Did you know that our 1934 DH88 Comet G-ACSS was alleged to be involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler?
This fascinating story was documented in the book ‘The Dangerous Skies’ by Arthur Edmund Clouston, a British Test Pilot and Senior Royal Air Force Officer.
In 1938 when Clouston returned to Farnborough after breaking flight records in New Zealand, he received a telephone call from a gentleman (who remains unidentified) seeking to arrange a private meeting.
When they met, the gentleman revealed that, having heard of what was happening to the Jews in Germany and as a Jew himself, he would like to propose an attack on Hitler. At which point, the conversation moved on to what fee Clouston would accept for such a mission. No amount seemed out of the question, as the gentleman and a group of other wealthy industrialists declared that they were prepared to pay a million pounds for the job. And in those days, that was a shocking amount to suggest!
The plan was to disguise the Comet at a grass landing strip near the north-east coast before it set off on its mission of a lifetime. This was to ensure the aircraft was not recognisable and therefore the pilot could not be identified. From there, Clouston was to fly towards the north of the continent and turn in for Berlin from the Baltic. Then head over the Unter den Linden and bomb Hitler while he was attending a ceremonial parade in Berlin. As Hitler was expected to travel in one of the first two cars in the parade, Clouston would be required to bomb both vehicles.
After the assassination, it was recommended that Clouston fly north-east towards the Baltic before setting course for England. This would ensure there would be no indication that he had come from the west and therefore keep his identity a secret. However, the plan never materialised as Clouston refused their offer, having felt the risks were too high.
It is fascinating how the events following this moment could have been so different if Clouston had chosen to go ahead with the proposed plans in 1938.
This year we have an air show dedicated to Special Operations! For more information on this fantastic event, please visit: www.shuttleworth.org/specialoperations
Clouston, A. E. (1954). The Dangerous Skies.