Play / pause West Malling Take Off

West Malling Take Off

  • Maurice Bennett
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


There we were at West Malling,

with a a relatively short takeoff run.

So, I told my squadron commander in Linton-on-Ouse

seeking his advice and he said "Bennett!"

He said "I can't give you advice, you're there,

"you must make up your mind the best thing to do".

He said "but we would much prefer you to fly back

"so that the aircraft is available for ops tonight".

He said "otherwise, we would have to put it on a trailer,

"bring it back by road".

So, I thought, oh dear (laughs).

Now, if I can enlarge again,

when you opened up the throttle,

about two-thirds of the way up was a wire

that stopped the throttles going beyond that point.

So, if you opened the throttles to that point,

each engine was giving 2650 revs,

which was enough to get you off and on the runway.

But from a short strip like West Malling,

I thought, well, we're never gonna get off.

So, I thought, now's the time to, what we call,

go through the gate so I brought that wire away,

which allowed the throttles to go right to the end

of the quadrant so instead of giving 2650 revs,

it went up to about 3000

and you never heard engines howl like that (laughs).

So, when, attach it to the end of the runway,

we had just enough fuel to get back to Linton-on-Ouse

with about half an hour so we were as light as we could be.

So, we got to the end of the landing strip,

the brakes through your, on foot-pedals

so you put the brakes on and opened up

and the aircraft was willing to go

and when you got to full throttle, you released the brakes

and away we went and the end was getting nearer

and nearer and nearer, we were almost at the end

and I pulled it back, I said, we're either gonna crash

or we're gonna make it and we just lifted off

and got back to Linton-on-Ouse in one piece (laughs).

  • 78 Squadron, 1941

    © RAF Museum

  • Maurice Bennett's medals

    © RAF Museum

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