Vintage Wings of Canada’s first goal is to bring to life stories of Canadian aviation and the aviators who populated this rich history. When we can tell the story of a living Canadian ace by restoring and flying a fighter of the type he flew in the exact markings of his personal aircraft, then the story is rich indeed. Nokomis, Saskatchewan born Wing Commander James “Stocky” Edwards is Canada’s highest scoring living ace of the Second World War. Most of Stocky’s 21 confirmed shoot downs (plus 6.5 probable and 16 damaged) and his more than 373 credited missions were with 260 Squadron Royal Air Force in the desert campaign in North Africa.
Stocky turned the steady performance of the Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk fighter/bomber into a truly lethal weapon. Fighting daily against the higher performing Messerschmitt Bf-109, Edwards proved that in the hands of a superior pilot, the Kittyhawk was a formidable opponent. He was credited with shooting down Otto Schulz one of Germany’s highest ranked “experten” (aces). This action was credited with saving the life of Canadian Hurricane pilot Walter Conrad, whom Schultz had shot down moments before and was in the process of strafing.
Edwards went on to a long and illustrious career in the Royal Canadian Air Force, retiring in 1971. Today he is widely recognized as one of the finest pilots to have ever flown the P-40 Kittyhawk. So, when it came time to choose a paint scheme for the Vintage Wings of Canada P-40 project it was natural that it be in the markings of one that Stocky flew so successfully in the desert air campaign.
The aircraft itself is being restored by Pioneer Aviation of New Zealand from a Royal Australian Air Force P-40 wreck found in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Slated for delivery to Vintage Wings of Canada in 2008, the recreation of Stocky’s aircraft will bring to life this remarkable story of courage, determination and skill thus fulfilling our mandate to keep Canada’s aviation heritage alive.