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.
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.
information on a visit to Sywell Aerodrome for lunch on Thursday
8th June 2023 for V8 Register members and guests. Book now.
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