D-Day Operation Mallard
D-Day, 6 June 1944: the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. As the troops established a foothold in Normandy they were protected, reinforced and supplied by thousands of warplanes which had total air superiority over the German Luftwaffe. The weather - poor at first - became mostly clear later with some haze and scattered cloud.
The picture depicts that evening's Operation Mallard which delivered the British 6th Airborne Division aboard gliders towed by a variety of heavy aircraft, including these unarmed Short Stirlings of Nos 196 and 299 Squadrons. They were escorted by (top right) North American Mustang IIIs from the RAF's No 315 (Polish) Squadron and, in the centre, Mk VA Supermarine Spitfires from No 345 Squadron. Top left: South African fighter ace, Group Captain AG ‘Sailor’ Malan, Commanding Officer of No 145 (Free French) Wing, flew his Mk IXB Spitfire - with long-range fuel tank - as a section leader with No 340 (GC/IV/2 'Ile de France') Squadron on the glider escort. The Hawker Typhoons, lower right, are bomb-carrying 'Bomphoons' of No 197 Squadron who were on an armed reconnaissance sortie at the same time.
This was one of four of my pictures that appeared in a Classic Magazines special 'bookazine' about the RAF involvement in the Allied invasion of Europe, published by Mortons to mark the 70th anniversary (reprinted for the 75th).
I am pleased to say this picture also featured as a double-page spread in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight 2014 Official Yearbook.