Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Canadian Warplanes 3: Douglas Digby

Douglas Digby

Data current to 9 April 2021.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo,  MIKAN No. 3581607)

Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 740), coded R, No. 10 (Bomber) Squadron, RCAF.

The RCAF acquired 20 Douglas Digby Mk. I in 1940.  These were American twin engine B-18A Bolo bombers which served during the late 1930s and early 1940s.  The Digby, named after the RAF school of bombing at RAF Digby, was based on the Douglas DC-2 airframe.  The RCAF Digbys were immediately issued to No. 10 Squadron to replace the squadron's Westland Wapitis, to carry out anit-submarine patrol duties.  RCAF Eastern Air Command (EAC) Digbys carried out 11 attacks on U-boats.  U-520 was confirmed sunk by Flying Officer F. Raymes' crew of No. 10 (BR) Squadron, on 30 October 1942, east of Newfoundland.   The Digby antisubmarine role was relatively short-lived, and they were superseded in this role in 1943 by Consolidated B-24 Liberators, which had a much heavier payload and a substantially longer range which finally closed the mid-Atlantic gap.

Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (20), (Serial Nos. 738-757).

No. 10 Squadron, RCAF, was formed as a bomber squadron  at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 5 September 1939.  Mobilized on 10 Sep 1939, it was redesignated No. 10 Bomber Reconnaissance (BR) Squadron on 31 Oct 1939.  As part of Eastern Air Command, the squadron flew Westland Wapiti Mk. IIA from Sep 1939 to May 1940, Douglas Digby Mk. I from April 1940 to April 1943, and Consolidated Liberator Mk. II, Mk. V and G.R. Mk. VI aircraft from April 1943 to Aug 1945, on East Coast anti-submarine duty.  The squadron was active for the duration of the Second World War.  While based on the East Coast of Canada and Newfoundland, it established an RCAF record for 22 attacks on U-boats and successfully sank three (U-520 on 30 Oct 1942, U-341 on 19 Sep 1943, and U-420 on 26 Oct 1943), garnering the unofficial title "North Atlantic Squadron."  

No. 10 (BR) Squadron was disbanded at Torbay, Newfoundland, on 15 Aug 1945.  During its service, the squadron lost seven aircraft and 25 aircrew, of whom 24 were killed or missing, 1 wounded, and had 27 non-operational fatalities, includingthree drowned and six non-fatal.  Members of the squadron earned 24 DFCs, 6 AFCs, 1 GM, 1 AFM, 3 BEMs and 33 MiDs.  (Samuel Kostenuk and John Griffin, RCAF Squadrons Histories and Aircraft, 1924-1968 (Samuel Stevens Hakkert & Company, Toronto & Sarasota, 1077), National Museums of Man, National Museums of Canada, pp. 31-32.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo,  MIKAN No. 3581613)

Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 740), coded R, No. 10 (Bomber) Squadron, RCAF.  This Digby was taken on charge on 30 Dec 1939 at No. 1 (E) Depot at Ottawa, Ontario.  It went to RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario, on 17 May 1940.  With No. 10 (BR) Squadron, Eastern Air Command, at RCAF Station Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, from 17 June 1940; coded "PB-L", later "R".  740 carried out the first RCAF attack on a U-boat on 25 October 1941, while coded "PB-L".  This was EAC's first u-boat sighting and first attack.  Both depth charges failed to explode.  Loaned, with crew, to No. 164 (T) Squadron, RCAF Station Moncton, New Brunswick, 24 January to 22 March 1943.  Flew freight to Goose Bay, Newfoundland.  Used by No. 167 (Comm) Squadron, RCAF Station Dartmouth, Nov Scotia, 1943.  To No. 4 Repair Depot for scrapping, in lieu of overhaul, on 18 November 1943.  Struck off, reduced to spares, 16 May 1944.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo,  MIKAN No. 3581612)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 740), coded R, No. 10 (Bomber) Squadron, RCAF.

     (Library and Archives Canada Photo,  MIKAN No. 3581610)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 740), coded R, No. 10 (Bomber) Squadron, RCAF.

    (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4315417)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF, view of the nose gunner position. 

     (RCAF Photo via Mike Kaehler)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF, view of the nose gunner position. The forward gunner is in the lower position and what-looks-like the bomb aimer up above.

     (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4315408)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 755), coded J, No. 10 (Bomber) Squadron, RCAF.

    (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 431507)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF. 

     (RCAF Photo)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 740), coded R, No. 10 (Bomber) Squadron, RCAF

    (RCAF Photo courtesy of the Shearwater Aviation Museum)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 748), coded PB-V, No. 10 (Bomber) Squadron, RCAF, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1943.  This Digby was taken on charge by No. 12 Technical Detachment on 9 March 1940.  It went to RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario on 11 July 1940.  To storage with Eastern Air Command on 9 August 1940.  Issued from storage on 18 June 1941, for use by No. 10 (BR) Squadron, RCAF Station Dartmouth, NS, and Gander, Newfoundland.  Coded "PB-V".  Reported Category A in Newfoundland on 3 October 1941.  Aircraft settled into trees shortly after takeoff.  This was second aircraft crashed by pilot F/L R.A. Butts.  To No. 4 Repair Depot at Scoudouc, NB on 13 December 1941 for repairs.  Returned to service at Gander on 15 September 1942.  To Clark Ruse aircraft for further work, 27 October 1942 to 30 August 1943.  To Eastern Air Command when completed.  Used by No. 167 (Comm) Squadron, RCAF Station Dartmouth, NS, 1943 to 1945.  Pending disposal from 21 August 1945.  Stored at No. 6 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit at Mont Joli, PQ by 27 November 1945, when it had 985:00 total time.  Struck off to War Assets Corpporation on 22 March 1946.

    (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650736)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 749), No. 10 (Bomber) Squadron, RCAF, Jan 1944.  This Digby was takenon charge by Eastern Air Command on 23 March 1940.  Category A crash near Riviere du Loup, Quebec on 18 November 1940.  Aircraft was en route from Newfoundland to St. Hubert, PQ when it was forced to divert due to bad weather.  Crew abandoned aircraft, probably as fuel ran low.  Aircraft not located for some time.  Ownership assigned to No. 4 Repair Depot in Scoudouc, NB on 3 March 1941, for write off.  Struck off on 3 Aug 1941.

     (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581996)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 738), coded PB-N, No. 10 "North Atlantic" (BR) Squadron.  This Digby was taken on charge at No. 1 (E) Depot, Ottawa, Ontario, on 29 Dec 1939.  It was flown by Air Force Headquarters Communications Flight (formed from  No. 7 (GP) Squadron in September 1939, and sometimes still identified as this unit into 1940),  RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario, for VIP flights from May 1940.  First aircraft to regularly fly IFR missions with this unit.  Fly A/V/M Croil to Dartmouth, NS on 30 May 1940.  To Eastern Air Command later in 1940, for use by No. 10 (BR) Squadron, RCAF Station Dartmouth.  Crashed in flames near Fresh Water Bay, Newfoundland on 2 January 1942.  Ownership passed to No. 4 Repair Depot at Scoudouc, NB that date, for write off.  It was struck off on 22 June 1942.

    (Robbie Sproule Photo)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 738), coded PB-N, No. 10 "North Atlantic" (BR) Squadron.  It ditched in Fresh Water Bay, Newfoundland on 2 Jan 1942, after the starboard engine caught fire.  The crew and Newfoundlanders are preparing to drag the Digby to shore.  The aircraft was a write-off.  (Chris Charland)

    . (Robbie Sproule Photo)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 738), coded PB-N, No. 10 "North Atlantic" (BR) Squadron.  Being dragged ashore by the crew and Newfoundlanders.  The Digby had ditched in Fresh Water Bay, Newfoundland on 2 Jan 1942, after the starboard engine caught fire.  The aircraft was a write-off.  (Chris Charland)

    (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581805)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 751), coded Y, No. 10 "North Atlantic" (BR) Squadron.15 July 1941.  Tgis Digby was taken on charge by No. 12 Technical Detachment on 8 March 1940.  It went to RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario on 11 July 1940.  Used briefly by No. 12 (Comm) Squadron, RCAF Station Rockcliffe from 30 September 1940.  Served with Test and Development Flight at RCAF Station Rockcliffe from 18 January 1941.  To Eastern Air Command on 2 October 1941, for use by No. 10 (BR) Squadron at RCAF Station Dartmouth, NS.  Coded "Y".  Back to T&D Establishment, 25 November 1941 to 17 January 1942, then back to No. 10 (BR) Squadron.  Fitted with special radio equipment during this period.  With No. 161 (BR) Squadron, RCAF Station Dartmouth, NS, 1943/44, coded "Y".  To No. 4 Repair Depot on 10 May 1944, for scrapping, in lieu of overhaul.  Reported with 2337:45 total time while at Scoudouc.  Pending disposal at No. 5 (E) Depot in Scoudouc from 25 March 1946.  Struck off on 14 Nov 1946.

     (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390234)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 751), coded Y, No. 10 "North Atlantic" (BR) Squadron, RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario.  A view of the ASV Mk. II radar side-looking antennas as installed on this Digby.  This image shows the transmitter antenna on the top of the aircraft, and the right-hand receiver antenna on the side - a similar antenna is installed on the left-hand side of the aircraft as well.  The circular object on top of the aircraft is a radio direction finder loop antenna.  The mid-upper gun turret is partially popped-up. 

     (RCAF Photo via Mike Kaehler)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 751), coded JK-K, No. 10 "North Atlantic" (BR) Squadron, based at Halifax, Nova Scotia.

     (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390235)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 751), coded JK-K (later coded Y), No. 10 "North Atlantic" (BR) Squadron, based at Halifax, Nova Scotia.  It is shown here equipped with front-mounted antennas for the ASV Mk. II experimental radar, RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario, July 1942.   The transmitter antenna is visible just below the bombsight window. It has been bent into a curved shape to closely follow the shape of the aircraft fuselage, using the fuselage itself as a reflector to make a Yagi antenna using only a single wire. Similar "tricks" were used on a variety of ASV and AI radars, but made it difficult to move to different aircraft designs.

    (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581806)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No.), No. 10 "North Atlantic" (BR) Squadron, based at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 15 July 1941. 

    (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3642478)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No.), No. 10 "North Atlantic" (BR) Squadron, based at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 15 Jul 1941. 

    (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650734)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 740), coded R, No. 10 "North Atlantic" (BR) Squadron, based at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Jan 1944. 

    (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650735)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 749), No. 10 Squadron, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Jan 1944.  This Digby was taken on charge by Eastern Air Command on 23 March 1940.  Category A crash near Riviere du Loup, Quebec on 18 November 1940.  Aircraft was en route from Newfoundland to St. Hubert, Quebec, when it was forced to divert due to bad weather.  Crew abandoned aircraft, probably as fuel ran low.  Aircraft not located for some time.  Ownership assigned to No. 4 Repair Depot in Scoudouc, New Brunswick on 3 March 1941, for write off.  Struck off on 3 Aug 1941.

     (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3722780)

    Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No.), No. 10 "North Atlantic" (BR) Squadron, based at Halifax, Nova Scotia.