Flight Sergeant Archibald Campbell RAFVR (1371720), age 29, was the son of Archibald and Isabella Campbell of 5 Kincarrathie Crescent, Perth. Archibald Campbell was the pilot of a de Havilland Mosquito Mk IV Series II, DZ368 of RAF 540 Squadron. At this time RAF 540 squadron was based at RAF Leuchars but kept at flight down south at RAF Benson.
DZ368 was built at a private airfield and aircraft factory owned by the de Havilland Aircraft Company at Hatfield Aerodrome in Hertfordshire, England. It was built between 12 October 1942 and 30 December 1942 under the order number, 555/C.23(a). It was equipped with two Rolls Royce Merlin 21/23 engines, four 20mm cannons and four .303 in Browning machine guns. Given the model type and number, it is likely that this Mosquito aircraft was built as a fighter and photo-reconnaissance type.
Sergeant Campbell and his navigator/wireless operator, Sergeant James (Jimmy) Arkle 1109187 RAFVR, age 21, were not on operations. They are listed as being on-route from their base at RAF Benson in South Oxfordshire. They crashed on 20 May 1943 following an engine failure four miles south-west of Newbury in Berkshire. Both were killed.
Campbell for nine years was a partner in the firm of Campbells, McLagan & Co, wholesale grocers in North St John’s Place. Archibald attended Perth Academy, was well-known as a black-and-white artist and turned out on many occasions for Mayfield Cricket Club. Campbell joined the RAF in 1941, he had just returned to his squadron from a spell of leave four days earlier. He is buried in Wellshill Cemetery, Perth.
Several salvaged items from this crashed aircraft have been sold online over the past few years.
RAF 540 Squadron are believed to have taken part in a very daring Cold War mission in late August 1953 to photograph a suspected Soviet missile base called Kapustin Yar, 60 miles east of Stalingrad. The request had come from the US who had received intelligence of a Soviet missile construction programme. At the time the US had no aircraft capable of a long-range photo-reconnaissance flight, the famous Lockheed U-2 spy planes had not yet come into service and this was long before satellites existed.
The British solution was to use an RAF English Electric Canberra B.2 bomber. Stripped of excess weight, fitted with a 100-inch focal length camera and with its bomb bays filled with extra fuel tanks, the Canberra WB726 took off from Giebelstsadt Army Airfield (USAF) in West Germany to fly to Kapustin Yar and then south to land in friendly territory. The ‘Project Robin’ Canberra flew at an altitude of between 46,000 ft and 48,000 ft and had a cruising speed of 540 miles per hour. The Soviets tracked the Canberra and attempted to intercept using their Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 jet fighters. It was difficult to see the Canberra above them in the dark and the MiGs found it difficult to maintain altitude. As the sky grew lighter, they finally did get off a burst of cannon fire which hit the Canberra. The Canberra was not seriously damaged, but it did cause a vibration in the aircraft and this blurred the photographs they took as they over-flew the missile base. The Canberra flew on and landed safely in Iran.
ROYAL AIR FORCE: OPERATIONS BY THE PHOTOGRAPHIC RECONNAISSANCE UNITS, 1939-1945. (HU 1634) Three De Havilland Mosquito PR Mark IXs of No. 540 Squadron RAF based at Benson, Oxfordshire, flying in loose echelon formation. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205211229
V1 FLYING BOMB (CL 1055) Aerial reconnaissance view of the V1 launching ramps at the Luftwaffe Test Installation, Peenemunde West, Usedom Island, Germany, showing a Fiesler Fi 103 flying bomb positioned on its ramp (arrowed). This was the photograph from which Flight Officer Constance Babington-Smith, a photographic interpreter at the Allied Central Interpretation Unit, RAF Medmenham, Buckinghamshire, confirmed the existe… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205022389
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: DE HAVILLAND DH 98 MOSQUITO. (ATP 13204D) Mosquito PR Mark 32, NS589, at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire. A lightened version of the PR Mark XVI with extended wingtips for very high altitude reconnaissance, NS589 was the first of five examples built and operated by No. 540 Squadron RAF at Benson, Oxfordshire, from December 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126630
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: DE HAVILLAND DH 98 MOSQUITO. (MH 5081) Mosquito PR Mark IV, DZ383, at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire. DZ383 served with No. 540 Squadron RAF at Benson, Oxfordshire. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126837