Avro Lancaster B.I (Mark 1) serial number HK601 was built by Vickers Armstrong in their Castle Bromwich factory.

HK601 was fitted with four Rolls-Royce Merlin 22 12-Cylinder, 60 degree vee-type liquid cooled in-line engines, each with a two-speed supercharger, providing 1,435 hp at 11,000 ft. . Top speed was 275 mph at 15,000 ft, with 360 mph achievable in a hard dive. Cruising speed loaded up was around 155 mph.

She could carry up to 14,000 lbs (6350 kg) of bombs in a 33 ft (10.0 m) long under-fuselage internal bomb bay.

HK601 was taken on strength at 75 (NZ) Squadron, Mepal on the 4th of August 1944, and was allocated to “C” Flight, given the code “JN-D”, radio call sign “D for Dog”.

Her predecessor, HK558, JN-D had been lost with all crew on the 30th of July, returning from her 21st operation, a daylight raid on Amaye Sur Seulles in support of the American ground attack in the Villers Bocage-Caumont area.

More about that story here.

She inherited her own dedicated four-man ground crew to maintain her engines and bodywork – Cpl Ron Schoefield, Sgt. Alan Rowe, L.A.C. Dennis Jones (Flight Mechanic Engines) and one other whose name we don’t know. The ground crew became very attached to and proud of their aircraft and JN-Dog was to go on and complete 84 operations – in squadron slang, she was a “Gen Kite”.

HK601’s first op’ was on the 11th of August, an attack on Lens, coincidentally flown by another Flying Officer Wood, RNZAF, and his crew.

Top photo: 75(NZ) Squadron C Flight Lancaster HK601, JN-D, “Dog” (aka. “Snifter”), on a daylight operation over Germany. 
– Air Force Museum of NZ, Ronald Wynn Russell collection.

She carried a piece of ‘dog’ nose-art based on Hottie Lahm’s wartime cartoon character “Snifter”, painted on by one of her ground crew, almost certainly Dog’s FME (engine mechanic) Dennis Jones, who wore a jerkin with “Snifter” on it, and who kept a tattered page from a “MAN” magazine amongst his photos:

“Snifter”, from a page in the February 1944 issue of
“MAN” magazine, with Dennis’s hand-written caption.
– Dennis Jones collection, via Glynis Bakker.

MAN was an Australian magazine, so the nickname and nose art probably originated with the Australians in the Sam Wilson crew, and would have been applied around September-October 1944.

More about the dog on the nose here.

HK601 had already completed 50 op’s when the Johnny Wood crew took her over.

She originally had an H2S radar blister under her fuselage, but this was removed at the end of March 1945 to make way for the fitting of a downward-pointing 0.5″ mid-under machine gun, to counter German nightfighters with upward-firing cannon (Schräge Musik)

Avro Lancaster B1 #HK601, JN-D, list of operational sorties
”C” Flight, 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF, Mepal, August 1944 – May 1945

Op’s flown by J. Wood crew in bold
– dnc = did not complete sortie

(Op’ no.) , Date , Crew , Target

(1) 11 August 44, F. Wood, Lens

(2) 12/13 August 44, Timms , Russelheim

(3) 14 Aug 44, Scott, Hamm

(4) 15 Aug 44, O’Callaghan, St Trond

(5) 16/17 Aug 44, Waugh, Stettin

(6) 18/19 Aug 44, Waugh, Bremen

(7) 25/26 Aug 44, Wilson, Russelheim

(8) 29/30 Aug 44, Scott, Stettin

(9) 31 August 44, McCartin, Pont Remy (damaged by flak, 4 strikes – AIR 14:3463)

(10) 5 Sep 44, Wilson, Le Havre

(11) 6 Sep 44, Robertson, Harquebec

(12) 8 Sep 44, Cumings, Doudeneville

(13) 10 Sep 44, Wilson, Montvilliers

(14) 11 Sep 44, Wilson, Kamen

(15) 12/13 Sep 44, O’Callaghan, Frankfurt

(16) 14 Sep 44, May, Waasenaar

(17) 16 Sep 44, Wilson, Moerdijk

(18) 17 Sep 44, McCartin, Emmerich

(19) 20 Sep 44, Cumings, Calais

(20) 23 Sep 44, Scott, Neuss

(21) 25 Sep 44, Boyer, Calais

(22) 26 Sep 44, Boyer, Cap Griz Nez

(dnc) 28 Sep 44, McIntosh, Calais Technical problem discovered shortly after take off, landed Woodbridge.

(23) 3 Oct 44, Scott, West Kappelle Dyke

(24) 5 Oct 44, Wilson, Saarbrücken

(25) 6 Oct 44, Wilson, Dortmund

(26) 7 Oct 44, Wilson, Emmerich

(27) 14 Oct 44, Wilson, Duisburg

(28) 14/15 Oct 44, Wilson, Duisburg

(29) 18 Oct 44, Wilson, Bonn (damaged by flak, 1 strike – AIR 14:3463)

(30) 19/20 Oct 44, Wilson, Stuttgart

(31) 21 Oct 44, Wilson, Flushing

(32) 23 Oct 44, Wilson, Essen

(33) 25 Oct 44, Wilson, Essen (damaged by flak, 2 strikes – AIR 14:3463)

(34) 26 Oct 44, Butler, Leverkusen

(35) 28 Oct 44, Wilson, Cologne (damaged by flak, 2 strikes – AIR 14:3463)

(36) 30 Oct 44, Wilson, Wesseling

(37) 2 Nov 44, McIntosh, Homberg (damaged by flak, 1 strike – AIR 14:3463)

(38) 4 Nov 44, Andrew, Solingen

(39) 5 Nov 44, Simpson, Solingen

(40) 6/7 Nov 44, Simpson, Koblenz

(41) 11 Nov 44, Wilson, Castrop Rauxel (damaged by flak, 5 strikes – AIR 14:3463)

(42) 15 Nov 44, Wilson, Dortmund

(43) 16 Nov 44, Wilson, Heinsberg

(44) 20 Nov 44, Wilson, Homberg

The Sam Wilson crew after they were tour expired on 21 November 1944,  taken in front of HK601, JN-Dog. Engine mechanic Dennis Jones crouching at the front, centre, with Dog’s wheelblock and Dog’s “Snifter” cartoon painted on his tunic.
Caption: “Tour completed 1944. Skipper – Wilson (Australia) (centre, rear), Mid Upper – Clarie Jones (Aus) (2nd from right, kneeling), Rear Gunner – Shorty Pettit (Aus) (2nd from left, kneeling), Cpl Ron Schoefield (next to Skipper, in jerkin, eyes closed!), Sgt Alan Rowe (end of front row, right), Self – in middle front row. Bomb Aimer, A. Fitch, second from right, rear.”
– Dennis Jones collection, thanks to Glynis Bakker.

(45) 21 Nov 44, McIntosh, Homberg (damaged by flak, 2 strikes – AIR 14:3463)

(46) 23 Nov 44, Williams, Gelsenkirchen

HK601 JN-D “Dog” (left) at dispersal, 25 November 1944.
– Detail from “Preparations” (computer rendering), by Piotr Forkasiewicz.

(47) 27 Nov 44, Ford, Cologne (damaged by flak, 1 strike – AIR 14:3463)

(48) 28/29 Nov 44, Simpson, Neuss

(49) 4 Dec 44, Hannan, Oberhausen

(50) 5 Dec 44, Hannan, Hamm

(51) 8 Dec 44, J. Wood, Duisburg

(52) 12 Dec 44, J. Wood, Witten

(dnc) 16 Dec 44, J. Wood, Siegen Returned early. Stb inner u/s icing. Didn’t reach target. All bombs jettisoned.

(53) 21 Dec 44, J. Wood, Trier

(54) 31 Dec 44, J. Wood, Vohwinkel

(55) 3 Jan 45, J. Wood, Dortmund

(56) 5 Jan 45, Crawford, Ludwigshafen (damaged by flak, 6 strikes – AIR 14:3463)

(57) 7/8 Jan 45, McDonald, Munich

– Maintenance? Russell crew flew her back to Mepal from RAF Waterbeach on 17 Jan 45.

(58) 28 Jan 45, Thomson, Gremberg

(59) 29 Jan 45, J. Wood, Krefeld

(60) 1 Feb 45, Zinzan, Munchen Gladbach

(61) 2/3 Feb 45, J. Wood, Wiesbaden

(62) 3 Feb 45, J. Wood, Dortmund

(63) 13/14 Feb 45, J. Wood, Dresden

(64) 14/15 Feb 45, J. Wood, Chemnitz

(65) 22 Feb 45, Stevenson, Osterfeld (damaged by flak, 3 strikes – AIR 14:3463)

(66) 23 Feb 45, Jones, Gelsenkirchen

(67) 25 Feb 45, Woodcock, Kamen

(68) 26 Feb 45, Jones, Dortmund

(69) 27 Feb 45, Woodcock, Gelsenkirchen

(70) 28 Feb 45, Shaw, Nordstern (damaged by flak, 2 strikes – AIR 14:3463)

(71) 1 Mar 45, Shaw, Kamen

(72) (listed in the ORB as dnc) 2 Mar 45, J. Wood, Cologne (damaged by flak, 2 strikes – AIR 14:3463) None of squadron’s a/c bombed due to G-H equipment failure. Jettisoned part of bomb load due to flak damage to engine

(73) 4 Mar 45, J. Wood, Wanne Eickel

(74) 5 Mar 45, J. Wood, Gelsenkirchen

(75) 6 Mar 45, Opie, Salzburgen

(76) 7/8 Mar 45, J. Wood, Dessau

(77) 9 Mar 45, Flamank, Datteln

(78) 10 Mar 45, J. Wood, Gelsenkirchen Buer

(79) 17 Mar 45, J. Wood, Auguste Viktoria, Hüls

(80) 18 Mar 45, Sinclair, Bruchstrasse (carried a 12,000 lb ‘blockbuster’ bomb, damaged by flak, 3 strikes – AIR 14:3463)

(81) 21 Mar 45, Amohanga, Munster Viaduct

(82) 27 Mar 45, Thompson, Hamm

(83) 29 Mar 45, J. Wood, Saltzgitter

HK601 shown with 83 op’s marked, perhaps as she would have looked on the night of 4/5 April 1945,
when she was hit on the way in to the target, the Leuna works at Merseburg.
(adapted from artwork by the late Pete West).

(84) 4/5 Apr 45, J. Wood, Merseburg , damaged and caught fire. Lost Flight Engineer.

The aircraft sustained Category AC / A3 damage (AIR 14:3463, Form 78), ie., “repair is beyond the unit capacity”.

The crew landed at RAF Manston emergency drome, and Gerry Newey records in his diary, after viewing the fire damage on the morning of 5th of April, that “all fuselage forward of the wing will have to be renewed”.

12 April 45 – transferred to No. 54 Maintenance Unit (ROS = Repairable On Site)

According to the ORB, HK601 flew one more op’:

(85?) 13/14 Apr 45, Shaw, Kiel

There must be some doubt however that it was HK601 that they flew that night. An overnight turn-around by the Maintenance Unit seems unlikely, given the extent of the fire damage described above.

Plus, the Aircraft Movement Card (see below) says that HK601 didn’t return to the squadron until the 28th of May.

So it seems likely that the Shaw crew flew to Kiel in her replacement, NF981, the new JN-D “Dog”.

– More about the Shaw crew here.

Dennis Jones says that HK601 landed at Woodbridge crash drome on return from her final op’, but there is no mention of the Shaw crew landing at Woodbridge on returning from Kiel, either in the ORB or Jimmy Shaw’s logbook.

So perhaps Dennis was referring to the Merseburg op’, when they landed at Manston? In other words, Merseburg was probably her last op’, not Kiel.

Dennis also believed that HK601 completed 84 op’s.

To do that he must have included the 2 March 1945 Cologne operation in her tally, listed in the ORB as “did not complete (dnc)”.

Gerry also included the abortive Cologne op’ in his tally, so there must have been an official change of heart as to its status. After all, the crews had completed bombing runs over the target and were only unable to drop because of a G-H technical failure. Several aircraft, including Dog, were hit by flak, a Flight Engineer was wounded and crews had to bring their bomb loads all the way home.

Whichever way it is calculated, 84 op’s over a period of eight months made HK601 one of the squadron’s veterans, even more creditable when set against the average expected operational life of a Lancaster bomber – only 40 hours!

NF981, the new JN-D, first appears in the ORB on 30th April, and HK601 is not listed in any further operations.

28 May 45 – HK601 is transferred back to 75 (NZ) Sqdn books.

22 June 45 – transferred to No. 10 M.U.

Large numbers of Lancasters were stored at locations all around the U.K. after the war ended, awaiting disposal.

31 October 1946 – HK601 was Struck Off Charge (SOC), and reduced to scrap.

Aircraft Movement Card for Avro Lancaster HK601
– Simon Sommerville.

The other JN-Dogs

HK601 wasn’t the only aircraft known as “JN-Dog”.

All aircraft coded “D” were given the radio call-sign “D for Dog”, so all the “AA-D” and “JN-D” coded aircraft that flew with 75(NZ) Squadron were Dogs.

But only the aircraft of “C” Flight were coded JN, and “C” Flight didn’t come into existence until April 1943, after the Wellingtons had gone. So only Stirlings and Lancasters carried the JN codes. Strangely, we haven’t yet come across a Stirling that was coded JN-D.

When the squadron was converting from Stirlings to Lancasters, crews were sent across to Lancaster Finishing School at Feltwell, for a week or so of ground familiarisation and a couple of flights in the school’s own Lancasters.

As soon as they had completed their conversion, Sgt Frank Scott and his crew (from “C” Flight) were assigned to Mepal’s parent base, RAF Waterbeach, for ten days to test fly and deliver brand new Lancasters to the squadron.

One of the three Lancasters they flew in to Mepal was ND802, which was allocated to C Flight, given the code JN-D and became their regular “kite”. We assume that they chose her themselves, and they gave her the nickname “The Flying Scottsmen”.

She was sent into action immediately, flying an operation the following day with the Murray crew. Sadly ND802 only completed ten more op’s with the squadron, seven of those with the FAJ Scott crew.

Early in the morning of the 28th of May 1944 ND802 JN-D for “Dog” was shot down over Gilze-en-Rijen in southern Netherlands on the run in to their target, Aachen. Frank and two of his crew were killed, but he managed to keep the aircraft under control long enough for the other five to bale out, all surviving as POWs.

Two days before ND802 was lost, on the 25th of May, a film crew had arrived at RAF Mepal to make a ‘movie’ about a typical operation on a Lancaster bomber station, called “Maximum Effort”. At one point in the film, a Lancaster coded JN-D taxies past the camera. It’s possible that it is ND802 and the Scott boys heading off on their final op’, but seems more likely that it was taken some time over the subsequent weeks of filming, which would mean it is her replacement, HK558:

Either ND802 or HK558, seen taxying in the film “Maximum Effort”

Lancaster HK558 arrived on the 2nd of June, was coded JN-D for “Dog” and became the regular “kite” of the George Nairne crew.

She bucked the odds of the time by completing 21 op’s with the squadron, 14 with the Nairne crew, but was also tragically lost, on the 30th of July 1944.

On the way back from an early morning attack on enemy troops and armoured concentrations near Amay-sur-Suelles in France, George Nairne and his crew were crossing the English Channel in low, heavy cloud when HK558 is thought to have collided with another Lancaster. All the crew were killed, with only the body of the RAF Air Bomber recovered and buried at sea.

– More about George Nairne here.

HK601, the third Lancaster to carry the JN-D code, arrived at Mepal just a few days later and went on to fly a total of 84 operations, one of the squadron’s veteran Lancasters, eventually retired at war’s end.

Here is a list of the 75(NZ) Squadron RAF aircraft (that we know of) that carried the C Flight code JN-D “Dog”:

Lancaster III ND802 ‘The Flying Scottsmen’: arrived 8.4.44 (flown in by FAJ Scott crew) – lost 27.5.44 (FAJ Scott crew – 3 killed, 5 POW)
Lancaster I HK558: arrived 2.6.44 – lost 30.7.44 (Nairne crew – all killed)
Lancaster I HK601 ‘Snifter’: arrived 4.8.44 – transferred to 10 M.U. 22.6.45
Lancaster I NF981: arrived 30.8.44 as JN-Y, re-coded JN-D 13.4.45 – transferred to 44 Sqdn 21.7.45