The Washington Times by Chris Howlett

WZ966 on the ground at RAF Watton
WZ966 on the ground at RAF Watton

“Washington” was the RAF designation for the famous Boeing B29, one example of which, the Enola Gay, dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. No B-29s were built for the RAF. All that were received (87 in total) were built for USAAF use many had seen active service before being transferred to the RAF in the early 1950s.

Chris Howlett is researching the history of the Washington Aircraft in general. He produced a series of informative and extremely interesting newsletters on the subject. You access PDF copies of it using the links below.

Dave Forster has written an account of 192 Squadron Washington’s – If you are ex-RWE/CSE/192 “Over the years I’ve managed to amass a fair bit of info on the technical and operational aspects of the squadron during the 1950s and beyond (it’s surprising how much is in the public domain) – but I’d really like to get some personal recollections to tie everything together. I’m not looking for any earth-shattering revelations regarding overflights or anything like that – just some idea of what it was like to serve on the squadron during that period.”

If you are ex-RWE/CSE/192 can you add anything?

11 thoughts on “The Washington”

  1. Roy Wylde, Just small bit of information. I arrived at RAF Habbanya in Iraq on 1st April 1957 an a Washington was stranded there waiting for an engine change I believe. I never saw it depart but as a new comer it took time to catch up with all events. Later that year the last Sunderland returning from the far east landed on the nearby lake. The main aircraft were Hastings and civilian Yorks going to Woomera Australia.. All work stopped on July 14th 1958 when Iraq had the revolution and Killed the King and others, went Communism and we had Mig 17’s flying from our airfield. I eventually got out in December by civil aircraft from Baghdad airport to Cyprus.

  2. I was at Watton from 1957 to 1961 and remember how the Washingtons ‘cannibalised’ each other as spares were in short supply, so there was never a moment when all the Squadron’s planes were airworthy. However, on the day they left to fly to Aldergrove for scrapping, miraculously the whole Squadron was airborne, and it seemed as if all the station personnel turned out to cheer them as they left! I guess the F.700s were full of red ink!

    A fellow ex-Apprentice airframe fitter from my Entry disgraced himself by starting an engine while the plane was in the hangar., It was lunchtime, and he was idling his time away sitting in the cockpit, fiddling with switches, when the engine burst into life. Unfortunately, it had no oil in it, and was ruined! Said airframe fitter was, as a punishment, denied any promotion for the duration of his service.

  3. It is probably of no interest but as an A.T.C. cadet back in August 1955 our summer camp was at Watton. I had the good fortune of flying in Varseties and a Washington. The Washington flight lasted about two and a half hours. We three cadets were put into the gun aiming compartment with the large dome and aiming apparatus . Up to 20’000 over Yarmouth , and most of Norfolk. We flew low level around Sandringham (wouldn’t be allowed now). While up high we formated with an F-84 Thunderstreak very close. ( Probably out of Sculthorpe). When I trained the guns on him and pressed the button he waved and peeled off. It was most likely my childish imagination but i was sure the gone moved. Later we did about 6 G.C.A. approaches to either Marham or Sculthorpe but I don’t think it was Watton. Roaring down the runway at maybe a hundred feet or so it seemed. All this and a plastic cup of tea which seemed cold to me although itwas steaming?. We were given parachutes and mae wests . I don’t know why as the getting out in an emergency would have been a bit awkward what with the tunnel to the door. We landed back at Watton after a memorable flight for a 14 tear old.I presume it was 129 squadron and I remember it had black underside. My log book has dissapeared after 65 years so a/c number went with it. The pilot Quizzed me on the wing span as got out. A flight I will never forget

  4. Hi there. I’m Nik Coleman the Director of the Plane Resurrection TV series. We are making a new episode for a sister series on the B29 and we’d like to move it on by including the Washington. If anyone has film of RAF Washingtons that would be great, pictures too that we could use and we’d love to film interviews with anyone who worked on them. I used to work in Watton right next to the base.
    07778 963240

  5. I was with the newly formed Squadron at R.A.F Marham in 1949. I thought that we were called 110 Squadron? (Conversion). And we never knew that our B29’s were in truth…Washington’s?. I only discovered this when some thirty years later, I read about it while waiting in a dentist’s.

  6. Just found this site, My father Mick Brotherwood was air crew at Watton between Sept 1955 and April 1962 in CSE then 192 sqn renamed 51 sqn, he flew in the Washingtons WJ996,997 & 998 + others

  7. Have just come across this site, is the WT still in operation?
    I was with 192 sqd from 1954 to Sept 1958 and worked in A flight as engine mechanic.
    I am in the last photo in issue 20.

    1. Hi Roger – I emailed with Chris a few months ago. Although I think the WT has come to an end he did say “I am always happy to help former Washington People in any way that I can.”
      The contact details in the last issue are still current.
      I hope that helps, Julian

    2. Hello Roger,
      You may remember a Geordie Inst. Mech. joined the Sqdn. same time as you I went on to the Comets when the Sqdn. was disbanded and was demobbed Jan. 1959.
      A very long time ago.

      1. Hi Brian
        Of cause I remember you, we corresponded for a little while some time ago. I think I lost your contact when my computer crashed.
        Good times we had, I think they outnumbered the bad!!
        Hope you are well. I’m reasonably well, at almost 82 the cogs don’t are not as free.

    3. Did you know my Dad Ken Horton He was in 192 Squadron in 56 the 115 & 116 in 58 on the Washington’s as an SAC

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