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Air Vice-Marshal Norman Hoad AFC. CBE.

Born on 28th July 1923 at Brighton. Died 29th November 2014. Age 91

Air Vice-Marshal Norman Hoad, bomber pilot and artist. Airman who became a skilled painter, having developed his talent while a PoW in Stalag Luft III

Air Vice-Marshal Norman Hoad was imprisoned in Stalag Luft III, conducted electronic reconnaissance missions against the Soviet Union during the Cold War and became one of the country’s leading aviation artists.

On the night of October 14 1944, Hoad was shot down in his No 61 Squadron Lancaster on the way to attack Brunswick. Two of his crew were killed, but the rest survived to spend the remainder of the war as PoWs. Hoad used the many hours of inactivity to develop his artistic talent. When Stalag Luft III was evacuated at short notice at the end of the following January, he and his colleagues marched westwards; some perished in the bitter winter weather before they reached overcrowded camps and were liberated in early May.

Hoad elected to remain in the RAF and spent the next few years as a flying instructor, which resulted in the award of an AFC. In 1953 he took command of No 192 Squadron, which had just been re-equipped with the B-29 Washington bomber. This long-range aircraft had been provided to the RAF under the American military aid programme.

The Korean War was drawing to a close, and tension between the Western powers and the Soviet Union had intensified. Intelligence gathering was now increasingly important, and Hoad and his crews collected electronic and radio intelligence of the Soviet’s air defence system and other military capabilities – including the air intercept radars carried by Soviet fighters.

During Hoad’s period as the squadron CO, the Canberra jet was introduced and gradually took on some of the tasks of the Washingtons. He ended his tour with No 192 early in 1956, and was awarded a Bar to his AFC.

Norman Edward Hoad was educated locally. He entered the RAF when he was 18, trained as a pilot in what was then Southern Rhodesia, and returned to Britain in 1943 to complete his training as a bomber pilot before joining No 61 Squadron. He flew operations in support of the Allied landings in Normandy and attacked targets in Germany before being shot down.

After his tour with No 192, Hoad attended the Army Staff College and was then appointed chief of war plans at the HQ of the Second Allied Tactical Air Force based in Germany – an appointment that took full advantage of his knowledge of Soviet air defence capabilities.

After his return to Britain in 1960 he spent much of his time as a senior officer in appointments with the RAF’s strategic air transport force. He commanded the RAF’s first jet transport squadron, No 216, equipped with the Comet, and later the RAF transport base at Lyneham, at the time when the US-built Hercules was entering RAF service, In 1968 he was put in command at Abingdon, where he was also responsible for organising the RAF’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the largest display since the Coronation Review of 1953. At the end of this period he was promoted to air commodore and appointed CBE.

In January 1969 Hoad embarked on three years as defence and air attaché in Paris. This coincided with a period of extensive Anglo-French collaboration involving the joint development and introduction into RAF service of the Gazelle and Puma helicopters, the Jaguar strike attack aircraft, and the Martel air-launched anti-shipping missile. In his final months in Paris, Hoad helped to plan the Queen’s state visit to France in May 1972 . He was appointed CVO.

After 18 months at the MoD as a director on the Defence Policy Staff, Hoad became chief of staff of No 46 Group, which operated the RAF’s fleet of transport aircraft. Within six months he became the Air Officer Commanding, until the Group was absorbed into No 38 Group at the end of 1975.

For his final tour of duty, he was the senior RAF member of the directing staff at the Royal College of Defence Studies, retiring in March 1978.

A highly talented artist specialising in aviation and animal subjects, Hoad studied under the renowned aviation artist Frank Wootton. With Wootton and others (including David Shepherd), he was a founder member of the Guild of Aviation Artists, later becoming a life vice-president. His works are on display at the RAF Museum, Hendon, and in many public and private collections.

Horses were a favourite subject in his paintings, and in 1979 the Society of Equestrian Artists was formed under his chairmanship. Among his best-known works is one of the Queen reviewing Trooping the Colour on her favourite trooping horse, Burmese.

Norman Hoad married, in 1945, Olive Coe, who survives him with their two sons.

Reprinted with the kind permission of the Daily Telegraph obituaries column.
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Article prepared by Barry Howard.

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