Lynn Garrison, Asymetric Aerial Warfare, Lambay Island.

Nebuchadnezzar

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The Blue Max

Lynn Garrison is an ex Canadian fighter pilot. His life story is a rollercoaster of aviation exploits and political intrigue. He lived in Ireland for 11 years during the 1960s and 70s and was a significant figure in the establishment of our film industry. Yet up until a few days ago I had never heard of him. I have just finished reading Des Eakin’s book Kinsale and was interested to find out more about Sir Richard Burke, Old English Catholic of Galway, who played a significant part in the English victory and was thereafter was granted Powerscourt Estate, Co Wicklow. Powerscourt has a special significance for me in that my first solo flight was from the small grass strip at Powerscourt circa 1989 and I also have a clear memory as a very young awestruck boy seeing a line up of WW1 biplanes there in the early 1970s. This prompted me to read further about the making of the Blue Max which had a close association with Powerscourt. Lynn Garrison is the man who brought this collection of aircraft to Ireland and was involved in the making of many notable aviation related films there over several years. His career is remarkable and his connections with Ireland all the more so.



Garrison’s Air Force, 1972....much like the image in my minds eye.

After leaving the Canadian Airforce in the early 1960s he became involved in buying and selling surplus retired military aircraft. He built up a collection of historic aircraft, was involved in various air show events and established an aviation museum in Ontario.



Garrison with his replica of the Red Baron’s Dridecker which he still owns today.

Irish Air Corps

Between 1964 and 1965, Garrison worked with the Irish Air Corps to establish a collection of World War I replica fighter aircraft, facilities and support equipment at a facility at Weston Aerodrome, Leixlip, Ireland. This was originally put together in support of 20th Century Fox's 1966 film The Blue Max, the aerial fleet included a sole Caudron 277, two Fokker DR 1s, three Fokker D VIIs, two S.E.5As and two Pfalz D IIIs (all full-scale replicas) four de Havilland Tiger Moths, three SV4C Stampes, a Morane 230 and six Curry Wot 3/4 scale S.E.5As.

Jack Lynch

For a time Garrison and Taoiseach Jack Lynch were next door neighbours and this contact helped in the formulation of the Irish Film Act of 1970 which set the foundation for an expanding Irish film industry by providing advantageous tax advantages for film productions and resident foreign creative individuals.

Over a number of years Garrison and his vintage air force were involved in a number of aviation related or historical films....the Blue Max, Darling Lili, Von Richthofen and Brown, Ryan’s Daughter, Barry Lyndon and he developed a number of new techniques and camera mounts for aerial footage.



Garrison with Air Corps pilots 1970.

Lambay Island

Garrison and the Irish Air Corps continued their relationship and the Corps provided aircrew and engineering staff to support films and television commercials Garrison worked through to the late 1970s. During this time James Baring(of the Banking family), later Lord Revelstoke(owner of Lambay Ireland) became closely involved. Baring owned a light sports/touring aircraft, the civilian precursor to the Warrior and he operated this out of the same field as Garrisons aircraft.

Garrison’s recollections.....

James owned a 260 civil model that we flew off my grass field outsid of Dublin, Ireland. He and I saw the potential of the Marchetti SF-260 as a military COIN aircraft and convinced the manufacturer of this. The SF-260 Warrior was a result of our proposal. We were also pressing Marchetti for the development of a tandem-seated fighter version, but this did not advance.

We used his civil 260 to practice low-level attack missions around the Irish countryside.


Marchetti Warrior(Libyan Airforce...couldn’t find a jpg image of an Air Corps aircraft).

Garrison later was responsible for coordinating the first demonstration of the Marchetti SF-260 Warrior at Baldonnel, as a result of this presentation the Air Corps acquired a number of Warriors.

Via this Baring’s connection(Baring’s Father was a friend of the rebel leaders father) Garrison fought for the Biafran separatists in the Nigerian Civil War. There was also seems to have been a link via the Irish charity Concern....

Garrison flew a number of transport flights to Biafra and thereby developed a partnership with Carl Gustav Von Rosen, a Swedish aristocrat, aviator mercenary.

...an interesting arrangement

According to Garrison...

During the Biafran War a DC-6 operated from Shannon, Ireland to San Tome with food and relief supplies. It was flown by a guy named Lynch, who had a brother, Father Lynch with CONCERN. It would fly into ULI, or other spots, to drop of the load. Return to San Tome, pick up weapons, and fly these into Biafra. It would then return to Ireland for another load, sponsored by the Catholic group CONCERN.
The Biafra Babies

Garrison in close collaboration with von Rosen(btw nephew of Herman Göring’s wife) helped to form a scratch Biafran Airforce using a rag tag collection utility aircraft and light types. A light strike unit was formed, the Biafra Babies, composed of 5 light piston powered aircraft modified to carry 2 rocket pods.





The MFI-9 used by Garrison’s Biafra Babies.

Garrison led this particular unit and flew in 4 of its 5 missions and it achieved spectacular success in destroying several recently delivered high performance combat aircraft supplied to the Nigerian Airforce by the Soviet Union.

Air Strikes

Garrison’s words...

At tree-top height we popped over the perimeter, I then dropped a few feet to flash across the grass at a shattering 135 mph, throttles against the stops, leaning forward in the harness as though this would add speed. In recalling those moments, I would swear that my spring undercarriage bounced on a grassy hump as I rushed towards my target.

Rockets shot past on both side of my plunging aircraft to hit open spaces in front of me. At least two of my associates had fired a way too early, wasting 24 rockets on empty ground. But then, ground attack is not an “on the job training” situation.

Parked aircraft were about 20 degrees port. I altered course pointing the nose of my ride directly at them.

Complete surprise.

No gunfire!

Several MIGs, Il-28s, a DC-6, Dakota and Harvard made impressions on memory cells.

Close, very close – about 300 yards – pointed directly at a MIG-17 I pressed the “doorbell button.” With a whoosh my 12 explosive tipped Matra 98mm rockets accelerated away.

Several hit the MIG.

How could I miss?

We were “bore-sighted” on it!

The jet erupted in a giant fireball. At least two rockets hit an Il-28. This collapsed, broken where it sat. There were eruptions further along, among the other aircraft.
Three Ilyshin 28 bombers and several Mig17 fighter bombers were destroyed by a handful of single engined light piston aircraft. Garrison’s time flying practice strike runs and hedge hopping over the Irish countryside had proved very useful.



Nigerian Airforce Il-28 bomber.



Nigerian Airforce Mig 17.

Air Drops

Count von Rosen and Garrison also used these same aircraft to drop relief supplies to civilians during the Biafran famine. Garrison developed a method of double bagging with a much large outer bag to reduce the rate of bursting.



Von Rosen flying one of the MFI-9s with drop bags mounted.

Dirty Tricks in Haiti

Garrison subsequently became involved in Haiti acting as a personal advisor to Haiti's military ruler, Lieutenant General Raoul Cédras, the US Senate and, allegedly, the DIA and CIA. He acted as the interface between the American embassy and Cedras after diplomatic relations were severed. His code name was "'The Shadow". It is alleged that he
ran a smear campaign against President Aristide when he returned from exile.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/shadow-plays-dirty-tricks-in-haiti-a-canadian-adventurer-is-behind-the-smear-campaign-against-1501560.html

This man has had a very colourful life and had a very close involvement with Ireland during the 1960s and 70s and yet I had never heard of him. Perhaps some here have some recollections from those times?

https://www.africanmilitaryblog.com/2018/04/exclusive-lynn-garrison-biafran-war-heroic-pilot-speaks-on-his-exploits

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Garrison
 
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Oliver Cromwell McIvor

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Mr Nebuchadnezzar are you of Islamic extraction?
 

recedite

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Garrison in close collaboration with von Rosen(btw nephew of Herman Göring’s wife) helped to form a scratch Biafran Airforce using a rag tag collection utility aircraft and light types. A light strike unit was formed, the Biafra Babies, composed of 5 light piston powered aircraft modified to carry 2 rocket pods.
Yes I have heard of some connection there alright, Goring obviously had personal connections to Scandinavia, and a talent at aviation which led to his eventually commanding the Luftwaffe.
Goring actually flew with The Red Baron's "Flying Circus" in WW1, and earned the Blue Max.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Göring

Both men liked having swastikas on their airplanes too. But not in Biafra.
Besides, the Finnish air force started using the swastika because this Swedish count called Erik von Rosen donated an airplane to the white troops of Finland during the civil war. He had painted a swastika on his plane because he liked the symbol.”
If it is mentioned that this particular Swedish count was a well-known Nazi sympathizer, the response is always ready: “The donation happened before he could be a true Nazi sympathizer. At the moment, in 1918, Hitler was a nobody”.
I think its fair to say that these kind of characters make history, they don't just let it play out around them.
Whether they are seen to have played a positive or a negative role is decided by lesser men who come after them.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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Yes I have heard of some connection there alright, Goring obviously had personal connections to Scandinavia, and a talent at aviation which led to his eventually commanding the Luftwaffe.
Goring actually flew with The Red Baron's "Flying Circus" in WW1, and earned the Blue Max.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Göring

Both men liked having swastikas on their airplanes too. But not in Biafra.


I think its fair to say that these kind of characters make history, they don't just let it play out around them.
Whether they are seen to have played a positive or a negative role is decided by lesser men who come after them.
Von Rosen married a Swedish aristocrat , Johanna (Hanny) Franciena Krijgsman, in 1938 whilst he was flying for KLM. During the war she joined the Dutch resistance and was imprisoned in Dachau.
 
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recedite

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Von Rosen married a Swedish aristocrat , Johanna (Hanny) Franciena Krijgsman, in 1938 whilst he was flying for KLM. During the war she joined the Dutch resistance and was imprisoned in Dachau.
Another strong character, obviously.

Re Biafra, the rebels were also supported by Irish missionaries in the region, whereas the Nigerian regime was supported by Britain and "global capitalism" if you like. In hindsight, and bearing in mind that the Biafran rebels eventually lost the war, it can be argued that these adventurers as mentioned above prolonged the war, and therefore increased overall suffering. They presumably would not be fondly remembered in Nigeria today.
Of course, that doesn't make what they did right or wrong. I merely salute their adventurism and bravery for what it is/was.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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Another strong character, obviously.

Re Biafra, the rebels were also supported by Irish missionaries in the region, whereas the Nigerian regime was supported by Britain and "global capitalism" if you like. In hindsight, and bearing in mind that the Biafran rebels eventually lost the war, it can be argued that these adventurers as mentioned above prolonged the war, and therefore increased overall suffering. They presumably would not be fondly remembered in Nigeria today.
Of course, that doesn't make what they did right or wrong. I merely salute their adventurism and bravery for what it is/was.
The Nigerian regime was also strongly supported by the Soviet Union it being a major source of weaponry during the civil war. I don’t know much about the rights and wrongs of the war but from what I know the Biafrans main source of support was American via unofficial parties and their associates. Interesting to note that the Barings banking family supported the Biafrans and Lord Revelstone was a personal friend of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, leader of Biafra.
 

recedite

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Nigerian tribal politics are insanely complicated. There are rancher versus farming tribes still killing each other today. Christian versus Muslim tribes, ancient tribal animosities whose origins go way back. Add onto that layers of international political intrigue, banksters interests, oil companies interests etc..
I think what happened with the missionaries and the pilots is that they got involved purely on a humanitarian basis. Trying to feed starving Biafran babies, which is laudable. From there it is only a small and perfectly natural step to taking sides in a political, and then a military way. Which culminated in these guys strapping rockets onto small airplanes and strafing Migs on a military airbase, as described in the OP above.
 
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They presumably would not be fondly remembered in Nigeria today.
s.
You clearly don't know many Nigerians from Biafra......................... know a few who readily remember Irish Missionaries standing by with them when they needed it.
 

recedite

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I don't doubt it. But the history of conflicts tends to be written by the winners. Those who fought against the Nigerian govt. will probably not be fondly remembered, in general, in Nigeria.
 

Catalpast

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I don't doubt it. But the history of conflicts tends to be written by the winners. Those who fought against the Nigerian govt. will probably not be fondly remembered, in general, in Nigeria.
Oh they are in what was Biafra

One can see 'Biafra' badges occasionally around Dublin these days too

Biafra was the focus of a lot of attention here in Ireland at the time


It was the 1st time a Famine [albeit man made] was seen on TV screens up and down the Country.


ADD - I remember seeing down in Wicklow in the mid 60s those bi planes high overhead when they were making 'The Blue Max'

Goering's 1st wife [Karin?] was from Sweden

IIRC he met her when he had to make an emergency landing on her fathers Estate in Sweden during a snowstorm
 
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parentheses

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Oh they are in what was Biafra

One can see 'Biafra' badges occasionally around Dublin these days too

Biafra was the focus of a lot of attention here in Ireland at the time


It was the 1st time a Famine [albeit man made] was seen on TV screens up and down the Country.


ADD - I remember seeing down in Wicklow in the mid 60s those bi planes high overhead when they were making 'The Blue Max'

Goering's 1st wife [Karin?] was from Sweden

IIRC he met her when he had to make an emergency landing on her fathers Estate in Sweden during a snowstorm
She was descended from the Beamish family of Cork
 

Boy M5

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Great op.
Fascinating thread
 


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