James “Eddie” Edwards

James F. Edwards, P-40L Kittyhawk III. 12×18″

63 P-40 2008

Limited Edition Series 350 Prints, Price $75.00 Each print autographed by RCAF Ace, James Edwards.

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All signatures by both the Aviator and the Artist are done in soft graphic pencil.

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Poster Print $14.95

Poster prints are not autographed or numbered.

62 Spitfire IX 2008

James F. Edwards, Spitfire IXc. 12×18″

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Limited Edition Series 350 Prints, Price $75.00 Each print autographed by RCAF Ace, James Edwards.

Buy Now With Credit Cards

Poster Print $14.95

Poster prints are not autographed or numbered.

64 Tempest 2008

James F. Edwards, Hawker Tempest. 12×18″

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Limited Edition Series 350 Prints, Price $75.00 Each print autographed by RCAF Ace, James Edwards.

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Poster Print $14.95

Poster prints are not autographed or numbered.

65 Bf109F RAF 2008

James F. Edwards, Messerschmitt Bf-109F. 12×18″

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Limited Edition Series 350 Prints, Price $75.00 Each print autographed by RCAF Ace, James Edwards.

Buy Now With Credit Cards

Poster Print $14.95

Poster prints are not autographed or numbered.

P-40 Kittyhawk print painted by the Ace, “Stocky” Edwards.

This print was published by RCAF Ace, James “Stocky” Edwards.

Edwards took up painting after he retired from the Air Force.

This is a painting of one of the P-40 “Kittyhawks” that “Eddie” became famous flying over the deserts of North Africa.

He painted the P-40 as he saw it.

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There is only 850 Limited Editions in the series. There are not many left considering they were published years ago.

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Each print is autographed by the Artist and Ace, “Stocky” Edwards.

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P-40 Kittyhawk over the Desert by RCAF Ace, “Stocky” Edwards.

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This painting was done by Eddie Edwards. He then published this print and I got a few of them available.

This is a very rare print.

Limited Edition Print. Price $200.00

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Shipping $6.00

P-40 Kittyhawk Ace, “Stocky” Edwards.

James was born in Nokomis, Saskatchewan in June 1921. He attended the local school in Battleford. He was interested in airplanes like all young men but he grew up where there were few so each one was special.

When Edwards was in High School war in Europe and the United Kingdom was raging. At the first of the war Edwards was too young to join and serve. Edward’s read everything about the war in the papers. He was also glued to the radio listening to war reports. A few of the reports were live so you could hear the air-raid siren’s in the back ground of the diligent reporter. The reporters were talented and able to weave their stories to make the true-life drama dynamically effective.

In October 1940 Edward’s was old enough to join the services so he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. He completed flight training as a Sergeant Pilot in the spring of 1941. By summer James was in England with fighter training at No. 55 OTU in the north near Newcastle.

By January 1941 James had been nick-named “Eddie” was serving with 94 Squadron in Egypt. His rank was still Sergeant Pilot. At first the squadron was equipped with the Hawker Hurricanes but when Eddie arrived the squadron was in the middle of changing over to the American made P-40 Kittyhawks. The Squadron conversion was complete and was operational by March  1941. Eddie flew a few flights in the Hurricane to get familiar with the area. The Squadron also flew a few practice flights in the Hurricane but Eddie never flew the Hawker fighter in combat. Eddie quickly checked out in the P-40 Kittyhawk.

Eddie told me that the Hurricane was a fine fighter that was easy to control. As to the P-40, the fighter was heaver but it had horsepower to counter the extra weight. It flew well once you had the engine in full military power in that it was able to force it’s way through the air. The pilot could get the fighter to do just about everything except in it’s ability to pull up. The Messerschmitt would catch the Kittyhawk in a climb. It was the Kittyhawk, the American made P-40 that Eddie would fly into combat against the experienced German veteran aces of JG 27.

Eddie’s saw his first combat on a mission flying escort for a small group of twin-engine “Boston” bombers. The attack was on the Luftwaffe airfield at Martuba. This was the main Luftwaffe airfield in the area that was causing grief to the British. The American made “Boston” was a twin-engine bomber which had been painted in the R.A.F. camo with the British roundel’s on the wings and fuselage. A red, white and blue badge was on the tail of the bomber along with bombers I.D. numbers. This was a fast bomber that would be flown in at low altitude. The hangers and utility buildings were the targets of the bombers. The fighters could look for targets of opportunity along with protecting the bombers. Mind you, Eddie told me, the airfield was ringed with anti-aircraft guns. But he would be flying in fast and low as well over the airfield. This was it. Combat.

Martuba was well defended and the attack brought up enemy anti-aircraft fire as well as the Aces of JG 27. In the ensuing battle, Eddie was able to confirm a Bf-109 destroyed. The 233 Wing Commander touted Eddie as the “Hawk of Martuba” for his stout bravery in action that day. It was Eddie that shot a Messerschmitt down and off the tail of his commander saving his life.

The battle for North Africa was expensive in both men and machines for the Allies and the Axis. 94 Squadron was withdrawn from service in May after suffering from losses and becoming war weary. Edwards was ready for more combat and remained in Africa being transferred to 260 Squadron. On his first mission with the 260 he was credited with damaging a Bf-109. During his second mission Eddie was credited with the destruction of a Bf-109. In July Eddie was promoted to Warrant Officer and promoted again to Pilot Officer in August. Eddie was moving up in the Squadron yet he earned every promotion. Plus Eddie had the perfect personality for the jobs he held. Eddie was one of “those guy’s that everybody liked.

1943 Was a big year for Eddie. Eddie was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal on January 31, 1943. Then on February 4, 1943 he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Eddie was one of the first top scoring legends to emerge from the North Africa Campaign. By the end of January 1943 he was credited with 11 confirmed aerial victories. By the end of the North African Campaign Eddie was the top ace of his squadron. All of Eddie’s aerial combat in Africa was while flying the American P-40.

The P-40L illustrated above was flown by Eddie from March through May 1943. In this P-40 Eddie scored five of his last aerial victories in North Africa. One of the Luftwaffe aircraft Eddie shot down was a giant Messerschmitt Me-323 transport. Eddie was leading the flight as they came upon the behemoth Luftwaffe transport. Eddie said that he lined up on the enemy aircraft which so large that it filled his windscreen. Eddie fired all six fifty-caliber machine guns into the Me-323. His gunfire was devastating causing the aircraft to crumple up like a giant kite that was on fire. The Messerschmitt fell head-long into the sea.

Eddie was reassigned after a period of rest to 203 Group located at El Ballah as a gunnery instructor. Eddie was promoted to Squadron Leader and was assigned to 417 Squadron in Italy where he would be flying the Spitfire MK VIII. In the first months of 1944 Eddie added several more aerial victories to his tally while flying the Spitfire. In March 1944 he was posted to command of 274 Squadron in England. The unit had been recently re-equipped with the Spitfire MK, IX. This is the fighter that Eddie flew over the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Eddie and his squadron assisted in air cover for the invasion.

In August his group converted to the new Hawker Tempest. Their new mission was to chase down the V-1 Buzz-bombs that were terrorizing England. The Tempest was the perfect fighter that had the speed to run done the “Buzz Bombs.” Eddie was transferred out of the squadron just before it was deployed on its new mission. Eddie never flew the Tempest in combat but he told me, “I wish I had.” The Tempest was a larger aircraft or a heavy-fighter like the P-47. It was also fast and lethal. 274 Squadron was later transferred to France. Eddie was awarded a “Bar” to the Distinguished Flying Cross he had won earlier. After a rest period back in Canada, Eddie became Wing Commander of 127 Wing. The war in Europe ended and in August 1945 Eddie returned to Canada.

His final tally was 15 personally destroyed enemy aircraft and sharing in the destruction of three others. Eddie probably destroyed 8 other enemy aircraft and shared in the damaging of another. In aerial combat Eddie was credited with damaging 13 more enemy fighters. On the ground, Eddie was credited with destroying 9 enemy aircraft and damaging 3 others. Finally, James Edwards ended his combat career as the third highest scoring Canadian Ace of World War Two.

Fighting the best, JG-27

As James arrived to his first assigned airfield in Africa, the squadron was in disarray with only four aircraft able to fly. The airfield was not in proper condition for take off and landing because of mud and rain at the current time. The loss of pilots was exampled with the arrival of Edwards along with five other replacement pilots. Conditions were casual at best. Moral was low but supported by the genetic positive attitude the British are born with.

As Eddie reported for duty in Africa, so did new aircraft. Squadron 94 and No 260 Squadron both were the recipients of the new P-40 Kittyhawk Mark II. They were changing from Hawker Hurricanes to the new American fighter. Everyone had to be checked out in the new aircraft. Edwards and the other replacement pilots had just finished training in the Hurricane. The veteran pilots from both squadrons had been flying the Hurricanes as well. The Kittyhawk was new to everyone. The senior pilots and squadron leaders took to the air first.

There were some pilots that refused to fly the Kittyhawk and demanded to be transferred to other units were still equipped with the Hawker Hurricane. The pilots were not questioned and they received their transfers. Truthfully that was the only correct thing to do but to let these men go. Since these pilots were willing to fly and fight let them have the proper platform for their deeds.

For Edwards, this was just another challenge. He put that airplane on like it was his flight suit. Eddie pulled every mussel in his body to make the Kittyhawk obey his commands. He was able to get everything out of the fighter and would pass his knowledge on to the others he flew with and later with training other pilots.

Edwards found the flying characteristics of the Kittyhawk were much more demanding and stiffer to fly. There were excellent up-sides to the fighter in that it was well built, well armed, it was fast in a dive and could turn inside a Messerschmitt. The P-40 required mort diligence on the pilot to fly and fight. Unfortunately a few pilots lost their lives in the transition and were killed while trying to fly the P-40.

The Bf-109F out-classed the American made P-40 in a few areas. Edwards would later prove that in the right hands the P-40 was a formidable advisory to the Messerschmitt. However the Kittyhawk was no match for the Messerschmitt Bf-109F in the hands of an expert. One such Luftwaffe ace was Oberfeldtwebel Otto Schultz with 4./JG 27 who was stationed at the airfield at Martuba, Libya. He was known to be able to shot down at lease two to three RAF fighters on every mission.

Flying for the R.A.F. was Squadron Leader Imshi Mason who was a Battle of Britain ace and hero. He led a group from 94 and 260 on familiarization flights including flying in formation. Even though Mason made an effort to get acquainted with the new P-40 fighter it proved not enough time.

On February 15, 1942, Squadron Leader Imshi Mason flew a surprise raid on the Luftwaffe airfield at Martuba. The raid was to catch the Germans by surprise. Mason and five pilots from 94 Squadron with twelve pilots from 112 Squadron barely had a dozen hours in the new American P-40 when they made this attack. During this time Edwards was still new and was not assigned to combat missions as yet.

The flight of Kittyhawks came in low on the target. Just before they were at the airfield they would pull up 200 to 300 feet in order to shoot down onto the enemy aircraft along the air strip. This extra height helped give the pilot the opportunity to pick a target. The low level approach also would conceal the RAF from radar detection. That was the plan.

Squadron Leader Mason was over confidant in the new fighter. It took more than a dozen hours in the P-40 to be considered proficient. Edwards realized this right away when he found himself at the controls of the Kittyhawk, the P-40 was far more demanding than the Hawker Hurricanes he had just trained in. Squadron Leader Mason and his men had just previously flown the Hurricane in combat. This was their first combat in the heaver P-40.

What happened was they did surprise the Germans somewhat. The attack was spotted when the RAF was about a mile from the airfield. Luftwaffe fighter pilots were in the process of scrambling to their fighters as the RAF Kittyhawks rose up to review the air strip and their targets. One Luftwaffe Ace, Oberfeldtwebel Otto Schultz was fortunate for he was already sitting in his cockpit with his engine running and his ground crew were pulling the blocks from under the fighter’s wheels. The tan and light blue Bf-109 had been prepared for battle and now it raced down the airstrip.

As Squadron Leader Mason led his men onto the field, Oberfeldtwebel Otto Schultz fighter was rolling as the expert shoved the throttle forward for full power. Within thirty or so seconds the Messerschmitt was lifting its tail as the Kittyhawks roared over Schultz’s head. The anti-aircraft guns were roaring in a chorus of explosive chatter of multiple calibers.

As the Kittyhawks whizzed over the opposite side of the airfield the wheels of Schultz’s 109 were being pulled up into the belly of the fighter with its wheels still spinning. Looking around Schultz witnessed the flight path of the Kittyhawks and while lifting the nose of his fighter he banked around towards the enemy. The Messerschmitt powered up quickly and rose is pursuit. The P-40’s were now turning for their return to hit the airfield again. As one Kittyhawk slowed in its turn Schultz gained and matched the speed with the P-40 as it straightened. The P-40 was headed back to attack the airstrip.

Not knowing that a Luftwaffe Ace was on his tail, the Kittyhawk pilot, a veteran of the desert campaign was confident as he approached the target for the second time. The R.A.F. pilot was remembering the target he hit on hit first pass and the one he missed. As the R.A.F. pilot was musing his next attack, Schultz was in range and fired on him. The German machine guns were hitting the fuselage behind the pilot. Schultz saw the Kittyhawk as it trembled from the assault. As Schultz pulled past the stricken Kittyhawk out of the corner of his eye he saw the nose of the doomed fighter point down and hit the desert.

Schultz then applied rudder to pull in behind another unsuspecting Kittyhawk to the left. It was an easy deflection shot. He pointed just in front on the oncoming Kittyhawk. A volley of gunfire form Schultz hit the Allison engine which belched forth black smoke instantly. The P-40 pulled up sharply up and away from the battle as Schultz zoomed past him.

All the rest of the unsuspecting P-40’s were speeding towards the airfield about to fire for a second time. Anti-aircraft fire was sending a folly straight at the oncoming group which now included Schultz. He too witnessed the fireballs from his own anti-aircraft guns rocket by his fighter. The defenders on the field witnessed the first Kittyhawk downed by Schultz nose into the ground exploding as the wings that had broke away cart wheeled towards the airstrip.

Schultz fired on the third Kittyhawk as it fired onto the Luftwaffe ground installations. The P-40 banked over quickly and nosed into the earth at the edge of the field. Schultz followed the Kittyhawks as they flew over the field and banked to come around for another assault. Some of the RAF pilots realized now that an enemy was in their mist. After they had lost three of their fighters.

Some of the Kittyhawks broke away winging over to gather their wits about the situation only to witness Schultz as he closed on another Kittyhawk. The R.A.F. pilots watched as a fellow P-40 in its turning bank give the Luftwaffe Ace the maximum target at its most vulnerable point. Only a few rounds from Schultz, many right in the cockpit canopy sent the Kittyhawk into a nose dive into the sands.

It was too late, by the time the RAF pilot’s started defensive actions they were low and slow. Schultz was already firing on another P-40, his fifth aerial victory within minutes. The attack was broke up and the remaining Kittyhawks sped away in somewhat of disarray with their brave Squadron Leader Mason dead in the cockpit of his fallen fighter. Schultz did not pursue the enemy. He had broken up the attack before any further damage was done to the Luftwaffe facilities. That was a good day for Schultz.

Edwards felt positive that it was the inexperience in the new fighter that caused the deaths of the combat veterans. The new P-40 was rugged but it was sluggish when it was flown low. Gravity affected the fighter especially at lower speeds. The P-40’s were flying fast but they were not as fast as their maximum capabilities could be. As the Kittyhawk banked and turned they lost valuable power plus the fighter wanted to wing over or roll. The pilots having to struggle with control of the flight stick with the right hand as well as trying to control both the throttle and trim with the left hand was simply too much. It caused the pilot to use too much of his talents to fly the fighter and not watch out for himself and the others.

A few weeks later Eddie Edwards caught Schultz by surprise. Edwards came on a downed RAF Hurricane from another squadron. There were three German fighters in the distance while a fourth Luftwaffe fighter circling the downed fighter.

The Messerschmitt that had shot down the Hurricane was now attacking the RAF pilot who survived the crash landing. Schultz was this Luftwaffe pilot who was playing foul by trying to shot this pilot on the ground. Edward’s concern for the downed pilot rose up and he carefully kept an eye on the three Messerschmitts as he winged over to attack the one trying the kill the RAF pilot.

Schultz was not paying attention to his situation. A fighter pilot must always be aware of everything around him. However Schultz was not paying attention. His sole attention was applied on the downed pilot and ending his life. It was not enough to have shot his aircraft down, but Schultz knew that if the RAF pilot returned to his group, he would fly and fight again. The Luftwaffe Ace completed a turn and was flying back at the downed pilot. Edwards was coming in at about a 90 degree angle. The perfect shot was ready for Eddie to take.

Eddie was able to give Schultz a full broadside of six fifty-caliber machine guns in the cockpit and along the side of the 109’s fuselage. The Luftwaffe Ace rolled over nose first into the desert. As his 109 burned on the desert floor Oberfeldtwebel Schultz died credited with 51 confirmed aerial victories against the R.A.F. all of which he earned within a few months. Very impressive.

Concerned with the other three Messerschmitts, Eddie did not see them. A sure mistake by Schultz. Schultz probably told his fellow pilots to “go on and I will catch up with you.” Very stupid. I do not have another more proper word for such a decision. Schultz had a wingman who should have been circling over him, not flying back to base.

However it was Edwards that was flying back to base after falling one of the feared scourges of the Luftwaffe. Taking down Schultz saved the lives of several more R.A.F. pilots in the future, one could have been Edwards.

There were a total of 136 RCAF pilots that fought in the air war over the deserts of North Africa with No 94 and 260 Squadrons. Among the RCAF pilots were thirteen Americans. When the war ended in North Africa on May 13, 1943 forty of these men had lost their lives. That is a loss of 29%.

Edwards said that is was refreshing to se a new face in the mess tent in the beginning but when it got to the point that there were more new faces than the original group, it lost something. Edwards commented to me that the new pilots became strangers and stayed strangers. Eddie said you just did not want to become friends with someone only to see them killed. So you did not make any new friends.

I have heard that story over and over with interviewing other aviators. One pilot that I can not remember his name right now told me once that it was un-nerving when you realize that you and just a few others were the only ones left of the original group.

Not all of the forty lost pilots died in combat. Only sixteen were shot down and killed in aerial combat against the Messerschmitt. Six were shot down by the nimble Italian fighter, the MC202. The rest were lost in other situations. Five pilots were shot down by anti-aircraft fire. Six were killed in flying accidents checking out in the Kittyhawks. Seven other of the original 136 died while flying with other squadrons. Three of them were killed in action and the rest died in operational accidents.

Again of the original 136, fifteen further were killed later in other campaigns. So the numbers change, 136 minus 40 and then minus 15 equal 81 that survived the war. That makes a loss of 40.4%.

To you the reader these numbers or figures may seem common after you have seen so many statistics from the war. They mean a lot more to Edwards.

Flying Bomber Escort Missions

Both 94, and 260 Squadrons combined their efforts against the Luftwaffe and the German and Italian armies. Eddie told me that it seemed like half of all the missions were to escort and protect twin-engine bombers. The RAF bombing groups were flying the American A-20 Boston which proved itself well. They also flew twin-engine British bombers. The desert was no place for the larger four-engine bomber. Yet when America entered the war they introduced the B-17 Flying Fortress but after several bombing missions, the American bombers were forced to switch from high altitude bombings to low level bombing missions.

They RAF would use their fighter escorts logically in the way they positioned the fighters around the bombers. During the attack the bombing group and escorts would always fly a portion of their fighters at higher altitudes deliberately. The high flying fighters would be spotted on the German radar. Messerschmitts were always waiting on the in coming fighters thinking that they were a group of bombers. The first attack would be with the top-cover escorts. If the RAF were fortunate the top cover would tie up the Messerschmitts. This would leave the fighter escorts flying along the sides, front and back of the bombers unmolested.

Edwards started as a member of the close escorts that flew along as planned in formation with the bombers for the entire mission. At first Edwards felt frustrated not being able to tangle with the enemy but his time came. Edwards stayed in his assigned place as expected and fought when needed.

On several missions he flew as the top-cover and fought the Germans. When there were more enemy fighters than R.A.F. they would slowly pull away every R.A.F. escort fighter to get the bombers unprotected. For this special protection of the bombers the British lost more bombers to anti-aircraft fire than it did to enemy fighters. Though many bombers still fell to the guns of the Luftwaffe Aces.

Hawker Tempest

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This is my paintings of Edward’s Tempest. I loved painting this fighter!

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Here is my painting of Eddie’s last P-40. He flew 41 missions in this P-40L claiming five aerial victories.

Painting size is 2×4 feet and has been signed by Eddie. $3,500.00.

Eddie scored his last five aerial victories in the P-40L coded HS-B, #AK436. This is the Kittyhawk Eddie liked the best. He said that the L model was longer and it made the P-40 easier to fly. Eddie flew this P-40L 41 times.

The P-40L illustrated was flown by Eddie from March through May 1943. In this P-40 Eddie scored five of his last aerial victories in North Africa.

Spitfire Information.

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Here is my painting of Eddie’s Spitfire. I finished this painting on June 26, 2008. It is a joy to paint a Spitfire.

Painting size is 2×4 feet and has been signed by Eddie. $3,500.00.

I must note that I made a few mistakes in the painting. The IX model did not have a retractable tail wheel. I really forgot to add it. The spinner could have been white because Stocky told me that they had both black and white spinners on their fighters. But the spinner on the Spitfires that Eddie had photos taken with were all black.

The Spitfire Eddie liked was a Mark IX, a late model with the pointed tail. It was painted in the Continental colors, Ocean Gray and Medium Green. The code was JF-E # TD147. The spinner was white. There was no fuselage band. Code letters were in the English foam green/pea green color. The aircraft numbers were in black. I just love getting this information. The great fighters Eddie and his fellow aviators flew have long since been sold for scrap metal. I will bring these fighters back to life. Enjoy.

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James Edwards and his Spitfire.

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Here is a Bf-109F the squadron captured when they took over a Luftwaffe airfield.

Painting size is 2×4 feet and has been signed by Eddie. $3,000.00.

The Bf-109F above was flown by Luftwaffe Aces from JG-27. This very Luftwaffe fighter may have met Edwards in aerial combat. After the Luftwaffe left this machine behind during a retreat, Eddie’s squadron got the Messerschmitt running and painted it up in RAF roundels. Many of the pilots including Eddie flew the Bf-109 many times giving each of the pilots the feel for the fighter and its combat characteristics.

Eddie was under the impression that the visibility for the pilot would be limited because the canopy looked so “boxy” and framed in. After taking off in the Bf-109 Edwards found that the pilot had in fact excellent visibility and that the framework of the canopy did look “boxy,” but it was well built and protected the pilot. The cockpit was the perfect size for Edwards but it could get small for a larger framed aviator.

The Bf-109F was exposed to out-class the American made P-40. And it did, yet Edwards proved that in the right hands the P-40 was a formidable advisory to the Messerschmitt. However in the hands of the expert, the P-40 Kittyhawk was no match for the Messerschmitt.

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Here are photos of the Messerschmitt that Edwards squadron repaired and flew, not in combat, but to get familiar with the enemy fighter. The pilot on the wing is Edwards after a flight in the 109. How cool is this? I could not resist publishing a print of this captured enemy fighter.

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His final tally was 15 enemy aircraft destroyed while sharing in the destruction of three other enemy aircraft with fellow pilots. Eddie is also credited with probably destroying eight more enemy aircraft in that he damaged them severely but no one witnessed the damaged aircraft crash. Eddie was credited with damaging five other enemy fighters but just scoring visual hits and no lethal strikes. During ground attacks, Eddie was credited with destroying nine enemy aircraft and damaging 3 others. James “Eddie” Edwards ended his combat career as the third highest scoring Canadian Ace of World War Two.