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Finally getting commissioned

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Trying to avoid being hit by our own explosions
Ken Adam Artist
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When we were… we became Tactical... the Second Tactical Air Force attached to the army... to the Canadian and British Army… and we also had... a lot of losses... The danger was that you built up too much speed coming down [to attack] and then you had to really slow away, because if you did too fast, the Typhoon had a nasty habit of stalling, a high-speed stall and went straight into the deck.

Why we wanted to get out as quickly as possible – a) the Germans had incredible flak but also that we weren't hit by our own explosions. So our losses, certainly from May, April '44, to, I think it was October '44, were pretty high, and... though there were lots of pilots at Lasham, I think, waiting to fly on operations, but they didn't volunteer for the Typhoons! So they finally decided to give us, every four weeks, 48 hours off. We flew our own planes to Gatwick or Northolt and had a two weeks' [sic - should be two days'] holiday here.

Sir Kenneth Adam, OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam in 1921, is a production designer famous for his set designs for the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s. Initially, he trained as an architect in London, but in October 1943, he became one of only two German-born fighter pilots to fly with the RAF in wartime. He joined 609 Squadron where he flew the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber. After the war, he entered the film industry, initially as a draughtsman on This Was a Woman. His portfolio of work includes Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George; he won an Oscar for both films. Having a close relationship with Stanley Kubrick, he also designed the set for the iconic war room in Dr Strangelove. Sir Ken Adam was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: RAF, Royal Air Force, Second Tactical Air Force, British Army, Canadian Army, 1944, Lasham Airfield, Lasham, Gatwick, Northolt

Duration: 2 minutes

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 15 August 2011