The DH88 & a Plot To Kill Hitler

Having come to power in 1934, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party were starting to show signs of things to come by 1938, and as the year rolled on, signs of war were beginning to appear.

Hitler’s prejudice towards the Jewish race had also become apparent during this time and one well-known Jewish gentlemen with a large amount of money and power wanted to put an end to it before it could progress any further.

He wanted to have Hitler killed.

Though 1934 was a year which ultimately would change the history of Germany and the world for the rest of time, in the rest of the world things were running relatively smoothly, with little knowledge of what was to come. In the aviation world the headline act was the Mac Robertson Air Race.

The would be bomber at Old Warden in July this year.

The would be bomber at Old Warden in July this year.

Held in October, many readers will know that the race was won by the wonderful DH.88 Comet racing aircraft G-ACSS. Hitler and the de Havilland Comet, not exactly two things one would instantly put together.

But over the course of 1938 and 1939 the two very nearly met, in what sureley would have been one of the defining moments of history.

Since winning the 1934 race to Australia, ‘ACSS had managed to tally up a number of other records in the hands of her new owner, A.E Clouston, who, as a result of these records had become something of a celebrity in aviation circles.

Looking out over the nose of the DH88.

Looking out over the nose of the DH88.

It was around this time that Clouston was approached by a Jewish gentlemen with a proposition. All records of this tale omit the name of the Jewish gentlemen, for obvious reasons, simply stating that he was a well known industrialist.

It was public knowledge that Hitler would be attending a public parade in Berlin and would be in the first or second car.

The suggestion was, that Clouston would fly the Comet up to a grass strip in Yorkshire, disguise the aircraft so it was unrecognisable (No details of this disguise were ever given) and attaching two small, highly explosive bombs.

From this strip, the Comet would fly out east over the North Sea, eventually turning in and tracking for Berlin. Once at Berlin the two bombs would be released at the two lead vehicles, leaving Clouston to turn for home the way he came, where the Comet would be returned to original condition so as not to raise suspicion.

Another look at G-ACSS.

Another look at G-ACSS.

Should anything go wrong, Clouston was to divert to a strip in Sweeden. Quite the comprehensive plan, though there was one problem, Clouston had no personal problems with Hitler at that stage, so wasn’t prepared to commit murder.

None the less he was asked to name his price, so he threw out the figure of 1 million pounds. To his surprise the offer was accepted and he was asked to have a long think about it.

Ultimately Clouston decided that, as he hadn’t seen any of Hitler’s wrong doings first hand, he could not carry out the raid in clear conscience, stating that perhaps a Jewish pilot should carry out the raid.

It's hard to imagine this beautiful aircraft being used for such a covert operation.

It’s hard to imagine this beautiful aircraft being used for such a covert operation.

He also suspected that if he did successfully kill the Fuhrer, he would be on the run for the rest of his life, if not from his own government then the Nazis and they would surely track him down.

DH88 with fighter escort at Old Warden in May.

DH88 with fighter escort at Old Warden in May.

Though to an extent nothing more than a tale, it does make you wonder, what would have happened in the following years had the raid gone ahead. The idea of course, of using a light, fast de Havilland twin to bomb Berlin did eventually become a reality and would help to end Hitlers campaign. Though not for a few more years.

An interesting what might have been and another chapter in an extraordinary aircraft’s story.

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