The Emergency Air Corps
Project – Dublin Port’s Emergency Story
Photos by Ken Mooney
We had the pleasure today of meeting two of Ireland’s leading aviation historians – Corporal Michael Whelan (Museum Curator) and Tony Kearns (Volunteer historian) – at the Air Corps Museum, Casement Aerodrome. The Air Corps museum is a credit to the service. A dedicated team help record and preserve the military aviation heritage of Ireland. For our project on Dublin Port during the Emergency Michael and Tony took us through the story of the Air Corps during the period and the system in place with the Air Defence Command. During the period the Air Corps with limited resources patrolled Irish air space in order to deter belligerent aircraft and spot U-boat activity. Dublin port was key to Ireland’s survival The Defence Forces developed the Air Defence Command which used information from a network of observation and look out posts around the country. If a belligerent aircraft was spotted and flying over Irish air space the respective anti-aircraft and Air Corps units would be notified. In the early days of the Emergency the Air Corps only had three Gloster Gladiator biplane fighters. As Tony explained Gladiators were scrambled to intercept Luftwaffe aircraft but by the time, they were airborne the German aircraft were out of Irish airspace.
The museum has several exhibits and artefacts from the period including an Avro Cadet, a Bofors L/60 antiaircraft gun, and wreckage from various aircraft. Although entering service after the Emergency the Avro XIX in the museum collection is similar in design to the Avro Anson used by the Air Corps during the war years. The story of the Avro Cadet is a remarkable one. Entering service with the Air Corps in 1932 it went on to serve during the Air Corps in various support roles. The Cadet in the museum was given to farmer after the Emergency. For 40 years it was laid up to be eventually restored in England and then sold to a collector in New Zealand. In 2007 the Irish State purchased the aircraft for the Air Corps museum.