"WW2" spy plane seen at Sywell Aerodrome

An brief item seen in The Times on Saturday 18th February 2023 on a WW2 spy plane at Sywell Aerodrome near Northampton.
(Photo credit: MAX WILLCOX/BNPS)

Lockheed 12A Electra 1203.

Posted: 230218
Lockheed 12A Electra 1203
A Second World War spy plane flown by the man said to be an inspiration for James Bond undergoes final preparation to take off again from Sywell Aerodrome. Sidney Cotton piloted the Lockheed 12A Electra 1203 on covert missions for the Secret Intelligence Service to photograph German airfields, factories and dams in the months before war was declared in 1939. Larger photo

See information on a visit to Sywell Aerodrome for lunch on Thursday 8th June 2023 for V8 Register members and guests. Book now. Event information
Sidney Cotton
Frederick Sidney Cotton OBE was an Australian inventor, photographer and aviation and photography pioneer, responsible for developing and promoting an early colour film process, and largely responsible for the development of photographic reconnaissance before and during World War II. He numbered among his close friends George Eastman, Ian Fleming and Winston Churchill.

Shortly before the Second World War, Cotton was recruited by Fred Winterbotham (then of MI6) to take clandestine aerial photographs of the German military buildup. Using his status as a wealthy and prominent private aviator currently promoting his film business (and using a series of other subterfuges including taking on the guise of an archaeologist or a film producer looking for locations), a series of flights provided valuable information about German naval activity and troop buildups. He equipped the civilian Lockheed 12A business aircraft, G-AFTL, with three F24 cameras concealed behind panels which could be slid aside and operated by pressing a button under the pilot's seat, and a Leica behind a similar panel in the wings. Warm cabin air was diverted to prevent condensation on optical surfaces. More