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Name: Trevor S. Wade 

Born: 27 Jan 1920

Joined 92: 27 March 1940

Left 92: October 1941

Died: 3 April 1951

 

 

 

 

Trevor Wade was born on 27th January 1920,and was educated at Tonbridge School. On leaving school at eighteen he joined the RAF and learned to fly at Gatwick. When war came he took an instructor's course. Later he was posted to 92 Sqn,equipped with Spitfires,and was in action against the Luftwaffe between May 1940,and October the following year. In the Battle of Britain and subsequent operations he destroyed seven enemy aircraft and in July 1941 was awarded the DFC.

 

Trev baled out of his Spitfire I (3287) over Exeter while on night patrol at Swansea Bay. 

Wade crash landed a Spitfire I (R6703) near Selsey after being hit by the return fire of a Ju 88 over the Solent on the 19th of August 1940. His Spitfire I exploded after he had got clear, he escaped injury. 

He was wounded again in June 1941 flying a Spitfire V. 

 

''Wimpy'' (his nickname was borrowed from the American cartoon character of Popeye fame) was posted as an instructor to an Operational Training Unit. After a course at the Central Flying School he became a pilot-gunnery instructor at the Central School of Gunnery. He was appointed as OC Flying at the Air Fighting Development Unit at Duxford. For his important work at the ADFU,he was awarded the AFC.

 

After the war, he joined the editorial staff of The Aeroplane but in late 1947, he was approached by Bill Humble who required assistance in production testing of Sea-Furies at Langley. In 1948, Humble was appointed Hawker's sales manager, and Trev was appointed Chief Test Pilot.

 

His first major job was the testing of the straight-wing, nene-powered P.1040, which was the forerunner of the Seahawk. From the P.1040 he moved to the swept-wing P.1052,with which,in May 1949, he set a new record for the London-Paris flight. On the 19th June 1950, he made the maiden flight of the P.1081 at Farnborough. He demonstrated the aircraft 2 weeks later at the International Air display at Antwerp,and later the same year at SBAC Farnborough.

 

He was killed on the 3rd April 1951 when the P.1081 (which was later developed into the Hunter) he was flying from Langley to Farnborough had some catastrophic problem. Trev ejected but never released himself from the seat - which did not have automatic release - and was found dead, still strapped to the seat, in the woods at Ringmere. The aircraft crashed at Norlington, near Lewes Sussex. The cause of the accident remained a mystery. His place as Chief Test Pilot of Hawker was taken by Neville Duke, another former 92 Sqn pilot, who’s name will forever be linked with that of the Hunter.

Trevor Sydney wade was born on 27 January 1920 in London. He joined the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve at 18 in April 1938. He learned to fly at Gatwick & was called up to full time service on the outbreak of war. He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in April 1940 & joined 92 squadron on 21 May 1940 flying Spitfire Ia’s. It was on 92 squadron that he acquired the nickname of ‘Wimpy’ from the newspaper Popeye cartoon. As with the Wellington bomber anyone or anything which was judged to be of portly appearance was instantly nicknamed Wimpy at the time.

On 28 July 1940 during a night patrol he experienced R/T failure & with deteriorating weather he baled out of his Spitfire. His first action resulted in a claim for a shared JU88 on 19 August 1940, during which he was hit by return fire & had to force land on Macehill, Lewes race course. Having a lucky escape when his aircraft R6703 turned over on its back leaving him trapped inside, fortunately there was no fire. From August to December 1940 he was officially credited with 7 confirmed victories,& having to force land three times.

His tour with 92 over he was sent to 123 squadron on training duties in June 1941. A D.F.C. Citation was published in the London Gazette on 15 July 1941, it read. This officer displayed great skill & determination in his numerous encounters with the enemy & has destroyed at least 6 of their aircraft, his efforts contributed materially to the success achieved by the squadron.

He was posted to 602 squadron in September 1941 flying Spitfire Vb’s. However he did not last long on this squadron as he was shot down & wounded on 17 September 1941, I have found no details of the wound but it was bad enough to end his combat career. After recovering from his wounds he became a gunnery instructor & in late 1943 he became commanding officer of the Air Fighting Development Unit. Here he tested captured aircraft against allied aircraft. For his work with the A.F.D.U. He was awarded the Air force Cross on 1 September 1944. In early 1945 he was sent to the U.S.A. To test captured Japanese aircraft & gain experience on newer American types including jets.

Released from R.A.F. Service in 1946 as a Squadron leader he joined the  editorial staff of Aeroplane Magazine testing & reporting on new light civil aircraft. In October 1947 he was offered the post of assistant test pilot to Bill Humble, when Bill retired from test flying to become sales manager he was promoted to chief test pilot in June 1948. By this time he was testing Hawkers early jets, the P1040 which became the Sea hawk & the swept wing  version the P1052. In a P1052 he set a new London to Paris record at an average speed of 618mph. In August 1949 he won the S.B.A.C. Challenge Cup in a P1040 at a speed of 510mph.

Wade went with a delegation to the U.S.A. during which he took the opportunity to call in on Tony Bartley his former 92 squadron friend who was married to Hollywood star Deborah Kerr. One evening Wade confessed to his friend that he had ‘lost his nerve with test flying’. Tony told him ‘for gods sake quit while your ahead, it ould happen to any one of us’. This feeling was not uncommon amongst test pilots of this time, certainly Phillip Lucas & Bill Humble seem to have reached a point where they believed they had pushed their luck as far as they could & got out in time. De Havilland test pilot & ex Typhoon pilot John Derry had similar feelings before his fatal accident. Besides Wade, at the age of 31, married with two sons & a daughter, it’s perhaps hardly surprising he had second thoughts about risking his life test flying. All would have been far different as a 20 year old in 1940, when he had a reputation for pressing home his attacks on enemy aircraft to the almost suicidal distance of 50 yards!

Soon after his visit to the U.S.A. Sqn Ldr Wade DFC AFC was killed while testing Hawker P1081 VX279 (The Australian Fighter) on 3 April 1951. https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/55502

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Trevor S Wade.

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