Sir Douglas Lowe

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Sir Douglas Lowe

Post by Bruno » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:23 pm

Sad news from the Stirling Aircraft Society, Sir Douglas Lowe, our President of recent years has died. He trained as an RAF Pilot in WW2, and flew Wellington bombers, then Stirlings with 75(NZ) Squadron from Newmarket. After the war he had a distinguished career with the USAF and the RAF before his retirement in 1983.

The following is the announcement by the family:

Air Chief Marshal Sir Douglas Lowe GCB, DFC, AFC (Dougie) died on 24th January 2018. Beloved husband of Betty, wonderful father to Frances and John and proud grandfather and great grandfather. The funeral and thanksgiving service will be at St. Mary’s Church, Byfleet at 2.30pm on Tuesday 13th February 2018. All are most welcome - at his request this will be the only service. Family flowers only. Further details from G.Boutell 01932 345037
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www.raf38group.org

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Re: Sir Douglas Lowe

Post by Bruno » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:39 pm

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Douglas Lowe – obituary

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Sir Douglas Lowe Credit: MoD Courtesy of Air Historical Branch Royal Air Force

30 JANUARY 2018 • 10:04PM
Air Chief Marshal Sir Douglas Lowe, who has died aged 95, was a wartime bomber pilot who later had a significant influence on RAF operational capabilities and procurement during a series of senior appointments.

When Lowe was appointed to the Air Force Board as the Controller of Aircraft in November 1975, he had already gained considerable experience planning for the RAF’s future operational requirements. In addition to his wide flying experience he had a firm understanding of technical matters.

He exerted a strong influence during meetings of the Air Force Board Standing Committee, particularly when grappling with issues following the Nott defence review of 1981.

Other significant aircraft programmes that came under his scrutiny included the modification of the Hercules transport, the conversion of both military and civil VC 10 aircraft into air-to-air refuelling tankers, and the development of more capable and advanced helicopters.

Lowe played a key role in obtaining agreement from both the aircraft industry and the government in the early joint funding of the Experimental Aircraft Project (EAP), which eventually led to today’s front-line fighter, the Typhoon. In 1985, after his retirement, he was invited by British Aerospace to attend the roll-out of EAP at Warton airfield, when he was given much credit for “getting the show on the road”.

After seven years in post, he became the first military officer to be appointed as the Chief of Defence Procurement with responsibility for naval, military and air force systems. Because he was already familiar with the RAF, he was able to pay particular attention to the requirements of the other two services. A well-informed and skilful negotiator, he was highly regarded in military, Nato and defence industry circles.

Douglas Charles Lowe was born in London on March 14 1922 and educated at Reading School. He was always fascinated by flying and as a young boy persuaded his mother to give him five shillings for a flight to the Isle of Wight in an Airspeed Consul. He had to catch the ferry back, but he had caught the flying bug.

Lowe worked in the experimental department of Miles Aviation before joining the RAF. He trained as a pilot in the United States under a UK-USA bi-lateral scheme and returned as a sergeant pilot. He was just completing his conversion course on Wellingtons when in 1942 he flew on a 1,000-bomber raid to Bremen.


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Douglas Lowe, far right, with his crew and their Stirling bomber in 1943

He soon converted to the four-engine Stirling and after flying five operations as a second pilot, he was commissioned in January 1943 and posted to join No 75 (NZ) Squadron flying from Newmarket. His arrival coincided with the Battle of the Ruhr, and he attacked industrial targets in Hamburg, Essen and Berlin.

On more than one occasion he was attacked by German night-fighters; his Stirling was also damaged by anti-aircraft fire a number of times. Once he was almost forced to ditch, but he managed to land at an airfield.

At the end of his tour he was awarded the DFC. The citation described him as “an outstanding captain who was an inspiration to the squadron”.

Lowe subsequently became a bombing instructor and was mentioned in despatches. At the end of the war in Europe he was appointed as a senior instructor at the Bomber Command Instructor School, flying the RAF’s heavy bombers. He was responsible for ensuring that instruction techniques were standardised and taught correctly to the Command’s instructors. His expertise was recognised in June 1946 when he was awarded the AFC.

For the next few years, Lowe filled a number of appointments as an instructor, first at the Central Flying School and then on the photographic reconnaissance squadron at No 231 Operational Conversion Unit, initially flying the Mosquito and then the Canberra jet.

After attending the RAF Staff College, Lowe was posted in May 1955 to the Operational Requirements Directorate in the Air Ministry, where he was involved in the TSR 2 bomber project, which was later cancelled. This was the first of a number of increasingly senior appointments in the directorate.

In December 1958 Lowe returned to the world of bombers, converting to the Vickers Valiant, the first of the RAF’s three V-bombers which formed the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent at the time. Initially he was responsible for operations at RAF Marham in Norfolk, before taking command of No 148 Squadron.

By the end of his tour he was one of the RAF’s most experienced bomber pilots, and in October 1961 he left to fill an appointment at the HQ of the USAF’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) at Offutt air force base in Nebraska. Before joining the department of operations and training, he flew the eight-engine Boeing B-52 Stratofortress and the Boeing KC 135 tanker aircraft.

His time at HQ SAC coincided with the height of the Cold War and he was on duty when the Cuban missile crisis developed.

At various times during his tour with USAF, Lowe joined teams of officers to carry out no-notice inspections of SAC bomber units and he was responsible for implementing a low-level training plan for the B-52s. When he left the US in late 1963, on promotion to group captain, the commanding general thanked Lowe for his “outstanding job”.

For two years Lowe was the station commander at RAF Cranwell, and after attending the Imperial Defence College he was again promoted and returned to MoD to be a director of operational requirements, with special responsibility for maritime, transport and training aircraft.

Among these was the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft, which was a development of the Comet airliner. At the end of 1969 he became the Senior Air Staff Officer at the Air Headquarters of the Near East Air Force in Cyprus.

In 1971 Lowe began his third appointment in RAF operational requirements, this time as the Assistant Chief of Air Staff in the rank of air vice-marshal. The RAF was assessing requirements for future aircraft and this included negotiations with potential international partners, including the Americans. Among the most important projects was the tri-national Tornado.

Lowe’s next appointment, in March 1973, was in command of the RAF’s maritime forces as the Air Officer Commanding No 18 Group, which he held in parallel with a Nato appointment, being responsible for operations in the Eastern Atlantic and the English Channel. His squadrons had recently been re-equipped with the Nimrod and were involved in searching for and tracking the increasingly powerful Soviet Navy.

In May, his aircraft began surveillance flights to establish the positions of Icelandic government gunboats and UK trawlers within the 50-mile zone proclaimed by the Icelandic government, in what became known as the Cod War.

Lowe, who always received the devoted support of his wife, retired in 1983. His experience was much in demand and for nine years he was a non-executive director of Rolls-Royce. He was also the chairman of Mercury Communications, a consortium set up by Cable & Wireless, BP and Barclays.

Tall, with an imposing presence, Lowe was a reserved, quiet man who commanded great respect among his colleagues.

He was also immensely practical and on retirement built an elaborate cottage-style workshop in his garden, housing a Swedish saw bench and other sophisticated woodworking tools.

He was passionate about opera and ballet and went on frequent family outings to Glyndebourne.

He was appointed CB (1971), KCB (1974) and GCB (1977). In 1982 he was made a Companion of the Royal Aeronautical Society. At the time of his installation in the Order of the Bath Chapel in Westminster Abbey, he chose as his heraldic motto Fere non satis est – “Near enough is not good enough” – a motto that summed up his attitude to life and work.

Sir Douglas Lowe married Betty Nichols in 1944; she died in 2008. Their son and daughter survive him.

ACM Sir Douglas Lowe, born March 14 1922, died January 24 2018
Bruno LECAPLAIN, Webmaster.
www.raf38group.org

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