw three more Dornier 17 bombers in a loose formation, and immediately turned towards them. He attacked one, but quickly ran out of ammunition.

His aircraft was hit repeatedly by return fire from the bomber's gunner. With his own cannon useless, Cooper-Slipper decided that the only course of action left to him was to ram the enemy aircraft.

He hit the bomber's port wing just behind the engine, sending it crashing into a field near Maidstone after three of the crew had baled out.

The Hurricane lost a wing in the collision and Cooper-Slipper, too, was forced to take to his parachute, landing in a ploughed field.

He returned triumphantly to Croydon that evening, slightly injured but unshaken, and sporting two German life jackets and a rubber dinghy given to him by the Maidstone police. It was his sixth success.

A clergyman's son, Thomas Paul Michael Cooper-Slipper was born on January 11 1921 at Kinver, Staffordshire.

He entered the RAF on a short-service commission directly after leaving King Edward VI School at Stourbridge in 1938.

After training as a pilot, he joined No 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron, equipped with Hurricanes, in December 1939.

Shortly afterwards his squadron moved to Wick in the north of Scotland where, he wrote much later, "we lived in a hotel run by two elderly sisters who were not completely up-to-date on the somewhat irregular behaviour of the modern fighter pilot".

With the British Expeditionary Force retreating to Dunkirk, No 605 was rushed south to Hawkinge, on the Kent coast, and immediately thrown into action.

At dawn on May 22 1940, Cooper-Slipper took off on his first patrol, and later that day claimed his first victim, a Heinkel bomber.

The next day he went out on three patrols escorting Blenheim bombers. On the last of these, his Hurricane was badly shot up as he patrolled over Dunkirk, and he returned with 50 holes in his aircraft.

Two days later he shot down a Junkers 87 dive-bomber over Arras, and a Ju 88 near Dunkirk the day after.

After six days of intensive operations in support of the BEF, No 605 had suffered heavy casualties - seven pilots failed to return from a patrol on May 27. The squadron was then sent Scotland to recover.

Cooper-Slipper was the only pilot to fly on every one of the squadron's patrols. He later remarked: "My thoughts of the week were too mixed up to make much sense. I had grown up certainly, I had killed and seen a lot of dead people, and I was cold and untouched by it. I was 19 and I was a fighter pilot."

Cooper-Slipper and his squadron returned to the fray on September 7, when they flew south to Croydon.

He shot down an Me 109 the next day, and over the next few days damaged two bombers and shared in the destruction of another.

After he rammed the Dornier 17, he damaged another Me 109; a few days later he was taken off operations and rested.

In November he was awarded the DFC "for displaying great skill and daring in air combat".

After a period as a flying instructor, Cooper-Slipper joined No 135 Squadron, leaving for overseas service in November 1941.

On reaching South Africa, news of the Japanese attacks in the Far East was received, and he joined a group of pilots rushed to Singapore, where he joined No 232 Squadron as a flight commander at Kallang on Singapore Island.

In January 1942 he shot down two Japanese bombers over the island.

In early February, Cooper-Slipper led the survivors of the depleted squadron to Palembang, where he flew sorties strafing barges and claimed the destruction of three more bombers.

The ill-equipped RAF and Commonwealth squadrons fought tenaciously, but suffered heavy losses against the confident Japanese Air Force.

During the Japanese parachute landings on Palembang, Cooper-Slipper was captured - but he managed to slip away during the night and reach Java.

While he was attempting to reach the last British port in a truck, the vehicle hit a landmine and Cooper-Slipper was severely wounded. He was evacuated to Ceylon in a hospital ship.

He spent six months recovering in India and South Africa before going to Egypt to take command of the Special Performance Flight and becoming chief test pilot of No 103 Maintenance Unit at Aboukir.

He tested specially-equipped Spitfires whose task was to intercept high-flying Junkers 86P, and later Junkers 188, German photographic reconnaissance aircraft. Cooper-Slipper had two combats over 40,000ft, damaging a Ju 188 during one of them.

Later limited to flying at low level, as a result of problems caused by his earlier injuries, he flew Dakota transport aircraft with No 267 Squadron, before returning to England to be the chief test pilot at RAF Lichfield.

He left the RAF in June 1946 and emigrated to Canada the next year.

Cooper-Slipper worked for Avro Canada in Ontario, and was soon appointed as one of its test pilots. He tested early jet engines mounted on a converted Lancaster bomber, and flew the CF 102 Jetliner, Canada's first jet airliner.

In addition, he flew many hours testing the successful CF 100 fighter, which became the mainstay of the RCAF's all-weather fighter force for more than a decade.

The classic North American F 86 Sabre was chosen by the RCAF to fulfil the day fighter role. It was built under licence in Canada and fitted with the Orenda engine. Cooper-Slipper had developed an expertise in aircraft engine development and was appointed as chief test pilot of Orenda Engines, an offshoot of Avro's gas turbine division.

He gained much experience testing Canadian-built Sabres before being assigned to test Orenda's next generation engine, the Iroquois, which was to power the advanced CF 105 Arrow.

Cooper-Slipper tested the Iroquois engine in a specially-modified Boeing B-47 Stratojet bomber on loan to the RCAF and Avro from the USAF. The Arrow programme was cancelled in 1959 before the Iroquois engine could be fitted to the sixth production aircraft, so Cooper-Slipper had the distinction of being the only test pilot to test the Iroquois engine in flight.

This also signalled the end of his own flying career, and he embarked on a career in aviation sales, first with de Havilland and then with Field Aviation.

Latterly, he worked for the Ontario Ministry of Industry and Trade, travelling extensively to promote Ontario's aviation manufacturing capabilities.

In 1986 Cooper-Slipper retired to Victoria, British Columbia, where he pursued his love of photography and his interest in aviation history; he also found time to enjoy tinkering with his much-loved Alfa Romeo.

Mike Cooper-Slipper died on February 23. Rita, his wife of 63 years, survives him, together with their son.
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Roel R.
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Lid geworden op: 21 sep 2003, 01:50

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